We’re halfway through the holiday madness, and I have to admit it has been nice having slow news days instead of shocks to the system every few hours day after day. There really is nothing to write about today, but here are a few reads to check out if you’re interested.
Of course Trump is still nuts and he’s still tweeting nonsense.
And he’s still in steep cognitive decline. Raw Story: Psychiatry expert says Trump’s rambling Merry Christmas rant includes three signs of serious mental impairment.
President Donald Trump’s speech in Florida over the weekend provides evidence that he is suffering from cognitive decline, according to a psychiatric expert.
Seth Davin Norrholm, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, said Monday that the president’s recent rant about Christmas included at least three signs of mental problems.
“So if anybody wants to be a nice conservative, talk show host is not a bad living, I would say. But I have to say, he’s a very unique guy and he’s a great man and he’s been a great friend. So thank you to Rush. Thank you,” Trump said.
“And let me begin by wishing you a beautif — [NOTE from BB: This is the point where he had the shoulder spasm and lost the plot at 22 sec.] look, do you remember this? Do you remember this? Remember, they were trying to take Christmas out of Christmas. Do you remember? They didn’t want to let you say Merry Christmas,” Trump continued.
“You’d go around, you’d see department stores that have everything red, snow, beautiful, ribbons, bows. Everything was there. But they wouldn’t say Merry Christmas. They’re all saying Merry Christmas again. You remember?”
Well, I don’t know where that title came from, well actually I do. I am watching Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Lifeboat. (Damn, what an opening for a film…Lifeboat (1944) — (Movie Clip) Those Nazi Buzzards)
Such a good film.
I have plenty of links for you this morning, here they go, in link dump fashion.
Let’s start with the GOP…
The title of this first link by Lawyers, Guns and Money says it all: House GOP: Never Waste A Crisis By Neglecting to Punish Women!
Another predictable demand has been added to the GOP’s ransom note:
House Republicans have added a measure aimed at limiting contraceptive coverage to the spending bill coming up for a vote Saturday night, a spokesman for Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, told CNN.
A senior House leadership aide confirmed that development.
The so-called “conscience clause” would allow employers and insurers to opt out of preventative care for women which they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds. That prominently includes birth control, which most insurers are required to provide for free under current Obamacare rules.
Yeah, that is just another twist of the screw. Not that any of this will pass, which brings me to this next article from Business Insider: How A Government Shutdown Will Hurt The Economy
After you take a look at that overview, you can read a refresher of Idiot America, including an excerpt of a FDL interview with Charlie Pierce when the book first was published: The Three Great Premises of Idiot America Take Center Stage
These are good times for those who practice wingnuttery and those who observe them. With the release of the latest IPCC report on global climate change and the ever-more-likely crash and burn that is the Congress of the United States and its handling of the budget and its apparent willingness to refuse to pay the bills that they have incurred under past appropriations, the wingnuts have a feast spread before them to dine upon, as demonstrated by the speechifying of Ted Cruz on the floor of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.
Sadly, we can’t simply enjoy our popcorn as we watch: wingnuttery exacts a cost, either in the idiotic policies and practices they foist upon society (see almost anything enacted at the urging of the NRA), or in the time and energy that must be wasted to beat back these idiocies (see Krugman, Paul “the Shrill One”). No, popcorn is not an option.
It’s no surprise, then, that my thoughts have been turning to Charles Pierce.
Four years ago, the inestimable Mr. Pierce put forward The Three Great Premises of Idiot America:
1. Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
2. Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough.
3. Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is measured by how fervently they believe it.
Every Sunday morning, The Three Great Premises of Idiot America are trotted out on the Sunday morning talk shows, and this weekend should be an excellent proof of Pierce’s wisdom. Again, see “Cruz, Ted.”
Some of you may remember this quote from Pierce:
At the FDL Book Salon chat with Charlie when the book first came out, watertiger asked a question that has only become more urgent over the last four years: “How do we extract ourselves from this ‘perception is reality’ paradigm? Is there a way out?” Charlie’s answer, likewise, has become ever more urgent as well:
WT, I’ve given that a lot of thought and the best answer I can give is that we, as citizens, simply have to do better at self-government. We have to distinguish between entertainment and information. Our powers of discernment have to be sharpened. And, it should be said that, at many of its highest levels, my business has fallen green-room-over-teakettle on this very question. Any journalist who accepts “perception is reality” as axiomatic is committing professional malpractice. Our job is to hammer the reality home until the perception conforms to it.
