That tie looks pretty covfefe to me

Last Week in Weird

I would like to buy a vowel

Like him or hate him, it surely must be agreed that Donald Trump is the most entertaining president of our times. The man has a definite flair for showmanship, and knows just how to run his mouth to drive some people into paroxysms of rage and others into paroxysms of laughter. As often as not, the president’s vehicle for his crazy-man moon ranting is his official Twitter account, which, in contravention to several hundred years of policy, he uses to broadcast to the world exactly what he may be thinking.

And sometimes he uses it to invent new words, such as the marvelous "covfefe" — as in "negative press covfefe" — that sent the internet ablaze. Most users assumed it was a typo (though a rather spectacular one), but the president himself insisted otherwise.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer insisted that, contra what absolutely everybody took to be the truth, the president knew exactly what he was saying, and said it intentionally for the benefit of a select few people. Now, at this point, you’re thinking two things. First: I’m about to bring up some crazy lunatic who has determined that "covfefe" was a secret signal to Trump’s Russian handlers. Second: that this news is two weeks old and I’m cheating.

Well ha ha to you on both counts. This is just scene dressing. The comedy twist comes a bit later, when congressman Mike Quigley of ye olde Illinoise introduces the "Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically For Engagement Act," — the COVFEFE Act, for short. Now, one could surely argue that Mike tried a bit too hard to get that acronym just right. One could similarly argue that he should have tried just a bit harder. Regardless, one is forced to conclude that Mike clearly put more effort into the acronym than he did into the bill, which, if enacted, would serve no purpose except to make it illegal for president Trump to edit or delete any of his tweets. No, that’s true.

The Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement (COVFEFE) Act, which has the same acronym as an infamous Trump Twitter typo last month, would amend the Presidential Records Act to include "social media." [scare quotes original]

Presidential records must be preserved, according to the Presidential Records Act, which would make it potentially illegal for the president to delete tweets.

"President Trump’s frequent, unfiltered use of his personal Twitter account as a means of official communication is unprecedented. If the President is going to take to social media to make sudden public policy proclamations, we must ensure that these statements are documented and preserved for future reference. Tweets are powerful, and the President must be held accountable for every post," said Quigley in a statement.

Your tax dollars et cetera.

In 1867, congress enacted the Tenure of Office Act, which (quite unconstitutionally) attempted to strip from the president the power to fire presidential appointees without congressional approval. The purpose of this act was to bait president Andrew Johnson into committing an impeachable offense — for which purpose it was quite successful. The Tenure of Office Act was positively subtle compared to this thomasfoolery.

Historical whitewashing

If you haven’t kept up on art history since your junior year when you needed an easy humanities elective, you’re missing some interesting developments. Apparently, through the use of science and/or witchcraft, art historians have been able to determine that those classical marble statues were originally painted. That’s pretty cool.

Modern technology has revealed an irrefutable, if unpopular, truth: many of the statues, reliefs, and sarcophagi created in the ancient Western world were in fact painted. Marble was a precious material for Greco-Roman artisans, but it was considered a canvas, not the finished product for sculpture. It was carefully selected and then often painted in gold, red, green, black, white, and brown, among other colors.

A number of fantastic museum shows throughout Europe and the US in recent years have addressed the issue of ancient polychromy. The Gods in Color exhibit travelled the world between 2003–15, after its initial display at the Glyptothek in Munich… In particular, the archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann, whose research informed Gods in Color, has done important work, applying various technologies and ultraviolet light to antique statues in order to analyze the minute vestiges of paint on them and then recreate polychrome versions.

That’s actually really awesome. Who knew that it would be possible to examine ancient statuary and determine what colors it used to be painted, and then make a "restored" version? I wonder what else science can teach us today!

To many, the pristine whiteness of marble statues is the expectation and thus the classical ideal. But the equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe. Where this standard came from and how it continues to influence white supremacist ideas today are often ignored.

Wait, what the hee haw?

"Color in sculpture came to mean barbarism, for they assumed that the lofty ancient Greeks were too sophisticated to color their art," Painter writes. The ties between barbarism and color, civility and whiteness would endure. Not to mention Winckelmann’s pronounced preference for sculptures of gleaming white men over women. Regardless of his own sexual identity — which may have been expressed in this preference — Winckelmann’s gender bias would go on to have an impact on white male supremacists who saw themselves as upholding an ideal.

This article is a massive ripoff! For exactly two paragraphs — right at the beginning of the piece — it’s about some really interesting developments in art history, but then it’s followed up by thirteen paragraphs of utter doublethink rubbish. Lunatic Sarah E. Bond — who is not half the suave secret agent she attempts to let on — honestly presumes to analyze the "sexual identity" and "gender bias" of a long-dead man she’s surely never met, completely disregarding the fact that those are both non-existing things, and then sneers down her nose at people who think marble statues look nice with no paint on them. It’s complete madness. And the punch line?

