Saturday, June 8, 2019

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Sean Grundy - Rita Sue And Andrea Too

Tragi-comic drama based on accounts of the life and career of Andrea Dunbar, the schoolgirl playwright from Bradford whose Rita, Sue and Bob Too took 1980s Britain by storm.

Told through the eyes and ears of friend and film director Jennie Howarth, the drama follows a young Andrea as she creates a visceral, acerbic and dark comedy about her own sexual exploitation. 

Based on accounts from the people who worked with Andrea and were involved in the creation of stage-play and film Rita, Sue and Bob Too, this audio-biopic of the author's very short life remembers how she struggled to survive financially and how she battled to protect the authenticity of her original works - as they transferred from stage to film.

Andrea ..... Natalie Gavin
Jennie ..... Claudia Jessie
Max and Alan ..... Duncan Wisbey
Oscar ..... James Quinn 
Alma and Peggy ….. Anjella Macintosh

Other voices by Cara Jennings, Sophie Trott and members of the cast 

Written and directed by Sean Grundy
Sound Design by Alisdair McGregor
Produced by Sally Harrison

Bad Times

I will be out for the next several days, a combination of obligations, illness and computer problems.   I hope to be back and if something important breaks I will try to get back to the keyboard.  

I'd say until then enjoy my incomparable archive but I don't know what an "incomparable archive" would be as compared to a "comparable one" so I'll not say that.   I have a radio drama cued up so that will be posted in a while. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Watchman As Human Being Instead Of Heroic Monument

I wouldn't normally pay as much attention to Michael Wolff's claims about Robert Mueller and his claims about Mueller's investigation but watching on while Mueller let his thug mafia lawyer pal,  William Barr trash his work, obstruct Congress, ATTACK THE INVESTEGATORS ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT WHO MUELLER CERTAINLY KNOWS OBSTRUCTED JUSTICE AND VERY LIKELY IS PUTIN'S INSTRUMENT IN THE PRESIDENCY! makes me far more open to considering if the celebrity journalist has a more realistic picture of Mueller and the weakness that Trump and his thugs have been able to take full advantage of.   I think the biggest question isn't that Mueller's public persona of integrity made him the right man for the job, I think think the bigger question is the borders and soft edges that are certainly there.   Real people, such as every human being has ever been, is not a damned granite statue, they're not movie-TV cartoon heroes, they're not goddamned Atticus Finch-Gregory Peck* or Albus Dumbledore.  We all have feet of clay and if not feet some other part of us will crumble or wash away.   That's especially true of anyone who could have remained a member of the Republican Party of the United States in the last several decades as it has descended ever more rapidly into the edges of fascism where we are now.

I don't remember who wrote or said in the past week that if Wolff's picture is even close to accuracy - I don't have any doubt about Wolff's weak spots - then one of the most vulnerable things about Mueller is his devotion to institutions, his devotion to the FBI, the Department of Justice and, as Wolff has said, his own investigative team's existence.   I have already, several times, mentioned Mueller's decades long habitation in the habitat of insider DC as a source of my skepticism about him.   He may, indeed, be the best of his local sub-species but he is still of that species.

There is a very real difference between a person put up as a hero and an actual hero and one of the real differences is in how much they are willing to sacrifice to do the right thing.  Real heroes would sacrifice the appearance of stability in the rotted out edifice of the law and the institutions of government that have been becoming obvious since the turn of the century.   The Bush v Gore imposition of one of the worst presidents in the history of the United States THROUGH THE MOST INSTITUTIONAL OF INSTITUTIONS OF ALLEGED JUSTICE, THE SUPREME COURT, held up by the establishment media as well as the gutter, Murdochian media,  was certainly enough to indicate that anyone who could be called "an institutionalist" as a compliment likely was in on that other corruption to some extent.  Now, with Trump imposed on us through the Supreme Court striking down every attempt by elected officials to protect our very electoral process from the kind of corruption that has produced a Trump that title, "institutionalist" is, itself holding corruption up as a virtue. 