But here is an idiot for you, from No More Mister Nice Blog: CONGRESSMAN CULBERSON’S ANALOGY: OUTRAGEOUS, BUT NOT COMPLETELY INACCURATE
Yes, this is appalling:
During a meeting of the House Republican Caucus, Congressman John Culberson (R-TX) compared the relentless Republican effort to defund Obamacare to the heroic efforts of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who overpowered terrorists who had gained control of the plane.
I don’t agree with the rest of this post, about the tweet being not “completely inaccurate.”
But the analogy isn’t entirely off base.
Remember what happened on the “Let’s roll” flight, United Flight 93? A lot of ordinary people died, and a target in D.C. was spared. The target was apparently the U.S Capitol, where Congress works.
As a result of what the Republican are doing now, a lot of innocent ordinary citizens will be harmed. You know who probably won’t be harmed? Members of Congress. They’ll still be paid. And most of them probably won’t lose their seats — only three House Republicans lost seats in 1996, after the last shutdown.
Ordinary citizens suffering while members of Congress are spared? Yes, there are some similarities between then and now, even if they’re not the ones the congressman had in mind.
That is a stretch to me. Because the assholes in Congress are acting like terrorist holding the US economy hostage…as this cartoon from Luckovich so perfectly illustrates: 9/29 Luckovich cartoon: Kindred souls | Mike Luckovich
While we are on the topic of terrorist, did you see the cover of this weeks Newsweek? Newsweek Cover About Female Suicide Bombers Features Tampon Dynamite
Newsweek Pakistan’s latest cover story is on the rise in female suicide bombers. And, so, naturally, this week’s cover features the words LADY PARTS emblazoned over the image of tampons with lit fuses where the removal string would normally be. That’s some TIME-level trolling, Newsweek. Kudos, I guess.
The good news is that Newsweek’s bombpons cover allows you to tick off several squares on Deliberately Provocative Magazine Cover Bingo. The bad news is that everyone on staff cringed when we saw it.
Alright, now for the links associated with women…
Why don’t people behave in more environmentally friendly ways? New research presents one uncomfortable answer: They don’t want to be associated with environmentalists.
That’s the conclusion of troubling new research from Canada, which similarly finds support for feminist goals is hampered by a dislike of feminists.
Participants held strongly negative stereotypes about such activists, and those feelings reduced their willingness “to adopt the behaviors that these activities promoted,” reports a research team led by University of Toronto psychologist Nadia Bashir. This surprisingly cruel caricaturing, the researchers conclude, plays “a key role in creating resistance to social change.”
Writing in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Bashir and her colleagues describe a series of studies documenting this dynamic. They began with three pilot studies, which found people hold stereotyped views of environmentalists and feminists.
In one, the participants—228 Americans recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk—described both varieties of activists in “overwhelmingly negative” terms. The most frequently mentioned traits describing “typical feminists” included “man-hating” and “unhygienic;” for “typical environmentalists,” they included “tree-hugger” and “hippie.”
Another study, featuring 17 male and 45 female undergraduates, confirmed the pervasiveness of those stereotypes. It further found participants were less interested in befriending activists who participated in stereotypical behavior (such as staging protest rallies), but could easily envision hanging out with those who use “nonabrasive and mainstream methods” such as raising money or organizing social events.
Go to the link and read the summary of some of the results…it really is interesting. Especially when you consider the recent poll using the Obamacare vs. Affordable Care Act.
This by Scott Lemieux at LG&M: Why David Gilmour’s Sexism Matters (And Criticizing it is Valuable Free Speech)
Some good news out of Florida: Retrying the “warning shot” case – Anderson Cooper 360 – CNN.com Blogs
Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a warning shot at her abusive husband. She tried to use the “stand your ground” law in her trial. But a judge just ordered a new trial. The panel debates what role the controversial law may play in the retrial.
For a smooth move to the science part of the post…there is this story about women dancing ballet: The ballerina brain could hold a key to treating chronic dizziness
Years of training cause structural changes in a ballerina’s brain that help her stay balanced in the pirouette, said a report Friday that may aid the treatment of chronic dizziness.
Brain scans of professional ballerinas revealed differences from other people in two parts of the brain: one that processes input from the balancing organs in the inner ear, and another responsible for the perception of dizziness.
Most people, after turning around rapidly, feel dizzy for a period thereafter.
This is because of the fluid-filled chambers of the ear’s balance organs, which sense the rotation of the head through tiny hairs that perceive the fluid swishing about. The fluid continues to move for a while after the spin — which creates the perception that one is moving when still — hence the dizziness.
