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Archive for August, 2012

Consent and the Republican Mind

[ 48 ] August 27, 2012 |

If being a Republican today means anything, it means…well, supporting massive upper class tax cuts.  But in addition to that, it means not understanding the concept of “consent,” at least as it pertains to women. A desire to use the law to punish women for having sex in ways Republican men don’t like and a world-class virgin/whore complex are also essential.

A relevant cartoon.



“This race isn’t about race. Wait, did I say ‘race’? I meant ‘election.’ This race will not be about election.”

[ 160 ] August 27, 2012 |

Not that conservatives are trying to make it an issue—being that theirs is the party whose anti-anti-racism robustly defies the law that governs all other double negatives—but via Jamelle, I see that Romney claims:

There’s no question in mind that the president’s action in this regard was calculated to build support for him among people he wants to have excited about his reelection, just as so many of the things he’s done were designed to try to shore up his base. And weakening the work requirement in welfare is an enormous mistake.

Now, Jamelle thinks it requires “gymnastics” of some sort to relate this statement to race, but given that the only “gymnastics” I can perform are “standing up” and “walking short distances, slowly,” I beg to differ. All you need is direct quotations and honest bracketing:

“[W]eakening the work requirement in welfare” equals “try[ing] to shore up [Obama’s] base.”

So “[Obama’s] base” prefers a “weaken[ed] work requirement.”

Ergo, black folk are lazy.

No gymnastics required.

NOTE: Since it isn’t entirely clear, I’m mocking my own athleticism here, not Jamelle’s point, which I’m merely doubling down on.

Breaking Bad: “Say My Name,” or fine, maybe don’t even acknowledge I exist.

[ 13 ] August 27, 2012 |

One of the more gratifying things about studying film and television is the occasional payoff. You consider a scene in obsessive detail and it turns out that scene is just as important as you thought it was. This isn’t a credit to you, obviously, so much as the director. (Though it is a validation that you’re not imparting significance to irrelevant details.) So watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad, “Say My Name,” was particularly gratifying for yours truly because it indicated that I didn’t waste a day last week breaking down that scene at the dinner table in “Buyout.” It had a punchline. Recall the establishing shot from that episode:

Breaking bad00021

Compare that to the establishing shot in “Say My Name”:

Breaking bad00054

They’re nearly identical. Nearly. As I tell my students: shots in which the differences are slight matter more than shots in which the differences are grand. So this long shot is a little longer—the head of the couch in the living room is visible—but the composition is identical, albeit less tightly framed. What does the looser framing suggest? Given the off-center position of the couch-head, the implication is that whatever orderly detente had been reached in the previous episode has, literally, been cast askew. Evidence of the tipped kilter abounds: two of the chairs occupied in “Buyout” are empty, and one of the characters—Jesse in his role as a figure of a son—has been replaced by a bottle of wine. It’s almost as if the director, Thomas Schnauz, is claiming that if Jesse prevented Skyler and Walter from having a conversation in “Buyout,” in “Say My Name” it’s the wine. (And that Skyler’s deliberately putting the wine between them. It had occupied the majority of her attention the last time after all.)

Point being:

Read more…

Mormon prophecy, much?

[ 29 ] August 27, 2012 |

Since there’s no video of the interview, we have no choice but to take Politico’s lead:

Mitt Romney conceded President Barack Obama has succeeded in making him a less likable person, but he offered a defiant retort to those hoping he will open up this week: “I am who I am.”

Romney quoted that Popeye line three times in a 30-minute interview with POLITICO about his leadership style and philosophy, swatting away advice from Republicans to focus on connecting with voters in a more emotional, human way at this convention. Instead, he vowed to keep his emphasis — in the campaign and any administration to follow — on a relentlessly goal-driven, business-minded approach that has shaped his life so far.

“I know there are some people who do a very good job acting and pretend they’re something they’re not,” Romney said. “You get what you see. I am who I am.”

I don’t want to extend Romney the benefit of any doubt, but it’s possible that he’s not quoting Popeye there. It’s possible that he’s quoting Exodus 3:14 — in which God tells Moses that his name is Ehyeh asher ehyehwhich means that Romney’s merely asserting that his Presidency will fulfill the White Horse Prophecy. Or something. I’d just rather believe a presidential candidate is invoking double-secret messianic nonsense than quoting a cartoon character whose popularity peaked in 1955. Unless this is his idea of courting the youth vote. In which case, given what I know student knowledge about culture prior to 2004, I strongly encourage him to continue this line of incredibly relevant and moving references that the young voters of today implicitly understand.

The Last Chance To Destroy The New Deal?

