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After a couple of years, we won’t stand for that, will we?*

[ 80 ] July 12, 2013 |

My dissertation contains a rather lengthy discussion of Cesare Lombroso, his theory of being “born bad,” and the complicity of later evolutionary theorists in its dissemination. I could’ve saved myself quite a bit of hand-wringing had I these photographs at my disposal. They depict a young Adolf Hitler — recently released from jail and fresh off writing Mein Kampf — rehearsing the part of the “Adolf Hitler.” Because apparently Hitlers aren’t born but made:

And then there’s the strangest of the batch:

This is the face of evil. Do what I do everyday — laugh in it by being alive.

*I don’t know why I’m titling everything after comedy routines of late either. But I am:

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Into every generation a Moran is born

[ 49 ] July 12, 2013 |

And after today’s “women must register tampons and maxi pads as lethal weapons” nonsense in Texas, I believe we’ve found this one’s:

 

“Whoever debases others is debasing himself.”

[ 123 ] July 12, 2013 |

Ann Coulter has an interesting column on the George Zimmerman case — and I say “interesting” because its sole concern is to indict Trayvon Martin for crimes committed by “young black males” who aren’t him. They may not even be themselves. To wit:

A few days later, another house was burglarized. The thieves made off with jewelry and a new laptop. Roofers working across the street had seen two black teenagers near the house at the time of the robbery. When they spotted one of the teens the next day, they called the police.

This time, the roofers followed the suspect so he wouldn’t get away. The cops arrived and found the stolen laptop in his backpack. This was the same black teenager Zimmerman had seen looking in a neighbor’s window.

I understand how the roofers could recognize one of the people they saw “near the house,” and that the police could positively identify him as one of the robbers because he’s in possession of stolen property. But how exactly does Coulter know that the black teenager arrested with the laptop is the same one Zimmerman saw? Especially given that — if nothing else — this trial’s proven that George Zimmerman is utter shit at identifying and assessing the relative threat of young black males. Given that this unnamed black teen was presumably convicted on the strength of the possession charge, from a legal standpoint it’s immaterial whether Zimmerman testified against him. But given the perspective of his current defense strategy — which amounts to him having been “socialized” by young black criminals to assume that all young black males are criminals — it seems odd that Coulter would defend Zimmerman by demonstrating that his profiling is vindicated. “He may be a racist who believes all young black males are criminals,” she essentially argues, “but Trayvon Martin was exception, and as a vigorously law-abiding citizen, Zimmerman had no choice but to abide by the rule.”

And here — and the following is graphic and I advise you not to click through if such things disturb you — here is what happens when men like Zimmerman treat an “exception” like the “rule.” The defense has released countless images of a teenage Martin puffing his chest in his bathroom mirror like every other kid his age, but this is the image of Martin that matters. A young man, dead in the wet grass, his life cut short because Zimmerman mistook Skittles for a deadly weapon. The defense’s reliance on those images of Martin posing like a “thug” points to the perfidy of their logic: Zimmerman hadn’t seen those images when he started following Martin, nor did he know anything about Martin being involved with the insidious crime of enjoying marijuana. He just saw the kid who’d been in that dead body and decided he needed to be taught a lesson.

Say what you will about the legal maneuvering about lesser charges, but it’s clear that Zimmerman’s guilty of a premeditated action, and if his defense manages to convince the jury that “sensible” racial animus trumps that, we’re all the poorer for it.

UPDATE: And Zimmerman’s defense closes with what Richard Wright, in a petulant interview with the French press, called a “behold this nigger” moment: a photograph of Martin sitting shirtless on his father’s couch. It’s just like a slave auction — right down to the selling of a black body.

It contains all the colors of the rainbow, from white to white.*

[ 183 ] July 11, 2013 |

Before you laugh, you should know that intellectual heavyweights like the Internet’s own Jeff Goldstein are a crucial part of the movement to make “North Colorado” the 51st state. The movement’s “willing to make our voices heard even while being labeled kooks and ‘fringe’ elements,” which is a good thing, since it sounds like something concocted by kooky fringe elements. Who are these people? Don’t know. But according to Jeff they

represent a growing number of contiguous outlying counties that surround the Denver/Boulder doughnut hole owned by the hipsters and Democrats, and the many out-of-state (and illegally out-of-country) imports who have taken over Colorado government, at least for the time being[.]

