The power of comedy to influence the news…
Seth Gilman is a New York-based classical vocalist navigating the treacherous waters between dynamic and formal equivalence, while thinking Big Thoughts.
This is my (mostly) political blog. Click the post title and it will link you to the article on which I'm commenting. Also, feel free to check out video and audio of my performances at http://sethsings.tumblr.com/.
- Ella & Louis - Autumn in New York -
If autumn in New York were really like Ella and Louis, it’s be more worth the allergies.
I just spent like 30 seconds straight trying to understand what was so special about “The unthe unthe uthe unhe un”
“The unthe unthe uthe unhe un”
why does that gif even exist
I was hoping to see pi in the serial numbers.
- The Pocketbook by Tom Cipullo -
Now, idealized models have a useful role to play in economics (and indeed in any discipline), as ways to clarify your thinking. But starting in the 1980s it became harder and harder to publish anything questioning these idealized models in major journals. Economists trying to take account of imperfect reality faced what Harvard’s Kenneth Rogoff, hardly a radical figure (and someone I’ve sparred with) once called “new neoclassical repression.” And it should go without saying that assuming away irrationality and market failure meant assuming away the very possibility of the kind of catastrophe that overtook the developed world six years ago.
Thus, the intellectual cover for libertarians, free-marketeers, and Austrians, all based on oversimplified models never intended to represent real-world conditions.
Yet in their very simplicity, their certainty, their lack of ambiguity, was their seduction. It’s like with flawed early Sabermetrics: their goal was to eliminate variables rather than account for their messiness, to not identify the signal through the noise, but to reconstruct one based on the most easily registered and recorded indicators, even if that meant an incomplete message.
A large part of my adult, career-related life has been lived by Susan Ivanova’s examples and wisdom.
Oh man. MAN. Man. Lemme tell you about Susan Ivanova.
Susan Ivanova, second in command of Babylon 5, has been through a lot of shit. First, off, Babylon 5 is a deliberate melting pot of a place where. after a really bad war, different species can come to seek peace. Earthgov is skeptical about it. The other species governments are skeptical about it. As a result, the station often stands between the universe and very bad shit going down.
Commander Ivanova is in charge of operations. All the day to day stuff. She handles it pretty well.
She is not here to put up with anyone’s shit. Not even if you’re from Earth.
She’s second in command of a station with captains that are perpetually putting themselves and the station through a lot of political… well, ugly politics. She’s often the one left behind, having to tell folks the Captain is not available and she’s in charge. Honestly, for having to be the grownup among so many damned children, she’s very well liked.
She’s not all business, though, she’s a great friend as well as commander, with a lovely, dry, gallows sense of humor. I’m not sure there’s a person on the station who doesn’t have a private joke or at least a friendly word with her (provided they’re not fucking up her schedule).
Her family is Russian and Jewish, and it actually comes up from time to time. She occasionally sends a shout out to god (she’s not practicing, iirc, but she still identifies as Jewish and keeps a few traditions), She commentates often on her Russian heritage.
Susan Ivanova: I know, I know. It’s a Russian thing. When we’re about to do something stupid, we like to catalog the full extent of our stupidity for future reference.
She meets up with family and friends from her past and doesn’t shy away from them:
Lt. Cmdr. Susan Ivanova: So how are things back home?
Rabbi Koslov: They change, they stay the same. Russia is Russia. Your father used to say: “If regret could be harvested, Russia would be the world’s fruit basket.”
She had a rough time growing up - her mother was a telepath, and in this universe if you’re telepathic and human you have two options: join a quasi-militaristic organization called the PsiCorps that will immediately take you from your family and control your whole life (they even have a saying: the Corps is Mother. The Corps is Father. It’s as chilling as you think,); option two is to take some drugs that suppress your abilities. Ivanova’s mother chose the second option, and after a long, ugly period suffering under the effects of the drug, she took her own life.
You can imagine Susan is not thrilled with anyone associated with the Psicorps. But when a Psicorps telepath named Talia Winters comes on board, some interesting things happen.
But then, eventually, Susan doesn’t mind her so much.
Talia reaches out, and turns up at Susan’s quarters late one night.
They actually become real friends.
And then, when Talia is gone she confesses:
Susan also later falls in love with a man named Marcus Cole, which means for my money she’s the first bisexual lady in space that I ever saw on TV. Possibly ever.
For all that though, for her friendships and lovely jokes and cuddly-as-a-cactus-flower appeal, they never ever forget how good she is at her job. She is shatteringly competent.
The whole crew is in on the airlocking thing, really. They support her airlocking habits. It’s lovely of them to do.
Commander Susan Ivanova, bisexual Russian Jewish space princess of my heart. Forever. Watch this show.
Always share St. Ivanova.
YEESSSS. Babylon 5 fandom, we yet live!!
And did we mention the part where she coopted part of the hydroponics bays so that she could grow coffee to prevent her from committing homicide?
Susan Ivanova is my queen. Also my rebbe.
