"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Friday, January 08, 2010

 (Diane Krueger in Inglourious Basterds.)
Punching Hippies

2009 was a good year for thought-provoking and invigorating movies. Who can forget the Comedian punching hippies in Watchmen, and Rorschach decrying stay-within-the-lines liberal sensibilities from a darker perspective. There was Inglourious Basterds, Avatar, A Serious Man, Public Enemies, Whip It, Extract, The Hangover and (500) Days of Summer. Star Trek captured the hopeful, confident, smart, scientific* and youthful zeitgest of the first of the Obama years, with young pundits like Jonathan Cohn, Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias coming to the fore, and liberals like Obama, Emanuel, Geithner and Orszag taking over the levers of government. Remember when Bones asked Chekov "How old are you?!?"

I didn't see Invictus, Bright Star, Where the Wild Things Are, the Hurt Locker, the Messenger, Antichrist, Precious, An Education, Men Who Stare At Goats, or Up in the Air so obviously I can't judge those but undeniably 2009 was a banner year for Billy Crudup (Watchmen, Public Enemies), Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar, Public Enemies), Stephen Lang (Avatar, Public Enemies) and Kristen Wiig (Extract, Whip It).
*Some may argue technocratic would be a better word than scientific, but I view technocratic as being more of a pejorative. (Dr. Manhattan in the Watchmen was technocratic, that is, doing Nixon's bidding in Vietnam without considering whether or not it was a just war.) Science tries to put political - more specifically, partisan - concerns aside. The glibertarians at Hit & Run wonder "why are so many sci-fi films left-wing?" The answer is that objective science is more of a priority on the left. On the rightwing science's findings and priorities are often overridden in the interests of profits and religious ideology or twisted to further rightwing goals. On the undemocratic left, like Stalinist Russia, science can be subsumed under ideology also obviously. As Wikipedia says:
Although the sciences were less rigorously censored than other fields such as art, there were several examples of suppression of ideas. In the most notorious, the Ukrainian agronomist Trofim Lysenko refused to accept the chromosome theory of heredity usually accepted by modern genetics. Claiming his theories corresponded to Marxism, he managed to talk Joseph Stalin in 1948 into banning population genetics and several other related fields of biological research; this decision was not reverted up to the 1960s.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

(Sam Worthington feels like hugging a tree
OR Stephen Lang looks on as Sully goes native.)

5 Theories That Explain Why Avatar Was Such A Huge Hit by Charlie Jane Anders

If Only and Missed Opportunities

In 2009, I had a number of titles I wanted to use for blog entries but couldn't find content to support them for some reason. Here they are anyway:

Big Fish in a Little Pond
Prison Sex
Punching Hippies
A friend asked, "What is it? You look like you've seen a ghost."
Hold Me Closer Tony Danza*

Marc Cooper on the last decade.

My person of the year for 2009 is ACORN, who managed to bring down the global economy and elect an Islamic Marxist to the Presidency, all the while fighting a rearguard action against an increasingly confident Teabagger movement. Can't wait to see what they do for an encore.
*Correction. I found content for two of the titles since posting this. Also "Hold Me Closer Tony Danza" is sung to Elton John's Tiny Dancer.
Easy Tiger

David Leonhardt unloads on the Federal Reserve Bank and Ben Bernanke in an above-the-fold front page article.
Whether we like it or not, the Fed really does seem to be the best agency to regulate financial firms. (It now has authority over only some firms.) As the lender of last resort, it already has a vested interest in the health of those firms. The Fed’s prestige also tends to give it its pick of people who want to work on economic policy.
"The Federal Reserve has unparalleled expertise," Mr. Bernanke told Congress last month. "We have a great group of economists, financial market experts and others who are unique in Washington in their ability to address these issues."
Fair enough. At some point, though, it sure would be nice to hear those experts explain how they missed the biggest bubble of our time.

Sunday, January 03, 2010