Friday, June 27, 2014

Transformers: Lame Movie, Cool (Similar) Car

Celebrity sighting in Midtown: He was just hanging out there all chill, not talking to anybody or surrounded by an entourage, but that guy looks an awful lot like Transformers star Bumblebee, on E. 48th St., maybe in town for the premiere of the fourth film (is Optimus in L.A. at the same time or do they fly back and forth?).

I didn't go up and try talking to him because he was just lying low and pretending to be a car and everything (that's what they do, much as I hate to stereotype). It looks like him, anyway. Less animated than I expected.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

10 Evolutionary Links (including Seavey/Perry video)

1. Gerard Perry and I talk on YouTube about evolutionary themes in this summer’s Edge of Tomorrow, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Lucy.

2. In 1982, a mere year after Road Warrior, Wendy O. Williams drove a schoolbus through a wall of TV sets for this impressive Plasmatics video (h/t Charles Hope) -- though as Frances Bean Cobain (progeny of another rocker who, like Williams, committed suicide with a gun) recently said, we must be cautious about romanticizing violence and death (h/t Jackie Danicki).

3. Art itself evolves, and it’s hard to believe that Plasmatics video was a mere four years after this clip of Donny and Marie performing a Steely Dan classic, which is the sort of thing that necessitated punk, I suppose.

4. All our griping aside, gradual refinement is everywhere. Recall, for instance, that Johnny Sokko and his giant robot did not work quite as well in live action as in anime.

5. In biological evolution proper, sometimes the survival advantages or disadvantages aren’t quite clear enough for odd variations to get weeded out or to become widespread, as with polydactyly, and so you get the occasional family with twelve fingers.

6. Speaking of evolving situations, have we worked out whether we’re, like, on Iran’s side or al Qaeda’s side in the Middle East yet? Does it matter if Israel’s at war with Syria when we decide? How’s that all shaking out? Should we just kinda blunder around over there and see what happens, maybe denounce Russia or something?

(But in all seriousness, despite the temptation to just fume about Cheney’s unending arrogance and declare a pox on everyone ever associated with him: a sincere R.I.P. nonetheless to Fouad Ajami, not to mention everyone recently beheaded in Iraq.)

7. In other post-Bush coalition-reformulating news, you can watch online Friday at noon as the Cato Institute hosts, yes, Ralph Nader in conversation with paleolibertarians Dan McCarthy and Tim Carney plus anti-Bush conservative Brink Lindsey (h/t Clinton White House veteran Sarah Federman, for added ecumenicism) on the topic of corporate/government cronyism.

8. If you need lighter fare: you survived may well watch Sharknado 2 next month...but are you ready for the evolving horror of the...BLOOD GLACIER (h/t Peter Suderman)?

10. In fact, I declare that July on this blog shall be an upbeat “Month of (R)evolution,” phasing in those overdue permanent refinements to my aging Web presence. More soon. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

10 Futuristic Links: Liberty Island, Aquaman, Brat, Basil, Stossel, Cowen, and More

1. To help kick off the fundraising for the libertarian (and often science-fictional) website LibertyIslandMag, you can donate here. (LibertyIsland is certainly more deserving of your money than Brian Lehrer and the cowardly shits who run NPR, judging by Adam Carolla’s recent experience with them.)

2. For a libertarian take on the real future, Stossel this Thursday night (June 19 at 9 Eastern) is scheduled to devote a whole hour to topics like Ray Kurzweil, transhumanism, and whether all of us being killed by robot soldiers is likely.

3. But a nastier vision of growth is that of quasi-libertarian Tyler Cowen (the apostate libertarians are almost always creepier than the rigid adherents of the core philosophy, mark my words), who wrote in the New York Times this weekend (in defiance of all conventional libertarian wisdom) that he thinks wars bring prosperity.

Well, we’re still on track for WWIII in Ukraine, and a surprising number of people across the political spectrum seem to think a second decade of war in Iraq might be preferable to the current crisis there, so: prospects are lookin' good, Tyler! Except for the massive expenses of death, destruction, emboldening of the state, and inevitable war debt, I mean.

(Cowen famously wrote elsewhere that he thinks the future will be dominated by autistic or near-autistic people, and he may be living proof that we must hope the autists side with empaths instead of with the sociopaths. How the announcement of the publication next year of a lost Ayn Rand novel -- h/t J. Arthur Bloom -- will affect that process I do not know.)

