America is truly the land of opportunity, even multimillionaire actors can be victims deserving special treatment.
A commenter called Joshinca, commenting on this post about the Oscars, by Roger Simon.
I know this might seem a bit contrarian-for-the-hell-of-it, and I might miss out, but these days a good rule of thumb for me is that if a film has won an Oscar, then there is a more than trivial possibility that it sucks in some way. They resemble Nobel Peace prizes, almost.
The Cold War ended a quarter of a century ago. Some are forgetting about it, others are never even learning about it. Many others are deliberately forgetting about the Cold War, because it, and how it ended, made them look bad. But the Cold War needs to be remembered. What it was. What it meant. And why it was such a good thing that the good side won and that the bad side lost.
Sights like this poster, I suggest, which I managed to photograph at Pimlico tube station yesterday before the train I was awaiting blocked it from my view, might help. It is advertising a German series now running on British TV, set during the final years of the Cold War:
I have not been watching Deutschland 83. Comments from any who have would be most welcome. If such comments materialise, I would not be surprised to learn that it contains many little touches of moral equivalence, inaccuracy, and deft little claims to the effect that the winners of the Cold War won it by mistake and that the losers of the Cold War lost it on purpose. I don’t know, but fear the worst on that front. (A little googling led me to this piece, which, with its typically snearing Reagan reference, does not reassure me.)
But meanwhile, the above poster struck me yesterday and strikes me still as a breath of fresh, clean, truthful air.
I particularly like the colour contrast. I further like that Marx and Lenin get blamed for this colour contrast. I like that there is barbed wire on the bad side but none on the good side, grim and grey sky on the bad side and blue sky on the good side, privation and militarism on the bad side and an abundance of tasty food, romantic pleasure and technological inventiveness on the good side.
Perhaps the makers of this poster – and if not them than at least some of those distributing it and displaying it in this country – thought that they were being ironic rather than truthful. Perhaps some of these people think that this poster does not so much present truth as mock the truthful opinions of people like me and my fellow Samizdatistas, for being “simplistic”. If so, to hell with such anti-anti-communist imbeciles. I prefer the truth about the Cold War and I rejoice that this poster proclaims that truth, especially to people who may not now be aware of it.
It was one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever done. I was in tears. They’d backed up the stage to the wall itself so that the wall was acting as our backdrop. We kind of heard that a few of the East Berliners might actually get the chance to hear the thing, but we didn’t realize in what numbers they would. And there were thousands on the other side that had come close to the wall. So it was like a double concert where the wall was the division. And we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side. God, even now I get choked up. It was breaking my heart. I’d never done anything like that in my life, and I guess I never will again. When we did “Heroes” it really felt anthemic, almost like a prayer. However well we do it these days, it’s almost like walking through it compared to that night, because it meant so much more.
– David Bowie, describing a concert he gave in Berlin, 1987.
Interesting take from Reason magazine.
RIP. He will be greatly missed and his influence on music has been undeniable.
The BBC reports:
Arts body Creative Scotland has defended giving an artist £15,000 to spend a year without leaving Glasgow.
Ellie Harrison’s project is called the Glasgow Effect – a term relating to poor health in parts of the city.
The artist said she wanted to explore sustainability by travelling less and focusing more on local opportunities.
Critics on social media have described it as a waste of money but Creative Scotland said Harrison’s strong proposal had qualified for funding.
On a web page explaining the project, Harrison states: “The Glasgow Effect is year long action research project / durational performance, for which artist Ellie Harrison will not travel outside Greater Glasgow for a whole year (except in the event of the ill-heath / death of close relative or friend).
“By setting this one simple restriction to her current lifestyle, she intends to test the limits of a ‘sustainable practice’ and to challenge the demand-to-travel placed upon the ‘successful’ artist / academic.”
The Independent tells us that,
“The experiment will enable her to cut her carbon footprint and increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create ‘local opportunities’ – testing what becomes possible when she invests all her ideas, time and energy within the city where she lives.”
Responses to the artwork have been mixed. Some Glaswegians have been offended at the idea that their city is evidently considered to be what the Diplomatic Service calls a “hardship posting”, a place that one must be paid extra to endure. Unkind residents of Edinburgh have said that for a year in Glesca, £15,000 isn’t nearly enough. I do think that the extra fifteen grand will make the restriction of Ms Harrison’s current lifestyle a little easier to bear. Unlike the majority of those citizens of Glasgow paid by the State simply for existing within its boundaries, Ms Harrison is free to augment her dole by continuing to work as “‘successful’ artist/academic”, and no need for the scare quotes round “successful”, either. She has done better than most artists in that she has been successful in getting someone to pay handsomely for her stuff (albeit not with their own money), namely the Scottish Government. Of course her finding a patron was probably made easier by the fact that, like herself, those who approved her grant application were part of the famously close-knit Scottish arts community. There is a rather different class of Glaswegian who has to work forty hours a week for a total level of remuneration often not that much different than the top-up Ms Harrison gets to fight off the people simply demanding that she come and bestow her art upon them. According to the Scotsman and the International Business Times, some of these benighted Weegies have been kicking up a fuss at having to pay for all this. You’d think they would be grateful that someone was taking an interest in them. Philistines.