Mueller's own history is a mix, included with actions in law enforcement that are uncontroversially seen as positive, he has been associated with dubious actions.  He was involved with the prosecution of Manuel Noriega, after George H. W. Bush invaded Panama to abduct him - killing, by credible estimates, more than six hundred People, many of the civilians - the cover up of which Mueller's friend William Barr conducted, That is something I have little doubt that Mueller knew about at the time, certainly he knew it after it became public.  His appointment to head the FBI was done by the illegitimate president,  George W. Bush. He gave Senate testimony that was clearly part of whipping up the invasion of Iraq, though it was hardly the most extreme example of lying, of the kind that another monument in simulated granite, Colin Powell engaged in, it was clearly part of it.   I see his appointments by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as little more than their acceptance of institutional Washington, parts of their choice to be weak presidents hankering after the title "bi-partisan," a title the virtue of which seems to be held out as exclusively applying to Democratic presidents. 

His actions which are pointed to as admirable, his refusal to go along with the worst programs of torture and dubious prosecution during that time, look to me, in retrospect, mostly done in the interest of protecting HIS institution, the FBI.  And, no doubt, it was done to protect his own reputation with respectable Washington and the respectable press, some of those who, now that it is in service to the center of power in the Trump regime, are turning on Mueller as the gutter press that is the more explicit branch of the media doing the billionaire oligarchs ground work, already has. 

As to Mueller's position as a hero, I don't buy it.  His service in Vietnam was him choosing to be a part of the military that was rare for those of his class at the time, I don't know his motives.   He was certainly no more heroic for that than many of the kids I knew who were drafted and sent there, some of whom suffered a lot more than Mueller did, any of whom I have to wonder about how they'd have been treated by Mueller the law man as opposed to someone like Barr. 

I have to form an image of Mueller based on his entire record, most of all on how he has acted as a public official and as the leader of his latest investigation and in his handling of Barr's obstruction.   And in that, in his continuing reticence at openly testifying about what he found and, most tellingly, how far he was willing to try to go and why he might have chosen not to, I can't say that I respect him.  

I think the adulation given to Mueller and the faith that was put in him have been far too much and that naive trust, itself is a symptom of the denial of reality.  I think what we are seeing in this as in all aspects of the Trump regime, the Republican-fascist ratfucking of our elections, including their refusal to protect the United States from Putin and other foreign gangsters, the Supreme Court's decades long assault on the integrity of our elections in favor of big money, Republicans gerrymandering to prevent democracy in ways that I think would make the Brits nauseated, the widespread dissemnination of overtly fascistic propaganda to directly corrupt the morals and minds of The People, the first and last target for those who want to kill legitimate government, egalitarian democracy by an adequately informed People OF GOOD-WILL, consideration of all of that might be the lens to view Robert Mueller through.  It is, I am convinced, the only one that will give you an accurate instead of a phony show-biz view of the world we live in and will likely die from. 

* I will always remember how when Harper Lee's first version (second published) and far more true-to-life Set A Watchman incarnation of Atticus Finch as an upper class racist of the 1950s as seen by a more evolved adult daughter facing his real character for the first time was met with such hurt outrage, even legal attempts to suppress its publication - EVEN BY THE ALABAMA STATE GOVERNMENT!.  That the peddler of mid-brow civic piety Aaron Sorkin has redone To Kill a Mockingbird for Broadway is probably not a good sign.  I read the books, I won't be seeing the Sorkin version.  I found Watchman Atticus more believable than Mockingbird Atticus.  That in the one it was the child Scout who saw him and in the other it was the adult Scout who did is certainly relevant to how Harper Lee wrote him.  As Flannery O'Connor noted, Mockingbird is a children's book.  I wonder if Atticus - Gregory Peck, most peoples' version of him - might not contribute dangerously to the delusional construction of such heroes as Mueller instead of looking realistically at the extent to which they are compromised by the privileges they enjoy.  

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Dusan Bogdanovic, - A Little Prayer

Luca Vimercati, guitar

The Shame Of Our Time

Those Trump regime figures who first stole children from refugees and now have them in for-profit prisons where they are violating court orders as to the education and care are a good model of how indifference is the close ally of bigotry.  The Trump regime and the sadists who seem to have been waiting for the opportunity to exercise their depravity under Republican-fascism seem to be going out of their way to outdo each other in vileness. 

There are the deaths of detainees, children, young children among them by negligence and, I wouldn't be surprised to find, willful abuse.

There is the sadistic separation of families without any thought of bringing them together.

