09 May 2018

Impressive Establishment Treason

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via GIPHY

That’s Narges Bajoghli on the right.

This Foreign Policy editorial, written by Narges Bajoghli, an Iranian film-maker, obviously hostile to the United States and proud of the seizure of the US Embassy and the taking of US diplomats as hostages, currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Watson Institute at Brown University, was actually reprinted by Business Insider.

Can you imagine an editorial denouncing the administration’s foreign policy adverse to Japan being editorialized against by some Japanese naval officer doing post-graduate work at Harvard in 1939, titled: “The Empire of the Rising Sun Will Never Trust America Again,” appearing in both Foreign Policy and Business Advisor?

We were naive to think the United States would keep its promises in a deal with us,” Hasan, a retired captain in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war — now a prominent film director — said last week from his office in a major regime production studio in central Tehran. “I thought enough time had passed since the revolution that we could potentially engage with America again,” he continued, before he let out a resigned sigh. …

Ghassem was one of the leading filmmakers for state television in the country. He had made numerous documentaries that investigated the role of the Reagan administration in supplying weapons to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in his fight against the newly established Iranian government. …
“I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t foresee this coming,” Hasan told me this past weekend. “Ghassem was right, we shouldn’t have trusted the Americans.”

When I spoke with Ghassem, he did not boast that he had predicted the ill-fated trajectory of the deal. He wasn’t against Iran having good relations with any Western country, he had repeatedly told me during those debates in 2014. But he just did not think the United States would ever want anything but full capitulation from the Islamic Republic.

“What my friends didn’t see when they were rooting for the Iran deal,” he recently told me solemnly, “was that there’s a segment of the American political establishment that can never forgive us for kicking the United States out of Iran during the revolution in 1979. I mean, the United States was the shah’s biggest ally, and then we came to power and told them they couldn’t dictate how we governed anymore. And once we took their embassy and held their people hostage in 1980, that was a slap in their face. They can never forgive us for that. They want to see us broken at our knees, in complete surrender.”

“It doesn’t matter if there are people in both of our countries who want to turn a new page,” he continued. “The Obamas and Rouhanis of our countries are just one segment of the political establishment.”

Well, Narges, let me just advise you, that when a lame duck president ignores the US Constitution and makes an end-run around the Senate by making a treaty in the form of an executive order, hostile foreign adversaries of America ought to be aware that the next president may be of a different party and of a different mind and will be perfectly entitled to reverse his predecessor’s decision.

And, yes, personally, I do want to see the mullahs on their knees, in complete surrender, and you out of the United States.

09 May 2018

Russell Chatham: “I’m not a Businessman. If Any Money Crosses my Path, It is Gone Faster than Butter in an Oven.”

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Steve Bodio linked this two-year-old Charles Schultz interview with the great Sporting author/painter Russell Chatham. Chatham has interesting things to say about money, art, and fly fishing.

[Money:]

Charles: You mention Monet in your “Advice for a Young Artist.” Most of his life he was miserably poor.

Russell: When I started painting as a kid, you have to remember there was no T.V., there were no diversions. Down on the ranch, we didn’t even have a radio. I just loved painting, and never thought of it as a profession. When I began to think, “This is what I am going to do,” I had to grit my teeth and accept that I was going to be dirt poor my whole life. “If that is not okay with you, you better not do this.”

Charles: This idea that if you want to have integrity you have to prepare to be poor is lost, more so somehow as the economy declines. Arthur Miller said the Great Depression made everyone more voracious. The less there was, the more bitter the contest for it.

Russell: No, they’re not prepared to be poor. And, quite frankly, it was an absolute fluke in my case. I’m not a businessman. If any money crosses my path, it is gone faster than butter in an oven. I have no savings, no retirement. I have whatever’s in my wallet. To a lot of people that would be frightening. …

[Art:]

Charles: Tell me about Robert Hughes. He is sometimes regarded as an opponent of contemporary art, but he really wasn’t.

