April 4, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 7:30 PM


Posted by orrinj at 7:28 PM


Posted by orrinj at 3:22 PM


Judge skewers Manafort's civil case challenging Mueller's powers (Sarah N. Lynch, 4/04/18, Reuters) 

"I don't really understand what is left of your case," U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said to Kevin Downing, Manafort's attorney, after peppering him with a lengthy series of questions.

Posted by orrinj at 3:04 PM


Why Silicon Valley is obsessed with this $95 pair of sneakers (Jeanette Settembre, 4/04/18, Moneyish)
The kicks are among "the comfortable walking shoes for travel," according to Conde Nast Traveler, which raves that they're supersoft and made to feel like you're "walking on a cloud." They're crafted entirely from sustainable New Zealand merino wool, cooling eucalyptus fiber and flexible rubber; AllBirds' site says they're "naturally soft, cozy all over, and (fit) your every move." The brand suggests customers wear them sans socks to truly absorb their cooling properties.

AllBirds has sold one pair of Wool Runners shoes per second since its March debut, according to Business Insider. Now, the brand is partnering with Nordstrom for a pop-up as part of the Seattle-based retailer's effort to incorporate smaller, new startups in its stores.

The shoes -- available for men and women in gray, neutral, millennial pink, red, lavender and mint -- will be on sale through May 20 while supplies last.

Posted by orrinj at 1:37 PM


"Close to tears, he left at the intermission": how Stanley Kubrick upset Arthur C Clarke:  The clash of wills behind 2001: a Space Odyssey reminds me that scientific education, not mystery, was always closest to my friend's heart. (MICHAEL MOORCOCK, 4/04/18, New Statesman) 

There are several published accounts of how the 1968 film 2001: a Space ­Odyssey came into being. I understood from Arthur that he was somewhat frustrated by the erratic schedule of its director, Stanley Kubrick. Consequently, the novel, which they were supposed to write before the film appeared, came out after the initial release date. But in the main he seemed happy with the collaboration, even up to the time that rough cuts were being shown. He was, I know, afraid that what with Kubrick's inability to settle down and collaborate on the novel, with the result that the book was due to come out after the cinematic release, it might look like a novelisation of the film rather than an ­original work.

Based primarily on his short story "The Sentinel", together with other published fact and fiction, the film was very much a joint effort, although Arthur was overly modest about his contribution. For his part, Kubrick seemed unable to come up with an ending that suited him. When I visited the set, the film was already about two years behind schedule and well over budget. I saw several alternative finale scenes constructed that were later abandoned. In one version, the monolith turned out to be some kind of alien spaceship. I also knew something that I don't think Arthur ever did: Kubrick was at some point dissatisfied with the collaboration, approaching other writers (including J G Ballard and myself) to work on the film. He knew neither Ballard nor me personally. We refused for several reasons. I felt it would be disloyal to accept.

I guessed the problem was a difference in personality. Arthur was a scientific educator. Explanations were his forte. He was uncomfortable with most forms of ambiguity. Kubrick, on the other hand, was an intuitive director, inclined to leave interpretation to the audience. These differences were barely acknowledged. Neither did Kubrick tell Arthur of his concerns regarding the final version. Where, thanks to Arthur, the film was heavy with voice-over explication and clarifications of scenes, Kubrick wanted the story to be told almost entirely visually.

Without consulting or confronting his co-creator, Kubrick cut a huge amount of Arthur's voice-over explanation during the final edit. This decision probably contributed significantly to the film's success but Arthur was unprepared for it. When he addressed MGM executives at a dinner in his honour before the premiere, he spoke warmly of Kubrick, declaring that there had been no serious disagreements between them in all the years they had worked together, but he had yet to see the final cut.

My own guess at the time was that Kubrick wasn't at ease with any proposed resolution but had nothing better to offer in place of his co-writer's "Star Child" ending. We know now that the long final sequence, offered without explanation, was probably what helped turn the film into the success it became, but the rather unresponsive expressions on the faces of the MGM executives whom Arthur had addressed in his speech showed that they were by no means convinced they had a winner.

