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Explosive Arguments

[ 18 ] October 7, 2010 |

Sparks are flying at Duck of Minerva over Landmine Action‘s claim that “explosive violence” is a humanitarian problem. In a recent essay Stephanie Carvin makes “the case against the case against blast weapons,” by which she means “explosive weapons” as described by Landmine Action’s recent report:

“The short version is that it is calling for a ban on so-called ‘blast-weapons’ as a method of warfare… I think that 1) the report is problematic; 2) that there may actually be a case for not banning such weapons – possibly even humanitarian ones. Instead, states AND humanitarians should look to regulation as a more effective alternative.

But as I understand it, Landmine Action is not calling for a complete ban on the weapons. The report only calls on states and global civil society to “strengthen further an underlying presumption that the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is unacceptable” (p. 14). I recently spoke with Director of Policy and Research Richard Moyes and he confirmed that Landmine Action is not proposing an outright ban such as a codified rule in an Additional Protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons. Rather, he said simply, “I’d like to see us establish a terrain in which there is a general concern rather than acceptance about the use of explosives in populated areas.”

In other words, Moyes and Carvin seem to be on the same page with respect to regulating conventional explosives. Carvin doesn’t elaborate what regulations she has in mind or why they would be more humanitarian than Moyes’, but some of the organization’s specific proposals include establishing a mechanism to accurately count civilian casualties from explosive violence so some determination can be empirically made about whether these weapons can or cannot be used in a controlled manner; and in particular to reduce their use in specific areas where civilian casualties are likely to be highest.

Carvin does have two deeper critiques about the report that bear further mention. I think both may have some validity but in my view, the first doesn’t actually undermine Moyes’ moral point, and the second merely ducks that point (no pun intended). Read more…



[ 2 ] October 7, 2010 |



[ 2 ] October 7, 2010 |

If you’re going to yank your healthy number 2 starter down only 2-0 (1 earned) with two on in the fifth…he probably shouldn’t be your #2 starter. It’s too bad for the Rays that Hellickson’s name doesn’t rhyme with “game.”

What Happens When States Vote Republican

[ 13 ] October 7, 2010 |

Shorter Chris Christie: “Forget it, feds I don’t need your phony baloney job. I’ll take your money, but I’m not gonna plow your driveway!”


see also.

In the Tank

[ 9 ] October 7, 2010 |

Liberals, nominal liberals, and man who in exchange for fifty bucks would write op-eds supporting companies selling cyanide to schoolchildren Lanny Davis sell out to the worst of the for-profit education racket. An instructive, if depressing, lesson on how American politics functions.


[ 8 ] October 7, 2010 |

It’s hard to see a race to the bottom in regulating foreclosures being desirable in the current context.

Nobody Could Have Predicted (TM)

[ 10 ] October 6, 2010 |

The Twins gag up a lead against the Yankees — who saw that coming?

The Minnesota Twins Boldly Approach The New York Yankees

Meanwhile, for those of you who missed this thread, a handy summary:

How Can A Guy With 59 Wins in a Season Go Wrong?

[ 2 ] October 6, 2010 |

I am in awe of the majesty of @OldHossRadbourn:

“You know, Thome could bunt himself to second if I play this right.” #RonGardenhireThoughts
2 minutes ago

God bless you, R. Gardenhire. I adore bunts. Of course, I think liniment cures leprosy.

…oh yeah, GO TWINS!!!

…how can you beat the Wikipedia summary of the 1884 season?

Jealousy and hatred between Hoss and Charlie Sweeney, the other ace pitcher on the team, broke out into violence in the clubhouse. Hoss was faulted as the initiator of the fight and after a poor outing on July 16 was suspended without pay. (He deliberately lost the game by lobbing soft pitches over the plate). But on July 22 Sweeney had been drinking before the start of the game and continued drinking in the dugout between innings. Wild and plastered, Sweeney managed to make it to the seventh inning with a 6-2 lead. Bancroft attempted to relieve him with the change pitcher but Sweeney stormed out of the park in a rage, leaving the Providence side with only eight players. With only two men to cover the outfield they lost the game.