Russell: He was contemptuous of phonies. You know anyone can do anything they want, as long as they believe in it. That’s the key. Insincerity is the ultimate sin. The problem is the contemporary art world lends itself so much to insincerity.

Charles: Fairfield Porter writing for Art News back in the ’40s and ’50s made a point about art requiring two elements: that it communicate and that the artist have a moral commitment. I think back to what you said: “They have to believe it.”

Russell: It’s your own personal code of ethics—your honesty with yourself. You don’t confront that very much in the mainstream art world/media complex. They don’t talk about that, especially about any artist who has been pumped up to the point that they are being sold for millions at auction, an auction that is supposed to reflect the value of that work of art. But at that point they aren’t interested in a critical assessment of artistic merit. Where there are hundreds of works by an artist, perhaps living or more probably dead, which are worth half a million dollars or more, there isn’t going to be a critical discussion. There is too much money involved.

Charles: Hughes said this created a “blinding effect” that prevented one from seeing the object because of its monetary value.

Russell: That’s a good way to put it. People are so impressed by money, the price of things, that they are blinded. Somebody wrote a check for that?! I saw something, oh, 15 to 20 years ago in Chicago, when they used to have a big show at the Navy Pier. Artists came from all over the world. I used to go to Michigan to hunt with Jim Harrison, but I always stopped in Chicago for this show. Well, for a couple of reasons: the Art Institute, and Midwesterners. You can’t sit down in a bar there for more than 30 seconds before one of these guys is talking to you and asking who you are. They are curious people, and there is great food and music. But the Navy Pier show would have plenty of good things, and some not so good. A mix.

Anyway, I’m walking down this hallway and this guy has got his booth. He’s got a gallery in Chicago I think, and he’s got this painting, maybe five or six feet square. It was just this completely nondescript abstraction, and not a known artist—not that I know everybody—but not a famous artist at all. There was a woman standing there, and the guy who had the booth is explaining why this was a great painting. I thought, “I gotta hear this.”

I pretend to be looking at something else, while he goes on and on and on. And I am thinking, “You gotta hand it to this guy: this bullshit is really pretty convincing.” He is talking about its museum-quality status, and it is the dumbest painting I’ve ever seen. Well pretty soon, this lady is putting down her purse, taking out her checkbook, and she is writing a check. Oh my god! So they complete the transaction, and go off and sit down together at his desk. And I went up to the painting and looked at the sticker: $600,000.00. Boy, he had the gift, I tell ya.

Charles: Haha!

Russell: You could buy a Winslow Homer for less than that! …

[Fly Fishing:]

Charles: I have a friend in upstate New York who is a painter and a fisherman. When I asked him about you years ago, he immediately said that you were the first to write about fly fishing with libido. Not, “Oh nature is so beautiful, how peaceful I feel,” but a hard-partying bunch of guys fishing.

Russell: It is funny. There is a whole fly fishing world and a lot of people write about it. But it is a pretty dipshit thing when you take it apart. There are aspects to it that are nice, but it can really get touchy feely. You know, “Oh, I just like to be out there all day and listen to the birds and smell the roses in the air.” Fuck that! I’m out there to catch fish. If I’m gonna go bird watching, I’ll take my binoculars and go bird watching. I’m not gonna go fishing. When I’m fishing my mind is on one thing and one thing only, and that is where my fly is.

Charles: This same friend hated a film from the early ’90s, not on its merits necessarily, but that it caused a phenomenon. Every banker in New York City put a “Trout Bum” sticker on the back of his Lexus, drove north and invaded all of his streams.

Russell: It changed the face of fly fishing. It was called “A River Runs Through It.” It was based on a very good book by a guy called Norman McLean, who was from Montana. The movie was filmed in Livingston while I was there. It created a fly-fishing hysteria. Suddenly, this thing that was pretty personal—nobody went fly-fishing unless you were crazy—now, as you said, every stockbroker was a fly fisherman. It crowded things up pretty good. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it. These people really don’t understand fishing. They aren’t naturals who started when they were 8 years old. They haven’t been crazed and insane about it their whole life.

