Monday, April 13, 2015

50 Links to These United States and Ames' "Medieval Heresies"


It’s a land of heretics! Let’s look at some old ideas and new ideas of radically varying age and worth.

1. Nowadays, instead of excommunicating people, the mob just blocks them on Facebook or insults them on Twitter, which is a great improvement, though you know these people vote and would behave in the same censorious way using government if they had the chance.

2. For an ambitious overview of how Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all dealt with their heretics from mid-First Millennium through early Second Millennium, check out Christine Caldwell Ames’s book Medieval Heresies.

Two important lessons are that these faiths were in contact -- and learning from -- each other even back then but were always very worried that contamination by the wrong ideas whether from within or without could imperil everyone’s souls. Yet all three faiths allowed for some degree of internal debate and diversity. When did that diversity tip over into unforgiveable heresy – and when did these faiths decide it was all right to call in the state as enforcer, often executioner? Important stuff.

3. Caldwell Ames might also question whether it is permissible variation or inexcusable heresy to remake Rocky Horror Picture Show, as they’re once more threatening to do.

4. There is a season, Turn, specifically the second season of Turn, starting tonight on AMC and based on a book about George Washington’s spies by yet another historian I know, Alex Rose (he not only had his giant visage on a digital billboard in Times Square because of it but saw the show’s cast members get to ring the NASDAQ closing bell).

5. But both the real historians noted above may be hard-pressed to compete with faux-medieval adventure Game of Thrones, which debuted its fifth season (roughly speaking based on the fourth book) this week, giving me new hope that the series will pull ahead of the books in another couple seasons, so I can at least watch without any fear of spoilers from people who plan to read the seventh book.

6. Speaking of Game of Thrones, the leftist cadre trying to take over the sci-fi Hugo Awards lately sound a bit like this.

7. Modern-day white knight Joss Whedon’s version of reality’s just about as skewed, as Sonny Bunch’s great EverythingsAProblem tumblr mockingly notes here.

8. Despite earlier hopes, it appears I will not be in a documentary about fans of Sharknado, but we still have Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! to look forward to this summer.

9. Werewolf Bitches from Outer Space, by contrast, I should be in, since yesterday in front of Goldman Sachs we shot the gruesome scene in which I play a Wall Streeter and Rev. Jen Miller and her pal Scooter Pie played werewolves. (This is all perfectly in keeping with what conspiracy theorist Alex Jones says becomes of the elites throughout history.)

10. Rev. Jen’ll probably be condemned by someone as unfeminist for having scantily clad hot chicks in her films, but then, feminists are hard to keep happy, as this piece from Spiked about breasts reminds us.

11. Feminists tend to think that if they aren’t winning, well, the game must be ended.

12. But worse -- arguably even abusive toward kids given some of their latest ideas -- are some activists in the “trans” movement, which sometimes defends people who need defending but is at times (h/t Timandra Harkness) perhaps the most retrograde and barbaric element of our current political culture.

13. Maybe normal women have issues, though (h/t Jeremy Kareken).


15. Some women avoid acting solo but feel comfortable acting in concert with their friends/allies, whether doing the right thing or the wrong thing. Just look at these thirteen women conspiring to put an innocent man in prison for a year.

16. There is the occasional encouraging sign even in territory beloved by gender-bendy liberal types, though (h/t Zac Gochenour): A cutie mark has been drawn in the sand with this bold rebuke to lefty egalitarianism by, yes, My Little Pony (#brony #otherkin #libertarian).

17. Then again, I’m not saying corporate culture is always pleasant, either. It sounds like working at Apple sucks in various ways.

18. Weep for HoJo. I'm getting old enough that even my childhood seems like medieval history sometimes. Did you know there are only two (once omnipresent) Howard Johnson’s restaurants left, one in New York State, the other in Bangor, Maine?

19. Meanwhile, somewhere in East Asia.

20. This beatnik-mocking 1957 song by the recently deceased Stan Freberg probably got heard at some point by Firesign, Cheech/Chong, and Harry Shearer/Bill Murray, I bet.


22. Don’t “get medieval” when it comes to punishment: New Mexico is leading the way in abolishing civil asset forfeiture in drug cases.

23. By contrast, May 22 brings Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence), and the idea behind the film, a prison that fuses people into one organism against their will, reminds me of government. Socialists may basically be sociopaths not so unlike the mad scientists in these films. (Would that socialism’s wisest critics weren’t themselves so often mildly autistic, though; someone’s gotta do empathy.)

24. Real-world violence looks more like this much of the time, though, despite there being few arrests for that sort of dumb melee. (There is violence among cops and non-cops, and it’s OK to deplore both, by the way.)

25. There is certainly violence among other species. Here a large kitty beats a shark.


27. But on a happier note, here a normal-size kitty helps make music.

28. Climate heresy is still harshly dealt with today.

29. The same mag (welcome to NYC, new tinier TNR!) wonders whether the Holocaust diminishes charges of “privilege” directed at white Jews today (h/t Old Whig, Matt Welch, and Sam Schulman). #Holocaustprivilege? At this rate, everyone will be eager to show their catalogue of woes soon, just to fend off the social justice activists.

