The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
It’s like what the hell is going on?
Came upon the Fitzsimmons Corbett fight while reading about local history. The film of the fight is sometimes said to be the world’s first feature film. Thomas Edison himself said Corbett was the first film star (which is extra interesting because spoiler alert guess who is the winner and who the loser?)
You can watch it yourself on YouTube, I can’t say it gripped me completely:
This movie was directed by Enoch Rector. Should not all documentarians honor their forbearer? Yet there is little to read of this man online. Let me share some choice things then from his NY Times obituary when he left this Earth-existence on January 27, 1957 at age 94:
Born near Parkersburg, W. Va., Mr. Rector attended the University of West Virginia, but an urge to travel caused him to leave before graduation. He qualified as a transit theodolite operator and worked with a surveying crew on the transcontinental right of way for the Northern Pacific Railroad.Mr. Rector arrived in Seattle with $200 and invested $150 in passage on a sailing ship that took him around Cape Horn. Landing at Buenos Aires he became engineer in charge of surveys for a railroad that runs through Bolivia.His inventions included a kerosene carburetor that was used successfully on Fifth Avenue buses but was abandoned for economic reasons.Surviving are a daughter, Mrs. Anne Rector Duffy, wife of Edmund Duffy, a political cartoonist.
You’re gosh-darn right I’m gonna show you the work of Edmund Duffy! Let’s see the three times he won the Pulitzer Prize:
The Outstretched Hand (1940):
Huge props to Brian Cronin over there at Comic Book Resources for writing up about those Duffy cartoons. I hope he doesn’t mind that I reuse here as long as I credit him and thank him.
Incredible story on the middle one in particular, which depicts the lynching of two (white) kidnap-murderers in St. James Park in San Jose:
Oh and what’s that? Jackie Coogan was one of the lynchers? You mean this guy?:
(that day did he look more like this guy?)
California man. Always interesting.
By reader vote, these were considered
The Top Ten Helytimes Posts Of The Year
about Geoffrey Blainey’s book on how that country became what it is, and their national cry Cooo-EEE!
9) Jo Mora and Mora Update
about how the Uruguayan-Californian artist influenced almost a century of design
Conversations between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton
A visit to that famed city and the Diego Rivera murals hidden around it
On Incan rope counting systems and their decipherment
An investigation into a photo of the former first lady
This was by far our most popular post by views
A trip to the national park, and its place in our national consciousness
2) Lady Xoc
About the Mayan queen of the 8th century
The definitive winner for the year?:
A review of writing by and about fighter pilot John Boyd, who offers a way into DT’s thinking.
a brief look at Sanders and Trump
about you know who, comparing him to Tim Ferriss.
a big wild roundup.
on how a Swiss chocolatier came to own freshwater springs in Southern California
about the Vietnam War correspondent, Kubrick pal and Zen Buddhist
on the work of Randall Collins, an underappreciated hero
extracts from a 1769 description of California,
a dispatch from rainy New Zealand,
and a personal favorite,
about Willa Cather, Walt Whitman, and America.
The most popular post of the year
by views, was
You can email us anytime at helphely at gmail. Let us know what you think.
All the best for 2017.
How many interesting things are in sociologist Randall Collins’ latest post (which is maybe the text of a speech or something?) Let me excerpt some for us. I have highlighted some nuggets:
I will add a parallel that is perhaps surprising. Those who know Loic Wacquant would not expect to find silent harmony. Nevertheless, Wacquant’s study of a boxing gym finds a similar pattern: there is little that boxers do in the gym that they could not do at home alone, except sparring; but in the gym they perform exercises like skipping, hitting the bags, strengthening stomach muscles, all in 3-minute segments to the ring of the bell that governs rounds in the ring. When everyone in the gym is in the same rhythm, they are animated by a collective feeling; they become boxers dedicated to their craft, not so much through minds but as an embodied project.
