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July 2014
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September 2014

Bourdain on Butter

From Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential:

Butter. I don’t care what they tell you they’re putting or not putting in your food at your favorite
restaurant, chances are, you’re eating a ton of butter. In a professional kitchen, it’s almost
always the first and last thing in the pan. We sauté in a mixture of butter and oil for that nice
brown, caramelized color, and we finish nearly every sauce with it (we call this monter au
beurre); that’s why my sauce tastes richer and creamier and mellower than yours, why it’s got
that nice, thick, opaque consistency. Believe me, there’s a big crock of softened butter on
almost every cook’s station, and it’s getting a heavy workout. Margarine? That’s not food. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter? I can. If you’re planning on using margarine in anything, you can stop reading now, because I won’t be able to help you.


Sprechstimme is Caucasian Rap

Johannah King-Sluztky, citing Schoenberg and Weill, sort of argues that Sprechstimme is white people rap:

Rap-talk-singing is as white as it gets, but it doesn't have to ironize or foil blackness. White people rap-talk-singing pre-dates hip hop by seventy years, with roots in German opera and melodrama. The proper name for rap-talk-singing is sprechstimme, sometimes used interchangeably with sprechgesang, the latter of which is a little more melodic.


German Beatles? Nö, German Beefheart

The BBC has a short piece on Faust, who were supposed to be the German Beatles but turned into something more rich and strange:

However, a second stroke of fortune befell them when Richard Branson, young head of the fledgling Virgin Record label, decided he wanted a piece of the Krautrock action,signed up Faustand brought them to the UK. He released an album of their outtakes, The Faust Tapes, for the price of a single, in 1973 – its low price and (to ‘70s British rock fans) difficult content made it one of the most bought but least listened-to cult rock albums of the year.

The few who did get Faust, however, were highly influential – BBC radio DJ John Peel, critics like NME’s Ian MacDonald, future band members like Bill Drummond, Ian McCulloch, Julian Cope and Jim Kerr, all of whom found in Faust post-punk ideas before punk had ever happened. They had seen nothing like them, or their neo-Dadaist live act, which involved sofas, a pinball machine, power tools, TV sets and walls of tin cans.

Faust, however, hated English food, English studios and Branson himself – though today, an older and wiser Péron believes they behaved unreasonably towards him. Inevitably, Virgin dropped Faust. They disappeared in the 1980s altogether – one of their members, Rudolf Sosna (described by Péron as the “true genius” of the band) sadly died. However, in the 1990s, they re-emerged, finding appreciation and understanding from rock audiences schooled in Faust’s successors, such as the 80s German group Einstürzende Neubauten. Faust’s onstage arsenal was as bizarrely formidable as ever, including angle grinders and even a cement mixer.


More Great News About How Much Safer Our World Is

Here in the West, we are all benefiting from an unprecedented, steady drop in many kinds of social dysfunction, including crime and teen pregnancy. And it's likely to continue. The explanation, I'm increasingly convinced, is the fact that the West outlawed lead in gasoline in the early 1970s. Kevin Drum, who's been on this beat for a while, points to a new study finding a strong correlation between lead reduction and drops in teen pregnancy. For those new to this debate, it turns out that exposure to lead in early childhood permanently damages the brain in ways associated with impulsive conduct in later life. So if lead levels go down, we would expect a drop in impulsive behavior with about a 15-18 year lag. And that's just what we see, in many different areas, right now:  

The neurological basis for the lead-crime theory suggests that childhood lead exposure affects parts of the brain that have to do with judgment, impulse control, and executive functions. This means that lead exposure is likely to be associated not just with violent crime, but with juvenile misbehavior, drug use, teen pregnancy, and other risky behaviors. And that turns out to be the case. Reyes finds correlations with behavioral problems starting at a young age; teen pregnancy; and violent crime rates among older children.

It's a funny thing. For years conservatives bemoaned the problem of risky and violent behavior among children and teens of the post-60s era, mostly blaming it on the breakdown of the family and a general decline in discipline. Liberals tended to take this less seriously, and in any case mostly blamed it on societal problems. In the end, though, it turned out that conservatives were right. It wasn't just a bunch of oldsters complaining about the kids these days. Crime was up, drug use was up, and teen pregnancy was up. It was a genuine phenomenon and a genuine problem.

But liberals were right that it wasn't related to the disintegration of the family or lower rates of churchgoing or any of that. After all, families didn't suddenly start getting back together in the 90s and churchgoing didn't suddenly rise. But teenage crime, drug use, and pregnancy rates all went down. And down. And down.

Most likely, there was a real problem, but it was a problem no one had a clue about. We were poisoning our children with a well-known neurotoxin, and this toxin lowered their IQs, made them into fidgety kids, wrecked their educations, and then turned them into juvenile delinquents, teen mothers, and violent criminals. When we got rid of the toxin, all of these problems magically started to decline.