On the Madison River, where I normally didn’t fish, didn’t need to, I drove over one day and couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw, on a stretch of maybe 20 miles, a thousand parked cars. The guys were fishing as close as from me to you, five, six feet apart. Not only that, but most of them had hired guides. So there are two guys—the guy and his guide! And the guide has a boat, which bounces down through the rocks, and then they stop and fish. That’s not fishing. Nobody’s catching anything, or when they do, it is tiny. Do they actually think this is fishing? Fishing is a solitary activity. It is a big deal. This ain’t it.

Charles: What about environmentalism? We accept industry and empire as given, and then weep over trivia.

Russell: They’re not environmentalists—they’re assholes. You could blame that criminal destruction of the oyster farm on this “environmentalism.” A lot of these people live in cities, and drive out to the country once in a while. They don’t know what is going on here. They look at nature out of the car window as they are driving by it. That’s just another form of watching T.V.

All this talk about the restoration of creeks and rivers, restoration of salmon: it is never going to happen. For example, the wine industry dried up the Russian River. Are we going to reverse the wine industry? They have too much money and are too big. The wells have dropped the whole water table. When you do that in a valley, you drop the water table up at elevation, too, which causes your tributary streams to dry up. And that is the end of your steelhead and salmon.

They had this problem on the Eel River. The dope growers dried up the whole river. Nobody could believe it. It is an “illegal” activity, but nobody is doing anything about it. There is no enforcement. Of course, they were also focused on how “bad” marijuana is. Nobody ever O.D.’ed on it.

RTWT

09 May 2018

Eagle Falconry? Phooey!

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Ornithologist Jerry McGahan with a 6 month old Andrean Condor, the largest flying bird on earth.

08 May 2018

The Intellectual Dark Web

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Bari Weiss of The New York Times takes a fearful peek down the rabbit hole of the Intellectual Dark Web.

What is the I.D.W. and who is a member of it? It’s hard to explain, which is both its beauty and its danger.

Most simply, it is a collection of iconoclastic thinkers, academic renegades and media personalities who are having a rolling conversation — on podcasts, YouTube and Twitter, and in sold-out auditoriums — that sound unlike anything else happening, at least publicly, in the culture right now. Feeling largely locked out of legacy outlets, they are rapidly building their own mass media channels.

The closest thing to a phone book for the I.D.W. is a sleek website that lists the dramatis personae of the network, including Mr. Harris; Mr. Weinstein and his brother and sister-in-law, the evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying; Jordan Peterson, the psychologist and best-selling author; the conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Douglas Murray; Maajid Nawaz, the former Islamist turned anti-extremist activist; and the feminists Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christina Hoff Sommers. But in typical dark web fashion, no one knows who put the website up.

The core members have little in common politically. Bret and Eric Weinstein and Ms. Heying were Bernie Sanders supporters. Mr. Harris was an outspoken Hillary voter. Ben Shapiro is an anti-Trump conservative.

But they all share three distinct qualities. First, they are willing to disagree ferociously, but talk civilly, about nearly every meaningful subject: religion, abortion, immigration, the nature of consciousness. Second, in an age in which popular feelings about the way things ought to be often override facts about the way things actually are, each is determined to resist parroting what’s politically convenient. And third, some have paid for this commitment by being purged from institutions that have become increasingly hostile to unorthodox thought — and have found receptive audiences elsewhere.

RTWT

08 May 2018

She Was Not Amused

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Simona Sharoni, “College Professor, Author, Public Speaker, Curriculum Innovator, Facilitator, Activist,” Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, Merrimack College.

The Chronicle of Higher Education describes how a professor of Gender Studies was triggered by a standard “travelling-in-an-elevator” joke, leading to big trouble.

