Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Riches of Current Audio Drama Production

As tempting as it is to excerpt one of these programs (I haven't yet sampled more than a few of them, myself) I'm just going to give you a link to the article that links many different audio productions that are being produced right now.

Indie Audio Dramas You Should be Listening To in 2018

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Nick Stafford - The Fire Inside

Supernatural tale: A stranger seeks shelter at an isolated farmhouse in the depths of winter. The occupants, Jack and Mavis, put him in an upstairs room, sparking a sinister chain of events - and an investigation into what has really been going on...

Philip Jackson as Jack
Kate Rutter as Mavis
Jonathan Tafler as Ellis
Stephen Critchlow as Colin.
Directed by Claire Grove.

I don't post many tales of the supernatural because I don't find them very interesting, but once in a while it makes a change.   This is one of the few times I've heard Philip Jackson when he didn't play a cop.  It's really amazing how many shows are cop operas. 

I've been leaning pretty heavily on the Youtube channel these are posted on while I was sick, I'll post more of them because there are some real gems in the dozens and dozens of BBC radio plays he's posted.  Will try to vary it a bit more as I get better. 

The Sad Truth Is That Lenny Bruce Was Not Funny

You don't have to take my word for it.  Go to Youtube and watch Lenny Bruce doing his act.  He wasn't funny, he was just someone who said a few things that were shocking in the 1950s and early 60 so that after they started arresting him for talking dirty his audience could figure they were a bunch of hipsters.  The French deification of Jerry Lewis as a comic genius was pretty much the same thing, pretending they thought he was funny because it was hip.   Amber Ruffin and Samantha Bee, not to mention Stephen Colbert or Seth Myers are funnier in one of their routines than everything Lenny Bruce said in his whole alleged comic career.   You can say the same about Mort Sahl.  The Mort Sahl story about how he had to fill in for him when Bruce got arrested wasn't very funny but it was funnier than anything either of them said in their acts.   Seriously, they were not funny.  Compared to them Bob Newhart is ten thousand times funnier.  So was Jack Benny.  

He was an asshole. 

Update:  Comparing the stream of coprolaliousness that is the stuff that came out of Lenny Bruce with the improvisation of one of the greatest jazz musicians of all, Charlie Parker, is one of the most disgusting and insulting insults to great art in the history of insults to great art.  And there's more than a slight stench of racism about it, as well.  The only jazz musicians I can think of that I'd compare Bruce with is that schmuck of a toodler who slammed Wayne Shorter a few years back,  I won't give you his name because the faster he's forgotten the better. 

Update 2:  I knew who Lenny Bruce was before that bint was born and I didn't think he was funny before he ODed.   Eschaton, a blog for people who can't read or think. 

Update 3:  Anyone who pretends to have thought "Masked Man" was sidesplittingly funny is lying.   Either that or they're brain-splittingly stupid.    That some moron made a movie of it (which isn't funny, either) didn't make it any funnier.   Lenny Bruce was a bore. 

Update 4: 

The comic Lenny Bruce. He died 50 years ago this month. 
Last week, on the 50th anniversary of Lenny Bruce’s death, a small crowd gathered at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on the Upper West Side of Manhattan to watch videos of his stand-up. Mr. Bruce appeared on a large screen and told jokes for 40 minutes, and hardly anyone laughed.

In the middle of the last century, Mr. Bruce was the coolest comic in America. Then he died and became more famous, a mythic cultural figure celebrated in hagiographic films and a Bob Dylan song. In recent years, however, he has become more respected than loved. In an essay, Patton Oswalt wrote that he never found Mr. Bruce funny, and that comics who said they did were lying. . .

At a panel discussion after the videos at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, Kliph Nesteroff, author of the excellent book “The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy,” seemed to suggest that the reason no one laughs at Mr. Bruce today is that all comedy bombs with future generations. “Nothing holds up,” he said, a provocative argument that no one would make about drama.  


