Did The Sopranos glamorise mob life? “If you think that was glamour, you need a psychiatrist! It’s the most boring job in the world — sitting round reading the racing form all day.”
Steven Van Zandt talking to Financial Times. When I first watched Sopranos, I was absolutely drawn to Tony’s lifestyle, of just sort of driving around all day, accepting snacks. Further viewings and a deeper consideration of my character and the burdens make me think I wouldn’t trade gigs with Tony, but still, something appealing.
Also of interest:
Then David Chase approached him to play the lead in The Sopranos. At that stage, “it was a completely different show . . . a live-action Simpsons”, Chase has said. In the end, HBO vetoed someone with no acting experience as protagonist, but Chase incorporated Van Zandt into the show as Dante, a character the guitarist had himself created in a treatment for an earlier project.
FT can’t help but editorialize:
He mixes shrewd political judgment (in April, four months before the fall of Kabul, he tweeted that the US leaving Afghanistan was “a huge mistake”) with left-field ideas (such as mandatory martial-arts training for girls from kindergarten age to reduce sexual assaults).
Left-field doesn’t mean bad, FT!
Field Marshal The 1st Duke of Wellington later said that he was “a very bad choice; he was a man wanting in education and judgment. He was a stupid man. He knew nothing at all of the world, and like all men who knew nothing of the world, he was suspicious and jealous.”
that’s re: Hudson Lowe, Napoleon’s jailer on St. Helena. This sketch doesn’t make him appear a delight to be around:
Of Dublin’s Georgian architecture, the streetscapes and squares of the city, he said: “The people who built these houses had the good taste to know that they had nothing very important to say; and therefore they did not attempt to express anything”. One thinks of the final sentence of the Tractatus, “what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.”
Got that from “Wittgenstein in Ireland: An Account of His Various Visits from 1934 to 1949” by George Hetherington in Irish University Review. Also of note:
Born in Vienna to a very wealthy family, his father was a friend of Andrew Carnegie and had a near monopoly on steel in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Three of his four brothers would commit suicide, the fourth would lose an arm in World War I but still manage to become a concert pianist using only his left hand. His sister Margaret was a patient of Sigmund Freud’s and would later be painted by Klimt.
Ludwig went to the same elementary school as Adolf Hitler. There’s no clear evidence they met, although they were only two grades apart and it is possible but by no means agreed upon that the two as boys appear in the same school picture.
After studying in Berlin Ludwig worked on designing plane propellers with jet engines, he got a patent on one, but became frustrated. He spent some time “experimenting with kites at the Kite-Flying Upper Atmosphere Station near Glossop in Derbyshire.” He went to Cambridge in the UK where he pestered Bertrand Russell. John Maynard Keynes invited him to the join the Apostles, the gay-skewing secret society. Ludwig wasn’t that into it.
In 1913 his father died and Ludwig became one of the richest men in Europe. He moved to a remote village in Norway.
Eventually he found this place too busy.
When the Great War broke out, Ludwig volunteered for the Austro-Hungarian army, though he probably could’ve gotten out of it for health reasons. He served on a ship, was wounded in an explosion, became an officer directing artillery from no-man’s land, won several medals for bravery. He was there during the Brusilov offensive, where somewhere between 200,000 and 567,000 of his comrades were killed. He kept notes during the war:
The meaning of life, i.e. the meaning of the world, we can call God.
And connect with this the comparison of God to a father.
To pray is to think about the meaning of life.
In summer 1918 he took leave and went back to Vienna where his family had many house.
It was there in August 1918 that he completed the Tractatus, which he submitted with the title Der Satz (German: proposition, sentence, phrase, set, but also “leap”) to the publishers Jahoda and Siegel.
He went back to the front, this time to Italy, where he was captured and spent nine months in an Italian prison camp. After the war he gave away his huge inheritance to his siblings, and went to train to become an elementary school teacher. He became a teacher in a mountain village in Austria.
In 1921 the Tractatus was published. Here is the first sentence:
Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist.
