Hamilton

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Hamilton]

With our shiny new Disney+ subscription, we watched Hamilton. (I know, Gina Carano. Sorry.) I also know it's a stage play. Still, it was movie-length, so I'm counting it as a "watched movie". It's an impressive effort, watchable all the way through. And I don't really like hip-hop. But as it turned out the songs are less hiphoppy than I feared; the Wikipedia page, the songs also draw from "R&B, pop, soul, and traditional-style show tunes."

It's based on Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton, briefly describing his impoverished early life on Nevis, and really gets going with his move to Manhattan in the auspicious year of 1776. (Update: well, that turns out to be off by three years. My bad for believing everything Lin-Manuel Miranda put in his play. See Wikipedia for that quibble and more, some less quibbly.) He gets education, gets acquainted with the local revolutionary firebrands (including Aaron Burr), eventually joins up with George Washington in the Revolutionary War.

His success there jumpstarts his political career; it also sows the seeds of resentment and jealousy among his counterparts. He turns into a Constitutional madman, writing many Federalist Papers in defense of the new plan of government. When the dust settles, he's named the first Secretary of the Treasury, and eventually draws even more ire from Jefferson and (oops) his former friend Aaron Burr. We all know how that turns out.

There are a number of other plot threads involving romance and family, mostly tragic in nature. Comic relief is provided by actors portraying George III, Lafayette, and Jefferson.

The show caused me to try to put Chernow's biography on my get-at-library list. Ack, Portsmouth Public Library seems to lack a copy. What's up with that? Well, if they ever let me back into the UNH Library… .


Last Modified 2021-04-25 10:51 AM EDT

URLs du Jour

2021-04-08

Our Eye Candy du Jour:

[LFOD]

That's from an article from a site called "Artsy", entitled 8 Artists Who Had Breakout Moments at March Auctions. It was brought to my attention by the Google LFOD News Alert, and, yes, the painting's title is "Live Free or Die". The artist is Pieter Schoolwerth, and it is reported that the 2002 painting sold for $22,680. (It "failed to sell in its previous auction appearance, back in 2010.")

So, good for Pieter. <understatement>There's certainly a lot going on there</understatement>. I especially like that the man sitting on the steps has the exact same expression as the head-vase(?) on the table.

  • James Freeman has interesting thoughts on Ron DeSantis and ‘Resistance Journalism’.

    It’s hard to find silver linings in this era of expanding government authority and contracting individual opportunity for free expression. But at least the media establishment can no longer pretend that its abandonment of journalistic standards was necessitated by the unique character of Donald Trump. “Resistance journalism” is now industry standard, judging by a story on Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis by the formerly prestigious television newsmagazine “60 Minutes.”

    Resistance journalism is the term coined by media maven Ben Smith, who was also one of the genre’s most successful practitioners. The idea was to create compelling anti-Trump narratives unbound by the traditional obligations of fact-checking.

    The Trump administration began with news organizations flogging false collusion claims from anonymous sources. It ended recently with news organizations flogging a false story from a single anonymous source who did not even witness the relevant event—and was then protected until she granted her permission to acknowledge she was the source of the bogus report.

    Freeman goes on to note that the "60 Minutes" went "one step beyond simply advancing the hidden agendas of people unwilling to go on the record." Instead: "Sunday night’s attack on Gov. DeSantis didn’t even include key facts presented by witnesses who have been speaking on the record."

    I think you can still trust CBS News to report some things correctly. For example, the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Maybe the Red Sox score from last night's game.

    Anything that involves politics, nah.


  • Also, A Lot of Stuff They're Calling 'Infrastructure' That Isn't Infrastructure. Veronique de Rugy looks at an infestation: Biden’s $2.3 Trillion Infrastructure Plan Is Teeming With Cronyism.

    "A crony anti-infrastructure plan" is, sadly, the best description of the Biden administration's proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. It's insanely expensive and unnecessary, especially coming, as it does, on top of last year's fiscal insanity.

    Over the past year, our leaders have spent $6 trillion in bailout and COVID-19 relief funds. They've driven local, state, and federal government spending up to 43.5 percent of GDP, meaning that we're already in financial trouble. Now they want to top it off with trillions more of wasteful spending, describing it as "infrastructure" spending, which arguably everyone likes. But once you look at what's in the bill, you realize that the label is mere marketing for more handouts to politicians' friends and payments for pet projects.