Maybe I'm just more up to date than you, it's the difference between having a life that brings me into contact with young people and people like you who only talk to other geezers.  Though I found Lenny Bruce as unfunny c. 1963 as I do today. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Neanderthals Among Us

Update:  Make that Neanderthals WITHIN Us. 

During this illness, to keep from thinking about the congestion, the coughing, the wheezing, I listened to a bunch of stuff on Youtube, including two old Nova episodes about the Neanderthals, one from 2003 and one from 2011.   The change in beliefs about Neanderthals, from them being a totally different species that couldn't have contributed to the modern human population asserted in the 2003 show gave way to DNA analysis proving that modern humans have a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA in it, especially populations in Europe and elsewhere.  The lowest percentage is found in Africans and some Asian populations, which makes sense because Neanderthals aren't found in Africa. 

I remember back when I took courses that touched on the evolution of humans back in the 60s and early 70s, the idea that Neanderthals and "modern humans" might have had successful offspring was considered a foolish idea, as one eminent figure in 2003 implied, it was considered a stupid idea.  The scientific concept of Neanderthals, based on late 19th and early 20th century scientific expertise was largely wrong and now looks quaintly silly, which proves that at any given time science holds some wrong and quaintly silly ideas, especially when those ideas are largely a product of creative analysis of scanty fossil evidence that is prone to creating stories the scientists like.

By chance, last week's Quirks and Quarks had a segment on about the discovery of cave paintings that are dated from the Neanderthal period, well before there were modern humans in Europe.

Artwork dating back 64,000 years shows that Neanderthals developed the ability to make red ochre paints.

Made deep within caves, in a position where it would have had to be the result of elaborate planning, with illumination carried into the cave along with a paint kit and painted in awkward positions like some Neanderthal Michelangelos the remake of the image it forces is quite drastic.   Among the things said in the story points out that the idea that Neanderthals were a separate species has to fall and they have to be considered a separate population of human beings who, instead of being obliterated by the latecomers to Europe and Asia, were incorporated into the predecessors of the present day population. 

The change in the science around Neanderthals has changed pretty drastically just within the past twenty years, nevermind the fifty or so years I can remember. 

Neanderthal the Brute

The image of Neanderthals we're often presented with is a primitive and simple creature: a hulking mass of muscle, all brawn and no brains. The sloped forehead, mitt-like hands and protruding jaw suggested to many a mind far inferior to ours.

That perception of the brutish Neanderthal, it seems, was based more on an assumption of human superiority than evidence. New research published in the journal Science by Dr. Alistair Pike and his colleagues puts that idea to rest for good. It suggests that Neanderthals were capable of art — and that, in turn, means they were creative, planned for the future, and had the ability to ascribe meaning to symbols. In other words, they possessed the power of abstract thought.  

The Artist

Dr. Pike and his team used a clever approach to date cave art from three different caves in Spain. The artwork featured hand stencils, arrangements of red dots and abstract line figures made with red ochre pigments in the dark depths of the cave. Until now, most researchers had assumed it was made by early modern human colonizers in Europe. The team used uranium/thorium radioactive decay to determine the age of calcite deposits that have been deposited over the artwork over thousands of years. They found that these deposits on top of the art date back approximately 64,000 years — over 20,000 years before the appearance of modern humans in Europe. That means that the art had to have been made by Neanderthals.

The Inventor

This research opens the door to the idea that Neanderthals were in fact the first true artists on the planet. They might have even inspired the more recent artistic creations that adorn so many caves across the European continent.

That, along with the more developed thinking about the sophistication of the Neanderthal tool types, developed by studying and practicing flint knapping, that showed that the actual tool was very difficult to make and that it was made for its particular properties shown in the second of the Nova shows mentioned above, shows how apt we are to underestimate things based on preexisting prejudices of the kind that professionals develop as part of their indoctrination into the subject their credentials grant them expertise in.

Hate Mail - Breaking Lent For A Minute

Every time you bring up the Holochaust you cheapen it and the memories of those murdered in it. 

