Monday, February 29, 2016

Odd that he hasn't followed through. Negligence here could hurt him.

Several of the nearly two-dozen veterans charitable organizations that were promised donations by Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump have yet to receive any money nearly a month after Trump first made the pledge, the FOX Business Network has learned.

Trump made the pledge at a January 28 press conference after he announced he was not attending a debate sponsored by the Fox News Channel, the sister network of FOX Business. Trump said he had received pledges to raise $6 million for 22 charities focused on veterans, including $1 million of his own money.

“Our Veterans have been treated like third-class citizens and it is my great honor to support them with this $1 million dollar contribution – they are truly incredible people. We are going to strengthen our military, take care of our Vets and Make America Great Again,” Trump said in a press release at the time.

But nearly a month after Trump made the pledge, at least three, and possibly more, of the 22 charities haven’t received any money yet, according to interviews conducted by FOX Business. Meanwhile, seven of the 22 charities told FOX Business they have received checks totaling $650,000, while the remaining organizations either declined to say whether or not they received the money or didn’t return repeated calls for comment.

“Mr. Trump personally contributed $1 million dollars to the cause and raised an additional $5 million before the one-hour event concluded, totaling more than $6 million dollars,” the press release added. “The night benefited twenty-two different organizations, a number of which are Iowa based Veterans groups. Mr. Trump has been a major supporter of Veterans organizations throughout his life and has made strengthening our military, reforming the VA and taking care of our great Veterans cornerstones of his campaign.”

I lack an appreciation for the visual arts—it's one of my many failings—but I always like reading Theodore Dalrymple on the subject.
Neat: "An Easy Fix for Vertigo." Via Instapundit.

Great.

The Internal Revenue Service said Friday that more than twice as many taxpayer accounts may have been hit by cybercriminals than the agency previously reported, with hackers gaining access to as many as 700,000 accounts and attempting to break into an additional 575,000.

Chris Rock's monologue was nasty, not insightful. And Ed Driscoll missed a key word: Rock called Hollywood liberals "the nicest white people on Earth."

What led to Trump's rise: the GOP establishment's "almost-religious attachment to open immigration."

Sunday, February 28, 2016

A form of insanity:

German chancellor Angela Merkel said she had no “Plan B” for solving the refugee crisis, and insisted there was nothing that would make her change course — despite growing popular anger in Germany at her government’s handling of the issue.

Speaking on a talkshow on Germany’s ARD TV channel, Ms Merkel said she could “understand” a recent poll which showed 81 per cent believed her government had lost control of the migrant crisis. But she rejected the proposal backed by many in Germany to introduce an upper limit on migration. There was no point, she said, in making a promise she couldn’t keep.

Another terrible story: "Nigerian women and girls, forced into marriages with Boko Haram fighters, are being rejected upon returning home."
A political analyst sees Israel and Africa strengthening ties. I hope she's right.
Just an awful story. I don't know where the blame begins, but the two men who raped her daily for years . . . no punishment is harsh enough.
Thank goodness for Milo Yiannopoulos.
Great interview of Jonathan Haidt at Minding the Campus.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Hamilton soundtrack

I hoped I'd love it. Lin-Manuel Miranda is talented, and his fusion of hip-hop with Broadway is ingenious.

The trouble with Hamilton, as with most vocal music, lies in the lyrics. Here's the start to the opening number, "Alexander Hamilton" (any errors in transcription mine), with some comments.


    How does a bastard, orphan
    Son of a whore and a Scotsman
    Dropped in the middle of a forgotten
    Spot in the Caribbean by Providence

Terrific beginning (really). Then downhill.

    Impoverished, in squalor

"Impoverished" is implied by "in squalor"; one should've been cut or replaced. But "Impoverished" is a partial rhyme with "Providence," and "squalor" rhymes with soon-to-come "dollar," and Miranda tends to sacrifice precision for sound. (A good lyricist would achieve both.)

    Grow up to be a hero and a scholar
    The ten-dollar Founding Father without a father
    Got a lot farther
    By working a lot harder
    By being a lot smarter

Farther, harder, smarter. Than someone else? Than he used to be? This is empty rhyming.

    By being a self-starter

Born illegitimate, raised "in squalor," and orphaned, he "work[s] a lot harder" and becomes "a hero and a scholar"; in other words, he's a self-starter. This phrase tells us nothing we didn't know. It's there for the rhyme.

    By fourteen, they placed him

Who are "they"?

    In charge of a trading charter
    And every day while slaves
    Were being slaughtered and carted away
    Across the waves

Maybe I've placed the line breaks wrong, but as sung this passage suggests that slaves were killed and then carried across the ocean, which makes no sense. Also, given that only live slaves brought profit, why were some killed? The show never explains.

    He struggled and kept his guard up

More empty rhyming, plus a cliche ("kept his guard up").

    Inside he was longing for something to be a part of

"Inside." Where else does one long?

    The brother was ready to beg, steal, borrow or barter

More empty rhyming, with a cliche ("beg, borrow or steal") slightly rearranged.

    Then a hurricane came and devastation reigned
    Our man saw his future drip-dripping down the drain

Worst cliche yet ("down the drain").

    Put a pencil to his temple
    Connected it to his brain

Absurd image, and another empty rhyme.


You get the point. And that's just the start of the first song. I could go on (and on), but I'm bored.

Each flaw makes Hamilton the man less remarkable. If he and the people praising him aren't eloquent or witty, then how special can he be?

Whatever good moments the show contains, its core, the lyrics, are fatally weak. Overall they might have been written by a brilliantly precocious high-school student.

I post with two motives.

The theater community's ecstasy over Hamilton must dismay other listeners as it does me. I want to reassure those others that they aren't alone.

Composers with integrity must feel tempted to despair when flashy, flimsy work earns raves and awards. I want them to keep striving. We need good —genuinely good—shows.

Originally I ended this post, "I look forward to hearing whatever Lin-Manuel Miranda does next." But at the moment, given Miranda's ecstasy at Obama's commutation of terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera's sentence, I'd be fine never hearing from him again.

(Revised more than once since first published.)