Poor Little Rich Kids?

Fenster writes:

In the current American Conservative online Charles F. McElwee III describes the plight of the upper-middle class in America, this group defined as having family incomes between $75,000  and $200,000 a year.  I know this group from experience.  While I spent considerable time as an adult several notches below and was briefly and barely in the 1%, that’s where I am now.  These are my people so I believe I can relate McElwee’s story, including the data and narrative evidence he presents, to my own experience in the class.

The story he recounts is not a pretty one.

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Who are Those . . . Guys?

Fenster writes:

When CBS gives $20M to #metoo who do they give it to? I don’t think the original organization founded by Tarana Burke is a 501(c)(3). It was founded in 2006 and ought to have an IRS form 990 on the charity database Guidestar if it were but I can’t see one. And its website does not provide any information at all on what it is–board of directors, “about”, etc. There is a button to donate but it directs you to Girls for Gender Equity, a 501(c)(3) aiming to “create safer and stronger communities for girls, women, and gender nonconforming folks in New York City and beyond.”

Most likely this is another manifestation of the diffuse quality of movements like BLM and Antifa. We speak of them as having a center but they are squishy. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that–it is OK for movements to be squishy. But when movements pick up attributes of the real world there will be some tension.

Another case in point from the sometimes squishy Wikipedia. In describing #metoo you find this sentence:

For all public cases of the Me Too movement, the presumption of innocence applies until a final conviction.[12]

Where does footnote 12 take you? To an article that says the exact opposite: that “with #MeToo, we have lost the presumption of innocence.”

Who is the author of the Wikipedia article and on what authority does she speak? And what is the organization, or movement, or whatever, that she is speaking of in making this claim?

Meanwhile back to the title question: who are those guys, the guys that will get $20 million from CBS?  Why do I wonder whether the squishy nature of #metoo is allowing executives there to ponder the different ways that the donation might be leveraged for corporate advantage?  And that no one will bother much to see where the money goes, who may know whom in the matrix, and the good that it does in the end?

The ever provocative “Entertainment Lawyer” at Crazy Days and Nights has raised this point in a so-called “blind item”.

Someone really needs to audit the books of this organization which has seen a ton of Hollywood money thrown into its coffers. There are several people supposedly in charge of it who have a lot of brand new purchases including two with new homes in the $1.5M range or so who make $70K a year or thereabouts. I think people assume it is used for the intended purpose, but it just seems like one big raid on the ultimate cookie jar of guilt money.

Blind items at that site are typically racy nuggets that the blogger has an answer to, with the answer eventually disclosed, albeit in a kind of tabloid style.  Could be the charity here relates to #metoo (“guilt money”) but perhaps not.  One way or another stay tuned.

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Carbohydrate hell is (for) other people

It’s been a while, but I’m back, I think.


This past week I was at a conference at a small ex-teachers’ college rebranded not very long ago as a university on the role of the humanities in making contributions to other fields, such as economics or the health sciences. The longer keynote presentations were very good, and worth the time, whereas the others were a mixed bag. But I am not going to talk about that.

I had arrived in town on the previous evening (the conference ran from Thursday to Friday) and had a bad-to-mediocre dinner at a restaurant adjacent to my hotel (the said establishment’s lower level doubles as the hotel’s breakfast buffet). After a good night’s sleep, I headed down to breakfast and was pleased to find scrambled eggs, along with franks sliced on the bias, but also pickled herring (sweetened with sugar, a Norwegian habit, alas), gravlax (farmed, of course) and the other staples of the Norwegian hotel breakfast buffet. My only carbs at breakfast were from the herring in tomato sauce, the starch filler in the franks and a fairly unripe pear. I won’t guess how many grams, and I don’t obsess over things like that anyway. After my second cup of weak coffee, I returned to my room, put on my jacket and headed for the city bus to take me to the conference venue, which was the university campus. I had been at a translators’ conference about ten years before held in more or less the same location, so I had more than an inkling of where to go.

I arrived fairly early (my habit), about an hour before the conference was slated to begin, so I took the opportunity to log onto the campus WiFi network as a guest and waited to register. It was not long before some friendly students showed up with our name tags, programs and large dispensers of coffee and tea just for us, along with two trays of pastries and some cut fruit (no cheese cubes with toothpicks, please note). I thought: Who would be hungry so soon after breakfast? Some attendees, perhaps, will have skipped breakfast in order to make an early morning bus, train or flight, but if I had shown up in a fasted state from the previous evening, I would stick to coffee. But that’s just me.