The Great Dictator doesn't mention the Nazi murder of Jews at all.  In 1940, when the movie was made, what it generally called "The Holocaust" hadn't really begun, according to some scholars, they date the beginning of that to 1941, though I'm not going to quibble about that.  It's obvious that Charlie Chaplin didn't know about it, I'm not sure he even knew about the already in progress slaughter of the disabled which began the year before he made the movie and which had already been being reported in the media, as had the slaughter of Poles, including Jewish Poles and other Jews and population in lands that the Nazis had invaded by the time Chaplin made his movie. 

We know it to be an incredibly vulgar and stupid thing to snark about Chaplin's movie in regard to the role that Darwinism played in the Holocaust and the other Nazi murders because in his autobiography Chaplin said that if he'd know the extent of the Nazi crimes against humanity he'd never have made the movie.  And subsequent scholarship has proven that the Nazis murders were largely motivated by the theory of natural selection and other aspects of Darwinism as were summed up in the term "Lebensraum," the equivalent of Darwin's prediction that Europeans would wipe out entire races of "inferior" people and live on the land they had occupied and that the results would be salubrious for the human species. That's something that even your one and only authority on the matter, William Shirer, had mentioned in the one book you've read on the topic.   Or rather skimmed.  That Chaplin may not have known about that in 1940 wouldn't come as a huge surprise, he was hardly a major intellectual, great artist though he was.  

Whenever you use the word "Holochaust" you cheapen the meaning of it.  

Update:  If you make a factual refutation of anything I said I might be persuaded to post it, not that there's any chance of that.   The mentions of "getting rid of the Jews" in the movie script I found are part of jokes, equated with getting rid of brunettes, no doubt part of what Chaplin regretted about his movie.    Even in 1940 the movie was regrettable because it was clear the Nazis were already murdering people on their list of those they intended to wipe out.  

Doing what you never do, looking up to see if what I'm saying is true,  here's an account in The New Republic about the first report in the United States about what would become known as the Holocaust, reporting by Vivian Fry on December 22, 1942.   Anyone who made the statement you did about "The Great Dictator" and the Holocaust is as vulgar and stupid as it is uninformed.   I understand that one of your fellow vulgarian idiots at Eschaton made some snark in agreement with you.  As I said, Duncan is left with the dregs of what was, long ago, a much different thing.   

You cheapen the memory of those murdered by the Nazis every time you mention them. 

Update 2:   You really are too stupid to pay any attention to, you and your buddies at Duncan's collection of conceited dunces.   No wonder the boy gave up, he's not talented enough to hold the attention span of adults.   There was a time I'd have been surprised that someone credentialed by Brown could be so thoroughly pedestrian.  But I was over the Ivy covered romanticism a long time ago. 

Hate Mail

I think it's rather hysterically funny that college credentialed idiots living in the lesser greater NYC area believe that there are no Jews living in the South West.  I've always said there were no more provincial people than those who spend their lives in the most over-rated metropolitan area of North America.  The stupidity of city life, or at least the mid-brow milieu of entertainment and fashion based erudition.   

Eschaton collects them.   Otherwise, it's just the kind of stupid stuff that people engaged in jr. high peer group activity do.  Nothing to do with me 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

On Hope Hicks

It should be disheartening the extent to which the Washington and other press corps are enchanted with a real life Disney Princess who, unlike the cartoon ones, played a part in the most corrupt government in our history.  

I doubt she'd ever be held to account for any crimes she was a party to because in the United States you might send a rich, white woman to prison but not if she's a young, pretty sugar-plum fairy.  Not one who works for a Republican, anyway. 

