Re: ATM: I argh.

1

You can make them watch the videos as long as you have remarks prepared for when Fox News calls to talk about it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:01 AM
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Watch the students watching the videos.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:01 AM
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Argh. Even preparing this powerpoint is awful; writing out the facts of Tamir Rice. Twelve fucking years old.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:05 AM
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It's really clear why I like math so much. It really is about escapism.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:07 AM
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I really, really want to leave the room tomorrow.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:11 AM
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I would feel uncomfortable assigning the videos to students without having watched them, especially if I were assigning them for the reasons stated, not to mention unqualified to discuss or shepherd discussion.

[Apology for being a stuffed shirt. Disarming joke.]


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:11 AM
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The Tamir Rice video is so crushing.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:11 AM
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I am really the wrong person to be doing this.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:15 AM
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Could you just tell math jokes instead?


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:17 AM
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I really don't know what the norms are, either at your school or anywhere else, but to be more explicit about 1, this seems like the kind of thing that could be well-intentioned but blow up if someone complains: liberal professors force kids to watch videos of people dying in order to villify police.

The fact that you can't watch them yourself just makes it worse. First: it's terrible, but I'll make you watch it anyway. Second: you need to watch this, I'm already enlightened.

I don't know; I'm curious what other people think.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:17 AM
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What if I invite other students to leave the classroom with me, if they don't want to watch the videos? "I'll describe the content of the video in the hallway if you would rather not watch it."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:19 AM
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I don't think you can leave the room.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:20 AM
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I don't think I can show the videos, then.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:21 AM
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I suppose you can post them to the assignment intranet, and tell the students that they can take a look if they want.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:24 AM
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I don't know if there's any way to do this that doesn't require you to watch all the videos at least once. Making the students uncomfortable watching them is pretty necessary, and without modeling that for them it's just not going to work. ("It's important that you actually watch these disturbing videos so that you actually understand why this is happening, now if you'll excuse me I'm going to leave because I don't want to watch them" is, at the very least, going to send a strong message about how sincere you are about the whole thing.)

I buy that they're necessary though, so I'm not sure what to do. Making it optional is likely to result in the students who need to watch it a lot less watching it and the students who really, really need to watch them not doing that or at least doing it in a situation where they can get away with minimizing it for themselves. My best advice would be to just grit your teeth about it, I guess, and plan to have a bunch of drinks before afterwards.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:28 AM
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Do I just need to face up to reality and watch these videos?

Yes, I think so. Ogged is pretty much right in 10.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:29 AM
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In my opinion, ogged gets it completely right. This seems like an experiment designed to draw criticism -- justifiable, I think -- from both the right and the left. I'm also not sure, given how uncomfortable you are about this (not to mention your cultural positioning, which I understand is only in part a source of your discomfort), that you're the right person to lead such a discussion. It's not my business, of course, but I think you should consider talking about something else.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:33 AM
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Can you bring in someone to help facilitate the discussion at least?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:36 AM
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Imagining the class discussion without the videos, though, shows why it's important to show them. Anyone who wants to argue that people in the BLM movement are overreacting needs to be asked 'you just saw the video, did that look like what you'd expect to happen to you?'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:37 AM
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17 -- You really can't announce a talk about BLM and then decide to talk about Daesh or climate change, or something. Message: BLMBNAMAWL.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:40 AM
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Can you bring in someone to help facilitate the discussion at least?

We actually tried - being Black History Month, everyone turned us down. The black people were over-committed, and the white people said "I'm really not the right person to do this."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:40 AM
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Another vote for the position that you can't make your students watch something you can't watch yourself. Are you immovable on not being able to watch them yourself?

(Would it be an intermediate position to watch only the SC guy, because he lived and was, I understand, basically okay after being shot, and direct the students to the other videos, explaining that you found them too difficult to watch, but that if the students thought they could handle it, the videos are out there?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:41 AM
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That sounded more strident than I intended. Let's me take another crack at this: I'm sure it will be fine. But inasmuch as you asked, I think your misgivings may be warranted. Were I you, I'd consider talking about some other current event. Here's an interesting story about how one of the principal experts who climate change denialists rely on is on the take. That's controversial, but it seems like you're in a better position to guide a discussion abut the constructed nature of scientific knowledge, the question of authority, etc.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:42 AM
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I think I should probably contact my co-organizers, at least.

When I contemplate watching the videos, I'm having a (super-childish) "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!!!" response.

On a more mature level, I think I'd have a very hard time leading the discussion if I watch the videos at that point. That's not to say that I shouldn't watch them ahead of time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:43 AM
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20: has the talk been announced as being about black lives matter? Regardless, I think you're absolutely wrong. You can say that the talk was going to be about black lives matter, but that it was impossible to get an expert in the subject, so it's going to be about something else instead. If heebie really wants to stick with a Black History Month theme, maybe talk about Selma and LBJ. She lives in Texas, after all, and there are a million articles on the subject.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:45 AM
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You also need to be prepared for some students to look at the videos and come away thinking the cops made understandable mistakes in the face of legitimately perceived threats. This American Life had an illuminating piece on this last week. They showed a cop the Eric Garner video and her takeaway was basically: a) "I can't breathe" is standard "I don't want to be arrested" bullshit that gets a 100% discount and b) every last twitch of his death throes could be interpreted as an attempt to resist arrest.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:46 AM
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I think it's essential to watch the videos, certainly for the students. And you probably have to watch them so that you can talk to the students about them.

You probably also should watch them because no matter how bad you think watch happens in them is, watching them shows you the reality of what happened is worse.

That's why your students should watch them too. I don't know your students, so I can't say this is true, but if they're like my students, they probably have a movie or Fox News view of what violence is like, and what happens in these encounters. An NYPD Blue idea. A Kiefer Sutherland and American Sniper idea. The lines are clear, the script makes it plain. It's a just world, if you see what I mean.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:46 AM
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This is putting me in the worst mood. Mostly dealing with the PPT facts and confronting the videos. The idea of starting over with another depressing historical topic is a bit overwhelming. Can I just talk about Neil DeGrasse Tyson or Richard Sherman?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:48 AM
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Or yes, if you absolutely can't watch them, you can find someone else to do this job. That's a legitimate alternative!


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:48 AM
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You probably also should watch them because no matter how bad you think watch happens in them is, watching them shows you the reality of what happened is worse.

Nope nope! I'm sure you're right, but I do not want to watch them.

I don't even like hearing stories about people getting injured!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:49 AM
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28: you could talk about ISIS instead!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:51 AM
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I emailed my co-organizers. I basically said, "Either one of you want to take over at least this section, or here are two other colleagues who might agree to bail us out?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:54 AM
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26 gets it right. If you remember when the South Carolina video got posted here, after watching it my initial reaction was way more sympathetic to the cop than it should have been.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:54 AM
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Heebie, I'm worried about the students who are as sensitive as you are and/or people of color. It's sometimes incredibly emotionally difficult for me to have conversations with people who are being ignorant and insensitive about this kind of thing, and making a 20-year-old go through it, hearing that people who look like her are bad and deserve to die, basically, after making her watch a bunch of people who look like her uncles and 12-year-old brother get killed seems like it could be brutal.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:56 AM
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23 Here's an interesting story about how one of the principal experts who climate change denialists rely on is on the take.

Why is this all over the news now? It's been true for a long, long time that all of Soon's funding comes from fossil fuel companies. The fact that he has a permanent job here is one of the things that really pisses me off about academia. Maybe not quite as much as Yoo at Berkeley.

But switching to a topic like that instead of Black Lives Matter? Really not okay. 20 gets it right.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:56 AM
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31: You could compromise and talk about Black Isis.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:58 AM
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34: We've actually met with the black students (although not the Hispanic students) a few times in planning this, and have put a lot of thought into how to corral the conversation. The first third of the evening is "talking about talking about race" and there will be only limited group discussion, under very narrow prompts, with me/whoever fairly aggressively limiting people to that prompt.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:59 AM
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Having the authority figure up front being visibly, horribly disturbed by the videos is likely to influence how students see things, even if all it does is make the people likely to react as if the cops are acting ok less likely to say so (or be less confident in that reaction). So it's pedagogically valuable at least, but I don't know if that's really much consolation.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:59 AM
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35: see 34. If she doesn't want to give the talk and can't make herself watch the videos, there's a real chance that this is going to be a disaster. Given that, I don't think it's better to go on with the regularly scheduled programming -- which I'm still not sure has been advertised as such -- than to make a change.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:00 AM
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You don't have to watch the videos if you don't make the kids watch them, so don't make the kids watch them.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:00 AM
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If you're not comfortable viewing the videos, could you at least collect some of the many recent articles about white people being arrested unharmed after doing blatantly illegal and unsafe things with guns, etc. and explain the reasons for police involvement in the cases you mention?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:02 AM
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I'm getting in touch with a history prof friend at a different school, who could come in and do it on my behalf.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:03 AM
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If you're going to show the videos, maybe have the students opt in. If they haven't seen it already and want to know what's under discussion, they should go to the viewing station while the other students do some busy work or whatever.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:04 AM
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26. The method of arrest was killing him. He (rightly) was resisting it.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:04 AM
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I think I could watch the videos as part of the audience. Geared up for a distressing experience, taking part of it, etc. But I do not want to watch them ahead of time, and I can't imagine how I can lead the discussion if I've just seen the videos.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:09 AM
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Show a Cliven Bundy video too.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:11 AM
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45: Do a pre-event event -- you, the other organizers, maybe the kids from the black students' org who have been involved -- so you've got people to be with while you're watching them?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:15 AM
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First sub has a class of his own tomorrow night. Contacting another history prof.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:21 AM
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If there are no African-Americans available to lead the discussion, maybe Heebie could do it in black-face?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:21 AM
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First sub has a class of his own tomorrow night. Contacting another history prof.