What had impressed me on my visit to the set was the dedicated enthusiasm of the Nasa advisers, who had offices at the studios. You could walk into a room and find a fully equipped spacesuit hanging behind the door. There were star-charts and diagrams on the walls; exploded drawings, models, mock-ups and pictures of spaceships and equipment. I saw Roy Carnon's paintings of Jupiter and large sketches of scenes that would soon become every filmgoer's idea of what the future in space would look like. The main set was dominated by a huge, fully working centrifuge, built at vast cost by Vickers-Armstrongs, the British engineering firm. Every technician I met talked about the project with such commitment that I was soon infected by the conviction that we really were preparing an expedition to Jupiter. Computer-generated imagery did not yet exist, and so a great deal had to be built or painted close to full size.

With almost no interest in space exploration, I nonetheless found myself excited by the atmosphere. Yet I did wonder if all the "authenticity" I saw around me might not be overwhelming. Could Kubrick's singular imagination flourish in this atmosphere? Was that why it was taking so long to complete 2001 and the film was so heavily over budget? I had a slightly uncomfortable feeling that the considerable investment in establishing the reality of interplanetary space travel might produce a film more documentary than fiction.

As it turned out, Arthur did not get to see the completed film until the US private premiere. He was shocked by the transformation. Almost every element of explanation had been removed. Reams of voice-over narration had been cut. Far from being a pseudo-documentary, the film was now elusive, ambiguous and thoroughly unclear.

Posted by orrinj at 4:41 AM


A Day of Whiplash in the US's Syria Policy (CAROLINE HOUCK, APRIL 3, 2018, Defense One)

Trump, hosting three visiting Baltic heads-of-state at the White House, reiterated his desire to withdraw from Syria, three and a half years after the U.S. began fighting the Islamic State there.

"I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation," he said.

Simultaneously at the U.S. Institute of Peace, less than a mile away from that White House podium as the crow flies, top military and diplomatic leaders made the case for continuing the U.S. military mission against ISIS in Syria, a longer presence in Iraq, and significant non-military funding for stability operations and reconstruction for things like restarting electricity services and de-mining the booby-trapped rubble Iraqi and Syrian cities that were leveled in some part by American air strikes.

First among their concerns is the fact that ISIS still maintains a foothold in Syria.

"In Iraq I think we're in a pretty good place security-wise... the situation in Syria is a little bit different,"  said Gen. Joseph Votel, who leads U.S. Central Command. "Well over 90 percent of the caliphate that they controlled, particularly in the north and eastern portions of the country, has been liberated. But there still are some areas where they are present and that we will continue to have to operate on."

The top diplomat leading America's counter-ISIS fight, State Department special envoy Brett McGurk, echoed that warning.

"I think we're ahead of where we thought we would be at this time, as Gen. Votel said, but we're not finished," he said. "And we have to work through some very difficult issues as we speak."

The 2,000 or so troops the Pentagon acknowledges it has in Syria have a role in solving those issues, Votel said.

Posted by orrinj at 4:37 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:33 AM


Mueller Finally Unmasked the Trump Campaign's Secret Russian Operative (John R. Schindler, 04/02/18, NY Observer)

Recent developments demonstrate that GRU played a clandestine role in the election of Donald Trump. Last week, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's team, which is investigating the White House's Kremlin connections, released a court filing relating to the imminent sentencing of Alex van der Zwaan, a London attorney who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Trump deputy campaign chair Rick Gates and a shadowy figure termed "Person A." Per the court filing:

That Gates and Person A were directly communicating in September and October 2016 was pertinent to the investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agents assisting the Special Counsel's Office assess that Person A has ties to Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016. During his first interview with the Special Counsel's Office, van der Zwaan admitted that he knew of that connection, stating that Gates told him Person A was a former Russian Intelligence Officer with GRU.

To anyone acquainted with the Trump investigation, Person A is obviously Konstantin Kilimnik, a close friend and protégé of Paul Manafort (Trump's campaign manager in mid-2016), who has admitted he was once a Russian intelligence officer working for GRU. Our media went into overdrive, hailing this as the "most direct line to date" between President Trump's inner circle and the Kremlin. One must ask: Where have they been?

While it's certainly news that Mueller's prosecutors openly called out a barely-concealed Kilimnik for his GRU ties, this fact has been known for years. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:27 AM


http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2018/04/21097/In Defense of Originalism (Carson Holloway, lApril 3rd, 2018, Public Discourse)

[I]t does not go too far to say that originalism as an approach to constitutional interpretation is simply a matter of common sense--the approach we would certainly choose if we brought no political predispositions to the interpretive enterprise. This is the lesson of Ilan Wurman's fine study, A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism. As his subtitle indicates, Wurman does not attempt a comprehensive account of and defense of originalism--a project that could grow to an enormous size, given the massive amount that has been written on this topic. Instead, he offers a helpfully brief, and an admirably clear and engaging, explanation and defense of originalism--drawing on, popularizing, but in some cases also deepening arguments made by earlier scholars.

