May 26, 2016

History on Hold (Warriors 120, OKC 111)

MAY 26, 2016 AT 2:04 PM

The Thunder Are On A Historic Playoff Run

(link)

May 24, 2016

Never forget

Madeleine Lebeau passed away on May 1st.  She was the last of the credited actors in Casablanca, and to my teenage eyes, quite a bit hotter than the frosty Bergman.

I was so superficial in those days


Here are three wonderful blog posts on Lebeau and some of the other minor players in the film:

(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)


May 22, 2016

I seem to remember this happening at Vassar once

May 21, 2016

The bad news is: there is no chance of that happening

"The good news is that we have time and the smarts to manage this, if all the states work together."

(link)

And if OKC wins, they will be the first team to win the championship ahead of TWO of the greatest teams in history...



Despite their disappointing loss in the Western Conference semifinals to the Thunder, the Spurs still rank as the sixth-best team in NBA history(!), behind only Michael Jordan’s Bulls, Steph Curry’s Warriors and Larry Bird’s Celtics. Playoff success rightfully counts for a lot in NBA lore, so this Spurs team may very well be forgotten — or remembered only as a historic playoff disappointment. But a team that went 40-1 at home and led the league in point differential for most of the season, despite playing in the same conference as the Warriors, deserves credit. Unless the Warriors stumble, this season’s Spurs will go down as the best team in history to not win a title.

(link)

Looks fair, forget I said anything


Well, there's your problem

The vulnerability, which allows attackers to gain access to the devices over HTTP and HTTPS connections without authenticating themselves, was patched last July, but the fix wasn't widely installed.

(link)

And now bad people control the Internet.  Good job everybody.

May 20, 2016

Another old NBA fogey...wait, Larry said what?

Watching these kids play now, I'm like everybody else: Wow, man. They can really shoot! They have more freedom to get to the basket. The ball moves a little better. These kids are shooting from farther, with more accuracy. Now some teams shoot up around thirty threes a game. My era, you always think that's the greatest era. But I'm not so sure anymore.

(link)

Oh, the OTHER "shipping"...

The term "Shipping" — which ostensibly derives from "Relationship" (though it might as well be "Worship"; in some fandoms, it's Serious Business) — was originally coined by fans of The X-Files, who were divided between "relationshippers" pushing for romance and "noromos" who would rather have No Hugging and No Kissing. The phenomenon itself, however, was ubiquitous in practically every fandom long before. The source of the term's popularity is shrouded in myth, but Geek Mythology has it that you can blame people in the Pokémon anime's fandom who rooted for Jessie and James (of Team Rocket) to get together and decided to call themselves "Rocketshippers". This got the term to catch on in that fandom, then people brought it with them to other fandoms, and today The Other Wiki needs a tiny disambiguation note at the top of its article on maritime delivery of goods.

(link)

May 19, 2016

Well, good

For years, “brands” have been paying “ordinary” “people” to “mention” their products in meaningless, easily ignored social media posts. This is called “influencer marketing,” and it’s collapsing. Fantastic, because it was a bullshit enterprise to begin with.

(link)


(Could this be the moment when we finally stopped getting...stupider?)

May 18, 2016

WARRIORS DOMINATE

Series tied 1-1.

Ezra Klein on Captain America: Civil War

"I rooted for Tony Stark in his fight against Captain America. But I only did it because I'm a patriot."

(link)

May 16, 2016

Coming attractions

Here is my comprehensive review of Captain America: Civil War.

That said, I'd like to point out that Disney/Marvel/Hydra now have put together all the pieces to deliver (should they so choose) a cinematic version of one of the greatest storylines ever in the history of comics.  To sum up:
  • Spider-Man is now buddies with The Avengers.
  • We know an Avengers / Guardians of the Galaxy team-up is possible.
  • We know the Big Bad of this universe is Thanos.
Which means there is at least a chance that before this is all over we will get to see this (depending on actor availability and contractual arrangements):


Unlikely, I know, but just the thought of it makes me quite happy.

May 13, 2016

Newmesis!

Warriors-Thunder Is The Strongest Conference Finals Matchup In Decades 

(link)

May 12, 2016

Our resident film expert proposes a shot-for-shot remake of 'Robin Hood' with this cast

Robin - Chris Pratt
- "What a pity her manners don't match her looks."

Marian - Daisy Ridley
- "I am afraid of nothing, least of all you."

Sir Guy - Zachary Quinto
- "Now that you've robbed us and had your fill of insulting us, we wish to leave."

Prince John - Gary Oldman
- "Well, this is what we Normans like - good food, good company, and a beautiful woman to flatter me."