(I refuse to call her St Ivanova because what part of “Jewish” are we forgetting, thanks for the erasure).
#another on the endless list of shows I want to get around to watching
YES. Yes, you do. It has its problems, it’s the first show to do all its SFX by computer (Amigas with Video Toaster cards) and sometimes it looks it, and it starts slow but god damn once it gets going it is fucking amazing and awesome.
Also, Ivonava and Talia’s relationship is canon and confirmed and intent, and the only reason it stopped when it did is because Talia’s actress wanted to leave the show to do other things nobody cares about.
I have never watched this show but this makes me want to!
We need more Straczynski in our lives. I guess good things can come from New Jersey!
- Doctor Who Movie -
And lest we not forget, the snogging did not begin with Davies.
And least you get to see the McCoy - McGann regeneration, but this is a most undignified B-movie for the Doctor. The presence of Eric Roberts says enough. I hope you understand why having a showrunner at the helm who actually understands time travel paradoxes, and can build a coherent plotline around them, is a very precious and rare thing.
Some of the leaders of the Middle East’s Christians have made choices that merit criticism; some of them harbor attitudes toward their Jewish neighbors that merit condemnation. But Israel is a rich, well-defended, nuclear-armed nation-state; its supporters, and especially its American Christian supporters, can afford to allow a population that’s none of the above to organize to save itself from outright extinction without also demanding applause for Israeli policy as the price of sympathy and support.
If Cruz felt that he couldn’t in good conscience address an audience of persecuted Arab Christians without including a florid, “no greater ally” preamble about Israel, he could have withdrawn from the event. The fact that he preferred to do it this way instead says a lot — none of it good — about his priorities and instincts.
It was a tragedy that the first to publicize persecution of non-Western Christian communities framed it as a humanitarian issue, but as a theological one, drawing parallels to the Romans, of proof of the inherent evil of the infidel, of an apocalyptic, global, concerted clash of civilizations and gods. As of the mid-’90s, when the issue first came to light, riots and clashes were motivated less by religion than by religious identity. Christian communities in the non-Christian world represented a last vestige of Western imperialism and colonialism, even when they preexisted the current religious majority. They had received preferences from the colonizers, as the general population was oppressed, marginalized, and exploited. Never mind that the Christians, too, were being exploited in order to provide local cover and legitimacy to distant overlordship. But much of the tension between Christians and their neighbors was a matter of postcolonial resentment and payback. This was of course absolutely wrong and thoroughly condemnable. Inexcusable. Even when they still enjoy certain proceeds and inheritances of their former privileges, these are still small and vulnerable communities that deserve protection, regardless of the sins of their European coreligionists.
But try telling such sense to an American Christian evangelical yearning for a crusade, who is already convinced they are persecuted in America for not thoroughly dominating this country. And so I and many on the left who care sincerely and deeply about the plights of threatened minorities everywhere, left without good faith partners in a cause already co-opted by Islamophobes and neoimperialists, distanced ourselves from any talk on the matter. We ceded the moral ground, both to the bigots on the right and their agendas and ulterior motives, and to the postcolonial apologists left of us, who will defend any act of abuse by the designated other, having accepted a dualist paradigm by which the familiar can only be evil and the alien innately good. And a chance was lost to do good was lost in a polarized morass, until the ancient Christian communities of the Near East dwindled into a fraction of their former size, and a new Islamist religious fundamentalism capitalizes on and absorbs Muslim anti-Western resentment, humiliation, and powerlessness to create a force that wielding total control of its domain, can and will persecute - massacre and enslave - religious minorities, including Christians, at their will.
God damn it. Doesn’t matter whose god, but God damn it all the same.
You mostly hear this from people on the right, who normally say that free-market economies are endlessly flexible and creative. But when you propose putting a price on carbon, suddenly they insist that industry will be completely incapable of adapting to changed incentives. Why, it’s almost as if they’re looking for excuses to avoid confronting climate change, and, in particular, to avoid anything that hurts fossil-fuel interests, no matter how beneficial to everyone else.
Economies or scale and production experience. The long-awaited practicality of alternative energies and a return to energy near-independence was brought to you by the much-maligned (and admittedly insufficient) Obama stimulus. Surprise! Investments sometimes take years to pay off, whether your memory is long or short. And the green tech investments have been remarkably successful.
By the way, I know some “Degrowthers,” Rousseauian utopians of a myopic morality, unwilling to accept that the beneficial can still be better in the balance, even when it comes with drawbacks and tradeoffs. Can we please banish these dualistic absolutists to a place where they can make no sound, like the vacuum of space, only farther away?
"I have often wondered if Mr. Conservative/Libertarian turns down raises his company offers to *him.* Because I’ve only ever heard this argument applied to low-wage workers. Apparently, when you increase executive salaries and bonuses, that money comes out of a magical portal somewhere, so prices are unaffected. And no one ever tries to tell middle-class knowledge workers that getting a raise would only leave them worse off in the long run. It’s only ever the working poor. I guess they get paid with a different, more sinister kind of money."
