October 30, 2014

Review: ‘Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy’

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 Share on Tumblr Leo Strauss was undoubtedly one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century. He wrote on a variety of subjects, often providing original and controversial interpretations of philosophers such as Maimonides and John Locke. His writings are often quite subtle, even rarefied, though his concerns (at least some of them) are earthly (though not earthy). In Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy, the Zuckerts, both professors of political science at the University of Notre Dame, have written a wide-ranging, deep, and very insightful overview of Strauss’s thought. Particularly thought-provoking is their emphasis on Strauss as …continue reading

Review: ‘Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy’

leostrauss

 Share on Tumblr Leo Strauss was undoubtedly one of the most important political philosophers of the twentieth century. He wrote on a variety of subjects, often providing original and controversial interpretations of philosophers such as Maimonides and John Locke. His writings are often quite subtle, even rarefied, though his concerns (at least some of them) are earthly (though not earthy). In Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy, the Zuckerts, both professors of political science at the University of Notre Dame, have written a wide-ranging, deep, and very insightful overview of Strauss’s thought. Particularly thought-provoking is their emphasis on Strauss as …continue reading

NBC Commits to Full Season of ‘Mysteries of Laura, CBS Affirms Four Series

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 Share on TumblrNBC-TV has given a full-season order for new mystery series The Mysteries of Laura. After a rather weak pilot episode, the show has delivered consistently good stories with engaging characters (especially Debra Messing’s eponymous protagonist) and interesting subject matter. Recent episodes delved into the art world, the “sharing economy,” and high fashion, with the latter episode providing some timely thoughts about intellectual property. Featuring Messing as a smart and sardonic homicide detective with a chaotic family life, The Mysteries of Laura creates an impression similar to that of ABC’s Castle, although visually it is not as dark as the latter, which …continue reading

Morse’s ‘Songs from November’ Is Classic Classic Rock

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 Share on TumblrNeal Morse is one of the most important figures in progressive rock, even though he didn’t begin recording in the genre until two decades after it reached its peak. As the co-founder, lead singer, main songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist with Spock’s Beard, Morse helped set in motion the revival of progressive rock in the early ’90s, which is still going strong today. Morse is doing just as well today, if not better. His gift at composing complex, lengthy, highly melodic songs with provocative lyrics has never left him in the years since he left Spock’s Beard in 2003. Since then, …continue reading

The Greatness of Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce

 Share on TumblrJack Bruce, best known as the bass guitarist, songwriter, and lead singer for the rock super-group Cream, has died of liver disease at the age of 71. Beginning in the mid-’60s, Cream was one of the greatest influences in rock history, making the “power trio” (guitar, bass, drums) a staple of the blues-rock and hard rock genres. Cream guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker were widely acknowledged as among the very top of their profession, but Bruce didn’t initially receive quite the same level of approbation, even though his bass guitar playing and his dramatic, expressive, but tasteful vocals were certainly …continue reading

Ax Falls on ‘Manhattan Love Story'; Will Anyone Notice?

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 Share on TumblrThe first domino has fallen: after plumbing horrifying MSNBC levels of ratings disaster, Manhattan Love Story is no more. ABC has canceled the Tuesday night comedy series, four weeks after its debut. The show’s episode for this week had a rating of 0.7 among adults 18-49 (live+same day), meaning seven-tenths of 1 percent of the nation’s 18-49-year-old TV watchers were tuning in. That .7 rating seems to be the cutoff line for network TV series at present, a far cry from the networks’ glory days. The lead-in to Manhattan Love Story, Selfie, is still about 50 percent above that disaster level, at 1.1 this week, so …continue reading

The World-Changing Possibilities of Apple Pay and Other Electronic Payment Options

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 Share on TumblrAdvances in information technology have not only transformed the media and the nation’s culture but also our commercial sector. And just as recent events indicate that even more change is on the way in media delivery, other recent events indicate that the financial transactions sector, including banking, is about to undergo similarly foundation-shaking changes. Writing at TechPolicyDaily, Bret Swanson argues that Apple Pay may prove to be “a much bigger phenomenon than mobile sandwich purchases.” The large user base for Apple devices means that Apple Pay can potentially be used for a much wider variety of transactions than just …continue reading

New Book Documents the Reality of Family Fragmentation: It is a Problem

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 Share on TumblrJonathan Last at The Weekly Standard has a review of a new book about the breakdown of the family.The first couple of paragraphs tell how skewed moral values have become in America: You can tell a lot about a society by its taboos. Several weeks ago, America reeled when Adrian Peterson—the great NFL running back of his generation—was indicted on charges of “reckless or negligent injury to a child.” Peterson is alleged to have disciplined his son by “whooping” him—these are Peterson’s words, not mine—with a “switch.” The child, a 4-year-old boy, suffered cuts on his backside and …continue reading

