Two people – believed a young mother and her child – died early Thursday morning and three others were injured when a fire ripped through a 17-unit apartment in Inglewood, officials and residents said.
Firefighters responded to reports of a fire in the 600 block of Queens Street (map) around 2:30 a.m. L.A. County Fire Inspector Randall Wright said.
About 55 firefighters worked nearly an hour to knock down the two-alarm blaze, and fire officials remained on the scene as of 5 a.m.
Two females died, according to the coroner’s office, which did not provide age estimates.
Neighbors said they believed the two dead were a mother under the age of 30 and her daughter, thought to be 3 years old or younger.
This is startling news to wake up to — not only is the apartment nearby but it’s on the same street as one that we applied for last summer when making our move from the San Fernando Valley.
One of the big stresses in making the move was that we didn’t get the first apartment that we wanted. My wife went to a lot of effort to send our application next-day, only to be sabotaged when the clerk put in the address wrong, delaying it by an extra day, causing the apartment to go to someone else. (There are plenty of apartments in Inglewood, where my wife had decided to locate her art studio after graduating with her MFA in May, but the number of them that would accept our 70-pound Siberian Husky Maura was much smaller.)
Digging through my email I’ve been trying to find the exact address of the apartment on Queens Street we lost out on — if memory serves, it isn’t the same one that saw tragedy this morning, it’s just a few blocks further east — but it might as well have been. I’m treating it in my mind as though it was.
It’s my 31st birthday today and perhaps I’ll make this the lesson of the day to try to remember for the year: that the unknown variable — randomness, fate, chance, divine intervention, what Machiavelli labeled “fortune,” however you want to label it — can’t be forgotten or dismissed.
So here’s a big leap of a thought, but somewhat along these lines: I’m starting to think from my study of history that there’s a strong probability I wouldn’t exist and really, my whole family wouldn’t exist, if FDR hadn’t died during World War II and been replaced by Harry Truman who ended the war by dropping the atom bomb. (The state of Israel might not exist either, would it? If FDR had been the president instead of Truman, would he have supported the Jewish state?)
Truman had the moral clarity to use the bomb. It’s an open question if FDR would have done the same had he lived — I have little reason to think he would have. The war more likely would have dragged on and my grandfather, a pilot in the Pacific, would have more likely been killed in an invasion of Japan, and then never to return so my father could be born.
How much of history has turned on the errors of file clerks and on the decisions of individual men? How many lives just go up in smoke seemingly out of chance for no reason, while others because men in positions of power choose — or don’t choose — to take vital action?
Dueling Visions of Masculinity at the Box Office: Johnny Depp’s Goofy Mortdecai Vs Bradley Cooper’s Sniper Hero
— THR Movies (@THRmovies) January 25, 2015
— THR Movies (@THRmovies) January 25, 2015
What happened to Johnny Depp? Was the Oscar nomination for the first Pirates something he had to sell his soul to the devil to get? Was the price that he had to perpetually play lamer and lamer versions of the same flamboyant persona?
“What are you watching?” my wife asks just now as I play the trailer above of the embarrassing new Depp movie that’s flopped. I tell her and she answers, “I’m so over Johnny Depp, I never really liked him.”
“Can I quote you on that?”
“On what you just said about Johnny Depp.”
“Are we still going to try and go see American Sniper before it’s out of theaters?”
More on American Sniper at PJ Lifestyle last week:
Earlier today on AM870 the Morning Answer, Ben Shapiro, Elisha Krauss, and Brian Whitman had a thoughtful discussion about the potential GOP nominees. I agreed with Ben’s take on what a third candidate in the Mitt Romney, John McCain, Fox News corporatist establishment mold had the potential to inspire:
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) January 13, 2015
Larry Schweikart, co-author of A Patriot’s History of the United States, agreed:
— Larry Schweikart (@LarrySchweikart) January 13, 2015
Strategist Brian Cragin thought the 3rd party brainstorming should potentially start immediately:
— Brian Cragin (@briancragin) January 13, 2015
I disagreed and a debate ensued:
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) January 13, 2015
Marge and Homer Simpson are kissing in bed when they stop and begin talking:
Marge: “So good to have you back.”
Homer: *Yawning* “It’s good to be back.” *Rolls over as if to go to sleep.*
Marge: *Sighs in a frustrated way.*
Homer: *Waking Up Again* “Hmm… Can we cuddle for a little while?”
Marge: *Gasping, putting hands in prayer position and looking upward* “Thank you Svengali!”
Then turning to Homer, Marge says, “I knitted us a blanket” and throws a green cloth over the screen. We hear Homer “Hmm….,” implying of course that they’re about to do what married couples do. Then cut to Maggie holding up a Je Suis Charlie flag, in the pose of, as Time points out, French artist Eugène Delacroix‘s Liberty Leading the People.
— alexis (@itsmealexis_) January 12, 2015
What to make of this? Who is “Svengali”? Why does Marge pray to him? If you stopped watching The Simpsons around about the time you matured beyond high school then you probably missed the first part of the episode.
And that’s what we have the internet for today: finding out what’s happening in parts of the culture that aren’t worth much of your time anymore (if they ever were at all…)
It’s such a strange, sad synchronicity that this of all episodes is the one that just happens to air right after a series of violent attacks in Paris of not just satirical provocateurs, but Jews in a Kosher market…
The AFP via Yahoo News this morning:
“Two rooms on lower floors were damaged but the fire was put out quickly.”
The Hamburger Morgenpost, known locally as the MOPO, had splashed the Charlie Hebdo cartoons on its front page after the massacre at the Paris publication, running the headline “This much freedom must be possible!”
Police said the attack had occurred at about 0120 GMT and that two young men seen acting suspiciously near the scene were detained. State security has opened an investigation, a spokesman added.
Last year saw the beheading of journalists by ISIS, this year now sees the attack on free speech widened as whole publications are attacked. The newspaper recently increased its security:
Media reports said the newspaper’s publishers had ordered private security protection for the building in the western district of Othmarschen after publishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
German news agency DPA quoted a police spokeswoman as saying that the editorial team should be able to continue work in the building as the damage was relatively minor.
