Posts Tagged ‘spoiler alert’
* In the 1960s, while the United States and the Soviet Union were playing out their battle of who would make it to the moon first and so dominate the galactic skies, a former high school teacher in Zambia decided his country needed a space program. Edward Festus Makuka Nkoloso founded the unofficial Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy in 1960, and over the course of the next few years, attempted to launch the first Afronaut — his term —into space.
* Here are Marquette English’s course offerings for the fall. Tell your friends!
* The final victory over the Soviet Union did not lead to the domination of the market, but, in fact, cemented the dominance of conservative managerial elites, corporate bureaucrats who use the pretext of short-term, competitive, bottom-line thinking to squelch anything likely to have revolutionary implications of any kind.”
* BP confirms oil spill into Lake Michigan from Whiting refinery. Ohio Pipeline Spill Twice As Large As Original Estimate. Ship Traffic Reopens For The Oil Industry Three Days After Texas’ 170,000 Gallon Oil Spill.
* Paying journalists by the click: what could possibly go wrong?
* Department of can’t-win: Christian School Tells Eight-Year-Old Girl She Looks Too Much Like A Boy. Middle School Girls Protest Sexist Dress Code: ‘Are My Pants Lowering Your Test Scores?’ School Bans 9-year-old Who Shaved Her Head for a Friend With Cancer.
* Meanwhile: Are Obamacare subsidies now in jeopardy?
* That’s why I’m preparing for the worst: The Walking Disney.
* In light of increased pressure on President Obama to order a military strike on Syria, leading historians and military experts on Tuesday simply pointed to the United States’ longstanding and absolutely impeccable record of successful bombing campaigns over the past 60 years.
“Statute Forbidding Any One to Annoy or Unduly Injure the Freshmen. Each and every one attached to this university is forbidden to offend with insult, torment, harass, drench with water or urine, throw on or defile with dust or any filth, mock by whistling, cry at them with a terrifying voice, or dare to molest in any way whatsoever physically or severely, any, who are called freshmen, in the market, streets, courts, colleges and living houses, or any place whatsoever, and particularly in the present college, when they have entered in order to matriculate or are leaving after matriculation.”
Leipzig University Statute (1495)
* Slavery should be seen not as a sure sign of economic backwardness, but as a technically refined system for coordinating abstract knowledge and bodily violence: intelligence and torture, free trade and imperial war, financial data and brutal physical toil—all adding up to booming world trade, accumulating wealth, and ecological degradation. In this picture, the Cotton Kingdom looks like nothing less than the homeland of neoliberalism, and master and slave, the origin story of contemporary America.
* What rape culture: teacher gets 30 days in jail for raping a 14-year-old student who later killed herself, on grounds that the girl (“older than her chronological age”) was “as much in control of the situation” as him.
* And Dean Norris spoils the end of Breaking Bad. Shocking.
* It isn’t the law that is struggling to catch up to drone technology; it’s us. Like it or not, the NextGen computerized autonomous national airspace is coming. It’s not a joke, and it’s not science fiction. Coming to terms with that is important. Disbelief won’t help at this point. The coming shift in our national airspace will push our boundaries. We’ll be able to mount legal challenges against particularly egregious uses of the technology — it’s unlikely that the sheriff of Montgomery County, Texas, will get much mileage out of his wet dream of a remote-controlled aircraft armed with tear gas and rubber bullets — but we won’t be able to imagine every permutation this technology will take. This is going to be some Minority Report–level shit.
* James Cameron: Avatar was always imagined as a six-picture hexalogy. Stick around for a fun Doctor Who spoiler/rumor if that’s your thing.
* Rethinking depression in teenage girls: “Depression? Really? How About Anger and Powerlessness?”
* No! No! I won’t believe it! Military expert says there’s no way Batman’s TDKR ‘Bat’ could fly.
