The Feminist Crucible

In this review, J. Kelly Nestruck in the Globe and Mail argues that Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” is outdated and irrelevant.  It is a bad play now that the communist “witch hunts” of the 1950′s are stale memories.

Tennessee Williams is all right.  He is relevant and vital because he cares more about gay characters:

But while Williams’s focus on gay and female characters had become increasingly valued, Miller had begun to feel like a dated moralist, stuck in a postwar sensibility, focusing on white, heteronormative nuclear families and obsessive about the paterfamilias.

This, the compliment to Williams, about a dramatist most famous for a play about a pathetic young woman who invests everything– all of her emotions, her hopes, her dreams– into an inept courtship of an ineligible young man, and is shattered when he doesn’t deliver and make her life meaningful.   That is more modern?

It gets worse.  You see “The Crucible”, according to Nestruck,  made it seem as if the young girls who accused various citizens of Salem, Massachusetts of being witches were wrong in some way.  It made it appear as though they coordinated their stories.  It made it appear as if they were actually suffering physical symptoms from the witchcraft they alleged.  So, given a more modern sensibility, we need to admit that they were actually right.  That damn John Procter: he blamed the victims.

I don’t casually use the word “chilling” to describe commentary on social issues, but this one deserves it.   Nestruck clearly implies that the girls in “The Crucible” should have been believed.  Because girls never lie?  She makes reference to Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby, as if Ghomeshi’s trial had not revealed that, yes, after all, women do sometimes lie.  They lied to the police and they lied to the Crown Attorney and they lied in court to the judge.   Did none of this matter to Newstruck?  Does she believe that facts and proof must give way to emotional belief?  Was it all, perhaps, witchcraft?  In the context of “The Crucible”, she suggests that the core of the accusations of witchcraft might have been true.  That is insane.  It is contrary to everything rational we know about the world, to science, and reason, and principles of justice.

The most remarkable thing about “The Crucible” is what Nestruck hates the most about it: it reveals precisely the narcissistic root of the kind of lies the girls tell, the embrace of victimization because of the sudden power it gives you over individuals who would never otherwise defer to your status, and the insanity of blindly believing “victims” because to question or challenge them is “re-victimization”, one of the most pernicious ideas I have ever heard because it insists that everything an accuser says is automatically to be believed.  It is absolutely “guilty unless proven innocent”.  Well, not it’s not.  It’s “guilty no matter what you say”.

Nestruck suggests that “The Crucible” is less relevant today because, after all, it was really about the McCarthy Communist witch hunt, not about Salem.  But that is exactly wrong: “The Crucible” is powerful precisely because it is not just about McCarthy or Salem; it is about fear and hysteria and delusion, and the consequences to society when it buys in to the delusion.  It is just as relevant today as it was in the 1950′s, if not more so, and it was powerfully relevant in the 1980′s with the Satanic Ritual Abuse hysteria where, once again, the system was asked to look the other way when accusations made no sense, contradicted themselves, or spread like a virus among impressionable children.


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Good Riddance

When Heidi Cruz is first lady, he pledged, “French fries are coming back to the cafeteria.”   NY Times, 2016-05-04

So said Ted Cruz before the love died and he was cast out of the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination.

This is kind of a mind-blowing thing for a responsible, serious, Christian, politician to say: elect me and I will let your kids eat as much junk food as they want.  It’s one thing to say, “elect me, and I will ensure that parents have the final word on what their children eat at school”, or “elect me and we’ll leave nutrition up to corporate food vendors instead of the government” (which is, more or less, what he said), but to openly trumpet the fact that he doesn’t give a damn about what our children eat at school is truly mind-blowing.

Trump is a buffoon, of course, but I preferred him over Cruz– or even Paul Ryan– right from the start.  Trump would probably say, why should I care what your children eat at school– it’s up to them.  But Cruz would force them to eat their french fries just to spite those liberal intellectuals who you just know think they are smarter than him.  And he would ban healthy foods in order to free our children from the oppression of nutrition experts, pediatricians, and scientists, who are all obviously out there to promote their gay agenda.

The gayest looking candidate of all can’t have that.

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The Over-Rated George Martin

I’ve always been puzzled by the legend of George Martin’s contribution to the Beatles’ success.

