Music in Our Culture: How Much Has Been Lost

I liked the following youtube comment by “TLM”. It refers to a clip of Mario Lanza’s performance of “vesti la giubba”, from the 1959 film For the First Time.

Mario Lanza Vesti La Giubba 1958 Widescreen

Yeah, it’s easy to go through life in contemporary America and never even find out that opera and classical music exist. The stuff hardly gets any exposure, except as the occasional background music on a TV commercial. That’s a shame, because even though opera and classical are not for everyone, in fact probably not for most people, a lot more people might nonetheless appreciate this music if only they got more exposure to it.

At my gym the speakers constantly blare hip-hop and rap, even though my gym’s clientele does not generally fit the typical demographic for those genres. The other day, one of the members talked an employee into shutting the music off, and the silence was welcomed by the rest of us who were working out. Another member commented that he was sick of the fact that, at high school basketball games, the music is always that same sort of “garbage.”

It wasn’t always like this in America. During the 1950s, America boasted a thriving middle-brow culture. In 1955, attendance at classical music concerts exceeded attendance at major league baseball games. In the early ’60s, Leonard Bernstein’s classical concerts were broadcast on national network television, sometimes during prime time. Prime time Shostakovich is unimaginable today. Young people have no idea how much has been lost. Sad.

But getting back to Mario Lanza, he had an amazing voice, and is in fact my favorite tenor. Which is surprising, because he was just a movie singer and not a real professional opera singer, kind of like The Monkees weren’t a real group, but just played one on TV. Lanza’s breakthrough movie was The Great Caruso (1951) in which he played the legendary tenor. But Lanza, the actor playing Caruso, was actually a better singer than the legend himself, if you can believe it.

Unfortunately, Lanza had a problem with overeating, and died prematurely at just 38 years of age.

Life Imitates Aristophanes

Lysistrata, a play by Aristophanes, 411 B.C.

Lysistrata has planned a meeting between all of the women of Greece to discuss the plan to end the Peloponnesian War. As Lysistrata waits for the women of Sparta, Thebes, and other areas to meet her she curses the weakness of women. Lysistrata plans to ask the women to refuse sex with their husbands until a treaty for peace has been signed. Lysistrata has also made plans with the older women of Athens (the Chorus of Old Women) to seize the Akropolis later that day. The women from the various regions finally assemble and Lysistrata convinces them to swear an oath that they will withhold sex from their husbands until both sides sign a treaty of peace.

Dateline: February 6, 2017.

Feminists and women’s rights activists have announced the follow up to the Women’s March on Washington: a “Women’s Strike” planned for March 8th, where women who oppose Donald Trump’s “misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic and racist policies” will stop doing chores, attending work, and even having sex with their partners in a show of how much women matter.

So Aristophanes called this one across 2400 years. As the 19th century German philosopher Heinrich Heine said, “There is a God, and his name is Aristophanes.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last summer I was fortunate to get to see this famous painting at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The guide at the museum noted that it is the painting that visitors most often ask to see.

All the people depicted are real, since Rockwell always worked with live models. The man standing behind the turkey lady, however, is not her real husband. Rockwell decided that her real husband for some reason did not fit the part, so he used a different model.

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Thomas Jefferson: The (Urban) Legend

Everybody knows that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with his slave, Sally Hemings, right?

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But what we think we know, isn’t so. This article by Marina Brown at allday.com is riddled with falsehoods and unproven assertions.

A few years ago, a group of distinguished historians, led by Robert F. Turner of the University of Virginia, was empaneled to assess the available evidence on Jefferson and Hemings. Turner summarized the panel’s findings in a 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal. The findings refute nearly all the conventional wisdom as retold in the allday.com article.

At All Day, Brown writes:

Martha Jefferson died in her early 30s after an 11-year marriage. Thomas never remarried—Martha had asked him not to. But he did begin an affair with his late wife’s half-sister.

But the evidence supporting this alleged affair is virtually non-existant.

[Martha’s] family owned over 100 slaves. One of them was the mixed-race Betty Hemings, who had 10 children. Betty’s youngest was Sarah “Sally” Hemings, whose father was Martha’s father.

Because of their relation, the Hemings were treated “well” at the Jefferson estate—they were craftsmen, domestic workers, and chefs.

Turner:

Advocates of Thomas Jefferson’s paternity make a number of seemingly compelling arguments that upon close inspection turn out to be either false or easily explained. One is that Sally and her children received “extraordinary privileges” at Monticello. Most Jefferson scholars acknowledge there is no evidence of that.

All day:

Jefferson’s affair with Sally probably began in France when he was an ambassador and brought her along as a servant for his daughter. Sally was only 15 or 16 years old, making the romanticized ideas of their love pretty creepy.

Turner:

The claim that Thomas Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Sally Hemings began with James Thomson Callender, a notorious journalist and scandalmonger. Callender had demanded that Jefferson, who was elected president in 1800, appoint him postmaster of Richmond, Va. At one point during the summer of 1802, Callendar shouted from in front of the White House, “Sir, you know that by lying [in press attacks on President John Adams] I made you President!”