Massive daddy issues ✔
Other issues  

"To call government thus constituted a Democracy is to insult the understanding of mankind"

Two days ago Chris Hayes had Michelle Goldberg on his show to discuss the reaction in the Georgia legislature against the movement to disempower the NRA and the gun industry it is a front for.   In discussing the campaign to convince corporations to cut their ties to the NRA, giving perks and discounts, etc. to NRA members, Michelle Goldberg said something very important, in passing.   My transcription

And one of the things that's so interesting is that the power of – I hate to say the power of the consumer – there's a lot of people in this county who are very politically disempowered because of the structures of our institutions that kind of vastly privilege rural white people who tend to be the populations who are gun owning.  Right, those people just have so much more voting power, they have so much more representation than the rest of us.  But that's not true when it comes to consumers where suddenly people, where large concentrations of educated people on the coasts are not figures of contempt and irrelevance. 

Without using the words she pointed out that the Constitution of the United States give vastly more voting power to conservative rural voters than to other voters and so the Congress either willingly or by force, has to give such voters a disproportionate consideration in what they do but that corporations have to consider consumers on a different basis and so what the majority of Americans want in such issues as stopping gun violence has power in the corporate world that it doesn't have in exactly where democracy should demand it does have power, in the government of the United States.  That discrepancy was built into the very institutions of the government by the slaveowners who demanded more power for themselves than the larger numbers of people in states where slaveholding was either rare or dying.   And, through a process of blackmail and appeals to the most corrupt tendencies of the Northern delegates and legislators in the North, they got pretty much what they wanted, provisions in the election and representation to the government that are still distorting our politics, enabling exactly the situation that Michelle Goldberg noted disempowers liberals and even moderates and conservatives with a sense of morality, right now.

Goldberg didn't state it but that disparity in voting power, what gives a voter in Wyoming so much more power per person than a voter from California or New York is a direct product of the slave-owning aristocracy demanding such concessions to them in framing the Constitution and the government so as to protect their economic privileges and wealth and to thwart democracy.   The northern interests represented by such members of the Constitutional Congress as Alexander Hamilton gave them that because they were able to frame things to give them what they wanted in terms of commerce.  That isn't any great secret of history because the "founders" were explicit in stating what they'd done in their propaganda to peddle ratification of the Constitution, something which the coming generations of abolitionists had to face, over and over again, none so eloquently as a man who knew many if not most of the principles in the founding generation, his father being one of the foremost of them, one of the few who had never held anyone in slavery,  John Adams.

In Phillip Wendell's great book documenting the corruption that was built into the very structure of American constitutional government. he quote a long passage from John Quincy Adams which lays out that corruption which is still there in the form of  the non-proportional representation in the Senate,  the Electoral College, and which is revived and expanded Republican voter suppression, which turned the infamous 3/5ths provision into an effective 5/5ths provision in which the successors of the slave owners disenfranchise large numbers of citizens even as they insist that they are counted for congressional representation while stealing their rights to have those representatives represent them.  You could make most of the most serious charges that Adams made against the structure of government set up in the Constitution today, translating a few term and issues into their modern manifestation, as well as a few numbers, understanding how much of our troubles flow from the unequal representation the Founders granted to the most morally depraved among them IN ORDER TO THWART EQUALITY AND EQUAL REPRESENTATION SO AS TO PRIVILEGE THE WORST OF THE WEALTHY AMONG THEM.

And, before giving you what Phillips quoted from John Quincy Adams, I'll remind you that voter suppression that is being attempted in every state where Republicans hold the government, what Adams specifically referred to, is worse in that it counts people for congressional representation, in the Electoral College vote and the power that gives while the Republicans would steal 5/5ths of that representation for themselves. That's not an issue that ended in 1865 with the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War amendments, it's their strategy right now. 