Ballet dancers can perform multiple pirouettes with little or no feeling of dizziness — a feat that has long puzzled researchers.
The pirouette sees a dancer execute one or more full-body turns on the toe or ball of one foot.
“Ballet dancers seem to be able to train themselves not to get dizzy, so we wondered whether we could use the same principles to help our patients,” Barry Seemungal from Imperial College London’s medicine department said in a statement on the study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.
For the study, Seemungal and a team spun 29 ballerinas around in a rotating chair in a dark room, and did the same with 20 female rowers of similar age and fitness levels.
The women were asked to turn a lever on a small wheel attached to their chair in rhythm with the spinning sensation they experienced after the chair was brought to a halt.
For the dancers, the perception of spinning lasted for a”significantly” shorter period, said the study.
The researchers also looked at the women’s brains with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans.
They found that the part of the cerebellum which processes the signal from the balancing organs, was smaller in the dancers. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that governs body movement.
“It’s not useful for a ballet dancer to feel dizzy or off balance,” said Seemungal. “Their brains adapt over years of training to suppress that input” — allowing them to continue dancing after spinning around in a pirouette and complete a performance without losing their balance.
“If we can target that same brain area or monitor it in patients with chronic dizziness, we can begin to understand how to treat them better.”
The physicists were exploring the properties of photons – an elementary particle that is the most basic constituent of light and all other types of electromagnetic radiation – when they managed to create molecules formed from photons bound together.
The discovery is startling as it goes against what scientists have previously believed to be the signature quality of photons: that they are massless particles that do not interact with each other. The capacity to create molecules out of photons has been described by the physicists involved as “pushing the frontiers of science”.
“Most of the properties of light we know about originate from the fact that photons are massless, and that they do not interact with each other,” said Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin in a press release published at phys.org.
“What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they begin to act as though they have mass, and they bind together to form molecules.”
“It’s not an in-apt analogy to compare this to lightsabers,” Lukin added. “When these photons interact with each other, they’re pushing against and deflect each other. The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.”
And a segue to history…artsy stuff: Landmark study explores Hispanic Baroque while reinventing digital humanities research
Inspiring everything from Las Vegas to Lady Gaga, Hispanic Baroque is every bit an influence on modern day trends as is hip-hop and hipsters. And yet, tracing the cultural complexity that Hispanic Baroque has spawned for centuries has proven an unenviable task. Until now.
A landmark study by The Cultureplex Lab at Western University has explored Hispanic Baroque like no previous research project of its kind. By combining traditional research tools of the humanities with complex data analysis from the sciences, Cultureplex Lab principal investigator Juan-Luis Suárez and his team have developed new methodologies which have ignited research capabilities of this ever-influential cultural phenomena (and all other digital humanities research for that matter), figuratively – not literally – transporting the game-changing study through space and time.
A stitch in time– via Medievalist.net
…the local mayor of Mayenne was well aware of another, less obnoxious Norman tradition: their fondness for strip cartoons. He commissioned a bande desinée to tell the story in pictures of Mayenne and our spectacular discoveries. The result was entertaining and educational propaganda: Mayenne was placed at the centre of French history, yet demonstrated itself as a model of European co-operation Those who lived in Mayenne could be proud of their town; those who did not should pay it a visit. The grand-daddy of all strip-cartoons, the Bayeux Tapestry, was made over 900 years earlier. It is a remarkable survival, that was recorded in 1476 in the Inventory of Notre Dame Cathedral in Bayeux as: ‘a very long and very narrow strip of linen, embroidered with figures and inscriptions representing the Conquest of England, which is hung round the nave of the church on the Feast of Relias’.
The Tapestry (or, more accurately, embroidery) has been subject to scholarly scrutiny for a couple of hundred years, so one might be excused for believing that the last word had been uttered and that we know all about it. Not so – Bayeux Tapestry scholars seem to reinvent the object of their desire almost every decade. But the answers to their questions remain elusive. Who commissioned the tapestry? Who made it, where and when? Where was the Tapestry first displayed? Was the message of the Tapestry outright Norman propaganda or a more evenhanded attempt at Anglo-Norman reconciliation? Even that great English myth, supposedly familiar to all schoolchildren, King Harold’s arrow in the eye, remains a matter of debate.