Originalism seeks to understand the Constitution in light of its original public meaning. As Wurman shows, this is not a politically motivated choice so much as it is the ordinary way that we would seek to understand the meaning of any written document--and indeed any communication at all. Communication is a public act, and language is a public phenomenon, the means of conveying ideas to others in a shared world of discourse. Thus we ordinarily interpret any utterance in light of the public meaning of the words used in it. Accordingly, when we turn to interpreting a communication from the past, we seek the public meaning of the words during that time period, because that is the meaning we have to assume that the writer or speaker intended and that his listeners or readers would have understood.

Proponents of the living Constitution contend that the Constitution, a document written and ratified in the past, ought to be interpreted in light of contemporary conceptions. That can sound attractive based on the results that some might want to achieve. But if we put those results aside and ask only what is a sensible approach to understanding a document from the past, we know that we must seek the original public meaning and that we will be led into the most ridiculous blunders if we do not. To take one obvious example, if we read a letter from the seventeenth century and find someone referred to as "a gentleman," we will go far wrong if we think that this means he is a nice person--which is what we would mean today. It means rather than he belonged to a particular social class, that he came from a particular kind of family. We would, of course, go even more wrong if we applied a twenty-first-century meaning to a seventeenth-century description of a person as "gay."

If we are trying to interpret--to correctly grasp the meaning of--a document from the past, then originalism is clearly the right tool. Here, however, we are talking about not just any document but about a constitution, which is a kind of law. This raises another question and another difficulty. A law does not just communicate ideas and information to us but purports to exercise authority over us. A law tells us what we must do. And it immediately occurs to anyone--even to children, as parents know all too well--to ask: why should I do what you tell me to do?

This question is raised by the defenders of the living Constitution. As they have famously asked, why should we be governed by the "dead hand of the past?" Although originalism is certainly the founding-era approach to constitutional interpretation, the challenge posed by this question also has deep roots in our history. It was raised by no less a figure than Thomas Jefferson, who held that one generation has no authority to bind future generations. In 1789, Jefferson, in a letter to his friend James Madison, held it to be "self evident" that "'the earth belongs in usufruct to the living;' that the dead have neither powers nor rights over" it, and that "by the law of nature, one generation is to another as one independent nation to another."

This Jeffersonian objection might appear decisive. After all, we live in a modern democracy, in which tradition has very little authority. Fortunately, Wurman provides an answer to Jefferson's challenge--an answer coming from no less a modern and American figure than James Madison.

Madison responded to his friend's claim by making an important distinction:

If the earth be the gift of nature to the living, their title can extend to the earth in its natural state only. The improvements made by the dead form a debt against the living, who take the benefit from them. This debt cannot be otherwise discharged than by a proportionate obedience to the will of the Authors of the improvements.

Of course, the political societies we inhabit, and the systems of law on which they are based, are not the gift of nature but "improvements" devised by our predecessors. Therefore, in Madison's view, they have a presumptive claim on our obedience.

This sounds rather Burkean. If Madison is to be taken as a guide--and who can deny his authority?--then a kind of conservative submission to inherited norms as binding on the living is compatible with our modern, democratic, and rights-based regime. Indeed, Wurman notes that Madison's conservatism is more consistent with the Declaration of Independence than is Jefferson's radicalism. After all, the Declaration says that men should cast off traditional authority not because it has no power to bind them at all, but only when necessity compels them to do so.

Once again, Wurman's argument reminds us that originalism--here meaning not just an interpretive approach, but the idea of being bound by the authoritative decisions of past generations--is not so much a politically motivated, partisan choice as it is simple common sense. The living constitutionalist asks: why should we be governed by the dead hand of the past? We may respond: it happens all the time. Being bound by the dead hand of the past is the most ordinary thing in the law, in the most commonplace private matters as in the grandest public ones.

...given that judicial review is anti-Constitutional.

