Politics: The Less I Blog About It, The Better My Blogging Is
February 28, 2012, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Okay, so Mitt Romney has won Michigan (a pretty big state). Will that conclude the Santorum mini-freakout we’ve been going through ever since the Gingrich flirtation ended, or are we gonna have to pretend Santorum has a chance for a couple more states?

Either way, once again the Sonic Charmer benign-neglect method of political commentary, analysis, & prognostication (or rather, lack thereof) appears to be paying off. To remind you of the brief analysis/predictions I made early on and from which I haven’t wavered: Romney wins the nomination, Obama wins the election. But I have been a terrible blogger in actually blogging about all these things or even following them all that closely. Terrible like a fox. Because clearly the less attention I pay, the more accurate I am.

Wake me in Jan ’13 when President Obama is re-inaugurated.

Best Pictures – Postgame Wrapup
February 28, 2012, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

First, just some stats for the back of my trading card. (handy reference)

  • Last Best Picture seen:  The Hurt Locker (2009)
  • Last Best Picture liked:  The Hurt Locker
  • Last Best Picture liked, pre-2009:  Lord of the Rings (2003)
  • Last Best Picture liked, pre-2003:  Gladiator (2000)
  • Current streak, consecutive number of years’ Best Pictures not seen & not likely to ever see:  2 (King’s Speech/2010 and The Artist/2011)
  • Previous 2+ year no-see streak:  In The Heat of the Night (1968) / Oliver! (1969)
  • Most recent 3+ year no-see streak:  1947-1950 (4 years).  Will my current streak eclipse this?
  • Longest streak of consecutive Best Pictures seen:  1990-2009 (20)
  • Best Pictures not seen, 1970-1989:  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Terms of Endearment (1983), Out of Africa (1985), Driving Miss Daisy (1989).
  • Most-liked # of Best Pictures in a decade:  1970s (Patton, French Connection, Godfather 1 & 2, The Sting, Rocky, Deer Hunter)
  • Least-liked 60s-00s Best Pictures decade:  2000s I liked maybe 3 (Gladiator, LOTR, Hurt Locker)
  • Most recent Best Picture I  (a) haven’t yet seen and (b) think I might like to:  Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).
  • Before that:  Ben-Hur (1959).
  • # Best Pictures seen by decade:  2010s: 0, 2000s: 10, 1990s: 10, 1980s: 7, 1970s: 9, 1960s: 6, 1950s: 3, 1940s: 4, 1930s: 1 (Gone With the Wind)


  • The 70s really were a great decade for movies, but for all the ‘auteur theory’ talk of a golden age that was ruined by Jaws/Star Wars, it’s striking just how many of those Awesome, Artistic 70s Movies were basically just guy movies.  Soldiers, cops & robbers!
  • Recent (last 10-12 years) Best Pictures all seem to have a similar blah, technically-good-but-I-never-want-to-see-it-again flavor that I can’t quite put my finger on.  There’s a certain sameness even to the ones whose plots/settings are on the surface very different.  It’s as if they are all carefully constructed/reverse-engineered to be Oscar Winners.  I was tempted to write a longer post likening it to the CDO bubble – banks reverse-engineering rating-agency models to construct AAA securities vs. studios reverse-engineering the Academy’s implicit model of Best Picture taste to construct Best Picture winners, drawing the obvious parallel that in both cases the results often turn out to be inflated junk.
  • The 80s were a really weird decade for Best Pictures, sort of all over the place.  After the Guy Movies of the 70s, the decade rolls in getting a bunch of weepy family soap operas out of its system (Kramer vs Kramer (1979), Ordinary People (1980), Terms of Endearment (1983)), has a serious infatuation with high-prestige costume/historical/period dramas (Chariots of Fire, Gandhi, Amadeus, The Last Emperor), and by the end these are morphing into often semi-embarrassing Issue Movies (Platoon, Driving Miss Daisy, Dances With Wolves). 
  • Silence of the Lambs (1991) is such an outlier here.  Nice trick that was, people still don’t seem to realize it was a horror movie.  Going back, the biggest outlier before that looks to be Annie Hall (1977) – an actual comedy!
  • On the other hand I would say virtually everything post-2000 has been outliers.
  • The last 3 Best Picture titles all start with “The”.  This is the longest streak since 1971-74; will that streak be eclipsed?

I don’t have to tell you how excited I am to tune in next year to watch the entire Oscar ceremony in order to find out!  (Really.  I don’t.  Right?)

