Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh No She Didn't! What Happens When Grandma Tries to Restore Art

I recently shared three important takeaways of a book by Lee Sandstead on the art world's dirties secret, but one thing I didn't share about it was some of the fascinating material it includes on the difficult job of art restoration.

This, as Joe Biden might say, can be a big freaking deal--because when somebody who is not an expert tries to restore art bad things can easily happen.

Say, for example, that you're an 80-year-old woman. And suppose, just for example, that you're fond of a prized fresco of Jesus Christ that has been in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragosa for more than 100 years.

So there you are: old, with shaky hands, and eyesight that's been better, and you start to think. Perhaps, for example, you think that the Jesus Christ fresco could use some touchin' up and that you are just the person to do it.

I'm not going to stretch this out any further because I'm guessing you get what happened already. An 80-year-old woman actually did try to restore an old fresco of Jesus Christ. And it...well, it didn't turn out so well.

In fact, in a report by BBC, one commentator said, "The once-dignified portrait now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic." So sad. You can check out the photo for yourself here but be warned: it is not pretty.

Friday, August 17, 2012

4 Amazing Posts You May Have Missed and 1 (Almost) Funny Remark about Jonah Lehrer

So, I don't know if you know this already, but someone's got to say it.

You might be missing out.

In fact, you probably are missing out.

No, not (as you might be thinking) on Facebook posts. Like everyone else you're likely to have that one covered and then some.

But did you know this isn't the primary place I write?

It's not.

I create memes for you on what it means to be a successful kid here. I share stories with you here about Richard Feynman's childhood. And I condense the entire biography of Steve Jobs into 3 short quotes for you here.

But you know where my brainpower is focused most of the time?

Not here.

It's focused elsewhere, on creating the kind of posts that apply the sage words of Inigo Montoya to the concept of "overnight success," share quote after quote from the life-changing novels of Nevil Shute, pass along a few words for Hugh Jackman from Richard Feynman, and introduce you to one of the best books I ever read via this post of 8 quotes from Mind Over Mood on changing how you feel.

I don't want to brag about these posts.

I mean, yes, they're useful.

And, yes, if Jonah Lehrer were to quote somebody praising a couple of them for their creativity he would probably never get called on it.

But honestly I just want to make you aware of these posts.

Because you might be and probably are missing out if you haven't read them yet.

And that would not be cool.

So check them out already!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Tribute to a Tribute

Ari Armstrong just posted at The Objective Standard's blog a short and fitting tribute to Kirani James, Oscar Pistorius, and Össur Kristinsson.

It's a good post and you may enjoy it.

One of the things I enjoyed about is the unabashedly positive view of human achievement it expresses. Another is the justice Ari gives to the two runners in earning their respective achievements by their own mental and physical effort.

But the thing I enjoyed most about it is the praise of Össur Kristinsson, the man who built the company that built the prosthetic legs (which Pistorius uses to run).

Our culture seems to relish taking down heroes. This is true in the business world especially, where countless heroes go unrecognized--despite the challenges they've overcome, the benefits they've provided, and so on.

That The Objective Standard provides businessmen praise, at least to the extent that they deserve it, is thus particularly refreshing to me. And it is just one of the broader reasons I'm happy to write for and read this quarterly journal.

Have you read TOS lately? If not, but you want to see what you're missing, start with Ari's latest post here, and then check out some of the articles in the Summer 2012 issue.

Refreshing, objective journalism awaits.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

This Book (by Greg Gutfeld) is Almost Unspeakably Profane

 As host of Red Eye, Greg Gutfeld shares "some honest crap about the world" without pulling any punches and for free. But in The Bible ofUnspeakable Truths, he wants you to pay for the pleasure. "[I]t’s almost the same thing," says Gutfeld, "give or take the suggested retail price."

The book covers everything from "political crap" and "obligatory sex junk" to "things that are stupid" and "stuff you put in your face." Gutfeld’s style, as you can see, is less than academic. In fact, it is crude, over-the-top, and full of profanity. Consider each of these, starting with the last.

Looking for profanity in Unspeakable Truths is like looking for hay in a hastack; if Gutfeld is making an important point chances are extremely high that it is included. 

Speaking of the absurd notion that violence is an infection, Gutfeld says: "If only there was a word that describes this idea. Oh yeah. Batshit crazy." He describes language as "the only thing we have to communicate our needs and other important crap to each other," adding that "it’s bullshit to muddle or subvert [language] in order to placate a special-interest group’s sensitive little feelings." Finally, just to give another data point, in responding to statements that America is not popular, Gutfeld asks:

What the hell is wrong with being unpopular? And when did it matter how assholes felt about us anyway? That’s right assholes. Most of the world is made up of them, and the fact that they hate us means we are doing something right. America is unpopular with countries like Iran and Venezuela because their leaders are exactly like Saddam Hussein. So when they see one of their own yanked out of the catbird seat . . . you can bet they’re going to be pissed as hell. And scared, too. The idea that we should give a fuck about these feelings is absurd and, sadly, pathetic.

