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Yves Smith is not impressed with Ezra Klein

Posted by Ben
on 07.01.11

This is some kind of thorough response.

Via a zunguzungu link post, many of whose other contents are worthwhile, e.g. Balko; Rortybomb (on which in particular ZZ adds more which is itself worth reading).


 

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Radley Balko is Teh Hero

Posted by LizardBreath
on 07.01.11

Cory Maye is getting out of jail. He had to plead to manslaughter, but he's been in jail for long enough that they'll be letting him free very soon. Balko has been reporting on this case for years, and can probably take as much credit as anyone for getting him out.

This is me remembering not to say that libertarians never did anything worthwhile.


 

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I support holidays.

Posted by Stanley
on 07.01.11

Woo! Canada Day! Who's throwing down with me?

Anyone?

Guys?


 

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Verweile doch, Léa Seydoux, du bist so schön

Posted by Ben
on 06.30.11

David Thompson begins his review of Midnight in Paris thus:

Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris is an artful and shameless encouragement of going back to Paris. I suppose that's better than artless and shameful, but, from a director who is aged 75 now, wouldn't it be nice to feel some age and regret, to say nothing of this being the last time he'll see Paris with the euro stronger than a two-day old croissant? The film makes pleasant, easy-going fun out of the idea of revisiting a starry past--the 1920s!--but, in truth, the movie's Americans in Paris (at the Bristol) are so loaded, so smug, and so Woodyish that they're locked in the emotional clichés of the 1920s already.

Later he says that "The film has a point--about the way golden ages are in the eye of the gold-digger". The problem is that this is exactly wrong: the movie isn't about revisiting or romanticizing the past, or about "going back" to anything; it's about giving up on the past in favor of the present—except, at most, insofar as the past serves the present. And there's nothing in the presentation of 20s Paris to suggest that it wasn't, in fact, a golden age, even if not all the characters can recognize it as such; certainly the reception and company Gil finds there seem unsurpassable.

Of central importance is the fact—only occasionally alluded to—that Gil previously had the opportunity to live in Paris, but didn't take it, and has been regretting that decision since. Paris is thus an object of a twofold nostalgia for him: first the Paris that he actually could have lived in; second the Paris that his literary and artistic heroes lived in, the Paris of the 20s. This ordering is, I claim, the correct one; Gil's own literary ambitions and his ability to happily live with the army he's got are hampered in the first instance by his inability to get past his thoughts about what his life actually could have been life had he acted differently, and only secondarily by the thought that nothing he could now experience could measure up to what had been when giants trod the earth. Doubtless Hemingway et al. were high held in his esteem even before the events we see depicted in the movie, but I speculate that until Gil became hampered by his self-incurred dissatisfaction they served more as models to be emulated (the reason he was in Paris the first time?) than as comparanda to whom he could never justly be compared. The movie isn't about Paris at all; Paris is just a convenient reference point which figures in the plot solely because of the episode earlier in Gil's life: substantially the same movie could have taken place in Utica, it would just be harder to get the audience on board. Gil's decision, at the end of the movie, to remain in Paris is plainly not a decision to return to 20s Paris; less plainly, it is not a decision to reënact, but rightly this time, his earlier abortive life in Paris: it is a new undertaking, an affirmation of the present, which he could only undertake because of his changed attitude to both episodes.

Each of his trips to the past ends with his returning with renewed purpose to the present, to do something in the present. We know that one evidently can remain in the past; Adriana does, and so (apparently) does the detective hired to tail Gil. We only see how the return to the presented is effected once, when Gil hurries out of a café in order to fetch a manuscript left in his hotel room; that is, when he has some purpose to pursue in the present and has decided to return: presumably his other returns are similarly motivated, and have, like the first, to be positively performed, rather than allowed to happen. Even his work becomes more present-centered: the opening chapters of his novel become, as a result of Gertrude Stein's comments, those of a roman à clef describing himself, his fiancée, and their circle. (Admittedly we don't know how much the original draft was autobiographical, though it's not as if Gil works in a nostalgia shop.) And Stein's whole role in the movie is to be a past eminence who inspires present work; the past, as Gil visits it, is full of people willing to help him out of his plights in the present. Even when he falls for Adriana, it serves to clarify his thoughts regarding Inez.

The more at home Gil feels in the present, the less he identifies, and the less importance he places on, the past. When talking to Inez, he claims to actually have met Cole Porter; when talking to the girl selling Cole Porter records, he insists that his words to that effect are just jokes.

It would be tempting to ascribe Gil's decision to return to Paris to the scene in Belle Époque Paris with Adriana, where (seemingly) two things happen: first, he expresses his thoughts about the inadequacies of 20s Paris (mostly along medical lines, IIRC); second, he sees that, on the one hand, Adriana pooh-poohs the twenties in favor of BÉ, and the artists of that time prefer yet earlier times. Indeed, he does seem, at that point, to realize that people generally tend to look back to the past and denigrate the present. But why would that lead to his decision not to stay in 20s Paris? Does Adriana's preference for a different time carry such weight with him? No, he has by this point already been revaluating his relation to the past; the concerns he voices about life in the 20s is just an expression of that antecedently changed attitude.

