Why exercise when you can photoshop?

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Coco Chanel: Nazi Collaborator

Chanel1 had always had a series of influential lovers of various nationalities, so it was natural that during the German occupation the lover should be German: Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage, a diplomat with intelligence connections. After the war, Chanel, living at the Ritz, was briefly arrested on suspicion of collaboration and questioned by the Commission d’Épuration, but was soon released and allowed to leave for Switzerland. There was, in fact, ample evidence of Chanel’s collaboration, not only through the Dincklage connection but also because she had taken the opportunity to settle scores with the firm of Pierre and Paul Wertheimer, Jews whom she considered had swindled her out of profits from Chanel No. 5. It was the intercession of an old society friend, Winston Churchill, that got her off the hook in 1944 and enabled her to retreat to Lausanne.

Sheila Fitzpatrick · Frisson of Electric Sparkle: Scratch ’n’ Sniff · LRB 15 July 2021

1 Coco Chanel – Wikipedia

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Dying like Jesus

As a preacher lay dying he thought he’d like to die like Jesus.

He sent for his accountant and lawyer. When they came he held out his hands and motioned them to sit on either side of his bed. The preacher grasped their hands, sighing contentedly, smiling, and saying nothing.

The accountant and lawyer were astonished the preacher had asked them to share his final moments of life. He hadn’t indicated he liked either of them in the past and yet they were sharing this sacred moment.

At last the lawyer broke the silence, “Preacher, why did you ask us to come?”

“Jesus died between two thieves, and that’s how I want to go.”

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Book Review: Curtis Sittenfeld ~ American Wife (2008)

This book is 635 pages long and a long read. Is it worth it? Unfortunately as I began this review I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t. This makes me feel stupid.

The book isn’t a novel it’s a fictionalised biography of Laura Bush and her husband, the moronic George W Bush. If it were a novel, with a half decent editor, it would have shrunk to about 250 pages. She’s got good insights into power, fame and friendship and I suppose they kept me going.

There are gruesome attempts at authenticity: songs, TV programmes, cars, shops, and trite personal details.

Try this

That night, Ella and Lars went to bed around the same time, and my mother and I watched ‘Knots Landing’ together.” p460 This is ‘research’. But as it’s a novel not an ‘A’ level essay and I didn’t really need pages 637-8, which detail her efforts. It felt like forced feeding: ‘I learned it and you’re going to get it’.

On the other hand it’s compelling if you don’t think too much: Wallow!

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Bob Dylan in 1965

Dylan won an Oscar in 2001 for the song ‘Things Have Changed’ The YouTube film is here “Things Have Changed” Wins Original Song: 2001 Oscars – Bing video

He also won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. His speech is here Bob Dylan – Banquet speech – NobelPrize.org

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Assassination as policy: a few examples

In the thousand years the Roman empire survived in Constantinople, 65 out of its 107 emperors were assassinated. In Venice in the 15th and 16th centuries 200 assassinations were plotted for foreign policy reasons…Other than probably the CIA, Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, holds the record for external assassinations with an estimated 2,700 victims….[USA] Drones have killed between 7,584 and 10,918 people since 2010. Usually they get the right person, but often they also get a group of innocent children.”

New Statesman 2nd July 2021 pp 40-2

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A Goldfish which enjoyed being dumped in a lake

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It’s the obvious question

Honey: I’ve just had an accident and Tina took me to the hospital. The x-rays show the head injury might be serious and I’ve also got cracked ribs and a broken arm.

Wife: Who’s Tina?

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Two Barbaric Sentencing Regimes: England, 1723 and California, 1994


Barbaric sentencing and moral panics are linked.A moral panic is a widespread feeling of fear, often an irrational one, that some evil person or thing threatens the values, interests, or well-being of a community or society.”1 The events triggering the 1723 Black Acts, and the 1994 Three Strikes are only different in detail. Both induced panic amongst legislators.

In England there was a plausible threat from the previous monarchs, the Stuarts. The Stuarts were a threat to the government and eight years previously had promoted a rebellion. Less plausibly California reacted to a murder, by a recidivist, by introducing a barbaric sentencing regime. Both sets of legislators used sledgehammer legislation to counter these threats.2

England’s Black Acts, 1723

In 1723 England’s government passed the Black Acts. The Acts redefined many crimes and, in total, made 350 punishable by death. This was intended to be a deterrent. In a counter-intuitive outcome it led to crime escalating as criminals believed they, ‘…might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb’.