Will Scarlet - Billy Magnussen
- "One of us? He looks like three of us!"

Little John - Hugh Jackman
- "You'll sweat the lard out of that fat carcass of yours before this day is over, my pudgy friend..."

Friar Tuck - Mark Hamill
- "...and I hope some Norman sword whittles you down to size."

Much the Miller’s Son - Martin Freeman
- "Come on, lass! Give us a kiss and wish me luck!"

High Sheriff of Nottingham - Johnny Depp
- "I hope our little golden hook will catch the fish."

Bess (Marian’s attendant)  - Meryl Streep
- "'Urry up and take that ugly face of yours out of 'ere!"

Bishop of Black Canons - Patrick Stewart

Landlord of Kent Road Tavern - Jeff Bridges

King Richard - Chris Pine

Nemesis?

Not-so-much-esis.

"How dare me?"

May 11, 2016

Hamilton and Hume vs. Jefferson

Brad DeLong outdoes himself here with an incredibly learned and fluent account of why Jefferson opposed Hamiltonian policy:
Let’s start with Jefferson the ideologue, Jefferson the agrarian, Jefferson the person who above else was scared of corrupt imperial monarchical authoritarian autocratic London.
Jefferson was a very smart guy, was a very forward looking guy. 
Jefferson also tended to believe his teachers, and his teachers had taught him a particular version of ancient history – call it the republican virtue tradition, right, that once upon a time there had been a Roman republic, and it was virtuous because it was composed of small farmers who ploughed their own land, and lived simply and ate porridge and loved freedom and would rebel against kings or foreigners or anyone else who tried to take control of their lives. 
And as long as the basis of Rome was the small farmer, who really didn’t want to be in government, say Cincinnatus – if you named Cincinnatus to be dictator to command the armies of Rome, he would come, and he would command the armies of Rome in their wars against their foes because he loved the republic. But as soon as he possibly could he would abandon Rome itself and go back to his farm and go back to his plough.
That’s what he really wanted to do. And indeed, there’s no doubt that this had a huge influence on America in the generation of the founding. 
We have a city called Cincinnati, for heaven’s sake. We had a Society of the Cincinnati, made up of George Washington’s army officers during the Revolutionary War.
Against this, against this belief that the only way to have a virtuous republic in which people were free was to have small holding farmers dominate, against this, in Jeffersonians’ imaginations, was imperial Rome or imperial London. The Rome that had conquered the Mediterranean Basin, in the process acquired millions of slaves, handed out those slaves to the politically powerful oligarchs of Rome who then got their enormous estates on which they lived lives of luxury. 
As they lived lives of luxury they lost their concern with the republic, they lost their republican virtue, they lost their ability to stand up to foreigners and to would-be kings. And the whole system comes crashing down with the wars of the first Century BC, and then with the ascent of first Julius Caesar and then the Emperor Augustus who stabilises the situation, who keeps Rome powerful, who keeps Rome rich — but who makes Rome not free. 
'Say what you want about decadence, but at least it's an ethos.'
That was how Jefferson was taught Roman history had gone, and Jefferson’s teachers said that’s what’s happening to imperial Britain in his day, in the late 18th Century. That’s what’s going on in London now, as trade grows and commerce grows and manufacturing grows and corruption grows and aristocracy grows, and the wealth of the elite grows.
And the remnants of political freedom that still remain are, Jefferson and company thought, about to be stomped into oblivion. That’s why Jefferson and company made the America Revolution, in response to insults and exactions from the British mother country that were quite small relative to the size of the American economy of the day, or indeed that were quite small relative to the taxes that other people had to pay in other countries.
But they thought it was a matter of life and death to get out from under this growing imperial structure. 
'Smash the imperialist threat to our agrarian paradise!'
And then no sooner do they win independence but Jefferson turns around, looks at New York, Philadelphia, looks at Hamilton, and says by heaven’s sake, they’re trying to do the same thing to us here. 
Also this week in the political implications of economic structures, this fine rundown on Hume in The New York Review of Books includes this interesting note:
Adam Smith wrote that Hume was, so far as he knew, the first writer to argue that manufacturing and commerce tend gradually to produce greater liberty and security for citizens.