New CBS Streaming Service Reflects Rapidly Changing TV Market

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 Share on TumblrHot on the heels of the announcement of a new streaming service from cable channel HBO (reported here last week), broadcast TV giant CBS has begun a standalone streaming service to deliver CBS programming. The service does not distribute CBS’s broadcast feed through the service, instead offering shows from the network’s extensive programming library, including full seasons of current daytime and primetime programs. Current primetime shows will not be made available until the day after they air on the broadcast network. The network’s sports programming remains tied to broadcast and cable/satellite delivery as well. Those concessions will allow the network’s local broadcast affiliates and cable …continue reading

The Amazing Badness of ‘Scorpion’

These actors in episode 4 of 'Scorpion' seem as shocked as we are at its ridiculous story elements

 Share on TumblrThe new CBS-TV crime-drama series Scorpion is a clear attempt to refresh the cop show genre. Unfortunately, that laudable intention conflicts with the showmakers’ choice to play it safe by exaggerating aspects of the genre that conflict with the show’s premise. The premise is somewhat promising: a team of genius works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in solving complex problems involving high-tech threats. You may see a problem already: the “team of brilliant eccentrics fighting crime” is a staple of crime fiction since at least the inception of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and can be seen in …continue reading

Review: Simenon Adaptation Sustains Mystery in ‘La chambre bleue’ (‘The Blue Room’)

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 Share on TumblrThe new film The Blue Room is based on a Georges Simenon detective story (which I have not read), though his chief detective, Jules Maigret, makes no appearance. Julien Gahyde (Mathieu Amalric, who  is also director and co-scenarist), a married man with a young daughter, has an affair with Esther Despierre (Stephanie Cleau), the wife of a fairly well-to-do pharmacist.  Both their spouses wind up dead, Delphine Gahyde (Lea Drucker) was definitely poisoned, and the pharmacist (Olivier Mauvezin) possibly so. Hence there are two questions: whether the pharmacist was poisoned, and who was responsible for each poisoning, if there were …continue reading

‘Gracepoint’ a Worthy Remake of Ambitious British TV Crime Drama Series

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 Share on TumblrMy attitude toward genre fiction is that it’s best when the creator is satisfied to make genre fiction and doesn’t try to “transcend the genre.” In my experience, works that “transcend the genre” typically make a hash of the genre and substitute literary pretensions for authorial competence. The right approach, in my view, is for the author to respect the requirements of the genre while suffusing the narratives any wisdom, insight, and compassion he or she may possess. The latter, moreover, must be done naturally as the story requires, not by forcing one’s presumed brilliance upon the reader. Those …continue reading

A Book for October: Ellery Queen’s ‘The Egyptian Cross Mystery’

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 Share on TumblrOctober is, of course, a good month to read horror fiction, given the obvious connection to Halloween and all the obsession with death and violence associated with that holiday, which has become a season in our culture such that it rivals Christmas in its cultural impact. As I noted earlier this month, this month is a good time to familiarize or re-familiarize oneself with the superb, innovative gothic writings of Edgar Allan Poe, who truly can be said to have invented the modern gothic horror genre. Poe was also a master of, and really the inventor of, the …continue reading

City of Houston to Pastors: Your Views are No Longer Allowed

 Share on TumblrYesterday when I turned on my computer I saw this headline on Drudge:  “City subpoenas church pastors for sermons dealing with homosexuality…”  And much to my surprise this city is in the deep red state of Texas. Here is another piece I found on the situation. The city of Houston passed an equal rights ordinance, and local pastors opposed the law and conservative Christian activists sued the city.  In response: The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly …continue reading

HBO Streaming Announcement Is Good News for All Entertainment Consumers, Not Just HBO Watchers

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 Share on TumblrActing on plans reported here a month ago, entertainment channel HBO has decided to end its thirty-plus-year dependence on cable and satellite distributors, announcing it will offer an online streaming video service beginning next year. Following a trail blazed by Netflix, Amazon.com, Acorn Media, and others, HBO will offer the service without a cable subscription in an effort to reach the ten-million-plus broadband-only homes, a category that is increasing steadily. In his announcement, HBO chairman and CEO Richard Piepler said that the company had not yet decided what distribution method to use: partnering with a cable or Internet …continue reading

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