Daniel Bryan retires from the WWE

#YesMovement #ThankYouDanielBryan

It’s always hard to watch these damned things, when someone who loves something so completely and passionately has to walk away. But years of concussions took their toll, and finally WWE superstar Daniel Bryan has been forced to hang up his boots. He was a fantastic talent and he will be missed.

Sadly, given all that we are learning these days about CTE, I can’t help but fear for his future. Continue reading

Megyn Kelly GQ

Donald Trump is a pig, and Megyn Kelly is neither a journalist nor a feminist

These things are not mutually exclusive.

I want to show you two pictures – ones you may have seen recently – and ask you a simple question: what is being communicated? What are the subject, the photographer and the publisher saying to you?

Megyn Kelly GQ
Continue reading

Climate2

Top conservative media sites regularly misrepresent OISM’s Global Warming Petition Project

Of the top 15 most read conservative/libertarian media sites, Fox News has mentioned the Global Warming Petition Project only five times since 2008.

Comparison of Department of Education graduation data for 1970-2013 and Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for 2013 to the number of Global Warming Petition Project signatures [Corrected]

Comparison of Department of Education graduation data for 1970-2013 and Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for 2013 to the number of Global Warming Petition Project signatures [Corrected]

For other posts in this series, please click here.

The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine published the most recent version of the Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP) in 2008, The purpose of the petition was to create a narrative, since shown to be false, that the 31,487 signers disproved the opinion surveys showing an overwhelming consensus of climate experts who are convinced that climate change is real.

Since 2008, six surveys of expert opinion have been published in the peer-reviewed literature, using different statistical methodologies and asking slightly different survey questions, with the result that the lowest level of consensus found in any of them was 88% of respondents, with most finding consensus of about 97%. Yet the GWPP continues to be referenced widely among conservatives and libertarians even though its counter-consensus narrative has been shown to be false – the GWPP signers aren’t all scientists, the GWPP’s criteria for being called a scientist is absurd, the signers are a tiny minority of the people who earned bachelors of science degrees even assuming the GWPP’s criteria are reasonable (and thus giving the GWPP the greatest possible benefit of doubt), the signers are also a tiny minority of the people working in the GWPP’s selected fields as of 2013, and the signers would be a small minority of the members of several professional societies even if every GWPP signer was a member (which is extremely unlikely).

Up until now, S&R has focused on disproving the GWPP’s false narrative and on exposing the individuals who have repeated that false narrative in Congress either as members of Congress or in Congressional testimony. This article marks the start of the next phase of our investigation in which we focus on the organizations and individuals responsible for spreading and maintaining the false narrative. Continue reading

Peyton Manning al Jazeera

Peyton Manning HGH allegations: Al Jazeera commits journalistic malpractice

Peyton Manning al JazeeraAl Jazeera should never have gone public with the Manning/HGH story. Its only responsible option now is to fire everyone associated with it and apologize.

A breaking report from Al Jazeera accuses Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (and others) of using the banned substance HGH.

FULL DISCLOSURE: a) I’m a Broncos fan, b) I usually find Al Jazeera to be one of the most reputable practitioners of journalism out there, and c) I have no idea whether the story is true or not. Manning has denied the report vehemently, but he also donated $20k to George Bush’s re-election campaign and pushes Papa John’s Pizza, so I’m unwilling to take his word as gospel.

The issue before us this morning isn’t Manning’s guilt or innocence, which will become clear enough in time. Continue reading

Donald Trump, Public Idiot

Pay-to-play GOP debates

bjc9anecLast night Donald Trump made an interesting proposal: CNN should pay $5 million for Trump to participate in the next GOP debate on December 15. The money would not go to Trump, but to a charity for veterans. Here’s the proposal in his own words:

So maybe, how would you like to do this. Fox, for the first debate, ended up with 24-25 million viewers, maybe the largest show in the history of cable. CNN had 23 million people, it was the biggest show in the history of CNN. This isn’t me, this is from showbiz. Okay? The biggest ratings in the history of CNN.

