16 Jan 2017

Hamilton: A Load of PC-Crap Aimed at the Holier-Than-Thous

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Nicholas Pell, at Reason, demolishes Hamilton, the PC Musical which the chattering classes love.

We have Lin-Manuel Miranda to blame for this cultural atrocity, a scion of a psychologist and an advisor to New York mayor Ed Koch, who attended the same elementary and high school as Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Sure, he got bullied by Immortal Technique in school, but how much street cred is that really worth? After this he attended Wesleyan University, a top-10-ranked school that costs $65,000 a year, according to Forbes, before making his mark writing jingles for noted prostitute-enthusiast Eliot Spitzer’s 2006 campaign. The original version of Hamilton debuted at a Vassar College workshop. All this is, of course, an attempt to firmly establish Miranda’s street cred, which is unassailable.

Some are irritated about the people who aren’t white playing white people, but I’m not. The whole production plays so fast and loose with the truth that it’s hard to pick any particular piece to criticize, there’s a reality correlation approximating that of the Weekly World News. At the top of the list, though, has to be casting Alexander Hamilton as some sort of proto-multicultural progressive. That’s either stupidity or mendacity, take your pick. Hamilton was, if anything, the most aristocratic of the Founding Fathers, the closest thing to a Colonial Tory. You know that electoral college you’ve been gnashing your teeth over for the last couple months? Guess whose idea that was?

Of course, shit music and feels-over-reals weren’t the whole problem with America in 2016—and they aren’t the biggest deal facing us in 2017, either. No, the worst thing about this present moment in time is the smugness with which zillionaires and their sycophants on the coasts piss all over anyone who does actual work for a living.

That’s not just one of the main reasons that Trump won the election. That attitude makes for garbage art.

Historically speaking, you’ve got high art and folk art, each with their own set of aesthetic guidelines and measuring sticks. What’s historically anomalous is commercial art—art that exists not due to the patronage of cultured elites or through the unrewarded efforts of the hoi polloi. It’s art that exists to make money.

Art that exists to make money isn’t a bad thing. A lot of the best music of the 20th century was commercial art. The Beatles are probably one of a handful of things anyone will remember about the 20th century in 500 years, a stunning example of commercial art as inspired genius. What’s irritating, though, is when well-connected millionaires make art for the sake of signaling their moral superiority over the masses on the basis of their correct beliefs. Hamilton has become a sort of avatar of the Lena Dunham Democratic Party against the rest of the world, perhaps best displayed by the cast lecturing Vice President Elect Mike Pence (the closest thing to a Wal-Mart greeter they’ll ever be in the same room as) about tolerance.

Tickets for Hamtilton start between $179 and $199, with high-end tickets going for $849. Once they hit the secondary market (A.K.A. scalpers) you’re looking at between $650 and $1500 on Stubhub. Is this because it’s the best musical on Broadway? Or is it because Hamilton is this season’s most fashionable way to signal liberal respectability and status among the One Percenters?

This isn’t speaking truth to power. This is power telling the rest of us what truth is. There’s nary a hint of self-awareness as those only vaguely aware of poverty and toil through a sociology textbook deign to lecture us little people about America’s ‘real values.’ That’s what’s wrong with America in the current year.

The election of Donald Trump and the leave vote in the United Kingdom aren’t just political decisions. They’re a cultural revolt against the pomposity of upper-crust liberals who don’t have to live with the consequences of their own values. Hamilton is where the modern day Marie Antoinettes tell unemployed forklift drivers to eat cake.

Off in the distance, the sans cullotes are sharpening the guillotine. The aloof nobles catching the latest performance of Hamilton have no idea they’re about to be cast—much against their will—in a bit part in Les Miserables.

16 Jan 2017

Renoir on Film

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The great Pierre-Auguste Renoir (born 1841) filmed painting, and smoking like a chimney, at age 78 in 1919.

15 Jan 2017

Selfie, Bombay, 15 January 2016

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Vanderleun:

The big cat was prowling Aarey Colony, a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city, when it tripped Nayan Khanolkar’s camera. The cat looks almost as surprised as Khanolkhar was. “When I saw a picture of the leopard with a look of inquiry in the direction of the camera, I realized it was special,” he says.

Khanolkar, a native of Mumbai [He means “Bombay”], began photographing urban leopards after one of the big cats killed a seven-year-old in 2013. He started in Aarey Colony, which sits at the edge of Sanjay Gandhi National Park — which covers 40 square miles and hosts more than 1,000 species, including leopards. It isn’t unusual for them to explore adjacent neighborhoods.