By the way, you all knew that David Thompson would be making his own artistic response to this, didn’t you?
Finally, here are some of Ms Harrison’s own words from her grant application which she has kindly posted online:
Since then, I have developed an actively self-reflexive practice, which is as much concerned with analysing and exposing the motivations, processes and ethics of making art, as it is with the individual projects that I produce (see examples in attached Supporting Material). Whilst studying, I began to notice the environmental impact of my practice, becoming the first individual artist to launch an Environmental Policy. Published on my website in 2010, the policy summarises the action I currently take to reduce my carbon footprint and holds future decisions to account.
Was it tough going cold turkey? Have you still not finished the cold turkey? To lighten the post-festivities hangover, may I suggest a little helping of the traditional New Year’s activity of passionate argument about trivia.
Which examples of factual inaccuracy in films annoyed you the most? And which film inaccuracies do you think were best justified by the requirements of runtime, drama or adherence to the Rule of Cool?
I welcome discussion of inaccuracies in the cinematic portrayal of history, of scientific and technical matters, of law, of war, and of common procedure in various types of human activity. However, restrain yourselves if possible from simply listing deviations from truth that merely arise from ignorance. A more interesting case for good or evil is those compressions, negations and exaggerations that were the deliberate choices of the filmmakers.
A somewhat-related post touching on some of the results of filmic inaccuracies is here.
Last night I attended the final gig in Frank Turner’s current tour for his excellent new album Positive Songs for Negative People. The gig was packed and full of people dancing and singing as loud as they could. It was an unexpected great experience. It was a sort of home coming for him after a long tour and busy few years.
Frank is a self-styled classical liberal and I started to have a look back at the posts from Brian back in 2014. It struck me that Brian picks up on something that said back then, “he is the living embodiment of the above notions”. He isn’t political and shouldn’t be held up as a god for libertarians, but he does what we all probably do – go about living our lives, being passionate about what we do, caring for friends and those who need help and not apologising for our views. In essence, we need to remember that in these turbulent days we need to do the one thing that we can do to change the world. That is we need to live as best we can by living in what we believe in. And for that reason going to his gig so soon after the Bataclan was probably one the best things that I could do as a music fan.
As someone who used to work in the music industry in London I’m surprised that we never met in the middle of all the industry people, talented musicians and amagi tattoos. As he is my neighbour in Islington, I invite him to have a drink and get to know a few of crazy classical liberals.
Bond is driven by a lust for life — for adventure, for sleek luxury cars, for truffles and foie gras and martinis, and yes, for beautiful women. He is certainly out of place in our age of Neo-Puritanism. He probably eats processed meat, the scoundrel.
But this is not mere gluttony. Bond is a man of refined and expensive tastes. He manages to be both aggressively virile and suave and sophisticated. He’s a stone-cold killer in a tuxedo. The guy with the British accent and tailored suit is usually the villain.
That’s something that is missing from today’s movies, or rather something that has come to be associated with villains in American films. We’ve got plenty of knockaround blue-collar heroes (a Bruce Willis specialty) or wisecracking rule-breakers (the space now being filled by Chris Pratt). But the guy with the plummy British accent and the perfectly tailored suit? He’s usually the villain. Maybe this is the leftover reflex of a country founded in a rebellion against British aristocracy. When we see someone with the markers of aristocracy — fine clothes, expensive tastes, a posh accent — we instinctively distrust him.
– Robert Tracinski
By the way, his analysis of why Daniel Craig hasn’t quite got the part down perfectly is very true. He tries too hard at the gritty realism and “I’m the tortoured soul” angle, which I suspect has a touch of PC “we are all victims of our environment/genes” point of view . That’s not what Ian Fleming, a complex character himself, created.
Of course, one thing that genuine liberals will point out is that 007 is a government agent. But leave aside the ideological correctness for a bit (libertarians can be as big a pain in the butt about this as any socialist): the author of the quotes above absolutely nails why people like the James Bond character, quite as much as why social justice warriors and others don’t. He’s been attacked by the puritan left almost from the year when Fleming started bashing out his lines in his Jamaica home. Long may James Bond continue to give such folk a headache.
Right, I am in deepest Dubai, and heading off for an event which involves dressing in a tuxedo.
For just over a year now, the younger of my two Goddaughters has been a student at the Royal College of Music, learning to be a mezzo-soprano. The two of us just shared supper in Chelsea, and while we consumed it she told me something very bizarre and rather sinister, about the chaos that was apparently inflicted, earlier this evening, upon her and her colleagues at the RCM by the latest James Bond film London premiere. This jamboree took place just across the road from the RCM, at the Royal Albert Hall, and it seems that the RCM was commanded to evacuate all its practice rooms that overlooked this premiere activity (quite a lot of which was outside the Royal Albert Hall on those big steps at the back), to stop anyone seeing it, and in particular, presumably, to stop them filming it or photographing it. These RCM practice rooms are in constant use, and alternatives are very hard to come by. Neither the students nor the teachers of the RCM were at all amused by this intrusion into their already stressful and hardworking lives.
