The Garbage Collector's Art | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Garbage Collector’s Art
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ART NOUVEAU
Re: Christopher Orlet's A Load of Rubbish:

Christopher Orlet's editorial on junk art was spot-on. As a former art student in a contemporarily oriented school of art, I can confirm that there's an active avoidance of teaching technique even when students are begging, because contemporary artworks are little more than badly communicated statements of poorly conceived philosophy. At the end of his article, Orlet rhetorically asks if contemporary art schools teach that larger art is less likely to end up in the incinerator. You bet they do! At the end of my second semester of sculpture our teacher revealed the long-awaited secret of successful contemporary sculpture:

“Make it big. If you can't make it big, make it red. If you can't make
it red, make a lot of them.”
Sans Talbot

This is the typical reaction by the artsy crowd; if you don't agree with us you are inferior and need training. They generally stop just short of “resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.”

What they would recognize, if they weren't so busy seeing who is more stuck on themselves, is that garbage collectors are professionals in their own right. After all, by all standards who is better equipped to say what is garbage and what is not, the person who may see one can a week or the person who sees hundreds of cans a day.

I doubt that any garbage man would mistake a Rembrandt for garbage. So if they feel some art is garbage, I feel that we all should yield to their superior knowledge.
Scotty Uhrich
Glyndon, Minnesota

There are artists who see all of the silliness in the art world for what it is. For example, one of my undergraduate painting instructors would advise his students when assessing a work of art to ask the question, “Is it art? Or is it Art News?” (Art News being the slick glossy monthly that was the vehicle for establishing one's avant garde creds.) Another professor of a friend used to say “If you can't make it good, make it big. If you can't make it big, make it red.” This proves that at least someone within the art world sees things as they are and can make fun of them.
Darrell Judd

I must protest Mr. Orlet's insinuation that “Twain,” the rusted metal sculpture in downtown St. Louis, is a useless pile of rubbish. On the contrary, I have noticed it is very useful as a place for vagrants to defecate, and as overflow urinal during the St. Patrick's Day Parade. We would have a serious restroom crisis in downtown St. Louis without it.

Truly, the “critics” who utilize this great piece of work do not know much about art, but they know what they like!
Timothy Birdnow
St. Louis, Missouri

Speaking of performance art:

“At the San Francisco Art Institute (a graduate school) Professor Tony Labat told his students to create a piece of performance art. One of the students, Jonathan Yegge, took 'performance art' at its broadest definition. After finding a volunteer, Yegge took his helper out to a public campus area. In Yegge's words, the following ensued: 'He was tied up. He had a blindfold and a gag, but he could see and talk through it. He had freedom of movement of his pelvis. I engaged in oral sex with him and he engaged in oral sex with me. I had given him an enema…There was a security guard present. There was an instructor from the school present. It was videoed, and the piece was over.' Labat, the professor, said that the piece was 'bad art [1].' Yegge claimed that Labat had approved the piece beforehand. The school condemned Yegge — for not using sexual protection! Having mutual gay oral sex and exchanging excrement in public isn't a problem, but doing it unprotected is.” Ben Shapiro, Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth.

Note: [1] “Bad” art, but art nevertheless.
Gordon Paravano
Sedona, Arizona

The mayor got the solution backwards. Trash is trash, even in the eyes of the beholder. The artist should have been sent to trash school.

Come to think of it, the mayor should have accompanied the artist.
Leonard Goodman

SUFFERING EQUALITY
Re: George Neumayr's Socializing Summers:

I think Harvard President Lawrence Summers should take a page from Vice President of The United States of America Richard “Dick” Cheney's book. He should stare down his critics, and say “I am certain that there are innate differences between men and women. You believe differently. Therefore, to prove your hypothesis, please go f*** yourself.”

This tactic would probably throw gasoline on the fire. But it would be nice to kick these ideologues in the just for once.
James N. Ward
Paris, France

I am not one of those who demands that women be treated exactly like men; however, I am very tired of hearing that all women are hardwired to be mommies.

