What’s a Movie Studio?

 

In October 2019, Tyler Perry made the news with the gala, all-star opening of his film and TV studio in Atlanta. Almost every Black actor of renown was part of the celebration. Plenty of younger actors actually cried on camera out of joy, at the thought that finally, finally at last there was a Black-owned studio. More established and experienced people, like Oprah Winfrey, just smiled, because as much as they honored him that night, they privately knew the quiet limits of his accomplishment, because they know what the word “studio” really means.

I’ve got nothing against Tyler Perry—quite the contrary. He proved there was a viable, profit-making business model making films for American Black audiences that wasn’t ‘70s-style blaxploitation, but were mainstream, family entertainment. There’s a lot of interest in making films and TV shows in the South, and there’s a good business case for building facilities there. But the question remains: in the real world, what’s a studio?

Britain Leads on “Race” with a Remarkable Report

 

Dr Sewell PM Boris JohnsonBoris Johnson’s government has done something important for a world that would regain or retain freedom from the serfdom of the socialist left. When challenged with Black Lives Matter and other Marxist front groups posing as social justice warriors, PM Johnson had a serious commission, comprised almost entirely of ethnic/racial minority members, dig into the real facts, conducting a deep dive into extensive data. The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, issued its report on March 31, 2021.* This report, at 258 pages, is written in clear English, not leftist academic jargon. You must read at least the foreword, introduction and recommendations, as they speak just as clearly to contemporary America as to the United Kingdom.

In response to the massive leftist street violence and claims of systemic white racism, the Johnson government announced the membership of a Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities on 16 July 2020.** It is a credit to Boris Johnson, and the politically and culturally brave members of the commission, that this report has been put before the British public and the world after only 9 months. No American panel or commission could do as well in twice the time, based on our history of blue-ribbon committees, commissions, and panels. You may be sure that the U.S. Department of Defense reports from the supposed studies launched in June 2020 will be embarrassing pseudo-research by comparison.

Written in the first person, in the voice of the Commission chair, Dr. Tony Sewell, the Forward, introduction, and full recommendations are compelling. What follows is an extensive excerpt, with emphasis added [and a few parenthetical comments by me]. Note the absence of poisonous race-baiting and white-shaming. Note how Dr. Sewell and the commission speak the hard truth about poor whites, especially poor white boys, being in some of the very worst, least “privileged” or powerful positions in Britain. This is likely also true here in the United States.

Insidious or Inane?

 

Yesterday as I was preparing to fly out of Baltimore airport, I wandered past a coffee shop I hadn’t seen before: Green Beans Coffee Co. Since I imagined I must still be caffeine-deprived after two gigantic seder meals, delicious holiday lunches, and visiting with warm and generous people, I wanted just a simple cup of hot and tasty coffee.

As I approached the kiosk, I noticed that the person in front of me was filling out a form. I assumed she might be completing a job application.

She wasn’t.

Labor Law and ‘Takings’ Clause Collide

 

Last week the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the highly contentious case of Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid. The case lies at the troubled junction of labor and takings law, which operate from fundamentally different premises.

In this instance, state regulations under the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 (CALRA) provide that “an agricultural employer’s property shall be available to any one labor organization for no more than four (4) thirty-day periods in any calendar year.” The period of access covers one hour before work, one hour after work, and one hour during lunch for employees to “meet and talk” about union representation.

In this case, however, the United Farm Workers (UFW) entered Cedar Point’s trim sheds one morning at 6 a.m. using bullhorns, during work hours, thereby disrupting the employer’s business operations. That simple action gives rise to two very different claims. The first, and more modest, claim is that the UFW engaged in an unfair labor act under CALRA by going beyond its regulation. The second is that the CALRA itself is unconstitutional. Any trespass onto the employer’s property, which the regulation explicitly authorizes, constitutes a taking of private property, Cedar Point argues, in violation of the Fifth Amendment that provides “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”

ACF PoMoCon #34: Angelo Codevilla

 

So I talked to the most vigorous polemicist I know, Angelo Codevilla. I read him for decades in the Claremont Review of Books, and recently in American Greatness, the Tablet, and elsewhere. He’s got good news: Cancellation is a two-way street–the more of us are cancelled, the weaker the position of the oligarchy and their media minions becomes, since they are a small minority. To those who deny us respect we should deny respect in return. We talk about about media, education, the need for political leadership, the corruption of the CIA and FBI, and about good horses and bad riders.

