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Showing posts from December, 2012

Spike and the redefining of masculinity

Since the Newton shooting there has been some talk about masculinity. Much of it has been ridiculous; for instance, a gun add saying if you buy their gun you can have your "man card" back. Via Whedonesque, I came across this post trying to sort out what masculinity might mean. This reference to Buffy is why Whedonesque flagged it:

In the ’90s, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fans could look to the black trench-coated Spike as an example of a man who could follow a woman as a leader. (The character is hardly a role model in all aspects, but he does that part well.)
As they say, Spike is a terrible role model for the vast majority of the time he is in Buffy. But there are some redeeming qualities there, even before he starts to break good around season 5.

Certainly Spike isn't the best male role model. But maybe because he is so flawed he could serve as a decent one. If we so choose, we could look at Spike as a reflection of the tension between what traditional masculinity has …

The NRA and GOP mentality

Ta-Nehisi Coates provides us with a fascinating analogy between the NRA and the pro-slavery proponents of the 19th century written by Tony Horwitz:

Emboldened by success, and imbued with a fanatical and paranoid world-view, they see enemies everywhere and regard any hint of compromise as betrayal. As New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley wrote in 1854, slavery "loves aggression, for when it ceases to be aggressive it stagnates and decays. It is the leper of modern civilization, but a leper whom no cry of 'unclean' will keep from intrusion into uninfected company." Much the same applies to the NRA and its insatiable appetite for new territory to allow arms in, and new ways to allow those guns to be used--such as putting armed guards in our elementary schools, as the NRA today suggested.
The policy goals are different now, obviously. But the way in which the GOP and NRA think about the world is similar. Someone is always ready to take all their guns away. The same is t…

"Zero Dark Thirty" and democratic discourse

Most of the discussion about this film has been about how it depicts the effects of torture, and rightfully so based on many people's accounts who have seen the film. But I haven't. So I won't rehash what those people (Glenn Greenwald for example) have written. One thing that bugged me from the first time I heard about this film is the fact that they made a movie about the killing of bin Laden when we as the public have conflicting reports as to what happened. How the hell can they make what the filmmakers are calling a "journalistic" movie when there are conflicting accounts? Here's how:

The senators’ letter notes that “there has been significant media coverage of the CIA’s cooperation with the screenwriters.” It’s not bad that the filmmakers talked to the government; reporters do it all the time. What’s troubling is that the government hasn’t talked more. We are meant to understand that the filmmakers heard things we can’t, at a time when cases brought by to…

Tennessee legislature considering arming teachers

I'm not surprised in the least that someone from our crazy legislature is considering this:

School resource officers are paid jointly by the local sheriff’s department and the school district. Niceley’s bill would allow schools to pay for background checks and firearms training for teachers that woud allow them to be armed as well. Asked if the guns for the trained teachers would also be part of the taxpayer expense, Niceley laughed.

“Well, that’s a minor detail in Tennessee,” he said. “We hoped the teachers would have them already.”

The teachers that would be trained would be volunteers, he said, and would likely carry their own firearms to school.
This is a ridiculous overreaction to recent events. I understand wanting to keep kids safe. But all this really does is introduce more risk into the classroom. While terrible, events like Newton and Columbine are very rare. So what this policy would really do is subject people to an increased likelihood of an accident from teacher's…

How I Met Your Mother: The Final Page

Spoilers to follow for the episodes of December 17th.

I've been vocal about not being a fan of Robin and Barney together as a couple. These episodes finally addressed the big event they show us at the beginning of this season. But I'll get to that in a minute. First I want to discuss the other characters.

I predicted at the beginning of this season that it wouldn't go well, that the characters are all static and there just isn't much left to wring out of them. Thus far the season hasn't been that bad. I think that's mostly a testament to the outstanding cast and how well the handle anything they are given. One thing I thought I wouldn't like was Lilly and Marshall having a baby. That's been ok for the most part, but for a weird reason.

They barely ever show the baby. This kid must sleep 23 hours a day. That or Lilly's dad takes care of him 75% of the time. It's really weird. But I think that's why I haven't been disappointed with Lilly …

Gun norms

I won't spend much time talking about our gun culture. It's pretty clear that we are fanatical about guns, at least relative to the rest of the world. And in a way I understand it. I don't own any guns (except for a prop replica of Malcolm Reynolds' gun in Firefly/Serenity). But I get the appeal when looked at as kind of a toy or tool. I'm sure they can be fun. Though they are just too dangerous for me to embrace.

In light of my Twitter feed blowing up with news of a few terrible gun related killings (one here in Memphis and another in Newtown CT I think), the gun norms I want to talk about are the ones surrounding gun rights and the 2nd amendment. The anti-gun control crowd gets really defensive (and paranoid) really quick when we start to talk about regulating guns. But their opposition to any sort of gun control doesn't make sense in light of how we treat other rights.

Yes, as much as I don't think it's ideal, gun ownership is a right because of th…

Running into the "fiscal curb"

Noam Scheiber has me convinced that we should go over the so called "fiscal cliff":

That’s why going over the fiscal cliff is so critical this time. Here’s what happens if we head into 2013 without a deal: Taxes will rise on every American. Thanks to the PR offensive the administration has waged—month after month of accusing the GOP of holding middle-class tax cuts hostage to cuts for the wealthy—and to the president’s structural advantages during a showdown with Congress, the public will immediately and overwhelmingly blame the GOP. “If we go over the cliff,” Bill Kristol wrote Monday, “what Republicans will have done is to make Democrats the party of tax cuts and Obama a president fighting for economic growth.” (Polls currently show that Americans will blame Republicans by a 53 to 27 margin; it will surely get worse every hour of 2013 that the standoff lingers). Which is why, within a few days or weeks of January 1, the GOP will almost certainly throw in the towel—“Republic…

The Dark Knight Rises on BluRay

Politics is slow and boring right now. So I haven't had much to say. I'm also kind of back into my "depressing job search" mode in which I blog in spurts. So to get out of ruts I try to look beyond politics to find something to write about. And this was a big week for Batman fans like me. The Dark Knight Rises came out on BluRay. Obviously, I was ready to drop $40 on the special edition (picture here).

But the first two places I went informed me that none of their stores in the entire city had the special edition set. I was extremely annoyed that the first store didn't have it. I was on the brink of snapping and turning into the Joker when the second store didn't have it. Luckily, the third store had two left (in retrospect, I should have bought both). If they didn't have it I would have either fell to the floor weeping or snapped and destroyed the store. So, crisis averted. I had underestimated how few of these special editions they were making and how m…

Iran and nuclear deterrence

I've written a lot about this before. So I won't spend much time rehashing the same old arguments because they are, in fact, the same arguments because nothing has or probably will change. I just want to reiterate same points that Steve Walt makes (via Andrew Sullivan):

[B]oth theory and history teach us that getting a nuclear weapon has less impact on a country's power and influence than many believe, and the slow spread of nuclear weapons has only modest effects on global and regional politics. Nuclear weapons are good for deterring direct attacks on one's homeland, and they induce greater caution in the minds of national leaders of all kinds. What they don't do is turn weak states into great powers, they are useless as tools of blackmail, and they cost a lot of money. They also lead other states to worry more about one's intentions and to band together for self-protection. For these reasons, most potential nuclear states have concluded that getting the bomb …