27 May 2020

10 Best Films

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Far Out Magazine publishes Woody Allen’s list of ten favorite films:

The 400 Blows – François Truffaut, 1959
– Federico Fellini, 1963
Amarcord – Federico Fellini, 1972
The Bicycle Thieves – Vittorio de Sica, 1948
Citizen Kane – Orson Welles, 1941
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie – Luis Buñuel, 1972
Grand Illusion – Jean Renoir, 1937
Paths of Glory – Stanley Kubrick, 1957
Rashomon – Akira Kurosawa, 1950
The Seventh Seal – Ingmar Bergman, 1957

An overly conventional list, “Seven Samurai” is obviously more worthy than “Rashomon.” “Citizen Kane” sucks. “Paths of Glory” is a tendentious, downer leftie propaganda piece. And “Bicycle Thief” should be singular.

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Last year, the same publication gave us Quentin Tarrantino’s list of twelve favorites:

1. Apocalypse Now – Francis Ford Coppola, 1979.
2. The Bad News Bears – Michael Ritchie, 1976.
3. Carrie – Brian de Palma, 1976.
4. Dazed and Confused – Richard Linklater, 1993.
5. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Sergio Leone, 1966.
6. The Great Escape – John Sturges, 1963.
7. His Girl Friday – Howard Hawks, 1939.
8. Jaws – Steven Spielberg, 1975.
9. Pretty Maids All in a Row – Roger Vadim, 1971.
10. Rolling Thunder – John Flynn, 1977.
11. Sorcerer – William Friedkin, 1977.
12. Taxi Driver – Martin Scorsese, 1976.

“The Bad News Bears”?! “Carrie”!?? Tarrantino’s list is much more populist, but he’s not wrong in rating “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” “Great Escape,” and “Jaws” as great films. Kudos to Quentin for picking William Friedkin’s “Sorcerer,” a neglected, typically unappreciated, but fantastic remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “Le Salaire de la Peur” (1953), that is, on the whole, even better than the original.

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I’m a major cinemaphile myself. I ran a film society at college. So, inevitably, I’ve got to do my own top ten twelve list.

Intolerance – D.W. Griffith, 1916.
Earth – Alexander Dovzhenko, 1930.
Grand Illusion – Jean Renoir, 1937.
Children of Paradise – Marcel Carne, 1945.
Smiles of a Summer Night – Ingmar Bergman, 1955.
The Seventh Seal – Ingmar Bergman, 1957
Sword of Doom – Kihachi Okamoto, 1957.
La Dolce Vita – Federico Fellini, 1960.
Jules and Jim – François Truffaut, 1962.
8 1/2 – Federico Fellini, 1963.
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors – Sergei Parajanov, 1965.
Hitler, ein Film aus Deutschland – Hans-Jurgen Syberberg, 1977.

27 May 2020

Only Playable Stradivarius Guitar

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Five complete guitars built by Antonio Stradivari survive, along with some fragments of others. Only one is still playable.

In the above video, Rolf Lislevand performs Santiago de Murcia’s Tarantela on the Sabionari Stradivarius guitar.

26 May 2020

Tyranny and So-Called “Hate Speech”

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The Heritage Foundation recently published a must-read report on the Left’s widely successful effort to first stigmatize, and eventually to criminalize, speech and ideas it doesn’t like, thus shutting down all discussion and debate over very significant cultural and policy issues.

America is the only Western nation that does not criminalize “hate speech.” Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most nations of Europe already do so. The United Nations relentlessly pressures the remaining holdouts to follow suit: “As a matter of principle,” says the U.N. Secretary-General, “the United Nations must confront hate speech at every turn.”

Meanwhile in America, Members of Congress issue their support for speech restrictions, and Big Tech’s digital oligarchs, enjoying a disproportionate power over society, continue to impose speech restrictions in exchange for access to their platforms. So are America’s colleges and universities more and more governed by an aggressive chorus of students, faculty, and administrators who demand and impose speech codes. These fronts promises to grow in size, strength, and confidence in the coming years.