Anyone who has spent much time doing volunteer work among the hardcore welfare families, in settlement houses or shelters, is all too aware that not only is there no Mommie Gene, but that true ability to properly mother children, as seen on TV, is a gift and a talent, not a basic ability. The vast majority of women have no more ability to “mother” children than they have to tap dance. In fact, one of the first things we have to do is teach these hopelessly inept women that the fact they don't even know how to play with their babies is not due to a personal defect in their brains, but is due to the fact that they lack the gift and talent of “mothering” by instinct. Once they are able to let out their breath in relief, they are usually willing to learn how to “mother.” And the same goes for the men who have to be taught how to “father” — it is not something that is hard-wired into little boys the way hitting each other with sticks or shouting “Bang bang you're dead!” is. However, society seems to be more accepting of the fact that boys have to be taught how to be fathers, than it is of the necessity to teach girls how to be mothers.

And there's one more thing. Most women who want to learn to tap dance can be taught how to do it well enough for their own enjoyment and even to win the occasional Talent Night at the Rotary Club. But nobody expects every woman to be a professional quality tap dancer. In the same way, every woman who wants to learn can be taught to be a competent mother; but most will not be June Cleaver or Caroline Ingalls, or even the idolized Mommy of men such as Mr. Neumayr. When we stop expecting the impossible, we will begin to get women to achieve the kind of mothering skills that will raise the boats for all.
Kate Shaw

Regarding George Neumayr's argument about Liberalism's definition of “equality,” George states that in liberal thought, “equality” means sameness, even amongst things that are obviously not the same. He specifically applies this thesis to the area of sex differences; that is, the equality of men and women.

It's an interesting area of philosophical thought, and with a nod to George's later comparison of Ideology to Philosophy. I'd like to propose that “equality” does not always mean being equal. “It all depends on what your definition of [equal] is.”

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, “equality” is a noun defined as: “The state or quality of being equal.” Moving thence to “equal” we find that “equal” is, inter alia, an adjective defined as: “Having the same quantity, measure, or value as another.” We see present day examples in liberalism as “Equal pay for equal work,” and “Equal before the law,” and perhaps the biggest canard of them all, “equal opportunity.” Perhaps more germane to the subject here is: “Having the same privileges, status, or rights.”

“Equal” as a noun usually requires a modifying phrase to make clear what is meant, such as: “These two models are equals in computing power.” And finally, as a verb transitive, “equal” means “to do, make, or produce something equal to.”

That said, the problem we face here isn't so much in definition as it is in usage. Liberals use “equality” in an absolute sense, as they do with so many other concepts. (There isn't much room for shades of gray in the Liberal ideology.) Thus they say that women are the equals of men. George uses the term as an absolute, positing that two quantities either are or are not equal and therefore women CANNOT be the “equals” of men. Q.E.D.

However, this is true only in mathematics. In the real world, “we often speak of the equality of things that cannot be measure quantitatively, as when we say 'The college draft was introduced in an effort to make the teams in the National Football League as equal as possible.'” Applying this to George's statement that Liberals eschew discussion of innate differences between men and women as “threaten[ing] equality”, I hold that this is merely matter of definition; that is, the definition of “differences.” For example, the “innate difference” in chromosomes in men as opposed to women has no direct application to the concept of the ability to think and learn — as far as I know. (Further research may prove me wrong here!)

At this point in time the recent years of the feminist fight against glass ceilings, limitations on abortions, pay scales, women in the Armed Services, and all the other perceived devaluations of women as humans equal to their masculine counterparts, effectively prevents any logical (philosophical) discussions of such matters. In liberal circles, especially in academia, attempts to have meaningful discussions in these areas are futile.