Rebecca Wald, quoted in Mia Nutick - For those who are in discussions with people who believe that raising the minimum wage is bad for the people who get minimum wage, or bad for prices in general, I give you this quote which breaks it down *perfectly*: (via mslorelei)
Well, not really. Even a major raise for a high ranking executive won’t cost the company nearly as much as even a small raise at the bottom of the pyramic, because that then sends ripples through the entire pay structure. Further, that executive raise will be offset by increased investment, since executive compensation is seen as a positive indicator of executive ability and retention by the market. Meanwhile, higher wages for lower paid workers will, in a free market, where all else is qualitatively and quantitatively equal between one company and its competitors, lead to a competitive disadvantage, as that will either decrease profit margins or increase prices. This is why we have to cancel out this prisoners’ dilemma by either mandating collective bargaining across the given industry or establishing a living wage closer to the value added provided the individual laborer.
doctor who: moffat era + the worst muse
I don’t get all the Moffat hate for his doing pretty much all the same things Davies did.
Snogging between Doctor and companion? Check. In fact, Peter Capaldi is the Doctor who’s marked a return to platonic distance.
Martha Jones ditching saving the universe because she was so in love she couldn’t function = River Song’s obsessive devotion.
Catch phrases and the Doctor? I’ll explain later.
Davies’s lady aliens were well beboobed too, as I recall.
The return of Gallifrey has been much awaited and repeatedly hinted at.
Moffet cast two white Doctors, the same number as did Davies.
Is Moffat a perfect showrunner? Davies was certainly better at creating well rounded characters, male, female, and uncategorizable. He was also sentimental, overwrought, and melodramatic. Moffat, meanwhile, is remarkable at playing with the implications of time travel and paradoxes, and at building cohesive story arcs that slowly reveal themselves only over the span of a season or even two. At that he’s a virtuoso. And when he moves on, there will be another showrunner who will bring their own strengths and weaknesses, and bring new emphases to the show, some original, some (hopefully) hearkening back to the original run. Yes, there was a Dr. Who before Christopher Eccleston.
The Davies era was no shining, utopian moment of gender equality, ethnic and sexual diversity, and immaculate storytelling; Moffat isn’t exclusively some white supremacist sexist lech. It’s become so damned fashionable to earn social justice geek credibility by taking ill-considered, ill-informed pot shots at Moffat, as though Dr. Who exists to serve that single mission - of satisfying the political preferences of one subset of its audience.
You’re perfectly entitled to not care much for the theoretical timey-wimey arcana. Others of us tune in for that specifically. You’re perfectly entitled to find the diversity of the current cast unrepresentative of even contemporary Britain as others were entitled to find the soapiness and contrived romances of the Davies era to be both pandering and detrimental to a collegial relationship between Doctor and companion. There was a Doctor before you were fans, and there will be one after you’ve lost interest. Dr. Who has been around for a long time, and it’s not about me, or you, or Davies or Moffat. It’s about its own internal continuity and history, which both Davies and Moffat have generally respected (snogging aside). To deify one and vilify the other ignores their distinct contributions to what the series has become and where it might go. Enjoy of it what you enjoy. If you only enjoyed Davies, then perhaps it’s not Dr. Who you’re following, but one in a line of its producers. If a different side of the franchise is enough to turn you so off, then why watch, but to identify your priorities with a recognizable brand, akin to the “Beethoven was black” nonsense from people who couldn’t otherwise name a single actually black composer of the classical tradition. It’s a cheap and lazy way to do social justice, and has nothing to do with Dr. Who..
- Brahms - Wilhelm Kempff 1950’s legacy (op. 10, 24, 76, 79, 116, 117, 118, 119) -
Your Brahms overload of the day. I had forgotten how extraordinary his Brahms was. So many contrasts of mood, from the most intimate tenderness to bottomless depth and breadth, to an expansive power that never turns itself over into haughty bombast. It’s all so human and self-aware, non-presentational, as though Kempff is playing for himself alone. How can it feel at once so spontaneous and alive, yet perfectly structured on the large-scale?
And I was saying about rounded tone? It might have helped that Kempff played Bechsteins and Serkin Steinways, and Bechsteins are my favorite pianos: not the pure volume of Steinways or Bösendorfers, not the brassy audacity of the former nor the depth of the latter, but the perfect medium of the two, with a sublime middle register and excellent responsiveness and evenness throughout the range.
Yeah, Bechstein, bitch!
- Brahms - Klavierstücke op.119 - Serkin live -
Brahms is hard; you need such weight and gravitas, but the music can never be allowed to be ponderous. I can maybe count on one hand the pianists I trust with Brahms’s solo work: Kempff, Gieseking, Gilels, Serkin, and maybe - maybe - Ax. Serkin isn’t so much right on tone, which isn’t rounded enough, but he gets momentum and rubato, the subtle ebb and flow of breath and gesture. He sings it, even if not in the most mellifluous of voices.