The archaeological record shows that linen was an important part of Viking Age clothing. Linen cloth developed gradually from being virtually nonexistent in Scandinavia at the start of the first millennium AD, to being an important part of fashion during the Viking Age a thousand years later.
The importance of linen is also very visible among the many re-enactors of the period, and every self-respecting ”leisure Viking” will own at least a shirt or a skirt of linen. Re-enactment is also done professionally, as part of the tourist related activities in Visitor centres and museums across the country. Ribe Viking Centre is such an open-air visitor centre, recreating authentic milieus from Ribe and its nearest surrounds during the Viking Age. The centre also works as a teaching institution, where young people, for which the normal school system is not currently a viable option, can get a different kind of schooling experience, and therefore be helped further on in the educational system. Both staff and pupils on Ribe Viking Centre are therefore dressed as “Vikings” during the tourist season, where they work with different crafts across the site, recreating a living experience of the Viking age, at least in aspects. In this they make a valuable regional contribution to the tourism industry as well as playing an important role in social and educational aspects of contemporary society. From the University side, we have gained much respect for the professionalism and success with which both tasks are handled on an everyday basis at the Viking Centre.
The main parts of the garments worn at Ribe Viking Centre are made from linen. Visitors to the Centre will therefore be met with a vision of the Viking Age, where linen is a very dominant part of the fashion during the period. But it this true? Or possibly one should better ask: What kind of effort would such an extensive use of linen represent? One thing that we did notice during our work at the Centre was that while visitors could readily appreciate the effort behind the buildings and the crafts shown at the centre, the clothing was a more invisible factor, even though the making of clothes must have been an important part of life in the Viking Age. The work presented in the following helped illustrate just how important it must have been.
Tonight is the season finale of Breaking Bad, two sweet links for you:
Those are both long articles, as for the one about the predictions, my own prediction follows that of :
The great thing about “Breaking Bad” is that creator Vince Gilligan and his team of subversive, demented scribes have always managed to give fans exactly what they want, while also surprising them. (I knew, for example, that Gus Fring’s number was up, but I did not see THAT particular moment coming.) So in trying to predict what the final episode will bring, it’s hard to divorce it from what I hope it will bring. There’s a big machine-gun in play. Someone is going to get mowed down while saying hello to Walter White’s “little friend,” and the most likely victims will be Big Head Todd and the Monsters, a.k.a. the neo-Nazis who executed Hank, enslaved Jesse, and slaughtered his would-be girlfriend Andrea. But their reign of terror is not over yet. Before Walt gets to them, they will exact a little more agony on his existence.
Finally, we have the specter of Gray Matter, raised in the last episode after lying dormant for many seasons. Will Walt finally right the injustice of his lack of credit for the creation of this tech giant? Who cares! Nobody — except Walt, and that’s all that counts in his world. I could see his old partners going down in a hail of gunfire as he starts his final kamikaze mission.
Last week, we saw jittery Lydia (seriously, does she drink only decaf tea?) urging Todd to tidy up the Skyler situation with extreme prejudice. This is a big, big “Breaking Bad” no-no. When you slaughter innocents, that’s awful enough (and one could argue about whether Skyler is really a bystander anymore). But the even bigger sin is hypocrisy. Remember when Walt ran down the drug dealers who were targeting kids? It was one of his bravest, most self-sacrificial moments. But then the very next season, Walt was slipping poison to little Brock as a means of manipulating Jesse. This is when he crossed over into straight-up evil-doer territory, and that — truly — is when he began earning all the horror that has fallen down around him. Lydia once begged Mike (now enjoying his retirement in Belize) to spare her life while her daughter played in a nearby room. He spared her, and now she is pointing Todd’s gun at another woman, another mother, and telling him to pull the trigger. I expect her to die horribly, but not by the ricin capsule. That would be too fast, and too easy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her karmic payback come at the end of Walt’s smoking M60, probably while she begs for her life. Gilligan emphasizes violence in the abstract. Count on seeing one very bloody pair of Louboutins.
Todd will go down trying to protect her. This psycho’s puppydog crush gives him a kind of misguided honor he lacks in almost every other circumstance. After casually offing the innocent (there’s that word again) dirtbiking kid Drew Sharp, and blowing Andrea’s brains out last episode, we — I — need to see this guy suffer. He’s too shallow a human being to suffer as mightily as a Walt or Jesse, so I think his comeuppance will come in the form of futility. He’ll do some grand, selfless gesture of gallantry to protect Lydia and will be unceremoniously wiped from the Earth. Or, she might sell him out, push him in front of a bullet meant for her. Whatever the case, his death will bring a moment of comic relief to the finale. At least, I hope so.