What we’re seeing now is a further expansion of the trend I identified in 2013 after the Boston Bombing. The Jihad has evolved. I described it then, April 19 2013, in the opening to a piece titled “10 Depressing, Morally Confused Reactions to 4/15/13, the Boston Jihad” that collected many of the same sorts of responses we’ve grown accustomed to in the years since. I’m not sure if this World War I/World War II comparison is still the best to utilize:
I will state my position about what has happened this way:
Al Qaeda’s Attack on America on September 11, 2001 = the beginning of World War 1
Two NON-ARAB, WHITE, WHOLLY AMERICANIZED Homegrown Millennial Jihadists Take America Hostage And Launch a New Template for How to Wage A DIY, Low Budget-Download-The-Instructions-Off-The-Internet Terror War = the beginning of World War II.
We are now entering a new phase of the Islamic war to replace liberal societies with Sharia law. This is World War IV, a multi-decade conflict that will be for our generation what the war against Nazism and Fascism was for our grandparents. Except it will probably be worse.
On May 8, 2013, in “Every American Needs to Read Books to Understand Islam,” I expanded the generational explanation of the war’s evolution:
Islam’s long Jihad against Judeo-Christian societies has entered a new cycle as members of my generation marry the ideology of Osama bin laden with the internet ethos of Mark Zuckerberg. The pressure cooker bomb plans the Tsarnaev brothers utilized were published in Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine. This easy availability to information for building lethal weapons is something Millennial men have known for most of their lives. I remember the subversive thrill as a seventh grader in the early days of dial-up internet — instructions for creating weapons of mass destructions are at the fingertips of anyone with access to a search engine.
In trying to describe how the Jihad war against the West has changed since 9/11, right now I’m leaning toward this 3-phase, on the next page, explaining how tactics have shifted as the world’s gotten smaller and smarter…
Yesterday morning the AP touted the potential for Kelley Paul to help her husband become president (“Book tour puts Rand Paul’s ‘secret’ weapon on national stage“):
Once described as her husband’s secret weapon, Kelley Paul won’t be a secret much longer.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s wife of 24 years is stepping onto the national stage as part of a book tour launching at roughly the same time her husband is expected to enter the 2016 presidential race. It’s a big step for the mother of three who has long played a significant behind-the-scenes role in Paul’s political operation, but soon will be thrust into a far more public role on the political world’s brightest stage.
It appears that I was being optimistic in hoping that Rand’s wife would be sensible enough to recognize that the family’s problematic, longstanding history with the conspiracist, racist and antisemitic elements in the paleo-Right would impede any presidential pursuits. She’s getting on board:
Rand Paul has made much of his wife being a hard sell on a presidential bid, yet Kelley Paul hinted Thursday that she’s ready for the pressures of a national campaign and its impact on her family.
For a number of years I really worried about the rise of Rand Paul into the ranks of the Republican mainstream and the conservative movement. I regarded him as the Right’s Barack Obama — a postmodern chameleon concealing the hateful, conspiracist views of his primary mentor (Ron Paul is Rand’s Jeremiah Wright) who was just pretending to be within the mainstream to attain power. He was so much smarter and more talented than his father, who was unable to help himself most of the time.
But I’m much less worried about Rand these days for 3 reasons:
Dear Mrs. Bill Clinton,
Sources at the funeral of Mario Cuomo also said they saw a peevish-looking Hillary angrily “storm” past the former president after he dutifully waited for her by the door of St. Ignatius Loyola Church.
“Talk in Washington is that Hillary is furious with Bill about all this new information on Jeffrey Epstein,” said a DC insider familiar with both Epstein and the Clintons.
We’re to believe the mouse just visited the cookie jar regularly and never helped himself to what was inside? It’s just a matter of time before the facts emerge that irreparable lines were crossed. For all we know there’s probably video floating around already. Epstein did have hidden cameras after all:
A Prince Andrew sex tape may allegedly exist of the British royal’s sexual encounters with an underage prostitute who worked for his good friend, financier Jeffrey Epstein. According to a new report, hidden cameras were within the walls of Epstein’s many extravagant homes to record sex acts. This is presenting the possibility that a secret video could link the prince to the woman known as “Jane Doe 3″ — 17 at the time she allegedly hooked up with Andrew, U.K.’s Daily Mirror reports Saturday.
Could this perhaps be a part of how Epstein achieved such power and prominence? Get some celebrity or politician on camera doing something illegal and they’re in your pocket. That was a common method of Soviet espionage agents during the Cold War, as Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa explains in his amazing book Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination.
So the possibility of a 2016 Democratic presidential run is looking more and more distant, isn’t it? I’ve got a radical idea: take this problem as the opportunity it is, to finally un-tether yourself to the overgrown adolescent who has hypnotized and enslaved you your whole life.
Listen to this whole audio. I don’t agree with all of Hugh Hewitt’s political positions but I still like him a lot and this clip today is an example of why. He’s very much worthy of respect and has tremendous moral clarity. This excerpt is a fantastic, inspiring example of why he’s definitely worth listening to in the afternoons. His show starts in 20 minutes on AM 870 and you can tune in here.
I really wish that the postmodernist progressive party line about Islam, summarized below by Media Matters researcher and twitter activist Oliver Willis, was true:
Muslims murdering those who insult their prophet aren’t practicing a “twisted offshoot of Islam.” They’re practicing the original, authentic, traditional, orthodox, medieval, pre-Enlightenment, pre-classical liberalism version of Islam. This interpretation of the Koran and the Hadiths has centuries of Islamic jurisprudence and multiple states around the world defending it.
Is Saudi Arabia, where apostates are executed, practicing a “twisted offshoot” of Islam? All the Paris shooters are doing is trying to implement in Paris what’s been the law in Arab nations for centuries. Why do we look the other way when Islamic states murder people for their religion and speech but get outraged when it happens in the West?