A large proportion of violent confrontations of all kinds– street fights, riots, etc.– quickly abort; and most persons in those situations act like Marshall’s soldiers– they let a small minority of the group do all the violence. Now that we have photos and videos of violent situations, we see that at the moment of action the expression on the faces of the most violent participants is fear. Our folk belief is that anger is the emotion of violence, but anger appears mostly before any violence happens, and in controlled situations where individuals bluster at a distant enemy. I have called thisconfrontational tension/fear; it is the confrontation itself that generates the tension, more than fear of what will happen to oneself. Confrontational tension is debilitating; phenomenologically we know (mainly from police debriefings after shootings) that it produces perceptual distortions; physiologically it generates racing heart beat, an adrenaline rush which at high levels results in loss of bodily control.
This explains another, as yet little recognized pattern: when violence actually happens, it is usually incompetent. Most of the times people fire a gun at a human target, they miss; their shots go wide, they hit the wrong person, sometimes a bystander, sometimes friendly fire on their own side. This is a product of the situation, the confrontation. We know this because the accuracy of soldiers and police on firing ranges is much higher than when firing at a human target. We can pin this down further; inhibition in live firing declines with greater distance; artillery troops are more reliable than infantry with small arms, so are fighter and bomber crews and navy crews; it is not the statistical chances of being killed or injured by the enemy that makes close-range fighters incompetent. At the other end of the spectrum, very close face-to-face confrontation makes firing even more inaccurate; shootings at a distance of less than 2 meters are extremely inaccurate. Is this paradoxical? It is facing the other person at a normal distance for social interaction that is so difficult. Seeing the other person’s face, and being seen by him or her seeing your seeing,is what creates the most tension. Snipers with telescopic lenses can be extremely accurate, even when they see their target’s face; what they do not see is the target looking back; there is no mutual attention, no intersubjectivity. Mafia hit men strike unexpectedly and preferably from behind, relying on deception and normal appearances so that there is no face confrontation. This is also why executioners used to wear hoods; and why persons wearing face masks commit more violence than those with bare faces.
NOTE THE POLICY IMPLICATION: The fashion in recent years among elite police units to wear balaclava-style face masks during their raids should be eliminated.
How does violence sometimes succeed in doing damage? The key is asymmetrical confrontation tension. One side will win if they can get their victim in the zone of high arousal and high incompetence, while keeping their own arousal down to a zone of greater bodily control. Violence is not so much physical as emotional struggle; whoever achieves emotional domination, can then impose physical domination. That is why most real fights look very nasty; one sides beats up on an opponent at the time they are incapable of resisting. At the extreme, this happens in the big victories of military combat, where the troops on one side become paralyzed in the zone of 200 heartbeats per minute, massacred by victors in the 140 heartbeat range. This kind of asymmetry is especially dangerous, when the dominant side is also in the middle ranges of arousal; at 160 BPM or so, they are acting with only semi-conscious bodily control. Adrenaline is the flight-or-fight hormone; when the opponent signals weakness, shows fear, paralysis, or turns their back, this can turn into what I have called a forward panic, and the French officer Ardant du Picq called “flight to the front.” Here the attackers rush forward towards an unresisting enemy, firing uncontrollably. It has the pattern of hot rush, piling on, and overkill. Most outrageous incidents of police violence against unarmed or unresisting targets are forward panics, now publicized in our era of bullet counts and ubiquitous videos.
Another pathway is where the fight is surrounded by an audience; people who gather to watch, especially in festive crowds looking for entertainment; historical photos of crowds watching duels; and of course the commercial/ sporting version of staged fights. This configuration produces the longest and most competent fights; confrontational tension is lowered because the fighters are concerned for their performance in the eyes of the crowd, while focusing on their opponent has an element of tacit coordination since they are a situational elite jointly performing for the audience. Even the loser in a heroic staged fight gets social support. We could test this by comparing emotional micro-behavior in a boxing match or a baseball game without any spectators.
(among the photos that come up if you Google “crowd watching a duel”:
Finally, there are a set of techniques for carrying out violence without face confrontation. Striking at a distance: the modern military pathway. Becoming immersed in technical details of one’s weapons rather than on the human confrontation. And a currently popular technique: the clandestine attack such as a suicide bombing, which eliminates confrontational tension because it avoids showing any confrontation until the very moment the bomb is exploded. Traditional assassinations, and the modern mafia version, also rely on the cool-headedness that comes from pretending there is no confrontation, hiding in Goffmanian normal appearances until the moment to strike.