They cover wars, they cover this, they cover that.

How about, the next debate is with CNN. Now you have to tell me, because I know what they’re going to say. Ohh Trump is chicken, how about I tell CNN (who doesn’t treat me properly, they don’t). Right? They really don’t.

How about I tell CNN that I’m not going to do the next debate. I’ll tell you the problem. This is a nice thing…

How about we do this with CNN, I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million. All of which money goes to the wounded warriors and the veterans. Seriously! I would love to do it.

Continue reading

SNL original cast

Who’s the greatest SNL alum of all time?

Even in its darkest hours, Saturday Night Live has served as a springboard for wildly successful careers.

SNL original castFor all but a handful of seasons Saturday Night Live has been nigh-on unwatchable. Still, it has generated a veritable conga line of major stars through the years – you may not even realize how long a line.

So this came up recently as I was hanging with some friends:

Which Saturday Night Live alum had/has had the greatest post-SNL career?

Hmmm. Continue reading

Miley Cyrus VMAs

Is this what our culture has come to?

Miley Cyrus VMAsMiley Cyrus is a Girl Scout compared to Wendy O. Williams, whose performances were getting her arrested for lewd conduct 30 years ago.

Three faculty colleagues and I spoke informally last week at a lunchtime program for people who work at the university but don’t teach. They invited us to talk about what it’s like to host a weekly show on the university’s student-run radio station.

One of the speakers is in his early ’70s, I would guess. He’s a good guy: cordial and well traveled, with deep knowledge about a wide range of topics. He began by saying he had seen a clip from an MTV music awards special that showed Miley Cyrus being her faux outrageous, self-promoting self.

“Is this what our culture has come to?” he asked earnestly. Continue reading

CATEGORY: ArtSunday

The best Halloween movie you’ve never seen

Herk Harvey’s cult classic Carnival of Souls is full of creepy, atmospheric goodness – just right for a Halloween movie fest…

Press book cover art for Carnival of Souls (image courtesy Wikimedia)

Given that it’s Halloween, time to take note of a cult classic that in its atmospheric creepiness ranks as high as Romero’s original Zombie classic or anything dreamed up by David Lynch, Brian de Palma, or any of the other more  recent masters of what Count Floyd would call “scary stuff.”  In fact, this is a film that both Lynch and Romero have cited repeatedly as influential on their work.

The film is Carnival of Souls, and it was made by a highly successful industrial/educational film director. Harold “Herk”Harvey spent most of his career making films for Lawrence, Kansas, based Centron Films (later subsumed under Coronet Films, an even more well known ed/industry film company) with titles such as Health: Your Posture, Shake Hands With Danger, and Manners in Public. On the road driving back to Kansas after having worked on a film in California, he passed an abandoned amusement park outside Salt Lake City that creeped him out – and which inspired Carnival of Souls.

The film concerns a young woman who is involved in a horrific car accident (the car she’s riding in plunges off a bridge into a swollen river). As rescuers are dragging the river trying to recover the car, she emerges from the water, having somehow survived the catastrophe. Perhaps. Continue reading

John and Sean…

Both John Lennon and his youngest son Sean share the same birthday. Imagine that….

Today is Sean Lennon’s birthday. He’s 40. That’s an eerily special birthday to Sean, I’m guessing, given that his dad John celebrated his 40th birthday exactly 35 years ago – and was dead two month later, murdered by the madman who shall not be named here. I also suspect that he’s doing his best to enjoy his day and find what peace he can in his likely fuzzy (he was only five when his father was killed) memories of John.

I’ve written plenty about John Lennon over the years which you can read here and here. I’ve also written about Sean and his half-brother Julian. Their lives have been like the lives of many children of famous people: not particularly happy despite their wealth and fame.