When Jefferson refused to make the appointment, Callender promised “ten thousand fold vengeance” and wrote a series of articles denouncing Jefferson as a French agent and an atheist. When those charges had no effect, he insisted that the president had taken a young slave girl to be his “concubine” while in Paris during the late 1780s. At the time, Sally attended to Jefferson’s young daughters, who lived in a Catholic boarding school across town in Paris that had servants’ quarters. She didn’t live at the Jefferson residence.

Both John Adams and Alexander Hamilton—political rivals of Jefferson’s at the time—rejected Callender’s charges, because they knew Jefferson’s character and had bitter personal experiences with Callender’s lies.

All Day:

Two [of the alleged children of Jefferson and Hemings] didn’t live until adulthood, but Jefferson freed the others when they came of age. The Hemings were the only family he freed out of hundreds of slaves.

Turner:

Jefferson did free Sally’s two youngest sons in his will. But he freed all but two of the sons and grandsons of Sally’s mother, Betty Hemings, and Sally’s sons received the worst treatment among those freed. Unlike others, they received no land, house, tools or money. Sally herself was never legally freed.

All Day:

After gaining their freedom, other slaves of the Jefferson estate wrote memoirs that verified the rumors—Thomas Jefferson was the father of Sally’s children.

Turner:

Allegations that the “oral history” of Sally’s descendants identified the president as the father of all of Sally’s children are also incorrect. [Heming’s youngest son] Eston’s descendants repeatedly acknowledged—before and after the DNA tests—that as children they were told they were not descendants of Thomas Jefferson but rather of an “uncle.”

All Day:

In 1998, a DNA test confirmed the truth.

The study found a link using Field Jefferson, a descendant of the Jefferson male line and Eston Hemings, one of Sally’s sons. Scientists also tested Thomas Jefferson’s nephew’s descendent’s DNA to see if he could have fathered the children, but there was no match. In 2000, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation accepted these findings.

This characterization of the DNA evidence is exceedingly misleading. The tests did not prove Jefferson’s paternity; they merely could not absolutely rule it out.

Turner:

In reality, the 1998 DNA tests alleged to prove this did not involve genetic material from Thomas Jefferson. All they established was that one of more than two dozen Jefferson males probably fathered Sally Hemings’s youngest son, Eston. And there is good reason to believe that at least seven Jefferson men (including the president) were at Monticello when Eston was conceived in the summer of 1807…

A more plausible candidate is Thomas Jefferson’s younger brother, known at Monticello as “Uncle Randolph.”

All Day:

Most scholars believe Sally had six children with Jefferson…

Turner:

The case against Jefferson was the subject of a yearlong examination by a group of 13 distinguished scholars, including historians Robert Ferrell (Indiana University) and Forrest McDonald (University of Alabama), as well as political scientists Harvey Mansfield (Harvard) and Jean Yarbrough (Bowdoin). Save for a mild dissent by historian Paul Rahe (now at Hillsdale College) the group concluded that the story is probably false.

Sorry to see that a Twitter feed I like, History in Pictures, bought into this tripe by retweeting the story. Sad.

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No Ceasefire in the War on (Pale) Males

The ruling class doesn’t like pale male voters because they are not sufficiently compliant and deferential. To borrow a line from Bertolt Brecht, the ruling class wants therefore to dissolve the people and elect another.

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If that hate speech is not explicit enough for you, there’s more below. And the person who produced it is right now on the campaign trail with Hillary.

The Genocide that Wasn’t

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Millions of Native Americans died following Columbus’ arrival, but they died of disease that the Spaniards introduced unwittingly. It was not a genocide, it was a epidemic caused by the fact that natives had insufficient genetic resistance to European diseases.

Moreover, genocide, like murder, requires intent. But the Spaniards never knew why the natives were dying. This was more than three hundred years before the germ theory of disease. The Spaniards had absolutely no concept of germs or of how diseases are transmitted.

The Black Death that killed half of the population of Europe in the 14th century was first introduced by Mongol invaders. But nobody has ever tried to argue that the Black Death was a genocide perpetrated by the Mongols.

Why do liberals hate Columbus so much?

Too Much Cultural Divergence Across EU Countries?

Peter Turchin writes a fascinating post arguing that the EU is dysfunctional because it has expanded to include too many countries that lack shared cultural values. Turchin plots countries on a so-called Inglehart-Welzel cultural map. The y-axis measures Traditional vs. Rational-Secular values, while the x-axis measures Survival vs. Self-Expression values.

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The plot leads Turchin to some interesting observations. The original six EU countries–Germany, Benelux, France, and Italy–cluster quite closely in terms of culture. Also in the same cultural cluster is Austria and EU non-member Switzerland. Notably, these countries geographically correspond fairly closely to the historical empire of Charlemagne.

