Biff! Zapp! Pow!

Good evening good citizens. There has been a request for a lighthearted open thread. And what could be more lighthearted than the trailer for the upcoming animated movie based on the Batman 66 TV show? Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar reprise their original roles. So be sure to tune in: same Bat time, same Bat station!

Saturday Morning Action Serials Open Thread

On the one hand, the Spousal Unit and I adored Leverage, which was John Rogers’ creation (along with the infamous 27% Factor).

But on the other hand, neither of us ever watched an episode of the original Magnum, P.I. — it was the 80s, home recording technology was still in its infancy and television in general wasn’t much further along. And we were both involved in sf fandom / tabletop RPGs, which in those primitive days meant hand-crafting fanzines, apas, and character sheets, not to mention longform reading.

So… those of you who know more of the source material: Is this particular reboot liable to be worth watching?

And apart from the current parlous state of pop culture, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Breaking News: Police in Charlotte are Moving Protestors Ahead of the 12:00 AM EDT Curfew

Tremaine Lee of MSNBC is reporting live that police in Charlotte have just fired rubber bullets and what he’s describing as pepper spray (most likely pepper ball less than lethal rounds) into fleeing protestors that were marching peacefully towards I277 over an hour before the midnight curfew. Lee is reporting that the police are moving into the area, they then set up a phalanx, move towards the protestors, and as the protestors begin to move out, the police then fire the rubber bullets and pepper rounds towards them.

Here’s the link to WBTV 3 Charlotte’s live feed.

The next major conflict point will be at 12:00 AM EDT when the Mayor of Charlotte has called a curfew to clear the streets from midnight to 6:00 AM EDT. It is unclear how law enforcement in Charlotte plan to enforce that curfew given the several hundred peaceful protestors and demonstrators in the streets of Charlotte. Earlier this evening Reverend Barber in an interview on MSNBC indicated that the Mayor of Charlotte had agreed during a meeting with faith leaders earlier today not to impose and enforce a curfew.

For everyone in the Charlotte area please stay safe.

I’ll update as new information becomes available.

Update at 11:15 PM EDT

Mayor Jennifer Roberts just told Brian Williams on MSNBC that:

We are 45 minutes away from finding out what this means in practice.

Update at 12:00 AM EDT

The Charlotte municipal curfew is now in effect. Significant number of demonstrators/protestors are still out on the street. Hopefully things stay peaceful.

Update 12:07 PM EDT

Update at 12:12 PM EDT

Update at 12:35 AM EDT

Update at 12:52 AM EDT:


Weekend Movie Review — Vote Early Vote Often

Between the FYWP/Firefox issue and various political happenings, last weekend’s inaugural Weekend Movie Club kinda got short shrift. Tireless commentors Schroedinger’s Cat and Mnemosyne will be doing a movie review every weekend, posted to SC’s blog and cross-posted here. Here’s your chance to vote for the next review:

I grew up watching Hindi movies and more importantly listening to Hindi movie numbers. I must have heard and watched many more songs than the movies themselves. Growing up I used to turn up my nose at most of the offerings that came out of the movie industry which is now popularly known as Bollywood. There was a dichotomy between commercial cinema and art cinema and there very few popular Hindi movies that didn’t insult your intelligence or so it seemed to me. For twenty odd years, the new Hindi movies that I must have watched could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Now that I am at a distance from both my childhood and Bollywood, I think I may have judged those movies harshly. Hollywood can be pretty formulaic too. They have different formulas, that’s all. Since last year I have been rediscovering Indian cinema, particularly Hindi movies, mainly through their music. Through my YouTube meanderings, I have stumbled across many gems. The list of movies that I want to see keeps growing by the day. Either I have become more forgiving or the movies have gotten better. For example, there are many more movies with female protagonists which don’t have a love story as their focus, than the Hindi cinema of yore or even present day Hollywood. Here is a list of three movies with strong female leads…

Clink on the link to watch the trailers and vote for Queen, Neerja, or Jai Gangaajal. (Or, I assume, to suggest other movies for the Two Movie Kittehs to review.)