All this sounds rather grisly, but nevertheless confrontational theory of violence has an optimistic side. First, there is good news: most threatening confrontations do not result in violence. (This is shown also in Robert Emerson’s new book on quarrels among roommates and neighbours.) We missed this because, until recently, most evidence about violence came from sampling on the dependent variable. There is a deep interactional reason why face-to-face violence is hard, not easy. Most of the time both sides stay symmetrical. Both get angry and bluster in the same way. These confrontations abort, since they can’t get around the barrier of confrontational tension. Empirically, on our micro-evidence, this zero pathway is the most common. Either the quarrel ends in mutual gestures of contempt; or the fight quickly ends when opponents discover their mutual incompetence. Curtis Jackson-Jacobs’ video analysis shows fist-fighters moving away from each other after missing with a few out-of-rhythm punches. If no emotional domination happens, they soon sense it.
Anne Nassauer, assembling videos and other evidence from many angles on demonstrations, finds the turning points at which a demo goes violent or stays peaceful. And she shows that these are situational turning points, irrespective of ideologies, avowed intent of demonstrators or policing methods. Stefan Klusemann, using video evidence, shows that ethnic massacres are triggered off in situations of emotional domination and emotional passivity; that is, local conditions, apart from whatever orders are given by remote authorities. Another pioneering turning-point study is David Sorge’s analysis of the phone recording of a school shooter exchanging shots with the police, who nevertheless is calmed down by an office clerk; she starts out terrified but eventually shifts into an us-together mood that ends in a peaceful surrender. Meredith Rossner shows that restorative justice conferences succeed or fail according to the processes of interaction rituals; and that emotionally successful RJ conferences result in conversion experiences that last for several years, at least. Counter-intuitively, she finds that RJ conferences are especially likely be successful when they concerns not minor offenses but serious violence; the intensity of the ritual depends on the intensity of emotions it evokes.
High authorities are hard to study with micro methods, since organizational high rank is shielded behind very strong Goffmanian frontstages. David Gibson, however, analyzing audio tapes of Kennedy’s crisis group in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, penetrated the micro-reality of power in a situation in which all the rationally expectable scenarios led toward nuclear war. Neither JFK nor anyone else emerges as a charismatic or even a decisive leader. The group eventually muddled their way through sending signals that postponed a decision to use force, by tacitly ignoring scenarios that were too troubling to deal with. This fits the pattern that conversation analysts call the preference for agreement over disagreement, at whatever cost to rationality and consistency.
How about how social interactions affect job interviews?:
We have a long way to go to generalize these leads into a picture of how high authority really operates. Does it operate the same way in business corporations? The management literature tells us how executives have implemented well thought-out programs; but our information comes chiefly from retrospective interviews that collapse time and omit the situational process itself. Lauren Rivera cracks the veneer of elite Wall Street firms and finds that hiring decisions are made by a sense of emotional resonance between interviewer and interviewee, the solidarity of successful interaction rituals. Our best evidence of the micro details of this process comes from another arena, where Dan McFarland and colleagues analyze recorded data on speed dating, and find that conversational micro-rhythms determine who felt they “clicked” with whom.
OK what about sex?
I will end this scattered survey with some research that falls into the rubric of Weberian status groups, i.e. social rankings by lifestyle. David Grazian has produced a sequence of books,Blue Chicago and On the Make, that deal with night life. This could be considered a follow-up to Goffman’s analysis of what constitutes “fun in games” as well as “where the action is.” For Grazian, night-life is a performance of one’s “nocturnal self,” characterized by role-distance from one’s mundane day-time identity. By a combination of his own interviewing behind the scenes and collective ethnographies of students describing their evening on the town, from pre-party preparation to post-party story-telling, Grazian shows how the boys and the girls, acting as separate teams, play at sexual flirtation which for the most part is vastly over-hyped in its real results. It is the buzz of collective effervescence that some of these teams generate that is the real attraction of night life. And this may be an appropriate place to wind up. Freud, perhaps the original micro-sociologist, theorized that sexual drive is the underlying mover behind the scenes. Grazian, looking at how those scenes are enacted, finds libido as socially constructed performance. As is almost everything else.
