Our own BK Marcus is in the Freeman again today, with a post on the latest wave of great TV shows.
As he explains,
TV dramas now are cinematic in their production values, carefully edited, and serial in their narrative structure. In the first golden age, mistakes by the actors and mishaps in staging went out live to the TV audience—and the best remembered dramas were complete, single-episode stories, written and directed as stage plays for the camera.
Perhaps most significantly, the shows that stand out today—Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Breaking Bad, and Spacey’s own House of Cards—are produced for cable networks, premium channels, and private subscription services, where advertising is minimal or altogether absent.
In contrast, the era that first became known as the Golden Age of Television was arguably pure advertising: sponsors not only attached their names to the TV shows they sponsored—Kraft Television Theater, Goodyear TV Playhouse, The US Steel Hour—they developed shows, produced them, and paid the networks to put them on the air.
What really makes great TV? Read BK’s complete article to find out.
Hedwig Kiesler (Hedy Lamarr), Ekstase (1933
Over at the Foundation for Economic Education, BK Marcus has a neat piece up about a beautiful actress, an inventor of torpedo technology, and a misguided idealist — and they’re all the same person: Hedy Lamarr.
His article begins
Hedy stands naked in a field. She looks off-camera in dismay as her horse gallops away with the clothes she had draped over its back so she could take a dip in a woodland pond.
She is not called Lamarr yet. That name will come later, in Hollywood. For now she is still Hedwig Kiesler, a Viennese teenager in Prague, playing her first starring role in a feature film, Ekstase (“Ecstasy,” 1933). The controversial Czechoslovakian film will become famous for Hedy’s nude scenes and its sex scenes (which show only her face, in close-up, in the throes of passion).
The film will give Hedy her first taste of fame. She will be known as the Ecstasy girl. An Austrian director will tell the press, “Hedy Kiesler is the most beautiful girl in the world.” Later, MGM movie mogul Louis B. Mayer will repeat the claim, using the name he insisted she change to: Hedy Lamarr.
But while the world of her time will remember her for her photogenic beauty, history will remember her as the inventor of frequency hopping, the foundational technology of today’s mobile phones and wireless Internet.
How a Hollywood starlet invented the means of secure wireless data transfer is fascinating, and there are thorough accounts of the story in recent books and television shows. What is less thoroughly addressed is why an invention from World War II didn’t see widespread use until the turn of the century.
Read the full story at FEE.org.
BK Marcus writes in the Freeman on the statue that inspired the protests in Tiananmen Square. She looked like the Statue of Liberty, but the protestors called her the Goddess of Democracy …
To American eyes, she looked like a Chinese version of the Statue of Liberty, her torch of freedom held aloft over Tiananmen’s huddled masses. The art students who had quickly assembled the foam statue over a bamboo scaffolding had deliberately avoided creating something that seemed “too openly pro-American”—even basing the style on the Cold War art of the Soviet socialist realists—but even with her Chinese features and a two-handed grip on the torch, the comparison with Lady Liberty was unavoidable.
But while the statue in New York Harbor represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, the protestors in Tiananmen Square were worshipping a different deity. They called their statue the Goddess of Democracy.
The tanks rolled in and crushed the goddess beneath their treads, but her symbolic power remains, and her likeness now appears in the form of commemorative statues throughout the world.
The authoritarian state may have won the battle, but the war for freedom lasts longer than our history textbooks would have us believe.
To read more about liberty, democracy, and the mismatch between them, see the complete article over at FEE.org.
Thomas DiLorenzo writes today in LewRockwell.com about an “important new, must-read book,” a “great work of scholarship,” which will help Americans to wean themselves off the propaganda from “politically-correct, heavily state-censored textbooks or movies made by communistic-minded Hollywood hedonists.”
What is this book that brings such high praise?
Why, it’s Lincoln Uncensored of course, by Joseph E. Fallon. (Buy it now, complete with a new preface by Jeffrey Tucker, on Amazon.com.)
Here’s more of what DiLorenzo has to say about it:
I was taught in public elementary school in Pennsylvania that Abe was so honest that he once walked six miles to return a penny to a merchant who undercharged him (and six miles back home). He was supposedly so tendered hearted that he cried after witnessing the death of a turkey. He suffered in silence his entire life after witnessing slavery as a teenager.…
The real Lincoln was a dictator and a tyrant who shredded the Constitution, fiendishly orchestrated the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens, and did it all for the economic benefit of the special interests who funded the Republican Party (and his own political career). But don’t take Joseph Fallon’s or Thomas DiLorenzo’s word for it. Read the words of Abe Lincoln himself. That is what Fallon allows everyone to do in his great work of scholarship, Lincoln Uncensored.
We’re prouder than ever to be the producers of Joseph Fallon’s great ebook. Buy it now.