What Has Been Will Be Again, What Has Been Done Will Be Done Again

Or to finish the quote from Kohelet/Ecclesiastes: “There is nothing new under the sun…”

In the 19th Century the US was gripped with one of it cyclical bouts of nativism, anti-immigrant xenophobia, and anti-minority religious extremism. Just as a frenzy was whipped up about the Ground Zero Mosque, which was actually a Muslim Community Center with a prayer chapel (akin to a Jewish Community Center), and around the building of mosques or the setting aside of land for Muslim cemeteries post 9-11, so too was a frenzy whipped up in the 19th Century around the building of Catholic churches. And just as we are currently seeing a frenzied anti-immigrant xenophobia around Latino and Hispanic immigrants – and lets be honest, its ultimately not going to matter if they’re legal or undocumented, so too did we see a 19th Century analog against Irish and Chinese immigrants, as well as others depending on the part of the US. As we are currently seeing a hard hearted focus to deny sanctuary to refugees fleeing war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria – including those who served as translators/interpreters for US and Coalition Forces and we owe a debt to provide them safe haven, so too did we see a similar hard hearted response to Jews in the 1930s and 1940s fleeing the rising and then consolidating tyranny of the NAZIs. And all too often it is the descendants of the early targets of discrimination that have chosen to lead the contemporary efforts of intolerance, nativism, and xenophobia.


(St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York)

In the mid 19th Century there was tremendous opposition to the building of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, as well as Catholic churches in other parts of the US.

At the Church of the Disciples of Christ on 28th Street near Broadway, the Rev. Joseph Bradford Cleaver spoke under the title “Crucifix Smiting the Cross; or shall the Papacy govern New York City?” He was among those who saw the opening of the magnificent new St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan the previous year as a dangerous sign of Catholic power and warned that Cardinal John McCloskey, who was “enthroned” there, would rule America as the pope’s viceroy and bring on a new Inquisition if Grace were elected mayor.

The church where the Knights of Columbus was founded was similarly denigrated. The New York Times at the time reported on the construction of St. Mary’s in the following manner:


(St. Mary’s Church, New Haven)

“An Unprofitable Church: Roman Catholic Troubles in New-Haven.” The church on one of New Haven’s finest residential streets had been dedicated five years earlier, but only after a struggle in which the pastor was pressured to accept an alternate site.As The Times put it, “When the residents of this aristocratic avenue discovered that they were in danger of seeing a Roman Catholic church spring up among them, with all that the establishment of such a church implied, they bestirred themselves to oppose the project. The wisest of the Roman Catholics here did not favor it, and St. Mary’s was induced to exchange the lot for a good one in some other locality.” But that site was also deemed “too good” for Catholics, so a lesser lot was found. The pastor refused this, according to The Times, and built the church as originally planned on wealthy Hillhouse Avenue. According to the Times, the parish fell into debt (its parishioners being mainly “servant girls”). “The result shows how foolish were those who persisted in building the church on the spot where it stands,” The Times concluded. “How much spite had to do with it cannot now be ascertained, but the complete history of the negotiations would be very interesting. The edifice was erected beyond the boundaries of the parish, and it invaded the most exclusive homes of wealth and culture. It is an eye-sore on the avenue, a source of annoyance and injury to neighboring residents, and a complete failure as a business enterprise.”

This isn’t all that different than what we heard and saw in the opposition to the Park Avenue Islamic Center aka The Ground Zero Mosque.


(Ground Zero Mosque Protestors, New York)

The protestors had been whipped into a froth by the uninformed, but politically very profitable fear mongering of a few self appointed, but largely ignorant, arbiters of what was and was not acceptable in regards to Islam. For instance:

We also saw anti-immigrant imagery that rivals any of the modern anti-undocumented immigrant language we are currently observing. Here are just two examples:


(Anti-Chinese Graphic from The Wasp Magazine, San Francisco)


(Anti-Immigrant Statement of Principles from The Patriot, Boston)

Similarly Senator Taft sent the following letter to the Jewish War Veterans of the United States indicating his opposition to resettling 20,000 Jewish German children in the US in excess of the immigration quotas of the time.


(Letter from Senator Taft to Mr. Tarlish, Jewish War Veterans, 1939)

Senator Taft’s position on accepting Jewish German children to save them from the NAZIs and the reasons for it are not too far off from Governor Mike Pence’s in refusing to accept Syrian Civil War refugees fleeing the Islamic State:

Governor Pence Suspends Resettlement of Syrian Refugees in Indiana

Start Date: 11/16/2015 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 11/16/2015
Entry Description
Indianapolis – Following reports that a Syrian refugee was among the perpetrators of the terrorists attacks that took place in Paris on Friday, Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement:“In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, effective immediately, I am directing all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved. Indiana has a long tradition of opening our arms and homes to refugees from around the world but, as governor, my first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers. Unless and until the state of Indiana receives assurances that proper security measures are in place, this policy will remain in full force and effect.”The Refugee Resettlement Office in the Division of Family Resources in the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) administers the Syrian resettlement program.###
Location Information:

 And Governor Pence is only one among 27 governors, all Republicans, that told the Obama Administration they would not accept Syrian Civil War refugees. This is also the position of the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“Our nation has always been welcoming. But we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.”