Leading restriction advocates want not only to banish “hate speech,” but also to criminalize it. In the words of Mari Matsuda, an influential professor at the University of Hawaii Law School, “[F]ormal criminal and administrative sanction—public as opposed to private prosecution—is also an appropriate response to racist speech.”

Perhaps most surprising, legal precedents that would bring this revolution fully into existence in America are already embedded in two areas of our legal system: antidiscrimination and harassment laws, and Supreme Court rulings favoring sexual liberation that are based on a new view of “dignity.”

If Americans are to resist this growing movement, they must understand the arguments, the demands, and the consequences of outlawing “hate speech.” No laws of history dictate that America must submit and follow this path.

The debate over “hate speech” reveals a fundamental disagreement about the purpose of America. Either it is political liberty, in which case the freedom of speech is essential for presumptively rational citizens to rule themselves politically and to pursue the truth through science, philosophy, or religion. Or it is the equal self-respect and dignity of marginalized and self-created identities, in which case these must not only be publicly affirmed and celebrated, but also shielded from (even well-meaning) scrutiny and criticism, called “speech violence” or “hate speech.” These two views cannot coexist. Indeed, restriction advocates admit that America’s understanding of speech “comes into tension with the aspiration of equal dignity.”

They want to eliminate the former to make way for the latter.

RTWT

26 May 2020

A Cold War Hero’s Rolex Oyster

Hodinkee unravels the tale of a rusted Rolex watch once worn by one of the brave men symbolized by a star on the CIA’s Memorial Wall.

It was barely recognizable as a watch when it first came to me. The case shape gave it away, but the dial and hands were hidden behind a rust-colored crystal. The caseback was deeply gouged with what looked like marks made by claws strong enough to scratch stainless steeI. You could tell it was a Rolex – its still bright gold bezel and crown, stamped “Rolex Oyster,” gave that much away, but that was about it. The truth is, it could have been made by anyone, and it wouldn’t have made any difference to its uncanny feel. With its heat-crazed crystal and dented case, the watch looked as if it had risen from the depths of hell – and as if it had come back from the afterlife with a story to tell.

The watch belongs to a man named Erik Kirzinger. It had been worn by his uncle, Norman Schwartz, who flew covert missions for the CIA during the Cold War. The watch bears the serial number 613482, dating it to approximately 1947. …

The time on pilot Norman Schwartz’s Rolex read just before midnight. He had slowed to just above stall speed, and was flying as low as possible over the pitch black forests of northern China, north of the Korean border at the Yalu River.
On board his C-47 were CIA officers John T. Downey and Richard G. Fecteau. Their mission that night: pick up Li Chun Ying, a CIA agent.

RTWT

25 May 2020

Memorial Day

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WWII Victory Medal

All of my grandparents’ sons and one daughter, now all departed, served.

JoeZincavage1
Joseph Zincavage (1907-1998) Navy
(No wartime photograph available, but he’s sitting on a Henderson Motorcycle in this one.)


William Zincavage (1914-1997) Marine Corps


Edward Zincavage (1917-2002) Marine Corps


Eleanor Zincavage Cichetti (1922-2003) Marine Corps

25 May 2020

My Father’s War

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WGZInduction1942
My father (on the left, wearing jacket & tie, holding the large envelope), aged 26, was the oldest in this group of Marine Corps volunteers from Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, September 1942, so he was put in charge.

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William G. Zincavage, Fall 1942, after graduating Marine Corps Boot Camp

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WGZBillyClub
Military Police, North Carolina, Fall 1942
He was only 5′ 6″, but he was so tough that they made him an MP.

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3rdDivision
Third Marine Division

1stAmphibiousCorps
I Marine Amphibious Corps

First Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Solomon Islands Consolidation (Guadalcanal), Winter-Spring 1943
New Georgia Group Operation (Vella LaVella, Rendova), Summer 1943
“The Special Troops drew the first blood.” — Third Divisional History.