Inflating the number of capital offences meant the punishment was devalued in its impact. It became commonplace and, because it was disproportionate, unjust. Poaching, a ‘traditional’ way of supplementing diet, became a capital offence. Poachers transformed a non-violent economic crime into one of extreme violence. They reasoned that,murdering a game keeper was punishable by death and you can only be hung once’. Needless to relate the response of landowners also escalated.


Man trap which captured poachers and severely injured them

California’s Proposition 184 Three Strikes, 1994

Shroud waving Californian politicians reacted to a brutal murder by a recidivist by asserting he shouldn’t have been free to murder. California’s politicians sold this mantra to the public. In Proposition 184 they achieved an overwhelming ‘victory’ for the automatic long-term incarceration of recidivists.3 Badly drafted legislation extended the definition of recidivism leading to ludicrous unforeseen outcomes. Far from heinous murderers getting 25 years to life many, “Of these people…as many as 80% will be non-violent offenders”.4 This perverted the intentions of voters who were voting on keeping violent recidivists ‘off the streets’.

The Three Strikes rubric meant criminals could get 25 years for stealing pizza.5 California’s problem is that Three Strikes focuses on, The more extensive his criminal past is, the more likely he will get a Three Strikes sentence.”5 Juvenile crimes are taken into account in California. The racist policing of some neighbourhoods meant there’s a strong likelihood Three Strikes victims are young disadvantaged black men. Hence the possibility that a third offence of stealing a pizza would lead to a Three Strikes sentence.


A potential $2 million pizza

Unforeseen Consequences

An unforeseen consequence for 18th century England was that severe rural crime increased. Social relations in rural areas became hostile accelerating the move into industrial areas. The unforeseen consequence for California is financial. Incarceration costs $81,203 per prisoner per year.6,7 Remember ‘Three Strikes’ means a minimum of 25 years to life. That pizza thief will cost the taxpayers’ of California about $2,030,075 over 25 years.

Conclusion: Barbaric Sentences and Retribution

All sentences are retribution for actions which have been committed. Built into the concept is proportionality. In a recent book ‘Noise’, an example from Judge Frankel is quoted, Two men, neither of them had a criminal record, were convicted for cashing counterfeit checks in the amounts of $58.40 and $35.20, respectively. The first man was sentenced to fifteen years, the second to 30 days.”(my emphasis) 8 This is an obnoxious example of disproportionate sentencing. Retribution is located in the notion that it should be, “proportionate to the harm caused – no more or less”.9

On this basis, sentencing a person because of a prediction is barbarism. This is especially the case in the Californian iteration of Three Strikes which makes no attempt to differentiate between heinous crimes and the rest. The English Black Acts were straight forward repression for short sighted economic reasons by aristocratic legislators.

Addendum: The Nazi Three Strikes sentencing policy

A person convicted twice within five years to prison sentences of more than six months could be sentenced the third time to up to five years’ imprisonment, even if ‘the most recent crime is not subject to heavy penalty.’ The increased sentence could be tripled to fifteen years if the crime were punishable as a felony…”10 This is more lenient than the Californian version of Three Strikes.


1 Moral panic – Wikipedia

2 Black Act 1723 – Wikipedia It was repealed a hundred years later in 1823. For the text of California’s Proposition 184, 1994, see California Proposition 184, Three Strikes Sentencing Initiative (1994) – Ballotpedia NB The legislation included crimes committed as a juvenile.

3 California’s Proposition 184: Three Strikes and You’re Out Essay on Law, Legislation (benjaminbarber.org) This was passed 72:28

4 loc.cit.

5 Can you get a life sentence for stealing pizza? California’s Three Strikes Law – ScoreItUp

5 loc.cit For Black Americans experience of policing See https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/12/police-philadelphia-stealing-houses.html#comments

6 The costs of imprisonment in California. Legislative Analyst’s Office (ca.gov) For the UK see Costs per place and costs per prisoner (publishing.service.gov.uk) it costs £33,291 on average per year

7 As of 2nd July 2021 that translates into £58,843 per year pound $ exchange rates – Bing

8 Daniel Kahnman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R Sunstein Noise: a flaw in human judgment p14

9 Fondacaro, Mark R., and Megan J. O’Toole. “American Punitiveness and Mass Incarceration: Psychological Perspectives on Retributive and Consequentialist Responses to Crime.” New Criminal Law Review: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 18, no. 4, 2015, pp. 477–509. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/nclr.2015.18.4.477. Accessed 5 July 2021. p481

10 Gotz Aly ‘Medicine against the useless’ In Gotz Aly, Peter Chroust and Christian Pross Cleansing the Fatherland: Nazi Medicine and Racial Hygiene p59

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Marc Chagall: One of my favourite paintings

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