22 May 2015

Greenfield on Letterman’s Retirement

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david_letterman_angry

Dan Greenfield says Good Riddance to Letterman.

Progressive comedy is above all else lazy and Letterman was the laziest man in comedy. He had more staffers than Eisenhower all to deploy the thousandth [iteration] of the same joke. He used his power to fill the time slots after him with hosts who couldn’t possibly compete with him to avoid being Conaned.

He was not a liberal by conviction, but out of laziness. When challenged by guests like Bill O’Reilly, he quickly folded. His politics were not thought out, they were unthinking. For all his pretense of eccentricity, he was a conformist who understood that if he played the game, he would get paid. His comic personality, the folksy skepticism and detached disdain served up in measured doses to viewers, was calculated to cover up this essential attribute that defined his enormously lucrative career.

Letterman is a professional sycophant who limos off into the sunset to the strains of the sycophantic braying of a dying industry. As audiences dwindle, the media has become its own audience, mourning the passing of its glorious past by taking hits of nostalgia from its heady days of power and privilege.

The mournful tributes piling up in his wake aren’t about him. Network television is dying. Letterman was one of its last national figures. If you think mainstream media outlets are carrying on over his exit, wait until network television dies its inevitable demographic death.

Then the media will really have something to cry about.

22 May 2015

Don’t Mess With Gators

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I would not have believed that an alligator could do that.

22 May 2015

Reindeer Comb May Change Dating of Viking Age

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ReindeerComb

Christophe

Vikings have made the headlines this week across the globe after a surprising announcement from scholars at the University of York, in the U.K. Researchers claim they have found evidence that the Viking Age may have begun long before the academically accepted date of 793—the sack of Lindisfarne. According to researchers, they have found deer antlers fashioned into various tools, most notably a comb, which date to as early as 725 A.D. These artifacts were uncovered in the port town of Ribe, in Denmark, and indicate strong trade ties between the Danes and the Norwegians far earlier than previously thought. …

technicalities aside, the news of the finds in Ribe are of course tremendously exciting for scholars in the field of Scandinavian studies. The finds raise more questions than they answer, but at least we have now confirmed what scholars have theorized for several decades: the Vikings were traveling the world as merchants long before they began to raid. This reinforces several leading theories on why the Viking Age began. Traditionally, scholars blamed a rising population and a changing climate for the exodus of the young male population from the North. However, competing theories have suggested that the massacre on the Elbe (read about it HERE) and the closing of ports to non-Christians by Charlemagne may have contributed to the increasing violence carried out by the Vikings. If they had been trading with the South as early as 725, it now stands to reason that the Danes and Norwegians had grown dependent on foreign trade for much of their livelihood, and closing off trade would have brought about immediate economic woes and later…very well known history.

21 May 2015

Letterman’s Missing Indiana Soul

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LettermanObama

John Nolte explains how David Letterman responded to losing to Jay Leno by becoming a toady to the urban establishment.

I didn’t leave David Letterman, David Letterman left me.

It was sometime around 2003 when I began to realize Letterman didn’t like me anymore. His anger was no longer subversive and clever, it was bitter and mean-spirited and palpably real. He was a jerk playing to his loyal audience — urban, cynical, elite, Blue State jerks. The humble, self-deprecating Dave had become the nasty, arrogant Letterman, an unrecognizable bully who reveled in pulling the wings off those he saw as something less.

Chris Christie’s weight; Rush Limbaugh’s personal life; everything Bill O’Reilly; Bush, Cheney, Palin, and the last straw, a statutory rape joke about Palin’s 15 year-old daughter. Suddenly you were a dangerous idiot for protecting the most Indiana of things — your gun.

The man who could make you laugh at yourself now wanted to hurt and humiliate.

Letterman’s politics were never the issue. You can’t share my passion for show business and movies and let politics get in the way. Carlin was probably to the left of Letterman, but Carlin was funny and thoughtful and smart. Watching Letterman berate and hector and attempt to humiliate conservative guests over guns and the climate and the brilliance of Obama was boorish. Describing Mitt Romney as a “felon” was just sad.

The American Heartland had disappointed its own Indiana son, and for more than a decade the son was out for payback.

Or maybe Letterman was just so scared and insecure about losing what little audience he had, that he sold out his genius and Midwestern decency to bitterly cling to them? He certainly never again displayed the courage to challenge them, or to make them feel in any way uncomfortable.

Night after night the man who became my hero for biting the hand was now licking the boot — and convinced while doing so that he’s superior to the rest of us.

How I pity him.

Read the whole thing.

21 May 2015

Why People Turn to Art

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VirginiaWoolf2

“How many times have people used a pen or paintbrush because they couldn’t pull the trigger?”
— Virginia Woolf, Selected Essays

Hat tip to Ratak Monodosico.

21 May 2015

That Asshole Zevon

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Zevon
Warren William Zevon, 1947 – 2003.

Wiliam L. Repsher reacts to Crystal Zevon’s, the musician’s widow’s, bio: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon.

I, and lots of other “bespectacled guys in knit shirts and khakis” have a thing for Zevon.