Joshua Keating had a fascinating piece at Slate yesterday reminding me that I need to add more books about the history of Saudi Arabia to my reading list (any suggestions?), emphasis added:
Since the first king of modern Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz, died in 1953, the country has been ruled by five of his sons in roughly descending age order. There were quite a few options available: Abdulaziz, who cemented alliances with tribal leaders by marrying their daughters, fathered 45 sons by at least 22 wives as well as an unknown number of daughters.
But the first generation of sons is getting up there in years. Salman, who is next in line for the throne and is thought to be Abdulaziz’s 25th son, is 79. In May, Abdullah took the unprecedented step of naming his youngest brother, Prince Muqrin, as deputy heir, making him second in line for the throne. The choice, which leapfrogged some older brothers, reportedly prompted some grumbling among palace insiders over the fact that Muqrin’s mother was a Yemeni concubine who was never formally married to Abdulaziz. But he’s a close adviser to Abdullah, has diplomatic experience, and at 69, is a spring chicken by House of Saud standards.
But really, who are we in America to judge considering that two-thirds of the electorate still celebrates our own legendary Harem-Master-In-Chief? “At least” 22 wives, 21 “phone numbers,” what’s the difference? From the Smoking Gun yesterday, “Billionaire Sex Offender’s Phone Book Contained E-Mail Addresses, 21 Phone Numbers For Bill Clinton”:
Now that Prince Andrew has found himself ensnared in the sleazy sex slave story of wealthy degenerate Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Clinton can’t be too far behind.
Epstein, who paid teenage girls for naked massages at his Palm Beach, Florida mansion, is a convicted sex offender whose circle of powerful friends has included financiers, celebrities, politicians, and scientists.
In fact, Epstein, 61, has maintained many of these relationships even after pleading guilty in 2008 to a felony charge stemming from a lengthy probe of his lewd interaction with scores of underage girls, many of whom were recruited while they were students at a Palm Beach high school. …
According to court records, Clinton “frequently flew” with Epstein aboard the investor’s private jet from 2002 to 2005, the year news of the police investigation of Epstein was first reported….
While Clinton was never deposed, lawyers obtained Epstein’s computerized phone directory, which included “e-mail addresses for Clinton along with 21 phone numbers for him, including those for his assistant (Doug Band),” according to a court filing.
Is the GOP really all that better? The same moral value system that has allowed prominent Republican families to embrace the House of Saud also inspired them to embrace Clinton.
Image via shutterstock / Zygotehaasnobrain
So former Arkansas governor (and now former Fox News host) Mike Huckabee has either A) deluded himself into thinking he actually has a shot at the nomination or B) is just using the 2016 presidential contest to raise his persona and set himself up for more money in a post-election career. I cynically or realistically lean more toward the latter because I like to give Huckabee the benefit of the doubt, that he’s intelligent enough to recognize he carries far too much baggage to be a viable candidate or one amenable to the various factions of the GOP and conservative movement.
But then I remember occasions like what Ron Radosh wrote about on November 29th, 2012, and wonder if maybe it just might be stupidity, too. From “Governor Mike Huckabee Sings the Praises of Oliver Stone — A Simple Question: Why?“:
He had as guests on his radio program none other than Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, there to give their TV series, The Untold History of the United States, more publicity and attention. Listen to the interview, and you will find one of the most disgraceful interviews by a conservative that you will ever hear.
One might expect that Huckabee or his staff would have done some homework, and if he chose to have these two advocates of what Roger L. Simon rightfully calls “Stalin porn” on his program, ask them challenging questions. You will be waiting a long, long time. Instead of asking them any tough questions at all, Huckabee allows them to use their assigned time to spout leftist propaganda without any objection or disagreement….
Indeed, Huckabee went on to agree with them when he argued that Republicans were captives of Wall Street interests, and praised the two for revealing the evils of the American system to viewers of the series. I happen to agree with those who argue that conservatives have foolishly ignored the concerns of the middle-class and working-class and have failed to address their fears with alternative programs that address their just concerns. But making this point is quite a different one than that the Governor made, as you can hear for yourself….
So I must ask: Why does a well-known conservative and former presidential candidate, who supposedly knows something about foreign policy, give over his air-time to two far leftist propagandists, and never argue with them? Why does he, in fact, seem to praise the two for their efforts, and indeed go on to agree with them for being anti-capitalist?
At PJ Lifestyle last year I experimented with a feature called “PJ Lifestyle Sunshine” where I gathered photographs and videos of wonderful sunrises and sunsets, including those I’d shot myself, reader submissions, and great ones available for embedding via Instagram.
I’ve been waking at usually around 4 AM the past few years and have really come to look forward to the sunrise each morning. Now I’m trying to get more balanced and get sunsets too. Here’s the collection I assembled last year across my two Instagram accounts. I started out taking just photos but as the year progressed and new capabilities were added to Instagram I started experimenting with video, music, and sped-up effects. Maura the Siberian Husky also makes plenty of appearances and I threw in a few Sun-related commentaries on my new favorite movie. (I probably watched Fantasia a few dozen times last year. The rising and setting of the sun and its symbolism in our lives is one of its central themes to those who watch closely…)
At Salon yesterday Lindsay Abrams offered a fun slide show naming “the 10 most horrifying fast food creations of 2014.” Preceding the ten pictures she collected she offers a fun, typically paranoid progressive fantasy of evil corporatists waging war against us all with their fiendishly clever marketing:
The fast food industry’s sins are many. They commit wage theft and chronically underpay their workers. They market aggressively to targets that are poor, black and children. They’re seemingly part of some coordinated mission to kill us all…
Her list really doesn’t look that horrific, save for one item, apparently only available in South Korea, the Zinger Double Down King. This is what happens when you add a beef patty and bacon to KFC’s infamous chicken-bunned sandwich:
Kind of a strange, sad parallel isn’t it? The most nauseatingly decadent fast food imaginable is available in South Korea… while Kim Jong Un starves his people in the North.