The fuss started when Richard Ned Lebow, a professor of political theory at King’s College London, and Simona Sharoni, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Merrimack College, ended up in the same crowded elevator during a conference at a Hilton in San Francisco last month.

She said she offered to press the floor buttons for people in the elevator, whom she described as mostly conference attendees and all, except one other woman, white middle-aged men. Instead of saying a floor, Lebow smiled and asked for the women’s lingerie department “and all his buddies laughed,” Sharoni wrote in a complaint, the details of which he disputed, to the association later that day.

“After they walked out, the woman standing next to me turned to me and said, ‘I wonder if we should have told them that it is no longer acceptable to make these jokes!” she said in her complaint.

Sharoni, who wrote in her complaint that she has experienced sexual harassment in academe in the past and was shaken by the incident, said it took her a while to figure out that Lebow thought it was funny “to make a reference to men shopping for lingerie while attending an academic conference. I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that we froze and didn’t confront him,” she wrote.

After glancing at Lebow’s name tag, Sharoni says she went back to her hotel room to check out the association’s code of conduct. She then wrote to Mark A. Boyer, the association’s executive director. He forwarded the complaint to the group’s Committee on Professional Rights and Responsibilities, which determined that Lebow had violated the conduct code.

RTWT

Obvious craziness, but what can you expect when colleges and universities hire professional neurotics to teach whining and complaining in special Grievance Studies departments?

08 May 2018

Lava from Kilauea Volcano

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07 May 2018

Enlightenment

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Mi-Young Choi (Korean, b. 1971), Enlightenment, 2013.

07 May 2018

Old-Timer in Ohio Trips Criminal Fleeing Cops

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The (British) Mirror admires the feistiness of one American senior citizen.

Police have hailed the elderly hero, who walks with a stick, for the ‘bold’ move – which they say saved the life of the 18-year-old suspect.

An Ohio grandfather has been dubbed a hero after he tripped up a young armed suspect who was attempting to run away from police.

Video footage shows the brave man, named only as Bill, quickly step backwards and stick his leg out behind him as the suspect, identified as DeShawn Briggs, sprints past – causing him to fall to the ground.

A police van then descends on the scene and an officer jumps out of the moving vehicle moments later.

Columbus police posted the footage on Facebook on Thursday, and hailed Bill for his “fancy footwork” which enabled them to detain the suspect – who was holding a gun.

Bill was at west Columbus library with his granddaughter on April 3 when he heard police sirens and officers shouting “drop the gun”.

He says he turned around to see a man with his hand in his waistband running towards him, and officers were lagging behind.

The quick-thinking grandfather then made the brave decision to trip the 18-year-old up, in a bid to help police detain him.

Police confirmed a Glock 9MM pistol containing 29 rounds of bullets was recovered from the scene.

RTWT

Deshawn Briggs was lucky really that it was Ohio, not Texas or rural Pennsylvania. In the latter locations, old geezers would not only be packing a cane. They’d be carrying concealed.

07 May 2018

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess

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Mad Lab surveys the growing field of ridiculously large super handguns. They forgot the custom guns by Linebaugh and Hamilton Bowen, alas!

06 May 2018

How Israel Stole Iran’s Secret Nuclear Files

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Michael Daventry gives the inside scoop on the Intelligence coup of the century.

The spectacle of Benjamin Netanyahu barely able to contain his excitement as he paced back and forth around the stage, pointing out his props and slides, was remarkable enough.

But that was as nothing compared with what was truly remarkable — an intelligence coup that is already regarded as legendary.

The Israeli prime minister had just uncovered — literally, by pulling away dust sheets to reveal shelves of filing — the evidence that showed Iran had for years been engaged on a secret nuclear programme.

“Iran lied, big time,” Mr Netanyahu told a hastily-assembled room of journalists on Monday. “A few weeks ago, in a great intelligence achievement, Israel obtained half a ton of material”.