In outward show, it is a representation of persons in bondage;  in fact; it is a representation of their masters, - the oppressor representing the oppressed.  -  Is it in the compass of human imagination to devise a more perfect exemplification of the art of committing the lamb to the tender custody of the wolf?  - ' The representative is thus constituted, not the friend, agent and trustee of the person whom he represents, but the most inveterate of his foes.  - It was one of the the curses from that Pandora's box, adjusted at the time, as usual by a compromise, the whole advantage of which enured to the benefit of the South, and to aggravate the burdens of the North'  - If there be a parallel to it in human history, it can only be that of the Roman Emperors, who, from the days when Julius Caesar substituted a military despotism in the place of a republic, among the offices which  they always concentrated upon themselves, was that of tribune of the people.  A Roman Emperor tribune of the people, is an exact parallel to that feature in the Constitution of the United States which makes the master the representative of his slave – The Constitution of the United States expressly prescribes that no title of nobility shall be granted by the United States.  The spirit of this interdict is not a rooted antipathy to the grant of mere powerless empty titles, but to titles of nobility;  to the institution of privileged orders of men.   But what order of men under the most absolute of monarchies or the most aristocratic of republics, was ever invested with such an odious and unjust privilege as that of the separate and exclusive representation of less than half a million owners of slaves, in the Hall of this House, in the chair of the Senate and in the Presidential mansion?    -  This investment of power in the owners of one species of property concentrated in the highest authorities of the nation, and disseminated through thirteen of the twenty-six States of the Union,  constitutes a privileged order of men in the community, more adverse to the rights of all, and more pernicious to the interests of the whole, than any order of nobility ever known.  To call government thus constituted a Democracy is to insult the understanding of mankind.  To call it an Aristocracy, is to do injustice to that form of government.  Aristocracy is the government of the best.  Its standard qualification for assession to power be merit, ascertained by popular election, recurring at short intervals of time.  If even that government is prone to degenerate into tyranny, what must be the character of that form of polity in which the standard qualification for access to power is wealth in the possession of slaves?   It is doubly tainted with the infection of riches and of slavery.  There is no name in the language of national jurisprudence that can define it – no model in the records of ancient history, or in the political theories of Aristotle, with which it can be likened.  It was introduced into the Constitution of the United States by an equivocation – a representation of property under the name of persons.  Little did the members of the Convention from the free States imagine or foresee what a sacrifice to Moloch was hidden under the mask of this concession.  - The House of Representatives of the United States consists of 223 members – all by the letter of the Constitution, representatives only of persons, as 135 of them really are;  but the other 88, equally representing the persons of their constituents, by whom they are elected, also represent under the name of other persons, upward of two and a half millions of slaves, held as the property of less than half a million of the white constituents, and valued at twelve hundred millions of dollars.   Each of these 88 members represents in fact the wolf of that mass of associated wealth,  and the persons and exclusive interests of its owners;  all thus knit together, like the members of a moneyed corporation, with a capital not of thirty-five or forty or fifty, but of twelve hundred millions of dollars, exhibiting the most extraordinary exemplifications of the anti-republican tendencies of associated wealth that the world ever sawl  -  Here is one class of men, consisting of not more than one fortieth part of the whole people, not more than one thirtieth part of the free population, exclusively devoted to their persona interests, identified with their own as slaveholders of the same associated wealth, and wielding by their votes, upon every question of government or of public policy, two-fifths of the whole power of the House.   In the Senate of the Union the proportions of the slaveholding power is yet greater.  By the influence of slavery, in the States where the institution is tolerated, over their elections, no other than a slaveholder can rise to the distinction of obtaining a seat in the Senate;  and thus of the 52 members of the Federal Senate 26 are owners of slaves, and as effectively representatives of that interest as the 88 members elected by them to the House – By this process it is that all political power in the States is absorbed and engrossed by the owners of slaves, and the overruling policy of the States is shaped to strengthen and consolidate their domination.  The legislative, executive and judicial authorities are all in their hands – the preservation, propagation and perpetuation of the black code of slavery – every law of the legislature becomes a link in the chain of the slave;  every executive act a rivet to his hapless fate; every judicial decision a perversion of the human intellect to the justification of wrong .  Its reciprocal operation upon the government of the nation is, to establish an artificial majority in the slave representation over that of the free people in the American congress, and thereby to make the PRESERVATION, PROPAGATION AND PERPETUATION OF SLAVERY THE VITAL AND ANIMATING SPIRIT OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.  -  The result is seen in the fact that, at this day, the President of the United States,  the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and five out of nine of the Judges of the Supreme Judicial Court of the United States, are not only citizens of the slaveholding States, bu individual slave holders themselves.  So are, and constantly have been, with scarcely an exception all of the members of both Houses of Congress from the slaveholding States;  and so are in immensely disproportionate numbers, the commanding officers of the army and navy;  the officers of the customs;  the registers and receivers of the land offices; and the postmasters throughout the slaveholding States.  - The Biennial Register indicates the birthplace of all the officers employed in the government of the Union.  If it were required to designate the owners of this species of property among them, it would be little more than a catalog of slaveholders.