[ 37 ] August 27, 2012 |

Well, I would never say the New Deal is entirely safe, but there’s a lot of truth in this analysis.   Related thesis:   James K. Polk bears substantially more responsibility for the Civil War than James Buchanan.

Things That Make Me Happy I’m Not A Real Journalist

[ 19 ] August 27, 2012 |

If it was a freelance assignment, I wonder what it would take to get me to go to arguably the most drearily exurban major center in the United States (now 50% parking!) to listen to a bunch of Republican speeches that I could watch on TV if I didn’t prefer to watch the Mets (verdict: marginally better than the Astros!), or…pretty much anything else. I’m not sure, but I think my asking price would start in the five-figure range, even before we get to storm issues.

National Security Policy

[ 0 ] August 27, 2012 |

Today is the first day of the Autumn 2012 iteration of National Security Policy. Blog here, syllabus here, podcasts (will be) here. In addition to a host of smaller changes, I plan to run through a “strategic problem” at the end of each lecture, which should be part of the podcast.

One Man’s Freedom Fighter…

[ 75 ] August 27, 2012 |

From a recent story about attempts to restore a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest — a man who should be honored only by the application of urine to his gravesite — in Selma:

“We take the position that, in this country, we’re allowed to venerate our heroes,” said Todd Kiscaden, a Friends of Forrest member overseeing the construction. “There’s a monument to Martin Luther King in town. We don’t deface that monument. We don’t harass people. So let us enjoy the same treatment.”

Look, we all have heroes to venerate. Some are actual heroes; some are war criminals on behalf of “one of the worst [causes] for which a people ever fought” and then terrorists on behalf of apartheid.

Solitary Confinement

[ 7 ] August 27, 2012 |

I have no idea how anyone can argue that solitary confinement isn’t a violation of the 8th Amendment. The death penalty is more humane.

Tweet of the Night

[ 34 ] August 26, 2012 |

K-Lo brings the laughs:

as a longtime romney watcher, nice to see the rest of the world finally getting to know the dude, the talent, the leadership, the character.

If anything deserves an open comment thread, it’s this. Have fun!

New syllabus: Game of Thrones: Bold Plan or Blasphemy?

[ 103 ] August 26, 2012 |

The university’s revamped the curriculum to emphasize the written word, so now I have to teach a traditional novel alongside my visual works. (Which I almost always did anyway but no matter.) I’ve decided to teach Game of Thrones, but there’s one problem: I’ve decided to teach Game of Thrones. In a freshmen composition class. That’s only ten weeks long. The quarter will look something like this:

  • Week 1: Introduction to the genre. Watch Fellowship of the Ring. Read secondary material about fantasy.
  • Weeks 2-5: Read Game of Thrones. Read secondary material about the novel. Write 4 blog posts and 1 short essay about it.
  • Weeks 6-9: Watch Game of Thrones. Read secondary material about the series. Write 4 blog posts and 1 long essay about it.
  • Week 10: Final project.

You see the problem: the novel’s 675 pages long, meaning that from Week 2 until Week 5 they’ll be reading 169 pages of the novel and approximately 15 pages of secondary material per week. Experience suggests that having freshmen non-majors read 184 pages per week while also asking them to produce 10 of their own pages may be too much for them to handle. So here’s my bold (or blasphemous) plan:

I let them skip the Daenerys chapters (3, 11, 23, 36, 46, 54, 61, 64, 68, and 72). Because I read the novel on a Kindle, I’m not exactly sure how many pages that will save them. But it makes narrative sense: they’ll spend all their time on the island of Westeros and we’ll spend all our classtime discussing its affairs in Weeks 2-5. When we shift to the series in Week 6, we’ll focus our attention on Daenerys and the events happening on Essos. That means the majority of the visual rhetorical analysis will involve horses, but it could be worse.

Another idea, floated by Gerry Canavan, would be to force the students to read one chapter from each of the point-of-view characters and allow them to decide which two they wanted to ignore. They’d have to justify their decision via a rhetorical analysis in a blog post, meaning that they would write that the Daenerys chapters don’t provide them with significant information about the context of conversations within the novel, or that they don’t believe they’re receiving accurate information from Tyrion because of his ethos. I like that from a pedagogical point of view, but I’m not sure about the classroom mechanics. Take a vote and ignore the two characters with the fewest proponents? I don’t know.

Any other suggestions are welcome.


[ 14 ] August 26, 2012 |

Hey all,

Assuming that the APSA conference goes forward and that the city isn’t substantially damaged by the storm, three members of LGM (Farley, Watkins, and Brockington) will be holding a “meet and greet” on Thursday evening, 7pm at the Crescent City Brewhouse. Hope to see you there!

The Management

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