In closing, I'd like to hand one complement to the French: Vive la difference! Adapting a favorite expression of my father, which I have never found to be untrue: A [wo]man convinced against [her] his will is of the same opinion still. Most husbands learn this in the first year of marriage. Those who do not become ex-husbands.
Bob Johnson
Bedford, Texas

Of course the emperor's new clothes are magnificent! And if you say that they aren't, you are a dangerous reactionary. The mindset that ignores facts as obvious is the same mindset that has created “hate crime.” Killing someone may be a crime, but it is much worse if you do so for ideological reasons. You see, a victim is much deader if killed because of his skin color, sexual orientation, or religious belief. This has been going on for some years now and has permeated every aspect of society. Terrorists are freedom fighters, militants, or protesters. Where will it stop? For the folks who value how one feels over what exists in fact, it will never end. Reality put an end to eighteenth century Romanticism, however, it is reborn today. Perhaps reality will triumph again. If it does, it will do so only after re-conquering the colleges and universities.
Joseph Baum
Newton Falls, Ohio

EVIL LITE
Re: Shawn Macomber's Voltaire's Missing Brain:

M. Le Pen said that France had a relatively mild occupation by the Germans. Except for the treatment of Jews that some of the French themselves were involved in, this was for the most part true. The French were pretty much allowed to run their own towns and villages without much German interference under the Vichy regime. Shortly before, and after, the Allied invasion French resistance fighters became very active, and helped the Allied cause greatly. However during most of the war there was more damage from Allied bombing, than from the Germans. Mr. Franz Schoehhuber, a former SS man stationed in France, and attached to a French volunteer unit that was later to fight with the Germans, stated that in most of France especially in places like Brittany the people were very friendly to the Germans. Germany treated France well, because they wanted them to help with the war.

Effort, and possibly come into the war on the German side. Any person who knows anything about history is aware of this. Until the French were sure that the Allies would win the war, the resistance was not a problem of any magnitude for the Germans. Many German soldiers stationed in France during the war tell you the same thing in their memoirs.

The only part of France that was treated badly by the Germans was Alsace-Lorraine, which was annexed to Germany, and the men forced to fight in the German Army. The French didn't strongly protest this and treated these men badly when they came home. About one third of them didn't survive.

It seemed the French at the time had their fill of war in 1914-1918, but when the tide turned they got some of the bravery shown in WWI back, and resisted the Germans.

In closing — unless you were a Jew, or from Alsace Lorraine — the German occupation was for the most part not severe. True they had men sent to Germany to work in factories, But they and French war prisoners were treated much better than German prisoners of the French after WWII. If you have a real interest in that time in history you will find I am correct on this.

And so was M. Le Pen.
Frank Dollinger
Channahon, Illinois

Shawn Macomber replies:
I suppose the 92,000 French military personnel who died defending France in 1939-40 just didn't get the welcoming committee's press release about how excited the French people actually were about having their sovereignty thrown to the side, their legitimate government toppled, and a puppet government put in its place? What, did they just not understand how great it would be living under the Nazis' thumb? “M. Le Pen said that France had a relatively mild occupation by the Germans, except for the treatment of Jews.”??? The deportation and murder of the Jews alone is enough to debunk any idea that the occupation was mild, especially if you happen to be Jewish. If some power tomorrow were to occupy the city I live in and announce, “Don't worry, this will be relatively mild, except for Jews,” I might still be inclined to call it evil.

STERN PRAISE
Re: Colby Cosh's Stern in Space:

Just wanted to let you know that was a great summary of the last 6 months.

I've been very involved as first a Stern fan, second a former Clear Channel employee, and now a Sirius stockholder. In that order! I can't tell you how many times the Howard Stern show helped me appreciate life. I know sometimes it's a sunny day or a newborn child, but that's the power of Howard! Thank You! Oh yea, and go buy a Sirius satellite radio.
Pike from Pittsburgh

BRUTAL INTERROGATION
Re: Jed Babbin's We Ugly Americans:

What is your definition of torture?

How would you describe the current interrogation methods used by the American military?

How do you know the people captured in Fallujah are terrorists? Were they not locals trying to resist American occupation? And would you not do the same if a foreign force invaded America?

Does the torture or cohesive interrogation of terrorists or anyone else actually provide useful information and if so what empirical proof do you have that it does?

If yes to the above question what methods of torture are most effective to gather useful information?