“We never saw them but they were running away.” — William G. Zincavage

————————————

3rdAmphibious-Corps
III Marine Amphibious Corps

Third Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Marianas Operation (Guam), Summer 1944

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5thAmphibious-Corps
V Marine Amphibious Corps

Fifth Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Iwo Jima Operation, February-March 1945

————————————

Navy Unit Commendation (Iwo Jima)
Good Conduct Medal
North American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Four Bronze Stars

——————————————————–


While recovering from malaria after the Battle of Iwo Jima, he looked 70 years old.

——————————————————–


But he was back to normal in December of 1945, when this photo was taken shortly before he received his discharge.

25 May 2020

“Six Seconds”

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Yale&Haeter

This Memorial Day story is an excerpt from Lt. Gen. John Kelly’s Nov. 13, 2010 speech to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis, reprinted in The American Legion Magazine.

[Paragraph formatting and emphasis added]

[O]n April 22, 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8, were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion was in the closing days of its deployment, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour. Two Marines, Cpl. Jonathan Yale and Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.

The same ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, our allies in the fight against terrorists in Ramadi – known at the time as the most dangerous city on earth, and owned by al-Qaeda.

Yale was a dirt-poor mixed-race kid from Virginia, with a wife, a mother and a sister, who all lived with him and he supported. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle-class white kid from Long Island. They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines, they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple Americas exist simultaneously, depending on one’s race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, education level, economic status, or where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible, and because of this bond they were brothers as close – or closer – than if they were born of the same woman. The mission orders they received from their sergeant squad leader, I’m sure, went something like this: “OK, take charge of this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass. You clear?” I’m also sure Yale and Haerter rolled their eyes and said, in unison, something like, “Yes, sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point, without saying the words, “No kidding, sweetheart. We know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry-control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later, a large blue truck turned down the alleyway – perhaps 60 to 70 yards in length – and sped its way through the serpentine concrete Jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest 200 yards away, knocking down most of a house down before it stopped. Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was caused by 2,000 pounds of explosive.

Because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers in arms. When I read the situation report a few hours after it happened, I called the regimental commander for details. Something about this struck me as different. We expect Marines, regardless of rank or MOS, to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different.

The regimental commander had just returned from the site, and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event – just Iraqi police. If there was any chance of finding out what actually happened, and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it, because a combat award requires two eyewitnesses, and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer. I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police, all of whom told the same story. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police related that some of them also fired, and then, to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion. All survived. Many were injured, some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated, and with tears welling up, said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life. ”What he didn’t know until then, and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal. Choking past the emotion, he said, “Sir, in the name of God, no sane man would have stood there and done what they did. They saved us all.”

What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned after I submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras recorded some of the attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated. You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. I suppose it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. No time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “Let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time, the truck was halfway through the barriers and gaining speed.

Here the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were, some running right past the Marines, who had three seconds left to live. For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines firing their weapons nonstop. The truck’s windshield explodes into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tear into the body of the son of a bitch trying to get past them to kill their brothers – American and Iraqi – bedded down in the barracks, totally unaware that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder-width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could. They had only one second left to live, and I think they knew. The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty.

Hat tip to Peter Somerville.

23 May 2020

The Moral Calculus of the Left

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Katha Pollitt, at The Nation, says:

I would vote for Joe Biden if he boiled babies and ate them. He wasn’t my candidate, but taking back the White House is that important. Four more years of Trump will replace what remains of our democracy with unchecked rule by kleptocrats, fascists, religious fanatics, gun nuts, and know-nothings. The environment? Education? Public health? The rights of voters, workers, immigrants, people of color, and yes, women? Forget them. And not just for the next four years: A Trump victory will lock down the courts for decades. I cannot believe that a rational person can grasp the disaster that is Donald Trump and withhold their support from Biden because of Tara Reade.

HT: Weasel Zippers.

23 May 2020

Debunked

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HT: Vanderleun.

23 May 2020

Close

21 May 2020

Japanese Advertising Firm Built a Mile-Long Xylophone to Play Bach in the Forest

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Story link.

21 May 2020

Confuse a Liberal

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