4. Meanwhile, far more subtly, Christians are fighting over econ, with religion, as usual, failing to win all its adherents decisively either to markets or welfare-statism. But if that leads to the New Yorker perceiving Cantor-ousting Republican congressional candidate David Brat as a sort of Christian liberal-tarian foe of crony corporatism -- and thus sympathetically likening him to Elizabeth Warren -- is that such a bad portent?

Like Rand Paul, Brat may hope to be all things to all people while still ending up being far more libertarian than the usual mushy “moderates” who seek that sort of crossover appeal.

5. At least religion promulgates a vision of a future without war: the lion lying with lamb, and at least in the real world we can watch video of a mouse lying with a kitten.

6. My parents’ future will include new cat Bobcat Bob, who doesn’t seem too militaristic toward the other pets (photo h/t Marilyn Tallman).

7. I did not realize that after about two decades of inactivity, the quintessentially New Wave band Blancmange had a couple comeback albums in recent years and, even more so than Duran Duran or Blondie, they stylistically changed nothing -- nothing! Here, then, is an example of what they sounded like a mere three years ago, which is to say: very 80s retro-futurist.

8. For more hurting of your head with time: back when Toni Basil (of “Mickey” fame in 1982) was twenty-three -- in 1966(!) -- she sang about the

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Comics + Liberty = Madness and Death?

Embarrassingly, the male half of the insane (emphasis on insane) Las Vegas spree-killer couple was both a quasi-libertarian and a comics fan. 

Today at 2:30pm Eastern, comics writer Valerie D'Orazio, who has a new comic out about Edward Snowden, will talk about Snowden and about the Vegas shooter with libertarian conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (at, who holds the strange belief that such spree-killers are created by the government to make guns and liberty look bad. 

Will either subculture emerge looking good? I'm afraid you are obliged to listen in and find out what happens.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

13 “Maleficent”/Animals Items (Including Seavey/Perry on YouTube!)

1. Gerard Perry and I discuss Maleficent -- and the far larger issue of “spoilers” (Gerard doesn’t care about them) in our latest YouTube chat.  

The movie wasn’t all that great, but one of several neat things about it is that it replaces this classic version of the song “Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty with this Lana Del Rey version. Long may she mope.

2. I see a HuffPo piece suggested the loss of Maleficent’s wings is comparable to a rape -- and they’re right. It’s another reminder the culture rightly treats such acts as abominable, despite the recent weird pretense by feminists that the culture glorifies them.

3. Speaking of sex and assault: the grotesque spree-killer last month (not to be confused with a couple of them this month) was not a real exemplar of the so-called PUA (“pick-up artist”) philosophy, which, crucially, counsels flirting (however cynical or calculating it may sound) instead of whining and fuming about loneliness and then killing people -- but how does one even begin to defend such a reviled philosophy without immediately being accused of being one of its adherents?

It’s a bit like trying to tell people that Timothy McVeigh wasn’t actually in a militia.  They wonder why you would even care about the truth if someone that awful is under discussion. But the truth always matters, especially in a crisis. (That is the genuinely non-partisan assumption underlying all I do and say.)

4. The alternative is the often-incoherent maintenance of taboos, the marking off of subject areas where nuance and doubt and rational inquiry are not allowed. Rape is now a sacred topic of that sort among the feminists, judging by the anger directed at Miss Nevada for suggesting self-defense is a good thing (since that reasonable claim excuses the attacker, claim the feminists -- though one never hears anyone say this about, say, advising people to defend themselves against murderers).

One has to wonder if feminists would even stick to this bizarre position if they had a chance to do this one over. They may now just be acting stubborn. And while we’re talking about conflicting and confused feminist messages, is this song celebrating non-anorexic body types considered empowering or evil this week?

5. Maleficent is faux-medievalism, and faux-medievalism isn’t always pleasant (see: Game of Thrones, which has its season 4/book 3 finale this coming Sunday and will probably include violence). We in the modern world haven’t yet escaped violence, of course, sometimes in forms dating all the way back to medieval times.

Indeed, a Business Insider piece (h/t Walter Olson) notes communistic Belarus is bringing back serfdom -- legally forbidding workers to leave their jobs. Hayek was more right than he knew! But then, there was always a sense in which the communists (not to mention nineteenth-century Tories and some faux-traditionalists of the antebellum American South) felt more at home in an imagined Middle Ages than in capitalist modernity.

6. And what of Catholics, so fond of the thousand-year period when their Church reigned in Europe? Can they now be libertarians? Despite this Pope and his socialistic advisors, I hope so.