I had never doubted it….  until he produced the soundtrack for “Sgt Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band”, the movie.  The soundtrack was not merely awful.  It was pure and unadulterated dreck.  It was so bad that I could not help but begin to wonder if his contribution to the Beatles had been exaggerated in some way.  It is very, very hard to imagine that the same mind that produced the segments with Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees and Aerosmith on the soundtrack also helped shape “Eleanor Rigby” or “Girl” or “Penny Lane”.

Was it all a misunderstanding?  Maybe people underestimated Lennon and McCartney’s shares of the credit.

After the Sgt. Peppers’ debacle, he also produced Neil Sedaka, Cheap Trick, Little River Band, and even Celine Dion, all with notably unremarkable results.  If George Martin was the musical genius everyone says he is, surely he would have had some great results with some other bands.  He really did not.

So tell me again, who was responsible for the Beatles’ success?  How about the Beatles.

And was it because they practiced for 10,000 hours, as Malcolm Gladwell would have it?  No, it was because they were talented.  And they practiced.


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Terror Terror Terror!

The CBC loves the word “terror”.  If a squirrel gets run over by a car, the CBC correctly points out that it was not a terror attack.  However, the police are still investigating.  The squirrel may have been wearing a turban.

Today, a man– who appears, at first glance, to be mentally disturbed– attacked some soldiers at a recruiting center.  Almost all of the media outlets incorporate the word “terror” into their news coverage even though there is no evidence, as of yet, of any links to any terrorist organizations.

A man attacks military personnel with a knife and is arrested and no one dies.  Such a Canadian crime story.  In my opinion, the attempts to link or unlink the incident to “terrorism”– a word the all of the media loves– is confusing to me.  What is the point?  Is it less awful if it’s not “terror-related”?  Is it more awful because he is Islamic?  Do the people who feel the urge to label it as terrorism feel that other people don’t understand how awful the attack was if they don’t?  Is it all just politics?  How many similar incidents involving people being attacked and harmed by someone disturbed or not receive similar coverage?

Well, we know why.  If you are scanning radio stations looking for something to listen to you don’t stop at the thoughtful explanation of how the financial crisis unfolded and why millions of people lost their retirement savings.  No, you stop at the word “terror”.

Even if the CBC and CTV correctly report that the man has no links to any terrorist organizations, the trumpeting of the word itself serves to inflame and provoke, to keep the public mindful of this terrible threat roaming our world just waiting to strike out us!

Yes, let the government into my iPhone!

No– that’s not what those people want.  They want the government to be let into YOUR iPhone.

You’re welcome.


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CBC Wants us all to Grow Up

And stop appreciating real talent.

Here’s the argument: Beyonce can sing really, really good.  So when she performs at Obama’s second inauguration, she decides to not take a chance on not sounding good and goes with the lip-synched version of the national anthem.

Wow, she thinks.  I nailed it.  Woohoo, look at me!  Look at the lavish praise pour in for my inspirational performance!

Here’s the key part, the crux of the matter: she didn’t tell you that she was not really singing.  She didn’t keep her mouth closed.  She didn’t hold up a little sign saying “I’m actually just moving my lips to a recording”.  No, she put all of her energy into this monumental effort to give all of her “authentic”, fantastic self into this performance of a digital recording.

And you are an immature little wuss if you don’t like it.  Do you hear me?  Stop not liking it.  Stop thinking there is something phony about it because… well, not because it’s not phony, because it incontestably is phony, but because we are all grown-ups now and don’t care if it was fake or not because, after all, Beyonce can really sing, so you can just think about that as you are stirred, nay, inspired, nay revolted by this bullshit.

So if Dave Shumka, the writer of the CBC post, wants to go out and hear some “live” music and doesn’t mind if it’s pre-recorded, bully for him.  Go to it!  Pay your $150 and sit down and watch the stage and enjoy get your thrill from watching some super-model stand there and move her lips in synchronization to a recorded performance.

Just don’t post some bullshit sign at the venue advertising live music: it is not.   Post a very large, clear sign saying “Lip-syncing Tonight” and watch the audiences role in.  If you are worried that not very many people will show up to watch fake live music, then you are the one who should grow up, suck it up, and stop lying to people.

Incidentally, I can’t think of a single song by Beyonce I care about anyway: she’s just another diva, like Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and a host of others who sing, pretty well, songs that have no significance whatsoever.  The songs are all merely carriers for the noise of her voice.