Still, the animals are sly and surreptitious, and difficult to photograph. Khanolkar started his hunt by identifying several locations where leopards often pass through Aarey Colony. For this photo, he set up an infrared motion sensor in an alley, attached a Nikon D700 to a nearby building, and positioned three strobes at various points throughout the area. Khanolkar visited the spot every few days to check his trap. After four months of waiting, he captured a stunning leopard creeping through the scene.

15 Jan 2017

Let It Snow

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15 Jan 2017

Predicting the Trump Presidency

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Ned Young (on Facebook) forwarded an interesting set of observations and predictions from “a futurist and a Democrat with no love for Trump.”

“Joel Ross writes a subscription newsletter called The Ross Rant from New York City for real estate investors. He provides an interesting perspective on the Trump presidency.”

The black swans held a massive victory party last night. Not because Trump won, but because they showed the world that they are the real rulers.

Being a NY real estate guy, I have always known Trump is a terrible person. My former partner who at one time was worldwide head of real estate at Citibank, hated him. She and he had bitter battles when he was bankrupt and she was seizing assets. I know other bankers, lawyers and contractors who have had dealings with him, and nobody had good things to say. However, now he is president and we need as a nation to be fully supportive or the world will come apart. As I feared the press is already on the attack with their usual rhetoric. CNN today was its usual self – attacking him and having Chris Cuomo and Amanpor make stupid statements, still blaming the Russians. MSNBC actually had Al Sharpton on as a commentator. Shows you how out of touch the media is. Kelly Ann told Cuomo to stop the negativity and he went on to try to claim “it is not us, it was the campaigns”. The press just does not get it. The NY Times was a loser for the last several years, and it will continue to decline at a faster pace. CNN has lost the battle to Fox and will likely have to change out the commentators who are now completely discredited.

Many years ago Connie Chung made a luncheon speech I was at, and she said the press had devolved into a bunch of lazy unprofessional kids who just rush out a story without bothering to check veracity. She decried how the press had become rumor mongers and unprofessional. They sure have. They will probably not change much until they realize the world has moved on to social media and the press has minimal credibility now.

If you have been reading The Rant for a long time you know I have been saying the world is changed and very high risk, and the black swans are circling. We just entered a major inflection point in history. I have been reporting that in Europe the right wing is ascendant. LePen is likely to win the French election next year. The EU is going to come apart once that happens and now with Trump in power that trend will accelerate. The EU will realign into blocs and there will be massive turmoil as things sort out over the next several years. The French will go back to the Franc. Germany will shift right as the refugees create social, crime and fiscal issues. As ISIS gets destroyed they will try to wage war in Europe thru more terror attacks. You do not want to invest in Europe . The world is rapidly shifting right and the changes will be generational. Brussels will be neutered. NATO countries will invest much more in defense and will be forced to build up their armies.

Here is what I believe will happen in the US . Trump has two years to make massive changes and this is what I believe they may be. Obamacare is replaced with some type of more free market plan that Ryan already has. Corporate taxes will be reduced to maybe 15% or maybe a bit higher. Personal taxes will be reduced. All executive orders by Obama will be reversed. Most of the massive regulation Obama put in place will be cancelled. The Supreme Court will get a conservative justice right away and Ginsburg will try to hang on until she dies in office to try to deny him her seat. She will not last 4 years. Trump will get at least 2 and maybe 3 judge picks. The Supreme court will decide by what strict constructionists think the constitution says not the left wing politics of Sotomayor. It will be much more pro-business. Antitrust cases will go away. Sanctuary cities will lose funding and San Francisco and Berkeley and Boulder will go nuts. The border will somehow be secured and Mexico will not pay. Border Patrol will be materially increased. Gang members will be arrested and deported but everyone else will get to stay here. Ryan will stay as Speaker. Trump will do what any good NY real estate guy does, he will get up from the table until he gets a deal close to what he wants.

That is key to a lot of what Trump will be able to do. If you listened carefully to what he said, it was “I will redo NAFTA and will walk from the table if I do not get what we need”.

There will be a revised NAFTA but Mexico will suffer a lot because many US companies will not move plants there until they see what revised NAFTA says. They will also not defy Trump early on and risk his wrath. Mexico takes a big hit. The Pentagon and US defense contractors are big winners. Defense spending will ramp up by huge numbers. The military will add over 200,000 people over the next two years. Weapons spend will dramatically increase. This will add a lot of new jobs between the additional military and the added jobs in defense plants. Private equity will take a big hit with carried interest going away and this will make a small part payment for the tax cuts. Estate taxes will mostly go away. Cops will be respected again And racial strife will end as Trump tries new ideas to build charter schools, and rebuild the ghettos. There will be no more honoring the families of the thugs like Brown and Travon the way Obama and Hilary did. He will honor the cops. The downtrend in crime will get reinstated. Transgender anything will go away.