In conclusion. Will interaction ritual, or for that matter micro-sociology as we know it, become outdated in the high-tech future? This isn’t futuristic any more, since we have been living in the era of widely dispersed information technology for at least 30 years, and we are used to its pace and direction of change. A key point for interaction ritual is that bodily co-presence is one of its ingredients. Is face contact needed? Rich Ling analyzed the everyday use of mobile phones and found that the same persons who spoke by phone a lot also met personally a lot. Cell phones do not substitute for bodily co-presence, but facilitate it. Among the most frequent back-and-forth, reciprocated connections are people coordinating where they are. Ling concluded that solidarity rituals were possible over the phone, but that they were weaker than face-to-face rituals; one was a teaser for the other.
Conceivably future electronic devices might wire up each other’s genitals, but what happens would likely depend on the micro-sociological theory of sex (chapter 6 in Interaction Ritual Chains): the strongest sexual attraction is not pleasure in one’s genitals per se, but getting the other person’s body to respond in mutually entraining erotic rhythms: getting turned on by getting the other person turned on. If you don’t believe me, try theorizing the attractions of performing oral sex. This is an historically increasing practice, and one of the things that drives the solidarity of homosexual movements. Gay movements are built around effervescent scenes, not around social media.
I will try theorizing the attractions of performing oral sex, Professor!
I recommend Collins’ book written with Maren McConnell, Napoleon Never Slept: How Great Leaders Leverage Social Energy, which I bought and read though I do wish there was a print edition.
Previous coverage about Collins’ work. Shoutout to Brent Forrester, who I think put me on to him.
In an entertaining ten round middleweight slugfest, Gabriel Rosado edged out a wildly unpopular unanimous decision victory over Antonio Gutierrez (21-2-1, 9 KOs). Gutierrez dropped Rosado hard in the fourth round with a solid one-two combo and was the more aggressive fighter, often chasing a back-peddling or sidestepping Rosado. It was a slugfest, throughout, and a very evenly matched fight. Gutierrez is the hard luck loser while Rosado builds off his recent victory over Joshua Clottey. Judges scored the bout 95-94, 96-93 and 95-94, all in favor of Rosado.
1) Trump as Tim Ferriss
Does the best analogy come to us from Tim Ferriss, who has written about how he won his weight class 1999 (US) Chinese kickboxing championship by exploiting anomalies in the rules? From Wiki:
Ferriss has stated that, prior to his writing career, he won in the 165 lb. weight class at the 1999 USAWKF national Sanshou (Chinese kickboxing) championship through a process of shoving opponents out of the ring and by dramatically dehydrating himself before weigh in, and then rehydrating before the fight in order to compete several classes below his actual weight – a practice known as “Weight cutting”.
Ferriss has acknowledged using anabolic steroids, specifically “a number of low-dose therapies, including testosterone cypionate,” under medical supervision following shoulder surgery, as well as using “stacks” consisting of testosterone enanthate, Sustanon 250, HGH, Deca-Durabolin, Cytomel, and other unnamed ingredients while training.
Shoving wasn’t part of the Chinese kickboxing game apparently, it was just assumed you wouldn’t shove. If you have no stake in the integrity of Chinese kickboxing turns out nobody can stop you once you start shoving.
Now, knowing no more details than how Ferriss tells the story, what Ferriss did sounds like clever if devilish fun with no real victim except maybe the guy who came in second or people really vested in the USAWKF.
Trump seemed like that too for awhile. Can’t deny taking pleasure in it. But it’s one thing to make a clown show of the 1999 national Sanshou championship, even the Republican Party primaries. But it’s a whole other category to make a clown show out of the United States.
An amazing move right now for Trump would be to bail. That’s what I would legit advise him to do. Would be hilarious. Republicans would pass out with relief and then maybe even beat Hillary. Meanwhile Trump goes out undefeated, can enjoy adoring crowds for the rest of his life without ever having to be President.
Some suggestion Trump does think of all this as no more than a fun competition:
“I have to tell you, I’ve competed all my life,” Trump said, his golden face somber, his gravity-defying pouf of hair seeming to hover above his brow. “All my life I’ve been in different competitions—in sports, or in business, or now, for 10 months, in politics. I have met some of the most incredible competitors that I’ve ever competed against right here in the Republican Party.”