This doesn't mean that lead was 100 percent of the problem. There probably were other things going on too, and we can continue to argue about them. But the volume of the argument really ought to be lowered a lot. 

Obviously, correlation does not itself prove causation, etc. etc. But every time the lead-crime hypothesis has been tested, as far as I'm aware, the results have suggested a link. So, our societies are getting safer and safer, all due to a wise environmental policy decision we made 40 years ago (in the U.S., under President Richard Nixon!). Which, at the time, was of course fought tooth and nail by our friends, corporate lobbyists.

Can anyone point me to German studies on this? I'd really be interested to see whether a similar argument can be made here.


Hollywood Upstairs Law College

Ahh, America, land of few regulations, especially in Alaska:

Alaska’s first in-state law school will open March 2015, according to the not-always-reliable Internet.

But ask an array of state agencies and one of the institution’s alleged staff members about the “Alaska Law School, In God We Trust” and the reality of what’s promised on thealaskalawschool.com grows less certain.

...

The at-times kooky website, riddled with spelling and factual errors, asks for an $85 fee to apply to the law school. It’s looking to raise $185 million from individual donors, though the linked PayPal account displayed an error message Wednesday pointing to a problem with the account holder’s email address. 

Despite its flaws, the website does intricately explain the law school’s staffing, tuition rates and academic offerings, from a Juris Doctor program that costs $43,000 a year for in-state students to certificates in criminal justice and public safety that cost about $1,500 a year. The website says the school will kick off what it’s calling the “Michaelmas Term” on March 3. It has already handed itself the honor of “the first law school in the history of our great state,” according to the website.

Many would argue that certain existing American law schools have turned into little more than tuition-milking scams, but this might be the first school to actually start that way -- the legal equivalent of Hollywood Upstairs Medical College.

In any case, you know your law school's in trouble when newspaper articles describe 'alleged staff members'. Plus, where did they come up with 'Michaelmas Term'? Did they cut and paste it from a Dickens novel?

Let's wait and see. This should be fun!


Trivia Contest: Who Is This Bruised, Sweaty Babe from the Trash?

Yesterday out biking, I came across this oddly charismatic pile of junk on the Hermann-Harry-Schmitz (g) Straße:

DSC_0016

A pack of thin womens' smokes, a few stuffed animals, a record, and a picture. Let's have a closer look at that picture:

DSC_0015

At first glance, it looks like something from Internet K-Hole: claws-out catfight at the rave, but somebody's still ready to par-tay! 

Alas, that's not it. Your mission is to identify the woman in this picture, which will necessarily explain the context. 

As a bonus, a closer look at the album:  

DSC_0017

Apparently it celebrates the Hosen der Liebe: The Pants of Love. Although I could be wrong about that.

UPDATE: All the guesses were correct, but the prize goes to the first correct guesser, Dr. Wood! A handsome commemorative plaque -- suitable for framing! -- is heading your way, sir.


Freude, Zucht, Glaube in the USA

As a proud owner of a copy of the official National Socialist guide to summer camping (Freude, Zucht, Glaube -- Joy, Discipline, Faith), I was intrigued by this film, recently restored by the National Archives of the USA:

The curator notes

I have one great party trick. Anytime someone asks me if I’ve ever come across something really cool while working in the Motion Picture Preservation Lab, I tell them about the time we had what looked like footage of a Boy Scout camp and then the Boy Scouts raised a Nazi flag along with the red, white, and blue. Without fail, I get the attention of anyone in within earshot. Then, I tell the assembled crowd that in the late 1930s the East Coast was home to many summer camps for the junior Nazis of America and the National Archives holds the film evidence. They might have been hoping that I would tell them about footage of the Roswell aliens, but the reaction to “American Nazi summer camps” is just about the same.

Volks-Deutsche Jungen in U.S.A. (German Youth in the U.S.A) you’ll see what first appears to be an unremarkable story of a boys’ summer camp. The film starts with the camp under construction and excited children piling onto chartered buses to make the journey from New York City to Windham, New York in the summer of 1937. The boys pitch tents, unload crates of baked beans, and perform physical fitness drills. If you pay close attention, you might notice that some of the boys are wearing shorts bearing the single lightning bolt insignia that marked the younger contingent of the Hitler Youth, but it’s not until the “Flaggenappell” (flag roll call) at 13:47 that the affiliation becomes clear.

...

Less well-known is that the DAB also operated as somewhat of a cultural indoctrination organization for German-American children, with activities that are depicted in several of the films we hold. The summer camps, complete with the official uniforms and banners of the Hitler Youth, might be the most visual and chilling example of the DAB’s attempts to instill Nazi sympathies in German-American children. Another film, intended to encourage boys to attend the camp, includes a perhaps unintentionally ominous intertitle that translates to “German boy you also belong to us.”