I will point out that in regard to the Electoral College, that the evils of what Adams described are magnified in that any Southern voter who favored a president who was opposed to slavery would have been disenfranchised even as he voted (all voters being men at the time) and there are states now in which a person can cast a vote in every election in their lifetime and never having it once count toward who will be president through the Electoral College system.  Not only are the people who are disenfranchised by overt injustice through racism deprived of representation but people who aspire to justice and equality are also partially disenfranchised by having their votes thrown out for effective consideration - exactly what has led to losers of the popular vote becoming some of our worst presidents, including, within our lifetimes, George W. Bush and Donald Trump. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I Can't Shake This Frickin' Illness

Lent has been a lot less productive than I'd planned on because his terrible lingering virus had cut into it.  I'd planned on a couple of tnew projects that have to be put on indefinite hold.   I've tried to post something interesting without resorting to reposts, that's when you'll know the end is near  

I'll try to post something substantial later today.  

In the mean time Jürgen Moltmann - The Restoration of All Things

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I Propose We Replace Hail To The Chief

You Really Want To Go There Again? - Hate Mail

There is no "mind-body" problem, there is a "brain-only" problem. 

If the mind is not a product of the physical body, if the mind is not physical, there is no problem to how it could interact with the physical organs of the body that are knowable in physical terms because if the mind isn't physical it would have to have properties that can't be defined in terms of physical systems and their limits.  If there are non-physical entities they would have to have properties that aren't found within the limits of physical systems.  That we who define all such interactions in terms of the physical objects we experience with our minds can't describe such things is no barrier to their existence.  After all, we have no experience of physical things which describe things or experience things so we already have to deal with the reality of our own minds which can do those things. 

The "brain-only" problem is that there is no physical system that can begin to describe what we experience, not even in thinking about such "problems."  There are huge barriers to coming up with some kind of adequate explanation of our own consciousness and experience in terms of physical objects.  I spent a year asking people to describe how our brains would know a. that they needed to construct a new structure to "be" an idea, b. how to make the right structure to "be" an idea, c. how to know if it had made the right structure instead of a wrong one and d. how to make it all work right away, in real time before any structure to "be" that idea existed in the brain.  Add to that e. how can the atheist claims about such things do anything but totally impeach the significance of all human thought, including all of science, all of atheist ideological assertion.   I asked those questions in great detail for over a year and the atheists came up with nothing except to turn "DNA" and "natural selection" into magic words in lieu of an explanation. 

"The mind-body problem" is a meaningless slogan, it isn't a real problem except to atheists who don't like the fact that materialism is entirely inadequate to match peoples' experience of their own consciousness.   The biggest problem with it is that it corrodes liberalism by hollowing out its prerequisite holdings and for nothing because atheists can't overcome the problems that would make it plausible except to the gullible. 