His presentation was closely coordinated with the United States, coming just days before President Trump decides whether to abandon the international deal that was said by its supporters to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Mr Netanyahu’s words were dramatic. But they barely came close to conveying the drama of the Mossad’s unprecedented operation.

The cache — containing tens of thousands of pages, many of them handwritten — was snatched by Mossad agents in a single night, from a ramshackle warehouse in a suburb south of Tehran, the Iranian capital. Sources say the building had been under constant surveillance by Israeli intelligence from the moment it was first discovered in February 2016 until the decision to act was taken.

That moment came one night in January this year.

This was not a data transfer of the kind that has made the Mission Impossible movies so thrilling. The documents were not copied onto a portable hard drive, nor transferred electronically back to Israel.

Every file and CD — weighing a collective half a ton — was transported physically in a single night.

And not one of Mossad’s “human assets” — Israeli agents and Iranian informants — was harmed in the operation, intelligence minister Yisrael Katz told Israeli radio on Tuesday.

It is no exaggeration to say that all of this happened under the Iranian government’s nose; Iran’s foreign ministry building was so close to the warehouse that the Mossad agents could have driven to it in the centre of Tehran in barely half an hour.

“This was a highly complex operation, over a long period of time, in a deeply hostile environment,” said James Sorene, chief executive of the Bicom think-tank.

“To remove so much physical material in such circumstances is nothing short of remarkable.

“When you consider it alongside Israel’s apparent ability to identify Iranian arms shipments to Syria as they leave Tehran, you can only conclude that the Iranian regime is severely compromised by the brilliance of Israeli intelligence.”

RTWT

06 May 2018

Roger Scruton On the Architecture of Reading

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04 May 2018

Anastasia Bulgakova Imagines Countries as Superheroes

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France

Bored Panda:

In the global arena, every country has its image, but how would they look as people? That was the question that Russian artist Anastasia Bulgakova thought about for a year before starting her latest project. “I draw personifications of different countries,” she wrote. “All of them will be militant and warrior-like, with dirt and blood. Not because of some political persuasion, but simply because that what I always draw in any case, and the idea of warrior-countries gives a lot of creative freedom.”

“Every character is going to have some stereotypical attributes that I am going to use in one way or another.” From an American that’s a bit naive and idealistic to a silent Japanese guy with a suspicious smile, you’d easily recognize these ‘people’ if you met them in the street.

RTWT

04 May 2018

And, Just Like That, He Was Gone!

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04 May 2018

Harvey Weinstein Might Have Replaced Peter Jackson With Quentin Tarrantino

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The Telegraph causes jaws to drop by telling us what might have been:

The gentle, meandering drama of the Lord of the Rings trilogy won Peter Jackson and his team 17 Oscars and a place in the cinematic pantheon. But the fantasy epic very nearly didn’t happen: if Harvey Weinstein had his way, JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth would have been condensed into a snappy two-hour film, directed by none other than Quentin Tarantino.

Tarantino, known for his gratuitous, cartoonish violence and provocative scripts in films such as Django Unchained and Pulp Fiction, was the back-up Weinstein had in store after Lord of the Rings director delivered a two-film script to Weinstein costing $12 million in development. This, Weinstein said, according to a new book on the film, was a “waste”.

“Harvey was like, ‘you’re either doing this or you’re not. You’re out. And I got Quentin ready to direct it’,” Ken Kamins, a producer who worked for Weinstein on the project, told Ian Nathan, author of Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson & The Making of Middle-Earth.

RTWT

Of course, Quentin’s wiggerish devotion to African-American thuggery would probably have made his version of LOTR a lot more friendly to the Orc point of view. And the casting would have been so different! Samuel Jackson would make a great Uruk-hai chief, but Quentin would probably have made him Saruman. We might have had Brad Pitt for Aragorn and Steve Buscemi as Gollum. Uma would have definitely made a hotter Arwen or Galadriel. The possibilities are fascinating and frightening.

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