Heebie: even less empathetic than a Republican. Thorn is making sense. If it's terrible for you, it'll be terrible for some of the students, whether because of identification, or sensitivity, or just plain human decency. I know we're all inured to violence, etc., but showing videos of real people dying is a big deal.

If you want to "use" the videos without showing them, I think you can. Here's something off the top of my head. Have the students think about a guy they love, and then talk them through the events of the videos one step at a time, so they can insert the person they love into the story. I think that's the perspective shift you're really after, anyway.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:27 AM
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Why can't students just be allowed to leave the room? Everyone's over 18. (I don't actually know that.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:29 AM
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You could always rickroll them.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:31 AM
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I do think allowing opt-out, with warnings, is enough.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:32 AM
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Or reverse rickroll- Today we're going to watch an example of how cheesy 80s pop became an internet phenomenon- then show them the videos of people being shot.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:35 AM
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Heebie should have gswift skype in. I think Monday is one of his drinking nights?


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 10:38 AM
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I've never been clear on why colleges think it's a good idea to do these kinds of things anyway, especially outside of a class where someone with actual expertise is providing that expertise (eg a history of policing course or Af Am studies course). Even where you do have the context of real expertise there's a huge risk of doing nothing more profound than repeating the news. Without it you have either an incompetently run group therapy session that may leave kids more traumatized than they began with or an incompetently run viewing-of-the-news in public. In both cases it seems like misguided paternalism, instead of just doing what colleges should be doing, that is providing students with education in subjects that teachers are competent to teach. I'm sure this one won't end up being that big of a deal either way but the whole thing just seems inane pedagogically. I know this is a helpful comment!


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 11:24 AM
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Heebie, as you might imagine given my subject area, I deal with this issue several times a semester. I'm pretty sensitive to violence shown on-screen, but I won't show students something I haven't or won't watch because a) I don't want to be unpleasantly surprised, and b) at least some of the students are probably like me. Even what I can stand to watch/teach can be awful, though, and so I always remind students ahead of time that I am showing something disturbing, and that they can leave the room any time for any reason. I typically have only one student leave during the documentary on the genocide in Rwanda, and no one has left during the film I show about rape as a weapon of war.

Of course, I also tell my students about the need to practice self-care, and that I myself handle writing and teaching about horrible things by binge-reading YA fiction and romance novels.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 11:35 AM
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I think Monday is one of his drinking nights?

Not usually but I could make an exception.

What Ripper said. I don't see how this is going to be an actually useful discussion. It's going to be a bunch of 20 somethings with professors that AFAICT have no knowledge in criminology, police tactics, etc.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 11:42 AM
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I can see why schools might want to set up something like this, but doing it with someone in a position of authority telling people about stuff is at best a very, very tricky thing to manage. I only one or two professors in college who who went in for a sort of consciousness-raising project (in their classes, which also made it worse), but 56 is right. It's rarely effective and almost always condescending (especially in a context with a lot of undergraduates where the professor has no way of knowing what their personal backgrounds are). There's really very little way to do this without pretty openly saying "I'm a better person than you ignorant kids/spoiled upper middle class children of privilege*, so..."

*This was more or less the direct approach from one professor I had, which was especially galling because she was openly basing her belief about that on the fact that she was from that particular background and later had her eyes opened to a bunch of stuff.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 11:43 AM
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56 is pretty goddamn insulting. I've done these for the past four years, and I generally research the topic thoroughly, and have two people with training in community service (if that makes sense) co-organizing with me. We also try to pull in experts as much as possible, but like I said above, came up empty-handed this time around.

This is in no way a group-therapy session or just repeating the news, although repeating the news itself does serve some purpose to a group that is not otherwise watching the news at all.

I'm actually fairly competent at running a group discussion about current events, although I don't enjoy it. I particularly just really, really hate watching violence.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 11:45 AM
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I'm not saying you don't research issues or do a good a job as possible -- it's just that these things are really hard to do well, are pretty far afield from most of what colleges do well, and if they're not done very well indeed seem to me extremely likely to end up on a spectrum from pointless to affirmatively disastrous. I could be wrong but that was my experience with this sort of stuff in school.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 11:58 AM
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I haven't watched this yet b/c I'm at the airport, but I wonder if something like this might help: BET video

I don't know if it shows the killings or not.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 11:58 AM
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56: The alternative, though, is pretty bleak. People are interested in these subjects. They often don't have anywhere else to talk about them; so I don't see this kind of thing as "Cala, as a philosophy professor, tell us what to think about eugenics" or "Heebie, as a mathematician, tell us how to solve urban violence" but "as someone who leads 12 hours of discussions per week, help elevate the conversation above youtube comments."

IME it's not about discussions of solutions as just providing a space for discussion that's a bit more informed.

Anyhow, you can't show a video you're not willing to watch. But there are plenty of videos that show how police interactions can escalate (the one featured on TAL from two weeks' ago) beyond the intentions of anyone involved; there's the video of the guy who was shot but survived. And honestly, without knowing the audience well -- this isn't a class you have a rapport with -- I'd be really hesitant to show a video of a death unless I was really sure what I was doing with it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 12:15 PM
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I will say that enjoyed some (obvs not all) student-run "teach-ins" of various kinds as a student. Partly because they were student run, voluntary attendance, not for credit kinds of things, partly because the propaganda aspect was explicit and up front.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 12:26 PM
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Heebie should just set up a blog and let the students fight it out in the comments section.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 12:31 PM
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Given the alternative place for these conversations seems to be "Fox News", anywhere else would be an improvement.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 12:34 PM
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Given the alternative place for these conversations seems to be "Fox News", anywhere else would be an improvement.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 12:34 PM
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The second history professor turned me down!

At this point I'm leaning towards, "I can't show you the videos, even though the links are right here in the PPT, because I can't bring myself to watch them. But I'll describe them and send you the links afterwards, and you can watch if you want to."

I'll wait until I hear from my co-organizers, though...


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 12:37 PM
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I'm not sure about the necessity of showing the videos at all. Especially in light of 26, it's obvious though horrifying that people can be such moral morons that video can unpersuasive when just a factual description of the events and of the trend they represent should do.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 12:55 PM
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I'm having a weird reaction to what I've read of this thread so far which is

a) no, of course you and your students don't have to watch actual footage of people being murdered to discuss this

and

b) never mind, actually. Mostly just a.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 12:57 PM
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Show a Cliven Bundy video too.

Just show the Cliven Bundy video, and then you can say, oh wait, I thought when you said BLM...so embarrassing! Too bad this is my last one of these.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 12:57 PM
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Also I was hoping 36 was going to link to an all-black remake of something I was fond of as a kid.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 1:00 PM
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Being very honest with students is usually a good rule of thumb - "I'm surprised that you guys are finding this topic so hard. Hang on - if everyone can give me a minute, I'll re-organize how I was planning on doing the rest of today and next class so we can spend some extra time on this" - or whatever. "This is the unexpected SNAFU, and I need [X] as a workaround, but I'm open to suggestions."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 1:02 PM
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Now that I'm home and watched the clip linked to in 62, I can definitely recommend that you check it out. It's a well-produced two minute clip of black college students in Atlanta talking about their experiences with police violence, but it doesn't show anything violent. It might be a useful jumping off point.

I think your idea in 68 works--I've done something similar in my classes w/r/t videos and films that have come highly recommended to be but that there's no way in hell I'm going to watch it show (stuff like Hotel Rwanda, for example).


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 1:03 PM
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I can't show you the videos, even though the links are right here in the PPT, because I can't bring myself to watch them.

For what its worth, I think you should at least show the South Carolina one. The guy survives, and there's a lot of humanity in that, even as the cop realizes he fucked up.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 1:11 PM
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68: "The professor gave the innocent, pliable, patriotic college students a biased description of the videos, rather than letting them decide for themselves and then she made them pledge allegiance to a muppet made from Leonid Brezhnev's freeze-dried carcass" would be catnip to Fox News etc.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 1:13 PM
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If Fox News is going to accuse you anyway, you might as well do it. Did you need access to Leonid Brezhnev's freeze-dried carcass? I know a guy.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 1:18 PM
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I could show the SC one - "This one isn't as awful because the guy lives".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 1:21 PM
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I'm beginning to agree with others that you don't have to show the videos. After all, you yourself haven't seen them and are perfectly able to appreciate the issues at hand.

I do confess that I find the Tamir Rice video particularly compelling, in that the poor kid was shot within 2 seconds of police arrival on the scene: that incident is particularly instructive regarding implicit bias, for example. The cop stated that he registered the kid as a 20-year-old.

What's the goal of this discussion? To discuss implicit bias; to understand the level of outrage on the part of the black community (and others); to consider the ways in which police practices -- in some communities -- are structurally racist (I think of the arrangements in greater St. Louis, whereby aggressive traffic stops lead to fines lead to imprisonment for those unable to pay the fines, as well as, obviously, the 'broken windows' method of policing adopted in NYC)?