It looks like the “ghost” of the Charlemagne’s empire has more influence on today’s cultural values than such later distinctions as Catholicism versus Protestantism.

Although Turchin does not mention it, Charlemagne’s empire was in fact based on the distinct economic and social system known as manorialism, which the Franks invented and spread throughout their empire. These 8 countries in the core of Europe that even today share cultural similarities are essentially the places where manorialism was practiced during the medieval period.

The other 22 countries of the EU, however, do not cluster together in terms of values.

On the contrary, they span three-quarters of world variation in values. Only African-Islamic countries and central America end up outside the ellipse that encompasses all 28 EU members.

Turchin argues that this divergence of values hinders cooperation.

[I]t is hard to get people to cooperate, especially in large social groups. Successful cooperation requires that people share values and institutions. Values tell us why we want to cooperate: what is the public good that we collectively want to produce? Norms and institutions tell us how we are going to organize cooperation. Mismatched values and institutions may doom a cooperative effort even before it has a chance to get going.

Indeed, we have believed for some time that the EU is too large, and in particular that the Eurozone is far too large. The Eurozone probably should have been limited to just Germany, France, and Benelux.

Germany: Speak against government policy, go to jail

If living in a free society means anything, it must be that ordinary people get to participate in choosing the government and its policies. That means, ordinary citizens get to speak out to make their views known on public policy. If people are not free to speak, there can be no real public discourse, and therefore no real freedom.

Germany is supposedly a free society, and by far the biggest policy issue there is the recent massive migration of Arabs into the country, and the prospect that the migration will continue. As we reported previously, the issue is so momentous that a mainstream Brookings economist called the policy a “radical social experiment” that could potentially “change the face of Germany.”

On a matter of such grave import for the fate of the nation, people in a free society would be expected to publicly express their views. But when a couple in Germany set up a members-only Farcebook page critical of the migration policy, a judge fined them and threatened them with jail.

Peter M. founded a secret group called AFB (Anti Refugee Movement) about a year ago on Facebook. As a secret group, people who are not members of it would have been unable to see its content. He and his wife Melanie were administrators of the Facebook group, so both had to attend the court on charges of sedition.

The offending Facebook page’s founding statement was read out in the courtroom. Written by Peter M. it read: “The war and economic refugees are flooding our country. They bring terror, fear, sorrow. They rape our women and put our children at risk. Bring an end to it!”.

In a free society, that’s legitimately protected speech. But Germany is apparently not a free society. Indeed, Facebook examined the site and could find no problems with it.

Unhappy with the fact that Facebook would take no further action, anonymous users turned to a police station in Lübeck. There, officers traced the internet activity to a computer in Vierkirchen in the Dachau district of Bavaria.

Raiding the couple’s flat, their computing items and digital storage were seized by the criminal investigation department in Furstenfeldbruck.

So Germany is a country where the police make ‘raids’ on citizens for exercising their fundamental rights. Guess some things never really change.

Judge Lukas Neubeck, presiding over the case, said the fact the group had a picture of a German flag on its Facebook page confirmed for him that AFB (Anti-Refugee Movement) is a right wing group.

The leftist judge’s mind is so distorted that he takes an expression of patriotism–posting the German flag–as incriminating evidence. If only the organizers had thought instead to post the hammer and sickle, or perhaps the black flag of Al-Qaeda. Then at least the judge wouldn’t have been able to indict them for being ‘right wing.’

In court, Peter M. and Melanie’s 10-month-old son sat on his mother’s lap and the pair had no one legally defending them. The barrister had resigned before the trial.

Within the Dachau courtroom Peter M. said:

“You cannot even express a little bit of criticism about refugees without getting called a Nazi.

“I just wanted to create a discussion forum where people can speak their minds about the refugees.”

[…]

Scolding the pair, Judge Neubeck said: “The description of the group is a series of generalisations with a clear right-wing background.”

The Judge sentenced Peter M. to serve a nine month suspended prison sentence, on probation. Melanie was ordered to pay a fine of €1,200.

“I hope you are clear on the seriousness of the situation. If you sit again in front of me on the dock, you will go to jail,” Judge Neubeck warned.

I must be extremely right wing, because I think the one who ought to go to jail is this commie judge.

Normal people need to wake up and start fighting back against these leftist freaks. And soon.

Sexism, Here and There

First-World Sexism:

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Third-World Sexism:

Nineteen girls from the Kurdish Yazidi religious community were burned to death in iron cages by Islamic State militants in the Kurdish region of Iraq on Thursday after refusing to have sex with their ISIS captors, the ARA News website reported on Tuesday.

“The victims, who had been taken by ISIS jihadis as sex slaves, were placed in iron cages in central Mosul and burned to death in front of hundreds of people,” the website stated, citing information from local media activist Abdullah al-Malla. “They were punished for refusing to have sex with ISIS militants,” Malla said.

“The 19 girls were burned to death, while hundreds of people were watching. Nobody could do anything to save them from the brutal punishment,” an eyewitness told ARA News in Mosul.