Daily Archives: 02 May 2015

Odds and Ends Vol 15 — Cool Images Edition

Odds and EndsThis is a special edition of our Odds and Ends posts. I’ve been collecting random images from the internet. I’ve been wanting to do something with them, but I haven’t found a use. And they are sitting around in the place I put temporary images before uploading them to Frankly Curious. So they are just in the way. And if I find a permanent place to store them, they are as gone as if I had just deleted them. But they are pretty good. I’ll do my best to provide context.

Nixon: Prince of the Deep

First up is an image from The Daily Show in a segment called, Start Wars — a pun on Star Wars. It is about the Iran nuclear deal, noting the hypocrisy of Republicans in wanting to control the president regarding treaties but not wars. One of those treaties is the Law of the Sea Treaty. James Inhofe said that it would make us relinquish sovereignty of “70% of the world.” Jon Stewart responded, “As you know, America currently owns the oceans ever since President Nixon blew on Neptune’s fabled conch shell and became Prince of the Deep.” That went along with the following wonderful image:

Nixon as Neptune

Bigotry Buddies

Next we have two images from The Nightly Show. The first is from a bit on Ferguson Police Bias. During it, Larry Wilmore joked about a television series featuring George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson called, “Bigotry Buddies.” I’d watch it:

Bigotry Buddies

Blacks Do the Darndest Things!

The second is from Tuesday night’s excellent show on the Baltimore situation, What a Riot. A Fox News commentator said, “We got two stores right now, this guy’s walking out with a Colt 45 poster and then he’s burning it but you certainly got a lot of free liquor there that’s going on in the five finger discount here.” Wilmore responded that the clip was from the new show, “Blacks Do the Darndest Things!”

Blacks Do the Darndest Things!

Mystery Insect

This next one comes from a great photographer I follow on Google+, Robert Langdon. He is out of Florida, and does these amazing backlit shots. I don’t know that much about photography — just enough to be really impressed by his work. One day recently, he posted the following unidentified insect. But even more than the identity of this little charmer, is what that silver ball is underneath her. If you all have any thoughts, let me know.

Mysterious Insect by Robert Langdon

You can also check out Robert Langdon at Fine Art America.

Hipster Flintstones

And finally, we have have something that came to me from someone I follow on Google+, but I don’t remember who it is. But it is everywhere on the internet. Still, I thought it was pretty good. It is also self-explanatory. But I will note one thing: there is nothing to indicate Jesus in this image. Perhaps they are just celebrating the winter solstice?

Hipster Flintstones

That’s all for now kiddos. But we’ll be back later with another loose collection of things whenever it seems appropriate.

The True Western Religion

Glenn GreenwaldIt was redolent of how NBC News immediately organized a panel to trash its own host, Chris Hayes, after Hayes grievously sinned against this religion simply by pondering, on Memorial Day, whether all American soldiers are “heroes” (a controversy that died only after he offered some public penance). The church in which Americans worship this religion are public events such as football games, where fighter jets display their divinity as the congregation prays.

This is the religion — of militarism and tribalism — that is the one thriving and pervasive in the west. The vast, vast majority of political discourse about foreign policy — especially from US and British media commentators — consists of little more than various declarations of tribal superiority: we are better and our violence is thus justified. The widespread desperation on the part of so many to believe that Muslims are uniquely violent, primitive and threatening is nothing more than an affirmation of this religious-like tribalism. And nothing guarantees quicker and more aggressive excommunication than questioning of this central dogma.

—Glenn Greenwald
Cowardly Firing of Australian State-Funded TV Journalist Highlights the West’s Real Religion

Ginger Baker Is a Very Typical Jerk

Beware of Mr BakerI just watched the documentary about iconic drummer Ginger Baker, Beware of Mr Baker. It is quite good, but I don’t mean to talk about the movie here. I want to discuss Baker himself. You see, he really is a vile man. And if you eliminate his amazing musical abilities, he is just like countless men that I’ve known. It’s a curious thing. There is a mixture of narcissism and hopelessness that don’t seem to go together. He clearly thinks that the most wonderful and perfect thing is himself. But that hasn’t made him happy. So he blames the rest of the world.

There is a telling moment toward the end of the film. Baker is, bizarrely, into polo. As a result, he owns about thirty horse. He has to, because apparently, no one will allow him in their polo clubs because, as I said, he’s a vile person. While petting one of his horses, he says, “Horses don’t let you down. Nor do dogs. They all know who I am.” Who is he? I assume he means the center of the universe. This is coming from a man who is known in the music business as one of the very greatest drummers, but someone who no one wants to work with because he’s so unpleasant. He is estranged from his children. Even his current wife seems to have glommed onto him as the best of bad options.

