Friday, March 26, 2010
I was trying to think of what to say about the passions of the Frum, sacrificed to Conservative Shibboleths, then realized there aren't any conservative shibboleths left. Oh, maybe one new one: Don'tCriticizeTheGOP (harder to pronounce than you'd think). As Frum pointed out in the blog post that cost his job at the American Enterprise Institute (and presumably his AEI Diners Club discount card):
But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.
Yeah, it's uncomfortable when one of your own points this out. I guess tough love hurts. The entire episode recalls last September, when the conservative establishmen went similarly apesh*t after Frum wrote the following (that time, in a column):
On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of “responsibility,” and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him..
And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party
The maxim: "Do as we say we say, not as we said." All of which reminds me of that old Bugs and Daffy saw:
During the last election (and throughout the healthcare debate), I was dreaming of a day when there would be principled conservative arguments that found airtime in the public forum. Perhaps I'm wistful for something that never happened -- think Bill Buckley's challenging interview of Noam Chomsky on Firing Line. Sure, there are Ross Douthat, and Reihan Salaam, and (formlerly) Frum -- but I was waiting for the day when their distinctively marginalized ideas received a broad airing in conservative and republican circles (I mean in a New Big Tent, not the New York Times). Looks like I'll be waiting a while.
Monday, March 22, 2010
The following is a recording of Reagan railing against (then proposed) Medicare. For Reagan, "Health Insurance" == "Socialized Medicine" Just sayin'.
Or, as he put it in the Phil Collins video, "That's some nurse!"
Was emailing with my friend Doug about the Party of No and their gripes that their Waterloo plan for Health Care turned out badly (who'd a thunk that they'd end up being Napoleon?).
Anyway, he mentioned something John Stewart said recently:
You lost. It's supposed to taste like a shit sandwich.
Well I just finished my shit sandwich, leftover from last night (appropriately enough, Italian stuffed pork loin -- thanks Talented Videographer!), and it was FUCKING AWESOME.
|Political Humor||Health Care Reform|
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Was talking last night to The Talented Videographer about John Hughes -- we rewatched Ferris Bueller's Day Off and were marveling at what a brilliantly improvisational and tightly edited film it was (just think about those two merits together). And we were trying to think who might fill that role today. I'd put in Judd Apatow. Sure, there's no Ferris Bueller yet, or Breakfast Club. But John Hughes also did Uncle Buck and Home Alone 3. Anyway, most of Apetow's stuff is pretty uneven; but here are the 3 minutes that redeem Forgetting Sarah Marshal:
Sometimes I'll be riding the train or laying in bed, and think, "Die, die, die ... I can't!" and it makes me laugh *every time.* Now that's staying power.
This is an ad that DK books developed. It's pretty sharp (via Sullivan):
Friday, March 19, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Almost everyone's heard of the Milgram experiments in the sixties; a participant is ordered to administer increasingly high voltages to an actor who feigns death. Along with the Stanford Prison experiments, Milgram's research is one of the major reasons modern university research has to go through an institutional review board (IRB) that examines the ethical implications for human subjects. Well apparently the French are familiar with the Milgram experiments too, and came up with the nifty idea (in an apparent bid to solidify their trade relationship with Japan) of making a game show:
Friday, March 12, 2010
If any of us set out to list the gripes that range from annoying to down-right infuriating about the Oscars, we'd run out of web space before entries. But let me put it to you simply: name a single award ceremony where three of the top four awards (best picture, director, male and female actor) went to the folks that you felt deserved it. You might point out that, it's in the nature of selecting among the top five (or ten?!) in each category that people will disagree over which was best. Fair enough. But every year in the post-Oscar soul searching I get an earful and see a string of articles about various categories where the wrong person or film wins.
This year, I've mostly seen congrats to Bigelow for netting best picture and best director. And the coverage has been positive (yay for breakout women!). But a cold dose of reality: The Hurt Locker was a decent, but only marginally above-average film for an Oscar nominee. It had solid direction, some key performances, interesting editing, and a lousy, lousy script.
The only thing that made me want to vomit more than screenwriter Mark Boal's egregiously inflated ego while accepting two awards was the absolutely f*ing ridiculous line that starts the movie off: "War is a drug." And the only thing that could rival that line for vacuousness is a performance by Keanu Reeves -- and thankfully, he introduced The Hurt Locker at the Oscars, which means we got to actually hear Keeanu deliver the line with the appropriate depth of thought and sentiment.
By the way, as Keenu began to say that "War .... is a drug" I ducked behind the couch -- instinctively I suspected that he was violating the Pauli exclusion principle. But then I blinked and realized that Pauli's rule only applies when the two objects have some sort of substance.
Contrast, for a moment, the way that Bigelow's movie opens with say, the new Star Trek. In Star Trek, as you recall, it's not (per a grade-school essay) a f*ing quote, or even an image, but a naked sound -- an evolution of the particular flavor of Star Fleet sound effects that marked how J. J. Abrams' movie would both engage and depart from Trek films past. That was a brilliant use of sound editing, no? Of course, The Hurt Locker won the f*ing Sound Editing award, too.
I could go on about how "War is a drug" degrades the complexity of war, perpetuates the stupidity of "The War on Drugs" mentality, or even the "War on Terror." I could note that in fifty years they'll still be studying Avatar as a key chapter in the history of cinema, and film students won't even recognize the name "Hurt Locker" except on trivia night, as the answer to "Which film won Best Picture instead of James Cameron's 2009 classic, Avatar?"
Instead, I'll just recommit to last year's resolution: when Oscar night rolls around next year, and I'm inevitably dragged to another Oscar-watching party, I'm bringing headphones and a good book.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Wonder what old Walter would make of a video like this:
This video as sweet example of the growing movement to recreate the digital aura through analog effects. I think Benjamin would eat this up. I think that the logic of it also suggests that his anxiety about the loss of aura in the age of mechanical reproduction was premature. It's pretty clear, despite the near perfect reproducibility that digital technology offers, that it can also offer something deeply "authentic" and deeply unique. It's not as if virtual worlds and video games create themselves.