    I rarely tweet, but Senator Kirsten Gillibrand offered up an Orwellian definition of "infrastructure" that I couldn't resist sniping at:

    I'm waiting, Senator!


  • Without State Sponsorship of Critical Race Theory, Nobody Will Learn About Harriet Tubman! Boy, it's been a long time since I looked at Breitbart, let alone linked to it. But they have an NH-relevant story that dinged the Google News Alert: New Hampshire Businesses Fight Bill Banning Critical Race Theory.

    About 80 New Hampshire businesses and other organizations are seeking to block a bill that would ban public schools and other entities from teaching that America is a fundamentally racist nation, warning the measure would be bad for business in the state.

    The coalition sent a letter to Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and lawmakers, stating the bill would “have a chilling impact on our workplaces and on the business climate in New Hampshire,” reported New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR), which further noted the letter warned the measure, “would not only harm the ability of New Hampshire businesses to be competitive, it would severely harm the state’s image as business-friendly, since it stifles the ability of organizations who do business with the state to foster diverse workforces as they see fit.”

    But LFOD is… ah, here:

    Dan Weeks, a director at ReVision Energy, wrote at NH Business Review Tuesday the bill would continue the “whitewash” of New Hampshire and U.S. history.

    Weeks observed slavery existed in 1645 before the “Live Free or Die” state was even an independent colony.

    I'm pretty sure that nothing in the bill prevents accurate history teaching.

    Let me link (once again) to James Lindsay: A Letter Supporting a Bill to Ban Critical Race Theory. I think he does a good job refuting objections to the bill.


  • Betteridge's Law of Headlines Applies. Joel Zinberg asks the musical question at City Journal: Will We Even Need Vaccine Passports?.

    Countries worldwide have announced plans to implement vaccine passports—electronic or paper credentials that show a person has immunity to Covid-19 through either vaccination or recovery from the disease. U.S. states and private businesses seem ready to follow suit. New York State has launched the Excelsior Pass for New Yorkers to prove immunity with a machine-readable QR (“quick response”) code. Walmart will provide an app letting customers vaccinated at the store share their status. At least 17 private initiatives to provide vaccine credentials are in development.

    The goal of a passport system is to allow immunized individuals to resume business, normal activities, and travel, replacing the current restrictions imposed on everyone, regardless of infection risk. Many are concerned that passports could exacerbate existing inequities for poor people who cannot afford smartphones—or create privacy headaches for those who can. Some complain that granting special privileges to those lucky enough to gain access to vaccination is morally questionable. Though U.S. public opinion is divided on the idea, Israeli researchers believe that the country’s digital “green pass” program induced people to be vaccinated so that they can resume normal activities and that public use of the passes has helped reassure hesitant people that the shot is safe.

    The good news: the evolving vaccine rollout and imminent attainment of herd immunity may render the whole idea moot. To achieve herd immunity from Covid-19, roughly 70 percent to 75 percent of the population must be immune, whether because of past infection or vaccination. Given current numbers in both categories, we are already close to that mark.

    The whole passport idea sounds like yet another bureaucrat following the politician's syllogism: "Something must be done; this is something; therefore, this must be done."


  • Nice Guys May Finish Last, But It's Still Better To Be A Nice Guy. So, I'm a diligent Jeopardy! watcher. And after watching three episodes with Aaron Rodgers at the host podium, my take is: a very classy guy who doesn't have the spark to be a long-term replacement for Alex Trebek.

    But in case you missed it, Aaron got a good-natured zing from one of the contestants in Final Jeopardy. Karen Townsend has the story:

    A little palate cleanser of a story at the end of a long day. On Monday Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers began a two-week stint as guest host on Jeopardy!. A little fun was had at his expense during the Final round question. The two-day returning champ, Scott Shewfelt, took a not-subtle-at-all jab at Packers coach Matt LaFleur. LaFleur’s decision-making was called into question by Shewfelt, specifically in January’s NFC championship game.

    The Final round question was about Emmy lifetime achievement winner Fred Rogers. (Different spelling than the host’s last name.) Shewfelt didn’t know the answer and instead of guessing, he wrote, “Who decided to kick that field goal?” Rodgers good-naturedly played along. He chuckled and said, “That is a great question. It should be correct, but for this game today, that’s incorrect.”

    Even though he despises people like me, I have to say the best replacement host so far has been Ken Jennings.


Last Modified 2021-04-09 5:29 AM EDT