There is what seems to be a choice to try to reproduce something like the reported overcrowding on slave ships in over-stuffed, standing room only detainment for days in rooms meant to hold, I've read, a fifth of the number of people held in them.  Holding children in vans for days at a time. 
As I mentioned above, there is the news that the Trump regime are, in violation of court orders, ending education and exercise to children it is holding in rent-a-prisons run by for-profit corporations. 

The list of particulars is long and the permission that Republicans in the Congress, the Courts, in the country have given these sadists to do this to people proves that we really are no better than those Americans who accepted or tolerated legal slavery before and de facto slavery and apartheid after the Civil war.

As I mentioned the other day rereading the Hebrew Scriptures, especially after studying some of the the eye-opening commentary by Walter Brueggemann and others, mostly Protestant but some Jewish and some Catholic and Orthodox, has made me see that human beings are doing the same things, committing the same wrongs, accepting the same atrocities that they have always been liable to.  I think that was the biggest lie of the Enlightenment-scientistic period, that belief that we were scientifically and rationally self-starting a new era of ever upward and onward.  The kind of idiocy that Stephen Pinker, the budget brand Pangloss of our time, peddles.  

It's discouraging to consider how long this has been allowed to go on if you remain in the mindset that expects quick and easy righting of things, as seems to be the expectation of those demanding a miracle cure of impeachment when there is no chance that that will work due to the Senate AND THE MEDIA being in the hands of those who either like this status quo or who aren't bothered much by it.  It's so tempting to give up as some I know seem to have given up.  The gangsters, the Trump regime, the Republican-fascists, the billionaires foreign and domestic who are funding the resurgence of neo-fascism and neo-Nazism so to destroy democracy and decency are counting on that weary capitulation.  We don't have any right to do that.  I think what we have to do is face the fact that we are facing the perpetual worst parts of human character which are always there unless they are held in check by the belief in specific holdings of absolute morality.  

I think one of the most interesting parts of this is the resurgence of fascism in the Europe we were all being assured was, de-Christianized, safely civilized and rational during the atheist fad of the 00s.  I will admit that I have been kind of surprised at how such places as Holland, Denmark, Norway,  France even Sweden have seen a resurgence of powerful neo-fascist and neo-Nazi movements.  I was not as surprised to see it in those countries damaged by Soviet occupation where the habits that come from being terrorized by a police state were more entrenched so recently.  

In the United States, the most intersting thing is in the exposure of such a large percentage of "evangelicals" right-wing integralist Catholics [including so many of the Bishops and Cardinals appointed by JPII and BXVI] are so quick and eager to set aside the teachings of Jesus, the radical justice of the Hebrew tradition to support a vulgar Mammonist sexual degenerate and crook like Trump.  

It becomes ever more clear to me that atheist or "evangelical" when someone gives up a real and effective belief in the moral teachings of Jesus and the other Prophets, this is the kind of thing you can expect.  And it isn't just libertarian atheists who have done that, though they certainly share in the blame. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

On Stuffy Noses And Those Stuck Up

Several people around here have noted that this is the worst allergy season in memory and my allergies are many and severe, one of the blessings of living to get old.  Or so I'm told.  I will try to write something sufficiently startling and, perhaps, original to satisfy anyone who might come here for that,  it's not that I'm not having ideas, it's that I'm too exhausted to write them out.  

As to the tempest in a toss pot that my answer about the stupidity of the standardized spelling of the English language set off and, since the snobs will cow people into not adopting even the moderate and realistic original proposals that many have advocated,  I have decided to, again, favor a return to non-standardized spelling. 

Here is a footnote from Noah Webster's* interesting and, with some reservations, excellent 1789 An Essay on the Necessity, Advantages and Practicability of Reforming the Mode of Spelling, and of Rendering the Orthography of Words Correspondent to Pronunciation, proving that the original American genius, Benjamin Franklin had the same position I've adopted. 

I once heard Dr. Franklin remark,  "that those people spell best, who do not know how to spell," that is, they spell as their ears dictate, without being guided by rules, and thus fall into a regular orthography

As I pointed out last weekend, Americans who sneer at spelling reform, using the standardized American spelling stupidly advocate what was presented, by Noah Webster as a spelling reform, himself noting the frequent stupidities to be found in the font of standardized Brit spelling,  Samuel Johnson's mish mosh of a dictionary.   I was surprised reading Webster's essay how much was known of how the defects of English spelling came into use, the fact that in the early days of printing most of the printers and typesetters were Dutch and introduced lots of the silent letters that vex so many writers of English, now.  On top of that there was the late Renaissance - "Enlightenment" practice of snobs trying to introduce supposed Latin and Greek spelling into English words which, in many cases, were not derived from their supposed classical language false friends.  Not to mention other sources for some of the worst problems.  The idea that the written form of a language should be deformed out of any practical practice in the interest of alleged etymological erudition is about the stupidest idea ever to gain any kind of a foothold in any alleged intellectual establishment.  That alone would justify We The People taking it back from the snobs and claiming our right to the written language. 