Still in countries all around the world human beings are deprived of food by their tyrannical rulers while we in the West sit comfortably, obliviously twiddling our fingers across our smartphones — dozens of food options just a button’s tap away or a quick trip to the drive-thru. And who do Salon’s writers fantasize about as secret killers plotting against us?
We’re so ridiculously spoiled in the West. The threat of starvation in America is conclusively conquered but the country’s progressives can’t recognize it or comprehend how it happened. It’s a sign of moral blindness for someone to dedicate more time and energy to attacking a fast food industry that’s too effective at creating addictive food while ignoring the wars and oppression fueled by illiberal states that leave millions of people desiring this food others live to demonize.
Related today at the Tatler from Liz Sheld: Poll: Americans Support Government-Mandated Calorie Counts on Menus
You might also enjoy these fast food lists my brother wrote at PJ Lifestyle this year: The 10 Best Fast Food Restaurants, The 10 Best Deals in Fast Food, and The 10 Most Irritating Fast Food Items You Must Avoid
A few of the commenters on my first post today offered their criticisms of a John Bolton candidacy. Not enough “polish” one said:
Not enough credibility on domestic issues, one of my frequent commenter antagonists protested:
How about this for a solution?
I like it. I’m a Hoosier, born in Bloomington to parents who met at IU, and the recent signs Pence has given about 2016 are encouraging, via CNN:
Washington (CNN) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, as part of a nine-day trip to the nation that’s sure to set tongues wagging about his plans for the 2016 presidential race.
Netanyahu’s Twitter account sent out a quick clip of the two during their meeting Monday in which Pence expressed support for Israel, and said he believes “the strong and broad and bipartisan support for the state of Israel…will be reflected in the decisions our United States Congress makes in the months ahead.”
What do you think? Does Pence take care of the domestic and “polish” issues? Could he too be a candidate that bridges the RINO establishment with the Tea Party activist base while still satisfying defense hawks and social conservatives?
Here’s some moral clarity from one of the Gen-X heirs of the Thomas Sowell intellectual tradition:
“And, you know, my concern here is that this false narrative being pushed by everyone from Obama to Holder to Mayor de Blasio, that we have an epidemic on our hands of cops shooting young black men is not only false, it is harmful to the law-abiding residents of these poor communities. The worst thing, the only thing worse than living in one of these poor black neighborhoods, is living in a neighborhood that is poorly policed. The idea that when you dial 911 they may take their time coming or not come at all, and we are already seeing stories about that. In today’s New York Post there was a story about police making fewer arrest, issuing fewer summons, that’s who gets hurt.”
Related today at PJ Lifestyle, check out this first-rate essay by Aaron C. Smith: “How Racial Opportunists Ruin Real Chances for Police Reforms.” And also see “The Role of Rhetoric in the New York Cop Killings” by Walter Hudson last week and the accompanying podcast here. (Make a point to incorporate Walter’s great podcast into your media diet for 2015 if you haven’t woken up already to his incisive voice.)
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton — my current preference for 2016 GOP candidate — had a great appearance on Fox News last night, responding to President Barack Obama’s admission that an American embassy in Iran was a possibility:
I decided to transcribe some of Bolton’s key points:
“It’s another unforced error by the President, another example of how he’s giving away things and getting nothing in return. The way that statement you just quoted is structured is first we sign this increasingly terrible deal on Iran’s nuclear program, which would basically legitimize that program, and then he says ‘once we’ve got that out of the way then we can think about recognition.’ You know I don’t think any diplomatic step is sacrosanct. But whenever you give something up you ought to get something for it. And whether it’s Cuba or Iran or — the list is very long unfortunately — Afghanistan, we give away a lot under this President and we get nothing back.”
“Well the President is making us weak and the reason is his ideology. He believes that America is not a positive force in the world, he thinks we’re a big part of the problem. So in the case of Iran, he believes we’ve treated them badly over the years, we supported he Shah and so on, and so if America simply gives up any pretense of trying to contain this central banker for international terrorism developing nuclear weapons then the Iranian regime will say ‘Well, I guess the Americans are OK, let’s give all that up.’ It’s naive, it’s ideological, and most of all it’s dangerous for the country.”
Hey, Roger, regarding your great post — “Looking for Mr. Good President” — among the reasons why I like Bolton the most on a personal level (apart from merely agreeing with him ideologically) is because he’s the only one I can honestly say doesn’t seem to be a massive narcissist who’s been aspiring toward the presidency their whole life and would sell their soul to get it. I think Bolton cares more about making sure the US embraces the right foreign policy ideas that will actually defeat our enemies rather than just becoming the president himself. I get the sense that if he enters the race in 2016 it will primarily be just to make sure that his foreign policy views — Reaganite “Peace Through Strength” — have adequate representation in the debate and that if another, more supposedly traditionally “electable” candidate like a governor embraces his approach then he’d be content with the VP or secretary of State or some other position of consequence behind the scenes.
A thought for consideration: I think Bolton has the potential to transcend the RINO/Establishment vs Tea Party/Activist baby boomer ideology divide. While the Mitt Romney/Jeb Bush/Marco Rubio vs Ted Cruz/Rand Paul/[Whichever Random Tea Partier Wants to Audition for a Fox News Show] circle of narcissism spins around the drain it allows for the opportunity for a hawkish, Bolton message to fly over both sides’ rotting egos, providing a serious, grown-up assessment of the nature of the Islamist threat and how we can defeat it. If 2016 is to be a foreign policy election then Bolton is the one to win it, whether he’s at the front of the ticket or the back of it.
Updated: I take some of the commenters suggestions and pose a potential ticket for consideration: How About a Mike Pence-John Bolton Ticket for 2016?
I regard Ridley Scott as one of the most overrated directors of our time. Check out his whole filmography and they’re all high on visual whizbang but low on compelling characters, gripping stories, or challenging themes. Instead of watching his new movie mutilate the Bible, how about instead just make a point to read a little of Exodus every day? This creative web promo for the movie that juxtaposes the burning bush with the text of the Bible might help inspire:
After years of loathing Scott’s movies, I’ve decided to stop ragging on him and forgive him his cinematic trespasses for one reason alone: his work as a TV producer, in particular with The Good Wife, redeems the very lousy movies he has inflicted on filmgoers and the vacuous cinematic trends he’s encouraged. He is now absolved of his movie sins. Scott should stick to producing and leave directing to those who actually care about stories and characters more than visual spectacle.