Graham Greene - The Potting Shed - When The Atheist Religion Takes Scandal

I can't claim that I actually like this play, though it's worth listening to once or twice.   As the review in The Guardian [see below] of a far more recent production points out, the story is a good one, intriguing but the novelist Graham Greene followed an already stale theatrical convention, that of "the well-made West End play".   Before last night I wasn't aware that there was a radio production of it which apparently precedes the production mentioned in the review if the dates are correct.   The play is about the putrid family of the world-famous atheist writer who doesn't make an appearance in the play.  His best friend is already writing the funeral speech to dispose of him as the play opens.  The theme of the play presents the awfulness of the consequences of atheism as a religion.  And one which doesn't face reality any better than much of religion does (the dying worshiper of the natural order is so unaware of the world around him he doesn't understand his own property is being overrun by industrial development).  The most appealing members of the cast are the awful usefully precocious kid who spurs the action, the awful alcoholic priest whose miraculous revival of his nephew is the huge family scandal that alienated him from his family and James, the rejected son.  It's a sort of inversion of the parable of the Prodigal Son in which the black sheep of the family is rejected so utterly that his mother won't let him in to see his dying father for the last time, though all he did was live.   And how he undergoes a second resurrection when he finds out what happened. I wish Greene had put it in a form he was more skilled with handling. 

As a novelist, Graham Greene was prepared to experiment: as a dramatist, he was trapped in the conventions of the well-made West End play. That, at least, is the conclusion I draw from this rare revival of a 1958 work that, like The End of the Affair, deals with the possibility of the miraculous in modern life. But where the novel is an audacious piece of meta-fiction, the play faithfully follows the rigid format of the psychological whodunnit.

The play is driven by the desire of the middle-aged James Callifer to discover exactly what happened to him in the family potting shed as a boy. Returning home uninvited for the funeral of his rationalist father, James finds a thick veil drawn over his past. Even James's attempt to unblock his memories by seeing a shrink in Nottingham, where he works as a newspaper sub-editor, prove fruitless. Only after a trip to East Anglia to meet his whiskey-priest uncle does the truth begin to emerge: that, as a boy, James experienced a Lazarus-like resurrection from apparent death that may or may not have been the result of divine intervention.

The impact of a seeming miracle on a family of devout atheists like the Callifers, who regularly entertained Bertrand Russell to lunch, is a rich subject for drama. But what is frustrating is how long it takes Greene to get to the heart of the matter. Too much of the play depends on manufactured suspense and the exploration of relative side issues such as the debilitating effect of James's trauma on his marriage. Only when James finally gets to confront his ostracised uncle does the drama begin to bite. Greene was an expert at analysing apostasy, whether religious or political, and the portrait of the dessicated uncle and its aftermath is memorable. As James eloquently says of his uncle's rooms: "I don't need any other proof of God than the lack of Him there. I've seen the mark of His footsteps going away."

But, even if the play takes too long to come to the boil, Svetlana Dimcovic's revival builds up a sense of mounting pressure. Paul Cawley's James, jacketless in the traditional manner of sub-editors, is a model of middle-aged anguish. And there is first-rate support from Martin Wimbush as the uncle, shrewdly hiding his Scotch behind a copy of the Catholic Encyclopedia, and from Eileen Battye as James's mother who pines for an age when the doubts engendered by Darwinism had hardened into certainties. I only wish that Greene, in exploring the age-old conflict between reason and faith, had relied more on dialectical debate and rather less on long-delayed revelation.

Monday, February 26, 2018

That Constitutional Crisis You're Always Hearing About Has Been Here For About 13 Months

We've got a psychotic 12-year-old as president with as bad running his operation (remember John Kelly is supposed to be the adult) and him appointing people to judgeships.  

How much more of a Constitutional crisis do you need before you figure we've got one?  

If the Constitution worked as advertised, he would have been gone a year ago.  No, actually, neither he nor anyone near as bad as him would ever have gotten near power. 

Weidling the AR- 15 of Lies For the NRA - Satan Quoting Scripture

I looked up what verse Dana Loesch has tattooed on her arm,  it's Ephesians 6:12-13 which reads,

12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Since Loesch is part of the lie campaign of exactly what we are warned of, the rulers and authorities who are the very embodiment of the anti-Christ,  this is Satan citing scripture.  And it  proves that when a fascist quotes the Bible, . . . they'll get it wrong.

