Walking Through Paris on a Summer Evening

 

I rarely post photographs of Paris on social media. This is the most photographed city in the world, and it’s been photographed by the greatest photographers in the world, so there’s not much I could add to your sense of what the city looks like.

I also loathe the practice of taking endless photos of one’s life for consumption on Facebook. It puts everyone who does it at a remove from their own lives. Instead of seeing, hearing, smelling and experiencing what’s in front of them, they’re imagining how it would look through someone else’s eyes — usually, their ex-boyfriend’s. So I don’t do it. Susan Sontag wrote an essay, On Photographydecades before the advent of the cell phone and Instagram, but it seems even more pertinent now: 

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Guy Buys Movie Ticket, Internet Outraged

 

A Brooklyn movie theater recently scheduled a special screening of Wonder Woman open only to women. Cinema/dining chain Alamo Drafthouse said on their website, “Apologies, gentlemen, but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed’ for several special shows at the Alamo Downtown Brooklyn. And when we say ‘Women (and people who identify as women) only,’ we mean it.”

Movie fan (and my Conservatarians podcast partner-in-crime) Stephen Miller decided he wanted to see a new superhero flick, so he bought a ticket online. Upon sharing this rather mundane act, the Internet exploded, as is its wont.

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American Cinema Foundation Podcast #2

 

Here, folks, another week, another podcast. This week we’re discussing Alien: Covenant. Ridley Scott wants to make the lowbrow genre of the blockbuster into a middlebrow work by adding a lot of highbrow art. I’m all for it! So my friend and I are discussing the two important conversations in the movie, in the beginning and in the center, in relation to the works of art on display and their role in revealing character and discerning intentions.

At the same time, we’re talking about the meaning of horror as a genre and the moral logic it obeys. Listen to the end for some shocking remarks about 19th-century British horror stories and the book of Genesis! At the same time, we’re continuing our elaboration of the conflict between life and science — this is Ridley Scott working in his Lovecraft-ian mode. And there’s more! Take a listen, and please share!

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Gregg Allman, RIP

 

This Memorial Day weekend sees the passing of Gregg Allman, co-found of The Allman Brothers Band. The specific causes have not yet been announced. The articles I am seeing so far note that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 1999 and had a liver transplant in 2010.

In lieu of a more thorough discussion of his career, I will direct you to my post from February on the 45th anniversary of The Allman Brothers Band’s Eat a Peach. I may add more in the comments as time allows.

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This Is an Interesting Case of Media Bias

 

There is a story that I first heard on my local Seattle radio station, KTTH 770 AM, this afternoon while waiting in the drive-through line at Starbucks. It involves a biology professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia. It seems that the students of color at our most far-left institution of Higher (?) Education, every year have an event called Day of Absence/Day of Presence, where the students of color leave campus for a day and do their own anti-racism workshops (I assume they skip all their classes that day and talk to each other about how oppressed they are by the faculty and students of pallor). This year, they decided to change the format, and instead of absenting themselves from campus, they “invited” all the white students and faculty to stay away for that day, leaving the campus to them.

Biology Professor Bret Weinstein was not too happy about that, and he said so in an email to the person organizing the event.

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Bring Back Charm School

 

It’s time for a weekend break from politics. So today in “A Weekend Break from Politics,” I propose to lobby for the return of Charm School.

I’m not sure when the idea of charm school, or finishing school, went out of fashion. I’m not sure why, either: Perhaps had something to do with the idea that teaching women to be charming was sexist, or that “charm” was an oppressive, patriarchal social construct; or perhaps, as sometimes things do, it just went out of fashion.

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Can We Just Let the Markets Work?

 

Back around 1980 or 1981, I was working as a staff auditor for Touche Ross & Co (now Deloitte) on my favorite client, Epicure, a stereo speaker manufacturer in Newburyport, MA. This was my second year working on this account. At the end of the job the senior accountant on the job confided in me that he was leaving the firm; he was joining an upstart telecommunications firm, MCI, as their controller. MCI, he told me, was going to be huge. The only hurdle was the break-up of Ma Bell (AT&T), an inevitable outcome in his mind.

The idea that Ma Bell could fall was unimaginable to me. My father had worked for the phone company for 20 years. I had two uncles and an aunt who worked for Western Electric. Break up the phone company? Why? This just seemed wrong.

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Reality Confronts Our Childish Media in the Form of Greg Gianforte’s Election

 

Greg Gianforte’s election to Congress has given the American media the opportunity to condemn violence and lecture the rest of the country about their hypocrisy and the evils of violence in politics. What will get lost in all of the lecturing, righteous indignation, and charges of hypocrisy is any meaningful acceptance or examination of the truth. The truth is that in one district in Montana and likely large sections of the country, you can now get elected to Congress after assaulting a reporter. In fact, since Gianforte raised more than $100,000 after the assault came to light, “body-slamming” a reporter might actually help your chances of getting elected. That fact says more about the media than it does about Greg Gianforte or this election.

First, the election shows that you can’t justify or ignore some political violence. You either have to condemn all political violence or understand you will have to live with it. The media has spent months cackling over the video of some masked thug punching Richard Spencer. They have spent the entire last year ignoring and excusing really shocking instances of leftist mob violence in Berkley, NYU, Middlebury College, and other places. Of course, the media will say this is different. This is a Congressional candidate and a reporter. And to some degree they are right. But it doesn’t matter. That is not how people see it and how things actually work. People don’t see the video of Richard Spencer being sucker punched and think “he deserved it, he is a Nazi.” They see it as the media thinks it is okay to punch someone whose political views you don’t like. Well, the media doesn’t like Spencer but most of America doesn’t like the media. It works both ways no matter how many clever or even valid arguments you make saying one is different than the other. The media can’t celebrate or justify political violence they like and then suddenly expect the country to be shocked by such violence when it affects a reporter.