Check out The Good Wife if you haven’t yet. My Good Wife and I are currently in the middle of binge-watching it on Amazon Prime. Here’s an example of how cool it is:
I quit Facebook this year for many reasons. At the heart of it was that I just no longer trusted the social network to manage my time, relationships, and especially, my emotions. Log into Facebook and it’s a perpetual blast from the past as the site tries to get its hooks into you using your friendships and family relationships to keep you clicking and exposing yourself to ads that have been carefully set to manipulate you where you’re most vulnerable. This doesn’t always work out as well as Facebook intends, as Eric Meyer explained what confronted him with the “Year in Review” app:
A picture of my daughter, who is dead. Who died this year.
Yes, my year looked like that. True enough. My year looked like the now-absent face of my little girl. It was still unkind to remind me so forcefully.
And I know, of course, that this is not a deliberate assault. This inadvertent algorithmic cruelty is the result of code that works in the overwhelming majority of cases, reminding people of the awesomeness of their years, showing them selfies at a party or whale spouts from sailing boats or the marina outside their vacation house.
But for those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year.
To show me Rebecca’s face and say “Here’s what your year looked like!” is jarring. It feels wrong, and coming from an actual person, it would be wrong. Coming from code, it’s just unfortunate. These are hard, hard problems. It isn’t easy to programmatically figure out if a picture has a ton of Likes because it’s hilarious, astounding, or heartbreaking.
Algorithms are essentially thoughtless. They model certain decision flows, but once you run them, no more thought occurs. To call a person “thoughtless” is usually considered a slight, or an outright insult; and yet, we unleash so many literally thoughtless processes on our users, on our lives, on ourselves.
Read the whole thing. I have dear friends and colleagues who have lost children — some recently — and my heart goes out to them. I don’t know how to comprehend the depths of their pain — the closest I can come is the inevitable worries that come during my wife’s art travels as I imagine how gray, quiet, and meaningless life is without her and recall the Bahamas’ high crime rates.
There was something else about Facebook that really got under my skin last year. Another reason why I decided to leave it and now will continue to urge others to do the same…
State Senator Ted Harvey appeared on Fox and Friends today to comment on an “informal” poll of 500 people staying at a Denver homeless shelter, 30% of which supposedly moved to the state because of the new laws legalizing marijuana:
I’m skeptical about this fearmongering — vote for legal weed and it will draw in a bunch of bums to your state! — for a few reasons. First, the claim itself is little more than the hearsay of annoyed employees at one location. According to CBS, other shelters have not noticed any increases:
The shelter did an informal survey of the roughly 500 new out-of-towners who stayed there between July and September and found as many as 30 percent had relocated for pot, he said.
Shelters in some other parts of the state said they haven’t noticed the problem or haven’t surveyed their residents about it.
Colorado’s homeless population and its marijuana dispensaries are both concentrated in Denver, which could be why centers say they are experiencing a more noticeable rise.
Other factors could be driving the rising homeless rates. Colorado’s economy is thriving, but the number of affordable homes and apartments is shrinking.
Julie Smith of Denver’s Road Home, a city plan that aims to end homelessness, said the city’s rising overall population could be a reason for an increase in the number homeless people.
She said the agency has heard anecdotal reports about homeless people moving to the state for the marijuana, but officials don’t have any numbers to support that assertion.
The second reason for skepticism, the Big Rock Candy Mountain of legal weed has already been built for over a decade, further West.
From CNN: “Source: Hackers send new message to Sony”:
The hacker message is effectively a victory lap, telling the studio, “Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy.”
The message also says, “And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately.”
It warns the studio executives that “we still have your private and sensitive data” and claims that they will “ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble.”
The email was titled “Message from GOP.” The anonymous hackers have called themselves “Guardians of Peace.”
So how long will these trailers and clips remain up? It’s already become tricky to find online the final sequence of Kim Jong-un’s exploding head.
Yesterday I highlighted a report about Korean activists seeking bootleg copies of The Interview and predicted that the effect of North Korea bullying Sony into burying Seth Rogen and James Franco’s new film would be that it would leak all around the world and the internet, becoming unstoppable and much more damaging. But if the blackmailing goes a step further, if now Sony must start pulling the material they’ve already released in addition to legally threatening anyone who might be so bold as to share the film illegally, then I’m now not so sure.
It’s entirely within the realm of possibility that soon The Interview trailers will be pulled and an army of recently-recruited Sony lawyers will even start sending notices to websites that have written movie promotions or stories covering the controversy, asking them to delete pieces, lest more embarrassing emails be released.
The question will be: how far backwards could this go? Already the screenings of Team America: World Police announced to replace The Interview have been cancelled. Will this go further or will American companies fight back?
Obviously, it’s hard to expect them to want to fight when the example set by the Jarrett-Obama administration, per Cuba and Iran, has been to bend over backwards and embrace illiberal tyrannies.
Some have suggested the fantasy of the federal government buying the movie, endorsing it, and spreading the film around for free. My prescription goes several miles further in hawkishness, of course…
CNN’s South Korea correspondent, Kyung Lah, reports that activists are trying to get bootleg DVDs of the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy that inspired the North Korean hack attack against Sony in retaliation for the film’s depiction of its tyrant’s death:
“They see it as being critical in trying to crumble the regime. That’s how potent this movie is being seen here in the peninsula. It has a significant amount of power,” Lah said.
Hacking goes multiple ways. My prediction of what happens next now that Sony has been bullied into pulling the film: someone is going to leak the whole movie online, just as celebrity naked pics and Sony emails have gone out. And it will then be impossible for the regime to stamp it out.