I will pass up the opportunity to discuss that Ephesians is one of the letters supposedly written by Paul which many scholars believe to be spurious,  I don't think that matters for my point that Loesch obviously didn't read it because guns and weapons aren't what it's talking about, it talks about protecting yourself by armor, not by wielding arms.  In an even slightly wider context, for Loesch the liar to for the NRA to be citing it only adds to her hypocrisy.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Even if Ephesians isn't by Paul, it's clearly by someone who wasn't writing in support of Loesch and the Satanic gun industry she shills for.   They are the embodiment of everything that passage warns against.  One of the critics of the letter says that its author takes things Paul speaks of metaphorically and treats them as if they are concrete,  which I'm not qualified to really speak on.  But it's clear he wasn't saying what she and her ilk have lied it into.

Update:  I don't write for people as stupid as those who still visit Duncan's blog.  It used to remind me of Harry Hope's bar in The Iceman Cometh, now I think of it more as the now decaying, "Wild Grove" being swallowed up by industrial development in Graham Greene's unsuccessful play, The Potting Shed, a once prominent house where the Callifers are decaying along with the old line Brit atheism the defunct patriarch of the dysfunctional family was once famous for.  Memories of long-ago visits by Bertrand Russell are mentioned.  Now they sell about three copies of his magnum opus a year, to the Indian market.   About as often as someone remembers the, maybe, reference to Duncan made in a walk on without lines on The West Wing, about twelve years back.

I don't care what they say about what I write because they don't bother reading it and I don't care what they'd think about it if they did.

Update 2:  I could swear that when I heard this, decades ago, they said "the Indian market" but I hear in the (original?) radio play that the line is "for export".   I wonder if it reads that way in some scripts. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

When Highly Placed People Call Out The Fascist Attack Baboons "More Speech" Isn't Worth Anything

Dana Loesch is just the latest figure on the Republican right who proves that when you sign on to people and groups with no morals, there's always room at the bottom.  I read somewhere that she's got some scriptural reference tattooed on her but that only goes to prove the old saying that even Satan will quote scripture, as when he tempted Jesus gain the world and lose his soul.  The Loesches of this world show that most people sell theirs for a lot less than that.   It's easy to tattoo a word some numbers and a colon on your arm, it' a lot harder to take the Law, the Prophets and the Gospel into your heart.  Especially when they're as hard as the ones people like Loesch have.

No doubt she will prosper materially even as she earns the disdain and loathing of tens of millions, but she's not alone.  The entire media operation of the right FOX, the Republican pundit class, the deranged hate-talk media is run on people who will lie and vilify people, attack the victims of mass shooters - what they're doing to the children who survived the school shooting in Florida, they've done to the survivors of other recent massacres, the parents of the kindergartners murdered in Connecticut, the survivors of the slaughter in Las Vegas.   And it's all allowed because "free speech - free press" is the only "right" that matters, even the right for the grieving survivors to advocate that future slaughters be stopped matters not at all to the Courts, to the professional "free speech" lawyers and flacks because the victims don't pay them, the media and other financial interests do. 

So the result is the ever lower bottom that ever lower minds feed on becomes the normal level of discourse in the United States.   I don't think that's unrelated to the ideological basis that gave us that position, the denial of the reality of morals, the denial that any democracy depends on the moral status of its people finding an expression in the laws and politics that govern it and those depend on very specific moral holdings, others won't produce it.   Among the foremost of those is that lies must be banned from public discourse and punished when they are told about individuals, that people have a right to stop people from lying about them and calling out attacks on them, either physical or by cyber-bullies. 

That this time one of the fascists egging on the fascist cyber-bullies is Donald Trump jr. only makes it more obvious that that "more speech" bull shit that we were told would work is just bull shit.  It always was,  the damned  civil liberties industry isn't going to defend anyone whose life is destroyed by the billionaires and their hired liars, it doesn't care about that.  They don't care how many people are destroyed and damaged, like in the old Tom Lehrer song, they figure that's not their department.