Skyler … Skyler, Skyler. She, Walt Jr. (now going exclusively by Flynn, I’m guessing) are not going to have an A-1 day. I think Gilligan will spare the toddler Holly. This is a ruthless show, but he has broken the audience’s heart so often, especially in this last run of shows, I have to believe he will cut us some slack on the baby. Flynn, however … He took a bold stand against his narcissistic old man. He’s one of the few, unadulterated good-guys on this show. That makes him ripe for death. The death of their eldest, honest, and somewhat naïve son will be the ultimate punishment for the Whites. I’m guessing he will die sacrificing himself to save his mom and sister — a noble death, one that means something. The opposite of Todd, in another words. He will face it boldly and unafraid (the exact opposite of his old man.)
If Skyler survives, she will go forward in pieces. Walt …? Death isn’t a punishment for Walt, it’s a release. I’m not sure there is a punishment great enough for him. It’s far too late for him to be redeemed, but I do think Gilligan and Co. will find a way to at least make him penitent. We have not seen Walt be truly sorry. I’m not even sure what that would look like in a mind as twisted as his. He thinks of himself as a king, and kings liked to be buried with all their belongings. Walt’s belongings, apart from the money he lost to the neo-Nazis, are his family. He has always considered himself above them, their keeper, and it would not surprise me to see him engineer a reunion with them (if, say, Walt Jr. survives). That ricin tablet? I can envision a scenario where he seeks to bury himself alongside his family, taking all of them with him. Don’t drink or eat anything he “cooks” for you, White family!
There is a chance Jesse will be spared this reckoning and escape with his life – such as it is. But probably not. One thing we haven’t seen in this show is a large meth explosion. Since he is being forced to cook for the Nazis, engineering that kind of blast – even if it kills him, too – might be one way of cleansing the earth of these motherf*ckers.
Oh, and as October is just around the bend: Haunted October 13 Film Guide (TCM, 10/1-10/19) – Bright Lights After Dark
October is the best month in the world: you can wear your cool jacket and sweater combo, but you’re not freezing cold yet, there’s no ‘family’ holiday looming at the end of it to undo what sanity you’ve managed to accrue over the last 11 months, there is only the looming darkness of Halloween and Daylight Savings, the merciful twin blanket set of disguise and darkness.
And of course, there’s the horror movies. The speeding darkness and chill draws ghosts and candelabras, witches, demons, and monsters to our cinematic desires like a magnet. And TCM is there. As are we at the Bright Lights After Dark, where we turn those bright lights way, way, way down, all the better to scare you.
But Halloween isn’t the time for just any kind of horror movie, not the time for giant bugs, Godzilla, radio active waste, torture porn, serial killer procedurals, etc., but the horror of the past… of the unconscious, the Freudian Gothic, of long dead relatives rising from their tombs to drink the blood (and, if they’re played by Paul Naschy, fondle the breasts) of the living. It is the time of murderous devolved cannibals in the basement fed by Lon Chaney, or Lovecraftian mutants fed by Boris Karloff who doesn’t really need that wheelchair because he’s grown his own ghost legs. It is the time for Vincent Price, 70s ESP pre-slasher cycle variants, and for old school Universal Lugosi films, and 60s Hammer Chris Lee films. And TCM has them.
Rather than just list them all, blah blah, I decided to pick out the best, rarest, most worthy dozen and just present the date / time of their showing/s, and a link or few words of descr. attached to a movie poster (unless the poster is weak)…. I skipped all the ‘essentials’ casual fans are familiar with already, such as Bride of Frankenstein, Night of the Living Dead, and The Wasp Woman. I want to point out the late night/early morning rarities, the ones worth recording.
All times listed Eastern Standard…. the best Standard in the world.
You go and check that list out!
Ending with Hitch, have y’all ever seen this sculpture over in London?
It is located where Hitchcock filmed most of his movies in England: Gainsborough Studios.
Now there are condos/flats built that surround this Buddha like statue of Hitchcock’s head, check out this one listed for almost one million dollars: 2 bedroom apartment for sale in Gainsborough Studios London, N1, N1
Isn’t he wonderful!
Damn, if I won the lottery I think I’d have to buy one of these condos, sight unseen…
Y’all have a great day, and post some links and thoughts in the comments.
(BTW, you want to see a cool review of Lifeboat? Take a look at Tired Old Queen below.)