Depending on the goal of the discussion, it may not be necessary to show the videos.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 1:42 PM
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that incident is particularly instructive regarding implicit bias, for example

No it's not. It's a man with a gun call, Tamir was in winter clothing, and he's 5'7 and 195 pounds.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 1:54 PM
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He's still got a face. If the cop had taken more than two seconds before killing him, he might have noticed he wasn't old enough to shave.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 1:57 PM
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If the cop had taken more than two seconds

That shooting is fucked, but it's the approach that's off. The cop that did the shooting sounds like a mess but he got put in a legit impossible position. I can't fathom why the other cop drove right up to Tamir like that but the shooter was suddenly put within a few feet of an adult sized person who then starts to go for a totally realistic looking pistol.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:00 PM
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The person who called 911 thought it was probably a kid with a toy gun. You'd think somebody qualified to be a police officer wouldn't have that much trouble.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:03 PM
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And he didn't have a gun to anyone else's head when they drove up. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the cop to play the odds that he wasn't lying in wait to murder a cop by waiting for one to wander into range. Ohio is an open carry state, so even if it had been a real gun, he wouldn't have been doing anything illegal by walking around with it. (I admittedly think that's kind of nutty, but it does mean that an Ohio cop can't deduce "Look, there's a guy with an openly carried gun, he is obviously a criminal, so I can expect him to be dangerous.")


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:07 PM
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Maybe Heebie's students could approach this quality a level of discussion! What else is college for.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:10 PM
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1.That the caller thought it was a kid wasn't communicated to the responding officers.
2. That still doesn't mean much. We pull real guns off of teens all the time, and Tamir's gun looked 100 percent real.
3. It wasn't call of someone doing "open carry". It was dispatched as a call of someone pulling a gun out of their pants and pointing it at people.

It's a bad shoot, they totally unnecessarily forced that situation. It's a good lesson in negligent tactics resulting in a dead kid. But it's not a lesson in implicit bias.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:13 PM
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You don't think implicit bias played a role in unnecessarily forcing the situation?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:15 PM
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What exactly is the line between negligent tactics and depraved indifference as part of a murder charge?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:16 PM
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87: If you were assuming it's an adult with a gun then the last thing you do is drive up like that. What that video looks like to me is a driver who's assuming it's a kid fucking around in a park with a toy and a passenger who freaks out and shoots upon arrival. I'm very curious as to what the conversation or lack thereof was between those two as they went to and approached the call. The driver goes up to that call like someone who doesn't think he's in danger at all.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:19 PM
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The insulting part of 56 and 61 is that Heebie has a much better idea of how this seminar will go, and what she can and can't accomplish, than does Ripper.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:20 PM
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I just rewatched the video (being a more callous person than Heebie), and 'starts to go for' a gun, if it means that his actions were such as to justify the cop in thinking he was in immediate danger of being shot, is crap. The police car drives up and he's not motionless, but he's not aiming the gun at anything.

I remember you, talking about the guy who the police killed in the Walmart, pointing out that if a 'man with a gun' was called in a couple of minutes ago, and when the cops get there no one is visibly dead, injured, or even particularly excited about the situation, that's a valuable data point indicating that they don't need to kill anyone immediately. And this looks like a situation where the same thought process would have saved the kid's life.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:20 PM
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91 to 86, before I saw 89.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:21 PM
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I thought this thread would finally establish the college professor as history's greatest monster. But gswift and the fuzz had to come along and steal our glory.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:24 PM
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86: It's a good lesson in negligent tactics resulting in a dead kid. But it's not a lesson in implicit bias.

I take your point there.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:26 PM
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90 is cheerfully conceded, but well-meaning liberal college professors really are kind of horrible monsters.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:26 PM
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After all, you yourself haven't seen them and are perfectly able to appreciate the issues at hand.

I need to go to work but my pushback on these things is in response to sentiments like " After all, you yourself haven't seen them and are perfectly able to appreciate the issues at hand."

Seriously, no.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:30 PM
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96: Huh. Okay. I admit I was trying to be sensitive to Heebie's situation, but it's true, I don't know how you can teach a class on police violence against blacks without watching the videos. Unless you're talking about statistics and such, talking about incarceration rates and sentencing guidelines, etc.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:34 PM
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IMO the whole discussion (if it has to take place at all, still being a pill about this) would be better off based on a viewing of Do The Right Thing, precisely to avoid much worse versions of comments 80-97 here.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:45 PM
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Okay, how about this idea, Heebie -- what if you watch them, beforehand, with someone (several people, even) you trust who will (metaphorically or actually) hold your hand and give you care and comfort through the rough bits?

Then you allow the *students* the option of leaving the room if the experience of watching the videos gets too rough for them, and play the videos themselves in ascending order of least to worst, in terms of awfulness?

The other option might be to have a written description available for students who just can't watch them. You could get someone to watch them for you and maybe take that option too.

I know for a fact that my kid with her anxiety issues would not be able to handle watching these videos, and I would hate with a passion any professor who forced her to do so.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:46 PM
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Feel free to model the preferred form of discussion any time, Ripper.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:48 PM
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The preferred form of discussion is contemplative silence.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:53 PM
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Which is, unfortunately, impossible to distinguish from completely ignoring the issue.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:56 PM
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101 to literally every subject.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:57 PM
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If you show the Tamir Rice video, you have to show the extended version where the cops take down his sister and cuff her. It casts further light on the "inexplicable tactical mistake" hypothesis.

I hope that gswift can join the seminar. The fact that a four sigma outlier of an enlightened liberal cop in one of the most criminologically progressive big city police forces in the country thinks there was nothing further wrong in the Rice case than racially neutral incompetence is the best evidence I know of that shit is fucked up and bullshit in law enforcement.


Posted by: Knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:58 PM
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It is true that any sort of constructive discussion can't really occur in a single evening; some time for quiet absorption is necessary. My sympathies to Heebie for having to do this in what I take it is a single evening.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 2:58 PM
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What's the goal of this discussion? To discuss implicit bias; to understand the level of outrage on the part of the black community (and others); to consider the ways in which police practices -- in some communities -- are structurally racist (I think of the arrangements in greater St. Louis, whereby aggressive traffic stops lead to fines lead to imprisonment for those unable to pay the fines, as well as, obviously, the 'broken windows' method of policing adopted in NYC)?

Oh no, these topics are way too difficult for an evening. The goal of the evening is to tackle:
1. why talking about race is hard
2. why were people upset last year, (and MERELY this - just let's empathize with why this would be upsetting.)
3. what are some practical things you might say in response to things that other people often say


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 3:12 PM
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106 is very reassuring to me; those sound like ambitious-but-possible goals, especially if the audience shares them.

I do think one thing that is exceptionally hard about facilitating something like this is that some portion of your audience is going to have never viewed stuff like this before, a number will have viewed stuff like it, and some portion of the audience is likely to have lived it. As in, they have a friend or family member who was a victim of violence (potentially law enforcement violence).

It's a lot easier to prepare an audience when you can be reasonably sure they they have approximately the same degree of prior experience with an explosive topic. It's really hard to facilitate anything when some people are responding to an abstract (though upsetting) set of circumstances and others are potentially re-living trauma.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 3:31 PM
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My family has been on this continent for centuries. So there's lots of people with my last name, particularly in New Brunswick, who I have no idea who they are and have no emotional attachment to, other than that they are humans.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a Vienneau being shot dead by Canadian cops for no reason immediately apparent.

Apparently, the Canadians immediately have the Mounties investigate - none of this blatherskite where the local authorities investigate themselves so as to rule on their own innocence.


Posted by: Robert | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 3:32 PM
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Data point: I used to use a slide in my immigration talks that was a brutal hospital shot of Marcelo Lucero, with a badly beaten face. One time I forgot to warn a group of (white, middle class women) college students before the slide came up, and I saw one student flinch away in shock.

I talked about it later with the (white, upper middle class, female) professor and she first pooh-poohed the idea that anyone could have been upset by it, and then directly contradicted my gentle statement that one of her students HAD been observably upset.

Conclusion: This professor is an entitled jerk.*

*Evidence based on lifetime total of N=6 reactions.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 3:34 PM
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I find the position implied by gswift, namely that any discussion of these police encounters is necessarily incomplete if conducted by those not intimately familiar with police training and tactics condescending and, in a word, bullshit. The evidence is that police encounters are harassing, frequent, and all too frequently fatal for members of disadvantaged groups. That officer training and tactics yield this result isn't exculpatory, it's frankly quite damning, particularly given how relatively safe policing has become.


Posted by: lurker | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 3:38 PM
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110: That's what I was getting at with my admittedly less articulate contention in 104 that shit is fucked up and bullshit. When even a cop that we know to be well-intentioned and non-racist can't find fault with a system that produces an epidemic of dead minority civilians, then something is fundamentally awry with the ethos of policing in this country.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 3:50 PM
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Never including anyone with any knowledge or expertise is doubtless a good path to a meaningful grasp of the issues and a plan for effective change.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 4:07 PM
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That officer training and tactics yield this result isn't exculpatory

can't find fault with a system

Was GSwift actually claiming that it was exculpatory? I say no. He was saying that if you look at the reasons for the Rice shooting, the reasons lie in terrible tactics and training, not in implicit bias (even if that is a problem more generally). If you want to actually solve the problem, it helps to know what it is. The truth is that blacks are about 4x more likely than whites to get shot by the police, which sounds like a lot more but the number of confrontations with police and number of "criminals" is much greater than 4x more likely to be black. So while there's clearly a lot wrong with policing that leads to things like the Rice shooting a focus on implicit bias alone is not likely to in fact solve the problem.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 4:10 PM
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None of these things will be discussed! Hooray!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 4:14 PM
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112: You'll note that I am in favor of including your perspective, as evidence of the magnitude of the challenge.