But to hell with all that, if the snobs won't give up their petty skill - which, by the way, many of the forsworn enemies of spelling reform haven't really mastered, themselves - I advocate that the rest of us just follow Benjamin Franklin's words and spell however the hell we think best.  Even the best sort of standard spellers have better manners and more wisdom than to despise someone who uses a different spelling, especially if they use the word according to its meaning. 


And, just to piss off those I'd find it most satisfying to like to piss off in my bad mood, the observation about the corruptions of English spelling introduced by the early print shops and publishers more or less render the arguments about the "hand D" manuscript of Thomas More being by the Stratford man, as put forward by the "Birthplace Trust" and the British Library, of entirely unknown but almost certainly vanishingly improbable import.  There is no way to know how any variant spelling in a print source in the Tudor-Jacobean period came into being, how faithfully the print setter followed the hand written copy which, itself, could be a copy by someone not the author.  Just thought I'd throw that in to annoy the trolls. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Media Is The Mess

Stipulated: the Republican capacity to believe anything, encouraged by the modern conservative movement, and the conservative media's unmatched ability to monetize it, made someone like the current president* not only possible, but also inevitable. We can count ourselves marginally fortunate that the guy in the low-water golf pants is so bad at what he's trying to do. The main event in American conservatism over the next several years is going to be a monumental pissing match over the best strategy to consign these obvious truths to the same memory hole where they stashed the events of 2000-2008 and the detritus of the Avignon Presidency. And the first real brawl in this existential pie fight is going on right now.

Charles Pierce: These Conservative Intellectuals Can Go Hash Things Out on Some Desert Island While the Rest of Us Fix the Country

Everything he says about the absurdity of Trump giving Arthur Laffer the Presidential Medal of Freedom*, along with the likes of Milton Friedman to have been among the most fecund of advocates for economic disaster in modern times is true.  I agree with everything he says. All well and good, Mr. Pierce, as far as it goes.  

But it wasn't the intellectuals who caused the real problem, such scum taking office,  it was the media gulling enough of "the rest of us" into putting Hollywood products and two Bushes, one Nixon and a bunch of the biggest bunch of goons as have ever held the Congress in place.  The intellectuals found fertile ground in the composted brains of Reagan and Bush II and Trump - all I would bet having their most significant formation through Hollywood and other entertainment.   That three out of the past five Republicans almost certainly had that formation (though Ford shouldn't count since he was the choice of Nixon, hot We The People) is certainly not irrelevant.  

This is what a country formed by entertainment mass media is bound to turn into.  The inevitability of that is as certain as that the past two Democrats have been afraid of the media and, so, have not been as aggressive as those who put them in office would have liked them to be.  

I've mentioned before the early days of the Obama administration when cabloid TV was pushing the billionaire financed astro-turf campaign of the "Teaparty" that a blog commentator, I believe it was the erudite "Southern Beale" who pointed out that when CNN was giving full coverage of a sparsely attended "Teaparty Convention" in her town, there was a knitting convention happening in the same city which had many times more participants.   And that was only one instance when the media, which Pierce is a full member of, did far more than an idiot pseudo-intellectual like Arthur Laffer did to destroy the country.  

And the media is what led both Bill Clinton and, especially, Barack Obama into choosing to be weak presidents, discouraging their supporters, turning them into far weaker presidents than their support should have led to them being.   Voluntary weakness in the face of media created backlash is the Democratic equivalent of Pierce's "prion disease" in the Republicans. 

Until figures in the media own up to the part that the effectively unlimited freedom of the press to lie, to distort, to make disappear anyone they want to disappear from the day-to-day thinking of an effective margin of Voters, concentrating on the hijinks of the hirelings of billionaires who peddle horseshit like supply-side economics is far too little, too late. 