For example, I recently, came across Tenney Frank’s disturbing article "Race Mixture in the Roman Empire" while looking through an edited volume. First published in The American Historical Review in July 1916, the article sees Frank attempting to count extant inscriptions (mostly epitaphs) in order to gauge whether "race mixing" contributed to the decline of the Roman empire… As Denise Eileen McCoskey points out in her excellent book Race: Antiquity and Its Legacy, Frank’s argument is not only untrue, it is dangerous. It provides further ammunition for white supremacists today, including groups like Identity Europa, who use classical statuary as a symbol of white male superiority. It also continues to buttress the false construction of Western civilization as white by politicians like Steve King…

Do we make it easy for people of color who want to study the ancient world? Do they see themselves in the ancient landscape that we present to them? The dearth of people of color in modern media depicting the ancient world is a pivotal issue here. Movies and video games, in particular, perpetuate the notion that the classical world was white. This is an issue when 70% of my students tell me that games such as Ryse: Son of Rome (which uses white statues to decorate the city of Rome and white Roman soldiers as lead characters), as well as films like Gladiator (which has a man from New Zealand playing the Spaniard Maximus) and the 300 (which has xenophobic depictions of Persians) led them to take my courses.

Sarah E. Bond does not even care about the ostensible topic of her paper — you know, the one she wrote about in the introduction. That serves only as a springboard to launch into a buzzword-laden, partisan virtue signal. Her only purpose in writing this article is to let everybody know that she’s not one of those people. And, hey, if she can label what appears to be a perfectly legitimate line of enquiry "untrue" without providing the first scrap of counterargument (seriously, did race-mixing contribute to the fall of the Roman empire? Your humble narrator has no idea, and, if Sarah E. Bond does, she doesn’t waste her precious brainological fluids demonstrating it) while simultaneously invoking the dread augury of everybody’s best friend Herbert Marcuse, so much the better. After all, those video games won’t blame systemic racism on themselves!

The walking dead

I’ll level with you here: I had honestly, sincerely forgotten that Kathy Griffin ever existed. So comprehensively did I forget this that I saw a snotty joke about her mired deep in the dread swamp of Facebook, looked at the comments, saw that the fourth comment down said something about "K. Griff," and no-fooling thought it was talking about Ken Griffey Jr. I have so thoroughly forgotten about Kathy Griffin that I couldn’t even remember she existed in the comments section of a post about her. That is what it means to be washed up, friends.

Last week, Griffin decided that posing for a really gruesome photo shoot in which she stares, unsmilingly, directly into the camera while holding up a faux Donald Trump severed head would be a good career move. Unsurprisingly, it was not. Perhaps surprisingly, however, she had enough remaining career to suffer for it.

CNN (after waiting nearly a day) decided to can Griffin from her annual New Year’s Eve appearance (where she flips people the bird and makes Anderson Cooper giggle like a school girl). And every single one of her upcoming gigs for her comedy show has been canceled. Every. Single. One…

So, Griffin’s metamorphosis is complete. She went from a D-list comedian with one sponsor who hardly ever works (seven shows between now and December is not exactly a packed schedule) to a former comedian with no sponsors and zero upcoming shows.

Los ouch, as people who don’t care which side of the wall they’re on might say. I struggle to envision how one can get fired from CNN of all places for saying something too crass or tasteless about Donald Trump. I suppose this is some type of achievement. And her one sponsor? I hesitate to say. Please don’t click that link. It’s almost as tasteless as Griffin’s severed-head picture.

Griffin, of course, then went on to blame the entire thing on Donald Trump, claiming that he (and his family!) were, due to unexplained reasons that almost definitely weren’t invented in her crazy head, trying to destroy her.

Apparently Kathy has never heard that you don’t punch downward. Perhaps that’s a side effect of having no downward to punch.

Speaking of failure

Tall, strong, famous millionaire LeBron James quite famously announced some time ago that he was the victim of the "hate crime" of somebody spraypainting a naughty word on the security gate outside his mansion, and that this proves that "being black in America is tough," and that really it’s basically the same as Emmett Till being murdered by a lynch mob.

Not that I wish to downplay how hard it must be to be rich, famous, and powerful — which I couldn’t possibly understand, what with all my privilege — but it’s worth noting that the "hate crime" in question probably never happened anyway.

So let’s dial back the rhetoric and reiterate what we know:

  1. At 6:44 am on Wednesday morning, the day before the NBA Finals began, someone called police to report an incident of racist graffiti at LeBron James’s house.
  2. When police arrived the alleged racist graffiti had already been painted over and police were, according to the LAPD, provided a photo of what the graffiti on the gate had looked like.
  3. There is no surveillance video of the alleged crime and the picture has not been publicly released.

That’s it, that’s the sum total upon which millions of spoken and written words have ensued.

So there was absolutely no actual physical evidence, and no eyewitness testimony? All there was was an uncontrolled photograph allegedly of hurty words? I mean, sure, vandalism is a crime — though "hate" or not, come on kids — but one needs to demonstrate that it actually occurred. And if one’s property is clearly unvandalized when inspected, well, it’s a tough nut to crack.

Perhaps if LeBron James spent less time faking hate crimes to declare himself the victim of and more time practicing basketball, the Cavs wouldn’t have been stomped out of the Finals. All of that allegedly. Except the Cavs wiping out, which completely happened. I like to imagine that as the benevolent hand of God reaching down to goosh a social justice mosquito.

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