* Battle Royale is an obvious can’t-miss hit for a post-Hunger-Games, post-Walking-Dead TV landscape. Just about the only way it could miss is if network executives changed it so the kids weren’t killing each other, just beating each other up…
* And you can take it to the bank: Human immortality could be possible by 2045, say Russian scientists. Guaranteed!
* Although their etymologies are obscure and their meanings overlap, these are two distinct expressions. Something poorly built is “jerry-built.” Something rigged up temporarily in a makeshift manner with materials at hand, often in an ingenious manner, is “jury-rigged.” “Jerry-built” always has a negative connotation, whereas one can be impressed by the cleverness of a jury-rigged solution. Many people cross-pollinate these two expressions and mistakenly say “jerry-rigged” or “jury-built.” It’s hard not to take this personally.
* In Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous than Others, Gilligan documents a striking statistical connection between changing rates of violent death in the United States over the past century and the party of the president. He concludes that Republican administrations are “risk factors for lethal violence,” and that the only reason they have not produced “disastrously high epidemic levels” of suicides and homicides is that Democrats have repeatedly undone their damage.
* Gingrich, true to form, takes right-wing attacks on the very idea of journalism itself all the way to the next level.
* Political religion: May you find the Ronald Reagan living inside each and everyone of you.
* I think I’ve linked this one before, but it’s a classic: Jourdan Anderson’s 1865 letter “To My Old Master.”
* A couple of years ago, Amanda Hocking needed to raise a few hundred dollars so, in desperation, made her unpublished novel available on the Kindle. She has since sold over 1.5m books and, in the process, changed publishing forever.
* And today in fandom: #BelieveInSherlock. Big spoilers for the end of the second season, if you’re not current yet.
* The no-fly zone in Libya seems to have reminded people that we’re always currently bombing Yemen too. Nick Baumann at Mother Jones has your primer.
* Kucinich watch: Obama’s Libya Attack An Impeachable Offense.
* Republicans could actually be right: Obama might be watching too much college basketball.
The President went 5-3 again on Sunday (missing on VCU, Marquette and Florida State). He has 10 of his Sweet 16 teams alive, six of his Elite Eight (no Pitt or Purdue), three of his Final Four left (Kansas, Duke, Ohio State), and both of his title-game participants (Kansas, Ohio State).
He’s in the 99.9th percentile of the game and his 490 points rank him 7,549th overall
Thanks Tim for the link.
Bill Henrickson had been shown pretty clearly over five seasons of “Big Love” to be an utter cancer to his family: myopic and petulant and manipulative and self-righteous and constantly causing pain, large and small, to the three women who had chosen to be his wives. Bill’s destructive effect on his loved ones was clear to me as a viewer of the show for a very long time, and it was clear to many other viewers of the series. I’m just not sure if that was ever what creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer intended us to think of Bill, and the finale left things very muddled in that regard.
…If you went into the finale with more affection for Bill, and/or the series, perhaps you were more touched by it all. (Though before Bill’s grandstanding at the state Senate meeting, it was a fairly listless hour.) But ultimately, the show I wanted “Big Love” to be apparently wasn’t the show Olsen and Scheffer were making. I can see that quite vividly now.
Spoilers, obviously—and more reactions here.
As I was hashing out on Twitter this afternoon (1, 2, 3, 4) I feel as though last night’s Mad Men was a fine ending to a truly superb season that challenged the best seasons of The Sopranos, Deadwood, and The Wire. I think I may be bucking the Internet consensus on this; here’s a representative negative take from Amanda Marcotte:
The main problem with the episode is that it, frankly, sucked. Besides the abortion cop-out,* it wasn’t even really the plot or the ideas or the character development. At the end of the day, it was the pacing and the scripting, which were lazy and anvilicious. Matthew Weiner admits they just finished the episode on Wednesday, and I think that’s all you need to know about why it didn’t work. The editing was all off—the fact that they got home from California and were in his apartment in a quick cut was confusing, and we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how long they’d been back in New York. I realize they were trying to speed things up to capture the idea of a whirlwind courtship, but they failed. It’s not like the team behind “Mad Men” can’t do a swift and dirty episode. The end of last season was amazing. But this was just confusing.