So let’s remember the good times on this special day in the Lennon family. Continue reading

Media

Dear Hy-Vee: why are you supporting pro-slavery talk radio?

by Matthew Grimm

Hy-Vee chain advertises on talk show that advocates immigration internment and slavery, then pretends a corporation its size has no leverage regarding when its ads air…

I want to note before reposting this originally Facebook-posted call for a Righteous Boycott of the Vile Corporate Monster that is Hy-Vee, that it is not that. As America’s uberclass of rapacious loathsome MBA-misdirected corporate douchebags bobsledding the human species towards inevitable doom go, Hy-Vee is not really among them. A Midwestern grocery chain most otherwise notable for being fun to say, it is an employee-owned company (though there are, internally, some semi-contentious limits on which employees make it to employee-owner status), it is also kind of an Iowa institution, like if a supermarket could be comfort food, it would be that.

Which is why it’s actually tough to do this. Continue reading

Music and Popular Culture

Paul McCartney: boy in a band to man on the run…

Tom Doyle’s excellent book on Paul McCartney during the Wings years reveals a Paul most don’t know very well: a conflicted, sometimes lost, boy/man trying to carry on as a musician while also trying to be husband/father and rock star/cultural agitator at the same time – until traumas of very different types made him settle into adulthood and, ultimately, self-acceptance.

Sir Paul McCartney, my favorite Beatle (image courtesy Wikimedia)

Much of what the average rock aficionado knows about the break up of the Beatles comes from either Jann Wenner’s interviews with John Lennon or from casual attention during those years to news reports about the legal hassles the Fabs endured while extricating themselves from their partnership in Apple. Like any break up, personal or professional, (and this was both the severing of an indescribably successful musical collaboration and the splintering of friends who’d been almost inseparable since childhood), the Beatles’ demise was messy and hurtful for all involved.

Tom Doyle’s superb book Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970’s fell into my hands as a birthday present from my beloved sister a few days ago and I dropped my usual reading to devour it, both because I wanted to make sure my sister knew I appreciated her thoughtfulness and because I will read anything written with something approaching competence about The Beatles generally and Paul McCartney specifically. Hell, I even read the incompetent stuff.

This book is as good as any I’ve ever read on these subjects. Kudos to Tom Doyle and to my sister Janis. Continue reading

go-set-a-watchman

Go Set a Watchman: Historically Important – Literarily, Not So Much…

Go Set a Watchman, to use a tired description, is what it is: a sixty year-old first novel that its author, with guidance from a thoughtful editor, revised into a beloved classic of American literature.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (image courtesy Goodreads)

I wrote about Harper Lee’s “new” novel, Go Set a Watchman, a couple of weeks ago and discussed the problematic history of its discovery and subsequent publication. At that time I wondered whether Lee was able to discern how her decision (upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court) might affect her literary legacy.

I’ve read the novel now and can offer two observations: 1) if one is to appreciate Watchman, one must approach it as what it is – a 60 year old work that might have been published as a work of its time; 2) had Watchman been published in 1957 when Lee first shopped it to publishers, it would have been reviewed as an uneven first novel by a young author who showed flashes of promise but as a work was ultimately a failure.

It certainly wouldn’t have sold over a million copies and elicited backlash like this. Continue reading

The Arts

Art as production for use turned into art as production for profit

The art world can’t help but be pleased with the efforts of its victims — there’s money to be made, after all. But there are those of us who watch these developments with increasing alarm, wondering if the art world will ever wake up. The saving grace is that art’s machinations generally have little effect on the rest of the globe. That may be the reason that art — especially today’s art — “is the only human activity that does not lead to killing.” Contemporary art has made itself so meaningless that nobody can be bothered to pull the trigger over it. – Alex Melamid

On Kawara (image courtesy Wikimedia)

I am almost finished with Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman, but rather than rush through the novel’s ending and write hurriedly about it, I wanted a few days to ponder it since I feel it deserves thoughtful consideration. I’ll write about it in my next essay over the weekend.