Now there's a companion to the differences between the present and the 20s, that comes up earlier in the movie, voiced by Inez's pedantic friend: all the atrocities between then and now, all the negative developments. Now just as I would argue that when Gil chooses to remain in the present he isn't doing that by way of replaying his earlier decision but by way of moving past, by way of accepting it but not letting his regret about it dominate his life any longer, so too I would argue that in choosing to remain in the present Gil is accepting, alongside Xanax, the Holocaust. And more than that: since evidently one needn't feel fondly toward the past to travel to it, in Paris (witness the detective), Gil is, if he stays in Paris—in a place where he could, if he desired, at close of any day travel to a time prior to the atrocities of the last 80 years—choosing every night his present—and his present's past, without which it could not be his present.


 

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Consensus building

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.30.11

Massive Shock That Female Jurors Didn't Go Easy On Blagojevich

Instead of launching into votes on the various counts - yay or nay - they used a technique called "fist-to-five" that Karin Wilson has learned as a grade-school teacher: To signal agreement, raise five fingers of one hand. If you disagree entirely, display your fist. If you're somewhere in between, use a finger count to signal where. The jurors reached their decisions with no bullying, no shouting, no pouting.

I do this in class sometimes, to get a quick read on how confident students feel about a step. I have them hold their fingers somewhat in front of their chest, so that they don't have to broadcast it to the whole class. (It's kind of a pain because they inevitably flash some fingers and put their hands back down, and hey, I can't process that fast. Leave your hands there for a sec while I look over the whole room.)

(Also fist-to-five sounds a teeny bit dirty, no?)

(Also I'm out of town for the next week. Posts will be sporadic)

(Stolen from Beck's google buzz. As in, quoting the same paragraph and everything.)


 

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Crime-fighting Vultures!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.30.11

The German police speculate that vultures could find missing people after tragedies and such.

But it transpires that Sherlock, as the bird is known, is not very interested. On top of that, it is shy, confuses human with animal remains and actually prefers to walk

At least now we know.

Via Chris Y.


 

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This is impressive

Posted by Ben
on 06.29.11

Republicans cheered the impending tax decline but said the latest budget would push the state's financial problems into the future.

Yeah, uh, how about that, CA Republicans? Golly.


 

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Reach into my heart and you will find the pappiest pablum that ever pablummed.

Posted by Stanley
on 06.29.11

Is there any place other than a dentist's office where Lite Radio is the norm? I mean, it's horrible even in that context, and if we're going for generally inoffensive background music, surely the oldies station would be far superior. But is there anywhere else they even bother to turn on that Lite crap?

In any event: look, Mom! No cavities!


 

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Frum on Obama

Posted by Ben
on 06.28.11

Here. I solicit your opinions.


 

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What the f* are you talking about.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.28.11

The book Go The F* To Sleep has touched a seriously nutty nerve:

1. Go the F**k to Sleep exposes yuppie parents' sexlessness, self-pity, and repressed rage.

The book, in all its cleverness and artfulness and ingenuity, raises certain other questions: Are they having sex, these slouchy rageful parents? Not enough, perhaps. When the father turns back to the waking child's bedroom, we look out at the comfy, sexless, vaguely depressive scene of his wife sprawled asleep on the couch under an ugly old blanket. No wonder the slouchy dad is full of rage. No wonder all those slouchy dads and moms who just want to watch a movie and eat some microwave popcorn find this book so funny, so transporting; no wonder it makes them feel, as the publicity materials suggest, "less alone." But if those sweet-faced children, so gorgeously drawn by Ricardo Cortés, could talk back would they say: "Put on a fucking dress. Have a fucking drink. Stop hovering over us. Live your own goddamned life."

2. "Go the F*** to Sleep" not funny

She has good reason to be concerned about the message behind such a parody. Demarest was the prosecuting attorney in one of Oregon's most high-profile child murder cases. She understands the fear that far too many children endure because the lines of what's appropriate parenting have become blurred.

and shortly:

"Imagine if this were written about Jews, blacks, Muslims or Latinos," says Dr. David Arredondo. He is an expert on child development and founder of The Children's Program, in the San Francisco metropolitan area, which provides consultation and training for those working with troubled youths.

and at the end:

The violent language of "Go the F*** to Sleep" is not the least bit funny, when one considers how many neglected children fall asleep each night praying for a parent who'd care enough to hold them, nurture them and read to them.

via Oudemia.


 

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First they came for the puppies.

Posted by Stanley
on 06.28.11

This story's making the rounds:

The Humane Pet Acquisition Proposal is on its way to the Board of Supervisors, and it hopes to protect everything from Great Danes to goldfish.