30. And you can’t expect most people to have a handle on the real history of WWII these days, as J. Arthur Bloom reminds us here, looking at Socialists and the war with more nuance than you’ll get from the privilege-checkers and woe-toters.

31. To compensate for all this old-fashioned talk, here’s a glimpse of the fashion of the future, at least as imagined back in the Art Deco era (h/t JulieAnn Hull). Speaking of which, I think they should have set the final season of Mad Men in the mid-twenty-first century and given everyone 60s-style jetpacks and flying cars a la The Jetsons -- that’d throw viewers for a loop. (It would also help assuage the pain some feel from DC Comics destroying Earth-2, the original, old-timey DC Comics Earth.)

32. In other arts news, a Ukrainian pianist got fired in Canada for purported hate speech simply for saying she feared the western-Ukrainian government was committing atrocities against people in the Russian-allied eastern part of the country. This strikes me as a disturbing combo of Canadian weakness on free speech, U.S./Western stubbornness on the slightly ambiguous Ukraine issue, and, perhaps most creepily, quiet elite fanaticism on the issue of who controls Ukraine.

33. I for one got an out-of-the-blue e-mail from a Yale professor insisting Russia must be beaten -- and maybe it is important, but it’s striking how important it seems to be to the kinds of people who, say, influence firing decisions at symphony orchestras (people sort of like Soros or the Ukrainian-gas-company-affiliated sons of John Kerry and Joe Biden).

This time, the elite failed to really get the rest of us hyped up about their war scheme, right or wrong, so when they freak out about someone like a pianist taking an opposing view on the issue, it’s a bit odd. It’s like being denounced for saying you don’t think the energy minister of Portugal is the new Hitler or something, leaving you chastened but thinking: Who? What? Is that beyond the pale now? Huh?

34. So much fighting in the world is really about gas pipelines and energy, of course -- but that doesn’t make every crackpot alternative energy scheme worth it, as Johan Norberg discusses in this new documentary coming to a PBS station near and paid for by you (h/t David Boaz). Might as well get your money’s worth.

35. The fusion of Islamic and left-liberal activism on campus continues apace, a reminder that talk of campus liberalism being “pluralist” is all too often just camouflage for totalitarian tactics, no matter what the issue.

36. Meanwhile, here’s a non-fatal police incident that is still fraught with strange racial politics.

37. Even the cartoons of the 80s have become sad victim groups, at least in this amusing short.

38. I will have to miss it, but there’s jazz tonight at Cielo Underground, 242 W. 49th, if you’re tempted to check it out from 7:30-11pm.

39. Trebuchets, of course, are a more dangerous form of entertainment (h/t Will Linden).

40. With time, even “yes” can die (h/t Eric Schmidt). Not the band, I mean, but, well, actually, maybe the band as well.

41. Words change, I mean. I thought “Monopoly” meant “boredom” when I was a kid because the board game was such monotony. Amazing I wasn’t also confused about why they called it a “bored game,” actually.

42. But remember: no matter what they tell you about the barbarism of the Middle Ages, the present looks like this (then again, I still don’t see any arrests happening, so I guess there’s technically no crime in this neighborhood at all).

43. I should be careful even about criticizing criminals, as the left stands ready to find racism even in a phrase like “take our country back” -- at least as used by Rand Paul, that guy being praised elsewhere for his outreach to blacks and efforts to promote civil liberties. Jill Sobule, though, responds to him by swearing and deploying a string of racial epithets like “wetback” in a political song on the HuffPo Show.

This is the sick fantasy those purportedly “pluralism and tolerance”-promoting liberals live out in their sick, hateful minds every time they get near even the most innocuous of conservatives or libertarians. They must conjure demons because we aren’t demonic enough in real life.

Has Jill Sobule worked with David Byrne at all? Because it strikes me this is roughly how his sort of liberalism works: attribute the nastiest imaginable motives to your foe, then congratulate yourself for defeating the straw man conjured by your own hate. This is not what generous listening or civility or dialogue look like. Modern liberals have become -- what’s the word? -- ah, yes: bigots.

44. And, yeah, Katy Perry’s version of “I Kissed a Girl” is in fact a better song. Deal with it, hipsters and folk-cretins.

45. Ann Hathaway lip synching to Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” is vastly more entertaining, though.

46. HRC being mocked as part of a monarchical dynasty by SNL is also pretty entertaining and perhaps a healthy sign.

47. I’ll attempt to be funny myself when I’m onstage on the Electoral Dysfunction panel this Saturday, the 18th, 6pm (not 7!!) at the PIT, 123 E. 24th, if you care to come cheer me on amdist politically-mixed company onstage and off.

48. And here on the blog, I’ll discuss the important book Inside ISIS next time.

49. There’s even chimp/drone warfare going on these days, as Arthur C. Clarke might have predicted.

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