Plug that into Google Translate, or use the standard translation, and you will get:
The world is everything that is the case.
Does that comma matter? Should it be:
The world is everything, that is the case
Or, in the Ogden translation, the first English version, approved by LW? Although he didn’t really speak English at the time?:
The world is all that is the case.
What about “case”? I have no background in German but looking up the word Fall it seems to also have connotations of drop, fall, instance.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten in the Tractatus. It doesn’t get easier from there:
The world is everything that is the case.
1.1 The world is the totality of facts, not of things.
1.11 The world is determined by the facts, and by these being all the facts.
1.12 For the totality of facts determines both what is the case, and also all that is not the case.
1.13 The facts in logical space are the world.
1.2 The world divides into facts.
1.21 Any one can either be the case or not be the case, and everything else remain the same.
The decimal figures as numbers of the separate propositions indicate the logical importance of the propositions, the emphasis laid upon them in my exposition. The propositions n.1, n.2, n.3, etc., are comments on proposition No. n; the propositions n.m1, n.m2, etc., are comments on the proposition
Here’s my source. I have not decompressed all 75 pages.
This book will perhaps only be understood by those who have themselves already thought the thoughts which are expressed in it—or similar thoughts. It is therefore not a text-book. Its object would be attained if there were one person who read it with understanding and to whom it afforded pleasure.
As LW himself says.
After several years as an apparently terrifying rural elementary school teacher Ludwig hit a slow-witted kid on the head so hard he collapsed. In trouble, Ludwig resigned his position. He worked for a while as a gardener at a monastery. He designed a house in Vienna:
It took him a year to design the door handles, and another to design the radiators
He made some long confessions to friends, about things like white lies. He went back to Cambridge for awhile. He would relax by watching Westerns in the front row of the movie theater. Invited by the President of Ireland, Eamon De Valera, himself a former math teacher, to come over there, he did. He went back to the UK and during World War II he worked in a hospital.
He started working at Guy’s shortly afterwards as a dispensary porter, delivering drugs from the pharmacy to the wards where he apparently advised the patients not to take them.
After the war there was another Irish period, along Killary:
The nearest shop/post office was 10 miles away. He had to do his own housework and saw nobody except Tom Mulkerrins, who brought him his milk and kept him supplied with turf and conversation. He used the kitchen table mostly to work on, writing his aphoristic sentences on slips of paper and taking great pains to arrange them in the correct order. He did little cooking and almost all his food came out of tins. He spent hours watching seabirds and talking to them in German. The Mortimers, who were his next nearest neighbours, thought he was mad, perhaps because he wanted them to shoot their dog, whose barking disturbed him.
(source on that).
Realizing in 2012 I took a walk along Killary Harbour (it’s a fjord) not far from where he was holed up, it looks like this:
You can walk seven miles without seeing a person, easy. It’s along Killary Harbour too that Martin McDonough set The Beauty Queen of Leenane, a masterpiece of comic cruelty. I’d be curious what Wittgenstein thought of that play.
Ludwig took a trip to the USA, he went back to the UK, he was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, he died in 1951.
Just trying to wrap my head around the basic facts of this guy’s deal, prompted by this New Statesman article on the 100th of the Tractatus.
Say what you will, this guy was something!
or really any movie with significant horse action, I’m going to try to copy the way the shadows work around 1:22 in last year’s Breeders Cup Turf.
This is an interesting race. The favorite was Magical, shipped from Ireland, trained by Aidan O’Brien. The Irish are great trainers of turf horses, going back long before Stewball. Local Louisville boy Brad Cox had Arklow. Tarnawa, also from Ireland, was a four year old filly* – a girl racing against boys, past the age when females are usually still able to compete with their brothers. Channel Maker had run this race three times, finishing twelfth, eleventh, and seventh and was coming in strong.
*when exactly a filly becomes a mare is not a subject I’m prepared to opine on.
When the US Congress put forward a bill in 1969 suggesting that cigarette advertisements be banned from television, people expected American tobacco companies to be furious. After all, this was an industry that had spent over $300 million promoting their products the previous year… So, what did they choose to do? Pretty much nothing.
