Saturday, July 19, 2008
We've watched the first two acts of Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog and are totally in love with Joss all over again. In some ways Joss is in familiar territory, here. Dr. Horrible is half Jonathan (geeky supervillain wanna be) and half Mal (decent person made into a bad guy because the existing moral order is corrupt). But there's singing! And funny! The letters Dr. Horrible receives after applying to be in a supervillain group are hysterical. They're like the letters you get when you apply to college, except they're sung. By cowboys. And they exhort you to murder. Oh yeah, and the cowboys are poking their heads in from the edge of the camera frame. Great stuff.
Friday, July 18, 2008
My big fear, really is that they will take all the nuance out of the politics. If they made it a simple story about power corrupting, it would fit well with Hollywood norms about the moral content of movies: A movie should have a bland message that everyone will find uplifting. That's what they did to V for Vendetta. One of the things that makes Watchmen interesting, though, is that we see different kinds of power represented and according different ways it gets corrupted. Hurm.
In other news, the final version of my Watchmen paper has been accepted. So at least I have accomplished one thing this summer.
Monday, July 14, 2008
It is interesting to compare the greening of Indian religion with the greening of evangelical Christianity. India is just as religious, if not more religious, than the US. The Time piece asserts that 99% of Indians profess some faith. The major indigenous religions--Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism--all have strong environmental tendencies. They make welcome allies.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
My favorite press release so far: "Anarchist groups responsible for trying to persuade people from exercising their right to spend have been labeled "opportunities" by the Buy n Large Consumer Groups today"
The real genius of the page: It's only purpose is to get you to watch a damn movie.
Joss's online project
Teaser from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.
John Rogers' new project
via Kung-Fu Monkey
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Following the question from Ram Mehta in the lecture, I think I'm going to make the opening graphic for the China portion of my Asian class will be a triptych of Confucius, Mao, and Adam Smith.
In general, Spence's capsule history of Confucian and Confucianism would be a fine model for an opening lecture for the Asian class on Confucius, particularly the emphasis on the man's own nobility and then the baggage his thought was saddled with starting around the 12 century.
Spence on the earthquake
I was very, very struck at the New Year's holidays in China with over a hundred million people on the move when these huge blizzards brought a standstill to the train service and people were in a kind of desperation with their children, they were freezing, they had no food, there was no trace of a toilet, people were sick, had no trace of a hospital. The government seemed to be totally incompetent. And I as a historian, my mind was racing back to moments in 1813, 1797, 1642, 1585 and so on when some kind of conjunction of extraordinary incompetence by an autocratic regime linked to manifestation of nature as a force being really angry and out of kilter. These had been catastrophic for tens of thousands of people and in at least three cases had nearly brought down the government.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
Rising food prices have pushed 100,000,000 people below the global poverty line, leading one UN expert to call the push for biofuels a "crime against humanity". If that's true, it is an outstanding example of the banality of evil. The worst crimes in the world today? Genocide in Darfur, Torture in Gitmo, and politicians wooing Iowa voters with ethanol subsidies. It's like finding out that kissing babies at campaign stops gives the tots cancer.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
In Germany, a right-to-die activist has assisted in the suicide of a healthy 79 year old woman. The woman wanted to kill herself to avoid being placed in a nursing home.
This post and the previous one are cross-posted from my online bioethics classes. I try to emphasize to all my classes that slipper slope arguments are sometimes legitimate. They are legitimate if the slope really is slippery and the bottom of the slope really is unacceptable. These are questions you really need to ask yourself when it comes to the euthanasia debate.
Check out this ABC story about a recent survey of women who had abortions in Minnesota in 2007. A record number of them, 40%, cited economic reasons, such as being unable to afford another child, as a motivation for abortion.
The overall number of abortions was down, however. This matches the general trend of the last few decades, minus a statistical blip in 2006.
It is probably wrong to say that the worsening economy has caused more abortions. Women who have abortions do so for very complicated reasons that are often hard to articulate to pollsters. The more likely explanation is that more women, when asked to justify their abortion to a strange person with a clipboard, latch on to economic concerns as a publicly acceptable reason, because the economy has been in the news so much recently.
Catherine Price at Salon agrees that women may be citing economics to justify a decision they feel guilty about. But she also points out that all the factors women cite in having an abortion--"not wanting to have children at this time, already being a single parent and unfulfilled educational goals"--are tied to economics. She also has some funny things to say about the strange graphic ABC chose to include with the story.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
You see, torture memo author John Yoo has had some trouble answering straightforward questions about presidential power. John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee asked him
"Is there anything, Professor Yoo, that the president could not order to be done to a suspect, if he believed it necessary for national defense?...Could the president order a suspect buried alive?"Yoo couldn't come up with a straight answer.
Yoo has trouble with questions like this all the time. When he does give a straight answer, it is pretty alarming. Law Professor Doug Cassel asked
"If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?"The answer? Well no treaty stops him, and US law might not stop him, depending on what his reasons for ordering a child's testicles crushed were.
So Amygdala's Gary Farber has issued a challenge: What other tricky questions can we use to flummox John Yoo. Farber's entry:
Can the president order the arms of a suspect eaten by wolves while still attached?Pharyngula suggests:
"Can the president order a suspect to be impaled for his lunchtime entertainment?"The Sideshow:
"Is there anything Hitler did that a president of the United States can't do?"Pharyngula's commentators
These are really fun. When Boredom Strikes asks if the president can order someone be drowned in Splenda? My contribution:
- Can a president order a person to eat his own foot?
- Can the President order a person to shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die?
- Could the president order you, Mr. Yoo, to be renditioned to Saudi Arabia to be interrogated, then decapitated? And if not, why not?
- Can a president have a man's hands removed and surgically replaced with the tentacles of an octopus just to see what would happen?
- Could the president order me to turn myself inside-out?
- Could the president order that the suspect must travel in time to save Lincoln?
- Could the President make you, John Yoo, answer my questions with a simple "Yes" or "No" response?
- Can the president order a suspect to eat a booger sandwich?
Can the President order his enemies to be crushed and driven before him so he may hear the lamentations of their women?I think people who take Yoo's constitutional law class should ask him questions like these after every lecture.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
via unfogged, including joke.