The military will be told to go win wars and not be social experiments with transgender soldiers. Rules of engagement will be changed to kill the enemy instead of cater to political correctness. There will be an infusion of another 5,000 US soldiers into Iraq and more into Syria to back up the destruction of ISIS . The bombing campaign will be stepped up to what it should be. By March ISIS will have been defeated. They will try to carry out major terror attacks, but now the world will call Islamic terror what it is and there will be a more aggressive fight and coordination. Putin and Trump are from the same mother and will get along. Putin is like all bullies – he will realize he cannot push Trump around like he does Obama and he will work out a modus vivendi because he knows he has at least 4 more years to deal with a new US president. Bullies back off if they find they cannot intimidate the other guy. The Iran nuke deal will get torn up and Iran will find itself back under sanctions. The Germans will scream but Merkel is now in a very weak position so she will not be able to stop Trump from re-imposing them at least for US companies and anyone wanting to do business in the US especially banks. This will be world changing. The Saudis won big on this, Israel won huge. Developers win because the EPA will be defanged. Climate change legislation is dead and the Paris pact will be defunct.

College campuses will no longer have the threat that unless they find a bunch of young guys to charge with sexual whatever they lose funds. PC on college campuses will be pressured to end although for quite a while there will be protests and other such things. Today professors are telling students they do not have to take exams because they are so upset. Give me a f-ing break. This is exactly what is wrong with American colleges today. It is just telling kids boo hoo if you feel bad you get excused from work.

I still think Trump is nuts and a terrible person, but he is president now so we need to deal with reality of what next. Paul Ryan has already reached out to heal the rift and they have already planned a quick special session to pass repeal of Obamacare and undo the regulations and do other things quickly. Ryan will remain as speaker. The SCOTUS vacancy will be filled immediately.

Most important the entire world is about to change. We will see if for good or bad but change it will in massive ways. The tide of anti-socialist, anti PC, anti-diversity, anti-entitlement, anti-establishment of the past 70 years is washing across the world and Trump is simply the ultimate example of what had already been happening with Brexit and in Europe . As far as the stock market- it will now rise. Taxes will get cut, the Supreme Court will not be activist, anti-trust will end, some type of infrastructure program will be instituted, defense spending will jump, banks will be free to lend, regulations will be drastically reduced, and corporate profits will rise.

Go all in now. You already see the market reaction is up after the shock. Wall Street elite misplaced their bets, Hollywood and the press way over played their hands, and college professors and administrators will have to get over it. Hilary and crew go to jail.

I started Ross Rant in late 2007 when I told a tiny group of friends the market was going to crash and nobody believed me. I sold out of the market in May 2007. My broker thought I was nuts. In January 2008 I told people at the big hotel conference that the hotel industry was going to crash in 2008. They told me I was stupid. I began emailing my little group of friends with these kind of thoughts and so the Rant was launched. They encouraged me to expand that, and so began the Rant. In August 2008 I told a few friends driving to a golf outing that Lehman would go bankrupt, and nobody believed me. So now I said Trump and the Republicans would win, and few believed me. In fact, one of my good friends of 50 years bet me $100. So how did I do that. Not smarts. I have no data base. Difference is, I spend a lot of time observing trends and traveling, and talking to real people on the ground all across the country at all walks of life. I do not read the NY Times nor do I watch NBC or CBS or CNN. I talk to lots of real people who are doing whatever they do day to day and try to glean tidbits and connect the dots. Any of you can do the same and probably better than me. I just try to disconnect myself from what the talking heads are saying, and the latest fad of political thinking, and try to see it from a distance with some objectivity.

To my Democrat friends, suck it up – the world just changed dramatically – we will see if for better or worse.

Joel Ross
Citadel Realty Advisors
646-408-4102

I think Mr. Ross is right on some of this, but I do not share his optimistic belief that Donald Trump can reverse the cultural direction from the White House.

14 Jan 2017

Why the Left, Particularly the Hollywood Left, is Losing It Over Trump

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notjaffo on Reddit explains.

Why is Hollywood (in particular) freaking out so badly over Trump?

First, because he’s a Republican who might actually do the things he said he wanted to do. But second, because this is the first cultural victory the right has scored since Reagan stumbled into one in the ’80s.