I wonder what those counties have in common? Let me see now:

  • Kit Carson – 94.8 percent white
  • Logan – 92.2 percent white
  • Morgan – 92.8 percent white
  • Phillips – 96.9 percent white
  • Sedgewick – 96.0 percent white
  • Washington – 96.2 percent white
  • Weld – 93.4 percent white
  • Yuma – 97.5 percent white

They “represent” a group wants to form a state that will be on average 94.94 percent white. They specifically want to exclude urban areas like Denver County, which threatens their Great White Fever Dream with its 10.4 percent blackness. Not that their desire for a white state prevents them from explicitly comparing their plight to the Civil Rights Movement. Except if you scroll down, you’ll see that their new white state will require that “the streets run with blood like we’ve never seen before.” (That sounds ominous until you remember how low a benchmark that is for shut-ins like these.) So it’ll be just like the Civil Rights Movement, only with lots of guns and violence. I bet Jeff’s sitting at home right now thinking about rolling naked on the floor — I mean grappling — and choking the life from some dusky liberal relativist.

Because there’s nothing racist about wanting to create a white state if it’s just an accident of ideology that everyone invested in its creation is white. Unrelatedly:

*Stolen from a comment David Cross made when I saw him perform at the Irvine Spectrum Center many years ago.

Stop repeating what I say, you’re making me look bad.

[ 73 ] July 9, 2013 |

Ann Althouse finally tired of horrible people agreeing with the horrible things she writes and closed her comments to all but her husband. That Meade’s the foremost offender when it comes to defending her offensive positions seems not to have occurred to her. But I congratulate her on this “new experiment”:

Perhaps this is the first day of the new era on this blog. You won’t be able to see the comments that would have been written, but you will see how it changes me.

I’m not sure what “it” is, but I do so hope it “changes” her into something resembling a rational and compassionate human being.

I’d settle for sober.

I’m a little concerned about this idiot pack she’s loosed upon the rest of us, so if you notice a slight uptick in fringe lunacy, remember we have a policy that you’re welcome to enforce with wild abandon.

UPDATE [SL]: Why does Ann Althouse HATE FREE SPEECH? As I understand it from Althouse’s previous writings, if the principle means anything it sure means that people must have unlimited access to the comment sections of other blogs.

An LG&M Podcast: Game of Thrones, “Winter Is Coming,” though not soon enough

[ 29 ] July 9, 2013 |

Steven Attewell and I decided that we didn’t want to wait until next February to continue talking about Game of Thrones, and so we decided to start over. Here’s our take on “Winter Is Coming,” the serie’s inaugural episode. I’m including links to the works I referenced and will have Steven do the same.

Works SEK discusses:

Works Attewell discusses (warning, all of these posts contain spoilers for all five books):

Video:

Audio:

Archives:

Mad Men: Who’s “In Care Of” what now?

[ 45 ] July 8, 2013 |

(This is obviously one of my visual rhetoric posts, all of which can be found here.)

In my first post on “In Care Of,” I discussed the importance of the logic of the “Oh Really” sequence to the episode; in the second, I not only proved that cowboy hats aren’t the new lasers, but also that Matthew Weiner is dedicated to creating pain by any means necessary, including undermining the importance of structural elements like the “Oh Really” sequence. In other words, my first two posts were about how Weiner creates tension via the visuals and sustains it by undermining the visuals that created it via the narrative. Most television shows — and most television writers — have a particular set of visual and narrative crutches they break out when they need to rouse their viewers. For example, Joss Whedon favors hackneyed speeches undermined by immediate circumstances:

BUFFY: No, it doesn’t stop! It never stops! Do you — do you think I chose to be like this? You have any idea how lonely it is? How dangerous? I would love to be upstairs, watching TV or gossiping about boys or — God, even studying! But I have to save the world. Again.