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Despite Denials, There Is Evidence of Collusion Between the Trump Campaign and the Kremlin

 

It is a common talking point among Trump supporters that “there is not one shred of evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.” This statement is far from true. In fact, the evidence is quite extensive.

The Kremlin supported the Trump campaign through a broad spectrum of means, including staff, funds, propaganda, black operations, trolls, and thugs. We address each of these in turn.

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Allah Had a Good Week

 

Depending on where you get your news, you might have missed some of this. On Monday, one of Allah’s soldiers committed jihad in Manchester, England, killing 22, including several children, and maiming many more. ISIS has claimed responsibility.

On Tuesday, ISIS-backed Muslim jihadists began killing people in the Philippines and kidnapping Christians. More than 80 dead have been reported so far, and martial law has been declared as the jihad continues there.

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Snakes on a Plane – Academics vs the TSA, round n+1

 

The airport security line has ground to a standstill. Again. Some bozo packed a giant plastic penis in his carry-on, and of course the bozos working for the TSA couldn’t resist. From the depths of the man’s carry-on, one TSA worker unsheathes “this mouse penis by its base, like it was Excalibur.” Yep. A Gigantic. Plastic. Mouse. Penis. 3-D printed.

If it makes you feel any better, it’s for science. The biologist carrying it is on his way to a two-day conference, and so has no checked luggage. Other times, scientists carry on stuff that can’t go into the cargo hold even when they’re checking luggage. Permits issued to biologists to collect live specimens may stipulate the specimens must be hand-carried onto planes. Other live specimens simply don’t travel well in cargo holds. A duffel bag full of ants. Live frogs in Tupperware containers. Roaches. These things:

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Quote of the Day – The Man in The Arena

 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

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Gianforte Defeats Quist in Montana Special Election

 

Republican Greg Gianforte is projected to defeat Democrat Rob Quist in Montana’s special election to replace current Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The race took on a bizarre turn when Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly “body slamming” reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian.

With approximately 96% of votes counted, Gianforte had 188,578 votes — or 50.4% of the vote, compared to Democrat Rob Quist who had 164,549 votes — 43.9% of the vote, according to Decision Desk HQ. Libertarian Mark Wicks had 5.7%.

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Tell the Fourth Circuit to Go Fly a Kite

 

The USS Enterprise, under the command of Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, was delayed by a storm during its return to Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Halsey and his staff learned of the December 7 attack through the desperate radio transmission of an American pilot who, upon nearing Pearl Harbor, identified himself as an American and was shot down. Finally able to enter Pearl Harbor on Dec. 8, Admiral Halsey surveyed the wreckage and the carnage and announced that, “Before we’re through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell.”

For his part, President Roosevelt had just finished having lunch with his chief aid Harry Hopkins when Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox phoned in to report a radio message stating that Pearl Harbor was under attack. Hopkins allowed as to how he thought the report mistaken to which Roosevelt replied, after a moment’s consideration, that he thought the report most likely correct on the grounds that it sounded just the Japanese to talk about peace in the Pacific while simultaneously starting a war.

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Fourth Circuit Holds Trump’s Travel Ban to New Standard

 

The Fourth Circuit refused Thursday to reinstate President Trump’s revised travel ban. There is no doubt that this is a Trump-only decision.

The Fourth Circuit clearly says that the executive order is legal on its face because of its invocation of national security reasons. But the court refuses to apply the traditional deference to the President and Congress in immigration affairs because of Trump’s statements both as a candidate and as President that — it claims — reveal he is acting in bad faith. According to the Court, Trump’s true motive is to ban Muslims from entering the US, and the ban on the Muslim-majority nations was simply a means to escape judicial scrutiny.

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Legacy of Corruption

 

It’s hard to count the ways in which the world has been left more violent and unstable by our ex-president, but one particularly poignant reminder of his failure as a leader came to light this week.

In the wake of the horrific Islamic jihadist bombing of a youth event in Manchester that has killed more than 20 and left dozens more grievously wounded, blinded, crippled, or disfigured, the British police services shared classified information with American intelligence agencies — information which our agencies immediately leaked to the press.

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Assault Is Wrong

 
Greg Gianforte.

The first question you have to wonder about concerning the assault and battery allegedly committed by Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte is: How could he possibly have put out a miserable, lying cover story when there were at least four witnesses in the room? The second question is: Do you regret early voting yet?

Here’s the account from Greg Gianforte’s press aide Shane Scanlon:

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The Closing of the American Mind: 30 Years Ago

 

Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind is a very strange book. In part an extended reflection on pop culture and in part a critical history of philosophy, it is also in part a personal memoir. Thirty years ago – when, as a favor to Nobel-Prize winner Saul Bellow, Simon and Schuster published his friend’s book – no one, least of all Bloom himself, expected it to attract much attention. But that it did – and more. For it became a phenomenon. In fact, for nearly a year, it was the talk of the land, and it sold like hotcakes. Bloom, who had always lived beyond his means, soon found it almost impossible to do so.

I doubt that a high proportion of those who purchased Bloom’s bestseller managed to get through or even much into its second part. This section of Bloom’s tome – entitled “Nihilism – American Style” – is brilliant, and the writing is quite lively. But to even begin to understand the argument, one must be a Kulturmensch with at least a passing familiarity with writers such as Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Heidegger; and those who got bogged down in the early pages of part two are not likely to have gone on to part three: “The University.” It was the book’s first part, entitled “Students,” that electrified the American public.

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