Yes, goldfish. And guppies, gobies, gouramies, glowlight tetras, German blue rams. No fish, no fowl, no reptiles, no amphibians, no cats, no dogs, no gerbils, no rats. If it flies, crawls, runs, swims or slithers, you would not be able to buy it in the city named for the patron saint of animals.

Representatives of the $45-billion to $50-billion-a-year pet industry call the San Francisco proposal "by far the most radical ban we've seen" nationwide and argue that it would force small operators to close. Animal activists say it will save small but important lives, along with taxpayer money, and end needless suffering.

"Why fish? Why not fish?" said Philip Gerrie, a member of the city's Commission of Animal Control and Welfare and a coauthor of the proposal. "From Descartes on up, in the Western mindset, fish and other nonhuman animals don't have feelings, they don't have emotions, we can do whatever we want to them. If we considered them living beings, we would deal with them differently.... Our culture sanctions this, treating them as commodities and expendable."

I predict this proposal will be contentious. Personally, I'm caught between two positions: (1) so many pet stores are deeply depressing places and yet (2) I've certainly been in pet stores where it seems the owners and employees are acting as scrupulous stewards of the creatures in their care.

I'd rather see better regulation of the market, as opposed to an outright ban.


 

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London meetup

Posted by Ben
on 06.28.11

Tierce is frantically trying to coordinate a meetup in London in a thread intended for other uses. He and all others are welcome to use the comments to this post instead.

[Bumped up because we care about your user experience. –Stanley]


 

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One of these

Posted by Ben
on 06.27.11

I went swimming today! Quite likely the first time I've been in a real pool, with lanes and shit, in over a decade.

Discovered: holy shit I am out of shape.


 

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Why, a fantasy.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.27.11

I'll just quote wholesale from his email:

2 in a series of "k-sky's friends respond to condescension from pop culture critics!"

Leigh, who has the first volume of her own epic fantasy YA trilogy coming out next year (which I have read and it is awesome), walks into a dustup over writing YA fiction begun at Slate, and asks what YA fantasy is really about.


 

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I glanced, and then he glanced back, and then I glanced over there, and he might have given me an annoyed look, but then I moved my cart.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.27.11

"I'm not the type of person who would post crazy rants to Craigslist, but I was at the grocery store, and saw all these self-destructive people buying unwholesome food and being all gay-kissy-face . My cart gets knocked and kids are texting and I'm pretty sure all these horrible people are dead inside, and did I mention they are literally overweight, if not obese? Thanks for hearing me out."

I'm not knocking them (I'm pro-recycle) but it looked like they literally crawled out of a dumpster and needed the deposit money to get through the night. I asked myself "why don't they just stop consuming this sugarwater and use the money for a necessity?" Then I realized Coke and Pepsi are a necessity for the majority of people in this country. I should also point out that each one was overweight (if not obese).

It's hard to pick just one favorite line.

I glance at her and she glances back at me really quickly and then looks back at her cell phone. For that split second when I was able to see her eyes, I felt a weight on my shoulders. This girl, along with the majority of people in the store, had severe mental issues.

It's hard to know who to blame for your grocery-store-ful of fat gay zombies with dead cores, but this guy makes a valiant effort.

Via E. Messily


 

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I will attack you with my neck!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.27.11

Shearer sends along a couple links about how the Wisconsin Supreme Court has become a total clusterfuck.

Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley late Saturday accused fellow Justice David Prosser of putting her in a chokehold during a dispute in her office earlier this month.
"The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold," Bradley told the Journal Sentinel.
Sources told the Journal Sentinel two very different stories Saturday about what occurred. Some confirmed Bradley's version. According to others, Bradley charged Prosser, who raised his hands to defend himself and made contact with her neck.

Since Prosser is the common denominator in a bunch of different disputes, I'm going to assume he's the asshole.


 

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Brainstorming Help, Please.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.26.11

I spent this afternoon visiting a friend in a rehabilitation center -- he had a massive brain aneurysm a little over a month ago, and he's now totally aphasic and paralyzed on his right side. He seems to understand people pretty well, and he's conversational, in that he's producing nonsense syllables in appropriate intonation to respond to what you say to him; from facial expressions and body language, he's clearly still 'in there' in some sense, even if he can't communicate. His wife says he apparently can't, or at least doesn't, read or write. No idea on the eventual prognosis -- he could make it almost all the way back, or he could never get any better than he is now.

So the question is, he's got to be bored as anything in there -- he's got a TV, and watches sports, but what's an amusing pastime that's totally nonverbal and only requires one working hand? (Shut up, I'm serious here). So far I've come up with tangrams, and these pattern blocks as possibilities, but if any of the rest of you can think of something better (also, looking for something that won't seem insulting to an adult) I'd appreciate it.


 

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