What qualifications do you have regarding the interrogation of prisoners?

What were the questions that were ill-informed, legally wrong, and offensive when asked by the BBC moderator and what were your answers; or better still could you direct me to the transcript re the above interview?

How many terrorists are currently held by the USA and how many have been charged with actual crimes?

If a member of your family was accused by a third party as being a terrorist and they were picked up and held in detention, sexually humiliated and photographed would you think that it was OK?

How do we insure that the people we are interrogating are actually terrorists and not just named by other people who have been tortured into giving false information to avoid further interrogation?

Should we not give more thought about this whole interrogation thing and think about less violent ways of extracting the correct information from people?

Are there any type of drugs that could make people tell the truth?

If not could these types of drugs be developed?

Just a few questions from someone who enjoyed your opinion.
Justin Obodie

Jed Babbin replies:
Mr. Obodie: I know, from many sources, that our interrogation methods are legal, and my definition of torture is codified in U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions (with reference to the international Convention Against Torture, but not Protocol 1 which the U.S. has never signed). We aren't torturing prisoners, and those who abuse prisoners are being punished. Torture — as I have written and said many times on radio and television — is abhorrent and in fact doesn't work. People will say anything to end the pain, and the information you can extract with torture is terribly unreliable. Just what right do you have to equate what we are doing — in any way, shape, manner or form — to torture? Why don't you – and so many like you – take any time to publicly condemn the horrific actions of the terrorists? It is, I'm sure, because you fear them and don't fear us. That, in case you missed it, proves my point.

Your information and assumptions are entirely uninformed. And please don't tell me that the terrorists we are taking in Fallujah and elsewhere are just innocent bystanders. They aren't resisting an occupation, they're fighting for the power to assert their illegitimate power over others. Many thanks for your note.

NICKLING UNDER
Re: Lawrence Henry's The Mystery of the Vanishing Nickel:

I know where 3.6 million nickels went. But generally I suspect nickels are all wrong in weight and value, and that this makes people shun them.

One nickel is twice the weight but five times the value of a penny, so the nickel is not heavy enough to indicate its value relative to the penny, but the nickel is larger than, and more than twice the weight of, the dime, so it is wrong there, too.

You cannot, however, fix this by making a nickel that is smaller than, and half the weight of, the dime without making the nickel too hard to handle. (We have little coins like that in Poland, where I'm writing from, and they are very nearly useless.)

The U.S. treasury probably should revamp its coins: no penny, then a series of coins (5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 cents) that increase in weight and size accordingly.

But before that happens, coins probably will be eliminated in favor of electronic money: one card carries all your pocket money, replenished almost anywhere via a link to your account. I just hope they make the electronic money anonymous, at least up to a certain limit. You don't need to wear a tinfoil hat to be worried about government departments (health insurance, security, etc.) and maybe even employers easily tracking, person by person, product by product, location by location, how and where people spend every electro-cent they earn.
Malcolm Davidson
Gdansk, Poland

FEAR AND LOATHERS
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's Loathing Is Not Enough:

In regards to Ralph Reiland's article: the Democrats still don't get it. The attached quote from Reiland's article summarizes it completely:

“Probably the best election postmortem for Democrats was provided by Andrei Cherny, a former speechwriter for John Kerry. “What we don't have and what we sorely need,” Cherny said, is “a worldview that makes a thematic argument about where America is headed and where we want to take it.”

The biggest problem Democrats have is their hatred of many things American. The constant carping by Democrats of America's power, consumption, economy, and our freedoms. Especially when our freedoms include disagreeing with democrats! Add to that the constant refrain that the Constitution is a “living document” to be interpreted by situational ethics, or with deference to international law.

These are just a few of the things that are prevalent in the Democrat party's philosophy and the beliefs of the candidates they nominate for elective office. Even if Democrats are looked at with only “one eye open,” one can easily add to this list.
P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan

Unfortunately Dems won't read this. It is an outrage what Steppling stated about Reagan. Had this been a Republican there would have been outrage for weeks!
unsigned

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