Over-the-top claims are as frequent. A Big Mac, according to Gutfeld, has "everything you need to stay alive" and is "truly God’s supplement for a starving world." Meanwhile, Gutfeld goes from observing that murder victims nearly always know those who killed them to saying that "the fewer people you know, the less likely you’ll be killed" to concluding that "no friends equals no crime." "This is why Keith Olbermann could live forever," he says.

Sometimes Gutfeld is both over-the-top and crude. For example, at one point he promises to solve the two big issues for both political parties: immigration and terrorism. Gutfeld points out that the "folks behind terror reproduce like crazy." He says that while our population shrinks they "tend to pump out killers like they’re Doritos." Why is this a problem? Because, Gutfeld says, "Numbers dictate success." But according to Gutfeld we have a secret weapon: Mexicans—"the one hope against an enemy whose aim is our extinction."

While Mexicans bus your table, they’re defending Western civilization. While they blow the leaves off your lawn, they’re striking a blow against terror. Mexicans are the Mace against madmen, because they outscrew the creeps who kill for Allah. As we embrace cats over kids, Mexicans multiply, preventing us from becoming Europe—a continent flooded by people who hate Europeans. Mexican families love this country. I don’t like Mexico (diarrhea, people), but I love Mexicans. If you are Mexican, and you aren’t here yet . . . then come . . . in every sense of the word. We welcome you with open arms and legs. We’re powerless to prevent you from coming here anyway, thank God. You’re too determined, and we’re too disorganized and distracted.

This sort of style, however funny to some, may disqualify the book for many—and understandably so. But for those that can bear it, Gutfeld certainly has more to say. A lot more.

For example, he slams environmentalism and the current global warming madness a number of times. Regarding the latter, he points out that "most of the earth’s lush vegetation arose due to warmer temperatures" and thus even if global warming were true "it might save more people than it kills." But "[Al] Gore could never agree with this," says Gutfeld—"because it would turn his whole life upside down and all the stupidity would pour out his nose."

Gutfeld also tackles numerous subjects having nothing to do with politics. He says S&M lovers are cowards who "live in a world of pretend pain"—advising them that if they want to let someone else "be in charge" they should "try an actual relationship with a female." He slams schools for abolishing grades "because objective truth hurts dumb students"; says that hot women are never stalkers, just "avid fans"; and points out that "weapons work wonders as long as the good people have them . . . because when you point a gun at a bad guy, it makes him reconsider being bad."

At one point in the book, Gutfeld says he respects and admires anyone "who works hard for a living, knowing that self-esteem has no place in this world, until of course they’ve done something to deserve it." That is a surprising moment because for much of the book up to that point—and nearly all of it following—Gutfeld is relentlessly negative and self-effacing. In fact, while he can be especially cruel to many who deserve it, he bashes himself more than anything or anyone else. I personally found this excruciating—much more so than the constant use of profanity.

Is Gutfeld’s book worth reading? There is definitely some value in The Bible of Unspeakable Truths, and fans of Red Eye may enjoy it. But it is not for everyone. Those who do not like an aggressively hostile, crude, and over-the-top, self-effacing style should probably read something else.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Did a politician just vault that--or was it McKayla Maroney?

The world is unfortunately as full today of spectacular achievements as it is of politicians and bureaucrats who’d like to take the credit for them.

But this is patently absurd.

Are bureaucrats responsible for sites like Twitter and Facebook—or companies like Twilio and 37Signals?

No, they didn’t code that.

Are bureaucrats responsible for the new Tesla, or Gibson guitar, or the latest iPad?

No, they didn’t build that.

Are they responsible for the amazing vault by McKayla Maroney that earned her a gold medal?

No, of course not, they didn’t vault that.

Bureaucrats and regulators get in the way of achievements. They, along with the politicians who have their support, make achieving anything much harder than it would otherwise be (you know, in a free nation).

There really is only one thing these useless leeches do.

Can you guess it?

Yes, that’s right, they tax that.

They tax the gold medal that someone else earned. They tax the car or tablet that someone else built. They tax the profits made off the site or program that someone else coded.

And they hope all along that nobody remembers or discovers an important truth—that they tax this and that and everything else without a shred of morality on their side and in exact opposition to the founding principles of America.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to one conclusion about all this.

It’s time we fixed that.