That, of course, leaves me with the need to find a topic for this essay. I have two, and after careful consideration (that sound you hear is the coin landing on the table), I’ve decided to write about an interesting piece from Huffington Post that is yet another complaint about the problems facing contemporary art. The piece focuses on visual art, but I think the same is true for literature and music, so much of what the author says applies to art in the broad sense of the term’s usage.

That problem is, perhaps explained by using terms that will set of alarm bells for all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons: “production for use” and “production for profit.”

But first a few words about On Kawara who is sort of a poster child for what the title of this essay is on about….

Continue reading

CATEGORY: ArtsLiterature2

Literature as comfort food…

Our choices of favorite books, those we go to time and again for pleasure, for solace, for inspiration, for – comfort – may be inexplicable, even to us….

You can bet a certain Mr. Twain will be on the menu of my literary comfort foods…

As I continue my rather too leisurely reading of Walker Percy’s classic The Last Gentleman, I find myself scrambling for an essay topic. Luckily, last week I was helped out by  my friend Sam who insisted, rightly, that I wrote something about the new Harper Lee novel, Go Set a Watchman. Then I ran into an article at The Nation which allowed me to discuss two of the current movements in literary fiction.  That made for another nice essay to allow me more time to finish the Walker Percy – which I didn’t do.

Hence this essay – more dithering until I get back on track writing about items from the 2015 reading list.

I’ve been thinking for a couple of weeks about this issue, literature as intellectual comfort food. In fact, I’ve already decided that for the 2016 reading list will be devoted to a list composed of at least some of my favorite books. As anyone who reads my drivel is aware,  my tastes run to literary fiction. In past years I have also read compendia of scholarly essays, naturalists’ journals, histories, science works, and even children’s books. So here is a list of five of my comfort food books. These will certainly appear in next year’s list where I’ll write about them in more detail, so for now I’ll offer simply brief explanations of why I return to them again and again. Continue reading

go-set-a-watchman

Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman: mythbusting or manipulation?

The soon to be released Harper Lee novel Go Set a Watchman will be an interesting experiment: a sequel that seeks to explode the mythology surrounding her only other work, the ubiquitously revered celebration of high-minded Southernness, To Kill a Mockingbird. How that will go down with the myriad Atticus Finch acolytes is what will make or break both the novel and perhaps Lee’s reputation as a writer….

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (image courtesy HarperCollins, NY Times)

By now anyone within reach of media of one stripe or another knows that Harper Lee, the long reclusive and now aged and fragile author of one of, if not the the most beloved of American novels, To Kill a Mockingbird, is now, at long last, bringing out a second novel, a work which is both a sequel to Mockingbird and, at least in the minds of early reviewers, a sort of rebuttal of that myth of Southern race relations.

It seems a daring act – but as history shows, Go Set a Watchman is not a “new” work. That raises questions about Lee’s motivation for publishing her novel (which is, it seems clear, the antecedent of Mockingbird). Is this the act of a woman coming to terms with her mortality and wanting to “set the record straight,” to coin a phrase? Or is this what some have claimed, a manipulation of an aged, fragile woman by cynical forces?

However, such questions, and the arguments they have fostered, seem, at best, pointless now. Go Set a Watchman will be released 07/14/2015. And Chapter 1 of the novel is already available from numerous sources for those seeking a preview. What remains, then, is to consider the work – which probably must be done both on its own merits and in terms of its relationship with its iconic descendant. Continue reading

Megabot USA courtesy of businessinsider

Tantō

Kuratas Mecha courtesy of engadget

Kuratas Mecha courtesy of engadget.com

After a courageous performance
Against a team
That was clearly on fire,

And graciously ignoring
The obnoxious juvenile response
Of a nation defined by our wars,

Japan has quietly
Saved the world
By building a giant robot.

Megabot USA courtesy of businessinsider

Megabot USA courtesy of businessinsider.com

It has been a pleasure,
My fellow Americans,
To have served with you

In our common causes
Of freedom and justice,
But the day we feared has come. Continue reading