Or:

LOKI: Enough! You are, all of you are beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by —

(HULK flattens LOKI by SMASH)

Whenever one of Whedon’s characters starts to speechify like William Wallace pontificating about the theoretical possibility of Scottish independence, that character’s likely to find his or her authority undermined either by their own words or someone else’s actions.* Whedon telegraphs it to a man who proceeds to semaphore it at your face. Which is why Mad Men continues to make for compelling television: Weiner and his writers are clearly aware of how they’re manipulating us and, like a great boxer, always slug us where we’re not expecting. Especially when they’ve established those expectations in a particular episode. In the last scene of this one, he combines the “Oh Really” sequence with its content-dependent and confessional opposite. To wit:

He opens with this long shot of the Draper/Whitman family. They’re all clearly staring up at something, and because of the extremely high angle, seem to be dominated by whatever that something is. Establishing that something’s doing the dominating before actually showing it on screen has two effects: the first is to rouse our curiosity; the second, to remind us of what’s become obvious by now, i.e. that this family’s been burdened by an unknown and unspoken something for quite some time. Of course Don knows what it is, but to Sally, in particular, there’s just been this horrible presence that’s tainted her father’s relationships with everyone. She has no idea what it is, but this shot’s telling you here it is. But before cutting to this looming presence, Weiner thinks we need a refresher on how close this family is at the moment:

Read more…

We may contain multitudes, but there are limits

[ 146 ] July 5, 2013 |

In the comments of one of Other Scott’s recent posts, the tired discussion about whether we’re contractually obligated to agree with each other arose. We’re not. Nor are we obligated to write about whatever your pet issue happens to be. I say this because I don’t know what the other bloggers here think about the George Zimmerman case and I don’t particularly care to write about it. But if I did care and were I to write about it, I might write something like this:

the political melodrama should also not be allowed to obscure the reality of this trial: it is about the death of an unarmed 17-year-old, who was not a felon, who was on a neighborhood run to get Skittles, and whose life has been extinguished. Given that the young man was unarmed and that he inflicted very superficial injuries on his adversary during their scuffle, Zimmerman’s claim that he was in fear for his life has to be taken with a grain of salt, to say the least.

But never something like this:

In the Trayvon Martin case, the media withheld details of the crime that were damaging to Trayvon in order to protect him and indict Zimmerman—that the mainly white community he had entered at night had been the target of a rash of recent break-ins and burglaries by young African -American men; that the hoodie Trayvon was wore was a uniform for burglars; and that Trayvon had been suspended from school after burglary tools were discovered on his person along with unaccounted-for jewelry. At the same time, the press flooded the airwaves and front pages with sentimental photos of Trayvon as an innocent adolescent, while withholding others of the six-foot-two, 17-year-old who beat the smaller Zimmerman to the ground, smashing his head on the concrete and causing him to scream repeatedly for his life before he fired his gun in self-defense.

Especially not the part in bold. Even if I somehow did, I’d be sure not to publish another article on the same site on the same day in which I wrote that Martin “inflicted very superficial injuries on his adversary during their scuffle, [meaning] Zimmerman’s claim that he was in fear for his life has to be taken with a grain of salt[.]”

Then again, I’m not David Horowitz.

“What will become of the children?” Why, they’ll be raped and murdered, of course.

[ 312 ] July 1, 2013 |

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ranks among the worst shows on television. Not because of the acting — though the fact that Richard Belzer’s been going through John Munch’s motions since 1993 has been obvious for about a decade now — but because it’s all exploitation all the time. Its bias is clearly liberal, but cruelly so, in that it manifests itself in the bodies of its victims: children, women, immigrants, non-whites, gays, lesbians, etc. But that only makes it worse, because I suspect that conservatives secretly love the show because it combines the victimization of marginal peoples with the systemic incompetence of the New York state police force and legal system. The world of L&O:SVU is one in which white men frequently get away with doing terrible things to people conservatives don’t consider people.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t also watch it. When it’s on — and it’s always on — I can’t stop myself. It’s that terrible. Last night, for example, I watched an episode in which Big Boi was eaten by a pack of hyenas and Detective Stabler was shot trying to stop a man with a monkey in a basketball. Because as we all know monkeys in basketballs are clearly within the purview of the Special Victims Unit. But you need not watch any particular episode to understand its horribleness, because it’s right there in the Riefenstahlian opening credits. To the images!

This is New York City, where all the American crime happens. This helicopter shot shows you how many people are in it and, therefore, how much crime is likely to happen. Which is a lot. Or would be were it not for:

Read more…

“Write right from the left to the right as you see it spelled here.”