What we are seeing in Election 2016 is not something new in the United States. Just as there are economic cycles and crime cycles and religiosity cycles, there also seems to be extremism, nativism, and nationalism cycles within US society too. All of this has happened before and it will, most likely happen again.

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun. – Kohelet/Ecclesiastes 1:9


Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Money Can’t Buy You Gandalf

Yes, it makes me happy that Douche Flotilla Admiral Sean Parker’s wedding will never stop being mockable.

As a reminder, Sean Parker’s cri du couer:

Weddings Used To Be Sacred And Other Lessons About Internet Journalism
…. When I got started in this industry almost 20 years ago, things were different. Back then there were no blogs, no Twitter or Facebook, and the editorial world was still a growing business. The reporters I interacted with diligently researched their stories, tracked down sources, conducted interviews, and even fact-checked their stories before publication. The trouble with online media is that there’s no incentive for them to do any of this. It’s easier to generate traffic with snarky stories than hard news, and there’s no downside for getting the facts of a story wrong, or even making it up entirely. The law offers no recourse, since being a “public figure” denies you, for all intents and purposes, any protection under libel laws. The blogs attack you, do their damage, and then move on to their next target. Now, because of the permanence of the Internet and the ease of Google, these vicious online attacks leave behind a reputational stain that is very difficult to wash out…

Always think before you hit the publish button, my friends!

Apart from cheap mockery, what’s on the agenda for the day?

trump pivots flat faced morin

(Jim Morin via

How We Got Here: A History of The Development of the Alt-Right and Trumpism

Following on several of the posts today, but to step back a bit from the campaign issues a bit, The Guardian has run a long read, long form report on the roots of Trumpism, or perhaps more accurately, what is being called the alt-right. Here’s a taste, but as a student of socio-cultural identity and its powerful effects, I highly recommend you click across and read the whole thing.

Conservatives tend to portray their cause as the child of a revolt against the liberal status quo that began in the aftermath of the second world war, gained momentum in the 1950s when a cohort of intellectuals supplied the right with its philosophical underpinning, attained political consciousness in Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, and won vindication with Ronald Reagan’s election to the White House. Ideas have consequences, they proclaimed. Just look at us.

But there is another way of interpreting the history of the American right, one that puts less emphasis on the power of ideas and more on power itself – a history of white voters fighting to defend their place in the social hierarchy, politicians appealing to the prejudices of their constituents so they can satisfy the wishes of their donors, and the industry that has turned conservatism into a billion-dollar business.

This is the explanation preferred by leftwing critics, who typically regard the Republican party as a coalition fuelled by white nationalism and funded by billionaires. But this line of attack also has a long history on the right, where a dissenting minority has been waging a guerrilla war against the conservative establishment for three decades. Now the unlikely figure of Donald Trump has brought in a wave of reinforcements – over 13 million in the primaries alone. Their target is the managerial elite, and their history begins in the run-up to the second world war, when a forgotten founder of modern American conservatism became a public sensation with a book that announced the dawning of a civilisation ruled by experts.

The Managerial Revolution: What Is Happening in the World was the most unlikely bestseller of 1941. The author, James Burnham, was a philosophy professor at New York University who until the previous year had been one of Leon Trotsky’s most trusted counsellors in the US. Time called Burnham’s work a grim outline of “the totalitarian world soon to come” that was “as morbidly fascinating as a textbook vivisection”…

… But Burnham quickly moved on to new territory. His true subject, he concluded, was power, and to understand power he needed a theory of politics. Marx had been his guiding influence in The Managerial Revolution; now he turned to Machiavelli, constructing the genealogy of a political theory that began with the author of The Prince and continued into the present.

For a Machiavellian, Burnham wrote, politics was an unending war for dominance: democracy was a myth, and all ideologies were thinly veiled rationalisations for self-interest. The great mass of humanity, in Burnham’s dark vision, would never have any control over their own lives. They could only hope that clashes between rival elites might weaken the power of the ruling class and open up small spaces of freedom.

Burnham’s newfound zeal for defending freedom led him, in 1955, to a conservative magazine called National Review, and to the magazine’s charismatic young founder, William F Buckley Jr. Buckley’s goal was to turn a scattered collection of reactionaries into the seeds of a movement. His journal set out to make the right intellectually respectable, stripping it of the associations with kooks and cranks that allowed liberals to depict it as a politics for cave-dwellers who had not reconciled themselves to modernity. Burnham was there at the start, one of five senior editors on the masthead of the first issue.