The Saddest Pieces Of Film
February 28, 2012, 12:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Is there anything sadder in motion picture entertainment than the little short film they tack onto the beginning of some standup comic’s HBO special or straight to DVD standup movie?

You know the kind I mean: the hip, streetwise comedian is on his way to the theater, deep in his thoughts and observations. He stops – he’s there! – and turns to go inside. Pan up, and you see he’s the headliner. No way! You start to hear a clapping audience and whaddya know, it’s time for him to come out on stage. Seamless.

Or maybe, the short bit starts with him backstage in the dressing room, pacing or taking notes. He might be shown as nervous, or as engaging in some activity/conversation designed to exaggerate some negative stereotype he’s supposed to have. He’s so self-effacing! Right away you are informed: this is a funny guy.

These things are always like the into credits to Saturday Night Live, but focused on one guy, and stretched out to 3 minutes’ length. They might roll the credits during this thing but usually they don’t. Often it’s in black and white, grainy black and white – you know, because that lends so much verite and realism to the whole thing. Someone actually has to direct this little thing. They presumably have to plot it out – “how about we’ll get some footage of you in a leather jacket walking around New York City – it’ll be great!” Rent the cameras, key grip, multiple takes, the whole 9 yards.

When all anyone ever, ever, ever wants to see in a standup special is the actual standup portion – you know, with the actual jokes. It really makes me sad thinking about it.

Should Hate Crime Defendants Against Gays Be Allowed To Get Off Without Having Homosexual Sex?
February 27, 2012, 6:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Jacob Sullum asks, can lesbians commit an anti-gay hate crime?

I didn’t have time to read the comments there (skimmed, mostly) but I think we can all agree that the answer is obviously not. A lesbian is of person-type {Gay} and a Hate Crime, by definition, is (and only is) a crime committed by person-type {X} against a person of person-type {Y} due to Person-Type Hatred for members of {Y}. It has to do with power asymmetry and intrinsic power structures among the mutually-disjoint but overlapping partitions of Person Types into which all of Humanity naturally and strictly decomposes. At least, if I am remembering my college freshman orientation accurately (as you can see I have mentally encoded all this into its equivalent quasi mathematical notation for ease of recall, strengthening my confidence that I’m remembering it correctly). Now admittedly there’s a problem with my trying to remember those all-important lessons gleaned from college freshman orientation which is that those memories are all mixed up with various dramas and embarrassments that I guess must have all occurred around the same time, hazily-remembered (or in some cases, suppressed) things such as a fateful game of Secret Santa, an infamous dare involving the eating of unorthodox mixtures of cafeteria food, the vomiting of same, etc., but I’m pretty sure I’ve got basically right.

In any event, it seems to follow quite incontrovertibly from orthodox lefty Smart People rhetoric that a lesbian cannot possibly, even in principle, be guilty of a Hate Crime against a gay person. Robbery, assault, murder, cannibalism – perhaps. But such an extreme offense as a Hate Crime? Surely not.

This fact is problematic if it becomes widely known, by the way; in a way it is irresponsible for Jacob Sullum to even have publicized the question. After all, it opens the possibility that someone accused of a Hate Crime against a Gay person could falsely claim to be Gay him/herself and thereby get off scot-free for the Hate Crime (!), only enduring whatever punishment/prison time accrues to the underlying crime itself. This is obviously an intolerable and potentially disastrous loophole in our Hate Crime legal/philosophical framework. Clearly care thus must be taken to ensure that such legal defense claims of Being Gay are not accepted by the Court willy nilly, merely on the say-so of the defendant; that way lies chaos.

The only logical solution, then, is that the Court in such cases must establish a legal framework whereby Hate Crime defendants can, as & when needed, objectively and legally prove their Gay status to the satisfaction of The People, and so that fraudulent claims of Gayness can be easily weeded out. Since (unfortunately!) (?) there is no genetic test for the irrefutably-inborn quality of Gayness, and certainly no other visual or cultural or lisp-based test, obviously the only judiciably-acceptable test for Gayness a Court could possibly implement would have to involve direct evidence of the homosexual act.

The Court could for example set up secure, comfortable, romantic hideaways in which Hate Crime defendants claiming to be Gay could prove it by engaging in homosexual acts with suitable Court officers under strict Court observation, say behind a one-way mirror or closed-circuit television. Alternatively, although less desirably, previously-created visual recordings of such acts (of sufficiently-high definition and quality) could be entered into evidence and viewed in court, in lieu of the (preferable) Court-mandated homosexual sex.