Putting “the abortion cop-out” aside—which honestly didn’t bother me in the slightest—it seems to me that the actual point of the episode was precisely to capture the idea of a whirlwind courtship, as opposed to the actual thing. Don and Megan are plainly not a good match; she’s too young for him and he knows almost nothing about her except that (unlike poor Dr. Faye) she won’t ever challenge him to be more than he currently is. She’s pretty and good with the children, and he really is a person who likes “the beginnings of things,” so he went and proposed on a whim. (“The writing I most enjoy, is the writing where I can see myself in the man who is, with good reason, wrecking his life.” For the wrong take on this, see Ezra Klein.)
It’s obvious that Don’s fooling himself, and we’ve already seen from Roger how this story ends. But it’s next season that we see this self-delusion come undone; the point of this episode was to show the falseness of all this, how easy we can backslide and how hard it is to genuinely change, and how seductive lies can be when we want to believe them.
So I find it’s not a sloppy episode, or lazy, or anvilicious; it’s just that its narrative presentation is very closely linked to Don’s selfish, self-deluded perspective. But the writers leave more than enough (in Henry’s rant, in the Peggy and Joan scene, in the very idea of Roger Sterling, in the final shot) to puncture that balloon. Heather Havrilesky at Salon writes:
At the start of the episode, Don asks Faye, “Will you at least put me out of my misery before you go?” Don would choose death, or an absence of feeling, over the excruciating pain of seeing himself clearly, over the constant struggle of “trying to be a person like the rest of us.” Since Faye won’t allow him to shut off from his life, to power down and drift through the world like a handsome ghost, he chooses Megan instead. At the end, Don has found his new winning story, his new heroic role, his new, patently false proclamation of victory. The central identity parable of “Mad Men,” which seemed like a simple act of deception in the first few seasons, has deepened into something richer and more ominous. Don Draper reflects the American compulsion to sidestep the hard work of living a flawed but authentic life for the empty illusion of perfection, as shiny and skin-deep as an advertisement that promises the impossible.
I realized earlier this evening that the episode puts this together quite nicely using a visual metaphor of sleep. At the beginning of the episode—in its very first shot—Don claims to have a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach but he is able, quite literally, to sleep at night.
When Faye awakens him, he is self-effacing and charming, and they have an adult conversation, face-to-face as equals, about how he might do the tough work of making peace with his past so he can have a future.
At the end of the episode, he has Megan asleep on his chest. No conversation of equals is possible here—and for the second time in the episode, we find Don can no longer sleep.
As the “Theme from Groundhog Day” begins to play, a tracking shot towards the window makes it clear: bathed in darkness, he’s already turning away from Megan, already looking for the door.
Very quickly, and with spoilers: I’ve been informed that my quick take on Inception’s dream-infiltration as an allegory for film creation—both dreams and films starting in medias res and employing cuts to obscure origins and transitions, both building small but deceptively complex conceptual mazes into which the viewer can pour her secret desires and emotional investments, both organized fundamentally around willed suspension of disbelief and slight-of-hand—has already been taken up by io9 and CHUD. This is what I get for going on vacation!
Most of the other Internet criticism I’ve been reading has been preoccupied with the problem of the ending, particularly whether it “means” the one thing or the other—which of course is about as useful as trying to “prove” it was the lady and not the tiger. The audacious-but-predictable refusal to show the final orientation of the spinning top, which in my theater as in most was greeted with gasps, groans, and happy nervous laughter, isn’t some puzzle to be solved: it’s just the exclamation point for the allegory. The same goes for any of the rest of the film’s many plot holes, inconsistencies, and mild surrealities. Of course none of it makes any sense; it was just a film, it was just a dream.