I wonder if next time the wife and I are at the laundromat here in Inglewood, and the guy comes around hocking the bootleg DVDs, if he’ll have The Interview. I imagine some bootleggers have probably had it already for weeks. Now what’s going to happen to demand for it on the black market?
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) December 17, 2014
What lessons does this debacle have for activists who want to see the world’s tyrannies overthrown? Should more movies like The Interview be produced and released en masse — perhaps by non-profits and at more modest budgets — making satirical, hilarious assaults on the leaders of slave states?
First, here’s why our Matriarch-in-Chief Valerie Jarrett (who actually makes all the decisions of consequence) knows she can get away with this:
Looking forward to a neo-con/liberal debate on Cuba embargo that literally no one outside the political bubble will care about at all.
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) December 17, 2014
Compared to some of the other shell games Team Chicago has played on the American people the last 6 years from “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” to “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” to “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” normalizing relations with Cuba should be easy. A people who no longer understand how to recognize and fight evil won’t understand the message this sends to tyrants and criminals the world over. CNN reports on another prisoner swap deal that should make every American feel a bit degraded:
The spin from Valerie Jarrett’s White House is that the pope supposedly had something to do with what progressives have wanted to do for decades:
— Brent Staples (@BrentNYT) December 17, 2014
This just in -> White House: Pope Francis Played Key Role In Cuba Negotiations http://t.co/86cE7NzFMd via
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) December 17, 2014
Red State’s Erick Erickson explains the basic Reaganite principle of “peace through strength” and how acts like this undermine it, leading to more aggression from foreign policies:
Twice now we’ve traded hostages under Obama. No wonder North Korea knew it could make Sony fold. It’s going to get worse.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) December 17, 2014
Here’s the run-down on Alan Gross:
— Nightline (@Nightline) December 17, 2014
Anyone naive enough to think that this will bring any sort of economic prosperity to the Cuban people, set straight by Michael Moynihan:
Do these dopes realize that there are already European hotel chains and fat European tourists all over Cuba?
— Michael C Moynihan (@mcmoynihan) December 17, 2014
Hot Air’s Noah C. Rothman reports on Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s reaction:
"If the people of Cuba thought America was so evil, there wouldn't be so many of them trying to come here." – Rubio on embargo myths.
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) December 17, 2014
Next page: video of Rubio on Fox News responding.
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 16, 2014
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 16, 2014
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 16, 2014
My picks: I prefer Prager to Limbaugh, regard Levin and Hannity both equally (I like them in some ways, dislike them in others,) and while I tend to disagree with both Medved and Hewitt on many ideas (such as on immigration…) I still like Hewitt and his show a lot… (Is that the equivalent of preferring to pick Ken instead of Ryu?)
Who are your favorites? What other head-to-heads should be considered? Hit me up on Twitter with your ideas.
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) December 16, 2014
Three pieces were linked at the Drudge Report today on the rising Idol of the progressive political cult, first by Michael Goodwin at the New York Post: “Elizabeth Warren poses a challenge to Hillary in 2016“:
The polls say it’s Hillary’s turn, but I’m starting to believe 2016 could be 2008 all over again, with Warren taking the nomination from her the way Barack Obama did.
As Mark Twain said, “History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” So it is with the political dynamic, then and now.
Clinton acted entitled, and Obama offered a charismatic alternative. She represented the tired past, he a fresh future.
A possible Warren sequel to that historic upset has been taking shape for months, but it has now crystallized. The first-term senator’s rallying cry against what she called “a giveaway to the most powerful banks” almost scuttled the budget bill in the House before bipartisan support allowed her to have it both ways.
She comes out of the wreckage as the standard-bearer of progressive populism without being blamed for shutting down the government. Her GOP doppelgänger, Ted Cruz, should have been so lucky.
Second, at the Washington Post: “Elizabeth Warren was told to stay quiet, but she didn’t – and it’s paying off.” Third, another at the Post, ”Amid Warren buzz, Clinton might do well not to wait too long to announce 2016 bid.”
Here’s audio from Warren on NPR:
NN RADIO HOST: “Would you tell these independent groups, ‘Give it up.’ You just never going to run.”
WARREN: “I told them, ‘I’m not running for president.’”
NN RADIO HOST: “You are putting that in the present tense tough. Are you never going to run?”
WARREN: “I’m not running for president.”
NN RADIO HOST: “You’re not putting a ‘never’ on that?”
WARREN: “I’m not running for president. Do you want me to put an exclamation point at the end?”
What do you think? Is Warren a challenger for Clinton in 2016? Or is the Jarrett-Obama/Chicago-Alinskyite wing of the Democratic Party going to make peace with the House of Clinton ascending again?
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 15, 2014
Last week I described my current talk radio work-day listening schedule: The Morning Answer with Ben Shapiro, Elisha Krauss and Brian Whitman from 6-9; The Dennis Prager Show from 9-noon; an afternoon break for meetings or writing to classical music from noon to 3; and then The Ben Shapiro Show from 3-6 in the afternoon.
One of the great things about today’s technology is that it’s possible to listen to multiple radio shows at the same time. When the commercials start on one show then it’s time to switch over to the other. Who should I give a shot and try and integrate into my daily routine? And also what podcasts do you recommend for daily listening? I try and catch Walter Hudson’s every day too.
Tweet your suggestions to me and I welcome dialogue on Twitter at @DaveSwindle. I’ll update this post throughout the morning with any highlights from the shows or memorable online exchanges.
image illustration via shutterstock / ktsdesign
Updated at 7:13: Wow, already 2 responses:
— Frank Furter (@FrankFFurter) December 15, 2014
— Jesse Wychules (@wychules) December 15, 2014
Updated at 8:35: I registered my disagreement with Morning Answer Host Brian Whitman’s SoCal fast food recommendations which are as wrongheaded as his political positions:
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 15, 2014
Forget Tommy’s. The Habit is the best burger in Los Angeles. (Yes, better than In-N-Out!)
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 12, 2014
What does your morning media routine look like?