I'm still turning it over in my mind, but a few thoughts:

  • The Civil War was complex, but not too complex to be framed as the industrial/financial Northeast vs. the agrarian South.  I'm a fan of Jefferson, but I suspect he would have been a Confederate.
  • The agrarian lifestyle is less appealing when you don't have people doing the work for you.  This interesting essay concludes with the thought that "it's hard to find many people, including self-professed conservatives, interested in a return to a life of manual labor on the land."
  • You know who else thought the rural agricultural life promoted moral virtue and distrusted urban financial centers?  Haven't read it, but I've seen a couple of good reviews of this book.
  • The Rome that survived - Byzantium - was built around the kind of imperial urban center that Jefferson hated.
  • When I lived out in Harvard, Mass. I learned a bit about the local history.  Several utopian groups had moved out there over the years, looking to get themselves back to the Garden.  Some of the Shaker buildings are still there.  But these experiments dwindled and faded into history.  Boston remains right where it has been, however.
It's a trap

This reminds me a little story.  The "Square House" the Shakers moved into had been built by a man named Shadrack Ireland, who, mirabile dictu, now has his own Wikipedia page.  If anyone deserves one it's old Shadrack, who not only convinced a bunch of girls to move to the country with him, but also...

...claimed that he would not truly die but would be resurrected. He ordered his followers not to bury him when he died, but to await his resurrection. The circumstances of his death in September 1778 were recorded by a former follower, Isaac Holden. Holden learned the details when he went to visit the Square House, not knowing that Ireland had died. The evening of his death, Ireland appeared changed but calm and serene. He washed himself as usual, and said to Mrs. Cooper and Sister [?] Nabby, that "the Lord hath down with me and I have completed all the work he sent me to do but don't be [hurt] for I am a [going] but don't bury me for the time is very short God is coming to take the church." Ireland then went upstairs, knelt under a window, and prayed for the "hundred & fiftifour thousand" concluding by saying, "father I am but [past] do thy will". He then laid down on the bed and died. 
Ireland's body was left as he had ordered until the smell became so bad, that he was put in a long white box in a corner of the cellar and covered with lime. His body remained there until July 1779, when his followers, David Hoar and Abijah Worster, buried him in an unmarked grave in a cornfield. David Hoar then led the group for a while. 
Many of Shadrack Ireland's followers were converted to Shakerism by Mother Ann Lee, who then took over the Square House. Ann Lee later anathemized Ireland and would sometimes refer to his presence as an "evil spirit". At one time, she even claimed to have banished him to hell.

These rural utopian things rarely work out.  I'll stick with the city for now, although one day I may return to pretty Harvard...now that they have proper coffee there.

The Truth

But no one else -- not Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain or LeBron James -- was the unanimous MVP choice. In all of the excellence that has graced the NBA, no one else has ever put together a season that so outshined anything close to it, not a single contrarian or biased team rep could bring themselves to write another name ahead of Curry.

(link)

May 09, 2016

How to play "A Horse With No Name" on your guitar

Q:  Is the correct tuning DEDGBD?

GB: Yeah, It’s virtually the only song
you’ll hear with this tuning, because
Dewey and Dan and I were always just
messing around. The low E goes down
to D, the A goes all the way down to E,
and then it’s D G B and the high E goes
down to D. So, the weird element there
is the A coming all the way down to E,
but Dewey frets both E strings at the
second fret, and he frets the D string at
the second fret, so you’ve got this E E E
G B E kind of drone-y [sound]. It’s that
slapping A string that’s taken down a
fourth that really is part of the signature
sound.

Q:  Dewey, how did you come up with
the tuning?

DB: We’d been listening to Joni Mitchell
a lot and David Crosby at that point. I
mean, it can’t be underplayed that we
were at that point digesting every note
of every new release of everything. Now
we’re into ’68, ’69, ’70 and we were
huge fans of Crosby, Still & Nash and
Buffalo Springfield. Even the first two
Led Zeppelin albums, we loved the
acoustic guitars... I remember specifi-
cally playing this chord and going, that
A string isn’t sounding right, and I just
started turning the key until I got it down
to another E, and I just formed a chord.

(link)

May 08, 2016

Also considered for the role of Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider) in "All That Jazz"

According to IMDB...
  • Bob Fosse ("Producer David H. Melnick pointed out that Fosse, who had a history of heart problems, wouldn't survive the shoot.")  
  • Richard Dreyfuss ("Originally cast in the role of Joe Gideon but left the production during the rehearsal stage") 
  • Warren Beatty
  • Paul Newman ("He wasn't comfortable playing a dancer and didn't bother reading the script.")
  • Alan Bates ("too British")
  • Jon Voight
  • Alan Alda
  • Gene Hackman
  • Jack Lemmon ("too old")
  • Robert Blake
  • Jack Nicholson
  • Elliott Gould
  • George Segal

The original

We saw Robin Hood (1938) at the Stanford Theater last night, and...damn.  I cast around for a decent essay on the movie, and finally remembered that Roger Ebert periodically expressed views on classic films.