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Zombie Defense

Individuals are technically dead, but because of their mental mindset, their goal-oriented mindset, they are able to carry on, he said. [An "expert" on "suicide by cop" at the James Forcillo trial.]

The judge– shockingly– wouldn’t allow this testimony.

The expert was trying to explain why it was necessary for police officer, James Forcillo, to fire six additional rounds into Sammy Yatim after he was already incapacitated–and probably dead– after the first three.

Was it ever more clear when a certain line of argument has reached bankruptcy?  I put this in the category of the drug users who had “superhuman” strength, and the man who tried to kill a police officer with a stapler.

The problem with the police is that I don’t think they really care what people like me think anymore.  They are always justified in killing any civilian, no matter what.  Any attempt– absolutely any attempt– to hold them accountable is nothing more than an attack on the most saintly and courageous and honorable public servants in existence.

I often want to ask them, if I could be a lawyer for a moment in one of these court cases, please describe for me a scenario in which a police officer was wrong to shoot a civilian, in the line of duty.  Make one up.  Imagine it.  There must be some circumstance out there in which a police officer would be accountable.

I’ll bet they can’t do it.  A police officer walks down the street in some random part of the city and pulls out his gun and shoots a random shopper:  clearly the shopper was moving towards the officer in a threatening manner (the video shows him running away from the psychotic man with a gun).  The shopper had a knife (turns out to be a cell phone).  The shopper reached for the knife (the police officer had asked him to show him her id).  There were other shoppers around: did you want to take a chance, risking the lives of innocent women and children?  Do you know what happens when you are stabbed with a cell phone?

I am really, really curious to hear it.  I am curious to know if they can even imagine a situation in which a police shooting someone is not justified by the simple fact of being a police officer and the victim was not.

Perhaps the most despicable part of the this case been the instances of people saying they were “on the side of the police”.  What are you talking about?  Do you honestly see the shooting of a drugged out teenager as an issue of the police vs. the public and you’re on the side of the police?  If anything, it should be an issue of good, competent, honest police against bad, incompetent, overly-aggressive police.

But the other officers on the scene agree with the “sides” argument: they all lied in defense of James Forcillo.    So, yes, if you are on the side of the police then we don’t have police.  We have an organized gang with uniforms.  Instead of robbing banks, they collect from the public purse.  And they can kill anyone they want, with impunity, because the only people who can arrest a bad cop are cops and they have proven, over and over and over again, that their first loyalty is to themselves, not the law, and not the government, and certainly not you.

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How Would You Know

Abuse is much more common than people who haven’t experienced it realize.

You’ve said more than you realize.  You’ve acknowledged that personal experience of an event creates a distorted idea of how common the event is.

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Chicken Bones

You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: You are much more likely to
be struck dead by lightning, choke on a chicken bone or drown in the bathtub
than be killed by a terrorist. Any number of well-known diseases — cancer, diabetes,
the flu — take the lives of far, far more people. Yet, by one estimate, the
United States spends $500 million per victim of terrorism, and a
piddling $10,000 per cancer death.
Why Doesn't Everybody Know this?
And another: “I’m almost shocked,” she recalled thinking during her first years in medical school as she learned, for example, that it is easier to burp lying on your left side than your right because of the position at which the esophagus connects to the stomach. “Why doesn’t everybody know this?”

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Random Disgust

“Speaking to 1,500 students at Wellesley College in 1921, Mrs. Augustus Trowbridge — the wife of a Princeton professor — railed against “the vulgarity and revolting badness of petting parties.” She said that the loose-moraled gatherings – along with jazz music, unchaperoned dancing and lipstick — were symptomatic of a decadent society, the Coshocton, Ohio Tribune reported on Jan. 13.”

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How it Works

Ah.  So this is how the historical record is shaped:  "The Smithsonian Institution
has repeatedly dismissed claims that Whitehead made powered flights before the Wrights.
Whitehead supporters assert that the Smithsonian lost its objectivity on the issue when
it signed a 1948 agreement with the estate of Orville Wright requiring the Institution
to recognize the 1903 Wright Flyer as the first aircraft to make a manned, powered,
controlled flight."  Need I add that it was a secret agreement.
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