[ 52 ] June 29, 2013 |

Given that I’m moving back to Louisiana, it only seems fair that I pass its literacy test before being granted the right to vote. Unfortunately, it seems I’m illiterate:

1. Draw a line around the number or letter of this sentence.

How does one draw a line around something? I thought lines were those infinitely extendable things with no curvature. How I am supposed to draw a line around the number of this sentence? I have an idea!

Wait — that’s three lines. Fuck. Maybe I should try to draw it around the letter of this sentence? Not that I know what that’d be. Do they mean “the” letter of the question or “the” letter of “this sentence.” Given that both the question and “this sentence” have more than one letter, I’m not exactly sure what they’re asking me to do. Maybe this?

Granted that’s nine lines now, but they’re now “around” both “the” “letter” and “the” number and “the” word “number” in the question as well as the words “this sentence.” I may not be right but I can hardly be wrong. Moving on:

22. Place a cross over the tenth letter in this line, a line under the first space in this sentence, and circle around the last the in the second line of this sentence.

I got a little confused over whether they meant the first space in this sentence or “this sentence,” but I made up for it:

They didn’t ask me to draw Bad Ass Jesus struggling to get off the cross, but they didn’t not ask me to either. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. What’s next?

29. Write every other word in this first line and print every third word in same line, (original type smaller and first line ended at comma) but capitalize the fifth word that you write.

That’s it — I’m fucking illiterate. I don’t even know what the difference between “writing” and “printing” is. You win Louisiana! I won’t be casting any votes that matter anyway. Just once I’d love to live in a state where they do.

 

Mad Men: Disappointment “In Care Of” Convention

[ 13 ] June 27, 2013 |

In my previous post on “In Care Of,” I defined an “Oh Really” sequence as as structure of escalating exchanges that requires no dialogue to be understood. What I didn’t say — but which should make perfect sense in retrospect — is that such sequences are most often found in the saloons of classic American Westerns. Just consider what would happen to that scene if you put Don in a ridiculously large cowboy hat:

Don didn’t need to take off his hat to inform us of impending violence: the structure of the shots and reverse shots is so familiar that the context of the scene matters more than the content. Two men being filmed in this manner in a “saloon” inevitably leads to fisticuffs and gun play. The logic of the escalation is “drunkenly disproportionate” even if neither of the parties involved is actually drunk. Because we know how this scene ends, Weiner need not actually show Don striking the minister. But we want him to. The tension mounts but Weiner provides no release — instead he relies on our familiarity with this sequence to cut to a flashback, because he knows we’ll only be momentarily confused. He effectively holds that tension in abeyance throughout the flashback, but instead of relieving it by cutting back to the scene at the bar like we want him to, he suspends it in perpetuity by moving the narrative a few hours forward in time:

Read more…

Obama enlists [indistinct] black woman to win in 2014 by [indistinct]

[ 50 ] June 27, 2013 |

Glenn Reynolds:

Rachel Jeantel made it sound like Travon Martin profiled George Zimmerman… or… what is a “creepy ass cracker”? Somebody ask Paula Deen.

But here’s the key: Obama and the Democrats would actually prefer an acquittal here. That’s because the whole point of the ginned-up Zimmerman affair was to inflame racial sentiment to boost black turnout in 2012. With any luck, they can turn an acquittal into another racial rallying cry, which will help in 2014. It’s not about Zimmerman; he’s just one of those eggs you have to break to make an Obama omelet.

I only mentioned her relative articulateness because as I was trying to eat breakfast, the defense was arguing that, on tape, Jeantel said a voice “coulda” or “could of” or “could’ve” been Martin, whereas in court she’s insisting she said “could hear” — which it should be noted she made clear later in the tape. The defense just doesn’t want to play that part.

So according to Reynolds, Jeantel is a mumbling Obama plant who listened to her friend die and was then, presumably, instructed by representatives of the highest office in the land — if not Obama himself! — to recount the story in an [indistinct] way that ensures an acquittal. When I write about the paranoid mindset of contemporary conservatism, this is exactly the sort of “logic” I mean: an old white man complaining that he can’t understand a young black person is part of Obama’s plan.

This is an acceptable argument in mainstream conservative thought at the moment. I’m [indistinct] with [indistinct] at this [indistinct].

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