Monday, February 27, 2017

Roman Breast Plate

from the movie Gladiator (2000)

breasts breast plate

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I pretty much called it

Way back on the 3rd of May, 2015 there was an attack on the First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest held in Garland, Texas. The response to the attack included the Washington Post headline "Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas." Expecting the victim of an attempted mass murder if they'll apologize for being attacked isn't standard.

 Paco of Paco Enterprises in response :
I am trying to imagine the coming American "utopia", where everyone will be compelled to publicly accept the moral neutrality of homosexual acts, traditional Christian teachings on the subject will be excluded from the the marketplace of ideas, but an enormous cultural carve-out will be made for Muslim sensibilities. If Islamist radicals shoot up a gay pride parade, will the incident simply be considered a moral wash, or will gays actually be expected to apologize for provoking their assailants?

my response was this :
I think I would put money on this : the journolisters won't mention any particular religion and blame the "conservative" shooters while gays will be victims of hate/overheated rhetoric and muslims will be said to fear that perpetually mentioned backlash.

Fast forward to June 12, 2016 and the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida occurs leaving 49 victims dead and dozens injured.  This mass murder was perpetrated by Omar Mateen an Islamist radical who had said "real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west ... taste the Islamic state [sic] vengeance." The NYTimes coverage included this editorial :
While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish. 
Throughout the editorial there is no mention of Islam or the potential of Islamic culture or Islamic texts' position on gays to influence Mateen.

Now I admit that the editorial doesn't include anything about a backlash like I predicted but the New York Times doesn't let me down. After the shooting they published an article headlined "A Muslim Community in Virginia Feels the Heat of Extremists’ Sins" and includes a quote from an imam "We’re fearful of a backlash."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Correction for Tim Blair

Angela Davis (right) shaking hands and smiling with leader of East Germany Erich Honecker proponent of the Berlin Wall, the Inner German Border and the idea of shooting people trying to exit East Germany

Tim Blair writes :
Also, it’s the first resistance movement anywhere that actually opposes guns.
"The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance: Resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music." – Veteran US civil rights activist Angela Davis, who is free to say whatever she wants without fear of incarceration.

I don't think Communist Party USA leader Angela Davis is opposed to guns, at least not opposed to guns for people on her side. Four guns owned by her were used to take hostages in a courtroom in an attempt by her boyfriend's brother to free her boyfriend from prison.

In 1970, fired UCLA professor Angela Davis considered a prison inmate named George Jackson to be her "lifetime" husband, though they were never legally married. George Jackson was a Black Panther and in a subset of the Black Panthers called the Soledad Brothers. A plan was hatched to get Jackson out of prison by kidnapping persons during the trial of another Black Panther named James McClain. Those to be held hostage - including the judge, deputy district attorney, and jurors - would be traded for Jackson's freedom. McClain was being tried in the Marin County Hall of Justice. Judge Haley was presiding over the trial of McClain who was accused of stabbing a prison guard while serving a sentence for burglary.[10]
The person chosen to effectuate the kidnapping was George's younger brother Jonathan. In the week preceding the kidnapping, Angela Davis and Jonathan Jackson spent much time together, visiting George, buying things, and cashing checks. In the days before the kidnapping, Davis and Jonathan Jackson drove to Mexico, Santa Cruz, Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco, and San Rafael. Two days before the kidnapping, Davis and Jonathan Jackson bought a shotgun from a pawn shop in San Francisco. After Davis paid for the shotgun, the barrel of the shotgun was sawed off so as to be concealable.[11]

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Robert Reich : Tyranny Detective

Tyrant Detective Robert Reich always gets his tyrant; mostly because he lowers the bar so everyone qualifies.

Robert Reich, has come up with a little video where he explains 
"Historically, tyrants have tried to control the press using 4 techniques that, worryingly, Donald Trump is already using."
1. Berate the media and turn the public against it. Trump refers to journalists as “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “scum.” When Trump lies—claiming, for example, “massive voter fraud” in the election, and that he “won in a landslide”—and the media call him on those lies, Trump claims the media is lying. Even televised satires he labels “unfunny, one-sided, and pathetic.” 
2. Limit media access. Trump hasn’t had a news conference since July. (His two predecessors had news conferences within days of being declared president.) He’s blocked the media from traveling with him, and even from knowing with whom he’s meeting. His phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which occurred shortly after the election, was first reported by the Kremlin. 
3. Threaten the media. During the campaign, Trump threatened to sue the New York Times for libel in response to an article about two women who accused him of touching them inappropriately years ago, and then another that revealed part of his 1995 tax returns. He says he plans to “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” 
4. Bypass the media and communicate with the public directly. Trump tweets incessantly, issues videos, and holds large rallies—all of which further enable him to lie directly to the public with impunity. The word “media” comes from “intermediate” between the powerful and the public. The media hold the powerful accountable by correcting their misstatements, asking them hard questions, and reporting on what they do. Apparently Trump wants to eliminate such intermediaries. 
Historically, these 4 techniques have been used by demagogues to erode the freedom and independence of the press. Donald Trump seems intent on doing exactly this.