Does anyone think that Donald Trump knew about Laffer except what he saw or heard about him on TV?  On FOX?   George W. Bush, no doubt inspired by his wife, pretended to read books.  I don't think Trump even bothers to pretend that he reads, I don't think even his supporters believe he does.  I don't think Milton Friedman would have gained any real traction in American politics if PBS hadn't had the billionaire financed series he did in the late 70s, in reaction to a series about the history of economics by Kenneth Galbraith earlier in the decade.  No doubt some of Reagan's advisers saw it, I can't imagine it holding his dwindling attention for much more than part of an episode.  Maybe Maureen interpreted it for him.  From what I have heard, he mostly liked to watch his own movies and to talk about them.  Trump, the formula to getting his attention is to mention him, even his own aids know that.  And if it's too long, it doesn't work. 

* I've always had an uneasy feeling about the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of president Kennedy's innovations.   While some of the recipients of it have been, admittedly, great people, many have been the exact opposite.  As time goes on I find that a lot of what happened in the Kennedy years has been of dubious wisdom or motive.   I wish they'd stop giving the thing. 
My immune system is running amok and I'm exhausted from being the battleground. 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Must See Boris Johnson Slamming Donald Trump Projected Onto Big Ben

Had a bad night and a rough morning and the putrid autumn olives are blooming sending my allergies into dangerous levels.   And then there are the computer troubles.   

I'll post later. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Richard Rogers - Lover - Sonny Clark

Sonny Clark – piano
Jackie McLean – alto saxophone
Art Farmer – trumpet
Paul Chambers – bass
Philly Joe Jones – drums

Peggy Lee - Lover

What Rises To The Top When The Mush Of Situational Ethics and Utility Becomes More Generally Accepted

Considering this post dealing with Donald Trump's blatant denial that he had said things that he is either on video or audio or twitter as having said led me to think about how many times secularists, atheists, anti-Christians, have declared in a pose of ersatz scrupulosity (or, as a statement of sciency  talk-show-guest-university- prof authorized "ethics") that morality is a product of "social consensus".  I've been through that any number of times, pointing out to many an atheist that if that is the case then their mewling and whining that Pew and Gallup say that people say they don't want to vote for atheists is irrational because if that's the case then the "social consensus" as they define it, declares atheists are not to be voted for.  You can extend that to any clearly depraved form of bigotry to any depth of violence.  If it had been the "social consensus" among Nazis that Jews were to be murdered, by that "ethicist" holding, then the Holocaust could not be scientifically held to be wrong because it was the social consensus*.  Adding on the add-on of the most muddle-headed form of that "utilitarianism" isn't much of a help in avoiding depravity.  

The horror of so many of us that we are entering a depraved age when truth, itself, is becoming meaningless exposes the fact that every value we place on the truth is a function of absolute morality which, if that absolute morality is replaced by "situational ethics" or the kind of holding that morality is a product of mere "social consensus" then those finding themselves in an age where that moral value given to the truth is disbelieved or ignored or rejected by a majority or something arriving at the unanimity that such dolts never understand is required to produce a consensus, would have no ground to complain about the value of the truth being jettisoned by such a society. 

*  I wonder how such a "situational ethics" "consensus" based "ethics" would have worked to convince those whose murderous, genocidal conquests produced the Mongolian empire that there was something wrong with what they were doing in what may be the greatest example of genocidal violence in human history.  It would certainly be useful to know more about the thinking of the Mongols than we seem to know, what effect their encounters with the Monotheistic religions and Buddhism had on them.  Or if they would have conquered Europe if a climate fluctuation hadn't stopped them.  If that's what did it. 

We have no less of a potential to reproduce what they did and far worse with modern science and technology and organization and transportation. I wouldn't be surprised if in the near or far future modern mass murderers follow on from Hitler and Stalin and Mao to outdo the the Mongols of the late medieval era.  The period of reemerging fascism we are in certainly makes that possibility more real instead of less. 

I wonder how they can possibly find, never mind explain how anything was wrong about American apartheid in the South, the general disenfranchisement of Women up till the 1920s, etc.  It was certainly not the general acceptance of such modern, sciency schemes that denied the existence of hard, durable and universal holdings of morality that led to that habitual way of thinking changing.  

It is not those whose concept of morality is built on a foundation of mush who change things for the better, when those foundations of more people are based on mush, you get someone like Trump rising like a sheen of scum as it sinks below the surface.