What was interesting is that during the fifteen-minute break between 11:30 and a quarter to twelve, both the coffee and tea and the pastry and fruit tray had been replenished, now with the addition of three or four “gluten-free” treats, and quite a number of people tucked in. During the following session, which was slated to run to 1:30, I heard something about “lasagna for lunch” (included in the conference fee). The next session went over the allotted hour and forty-five minutes, so we ended up at the end of the lunch line in a part of the canteen reserved for conference attendees. I left the line to get a look at what was on offer. Yep: institutional Norwegian lasagna, with iceberg lettuce salad, and did I see rolls? I said to myself: Nothing is better than lasagna, and that goes double for the institutional large-pan variety. So Nothing it was, washed down with half a liter of fizzy water purchased at a mini deli that only takes payment cards, and I waited for the next session to begin.

During the break before the last session of the day, the pastry tray was filled again, and not a few attendees took some, even though they had eaten lunch a little over an hour before. How hungry can they be? And then it dawned on me: They really are hungry. That is the logic of what I call the high-carb “feedlot diet” (Follow that pyramid!). Keep people hungry and you’ll keep them eating.

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Naked Lady of the Week: Laura Doone

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:


The witchy woman was a big thing in the ’70s, or at least that’s my sense. There was even a song about her. Several, actually. She was dangerous, tempestuous, possibly malevolent, but also unbelievably hot. This figure seems to have been purged from the culture. Is it because women have lost (or maybe abdicated?) their mystery? I think that’s part of it. Salome, where have you gone?

Bob Guccione favored witchy women. His Penthouse was full of stormy-haired sorceresses, all of them photographed in Guccione’s distinctly gauzy way. To get at them you had to imagine your way through layers of atmosphere and gossamer. That was part of their tease, their spell. Their big flamboyant bushes represented the final layer. And they all had big flamboyant bushes. Witches don’t shave, son. If you can’t handle that, the shallow end of the erotic swimming pool is right over there. Don’t forget your arm floaties.

Anyway, 1976 Pet of the Year Laura Doone was of the witchy woman mold. She’s among my favorites of the era. If Amazon is any guide, she’s remembered fondly by others.

Nudity below. Enjoy the weekend.

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Naked Lady of the Week: Sharon Sorrentino

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:


Female sultriness is a quality that’s in short supply these days. Or at least it seems that way to me. But if you look at glossy porn mags of the late ’70s and early ’80s, you’ll see lots of sultriness. It was one of the qualities their photographers were aiming for. Modern cheesecake, even when it’s trying for sophistication, just doesn’t bring the same atmosphere or heat — that sense of erotic fermentation. Why the change?

I suppose it’s partly explained by the infantilization of the culture. Today, women and men alike would rather remain rooted in the squeaky simplicity of their teen years than grow into shapes that folks of earlier eras would consider ripe and fully formed. And sultriness, at least the kind I’m talking about, is a mature-grownup thing. Sure, teenagers can ape it, often appealingly, but they rarely integrate it into a larger whole.

Also, I think digital photography has made the whole process of erotic image-making a little rote. Back in the day a photographer had to work for those steamy-gauzy effects. A photo was a real and crafted thing. Now you shoot a thousand of them in 30 minutes. There’s not much soul in it. Does authentic sultriness require a degree of soulfulness? I think so.

Anyway, all I know about Sharon Sorrentino’s personal details is that she posed for some major magazines back around 1980. Nearly 40 years have passed, but her sultriness is still there for us to recognize and appreciate.

Nudity below. Have a great weekend.

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Two Aretha Videos

Fenster writes:

Like a lot of people, I expect, I first heard Aretha Franklin’s voice when I first heard the song Respect.  And like a lot of people, I expect, the first hearing of that song was one of the important “holy shit” moments when you realize you are hearing something you’ve never heard before, and are witnessing greatness.

Aretha remained great over the years, and I got a kick out of her at many points along the way, including her raucous video of Pink Cadillac.  But for the most part the classics like Respect, Chain of Fools and Natural Woman were the songs that played over and over in my mental jukebox.

An old friend sent me two videos of Aretha yesterday.  They are extraordinary.  I had not seen either before, and they are well worth your time if you are a fan.

They are in some ways a pair of bookends to her amazing career. In the first, from very early on, she and Ray Johnson sing Mockingbird.  He is great; she is great.  Then suddenly-bang! just like that–she gets even greater.  She can’t contain her talent, her voice, her enthusiasm.  A perfect performance of a perfect song for her at that moment, one that permitted her to combine her artistry with a kind of saucy innocence and charm.

The second is a 2015 performance for the Pope of Nessun Dorma.  This is altogether a more sober piece, suitable for a career nearing its end.  All I can say is Holy Mother of Jesus.


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More Globe Watch

Fenster writes:

This is a continuation of the Globe Watch I undertook yesterday.

The idea behind that post: yes we have a free press in this country, and rightly so, but nothing confers on the press some special virtue by which it is charged with the protection of the American people from the evil intentions of government.  Government itself is the main vehicle for conducting affairs in accord with the public’s interest, and the three branch system devised by the founders was the key contraption aimed to accomplish this.