Filed under Ebooks, History
In BK Marcus’s latest Freeman article, he takes on the development of that mawkish, pedantic habit of old TV comedies: the laugh track. Is capitalism really responsible for canned laughter?
Dartmouth College Psychology professor Bill Kelley studies the brain’s response to humor. He explains, “We’re much more likely to laugh at something funny in the presence of other people. Hearing others laugh—even if it’s prerecorded—can encourage us to chuckle and enjoy ourselves more.”
If capitalism is mass production for the masses, then perhaps the laugh-track-loving executives at the networks were just giving the people what they wanted. Maybe the critics are just snobs, blaming the market for the facts of supply and demand.
Greater competition in the pursuit of profit, however, has now actually pushed canned laughter into full retreat. The studio system that allowed the laugh track to dominate television had its roots in patterns of government intervention laid down before television even came about.
Read the whole thing in the Freeman online.
BK Marcus is up in the Freeman this morning, explaining why it’s so hard to get weak weed these days.
Check out “Why Rhett Butler’s Weed is So Strong.”
Prohibition has driven the development of ever-stronger drugs, where a free market would see a proliferation of lighter options.
Although we love Chicago Style, just following it slavishly on every detail can produce some ugly results in your digital text.
In general, style guides are stuck in the print era. We have to adapt them for the realities of digital text in general and ebooks in particular. This need to adapt is most obvious in how Chicago treats two commonly overlooked characters: the ellipsis (…) and the em dash (—).
On the anniversary of the shooting of Abraham Lincoln, BK Marcus muses on the assassins of Caesar and their place at the very bottom of Dante’s Inferno:
If a modern Dante — someone with the same religious and political beliefs, but with an updated knowledge of history — were to write the Inferno today, he would replace Cassius in satanic mouth #3 with John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot Abraham Lincoln 148 years ago today, April 14, 1865.
Lincoln may not have shared Dante’s faith, but he knew how to use the rhetoric of the Bible to stoke the fervor of 19th-century Christian pietists; and after his assassination, the pietists returned the favor by enshrining Father Abraham in the language of Christian martyrdom.
As John Wilkes Booth shot the Union’s president, he shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis!” — thus always to tyrants, a phrase attributed to Brutus as he stabbed the dying Caesar. It’s also the state motto of Virginia, where I live.
Today’s civic religion requires us to canonize Lincoln, to see his life as a crusade for ever-greater freedom and his violent death as the American equivalent of crucifixion.
One of the many things we’ve lost track of in this sanctioned interpretation is an understanding of the tradition that produced John Wilkes Booth. We are only allowed to perceive the evil of chattel slavery at the center of the Civil War; we are censured if we ever emphasize an older historical struggle between liberty and power.
But the liberals of that era did see that there was more than one liberal principle at stake and that not all the angels aligned themselves with only one side in that bloody struggle.
We don’t have to support political violence (or any violence) to recognize that the same ideological tradition that informed Booth’s name, his most famous words, and his most infamous act is the same tradition that produced Western liberalism and the American Revolution. Sic semper…
For the real story of the tyrant himself, in his own words, check out Joseph Fallon’s ebook Lincoln Uncensored.
Filed under Ebooks, History
The Future of Freedom Foundation’s most popular book of all time, the award-winning, best-selling, myth-smashing book Separating School and State is now up for sale as a beautiful, convenient ebook. It’s ready to read on your iPad, your Kindle, or even your desktop.
Here’s what FFF’s Jacob Hornberger had to say:
We recently converted FFF’s book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families by Sheldon Richman into eBook format. It is available for ordering here in Kindle, iTunes, and Nook. This is a great book! It is FFF’s all-time best-seller. I can’t recommend it too highly.…
It would be difficult to find a better example of a socialistic program than public schooling. The state gets its “customers” through mandate. If parents don’t subject their children to the system, the parents are fined or jailed. If they remain recalcitrant, the state takes away their children. The curriculum is set by the state. The schoolteachers are government employees. The system is funded by taxation.
The results, as most everyone realizes, are abysmal.
At Invisible Order, we’re prouder than a whole pride of lions to be a part of FFF’s new digital releases. The epublishing revolution sets great books flying free — and makes it easier every day to break out of the state’s program of educational imprisonment.
Tom Woods writes about a documentary he tried to watch, but had to turn off after it opened with a fake quote (what we here at Invisible Order call a zombie quote) from Benjamin Franklin and a fake quote from Rothschild.
Here’s the supposed Franklin line:
The refusal of King George the Third to allow the colonies to operate an honest money system which freed the ordinary man from the clutches of the money manipulators was probably the prime cause of the revolution.
It sounds great! The quote says exactly what you want it to say (if you’re the conspiracy theorist making a documentary entitled All Wars Are Bankers’ Wars) and it even uses modern phrasing: “An honest money system,” and “money manipulators.”