[M]ost of it seems brutally honest, underlining Zevon’s years of alcoholism, resulting in strained familial relations, spousal abuse, a blown marriage, dozens of affairs, etc. The usual rock-star stuff, only this time it’s presented in a “this is simply how the guy was” light as opposed to either glorifying or condemning his behavior. Even after he got sober, he could be assholic: self-centered, argumentative, problematic, etc. It was made clear that his goodness, which is also noted many times over in terms of his humor, intelligence and flashes of generosity, was counter-balanced with a very dark side.

What I felt reading the book was virtually no different from the vibe I get around many musicians, whether or not they’re anywhere near the level of success Zevon had. Danny Fields had a great quote in the Legs McNeill oral history of the punk scene, which boiled down to: “All musicians are assholes.”…

It seems to me Warren Zevon’s life was what happened to a stereotypical musician who hit “the big time” in some respect and spent the rest of his days leading a relatively pampered rock-star life. Good work if you can get it, but I suspect your average person with zero contact with musicians doesn’t understand what that implies, which is never as alluring as the image.

From what little I’ve seen, a successful recording artist or band functions in its own little snow-globe world, especially on the road. Since the artist tends to be the center of attention much of the time, he doesn’t fully develop an adult sense of the world. In Zevon’s case, he just took money out of the bank whenever he felt like it, had very little understanding of his finances, and assumed money would always be there for him. Luckily, it was, although it got tight from time to time as his success boiled down to a few 70s hits he either recorded on his own or wrote for others (like Linda Rondstadt, who was hugely successful back in the 70s). After 1978’s Excitable Boy, his albums were much more critical than commercial successes, and aside from “Werewolves of London,” he never had any huge hit singles. He often toured solo in theaters and small clubs, most likely to reduce costs and make as much money as possible.

The artist also tends to populate his world with people who either support or depend on his ongoing success. Imagine a large family where a father is encouraged to be both infantile and patriarchal, and you have your average rock star. Reading the book, that’s how Zevon came off to me. I suspect that’s how many famous entertainers conduct their private lives, save they’ll be lucky not to receive the same sober scrutiny Zevon’s life receives in this book. (And not to worry if you don’t like the concept of rock stars being ambiguous and hard to accept beneath the image: there won’t be too many more rock stars. And just about everyone I know comes with strings attached, sooner or later.)

That’s also how a lot of his songs come off to me. With this renewed interest in Zevon, I doubled back and listened to his songs (of which I have just about all thanks to a returned MP3 favor from a friend). The first few albums, I was struck by how rigid his work was – either a slow ballad or stomping rocker, with little in between. And most of the rock songs I can live without. For years I’ve noted how “Roland, the Headless Thompson Gunner” has got to be the most retarded song I’ve ever heard, from the clunky martial beat to the silly mercenary story line. (I recall cringing the first time I heard it on my brother’s basement stereo in 1978.) I’ve always favored his ballads, and those early ones, like “Mohammed’s Radio” and “Carmelita,” still sound great.

Even when he lost his way a bit production-wise in the 80s, he had roughly the same formula that worked for him. What struck me most was how much his later work loosened up, to the extent I found myself more drawn to that material. He experimented with different styles (even incorporated a few celtic numbers), and there was a sense of artistic freedom I picked up on that wasn’t in his earlier, more popular work. The harder-rocking songs, like “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead” and “Factory,” swung more than they stomped. In his case, I’d say the lack of pressure to write and record a Top 40 hit did him a world of good. I should also note sobriety agreed with him creatively, which is sometimes not the case for recording artists.

His lyrics? Always excellent, even on musically awful songs. Another reason I never warmed up to Zevon over the years was this odd effect his songs have on writers, and not just the famous ones he knew. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been around newspaper or magazine types in bars in New York, whom I know personally to have very little taste in music, but the one thing they can all agree on is a deep, abiding Warren Zevon appreciation. And while these guys are often great writers, they’re dicks when it comes to music, jam-band types who own about five CDs. Thus, I pictured Zevon concerts being a bunch of bespectacled guys in knit shirts and khakis, rocking out to that awful headless gunner song, and recalling their crazy nights copy editing while stoned after midnight at the campus newspaper.

————————————

21 May 2015

Want to Work on Hillary’s Campaign?

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EvilGenius

Hat tip to George Takei.

20 May 2015

Ancient “Atlantean” Metal Found Off Sicily

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OricalcumSestersius
Antoninus Pius AE32 Orichalcum Sestertius, 138-161 A.D.

Discovery News:

Gleaming cast metal called orichalcum, which was said by Ancient Greeks to be found in Atlantis, has been recovered from a ship that sunk 2,600 years ago off the coast of Sicily.

The lumps of metal were arriving to Gela in southern Sicily, possibly coming from Greece or Asia Minor. The ship that was carrying them was likely caught in a storm and sunk just when it was about to enter the port.

“The wreck dates to the first half of the sixth century,” Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily’s superintendent of the Sea Office, told Discovery News. “It was found about 1,000 feet from Gela’s coast at a depth of 10 feet.”

He noted that the 39 ingots found on the sandy sea floor represent a unique finding.