Palm Fronds Blowin’ in the Wind

 

The desert wind is blowing lightly through the palm tree fronds this Sunday, Palm Sunday by the western churches calendar. The weather carried on the wind is sunny and increasingly warm. Two thousand years ago, on the first Palm Sunday, the fickle crowd swayed in favor of a promised prince of peace, a ruler to set things right. Within the week, the wind shifted again, bringing darkness to match men’s hearts and death to set things right.

Years ago, I caught a moment with a rainbow set in a dark sky over the palm trees planted in an Arizona desert city. I thought of it the evening before Palm Sunday and dug it out of the archives. The rainbow calls to mind Noah and the Great Flood, when the Sovereign of the universe was so offended that he used water to wash away almost all of life on Earth. Yet, He chose one righteous man and his extended family, along with a population of birds and beasts, to weather the cataclysm. No sooner had the flood waters receded and the ark emptied, with Noah leading sacrificial thanks, then the Lord said:

William Shatner Rock Steady at 90, Still Not Blowin’ in the Wind

 

William Shatner Major TomAt the beginning of March, I left deep discussion of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” to others. True, I included Peter, Paul, and Mary’s rendition on “A Breezy Playlist.” It is also true that I issued the standard warnings about the possibility of disco and bears if postings did not pick up along the way. However, this, this never crossed my mind. Blame @arahant who, in a comment on @prestonstorm’s “A Millenial’s Appreciation of Star Trek,” pointed out William Shatner singing to George Lucas.

That is like a laser pointer to a cat for me. What follows is the result of my mental cat running the computer mouse all over as the little green dot danced away. Enjoy some culture and cornbread heading into the weekend. Courtesy of the American Film Institute:

Black Lives Matter

 

It is true that young black men are being killed disproportionately — killed brutally, ruthlessly, and unjustly. And we need to talk about it if we hope to put an end to it.

We have data, and that data has been studied carefully. We know, based on that, that police are not the ones doing the killing. We know, based on that data, that police do not disproportionately kill young black men.

The Reality of the Need for More Nuclear Energy Is Hard to Ignore

 

Shutting down nuclear power plants is a lot easier than generating reliable, carbon-free energy. As The New York Times reports on the tenth anniversary of the meltdown of three nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan, following a massive earthquake-tsunami: “As the share of nuclear energy in Japan has plummeted from about a third of total power to the single digits, the void has been filled in part by coal and natural gas, complicating a promise that the country made late last year to be carbon-neutral by 2050.”

Indeed, a member of the government’s advisory committee on energy policy said the nation’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 would be hard with nuclear — but, he was quoted by the Financial Times, “In my view, without nuclear it is close to impossible.” (So far just a fifth of the 50 shut-down reactors have been restarted.) In that same NYT piece, reporters Ben Dooley and Hisako Ueno tell the story of what’s been happening in Suttsu, an “ailing fishing town” on Japan’s northernmost major island of Hokkaido. There’s been a big pushback by residents — a firebomb was tossed at the mayor’s home — upset that the mayor agreed to volunteer the town for a government study on potential locations for spent nuclear fuel rods. No commitment, just a study.

Before Fukushima, the piece continues, resource-poor Japan had come to accept its need for nuclear power. That, despite its World War II history. Perhaps reality will be accepted once again given (a) no fatalities have ever been found to be directly attributable to radiation exposure from the Fukushima meltdown and (b) the reactor shut-downs have caused fatalities due to the national switch to dirtier and more expensive power generated by imported coal and oil. More of the rest of the world will also accept the need for a nuclear solution. More on that reality in a recent essay from the Breakthrough Institute’s Ted Nordhaus:

Utah Wheels and Rails, Part 2 (Conclusion)

 

(Announcer:) Turn down the lights! You’ve tuned in to Ricochet Silent Radio, our long running theater of the mind. Last night, we began this week’s adventure, Utah Wheels and Rails, a work of fan fiction featuring actual Ricochet members in the Beehive State. And now, the second half, the conclusion.

(Voice of Jason Rudert:) A week went by. I sent the rocket booster metal X-rays to Houston, addressed to nobody special at “The NASA Archives”. I received a form letter of thanks, which was nice.

Laurence Fox: Tattoos and Free Speech

 

An actor who can think. A figure so marvelously cool, so ineffably with-it, so supremely and ineffably hip, that he has tattoos, rides motorbikes, and rolls his own cigarettes–but who’s entirely on our side. In an interview we recorded just a couple of days ago, the British actor Laurence Fox explains why he has given up his career in drama to found his own political party, run for mayor of London, and dedicate himself to the great cause of freedom of speech. Warm and witty. Thoroughly engaging. And utterly determined.