7. Even the Palestinian Authority is more fond of capitalism than some of the West’s leftist activists and would like those activists to stop being obstacles (h/t Judith Weiss).

8. I am happy to live in a modern world of markets and technology instead of one that believes in witches with familiars disguised as crows, but ours is still a world that must be on guard against a sneaky kitten pouncing on dog.

9. Modernity also enables us all to watch as “Tiny Kitten Wrestles Big Dog” (and goes after his butt!).

10. Sorry if I sound like I took a turn for the juvenile there, but I did see Maleficent with my parents -- on a trip home that revealed Mom has placed tiny bunny slippers on my childhood teddy bear, Roy (see photo).

11. Such is the Seavey household. And if all goes according to plan, the parents are also getting a second cat this week (to join Salty and Mac the dog), and the cat’s prior owners have named him Bobcat Bob.

12. If Maleficent and animals aren’t entertainment enough for you, though, you could follow my example and attend a screening (this Thursday 7pm at the Galapagos art space at 16 Main St. in DUMBO) of the booby-related short comedy film The Slip-Up by Matt Brandenburgh (who directs the aforementioned YouTube chats in which I appear).

13. And if you tire of silliness and magic, find me at a showing of the highly scientific documentary Particle Fever this coming Sunday the 15th at Symphony Space (or attend on either of the two Sundays thereafter, with tickets available at that link circa the 11th or so). 

Monday, June 9, 2014

10 Entertaining Yet Damning Links

Sometimes the good comes tragically wrapped with the bad:

1. Libertarian science writer Michael Fumento sounds very depressed in a recent online interview after all but disappearing into Colombia, if anyone’s inclined to send him a supportive e-mail.

2. Yesterday marks three months since the disappearance of Flight 370, and I’ve decided to dedicate the great Fixx song “Lost Planes” to its passengers in karaoke if I get the chance (I have also finally created a Pandora channel for the Fixx, now that that site’s algorithms have gotten more refined than when I first tried that about eight years ago).

3. On the tougher end of the New Wave/punk spectrum, the Damned get some kind of ahead-of-the-curve points for doing this in 1979 (and this is an amusing German TV appearance by them).

4. For one more month, the original cowboy from the Village People stars in a stage musical version of Ayn Rand’s Anthem, I kid you not.

5. Musical opposition to coercion may sound lame to some, but hey, it beats...well, beating -- which apparently is what our faces evolved to withstand.

6. And the blue states noted here -- specifically in this model redistributive states -- have more income inequality anyway, so as usual, the left is wrong by every imaginable metric including its own.

7. Then again, egotistical self-promotion can go too far for aesthetic comfort, as Maddox amusingly demonstrates (h/t Matt Pritchard).

8. So I’ll instead plug a screening (this Thursday 7pm at the Galapagos art space at 16 Main St. in DUMBO) of the booby-related short comedy film The Slip-Up by Matt Brandenburgh (who just coincidentally directs the YouTube chats in which I appear, of which another will be unveiled shortly).

9. If you prefer Godzilla director Gareth Edwards, you might be pleased to hear that September already brings another monster movie from him, one that I would imagine will suddenly get a much bigger media push than planned.

10. And if we’re on the lookout for real-life monsters, it may be best to watch out for anything that seems to have the mind of a teenage Ukrainian boy but isn’t actually human, since a computer program fitting that description can now sometimes pass the Turing Test (for convincingly passing as human in conversation). 

I don’t know if we want A.I. programs to mimic teenage Ukrainians with that region already on the brink of WWIII. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Conservatism for Punks: Architecture of Burma

Maybe there's hope for Myanmar.

Ali T. Kokmen tells me NPR did a story about how modernization -- specifically a real estate boom -- in Myanmar is causing some (perfectly reasonable) lamentation among those who value the British colonial architectural style that had for so long predominated during the nation's more isolationist years.

Among those interviewed is "nineteen year-old punk rocker" Maung Nyan (heard on the radio version of the story singing the Ramones' "I Want to Be Sedated"), who is described as "rebellious by Burmese standards, but when it comes to construction, he's a traditionalist" (the precious conservative-punk combo I wrote about in an essay for this book!):

"'Because of the valuable architecture, I prefer this kind of old building to new buildings,' says Maung Nyan, whose apartment is really a cagelike, cavernous stall with a wire-mesh door. 'I'm also proud to live here. If it's possible, I'd like to stay here until I die'."

(Of course, I can't help wondering how the regime would react if he performed Mission of Burma's "That's When I Reach for My Revolver.")