I was reflecting on whether progress on the specific issue of lethal encounters between police and civilians might be more likely if the issue were deracialized - that is, if it weren't framed as "Black lives matter". The international comparisons make me wonder. Frankly I would be surprised if racism were any less common among police officers in Germany than in the U.S. And yet the Germans manage not to shoot a lot of Turks and Albanians on the streets of their cities, because they run their police forces differently.

There is a whole separate issue with the disparate impacts of police tactics like stop & frisk, where the racial dimension can't be elided. But on reforming training and tactics to rebalance the value put on police and civilian lives - maybe we would get further if it were framed in more race neutral terms. Not sure.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 4:17 PM
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Was GSwift actually claiming that it was exculpatory? I say no.

He said "forced that situation". In context, I understood him to mean that while it was a bad shoot overall, the cop who actually pulled the trigger was 'forced' to, by the other cop's error in pulling up too close, and the dispatcher's error in not telling them that the guy who called it in thought it was a kid.

While both of those seem like mistakes to me, and mistakes that certainly contributed to the tragic outcome, I still can't read the situation as one where anyone was 'forced' to shoot that kid. A civilian wouldn't have been able to successfully argue self-defense in the same situation (or if they would have, I can't see how), and I don't understand the relevant difference that means that the police officer was 'forced' to shoot the kid.

(If I misunderstood what "forced that situation" meant, G, and you agree that the cop who actually shot the kid acted wrongly, not just in hindsight but in the moment, I apologize for having misunderstood you.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 4:17 PM
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106 seems pretty reasonably limited (but then I don't see the point of this class) and also doesn't seem like the kind of conversation where watching the videos would be necessary or appropriate, at all.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 4:17 PM
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...which puts me close to agreement with T"R"O in 113, but not entirely. I don't think you can adequately explain the Tamir Rice case without reference to structural racism, and possibly implicit bias, too, though that's more speculative. But you could do a lot to avoid future Tamir Rices with ostensibly race-neutral reforms.



Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 4:21 PM
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1116 Adam K/o/t/s/k/o, had a good post about this a while back. When police shootings happen it turns out that free-will is only possessed only by the shot, the Police's hand is always forced, somehow the most powerful person in the situation, is the one that has no choices to make.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 4:26 PM
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106 seems pretty reasonably limited (but then I don't see the point of this class

It's an extracurricular activity that's part of a concerted effort to get kids to attend more extracurricular activities, for mostly retention-related magical thinking reasons.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 4:52 PM
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116: I thought "force the situation" in that context, and in general, means to make the situation more fraught, not to make the people involved do things against their will.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 4:56 PM
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||If you live in Louisville (you know who you are) and do not get your kids to join this group I swear I will hunt you down.|>


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 5:03 PM
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This one is technically better, though I prefer Crazy Train qua song.


Posted by: T"R"O | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 5:09 PM
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Truly, the highlight of the video in 122 is in the first ten seconds.



Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 5:10 PM
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Why are all of the little girls sharing instruments, while all of the little boys have instruments to themselves?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 5:17 PM
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but the number of confrontations with police and number of "criminals" is much greater than 4x more likely to be black.

Wait, what?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 5:29 PM
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That was not the best-phrased sentence. But I meant that, for example, the offending rate for blacks for homicide is about 8x that of whites, and the likelihood of being a homicide victim is also between 6 and 8x more likely for blacks than whites (per 100,000). So blacks are simply disproportionately much more likely in the US to commit or be the victim of a violent crime and thus to have encounters with the police following the commission of a violent crime. So, the fact that blacks are roughly 4x more likely to be shot than whites by police needs to be put into a context in which black America is overwhelmingly much more violent than white America in general -- in these circumstances, you certainly wouldn't expect a 1:1 police shooting ratio even if the police force was completely free of all implicit or explicit racial bias.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 5:41 PM
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Are cope shooting white dads buying BB guns at the Walmart or white kids with toy guns in the park?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 5:47 PM
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128 -- unfortunately, sometimes.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 5:53 PM
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125: Patriarchy.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 5:55 PM
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No Oscar liveblogging? I hope Boyhood wins because I saw it and not most of the others, and I thought it was pretty great, although it was on a redeye back from Tel Aviv after a very long day, so if someone tells me it was actually awful I wouldn't swear to my judgment not being impaired at the time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:28 PM
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I thought it was pretty great. It gutted me. But I'm in the target demographic and, like you, watched it on a plane, so I have doubts about my opinion.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:33 PM
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An old friend from my desert rave days is up for best sound mixing. I hope he wins! That's pretty much my only rooting interest except hoping American Sniper doesn't win best picture.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:33 PM
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I haven't seen American Sniper, but it's hard to imagine it's not awful as politics, however good it is as a movie. So we invaded a country and this dude killed the most people in it, and hey, that's a tough job, man.

If someone remakes Red Dawn (again) but makes one of the invading Russian snipers the sympathetic protagonist, he'll have my respect.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:39 PM
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They have to have Jennifer Grey play the Russian to get mine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:44 PM
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Anyway, now that I know what Neil Patrick Harris's nipples look like, I think I'm going to figure I've seen enough.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:47 PM
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Hey, my friend one! Hooray for achievements in the field of sound mixing!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:51 PM
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Yay, oneing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:52 PM
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I hope Boyhood wins, because HeebieTown.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:53 PM
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"Won". Hooray also for homophones.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:53 PM
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Thought I'd mention that Jeb Bush says he is on a paleo diet.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:55 PM
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Hooray also for homophones.

Better than Obamaphones?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:58 PM
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|| The supporting actor is a local guy, his mom just passed away a couple weeks ago. I don't know them, but know people who do . . . Her obit shows her to have been an extraordinary person, so there's that.
|>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:58 PM
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A year and two weeks ago, obvsly.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 7:59 PM
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141 -- I saw that and I 100% swear to God my first reaction was "I know that Stormcrow will mention this on Unfogged."


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:00 PM
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I'll always be here for you.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:02 PM
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143: And a Buckeye.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:04 PM
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This may just be me and I only watched the first hour or until Lee got home, but after all the complaints about underrepresentation of black nominees, there sure was a huge focus on reaction shots etc. from everyone black in the audience, which seemed sort of creepy and patronizing.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:20 PM
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I thought it was pretty great. It gutted me. But I'm in the target demographic and, like you, watched it on a plane, so I have doubts about my opinion.

I also thought it was great. It gutted me too. And I'll admit I'm also in the target demographic. But I watched it in a theatre, not on a plane. And, somewhat arrogantly, I have very little doubt about my opinion of this film.

Also, I'd like to gay-marry Patricia Arquette.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:28 PM
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Isn't the whole point of the In Memoriam to have shots from people's movies to give you a brief moment of nostalgia for their work? What the hell.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:38 PM
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In Memoriam.In Memoriam.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:43 PM
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I'm not at the awards but I'm getting angry work-related emails from someone who is and has time to use their phone to send angry emails, so that's kinda the same thing.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:45 PM
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I'll pretend that the second In Memoriam there was somehow a tribute to Joan Rivers (who was not included--maybe they should have had an In Memoriam portion of the Red Carpet).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:49 PM
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Glenn Greenwald is an odd person to see on an Oscar stage.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:52 PM
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Though I was really wishing some of my physics acquaintances would be up there--I'm annoyed that they weren't even shortlisted.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 8:52 PM
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The Oscars' ostentatious performance of discomfort with race must have something to teach heebie's students.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:05 PM
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I know, heebie! Make all the black students in the room perform a musical number so the white students can feel good about themselves.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:06 PM
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I read the plot of Boyhood on the Wikipedia page. I don't get it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:06 PM
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I thought it was Tolstoy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:07 PM
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I thought it was Tolstoy.

Actually, it was more Chekhov than Tolstoy, I think. If we're going to get all 19th-century-angst-ridden-Russian-writer about the film. The small gesture (Chekhov) versus the big idea (Tolstoy).


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:30 PM
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I have not read them either. I did read Doesteovsky and figured I got the general idea as to Russia and its literature.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:34 PM
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158: I just read the summary after reading the comment. Maybe it's like Tarkovsky's Mirror, but linear.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:56 PM
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And the Oscars go to... diseases!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 9:58 PM
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I was happy that Patricia Arquette won and disappointed Boyhood didn't win more (though it's not m fave Linklater) but the MAIN THING THAT HAPPENED WAS LADY GAGA SINGING 2/3 OF THE SOUND OF MUSIC OBVIOUSLY.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 11:21 PM
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Also as many good performances as there were in Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel is just better storytelling.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-22-15 11:22 PM
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165: If you expect us to watch the movies, you're going to have to sit through them with us, you know.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 12:35 AM
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Grand Budapest Hotel, which I didn't dislike, is the movie that finally convinced me that I just don't get Wes Anderson's genius. I've seen Moonrise Kingdom, Royal Tennenbaums and Rushmore, and they all struck me as ... okay.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:15 AM
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TWYRCL and I are still arguing about Lady Gaga's performance; I may have called it "a self-conscious parody display for the lovelorn academics in the audience."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:27 AM
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It didn't win the furrin picture prize, but you all should see Wild Tales, because it is utterly fucking awesome.

Should I see Boyhood? I kinda sorta want to, but my last Linklater experience was 15 minutes of Before Midnight, which I turned off because I couldn't stand the ceaseless yammering.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:14 AM
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I'm not going to see it, but I'd bet Boyhood is full of ceaseless yammering.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:15 AM
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Boyhood is really great. I didn't realize until we sat down that it was 3 hours long and I was afraid it would get tedious, but no such thing. I could have watched it for much longer.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:33 AM
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[M]y last Linklater experience was 15 minutes of Before Midnight, which I turned off because I couldn't stand the ceaseless yammering.