Obviously some details would have to be worked out. For example, would having sex just one time, with one person of the same sex, really prove a person Gay? Presumably the Court would have to work out some minimum number of acts and partners to truly establish Gayness beyond dispute. We wouldn’t want Heterosexual defendants to be holding their nose and engaging in one-time homosexual acts just to get out of Hate Crime raps. We’d want to be sure the defendant wanted and enjoyed the homosexual act before dropping charges. I don’t know if a system of brain scan monitoring, electrodes or other means of enjoyment discovery could be worked out; that is a question for the scientists, and likely to be a fruitful research area deserving of Federal funding in the years to come.

The True Meaning Of “Green Jobs”
February 27, 2012, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Apparently, President Obama has hit upon a distinctly 21st-century spin on the Holy Keynes’s brilliant suggestion to have the government pay people to dig holes and then fill them back up: have the government pay people to create a toxic waste dump and then clean it back up.

With all the left’s talk about so-called “green jobs”, bet you didn’t realize that this is what they had in mind!

I shall now hold my breath as I scour the web looking for consistent ‘environmentalist’ lefties who are willing to speak up in disapproval about this whole thing….

My Hero’s Journey
February 27, 2012, 11:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

On permaloop in my head: the theme from the Star Trek reboot movie. One of the hazards of its being in heavy rotation on cable.

If you’ve heard that theme (it’s basically the first ~1 minute piece you hear here), then you know it goes something like:

1. mysterious/hopeful string overture/buildup
2. DUH DUH – DUH DUH DUH DUH with horns/strings/timpany etc
3. sweeping, spacey multi-chord-change Hero Theme

In the movie, it’s used in basically 2 places – the beginning, right after Baby Kirk is born and the opening title is revealed, and then about 20 minutes later when the Kirk and Bones first get a glimpse of the full, completed Enterprise in spacedock. String overture/DUH DUH – DUH DUH DUH DUH/Spacey Hero Theme.

In reality, with it on permaloop in my head, the way I use it is that I’ll be, say, approaching a crosswalk where I can see I’ll need to Push Button To Cross. In my head as I do: String overture, DUH DUH, Hero Theme!

Paying for my coffee and muttering ‘thanks’ to the purple haired coffee girl: String overture, DUH DUH, Hero Theme!

Stepping up to a urinal, start to unzip: Strings, DUH DUH, Hero Theme!

Pulling up my socks, as they had started to sag, leading to slight discomfort: Strings, DUH DUH, Hero Theme…

Just about any task in life becomes more heroic with the 2009 Michael Giacchino Star Trek (reboot) main theme. Now I just need to hit the Publish button. DUH DUH – DUH DUH DUH DUH!

How Retarded?
February 24, 2012, 3:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The latest bee in Ezra Klein’s bonnet is the idea that ‘conservatives’ have switched all their views simply due to Obama’s having espoused them.

The two biggies are an individual mandate for health insurance, which was conceived by conservatives at the Heritage Foundation as a way to get (nearly) universal coverage while maintaining the private insurance system; and a cap-and-trade system for reducing harmful emissions, which was conceived as a way to use market forces instead of government regulations to achieve an environmental good.

Can I just state for the record that I have never been in favor of either a mandate to buy health insurance or a ‘cap-and-trade’ system? What do I win for my noble, Klein-approved consistency? Nothing? Shucks.

But actually, that’s kind of the point. If conservatives were really running around proposing a ‘mandate’ system in the 90s-00s, which I doubt by the way, is it possible that this was simply tactical? You know, for the purpose of trying to hold the line on something, not lose too many political battles (and elections), etc.? After all, conservatives were faced with a lefty opposition that wanted to overtly socialize (rather than fascistize, as they have now done) health care. If they came up with a mandate as a we-have-a-health-reform-idea-too measure, where’s the dishonor in that?

Again, I happen to think it’s a stupid and bad idea. But I don’t understand the point of singling it out for special disdain. After all, it cuts both ways too: apparently, the left and Obama now think that a mandate is a fine idea. So why didn’t they just team up with the Heritage Foundation and pass it back then? Hmm, Ezra?

Anyway, so what we’ve proved is that Ezra Klein’s point is pretty shallow. Yawn.

The real subject of his post though is how stupid Republicans are being for ‘opposing contraception’. Which raises the more important question, is Ezra Klein really this stupid?

Seriously, does the left genuinely not understand the difference between (a) opposing government-forces-insurance-to-cover-X and (b) ‘opposing X’? Or are they faking it for political reasons? I guess what I’m asking is, how retarded are they?

Answer in comments!


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