“Nothing similar has ever been found,” Tusa said. “We knew orichalcum from ancient texts and a few ornamental objects.”

Indeed orichalcum has long been considered a mysterious metal, its composition and origin widely debated.

According to the ancient Greeks, it was invented by Cadmus, a Greek-Phoenician mythological character. The fourth century B.C. Greek philosopher Plato made orichalcum a legendary metal when he mentioned it in the Critias dialogue.

Describing Atlantis as flashing “with the red light of orichalcum,” he wrote that the metal, second only in value to gold, was mined in the mythical island and was used to cover Poseidon’s temple interior walls, columns and floors.

Today most scholars agree orichalcum is a brass-like alloy, which was made in antiquity by cementation. This process was achieved with the reaction of zinc ore, charcoal and copper metal in a crucible.

Analyzed with X-ray fluorescence by Dario Panetta, of TQ – Tecnologies for Quality, the 39 ingots turned to be an alloy made with 75-80 percent copper, 15-20 percent zinc and small percentages of nickel, lead and iron.

Via Fred Lapides.

20 May 2015

Why Liberals Treat Islam as a Sacred Cow

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Leftwingers

Robert Tracinski, in The Federalist, points to the changes in the course of the last century in the ideology of Progressivism to explain why lefties refuse to recognize the aggression and intolerance inherent in Islam.

The left seeks to gain moral authority, not from what they are for, but from what they are against. If you look at the history of the left, you find that they have frequently changed their favorite causes and their vision of the ideal society, often in ways that are wildly contradictory. But the one thing that remains constant is what they oppose.

The left used to present themselves as hyper-industrial and super-technological. In H.G. Wells’s The Shape of Things to Come, the ideal future society was going to be ruled by a technological elite of airplane pilots, while the Soviets projected a grandiose vision of industrial giantism, with huge hydroelectric dams, steel mills, railroads, and chunky Bakelite telephones. Then the left flipped, and now they’re anti-industrial and their central crusades are to shut down power plants and to eat locally grown organic kale. You can frequently catch them making this flip in mid-conversation, as with an acquaintance I was talking to recently who expressed his concern for the plight of the poor under capitalism—and then a few minutes later, after I argued that hundreds of millions of people across the world have been lifted out of poverty by capitalism, he told me that Western affluence is overrated and destroys the environment. Everyone on the right has, at some point, had a conversation exactly like this, and it is maddening.

Or: if you go back and look at early 20th-century Progressivism, you will find it shot through with racism of the pseudo-scientific sort—Progressive icon Woodrow Wilson introduced segregation in the federal government—along with schemes for eugenics and a generally uncomplimentary view of homosexuals. Yet today’s Progressives claim the opposite position on these issues as one of their central virtues. Or: the left will champion insults to Christianity as so essential to free speech that they must be funded by the government—then regard insults to Islam as so inflammatory that they must be banned as “fighting words.”

So everything changes, but one thing stays the same. Capitalism is bad, the West is bad, America is vicious and corrupt and needs to be fundamentally transformed. Transformed into what? That’s always vague and subject to change without notice, and ultimately it doesn’t matter.

The left is fundamentally reactionary. It is a reaction against capitalism and against America. The left are defined by what they are against, or more accurately who they hate. So they are drawn to sympathy toward Islam because it is not-us: non-Western, non-American, neither Christian nor a product of the Enlightenment. And I guess that’s what the two ideologies have in common: they are both reactions against the supposed evils of the West. Which explains why leftists tend to find themselves uncomfortable and look for excuses to retreat when they are called upon to defend the West against this rival group of reactionaries.

Read the whole thing.

20 May 2015

Waco Shootout

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WacoBikes

20 May 2015

Boycott the Palestinians!

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BoycottPalestinians

18 May 2015

Woodcock Chicks

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(photo: Karen L. Myers) click on pictures for larger versions.

A few days ago, my neighbor who does my mowing was cutting in the neglected field above the cabin when he flushed a woodcock, who was obviously a mother woodcock because she landed nearby and began performing the old “I’m-a-poor-injured-woodcock-with-a-broken-wing.-I’m-delicious-and-easy-to-catch.- Come,-follow-me!” routine.

So Bud turned off the mower, looked around, and spotted her four chicks. He then ran down to the house to tell us of his discovery, and Karen went up there with her camera and photographed the brood.

The four young woodcock were admirably camouflaged and Karen reports that they followed mother’s instructions and remained perfectly frozen, with the exception of all the little bright brown eyes which followed Karen’s every movement.

Naturally, mowing operations were suspended and the nosy humans all withdrew to allow Mother Woodcock to retrieve her brood and escort them back into the nearby woods.

————–

I was quite surprised to learn that woodcock bred on our Central Pennsylvania farm. I can’t recall ever seeing a woodcock outside of hunting season in the Fall. I always thought they bred up in Maritime Canada and only migrated to Pennsylvania.

But the Wikipedia entry says that they breed all the way down to Northern Virginia, and in some cases as far south as Florida and Texas. (!) “Most hens lay four eggs,” the entry reports.


(photo: Karen L. Myers)

18 May 2015

What Really Happened in Garland, Texas

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18 May 2015

Not Camels

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Camels

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