The left is used to losing political battles. They scream and cry over these but they don’t truly panic, because they know that as long as they maintain their hammerlock on the culture, Republicans can’t really change anything.

Blue Team Progressivism is a church, offering you moral superiority and a path to spiritual enlightenment. As a church it’s got a lot going for it. It runs religious programming on television, all day every day. Every modern primetime program is like a left-wing Andy Griffith show, reinforcing lessons of inclusion, tolerance, feminism, and anti-racism.

Watching a 90-pound Sci-Fi heroine beat up a room full of giant evil men is as satisfying to the left as John Wayne westerns were for the right.

The Blue Church controls the HR department, so even if you don’t go to church, you have to act like a loyal churchgoer in every way that matters while you’re on the clock. And off the clock, on any kind of public social media platform.

Jon Stewart and John Oliver are basically TV preachers. Watching them gives the same sense of quiet superiority your grandma gets from watching The 700 Club. The messages are constantly reinforced, providing that lovely dopamine hit, like an angel’s voice whispering, “You’re right, you’re better, you’re winning.”

Hollywood award shows are like church talent shows – the skits and jokes aren’t really funny, but it’s fun to look at the pretty girls, and you’re all on the same team.

Red Conservativism is a business, selling a set of political products. They don’t make you feel good, they don’t appeal to your morality or your spiritual sense of self, but sometimes you really NEED one of their core products like security, jobs, or national defense. Their appeals to “freedom” and “family values” ring hollow these days, but when people are flying planes into buildings, you need a strong member of Conservatism, Inc. in the big chair.

And when it came down to the things that really mattered – welfare, Medicare, Social Security, and foreign policy, you knew Red Team couldn’t really do anything Blue Team didn’t approve of, or the Blue faithful would kick them out of office next time.

But Donald Trump didn’t sign that contract. And Donald Trump didn’t win by selling the same old conservative products. Donald Trump started his own religion, and he won a religious victory.

The Blue Church is panicking because they’ve just witnessed the birth of a new Red Religion. Not the tired old Christian cliches they defeated back in the ’60s, but a new faith based on cultural identity and outright rejection of the Blue Faith.

For the first time in decades, voters explicitly rejected the Blue Church, defying hours of daily cultural programming, years of indoctrination from the schools, and dozens of explicit warnings from HR.

We’ve been trained since childhood to obey the pretty people on TV, but for the first time in decades, that didn’t work.

Donald Trump won because flyover America wants their culture back, and Blue Team has not been rejected like that before.

The younger ones have grown up in an environment where Blue Faith assumptions cannot even be questioned, except anonymously by the bad kids on Twitter.

But now the bad kids are getting bolder, posting funny memes that make you laugh even though John Oliver would not approve, like passing crude dirty pictures under the table in Sunday School.

Meryl Streep is panicking because for the first time voters have rejected HER, and everything her faith has taught her to believe.

There is a new faith rising on the right, not an explicit religious faith like old-school Christianity, but a wicked kind of counterculture movement. We laughed at the hippies in 1968, but by 1978 they were teaching in classrooms and sitting behind school administrator desks.

Where will the hippies of 2016 be sitting after eight years of Trump? How many of the shitposting Twitter bad boys will start up alternative media outlets, until one of them becomes the new Saturday Night Live?

Sam Hyde tried it on Adult Swim, but that was just the early prototype, like Mad Magazine was for the left. There will be many others after him, and they won’t be stopped by network filters. They’ll come “out of nowhere” on the web, from the secret places that the inquisitors at Google can’t shut down.

And that’s what Meryl Streep is really scared of. She’s not truly aware of it, just like fluttering housewives couldn’t really understand the counterculture threat in 1968. But they feel that something is changing in their safe little world, and they know they have to fight it, because this threat isn’t just passing pointless budget resolutions and selling pointless platitudes about family values – these guys mean business, and they’re fighting on her turf.

Hat tip to Thomas Lifson.

14 Jan 2017

Looks Like Business

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Belgian Farman F40 Reconnaissance Plane with Death’s Head Nacelle, pilot Lt. Jaunotte (left), observer Lt. Wooters.

14 Jan 2017

Volvo Does Edward Gorey

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From Vanderleun.

13 Jan 2017

1978: Paddy Chayefsky Answers Vanessa Redgrave (and Meryl Streep)

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13 Jan 2017

Victorian Professions

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13 Jan 2017

Visitors in Camp

On Facebook (no embed):

Via John Ndadala Walenga.

13 Jan 2017

One More Week

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13 Jan 2017

Time to Send in the Armed Forces

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13 Jan 2017

Trump Keeps His Promise

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