No suggestion yet he thinks it’s best to stop here.
2) Anonymous Intelligence Analyst Weighs InOur friend Anonymous Intelligence Analyst has been dead on in his Trump predictions for some time. He wrote me back in February with some thoughts, as well as a Master Plan that I think is well worth considering:
Caveat: please remember that I am not endorsing Trump. I’m not voting for him but I am fascinated by the whole thing.
- Sanders & Trump tap into the same frustration: middle to lower-class Americans have not seen their lot improve in a long time
- Sanders claims that large banks and corporations have captured the regulators and we should basically blow up our economic system and become socialists. At the core, he’s right about the regulatory capture.
- Trump claims that our trade and immigration policies have been a screwjob on Americans. I am rabidly pro-trade and pro-immigration but I do believe it’s benefited elites while not being a good thing for a lot of people in the bottom half.
- They both pitch that the parties are trying to screw the people, which is totally true. I mean the people are calling for Trump and the GOP is trying everything they can to sink him. The people are calling for Bernie but Hilary already bought all the super-delegates. The fix is in.
- I agree with you that a core attraction of Trump is that he says tons of stuff that no other politician would say and that’s refreshing. He is also authentic. He is definitely a giant douche, he speaks like a douche, and you are convinced he believes in his own bullshit. That’s so attractive! I like Bernie despite his crazy economic policies because I can tell he basically believes in them…I can respect that.
- Instead of debating Trump, here’s my master plan for defeating him. The establishment on both sides hates him so much. Republicans should cede the nomination to him as he has rightly won it. Then jam whoever they love (Rubio?) on him as VP. First day in office, conspire with the Dems to impeach Trump! President Rubio takes over. It’s a layup and would be incredible drama as well — can you imagine the look on Trump‘s face!
That’s great. Would be a hilarious prank on Trump.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:-“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
“The pattern of a newspaperman’s life is like the plot of ‘Black Beauty,’ ” A. J. Liebling wrote. “Sometimes he finds a kind master who gives him a dry stall and an occasional bran mash in the form of a Christmas bonus, sometimes he falls into the hands of a mean owner who drives him in spite of spavins and expects him to live on potato peelings.”
(found that today on this New Yorker blog post about Bezos/WaPo. If I had a business I really loved and I had to sell it, I think I’d be happy if Jeff Bezos bought it?)
Well, that resolved me on spending a profitable few minutes digging out my old copy of The Sweet Science and finding a choice paragraph of Liebling for Helytimes fans (“Heliacs”?). How about:
By the time the first of the feature eight-rounders came on, the crowd was in fine voice. It was a neighborhood crowd, except for the concentrated groups of fighters’ friends, and the neighborhood is not tough but hearty. As it happens, this [Sunnyside Garden at 45th and Queens Boulevard] is the region to which the authentic Manhattan accent has emigrated, according to a learned cove I met at Columbia years ago, who went about making recordings of American regional modes of speech. The more habitable quarters of Manhattan, he told me, have been preempted by successful inlanders who speak Iowese and Dakotahoman; the inhabitants of West Harlem talk like Faulkner characters, and East Harlem speaks Spanish. “Just as the anthropologist who wishes to study pristine African culture must find it among the Djuka Negroes of Surinam, who were snatched from Africa in the eighteenth century, I must carry my tape recorder to Queens to study the New York speech of Henry James’ day,” he said.
Remember: he’s writing about a boxing match.
The Sunnyside Garden no longer stands but it must’ve been around here.
Inside my copy of The Sweet Science, I found a chart I once made. I was trying to link Lennox Lewis, whose hand I once shook, as far back into the history of boxing as possible by an unbroken connection of people who had punched each other.
Looks like I made it to Jem Mace (1831-1910)
The goal was to get back all the way to Cribb and Molineaux.
I believe I later did this, but I don’t know where that chart is and it’s time to start my day.
Tom Molineaux was born a slave in Virginia, fought Tom Cribb in England in 1810, and “died penniless in the regimental bandroom in Galway in Ireland from liver failure [when he] was 34 years old.”