In an ideal day I try to get caught up on most of my PJ editing from 6 AM to Noon PST — that way I can can synch my work with The Morning Answer from 6 to 9 and then The Dennis Prager Show from 9 to noon. (Then I try to schedule meetings and writing time for the early afternoon before getting back to editing at the end of the day when The Ben Shapiro Show comes on in the afternoon at 3.)
Sometimes when I hear points from the shows that I like I’ll tweet them out:
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 9, 2014
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 5, 2014
On the rare occasions when Brian Whitman — the “mushy moderate” and so-called liberal who plays the Alan Colmes role on The Morning Answer against the Tea Party conservatives Ben and Elisha — makes a point I appreciate I’ll try to tweet to him. For example, I really liked his forceful rejection the other day of the way some Americans fawn over the British royal family as though they were still subjects of the Crown:
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 9, 2014
What do you think of the conversation on The Morning Answer and today’s Prager Show? Tweet your ideas to me and I’ll update this post with any highlights from this morning.
UPDATED, 10:15 AM
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 12, 2014
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) December 11, 2014
What do you think of the subjects Ben discusses today? Tweet your ideas and comments to me.
I loudly gave up Facebook last month, and decided to shift my social networking efforts to tweeting, shooting more Instagram videos, and exploring the potential of other emerging social networks: “7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook.”
Wired reported this week how Facebook is choosing to spend its money to develop robot babysitters for people supposedly too irresponsible to handle their social networking: “Facebook Envisions AI That Keeps You From Uploading Embarrassing Pics.”
Let’s say you’re out drinking with your buddies, things get out of hand, you pull out your smartphone, you take a selfie in the middle of all this drunken revelry, then you take 30 or 40 more, and, without hesitation, you start uploading them to Facebook.
It’s a common thing to do. But Yann LeCun aims to stop such unbridled behavior—or at least warn people when they’re about to do something they might regret. He wants to build a kind of Facebook digital assistant that will, say, recognize when you’re uploading an embarrassingly candid photo of your late-night antics. In a virtual way, he explains, this assistant would tap you on the shoulder and say: “Uh, this is being posted publicly. Are you sure you want your boss and your mother to see this?”
The idea is more than just an idle suggestion. LeCun is the New York University researcher and machine-learning guru who now oversees the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab, a team of AI researchers inside the internet giant that spans offices in both California and New York, and this rapidly expanding operation is now laying the basic groundwork for his digital assistant.
Here’s the kicker, emphasis added:
The team’s deep learning algorithms now examine your overall Facebook behavior in an effort to identify the right content for your news feed—content you’re likely to click on—and they’ll soon analyze the text you type into status posts, automatically suggesting relevant hashtags. But LeCun and his team are also looking towards AI systems that can understand Facebook data in more complex ways—and guide you in directions you may not go on your own.
From Business Insider today, a look inside the emotionally manipulative approach driving the company: “Facebook: We Don’t Call Them ‘Users’ Any More, We Call Them ‘People’”:
The company also has an “empathy team” which is charged with helping its engineers and designers understand what it’s actually like to be a user, or a business paying for advertising.
Tech Crunch reveals the background game Facebook has been playing, quietly expanding beyond social networking, picking up tech companies left and right to figure out what they can plug into their user base to maximize profits (“Facebook Combines Atlas, Audience Network, And LiveRail Into An AdTech Voltron“):
So Facebook built what’s called Custom Audiences, which lets businesses upload their purchase data and identifying information about their customers to Facebook in a hashed, privacy-protected way. Facebook can both use this to let businesses target ads to their existing customers, but also to reference them against who saw ads to prove that impressions on web or mobile, even without clicks, lead to purchases.
Facebook also collects offline purchase data tied to people’s grocery loyalty cards and other identifiers through partners like Datalogix. The point of all this measurement is that when advertisers can see they’re getting a return on investment, they spend more.
Video of Obama: ‘They Are Americans in Their Hearts, Even if They Don’t Have a Right Piece of Paper’
“What we’re also saying tough, is that for those who have American children or children who are legal permanent residents, that you can actually register and submit yourself to a criminal background check, pay any back taxes, and commit to paying future taxes. And if you do that you get as a piece of paper that gives you insurance that you can work and live here without fear of deportation.That does not apply to everybody but it does apply to roughly 5 million, about half of what is estimated to be the number of undocumented workers here.
Now, that is a temporary just like DACA, the program that we put in place for young people who were brought here, who otherwise are good citizens, or studying, working, join our military. We did that several years ago where we said it does not make sense for us to subject these young people to a deportation risk. They are Americans in their hearts, even if they don’t have a right piece of paper. That is temporary as well although it’s been subject to renewal.”
Another video excerpt from this townhall puts the president’s emotion-based idea — that one can look into someone’s heart to figure out if they’re an American and should be recognized as such by the federal government — into greater context. On the next page see a video from the same session of the president with one of his famous Bible butcherings:
Make a point to read all of Jamie Kirchick’s “The Rise and Fall of Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge, America’s Worst Gay Power Couple“; here’s the opening:
Just three years ago, Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge were the toast of the liberal establishment. The Facebook co-founder and his politically ambitious husband embodied all the attributes of a bona fide “gay power couple.” In 2012, Hughes bought The New Republic, rescuing the flagship liberal magazine from financial peril and establishing himself as a player in Washington. At the same time, Eldridge was quietly preparing to run for Congress in upstate New York.
Young, handsome, Ivy League-pedigreed, rich (“the wealthiest openly gay men under 30” according to The Advocate, a stretch considering that the fortune belongs to Hughes), and espousing predictably liberal political views, the Hughes-Eldridge partnership was destined to work wonders for America.
How swiftly things change. In just the past two months, one half of this pair managed to single-handedly destroy a storied journalistic institution, while the other suffered a crushing electoral defeat in New York’s 19th Congressional District. Last week, the 31-year-old Hughes forced the resignations of both the editor and literary editor of The New Republic, whose 100th anniversary he presided over last month at a star-studded gala in Washington, D.C.