The visual language of the film is just stunning:
Consider the opulent tapestries of the castle interiors, and reds and golds and grays and greens of Milo Anderson's costumes, the lush greens of Sherwood Forest (actually the studio ranch at Chico, Calif.). The cinematographers, Sol Polito and Tony Gaudio, were using the original three-strip Technicolor process, which involved cumbersome cameras and a lot of extra lighting, but produced a richness of color that modern color films cannot rival...


Their love scenes, so simple and direct, made me reflect that modern love scenes in action movies are somehow too realistic; they draw too much on psychology and not enough on romance and fable. It is touching and revealing to see the lovers in middle age in "Robin and Marian" (1976), with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn bridging the poignancy of their long separation, but how much more satisfying on an elementary level to see Flynn and de Havilland playing their characters as the instruments of fate; they come together not simply because of love or desire, but because they are so destined. Their union suggests the medieval ideal of chivalric love, in which marriage is a form of God's will. 

The swashbuckling in the movie is thrilling precisely because it is mostly real. The weakness of modern special effects pictures is that much of the action is obviously impossible, and some of the computer animation defies the laws of gravity and physics. It is no more possible to be thrilled by Spider-Man's actions than by the Road Runner's. It is more exciting to see the real Jackie Chan scampering up a wall than to see the computer-assisted Jackie Chan flying...

The intimate scenes have a directness that is almost bold. When Robin and Marian look in each other's eyes and confess their love, they do it without edge, without spin, without arch poetry. The movie knows when to be simple. And it is the bond between Robin and Marian, after all, that stands at the heart of the movie. The ideal hero must do good, defeat evil, have a good time and win the girl. "The Adventures of Robin Hood" is like a textbook on how to get that right.
What he said.

(link)

Great unused autobiography titles, Exhibit A

The expression "in like Flynn" is said to have been coined to refer to the supreme ease with which [Errol Flynn] reputedly seduced women, though there is dispute about its origin.  Flynn was reportedly fond of the expression, and later claimed that he wanted to call his memoir In Like Me. (The publisher insisted on a more tasteful title, My Wicked, Wicked Ways.)

(link)


May 07, 2016

Fascinating story, GOP




(link)


Here is a simple chart I made from the above data:

May 05, 2016

What has been thought cannot be unthought

No matter where they are, Banner's sweaty dick is the celebratory fireworks after the parade of violence. Every battle will end with a shivering naked man waiting for somebody to grab a robe from the quinjet.

(link)

Available now




(link)

May 04, 2016

Leicester City wins Premier League

Wait, what?

Here is a list of English football champions.  On inspection, you might notice that the Modern Premier League has had an unusual feature, namely that only four clubs are allowed to win.  In the 20 years prior to this season, the champions were:
  • Manchester United, 11 times
  • Chelsea FC, 4
  • Arsenal FC, 3
  • Manchester City, 2
With loyal fans and tycoon owners, these teams also lead the League in payroll, ensuring their continued dominance to perpetuity.



Contrarian to the last, I've always enjoyed rooting for the tail-enders, like Wolverhampton before their unfortunate relegation in 2012.  The drama of a team trying to avoid relegation - and the accompanying financial ruin - has a pathos almost unmatched in sport, and the joy of survival rivals that of winning the championship.

In short, Premier League is a microcosm of English society in the modern era.  A few lucky winners living large, a middle doing ok but never winning much (Tottenham), and everyone else scuffling along, trying to make the best of a hopeless situation.  The tail-enders are so hopeless that at the start of this season Ladbrokes was laying 5,000-1 on Leicester City.

That, it turns out, was a mistake:


(source)