Posted by orrinj at 4:19 AM


Trump Says Americans Who Don't Want To Befriend Putin Are 'Very Stupid' (Tommy Christopher, April 4, 2018, Shareblue.com)

After thanking the press, Trump answered several more minutes worth of questions, including a lengthy digression about Russia that concluded with Trump saying "If we got along with Russia, that would be a good thing, not a bad thing."

"And just about everybody agrees with that, except very stupid people," Trump added.

Asked whether Vladimir Putin is a "friend or foe," Trump refused to renounce the dictator's friendship.

"We'll find out. I'll let you know," Trump replied.

Aside from his many offenses, Vladimir Putin has most recently carried out a chemical attack on the soil of United States' closest ally, Great Britain. That Trump refuses to denounce Putin as a foe -- while surrounded by other allies -- sends a terrible signal to the world.

That's our badge.

Posted by orrinj at 4:12 AM


Stream a 144-Hour Discography of Classic Jazz Recordings from Blue Note Records: Miles Davis, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman & More (Open Culture, April 4th, 2018)

There have been many influential jazz record labels throughout the previous century and into the current one, but there is no more recognizable label than Blue Note Records. Blue Note is "unquestionably the most iconic jazz label there has ever been," claims the site Udiscover Music in a post on the "50 Greatest" Blue Note albums. Indeed, "it may well be the most iconic record label of all time... a brand recognized the world over for the 'finest in jazz.'" [...]

Created by Junior Bonner, the Blue Notes Records Discography playlist is not "complete" in that it contains every album the label ever released--an impossible expectation, surely, especially since Blue Note is still going strong. But, with a run time of 144 hours, it more than sufficiently covers the roster of the label's greatest players, including several many of us probably haven't heard before in much depth. Hardcore audiophile record collectors should visit LondonJazzCollector and Jazzdisco.org to get the full Blue Note catalog of every Blue Note artist and release. But lovers of jazz who don't mind digital streaming instead of precious vinyl and shellac will be thrilled with this impressive anthology.

Posted by orrinj at 4:05 AM


Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Can No Longer Play His Horn, But He's Still Searching for His Sound (ALEX HEIGL March 27, 2018, People)

Charles Mingus supposedly said that his gift for composition came from God, but that his talent on his instrument came from work. You've spoken about music as a kind of quest for you, so I'm interested to see what you make of that quote.

A lot of the people I grew up with in my early teens, we all wanted to be jazz musicians -- but we didn't have the talent. It was a gift. Music is a gift. Anybody can learn music, but it's only a few people who have a gift that are really talented enough -- especially these days -- to make it in this highly competitive world. So it's definitely a gift. However, you have to apply yourself, you have to work at it. I had a gift, but I didn't explore it enough, I feel, and that's why I was always the guy who practiced incessantly. I was always trying to catch up and learn things.

Is that a rare mindset? Do you feel like you were isolated from other musicians in that? The phrase "cross to bear" came up in an interview last year. 

Well, I don't want to put it quite that negatively. It was a cross to bear, but I was happily thrust upon that cross. And it's true, I could never achieve what I wanted to, especially since I had to stop playing some years ago. I felt that I was gaining on the knowledge that I wanted to get; I felt that I was getting there. But in truth, I'm sure that if I got to that place, I would still see another mountain to climb. I feel that there's always more to do. There's some musicians that feel that way, and there's some that don't -- and that's not a criticism. There's some guys that play and they have a natural gift and they don't have to play anymore once they've reached a point of acceptance from themselves or the public. Then they go out and play golf, which is okay. But I never had the luxury of feeling like that, if you could call it a luxury.

Yeah, I don't see you playing a lot of golf.

No, right. [laughs drily]

I know you studied a lot of Eastern religions -- how did those teachings fit into your quest as a musician?

It's all a never-ending quest for knowledge. I'm still learning, every day. I'm still reading stuff every day. One thing that I found out in my life is that there's only one truth, and that truth goes through every religion, every group of people, every color, every race: The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That's it. And no matter where you're raised or where you're from, if you can do that, you got it. And I'm going to paraphrase another quote I heard the other day: Do not do unto others what you would not want done unto you. This is the universal truth. You can't deny that. And you know, I've heard people say it should be, "Do unto others before they can do unto you," guys saying, "I've got to make sure I get mine." If somebody feels like they've got to live that way, fine. I'm not going to criticize anybody. I'm just glad that I am where I am. This is what gives me a sense of a real peace.