Far from hurting tobacco companies’ profits, the ban actually worked in the companies’ favor. For years the firms had been trapped in an absurd game. Television advertising had little effect on whether people smoked, which in theory made it a waste of money. If the firms had all got together and stopped their promotions, profits would almost certainly have increased. However, ads did have an impact on which brand people smoked. So, if all the firms stopped their publicity, and one of them started advertising again, that company would steal customers from all the others.
Whatever their competitors did, it was always best for a firm to advertise. By doing so, it would either take market share from companies that didn’t promote their products or avoid losing customers to firms that did. Although everyone would save money by cooperating, each individual firm would always benefit by advertising, which meant all the companies inevitably ended up in the same position, putting out advertisements to hinder the other firms. Economists refer to such a situation – where each person is making the best decision possible given the choices made by others – as a “Nash equilibrium.”
… Congress finally banned tobacco ads from television in January 1971. One year later, the total spent on cigarette advertising had fallen by over 25 percent. Yet tobacco revenues held steady. Thanks to the government, the equilibrium had been broken.
That is from The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling by Adam Kucharski, a very readable book full of insights. It’s mostly about cases of physicists and mathematicians who have “beaten” (more often found slight edges) in roulette, poker, horse race betting, and sports gambling.
Kucharski is Sir Henry Dale Fellow in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Now there’s a job!
He says Doc, you gotta help me. I’m in a funk. I was shaken by witnessing the compounding drought and fire catastrophe across California. The very forest is unhealthy, the trees are shriveled and dead, there is fire on an almost unfathomable scale and there’s more to come. The streets of the hollowed out towns are full of twitchy, upsetting people in distress, scary to encounter and no doubt themselves caught up in a living nightmare. In my own home town, there are ragged tent encampments all over the place, it makes your heart sink to see them, things are not going in the right direction.
Doc says go on.
Not only that, the guy says, but my wonderful mom just died. She was brave about it but she had so much more living to do. Now the voice that meant love to me since I was born is gone forever, it’s a hole, a rip in the fabric that will never be repaired.
Doc says uh-huh.
Human relations seem warped, the guy says, maybe permanently. Everyone’s beaten down and disoriented by interacting through screens. I hear defeat in the voices of people I once knew to be great boosters and enthusiasts. “Meetings” feel like some elaborate form of pretend no one has the energy for anymore. “What are we even doing?” is like a mantra, I keep hearing it. There’s alienation and directionless anger everywhere.
Right, says the Doc, I see.
I don’t want to be a Whiny Winston, Doc. In many ways I’m absurdly blessed, returning to gratitude is always a good idea. It’s not my nature to be a downer. Ever since I was a kid the people I love have relied on me for cheer and laughter and uplift. But honesty is important too. I look around, and what I see everywhere is dis-ease. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to turn.
Doc says, you’re in luck. I’ve got the solution. There’s this great blog called Helytimes. The guy who runs it wrote all these funny books and worked on these funny TV shows, he has a couple funny podcasts, he’s terrific. On the blog he finds wonderful art and interesting stories, the funny, the strange, the curious, just the other day he had one about Sienese painting, it was great. You’re gonna love it. It’ll cheer you right up to know there’s a guy like this out there.
Guy says, ok, thanks Doc, I’ll check it out.
“The country is grouchy and wants someone to tell them when normal comes back,” said Chad Rogers, a Conservative adviser and founding partner at Crestview Strategy.
from this Bloomberg piece on Canada’s election, “Trudeau Has 12 Days to Salvage His Career After Election Blunder,” by Theophilis Argitis. The blunder was calling an election at all, hoping to consolidate in the wake of a “successful” pandemic. That didn’t work. I wouldn’t want to be a prettyboy politician at the moment, Newsom or Trudeau, it’s not the mood.
If you’re an American and you haven’t seen Erin O’Toole yet, then first picture “Erin O’Toole” and then look up a picture of the Conservative leader.