They did it the wrong way, Gabriele Marcotti of ESPN FC notes:
This is not a team of promising kids, using their enthusiasm and talent as a bulwark against the pressure of expectations that comes from a title run. Nor is it a clutch of seasoned veterans, guys who've been there and done that and are using their experience for one final hurrah because they "know how to win." 
The average age of the starting XI is a ripe old 28. And you can fit the contents of the entire squad's trophy cabinets into duffel bag: there's Shinji Okazaki's 2011 Asian Cup with Japan, Robert Huth's two Premier League titles as a Chelsea benchwarmer a decade ago and Leo Ulloa's Argentine Clausura crown in 2007 as a teenager sitting at the end of the bench. 
They were nobodies, coached by a loser.  And the bookies lost their shirts.  From The Telegraph:
For the few punters bold enough to put cash on the season’s “joke bet”, the result means winnings of up to £100,000 each, though the nation’s bookmakers will be less than jubilant: between them they will be paying out £25 million, the biggest loss in British history on a single sporting market...  By way of comparison, the odds offered on Leicester winning were twice as long as the 2,500-1 odds offered on Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards winning ski-jumping gold at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
And for the metaphorically-minded, it reminds us that even the most unforgiving class systems can suddenly give way:
In an era when football fans accept that only the richest clubs stand any chance of success, unfashionable Leicester’s achievement will go down as one of the greatest in any sport, ever...
It was the first time in my lifetime that a Tier 3 club was able to fight its way all the way to the top (though Ipswich Town managed it in the late 50s - early 60s, when there were fewer tycoons about):


Hollywood is on the case:
The club’s turnaround was personified in Jamie Vardy, their top scorer, who was still working as a medical technician at the age of 25 before being spotted playing for a non-league side. Four years on, he is playing for England and his irresistible rags-to-riches story is being turned into a feature film.
They're huge in Algeria and Thailand, too.

Incredible.

May 03, 2016

Blazers wondering where it all went wrong (hint - avoid those 34-12 4th quarters)



May 02, 2016

More disaster, please, and a bit more train wreck as well

The Republican candidates for president have campaigned all over the country lamenting the rough recovery from the recession and condemning President Obama — and by extension Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton — as failures when it comes to jobs and the nation's well-being.

Then they come to California, where the state's unemployment rate is 5.4%, more than eight percentage points below what it was when Democrat Jerry Brown took over from a Republican governor less than six years ago.

At the weekend state Republican convention, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tied himself in rhetorical knots when he tailored his pitch to California.

"Y'all are a hardy bunch," he told Republican delegates. "You are used to adversity and you have seen the absolute disaster, the absolute train wreck that is out-of-control liberalism."

(link)

I was thinking Ceaușescu, but Peron is a better fit

One man's angel...

The tale begins in Bangaii, days after an auspicious solar eclipse appeared over the region. A 21-year-old fisherman was walking the beach when he spotted a beautiful, lonely angel on the sand. Naturally, he took her appearance as a sign from heaven and he gently bundled her up and took her home.

There, he attired her in a blouse and skirt, which his parents changed daily as a sign of respect.  Intrigued by reports (or maybe just really bored), local police visited the house to see the angel for themselves.

There, they made the less-than-holy discovery.

"It was a sex toy," police chief Heru Pramukarno told a local newspaper.

(link)

May 01, 2016

Andrew Sullivan is back, and he has something to say about the election

From today's article in New York Magazine :

And so those Democrats who are gleefully predicting a Clinton landslide in November need to both check their complacency and understand that the Trump question really isn’t a cause for partisan Schadenfreude anymore. It’s much more dangerous than that. Those still backing the demagogue of the left, Bernie Sanders, might want to reflect that their critique of Clinton’s experience and expertise — and their facile conflation of that with corruption — is only playing into Trump’s hands. That it will fall to Clinton to temper her party’s ambitions will be uncomfortable to watch, since her willingness to compromise and equivocate is precisely what many Americans find so distrustful. And yet she may soon be all we have left to counter the threat. She needs to grasp the lethality of her foe, moderate the kind of identity politics that unwittingly empowers him, make an unapologetic case that experience and moderation are not vices, address much more directly the anxieties of the white working class—and Democrats must listen.
More to the point, those Republicans desperately trying to use the long-standing rules of their own nominating process to thwart this monster deserve our passionate support, not our disdain. This is not the moment to remind them that they partly brought this on themselves. This is a moment to offer solidarity, especially as the odds are increasingly stacked against them. Ted Cruz and John Kasich face their decisive battle in Indiana on May 3. But they need to fight on, with any tactic at hand, all the way to the bitter end. The Republican delegates who are trying to protect their party from the whims of an outsider demagogue are, at this moment, doing what they ought to be doing to prevent civil and racial unrest, an international conflict, and a constitutional crisis. These GOP elites have every right to deploy whatever rules or procedural roadblocks they can muster, and they should refuse to be intimidated.
And if they fail in Indiana or Cleveland, as they likely will, they need, quite simply, to disown their party’s candidate. They should resist any temptation to loyally back the nominee or to sit this election out. They must take the fight to Trump at every opportunity, unite with Democrats and Independents against him, and be prepared to sacrifice one election in order to save their party and their country.
For Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.

Yeah, without Curry they're helpless.





April 30, 2016

Neme-fucking-sis