How the hell can a mere bunch of movie people insist on barging into other people’s buildings and ordering them around like this? I thought James Bond was all about defending the liberties of British citizens, not violating them. According to GD2, the Royal College of Music did not agree to this arrangement. It was merely informed of it, by Westminster City Council. If the College did consent voluntarily to this arrangement, in exchange for a cash payment, for instance, rather than simply being forced to submit to it, they didn’t tell any of their inmates about that fact.
You can see what the people who inflicted all this upon the RCM were thinking. It was their event. They owned it. Nobody whom they did not invite or control should be allowed to film it. But, I say that if you want total control of the filming or photographing of an event, don’t hold your event in a public place, out in the open air, and then impose your control on places that merely overlook this public place. If you do bizarre things in public, you are fair photographic game, to anyone in the vicinity who chooses to snap you or video you.
GD2 is my only source for this story, and maybe she, or I in reporting what she said to me, have it wrong. I’d welcome comments about this or similar events, corrective if necessary. (I could find nothing about this event, other than about it simply happening, on the www.) But if what GD2 told me is right, and if my recollection of what she told me about it is also right, well, I am not impressed.
This circumstance reminded me of the crap inflicted on London when the Olympic Games came to town.
“1990″, which is a drama on the BBC (made in the late 1970s), portrays a Britain where emigration by persons in certain professions is banned, extortionate taxes are imposed. In short, a Britain where the hard left is in charge. The series was not issued onto DVD (I wonder why?) but can be viewed on YouTube. It is quite striking that the BBC made this at all.
(H/T: The Conservative Woman. Read the whole article.)
“Michelangelo carved his “David” out of a rock. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art just offers us a rock, — a rock — all 340 tons of it.”
– Robert Florczak, Prager University (H/T, Timothy Sandefur.)
Seva Novgorodsev, dubbed: ‘The DJ who ‘brought down the USSR’ has retired. Well I was pleasantly surprised to learn that an anti-Soviet even got a look-in at the BBC, but this was at the World Service, until recently funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (even greater wonder!) and in Russian language broadcasts. I have no idea if this man is as well-known as the article states, but I do like the sound of his using ridicule against the Soviets, something we should all use for Statists.
Seva’s programmes were meticulously prepared and scripted. He timed the intros to all the songs he played and crafted links that fitted perfectly.
“Then gradually I started to insert some jokes,” he recalls. “I knew that people were bored stiff in Russia, especially the young people, who were under oppression of their family, of the school, of their youth party organisation. And Russia is a huge country and especially in provincial places, life is excruciatingly boring.”
He would also take a dig at the Soviet love of ‘science’, and I don’t mean Lysenko.
Beatlology was the name given to a series of 55 short programmes about the Fab Four – it was, he says, “a pun on a lot of unnecessary scientific papers that the Russians used to write, because if you had a degree it would add 30 roubles to your wages”
The latter reminds me of the some points on Samizdata, science is hard here and credentialism here. Oh dear, are we having the gap left by the Soviet Union slowly filled in?
When I was abroad recently, I watched the hotel TV, like you do. The same big story got repeated over and over again, like it does. Do you know what BBC World News thought was the most important story on Earth?
Cecil the lion (peace be upon him). The BBC had a reporter with the crowd outside the house of that American dentist who broke the world’s heart. “Nothing has been seen of Mr Palmer,” smirked the reporter, “which isn’t surprising considering what some people here are saying they are going to do to him.” Then the camera panned to the house for a good long look at it so that anyone else wanting to kill the man would know where to go. I always wondered what it would take for the BBC to see the merits of vigilante justice.
Not to be outdone by the Yanks, now Britain has its own Walter Palmer. Not to be outdone by the Beeb, the Daily Mail is at the head of the mob.
Former GREEN PARTY councillor revealed as a big game hunter who poses for trophy photos with his kills – and defends shooting Cecil the Lion
A former Green Party councillor has defended his hobby – as a big game hunter.
Defiant Ben Wightman, 27, has proudly posted trophy photos of himself next to a series of animals he has shot in South Africa.
The controversial images – on his publicly-open Facebook page – show a grinning Wightman, rifle in hand, crouched beside a host of dead animals, including two antelopes, a bloodied warthog*, an ostrich, buffalo and a zebra.
Wow, a Green Party apex predator. I like it. The Daily Mail commenters don’t. “The comments below have not been moderated”, it says. You can tell. The Mail would not deprive its readers of the manly pleasures of making death threats to people they’d never heard of ten minutes ago. But doesn’t this blockhead know the script? He’s not backing down:
‘I am a firm believer that one of the best ways of management and conservation is with a rifle.
‘We are taking out old, lame or unfit animals that are causing problems for local farmers.’
*Note to the Samizdata elves. A warthog is practically a hippo. I’ve waited years to use this category.