Contraptions are designed to work but sometimes they work and sometimes they do not.  Much depends on the nature of the individuals running the contraption.

The free press is not defined in the Constitution and its powers not enumerated or hedged in the fashion that the powers of the three branches are.  It is just assumed to be free in the same manner as the speech of individuals is assumed to be free.  The Constitution sets these apart as part of a private realm that is a good thing in itself, or at least as something that our inherent rights and dignity require that government not violate.  But the framers did not create the press as a kind of fourth branch, in order to assist in the better running of government.

Of course you hear a different theme nowadays emanating from an aggrieved and self-righteous press.  It is not uncommon to hear members of the press–self-designated in the media to explain their role to the American people–describe the press as explicitly as a protector of the people, as though that is the Constitutional design, stupid.

Even if the press served this explicit function under our system–and it does not–virtue does not come pre-conferred by means of one’s station.  It must constantly be earned, just as the members of the three branches of government cannot automatically be considered virtuous.  According to Madison a lack of virtue is the most likely default position, with the result that powers become factions, and factions must be created to counter factions.

If the main powers of government are managed by people that the framers view with skepticism then why would one presume to conclude that the press is automatically virtuous by reason of its ability to engage in free speech?  Government can be corrupted and the press can be corrupted too.

So before we all go off on a toot, the way the Globe has done, about the sanctity of press freedom it behooves us to consider whether the press has become corrupted in its own way, and is a kind of faction of the sort that Madison warned against.

That’s why I thought it worthwhile to take a look at some of the stories that a paper with the Globe’s national reputation choose to cover, or not to cover.

The Globe went a long time without mentioning Imran Awan, mentioning the name only after it concluded (incorrectly in my view) that he was off the hook and the story could be wrapped up before they even told it.  The Awan saga continues.  No Globe coverage.

Ditto Sarah Jeong.  No coverage.

One story on Keith Ellison, the one where he proclaims his innocence even before the Globe covered the initial charges.  That one seemed to make it to the online Globe site only, and does not seem to have appeared in the print editions.

A couple of stories on the Rotherham sex scandal when it broke in 2014-15.  But the story has gotten much bigger and is now not really about the grooming gangs but about a British elite that willfully ignored and suppressed the story for fear of appearing anti-Muslim.  No coverage of that story, and no mention of grooming gangs, since 2015.

Here are some more.

Tommy Robinson?  No coverage of his arrest, imprisonment and release.

Social Media Bias and Viewpoint Suppression?  Pew released a study about a month ago that concluded that “seven out of ten Americans think social media platforms intentionally censor political viewpoints.”  An important story, no?  How did those Americans come to that view if not for reading about it somewhere?  Where?

Not the Globe.

The Globe is fine with Pew generally, and ran with a story about a Pew analysis of teen social media use a few weeks before the study about censorship came out.

But nothing about the Pew social media censorship findings can be found at the Globe.

Shadow banning? How about “shadow banning”.  That story is everywhere, and is one of the threads that has led Americans to be suspicious about social media.

The term “shadow banning” appears only twice in the Globe, in two stories dated July 26.  In the first, Trump decries Twitter gutting conservative voices and Twitter is allowed to say it does not.  That article received only one comment.  No surprise, like the Ellison article, this article does not seem to have appeared in the print edition.

Then there is a second article from the same day (July 26) downplaying Trump’s charges and bringing Twitter’s denial to the lede.  It is almost as if the Globe decided to more or less replace the story that led with Trump’s charges to one that led with Twitter’s denial.  This story gets a few more comments–11–but once again it does not seem to have appeared in any print edition.

Assange?  An even better example: Julian Assange.  The world knows the walls are closing in on Assange, with Ecuador apparently about to disgorge him to the Brits who can hand him over to Washington.  For what?  For publishing leaked information.  How is what Assange did any different from the Pentagon Papers fracas recently brought back to life in the hagiographic The Post?

You might think that a press which celebrates Ellsberg’s leak and defends the Post’s decision to publish might spare a moment to put in a good word for Assange.  But no.  The Globe archives indicates his name has shown up a few times in the past few months–months that are critical in terms of Assange’s fate–and that the coverage has mostly been critical.  It has never dealt squarely with the main issue at hand: whether WikiLeaks is the press and whether it should be assumed to operate freely.

You can try this at home in other ways too, with variations on search terms related to the free press issues the Globe professes to care about: Facebook, PragerU, YouTube and so on.  You will for the most part find a lack of interest at the Globe in the entire complex of issues.

Now, the throttling of social media and the pending arrest of Assange are in my book textbook examples of the kind of free press issues that the Globe is so hot and bothered about.  Why then can’t it be bothered to cover them?



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