Critical Corrosion of American Military, Pt. 1

 

We are hollowing out our military again, placing Americans in danger, both those in uniform and the civilian population. In the 1970s, the military was wracked by equipment, training, and personnel problems. After two decades of not-so-small wars, the American military again faces equipment, training and personnel problems, with a new twist. The latest United States Service Academy (West Point) cheating scandal is one manifestation of a 21st Century personnel problem, created by senior leaders embracing critical race theory, a leftist assault on our Constitution and institutions. This leftist assault, embraced by elites, civilian and military, weakens the foundations of integrity and trust in our military at every level.

From January 2021 onward, the American military has shown very troubling signs of accelerated politicization, with attendant concerns about weakness in the face of a resurgent threat environment. This is more than a single post, so I will start with the “so what,” with why it really matters if our military becomes like a socialist military, with political commissars enforcing party doctrine as national interest. I will then briefly outline how training and practice of the military-styled “Equal Opportunity” changed over the decades. Finally, we will take a look at the case of critical corrosion at West Point, the United States Military Academy.

POLITICAL MILITARIES UNDERPERFORM

Biden Chooses 1619 Over 1776

 

On his first day in office, President Biden unilaterally eliminated the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission, which had written the 1776 Report as the only action of its brief tenure.

The Report (which is well worth reading) had been met by full-throated hysteria from the Left, although in any other age it would have been regarded as informative and moderate. The report was written in response to the 1619 Project, now being introduced to school children nationwide, which holds that the introduction of slaves, not the Declaration, was the seminal event in American history.

The Report was not intended to plow new ground but to educate Americans about their unique and sometimes complicated history. The Report emphasizes how unique for the times was the founders’ commitment to political and personal liberty as well as the natural equality of all. It reviews the founding principle of natural rights endowed by our Creator, for which government is the safeguard.

When the Unexpected Keeps Showing Up

 

In one sense, I’m tired of writing about my upcoming chemotherapy. If you’re tired of reading about my perceptions preceding it, sign off now. But I can’t help noticing that lovely things keep showing up. Unexpected. Loving. Delightful. Maybe these are all just flukes. Or maybe not.

I started to notice odd things starting yesterday. I had to get my teeth cleaned. (It turns out that once you begin chemo, you’re not supposed to get dental work until it’s over.) I start chemo on April 6; I had my next cleaning scheduled on April 7. So, we re-scheduled.

Utah Wheels and Rails, Part 1

 

Turn down the lights! You’ve tuned in to Ricochet Silent Radio, our long-running theater of the mind. Once again, Tales of the Pit conjures up images you can’t see, and sounds you can’t hear, in the first half of this week’s adventure, Utah Wheels and Rails, a work of fan fiction featuring Ricochet members in the Beehive State.  And now, our presentation.

(Music cue) (Sound of a clock ticking. Then sounds of a cat.) (Voice of Jason Rudert) “Every cat I had would do that weird, deep, sorrowful meow when they’d killed something, or maybe when a mouse or bird would sneak in. I thought of it as their bragging meow, but you could also think of it as a high-pitched roar of triumph.”

Ahead One-Half Impulse

 

Happy Birthday to Captain Kirk, the original and the best captain of the Enterprise. I thought of Star Trek today as I watched this video, linked on Instapundit, of Tesla’s “FSD 8.2 Beta” self-driving software.

I’m not familiar with self-driving technology, so I don’t know how to fairly evaluate the vehicle’s performance. Were it piloted by a human driver, I’d encourage license revocation. But the car is driving itself, and I’m impressed by the situational awareness the vehicle demonstrates.

Silent Radio Is Back!

 

Get ready to gather around the old Philco console and turn down the lights! On Wednesday and Thursday this week, March 24 and 25, you’re invited to tune in to Ricochet Silent Radio, our long running theater of the mind. Once again, Tales of the Pit conjures up images you can’t see, and sounds you can’t hear, in our newest radio-scripted adventure, Utah Wheels and Rails, a work of fan fiction featuring actual Ricochet members.

In today’s world, what does it take to be actually countercultural? Culturally, Salt Lake City is a world away from Hollywood. Utah is (mostly) new territory for RSR; in 2016, we published a satirical takedown of the Sundance Film Festival. The new story reflects interest, respect and sometimes amusement at the very different ways of that city, as well as being a tribute to some of the cyber-friendships we’ve formed online. Who are the real non-conformists? You’ll find them right here.

A Letter to My Woke Friends

 

I don’t buy your narrative that America is a racist country. I think you are ignorant: you have a cramped and impoverished understanding of history, and no sense of proportion. I reject your “white privilege” palaver. I don’t slice and dice my fellow man into little groups based on superficial characteristics, and I won’t claim to know any more about a man based on his skin color than you know about me based on mine.