In protest of the magazine’s newly ensconced CEO’s plan to transform TNRinto a “vertically integrated digital media company,” the majority of the magazine’s senior and contributing editors resigned.
Weeks before the implosion at TNR, 28-year-old Eldridge lost his congressional bid by a stunning 30 points, despite having outspent his opponent nearly 3-to-1 in a district President Obama won by 6 percentage points. The couple had purchased a $2 million home in the district expressly so that Eldridge could run there, their purchase of a $5 million mansion in the adjoining 18th having come to naught after that seat was won by another gay Democrat in 2012.
Here at PJ on Friday, Ron Radosh, a former contributor to The New Republic (as was Kirchick, who made his reputation with a groundbreaking article revealing the hateful ideology of the Ron Paul cult), wrote about “The Long, Slow Death of The New Republic“:
When Hughes bought the publication, as the Times story notes, he said he was motivated to purchase it because he had a great interest in “the future of high quality long-form journalism.”
I knew at the time that the result of his takeover would be the magazine’s demise. In a PJ Media column, I wrote: “I am not too optimistic about its future.” At that time, Richard Just was running it; he had just met with Hughes and convinced him to purchase TNR, hoping that he would save the magazine. Shortly thereafter, Hughes fired Just and convinced TNR’s old editor Frank Foer to return as editor-in-chief.
I believed that TNR would become a shill for the Obama administration. This was made clear quite soon…
Hughes recently told reporters that he considered TNR to be not a magazine, but a “vertically integrated digital media company,” perhaps something along the lines of Politico or Buzzfeed. As owner and publisher, he has a right to do what he wants with his money. But he has quickly abandoned the promises he made when he bought TNR, to make the magazine relevant and to continue true to its intellectual traditions.
The current crop of departing editors should not have been surprised at this turn of events. The new course was clear from the very first day Hughes took it over. I recall him announcing that he was going to set up nationwide TNR coffee shops, starting in the major East and West Coast cities, where people could drink coffee and eat pastries and get TNRmugs, shirts, as well as the magazine itself. That crazy idea never came to fruition. But it was a harbinger of things to come.
Here’s Kirchick, really sticking the knife in with his analysis of Hughes’ lucky path to a pile of wealth that he now doesn’t have the skills to use effectively. This explains the silliness of wanting to turn an institution of political journalism into a Starbucks:
Unlike Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, with whom he roomed at Harvard, Hughes had no special programming or coding abilities. But there was a silver lining in this lack of technical expertise, in that, as the only member of this tech geek crew with passable social skills, he could take up the public-relations portfolio. “He is fortunate he found himself in the same room,” David Kirkpatrick, author of a book about the website, told the Times. “He is more socially adjusted than the rest of them.” By his own admission, Hughes’ main job for Facebook was “customer service.” $700 million, the rough amount that Hughes earned when he cashed out of the company in 2007, is a pretty good take for a glorified call-center operator.
Is there a more cuttingmMillennial insult than to compare someone who thinks he’s the next Zuckerberg building something bigger than Facebook to a “a glorified call-center operator”?
Many thanks to Jeff Dunetz at Yid With Lid for his diligence in reminding the world about the truth of the shameful career of Al Sharpton, the baby boomer generation’s most effective and notorious radical activist:
Nineteen years ago, December 8, 1995, Al Sharpton incited the violent firebombing of Freddy’s Fashion Mart in Harlem, causing the the deaths of Angelina Marrero . . . Cynthia Martinez . . . Luz Ramos . . . Mayra Rentas . . . Olga Garcia . . . Garnette Ramautar . . . Kareem Brunner…. names forever linked together as the seven victims of the Sharpton-caused massacre at Freddy’s Fashion Mart.
It all started as a rent dispute in the summer of 1995… As he has done so often in his life, Al Sharpton turned this non-racial economic dispute into a racial conflict. …
Soon after the massacre, the Jewish Action Alliance, a New York-based civil-rights group, released audiotapes and transcripts of several of Sharpton’s weekly radio show in which Morris Powell, leader of the 125th Street Vendor’s Association, can be heard using racial and anti-Semitic language to encourage Harlem residents to boycott Freddy’s. Learning from his Crown Heights experience Sharpton let others push the anti-Semitic hatred but it was all done on his show.
In court papers filed the day before the fire, Harari and two employees described weeks of protests outside the clothing store. Sharpton’s National Action Network sets up picket lines; customers going into Freddy’s were spat on and cursed as “traitors” and “Uncle Toms.” Some protesters shouted, “Burn down the Jew store!” and simulate striking a match. “We’re going to see that this cracker suffers,” says Sharpton’s colleague Morris Powell.
I think it’s very important to be cognizant of the facts and details of Sharpton’s numerous controversies. His acceptance (and prominence) — on MSNBC, embraced by Obama and Holder — is one of the most irrefutable symbols of the Democratic Party and Progressivism’s moral vacuum. This isn’t a political party that tolerates criminality, it’s a political party run by criminals dedicated to helping and promoting other criminals.
I’m reminded of Roger L. Simon over the weekend offering “My Isis Strategy“:
Send them a message they will never forget — and if that message resembles Dresden in World War II, so be it. They have brought it on themselves. We should not take sides in the Neanderthal Sunni-Shiite rift in which they have been killing each other for over a thousand years for pathological cultish reasons. Both sides want nothing more than a caliphate. They just want their caliphate.
And most importantly of all, we should reinstate the economic boycott of Iran even more tightly than it was before while informing the bloody mullahs and the Iranian people that we support regime change now, not pussy-foot around about it as Obama did when the students were marching in the streets of Tehran (the most morally reprehensible behavior by an American president in my lifetime). We can’t allow the mullahs to profit from our dismantling of ISIS. And if they don’t get the message, use lethal force.
I fear that soon ISIS will start upping the ante with their video releases. Beheadings won’t deliver enough shock value for the Game of Thrones postmodern pop culture. What sorts of videos should one expect next to terrorize Americans? Look at Rotherham to see another ancient method of warfare adapted for today…