1. Wait, what? Ann Althouse revealed this week that she doesn’t read all of the paragraphs in articles she blogs about. She was caught doing this is a post I didn’t read, since it involved her weird concern about the sounds ice makes in a glass. The law professor had asked a question that was answered in the article, but Ann didn’t read that far.
I have found that blogging inherently requires doing opinion and analysis with less than all the facts, or, in the alternative, writing only an article a day. The Ethics Scoreboard, now online, was an ethics website, not a blog, and I spent easily three times the research and consideration on each post that I do now on Ethics Alarms. I also had a webmaster who caught most typos. I eventually decided to switch to blog, because I couldn’t come close to covering the field in only a post a day (if even that), and because I wanted to have an ethics forum with participation from commenters. I sympathize with Ann: blogging is time consuming even if you write as quickly as I do. Then you have the proofing, tagging and administrative stuff. I can see why she would get in the habit of skimming articles.
But it’s still reckless, and guarantees mistakes and an erosion of trust. To her credit, she admitted that she does this in her post, but didn’t seem to say that she was about to change.
2. As readers here know, this sort of thing drives me crazy. Hal Holbrook’s death was announced yesterday, and my wife and I heard one broadcast note after another last night identifying him as the actor who played “the iconic” Deep Throat in “All The President’s Men.” I suppose if you are culturally ignorant or 15-years-old, that may be how you think of Hal Holbrook, but it’s ridiculous. Hal Holbrook, above all, achieved his widest acclaim playing Mark Twain on stage for more than six decades. This also constituted his greatest influence on his art. Holbrook’s Twain show became so popular and won so much critical praise that it created a genre, with actors doing one-man or one-woman shows bringing other famous people to life: Harry Truman, John Aubrey, Will Rogers, Emily Dickinson, Oscar Wilde, Clarence Darrow, Charles Dickens, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, and more. The best of them portrayed individuals who, like Samuel Clemens, really did have one-man shows. I could never suspend my disbelief in famous recluse Dickinson appearing before an audience, or no-nonsense Harry Truman presenting his life and times on stage.
Holbrook was 29 when he started playing Twain at 70, continuing to perform “Mark Twain Tonight!” as he required less and less makeup to look like the writer. When I finally saw him do the show, Holbrook was over 70. He retired Twain in 2017, unlike so many actors, knowing when to quit. “I know it must end, this long effort to do a good job,” he wrote in a letter to the Oklahoma theater where he had been scheduled to perform. “I have served my trade, gave it my all, heart and soul, as a dedicated actor can.”
At his core Holbrook was a stage actor. I found most of his film roles beneath him, like the annoying old sage who wanders around Charlie Sheen’s brokerage firm in “Wall Street” spouting aphorisms. Using a film role to to memorialize Hal Holbrook on his death is an insult to an important and unique artist.
3. Speaking of Samuel Clemens and actors, actor Ethan Hawke quoted Marl Twain as he used an interview to express his concern over what cancel culture means for artistic expression. He said in part,
What’s that great Mark Twain line? “The aim of art is to alleviate shame.” We’re in this period now when you can’t even write about bad behavior because it might seem like you’re condoning it. You have to be able to create a character who does things they wish they didn’t do. I went back and forth on it, because it’s just a petrifying time to speak about male sexuality. If you can’t shine a light into dark corners, the demons that live there will never go away.
Free-thinker Matthew McConaughey also criticized cancel culture on a British talk show, if not especially articulately:
“Where the waterline is going to land on this freedom of speech, and what we allow and what we don’t and where this cancel culture goes…is a very interesting place that we’re engaged in right now as a society of trying to figure out, because we haven’t found the right spot. There’s no room for any consensus. You’ve got to have confrontation to have unity, I think we can all agree on that. That’s when the democracy works really well.”
Hollywood critic and pundit Christian Toto suggest we mute our praise for celebrities like Hawke and McConaughey, writing,
Comments like these are important, to a degree. The more left-leaning artists speak out against Cancel Culture, the better. Most actors stay silent on the issue or actively promote woke rules. Others bow to the woke mob, like Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson, further emboldening it. Yet Hawke and McConaughey’s comments are increasingly hollow given the current climate…Nothing will be changed by them.
Meanwhile, people are losing their jobs for simply posting on free expression platforms like Gab and Parler. A sitting president got booted off of most major social media outlets while Hollywood heavy hitters cheered it on. Parler itself is still in limbo after Amazon, which attempted to silence a black filmmaker for sharing a different perspective on Black Lives Matter, crushed its service within a few days. Twitter is waging war against conservatives but letting vile comments from the Left go unpunished….
When stars get politically active you know it. They leverage interview after interview, Tweet after Tweet, toward the cause. They open up their wallets and purses, wide. It’s a non-stop flurry meant to change hearts, minds and even votes.Will Hawke or McConaughey do anything of the kind? Might they actively seeking out conservative crew members for their next project? What about giving Roseanne Barr, permanently canceled for sending one racist Tweet, a cameo in their next feature? Are they writing checks toward groups fighting for free speech, the all-American right that allows them to be rich, famous and Oscar worthy?
4. “Our media is disgraceful.” That’s the not very original conclusion of this Not The Bee post, which describes how an Antifa mob armed with hatchets, knives, and batons stormed the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia, Washington and took it over. The stated objective was to give the hotel to homeless people. When police showed up, the group resorted to that charming cop-killing chant, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.”
The episode has been largely ignored by the mainstream media, and one of the few sources to cover it, ABC News, wrote this:
Activists take over Washington hotel to demand housing for homeless during pandemic
Housing activists in Olympia, Washington, took over a Red Lion Inn to demand the city provide housing for homeless people during the pandemic….Members of a housing advocacy group were arrested in Washington state Sunday after they allegedly stormed a hotel in Olympia and occupied it while demanding better care for people living on the streets.
5. The wages of panic, tunnel-visioned, arrogant experts, and government over-reach: U.S. cigarette sales stopped declining for the first time in decades in 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing data released by Altria Group, which owns R.J. Reynolds tobacco. The oppressive pandemic measures, including kids out of school, jobs evaporating, entertainment opportunities being banned, and isolation, have driven some to start smoking more often, or to switch back to cigarettes from e-cigarettes and other alternatives.
Gee. What a surprise. Who would predict such a thing?
I bet this will have serious health implications!
An FDA spokeswoman cheerily responded that with all the risks smoking poses, there “has never been a better time to try to quit.”
I wonder if the total harm in lives and well-being caused by the irresponsible and incompetent pandemic measures will ever be quantified.