You'll be wanting Transformers VII, down the hall and to the left.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:14 AM
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167: I'm glad Wes Anderson exists and is successful, because I'm all for quirkiness, but his particular brand of quirkiness is not at all to my taste. At the top of the list of things that annoy me about his movies is the fact that every single character in every one of his movies has this weird, affectless manner that exists nowhere in the universe outside of a Wes Anderson movie. (Except in this brilliant SNL parody.)


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:17 AM
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||

Rudy Giuliani deserves a place in the Non-apology Apology Hall of Fame:

"My blunt language suggesting that the president doesn't love America notwithstanding, I didn't intend to question President Obama's motives or the content of his heart," Giuliani wrote.

|>


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:26 AM
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I liked Rushmore.

My Linklater experience is limited to Slacker, Dazed and Confused and Waking Life, all of which I enjoyed. I've missed out on the entire Before X series. It it any good (assuming that I don't mind ceaseless yammering)?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:26 AM
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Before X: two travelers meet each other on a magical night where they talk and stroll and fall in love, all the while aware that in mere hours they will be called to Professor Xavier's Academy to use their mutant philosophical extemporizing powers to save the world from the nefarious plans of the evil Magneto (Jack Black)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:29 AM
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175: My wife and I really enjoyed Before Sunrise before we met; it came up on one of our early dates. We enjoyed Before Sunset together, but haven't yet seen Before Midnight. We'll catch it one evening on Netflix, I suspect.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:32 AM
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You'll be wanting Transformers VII, down the hall and to the left.

Sick burn, dude. AIHMHB, I earned my street cred by falling asleep during My Dinner with Andre. That said, Tarkovsky could have made several dozen movies from the amount of words in one of those tedious scripts.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:32 AM
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...the fact that every single character in every one of his movies has this weird, affectless manner...

See I don't think this is actually right. They're often muted in a weird way, but they're not affectless. And then when they have a not so muted moment, like Chas Tenenbaum right near the end of Royal Tenenbaums, for me it's very affecting.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:38 AM
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171: I was also pleasantly surprised by Boyhood. I don;t think it is necessarily a "great" film, but I certainly think they did the concept justice. I would probably give it the nod of Birdman (which I liked but was just a little much with the self-absorption).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:40 AM
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If Boyhood is like Before Sunrise I'll probably enjoy it. If it's like Waking Life, the opposite. If it's like Before Sunset I might shrug and think it's ok. If it's like Dazed and Confused it will leave no lasting imprint on my memory. It's already like Slacker in that I haven't seen it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:46 AM
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I agree that Anderson's characters are not affectless, but the plotting and camerawork of GBH drove me crazy after a while.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:48 AM
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I think Jesus McQueen should be a professional movie critic, and would like to see more reviews in the style of 178.2.

I'm not being entirely ironic. Movie critics seem a pretty mixed bunch, and it would be great to see a quantified but completely demented set of criteria being applied to movies more generally.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:50 AM
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I have a hard time watching Wes Anderson movies ever since someone (probably Tony Zhou) pointed out that he insists on always framing his shots perfectly centered. It's one of those things that once you see it, you can't unsee it, and I find it incredibly distracting.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:52 AM
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I really enjoyed Budapest, despite having not liked any prior Anderson movies much. I'm not sure at all what the difference was.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:01 AM
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They're often muted in a weird way, but they're not affectless.

Maybe "affectless" is not quite the right word for it, but it's like watching a group of people with severe Asperger's who have worked very hard to mimic the normal range of human emotions, but they haven't quite mastered it, so it's sort of like the uncanny valley of emotional response. Whenever I watch one of his movies, I keep waiting for just one normal person to show up and ask, "What is wrong with you people?"


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:02 AM
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None of the clips of Birdman that I've seen left me with any interest whatsoever in seeing it. It looks kind of goofy but like it takes itself really seriously. Am I getting completely the wrong impression? Somehow the buzz about it reminds me of all the people who wouldn't shut up about how Fight Club was, like, seriously deep, you know, once you think about it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:02 AM
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I think my heart exploded with affection when I saw Bottle Rocket a thousand years ago. They're all babies + James Caan! Future Man! Jumpsuits! My second favorite line reading of all time: "Ooooookay." Anyway, it's been impossible for me not to be fond of WA ever since.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:03 AM
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I mostly like Wes Anderson. It's very stylized and unrealistic, yes, but so what? That's true of every sci-fi or noir or fantasy movie ever. He's just stylized and unrealistic in a distinctive way.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:08 AM
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186.last was my response also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:10 AM
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Whenever I watch one of his movies, I keep waiting for just one normal person to show up and ask, "What is wrong with you people?"

This, I think, applies to a super-large fraction of all movies, even very good ones. It's just that there are certain types of abnormal behavior that have become movie conventions and that don't provoke this reaction because we're used to them. I mean, how many comic mishaps or tragic romantic gestures would be averted if people just talked their problem out like normal people?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:11 AM
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184: That's exactly what I'm thinking of. Look, here's a rectangle! Let me zoom in and out, or pan to the right! Renoir would have wept. Granted, Tarkovsky did some of that kind of thing too, but when he zoomed in on something (I have an image of a specific scene from Nostalghia), he would take like half an hour to do it, and he would mix it up with action.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:11 AM
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When it works well for me, the numbness of his characters is suggestive of an immense well of unprocessed emotion that intensifies the type of scene Smearcase mentions in 179. It's emotional learned helplessness.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:15 AM
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Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums are all three wonderful. All of his movies since then have been formulaic derivatives of that early genius. Some are more enjoyable, some are less, mostly I like them fine, but they definitely have lost some of the magic.

His best movie since The Royal Tenenbaums is probably the underappreciate Fantastic Mr. Fox, which anyone with kids who hasn't seen it should make plans to see immediately. The weird affect that all his characters have really works better in a whimsical children's movie like this than it does in most of his other films. Because whimsy.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:18 AM
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I did see Fantastic Mr. Fox and liked it, compared to the usual shit that gets passed of on kids.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:19 AM
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When it works well for me, the numbness of his characters is suggestive of an immense well of unprocessed emotion that intensifies the type of scene Smearcase mentions in 179. It's emotional learned helplessness.

Per 194, I felt like this was the case, and worked well, in his early films (and probably was put to best effect in The Royal Tenenbaums). Since then, it's felt less suggestive of unprocessed emotion and more like a simple archetype for how a character in a Wes Anderson movie is supposed to act.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:22 AM
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+f.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:22 AM
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Inarritu's movies are a lot more than the plot summary. I'd say try if you like Tarkovsky, Truffaut, or Malick.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:22 AM
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196 seems right.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:24 AM
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Note that the animated characters in Fantastic Mr. Fox have exactly the same weird affect that the actors in all his other movies have.

(Note also that this signature affect was essentially developed over the course of his early films--it's very subtle, almost unrecognizable in Bottle Rocket, stronger in Rushmore, and perfected in The Royal Tenenbaums. Since then, it's been ever-present, but feels like it's being put to less use in the recent films. It's just there.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:26 AM
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Fantastic Mr. Fox, which anyone with kids who hasn't seen it should make plans to see immediately

I endorse this comment enthusiastically. To 193: I am reminded of Anthony Lane's appraisal of Bill Murray in Rushmore (piss off, I happen to think Lane is an excellent critic), the movie that convinced me that Bill Murray can be seriously great.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:28 AM
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The Fantastic Mr. Fox wikipedia entry has this line that makes me weep for America:

Despite its critical success, the film's box office receipts were overshadowed by other films, particularly The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:34 AM
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I mean, I'm willing to forgive Twilight, but The Squeakquel??


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:35 AM
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The Squeakquel wasn't as good as the first one, but both were worse than Mr. Fox.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:36 AM
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The third one (Chipwrecked) wasn't bad either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:39 AM
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oudemia--what was it that you were trying to do (sing maybe?), and your performance was so disappointing to your child that he told you not to try?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:48 AM
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180, 185: Also saw and liked Budapest. This is the first time in years that I had seen more than one or two* of the finalists going into the ceremony, much less liked them.

*Probably due in part to increased number of finalists.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:48 AM
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184 + 186: I Haven't seen much Anderson of course, but "affectless acting" and "centered framing" sounds like Ozu + Mamet. I don't necessarily agree with their attitude that actors shouldn't add emotion to the well written line, nor should a director/cinematographer add movement/emotion to a setup/mise-en-scene. I do think about it as a choice.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:50 AM
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206: Fin ch'han dal vino


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:57 AM
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The weird affect that all his characters have really works better in a whimsical children's movie like this than it does in most of his other films. Because whimsy.

The fact that Fantastic Mr. Fox was animated (ok, "stop motion" if you want get picky) helped a lot. I'd probably like most of his other films more if they were animated rather than live action.

It's very stylized and unrealistic, yes, but so what? That's true of every sci-fi or noir or fantasy movie ever. He's just stylized and unrealistic in a distinctive way.

Very, very true. But the more stylized and unrealistic a setting is, the more it requires you to suspend your disbelief and buy in to the fictional world, and somehow I'm just not able to do that with Anderson's movies. And in part that bothers me because his films ought to be right up my alley, since many of my favorite movies are stylized and unrealistic to a similar extent. (O Brother Where Art Thou springs to mind.) There's just something about Anderson's particular flavor of quirkiness that doesn't work for me, and since I can't suspend my disbelief, the whole thing ends up just grating on my nerves.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:58 AM
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209: Oh Lord, that completes the picture so delightfully that I laughed in the out loud way. Maybe "Deh, vieni, alla finestra" might go over easier?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 11:11 AM
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I'm glad Wes Anderson exists and is successful, because I'm all for quirkiness, but his particular brand of quirkiness is not at all to my taste.