If I hadn’t know so many men who are like this, I might think this is all a function of Baker’s musical brilliance. But it isn’t. Most men who behave as he does don’t have anything particularly impressive to offer to the world. So I’m sure that if Baker had simply become a coal miner, he would be exactly the same. So it’s hard for me to consider him just a lovable rogue. He’s very unlovable. But people are more willing to give him a pass because of his past accomplishments. Obviously, I’m not.

Another moment, just about a minute after Baker’s comment about horses and dogs, the filmmaker, Jay Bulger, asked him if he thought about going back into music. This is following Baker’s never ending complaints about being broke. Bulger tells him that he may be forced to if his ranch is going to be foreclosed on. And he adds, “Besides, it’s who you are.” And Baker, ever the charmer, spits back, “Oh, for fuck’s sake, why are we talking about this shit?!” I get it: Baker is unhappy. But this is just bully nonsense.

During the credits, Bulger runs through various clips of Baker insulting him. In some cases, it is clear that he’s half joking. But mostly, he’s just angry because he isn’t being asked the right questions and given the right respect. But there is no joking at all when Baker slams his cane into the nose of Bulger. The reason he does this is incredible. Baker doesn’t want him to interview people that Baker has left behind “on my film.” His film. His life. His world. But Bulger’s ultimate reaction to this is part of the problem, “I realized: the madman is alive and well!”

But not really. In that sentence, “madman” is a euphemism for what the Frankly Curious style dictates I call a “jerk” but would prefer to call something more colorful and forceful. And more important, Baker may be alive, but he is not well. He is miserable. And he is one of countless men who deal with their unhappiness about the fact that the world does not worship them by making everyone pay. As a James Thurber cartoon I once saw said, “You’re disappointed? We’re all disappointed!” Most of us manage to get through life without making everyone else more miserable than they already are.

Judith Miller Hasn’t Learned a Thing

Judith MillerIn general, Judith Miller’s book tour has been really upsetting. It isn’t that I blame her for the Iraq War. But she was at a bare minimum a useful fool of the Bush administration that was determined to go to war with Iraq. Yet here she is with her new book, The Story. And every time I see her, she is making the same reasonable sounding, but wrong, claims that it wasn’t her — it was the flawed intelligence. If pushed, she will admit that, sure, it wasn’t the intelligence as such, but rather the intelligence filtered through the White House that was wrong. But then she will follow it up with something to the effect that all the reporters got it wrong — except Knight Ridder. But even that heads back at her, because eventually even they assumed they were wrong because, well, look at what The New York Times was reporting!

So normally, I wouldn’t have watched Jon Stewart’s interview with her on The Daily Show. But I heard that he really went after her. And he did indeed. But the truth is that Judith Miller is very good at deflecting criticism. And she is just going to sit there, smile, and repeat her mantra, “I was just reporting what I thought was true; all the other reporters were doing it.” It’s just shameful. And Stewart’s conclusion was appropriate:

We’re obviously never going to see eye-to-eye on it. I appreciate you coming on the program. These discussions always make me incredibly sad because I feel like they point to institutional failure at the highest levels and no one will take responsibility for it, and they pass the buck to every individual but themselves. It’s sad.

But the main thing was the total disgust that was on his face. Miller, of course, smiled through it all. She is, after all, not just selling a book; she’s selling herself. But the best that Stewart could manage was a very tight, clearly angry, forced smirk. I was glad to see it. He clearly feels the way I do.

I want to be clear about what this feeling is. I have no wish to see Judith Miller harassed and belittled for the rest of her life. People make mistakes. For some, it is small and maybe all it does it ruin their lives. But some make mistakes on a grand scale. Miller is such a person. Now I fully appreciate that if Cheney and company didn’t have access to her, they would have found someone else. But they did have her, and it isn’t asking so much for her to admit that she did a bad job.

Ultimately, the problem is with the media system itself. Judith Miller has presented herself — and continues to — as a neutral observer. She’s just reporting the facts as she finds them. But as The Daily Show interview shows, this isn’t the case. She actually did have an ax to grind. I don’t doubt that she was unaware of it. But she appears to be so focused on exonerating herself that she is still unaware of her biases. If she were honest and admitted that, yes in fact, she wanted to believe the nonsense that the White House was dishing, then it would all be over. I would accept that she — very much like myself — is imperfect. But the Judith Miller going all over the nation pimping her book? She hasn’t learned a thing.

Morning Music: Blind Faith

Blind FaithI’ll be writing about Ginger Baker later today, but it made me think about a lot of the great music that he was involved in. The Steve Winwood song “Can’t Find My Way Home” of the original Blind Faith album really sticks out to me. It works very well as Baker’s lament about not being able to find the key to happiness and thinking it is just one person or thing away.

Here is the band at its premiere concert in Hyde Park, London. They really are an amazing band. And Baker’s work on the drums is stunning. But as you will see later today, I still think he’s an awful human being who is not at all redeemed by his music.