The stronger criticism, I think, has to do with the utterly mundane nature of the dreamworlds themselves; why, in an age of almost limitless directorial power, do Nolan’s characters dream solely in action-film clichés? In another director’s hands—perhaps in the hands of the young Ridley Scott, for whom the premise seems to call out—Inception might have been a masterpiece; here, it’s merely a very enjoyable spectacle, maybe even the best film of a not-great year for film, but far too impressed with its own limited gimmicks and possessing a startlingly small vision for what either films or dreams might achieve.
* With rock-bottom expectations, I apparently thought the Lost finale was better than the entire rest of the Internet—which is to say “Across the Sea” has already trashed my hopes that we’d get an actually decent ending. But even counting the offensively pointless flashes-sideways and a genuinely silly fistfight-with-the-Devil climax, what we got still beat BSG.
* Mark Twain wrote an autobiography that he asked not be published for 100 years, and they actually listened. It’s due out this November.
* Copy machines store all your copies on an internal hard drive, for no apparent reason whatsoever. Also via MeFi.
* And my beloved home state of New Jersey is apparently seeking to require state employees to live inside the state, which seems to this non-lawyer to be unconstitutional on its face.
Don’t miss this long David Simon interview with Vice about The Wire and his new New Orleans-centered series, Tremé. (Warning: Big, terrible spoilers if you still haven’t finished The Wire yet.) Nothing escapes his ire, not even our beloved Joe Lieberman:
Why does reform seem so impossible?
We live in an oligarchy. The mother’s milk of American politics is money, and the reason they can’t reform financing, the reason that we can’t have public funding of elections rather than private donations, the reason that K Street is K Street in Washington, is to make sure that no popular sentiment survives. You’re witnessing it now with health care, with the marginalization of any effort to rationally incorporate all Americans under a national banner that says, “We’re in this together.”But then the critics of a system like that immediately cry socialism.
And of course it’s socialism. These ignorant motherfuckers. What do they think group insurance is, other than socialism? Just the idea of buying group insurance! If socialism is a taint that you cannot abide by, then, goddamn it, you shouldn’t be in any group insurance policy. You should just go out and pay the fucking doctors because when you get 100,000 people together as part of anything, from a union to the AARP, and you say, “Because we have this group actuarially, more of us are going to be healthier than not and therefore we’ll be able to carry forward the idea of group insurance and everybody will have an affordable plan…” That’s fuckin’ socialism. That’s nothing but socialism.
It is, literally.
So the whole idea of group insurance, which of course everyone believes in, like that fellow on YouTube, “Don’t let the government take away my Medicare…” You look at that and you think there’s only one thing that can make people this stupid, and that’s money. When you pay people to change their votes on the basis of money, the wrong shit gets voted for. That’s American democracy at this point. And you get to the Senate and you’re looking at 100 votes, which don’t represent anything in terms of popular representation. When 40 percent of the population controls 60 percent of the votes in the higher house of a bicameral legislature, it’s an oligarchy.
I’m getting depressed.
Now you’re listening to Joe Lieberman say that he will filibuster anything with a public option. Let me understand this: One guy from a small state in New England is going to decide on a singular basis what’s good for the health care of 300 million people? That’s our form of government, and I don’t get it.
It’s not good.
Well, it is what it is and it has been for years, and it’s why we’re able to marginalize larger and larger percentages of our population. Fuck ’em where they stand. Five percent, 10 percent, 15 percent. How many people are you going to keep out of the gated community? How many guards are you going hire?
The guards will be the only working-class people in the gated communities, I guess.
Right. You’re going to hire people to guard your shit, but you’re not going to give them health care.
So much more at the link. Via /Film.
Obama teetering precariously on the edge of the Gerald Ford Horizon on yesterday’s Saturday Night Live.
Soccer: Click the [+/-] to catch the fever.
USA up 1-0 over Spain at halftime in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup.
UPDATE: Spain looking pretty tough in the opening minutes of the second half. Shoot; miss; get the ball back five seconds later; repeat.
Also, sorry for the lack of spoiler alert…
UPDATE: Dempsey! I love that man. I always pick him in my fantasy league and he never lets me down. Great goal.
UPDATE: USA! USA!