Yeah, I like the idea of Wes Anderson much more than the actuality.

I saw someone cite this bit of dialogue from Grand Budapest Hotel as resonating with the current US debate on immigration. Gustave asks Zero:

What on God's earth possessed you to leave the homeland where you obviously belong and travel unspeakable distances to become a penniless immigrant in a refined, highly-cultivated society that, quite frankly, could've gotten along very well without you?

After some back-and-forth, Zero ultimately responds:

Zero: Well, you see, my father was murdered and the rest of my family were executed by firing squad. Our village was burned to the ground and those who managed to survive were forced to flee. I left because of the war.

Gustave: I see. So you're, actually, really more of a refugee, in that sense?

Zero: Truly.

Now that's a nice bit of dialogue, and pretty much any competent director could have done better with it than Anderson. MAE repented of calling Anderson's characters affectless, but the net impact of this exchange - like seemingly every other exchange in Anderson movies - is to establish how quirky his characters are. He quite deliberately drains his characters of emotional resonance, so that quirkiness is the only remaining affect.

(And I'll say again, I don't hate his movies or anything, but I keep watching them with the expectation that he's going to grow up as a director, and he never does.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 11:38 AM
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Count me in among those who find WA vaguely annoying, because the characters are too-cute-by-half. I haven't seen many of his movies, but Rushmore was exactly that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 11:45 AM
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How true is it that his early movies were better because they were cowritten with Owen Wilson? Collaboration can bring out the best in people who can be but too much on their own.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 11:46 AM
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214 is my hunch.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 11:52 AM
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the characters are too-cute-by-half

This is not necessarily a fault in a stop-motion children's movie.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 11:54 AM
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Whenever I watch one of his movies, I keep waiting for just one normal person to show up and ask, "What is wrong with you people?"

...and how has Unfogged been for you?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 12:04 PM
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The normal people will never find us here. We're safe.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 12:09 PM
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I've been thinking about this story for a while http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/true-history-origins-police-protecting-and-serving-masters-society


Posted by: roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 12:16 PM
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Now that's a nice bit of dialogue, and pretty much any competent director could have done better with it than Anderson. MAE repented of calling Anderson's characters affectless, but the net impact of this exchange - like seemingly every other exchange in Anderson movies - is to establish how quirky his characters are. He quite deliberately drains his characters of emotional resonance, so that quirkiness is the only remaining affect.

Quirkiness isn't an affect. Anderson creates quirky worlds, and his characters don't display the same affect that characters in more "realistic" movies do, but the point of the weird/flattened affect isn't to communicate quirkiness.

If the actors had been seriously emoting in the quoted exchange, the film would have been entirely different and not necessarily better.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 12:22 PM
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220 was me.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 12:34 PM
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What is the point of weird/flattened affect?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 12:35 PM
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If there's a point the affect needs more flattening.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 12:43 PM
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Oh, holy shit, I lived and worked in the same city as that SC shooting for six years. This is the first I've seen of this story. I technically quit about a month before the shooting (I'd been on leave a year already) and it happened while I was really busy settling in to my new work overseas. I never even heard about it til now. I guess I've been in an expat news bubble.

I just watched the video, and it completely blows my mind. I vividly remember the time I (white middle-aged female) was pulled over on the highway right at that very same exit in 2011, and completely talked my way out of a ticket.

Mostly, I cannot believe that poor guy actually even said "I'm sorry" and "sir" to the trooper. The Old South is so, so messed up. Ugh.

I think you should watch the video because the tone of voice and the word choice says so much about the relationship between the two human beings.



Posted by: Taprobana | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 12:54 PM
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It's strange to me that we're discussing micromanagement of the screen image among this year's pictures and we are not talking about Birdman. Also, isn't this what people love about Kubrick? (I wouldn't know, as I don't much care for him.) Also I agreed heartily with comment 220 even before I knew I lived with comment 220.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 12:57 PM
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I agree with all the people defending Wes Anderson while simultaneously having had to turn off Grand Budapest because I couldn't handle the intense, mannered quirkiness.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:02 PM
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Also, isn't this what people love about Kubrick? (I wouldn't know, as I don't much care for him.)

You'll be wanting Transformers VII, down the hall and to the left.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:05 PM
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226: I'll leave it to someone else to figure out exactly when it happened, but at some point style turned into schtick.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:11 PM
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Rushmore is apparently the only Wes Anderson movie I've seen and I watch movies differently enough now that I'll probably watch Grand Budapest Hotel. For the aspect ratios.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:14 PM
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I mean, I dunno. Maybe I'm the problem! I loved the production design, I am totally on board with the way he frames shots, I think the acting is interesting and not unpleasant, but then you add it up and it equals I turned it off.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:14 PM
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I disliked Rushmore, come to think of it. And have only ever seen one other of his movies (Zissou) although I loved that one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:15 PM
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One of the things I get from the flat affect is a very strong message that these characters are all, in various ways, unable to communicate emotion the way normal people do. So I'm supposed to understand their emotions, motivations, etc., from their words and actions, not their affect. I also have to look at the filmmaking more carefully -- what does the framing of this shot communicate about what this character is feeling? -- in a way that more realistic film is not as self-conscious about.

The disconnect between words/actions and emotions allows Anderson to do some interesting things. So, for example, he can have characters discussing really horrible things, like the killings and persecution that made this guy into a refugee, without that discussion having to stop the show, be accompanied by swelling strings and tears, etc. For me, that doesn't remove the emotional content from the events described, but it does transform it -- makes it formal, holds it in abeyance as (in this case) part of the character's history and motivation but not something that I have to experience at the moment. For me, Anderson's movies work by eventually cashing out a lot of accrued moments of frozen, formalized emotion. I don't quite know how to explain it, but it's something that a lot of highly structured art does. And sure, it either works for you or it doesn't.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:19 PM
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If I'm normal, normal people can't communicate emotions very well anyway. I think it depends on whether you say I'm right or my grandma was right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:21 PM
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Sure, formalism is as valid as naturalism, and I like the emotional compression (which is not to say flat affect) of some of his films, but there's a twee feel to a lot of his stuff that makes it look like a Decemberists video.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:28 PM
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I really loved F. Murray Abraham in TGBH.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:32 PM
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"Emotional compression" is a good term.

Anderson is super twee. His stuff almost always works for me, though. I guess I liked that Decemberists video about Eschaton, though.

I guess I don't quite get why twee is necessarily bad. It often turns me off, but done well it's really fun. Grand Budapest was just so delightful, especially the twee parts -- the elaborate pastries, the visual references to Central European animation. I just thought those were all so great.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:34 PM
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I think it's about time we rolled Whit Stillman into this conversation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:37 PM
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Or a tasteful rug.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:40 PM
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Grand Budapest was just so delightful, especially the twee parts -- the elaborate pastries, the visual references to Central European animation.

You know, I was pretty on board until they went to the funeral. The design of the hotel -- especially the difference between the later and earlier time periods -- is legitimately stunning. I think maybe I have an innate sense of Wes Anderson as whimsically low stakes and the jangly unhappiness of the plot kicking in bothered me?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:40 PM
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236: It's not necessarily bad, and in fact I like it to a point, so I maybe it's just a matter of tolerance level. There's something about his reducing the camerawork to a set of gestures that really irritates me, though; it's like the cinematic equivalent of late Philip Glass, which can be rich and pretty but formally a bore.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:42 PM
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237: I'm sure that you're joking, but I did, in fact, like Barcelona quite a bit.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 1:55 PM
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241: I'm suddenly reminded of one of my favorite scenes from Metropolitan:

Young Preppy: "Would you agree that our class doomed to failure?"

Old Preppy: "No. Mostly we fail without being doomed."

I'm not sure if I've got the lines exactly right (google isn't helping), but it's close.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:17 PM
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The disconnect between words/actions and emotions allows Anderson to do some interesting things. So, for example, he can have characters discussing really horrible things, like the killings and persecution that made this guy into a refugee, without that discussion having to stop the show, be accompanied by swelling strings and tears, etc.

The problem I have with Anderson is not that he fails to overtly tugs heartstrings. It's that his characters have no sense of an interior life. I have no idea how Zero feels about the events he describes, and in any conventional reading, Gustave is a clod -- but I'm not sure that's Anderson's point at all.

Actors as good as the ones that Anderson uses - and directors who are as good as Anderson is supposed to be - can convey all sorts of emotional content without resorting to "Acting!"

Anderson seems to be actively opposed to viewers identifying with his characters. Contrast him (as MAE does) with the Coens, and you see that, for example, "Raising Arizona" is all quirk, all the time, but with characters that are identifiably human.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:24 PM
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And they had to get a performance that was identifiably human out of Nicolas Cage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:26 PM
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I identify with basically everyone in Royal Tenenbaums except for the genius thing. Every character (i'm saying without stopping to think if it's quite true) has a moment of revealing her/his inner life, at least. Or: I think we're just going to have to be secretly in love with each other and leave it at that, Richie.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:28 PM
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Grand Budapest Hotel is my favorite of Anderson's films because by addressing the tragic limits met by a world besotted with style when it must address catastrophe and terror, it feels like a very self-conscious review of Anderson's own work.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:30 PM
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I am a pretty big Coen Brothers fan, have seen I think everything but The Ladykillers (purportedly horrible, plus Transformers VII was playing that day) but I find their characters substantially less human than Wes Anderson's.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:30 PM
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My Wes Anderson rankings: a cluster of Rushmore, Tenenbaums, and Moonrise Kingdom; Bottle Rocket; Mr. Fox; Zissou. Didn't see Darjeeling because I thought I was over it with Zissou. I should probably (re-)see both.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:33 PM
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I enjoyed Mr Fox in the theatre with my kid a few years ago, hadn't realized WA directed it. I found Darjeeling Express unwatchable. Then forgot about it and we went to see Grand Budapest Hotel actually in the theatre and walked out at the end completely exhausted by the relentless art direction without any discernible point. Other than itself. So I conclude whatever he's selling, I'm not the target audience.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:33 PM
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I also cannot recommend highly enough to anyone who is interested in Anderson (whether ambivalent) Matt Zoller Seitz's series of videos. If you only do one, my favorite is the one about the influence of Bill Menendez's Peanuts cartoons (which I'd never have thought of in a million years but is perfect). I got into the tank and then out of the tank and then back in the tank again for Anderson and those videos are a big part of why I returned.