Diversity and inclusion? You can keep it. Diversity of views is lovely. Diversity of race, sexual orientation, color, and other trivial details of anatomy and preference is a crock. Every man is an identity group of one, so keep your woke bigotry. You obsess about it all you like, but I’m not interested.

Facing Your Fears and Appreciating Your Life

 

As I quietly meditated yesterday morning, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a giant wave of anxiety. I knew precisely what it was about, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

In a couple of weeks, I will begin chemotherapy, and I had been so brave and centered about the whole thing. And then my fears suddenly showed up and the last thing I wanted to do was face them. I have much to be thankful for, and up until that moment I was leading my usual life. I anticipate experiencing much joy in the next couple of weeks, especially celebrating Passover with the @iwe family. So fear was completely unacceptable.

And then I remembered an ancient and wise teaching. Many people believe that when fear and anxiety show up in our lives, we need to stuff them away, defeat them and move on. I used to believe that was the best strategy; I could ignore the fear and make believe it just didn’t exist. It’s just that deep anxiety has a mind of its own, and is determined to be acknowledged, no matter how hard we try to ignore it; it will continue to rear its ugly head until we face it. So as I sat quietly, I allowed myself to be swamped by that anxiety. I felt its intensity, its demands for my attention, its power. I didn’t indulge it with devastating ideas or conjure up negative outcomes. I simply sat with it. And within moments, it began to dissipate. Anxiety had been acknowledged, which is all it asks for; it really has no interest in wounding my heart or maintaining its strength. In another few moments, I could once again feel the solace and sweetness of my meditation. And time moved on.

Homeschooling and ‘Socialization’

 

My kids starting homeschooling 30 years ago, when homeschooling really wasn’t much of a thing. A question commonly asked back then, and probably still today, was “how will they be socialized?”

In fact, they all came out pretty well, at least in that regard. (Decades of having me as a dad has left some of them with an … unconventional … sense of humor, but that’s another story.)

Precision

 

A long time ago, when I was a youngish man on my own living in Colorado Springs for the third time, I knew a guy who could play pool. He could do other things as well: he was a mechanical engineer and inventor, and an expert woodworker. But it was his ability to play nine-ball that had me at his place two nights a week, learning from a master.

I was an average pool player. I grew up with a table in the basement, and I spent many long evenings as a kid racking the balls and seeing how few shots it would take me to sink them all. But I was lazy: I’d take one easy shot, and then look for the next easy shot. If I planned ahead it was never more than a shot or two.

The Pandemic is Over

 

Before you demand that I share the source for my title, I suggest instead that my observation is obvious. The highly maligned term “common sense” would tell you that. In fact, if we look at the definition of pandemic, the truth becomes even clearer (unless you have no interest in the truth):

1: an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population: a pandemic outbreak of a disease; a global pandemic Influenza pandemics seem to strike every few decades and to kill by the million—at least 1m in 1968; perhaps 100m in the “Spanish” flu of 1918-19.— The Economist

Holy Mackerel! It’s Saint Paddy’s Day

 

Atlantic mackerelHow about something different for Saint Patrick’s Day fare? There is plenty of corned beef hash with boiled cabbage and potatoes on offer at public eateries, ready to be washed down with green dyed light beer, or Guinness and Irish whiskey. This is the first holiday with many bars and restaurants fully open to celebrate since last March. This year, I’m trying other Irish fare: mackerel fish patties made with potatoes, served with fresh baked Irish soda bread. Cabbage will come in shredded as a bed for the fish cakes.

Mackerel is traditional Irish fare.

We all have a basic awareness of the deep connection between the Irish and potatoes, see Famine. You should also have a notion that an island nation has a strong sea fishing tradition. Think of Irish or Aran (Island) sweaters, knit originally to keep the fishermen warm on the cold Atlantic waves. You have that image in mind because these simple but elegant home spun sweaters caught the eye of Vogue editors in the late 1950s.

ACF PoMoCon #33: Vaccines and Digital Media

 

Today I bring you news about the epidemic–Matt Shapiro, Polimath on Twitter and Substack, joins me to talk about his long-running data project on COVID. Next week he’ll have a new monthly update for cases, deaths, vaccines, each state tracked by the region where it seems to fit in a pattern, so you can sign up for his Substack. We also talk about the great big good news story the media isn’t dealing with: America’s vaccination success, which seems to augur a return to normal life–or a chance to put life back together — by summer. (We also talk about digital media, what conservatives might do to build trust, and Looney Tunes!)