Let's look at his 4 criteria and see of Robert Reich thinks Obama is a tyrant: 
1) berate the media - The Obama admin called Fox News illegitimate. I recall Obama on the Daily Show bashing the media for being focused on shiny objects. (as an aside, why should the media be free from criticism? They often truly deserve it.) I'm not sure if he ever committed the unforgivable sin (and the hallmark of all the worst tyrants) of calling a televised satire "unfunny." 

2) Limit media access - Obama kicked some reporters from less fawning newspapers off his plane during the campaign while claiming a lack of room. There wasn't room on the plane for a NY Post reporter but Glamour magazine? Sure. The Obama admin tried to exclude Fox from pool interviews and when the other news orgs balked everyone's interview time was reduced (see link above). Obama's EPA head Lisa Jackson used the nom-de-plume "Richard Windsor" to evade FOIA requests.

3) Threaten the media.  The Obama admin referred to reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator to get a warrant to monitor his email over time because he had written an article based on a source in the State Dept. and then they tried to keep the warrant a secret. Note the selective prosecution of leaks. Obama's appointment Ann Ravel of the FEC wants posting of a video to youtube with a political point of view to be subject to FEC regulations. Obama has said the Citizen's United case was wrongly decided. Keep in mind that when asked "It's a 500-page book, and at the end it says, so vote for X, the government could ban that?" the response from the Obama administration was "Yes"

4) Bypass the media and communicate directly with the public. Yeah Obama has held rallys, TV speeches, radio addresses, TV infomercials * and posted to twitter.

Following is my attempt at being a tyrant in a single sentence :
Because some reporters are awful, lying incompetent hacks (#1 berate the media) I think the law should be changed by Congress so there should be one standard for libel for everyone instead of a separate standard for a "public figure" (#3 Threaten the media) and I'm going to exercise my free speech rights to post this on my blog (#4 Bypass the media and communicate directly with the public) but I will refuse to do a press conference (#2 Limit media access).

(I'd like to point out that while I support having a single standard for libel I am opposed to changing the standard to where the defendant has to prove something is true instead of the complainant having to prove the truth is on their side. I think the value of free speech tends to outweigh the burden of having to present the truth. Also there is the very real idea that something can be true without having proof right at hand. Technically, this puts me at odds with the UK and France where the defendant has to offer proof that what the published is true. Does this mean they are as big a tyrant as me?

* at the TV infomercial link above to the NY Times is headlined "Infomercial for Obama Is Big Success in Ratings" and, while I could have sworn the NYT was interested in the corrosive effect of money in politics, there is absolutely zero mention of it – not even a mention of how much was spent.

Update Feb 10, 2017 : I forgot this important evidence as to why Reich thinks Obama is a tyrant. Back in 2008, during the campaign, a reporter was asking him a question and he responded with "Why Can't I Just Eat My Waffle?"  (#2 limiting media access)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bad graph : Requiem for the American Dream (2015)

A Bad Graph from the movie Requiem for the American Dream (2016) at about 42 minutes in

the graph is labeled at left  "% of total tax revenue"

Noam Chomsky : During the period of great growth of the economy the 50s and the 60s, but in fact earlier, taxes on the wealthy were far higher. Corporate taxes were much higher, taxes on dividends were much higher, simply taxes on wealth were much higher. The tax system has been redesigned , so that the taxes that are paid by the very wealthy are reduced and correspondingly, the tax burden on the rest of the population is increased.

My first thought was that "% of total tax revenue" meant the percentage of all Federal tax revenue – which seemed like an odd measure. My second thought was that graph sure doesn't show much in way of business cycles. That would be because they labeled it "% of total tax revenue" instead of the less ambiguous "tax rate." It turns out that the tax rate on "dividends were much higher" but the "taxes that are paid by the very wealthy are" increased and, contrary to Chomsky, not "reduced."

graph showing capital gains tax rate and the inflation adjusted revenue

towards the end

The tendencies we've been describing within American society; unless they are reversed, it's going to be an extremely ugly society. It's a society based on Adam Smith's vile maxim: all for myself, nothing for anyone else. A society in which normal human instincts and emotions of sympathy and solidarity and mutual support are driven out. That's a society so ugly I don't know who would want to live in it. I wouldn't want my children to. 
If only Adam Smith had some sort of Theory of Moral Sentiments. Of course, "all for myself, nothing for anyone else," was described by Adam Smith as a "vile maxim" and was not his vile maxim.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

She's a ninja! : Riddick (2013)

"She's a ninja!" is what a want to exclaim when I see a TV show or a movie where, usually, a beautiful, small framed woman beats up some guy who is bigger than her. 

At around 1:03 in the movie Riddick (2013), the sequel to Pitch Black (2000) and The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), is an especially egregious example of this. The girl, Dahl played by Katee Sackhoff, after hitting the character Santana (Jordi MollĂ ) several times faces retaliation. He hits her, throws her on the floor and gets on top of her and she struggles futilely.

When they reappear in the next scene she is fine while Santana, a fully grown man who probably outweighs her by quite a bit, is bloodied, disheveled and has left a pool of his blood on the floor. How exactly she managed this is unclear.