Seitz has since published a book about Anderson and a follow-up about GBH alone. I oughta probably get 'em.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:36 PM
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I found Darjeeling Express unwatchable.

Granted. I frankly can't get through The Life Aquatic either, but I find the last two just immaculately paced and rueful in a haunting way and generally more like stuff from the 40s in their storytelling than the generic run of modern filmmakers.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:44 PM
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I find it gratifying that some of the discerning folk of Unfogged share my view of Anderson. The critics love the guy. I can't think of another director whose work is as aggressively adored by the critics, but that strikes me as meh.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:47 PM
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Woody Allen?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 2:58 PM
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Woody Allen and Wes Anderson should start some kind of movie company together and call it Wawa.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 3:19 PM
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Politicalfootball: Wes Anderson? Hmmm, I think he may be a candidate for the old Academy... Oh, we've invented the Academy of the Overrated - for such notables as Wes Anderson...

Moby Hick: And Woody Allen...

Smearcase: (disgusted) I think those people are all terrific, every one that you've mentioned. What about Rick Linklater? You guys don't want to leave him out. I mean, while you're trashing people...

Politicalfootball: OK, OK! I loved it when I was at Radcliffe but, I mean, OK, you outgrow it. You ab-so-lutely outgrow it...


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 3:22 PM
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I went to state schools.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 3:25 PM
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I saw Celebrity and Wildman Blues in the theater. Because dating is a horror.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 3:29 PM
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236.last: here's an article in the TLS arguing that twee is actually super-important: http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1520299.ece


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 3:31 PM
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I am totally on board with the critical opinion of Woody Allen - I mean, he's put out a significant amount of junk, but the critics know that.

That said, the only thing that kept me in the theater to the end of Celebrity was my (incorrect) assumption that my date wanted to watch it through. I keep meaning to watch that one again just to find out if it's as spectacularly bad as I remember.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 3:42 PM
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The last paragraph of the piece linked in 258 is probably the most depressing thing I'll read today. Possibly because I live in Tweetopia.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:04 PM
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I read that as Tweet-opia and was like no that's right across the bay, and its castle is on Market Street.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:10 PM
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It's possible that Celebrity ruined Kenneth Branagh for me. He's supposed to be brilliant, but I find him repugnant everywhere I see him.

Which, however, does mean that I thought he was terrific in Conspiracy.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:13 PM
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I saw that a couple of weeks ago! It was odd to see an actual structure with a sign and everything, and all the poop and garbage on Market all around it. It didn't seem very Twittery.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:15 PM
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263 to 261, of course. I don't think that Conspiracy was surrounded with poop and garbage.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:17 PM
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My Wes Anderson rankings: a cluster of Rushmore, Tenenbaums, and Moonrise Kingdom

Correct.

I am a pretty big Coen Brothers fan, have seen I think everything but The Ladykillers (purportedly horrible, plus Transformers VII was playing that day) but I find their characters substantially less human than Wes Anderson's.

Also correct. I felt like the characters in Moonrise Kingdom and Rushmore, especially, were far more human than any character I can think of in a Coen brothers movie. In fact, I lurve the brothers Coen more even than I lurve Wes Anderson, but I still don't think their films are marked by characters evincing much in the way of recognizably human emotion.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:36 PM
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Whereas thinking about certain scenes from Moonrise Kingdom, even at this remove of years, makes me variously quite happy or very sad depending. (I am nearly certain the previous sentence makes no sense at all, but that's life.)


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:40 PM
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Then again I mostly spend my time watching a seven-year-old play Lego Batman III: Beyond Gotham, so I may not be the most discerning of film critics, at least not this side of Tony Scott.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:42 PM
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I will be SO FUCKING GLAD when this evening is over, even though I think it will go fine. I've watched the South Carolina video and will be showing that one. Just going to level with them about the rest.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:43 PM
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I hope it goes well, heebie. The goals you enumerated yesterday seemed thoughtful. And remember, even if things go badly, you always have your white privilege to cushion any fall.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:47 PM
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263: wait you were in town and didn't call a meetup?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:48 PM
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He and I came to town together. You didn't think we'd let you know, did you?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:52 PM
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268: Good. And it will feel so great to have it over, I'm sure. I'm still not sure when my painful obligations will end.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:54 PM
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270: I know, I suck, but it was on short notice and I ended up having no free time what with the MTT birthday concert and all. But late spring/early summer I want to go back, so I'll put up the meetup signal. Who wants to go to a Giants game?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:55 PM
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I'm still not sure when my painful obligations will end.

You claim to have children. If that's true, the answer is obvious: never.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 4:55 PM
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You claim to have children.

So hurtful to a person who adopted. For shame.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:23 PM
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Semi-related pop quiz question: About WHOM did I just use the phrase "Jimmy Carter in the lips, Benedict Cumberbatch in the hips."


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:31 PM
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I don't know, but I do know that I just walked past a painting of various Republican presidents from Lincoln through GWB playing poker in the window of an Upper West Side framing shop. Kind of like the picture of dogs playing poker, but with Republican presidents. (The artist seemed to have been fond of Jerry Ford, who was depicted in an almost unrecognizably flattering manner.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:38 PM
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274: Running the PTO is so unpleasant for me, but I'm the only person on the committee now and no one else wants to run, so I don't know if I can morally justify quitting after this year. Especially when I'd be leaving them with less money than when I started because no way am I single-handedly running fundraisers. I am just paying for stuff out of my own pocket, which I figure is almost as good and less painful for me. And Lee has said I should quit and it's a misplaced obligation to other people where I'm a martyr and it keeps me from doing all my family needs, but given it's at most 3 hours/month I don't think that's true. It's a near-constant source of stress, but I don't let her know that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:39 PM
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I had a brief moment last week where it seemed like a great idea to run for the local school board. Then I realized NONONONONONONO.

Off to suffer!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:42 PM
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Oh, and not quite on topic, Nia's reading comprehension page was a Presidents' Day leftover since they were out of school for snow and cold all last week and she had to say whether she preferred Washington or Lincoln. She wrote (and I'm paraphrasing because her paper is downstairs and I have a stomach bug and need to rest) "I like President Lincoln because he freed the slaves. That was a good thing to do and if he did not do that I would be living in slavery. So thanks, Abe Lincoln!" She was her usual chipper self about it and very proud of her answer, but I found it deeply depressing and will talk to her about it more once I'm feeling better. I know second grade worksheets don't lend themselves to nuance, but damn!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:44 PM
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279: I do probably want to run for school board in a few years, and I'm not sure if having been a bad PTO president will be disqualifying. I just never wanted to do the job but agreed because they needed me and then my helpers quit to homeschool or for a messy divorce and Lee can never even attend to help me with our kids while I run the meetings, not that anyone really comes when there's a meeting. Hate hate hate hate!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:46 PM
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280: you mean that you'll explain to her that Lincoln didn't actually free any slaves, right? Because her answer displays a staggering ignorance of the historiography. I'd be mortified too, if she were my kid.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:51 PM
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I like President Lincoln because he freed the slaves. That was a good thing to do and if he did not do that I would be living in slavery the capricious, dominating Child-Empress of an independent and armed quilombo of great size and power known throughout the world as Niastan.

You need to go BIG with your alternate histories.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:52 PM
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Also, I finished my review of the B/aptist book. I ended up being much, much kinder than I expected.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:52 PM
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283 was me.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:52 PM
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282 was more or less what I meant, actually. Don't give some dead white straightish man control of your story!

And you'll never guess whose book I'm reading now. So far it hasn't cured my stomach bug, but there's time.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:56 PM
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238: HOORAY.

I have a soft spot for Linklater because he is, or his scripts are, so earnestly dim-witted and well-meaning. They're the opposite of something like Charlie Kaufman's films (which I loathe): not trying to be clever, genuinely uninterested in shifting goalposts, just sort of a distillation of being 15. It's a spirit that doesn't usually survive commercialization, but I guess in Boyhood he made it work to his advantage? (I haven't seen it. Maybe I should, but not before I finally see The Turin Horse. Priorities.)

I feel perfectly neutral about Wes Anderson. I had an unexpectedly long discussion at some point, involving one other commenter here, of what Whit Stillman had against Derek Parfitt and what he thought it all signified. Maybe Parfitt just rolled him up in a rug LOL


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 5:57 PM
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286.1: if you want me to be part of the intervention, I can skype in.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:06 PM
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a painting of various Republican presidents... playing poker...

I've seen that one. Also the dem version.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:09 PM
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I'm pretty sure I can handle it. If you want to deal with Mara feeling left out because she has the darkest skin in her class or thinking I'm going to die and desert her forever because I have some 24-hour virus, those will probably be less enjoyable conversations.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:11 PM
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277: I saw one of those in Shadyside while doing Christmas shopping.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:12 PM
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290: Ben has to have a tooth pulled tomorrow -- he inherited a small mouth -- and is quite certain he's going to die. He hasn't been out of my lap for hours.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:15 PM
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On the veldt, a small mouth provided protection from cholera because it was harder to accidentally ingest feces.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:17 PM
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Von Wafer, much as I admire the sheer Slate-pitchiness of your POV ("Lincoln: Bad President, or Terrible President?"), this is one of those cases where naive, vaguely remembered history gets it righter than sophisticated historiography. Lincoln set in motion a series of events that amounted to a one way ratchet on the path to the ultimate destruction of slavery. If it wasn't quite as neat and clean as the legend of the Great Emancipator, that's because life isn't neat and clean.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:29 PM
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I actually think it's particularly important for black kids to learn about the ways enslaved black people figured out how to emancipate themselves and the roles they played in the anti-slavery movement rather than just that black history is just slaves then Lincoln then MLK and Rosa Parks, and now we're all cool.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:32 PM
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And they had to get a performance that was identifiably human out of Nicolas Cage.

Not my original thought, but: Nic Cage is terrible when he's playing a hero (The Rock, et al.), but he's great when he's playing a zero (Raising Arizona, Adaptation). What he needs is an agent who intervenes to stop him from accepting hero roles.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:35 PM
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That leaves out the guy who ran Godfather's Pizza.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:35 PM
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297 to 295.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:38 PM
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|| Ok, so maybe I have to start paying attention to Uber now. Should this be opposed? ||


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:42 PM
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294 see 295, but expand "black kids" to "everyone." I know it's important for liberals to feel like Lincoln was the Great Proceduralist, and there's something to that, but it's also important to understand that our political systems has critical moments when proceduralism completely fails. The secession crisis, and more broadly the slow-motion train wreck that was the fight over slavery, was one of those moments.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:44 PM
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it's also important to understand that our political systems has critical moments when proceduralism completely fails. The secession crisis, and more broadly the slow-motion train wreck that was the fight over slavery, was one of those moments.

I'm visualizing a comic book to get this point across to the third graders.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:49 PM
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Visualize it stomping on your face forever, and we'll have reached comity.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:51 PM
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I actually think it's particularly important for black kids to learn about the ways enslaved black people figured out how to emancipate themselves

The more salient lesson is that having a powerful white man take up your cause does more practical good than two centuries of resistance and solidarity.



Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:52 PM
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303: Not after they kill whitey it won't! I've always thought it would be fine to die for a good cause and assume most of the rest of you are also game.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:54 PM
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Procedural liberalism cannot fail. It can only be failed.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:55 PM
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I so want to believe that you're trolling, kr, and not just being an (ignorant) asshole. Reassure me, please.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:55 PM
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I'm trolling about encouraging a race war, for what it's worth. But I'm not discouraging it either.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:56 PM
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♥ Thorn


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 6:58 PM
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305 could only have been written with the sincerest of conviction, Von Wafer.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:02 PM
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I hadn't seen 305 when I wrote 307. Consider me reassured.

In far more important news, I just realized that we're springing forward in less than two weeks.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:03 PM
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I just realized that we're springing forward in less than two weeks.

Dude what how can that be I still have eight-foot-high mounds of snow outside my front window.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:14 PM
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I just had dinner with someone from your former university. How we convinced him to fly out here in February, I have no idea, but it seems much less crazy now that I remember that you actually moved away from there.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:16 PM
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I have no regrets.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:18 PM
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(n.b. I have some regrets.)


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:19 PM
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Wasn't it in the boring, middle part of California anyway? I never heard of the place until you mentioned it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:31 PM
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I assume the place is named after the president of the CAS and that's why you're so hard on Lincoln.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:41 PM
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It totally was! We just yesterday told someone -- who moved here from San Diego -- that had we lived on the coast, we never would have left CA. She started crying.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:45 PM
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317 to 315.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:46 PM
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I had possibly the best burrito of my life in VW's former town.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:47 PM
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Nowhere is a good place to live. Everywhere has something fatally wrong with it. Ugh. (Hi, how are you? Great, great, why do you ask?)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 7:55 PM
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Not another serial killer?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:02 PM
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Everywhere has something fatally wrong with it.

You've never been to Pittsburgh, have you?

Also, read this. It's genius and will make you feel better.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:09 PM
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Pittsburgh schools are going to be on 2 hour delays every day this week because the kids can't handle frost bite anymore.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:13 PM
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That was last week: not one full day of school.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:16 PM
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Link in 322 is indeed genius.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:18 PM
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As often as I've had it explained to me I still never really know what you people mean by procedural liberal.


Posted by: Dumb President | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 8:59 PM
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Which part don't you understand?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:00 PM
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It's a multi-step process.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:03 PM
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Procedural liberalism is like Ikea. You follow established steps in the proper order. It usually works best in Scandinavia and nearly always involves using an Allen wrench.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:05 PM
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It's OVER!

It actually went very, very well. I feel like I got hit with a Mack truck though. About 20 students from the black student union showed up unexpectedly, so black students actually outnumbered everyone else - there were about 40 students total. So I kept having to improvise, because "So, what could you do around Heebie U to make things better?" sounds awfully naive to say to a bunch of black kids. (I went with "What can white kids do to be allies to black students?" just because that's the language used with LGBT situations and I think it worked to some degree.)

For the videos, when I got to that part and tried to explain why we weren't watching them, I actually choked up and got emotional, which was totally embarrassing and felt awful, but rhetorically probably made my point more effectively than I otherwise could have made it. We did watch the SC one, and it blew them away. They were absolutely floored, all of them. There was absolutely no one arguing that the cop has a dangerous job, or anything like that.

Overall, the tension was sky high in the room, but all the students were on their best behavior. The white kids made timid comments like "It's so hard to know what to say to not offend someone" and the black students shared plenty of things that people do that offend them. Near the end, a white girl got on a bit of a soapbox about being color-blind. I sort of jumped up and down saying "That's a super loaded word! What a landmine!" and took one response and then called it a night. Overall....good. Except for how fucking exhausting and draining it was. Good lord.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:06 PM
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I don't understand going presidential to ask a dumb question. "Moby Hick" is the pseudonym I use when I want to ask dumb questions or give dumb answers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:07 PM
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Done. Hooray.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:09 PM
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330: Yay!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:10 PM
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She hasn't had the mastectomies yet, dood.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:11 PM
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I think we can all agree that talking to young people is exhausting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:15 PM
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"What can white kids do to be allies to black students?"

You should have led them in a pledge to not shoot anyone on a traffic stop.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:17 PM
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Lately, I've been wondering if there was any safe way to put Xanax in the water supply instead of fluoride.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:23 PM
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330: bravo!


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:24 PM
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337: you've got my vote for student council president.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:24 PM
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Someone should buy you a stiff drink. Phew! Sounds like it was a success in getting students out to an extracurricular activity. More turned out than you expected and you achieved your goals.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:25 PM
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335: Talking to old people is also exhausting. Maybe there's a half plus seven rule for people it's not exhausting to talk to.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:35 PM
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My Xanax method might work for that also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 9:48 PM
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I'm watching Citizenfour. Holy crap.

Taney was right in Merryman, btw.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 10:53 PM
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331 ok but almost no one here has met you or knows your real name, so if they think you're dumb, they think some abstract thing that makes funny jokes is dumb. Plus you're not very dumb.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-23-15 11:32 PM
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I'm not known to as many people as you, but I'm hardly unknown. There are over a dozen people who can connect the stupid to my real name.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 5:58 AM
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Young Preppy: "Would you agree that our class doomed to failure?"
Old Preppy: "No. Mostly we fail without being doomed."

That is my favorite exchange from that movie, although it's much harder to work into conversations than "I don't [partake of X]; I prefer good X criticism." I should really stop overusing that one, honestly.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 6:00 AM
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330: Congrats on making it through. It sounds like you did a good job.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 6:08 AM
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299/Uber: it sounds like the current system is crappy, but it also sounds like the proposed bill will completely abandon any possibility of local control or taxation:

The bill would also prohibit local governments from regulating or imposing any taxes and fees on transportation network carrier services.

A local government would also not be allowed to require a license or impose any other operational requirements.

Again, it sounds like the status quo is not good, but I don't trust a bill that seems to basically be based on the premise that taxi regulation is inherently illegitimate and counterproductive. I like the Chesterton quote here:

'In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."'


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 6:15 AM
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348: Yeah, giving the right to veto a new entrant (say, a new regular cab company) to existing carriers seems like a bad policy. The new law seems positively dangerous.

I worry a lot about liability and inadequate insurance in the event of an accident. Who pays for the insurance in the uber set up? I could see an insurer refusing to pay, because someone declined to state that they used their car for business purposes.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 6:40 AM
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Yay, heebie! I do think having that SC video is the right way to go and I think showing genuine emotion and frustration and unable-to-even-talk-about-this-ness to the kids is a helpful thing you can do as a role model. And now you're finished!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 6:49 AM
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right on heebie! solid!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:53 AM
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Belatedly, but: Woo heebie!

I can remember the one professor who ever even got close to tearing up in college as clear as day. Made a huge impression on me, in a positive way. So human.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-24-15 7:29 PM
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There's a website where they have to reflect on the evening and write a little bit. I only got the post up today, but one of the early comments is "During the discussion, I began to really understand how much of a controversial topic race is."

Well that's good!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 1:26 PM
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Oh dear. I mean, yay. But oh dear.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-15 1:28 PM
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