The mood among the owners and managers that evening was gloomy; both their aces were gone and the rest of the team was in poor morale. Consensus was that the team should be disbanded immediately. At that point Ole Hoss stepped out of the shadows and offered to start every game for the rest of the season in exchange for a small raise and exemption from the reserve clause next season. From that point, July 23 to September 24 when the pennant was clinched, Providence played 43 games and Radbourn started 40 of them and won 36.

Baseball used to be so much more interesting…

Lesson Planning: Teaching basic film theory through Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

[ 8 ] October 6, 2010 |

Same as I did with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (and continue to do to Mad Men) (much more of which is forthcoming) only this time about Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.  The standard caveat applies.

The formal elements of the opening five minutes of Nausicaä conspire to disorient the audience.  For example, the film opens with a medium close-up, i.e. one that captures the upper torso of a character in a manner that allows the audience to clearly read a character’s face without making it seem, as close-ups often do, as if the camera (and with it, the audience) are violating that character’s personal space.  In short, a medium close-up is designed to create a sense of comfortable intimacy between character and audience, e.g.

That’s obviously a terrible example, because Miyazaki’s deliberately flouting film convention in order to make Lord Yupa seem inscrutable.  The audience is disoriented because its members know how medium close-ups are conventionally employed (even though they might not know they do) and the violation of those conventions creates a little anxiety.  If Yupa were to remove that mask, the audience would experience a slight sense of relief because the shot now conforms to their expectations.  But if a director continues to confound them, the cumulative effect will create an uncomfortable audience, which is what Miyazaki wants:

First: in conventional terms, this shot sequence is backwards.  Establishing shots like the one above are intended to introduce the principle elements of a location and their spatial relation to each other.  They are typically framed as extreme long shots in deep focus (as it makes little sense to introduce an audience to a collection of unfocused blobs), and they typically appear before medium close-ups of the characters contained within it.  Reversing the typical shot sequence, as Miyazaki does here, results in the audience being surprised by the surroundings.

This formal trick works even when those surroundings are less alien than they are here.  For example, imagine a medium close-up of a couple of men standing around outside:

Read more…

Deep Thought

[ 7 ] October 6, 2010 |

It could be argued that Doc Halladay is one of the better pitchers on the Phillies 2010 roster.

It’s also good that James Joyce was not the first base umpire for today’s game.

I see what you did there.

[ 45 ] October 6, 2010 |

Wendy A. Goldman took to Big Hollywood today and unveiled her new production company like a student communicating in her introduction that her entire essay will be filler:

Movies have the power to make us laugh or cry, to anger or inspire us, to move us, or just to provide escape. And, sometimes, they have a power beyond simple entertainment; they can influence new ways of thinking, feeling and pursuing our lives.

Those are the kinds of sentences that you write when you’re not trying to say anything, not when you’re trying to introduce your new production company to the world. Her second paragraph is a marginal improvement, as it at least indicates why she feels the world needs another generic person to start another pointless production company:

Movies are also one of the primary arenas in which the so-called “culture war” is fought, where the battle for the hearts and minds of the public, and the conflict between values considered traditional and conservative, and those considered progressive or liberal is played out—reaching people in a profound, instinctive way.

What a precise and crisply written sentence. If she thinks as clearly as she writes, she deserves the seed money required to battle the conflict between traditional and conservative values and reach people in a more profoundly instinctive way. In short, despite all her talk of battles and conflicts, hers is a peaceful company whose conflict battlers will be merely metaphorical:

It is with this in mind that we have launched Crusader Pictures. Crusade means the vigorous advancement of a cause, and the cause at the heart of Crusader Pictures is to produce entertainment which stands up for individual liberty in a manner that will appeal to a wide audience.

She thinks “crusade” means what now? Because according to the final authority on the matter, the Oxford English Dictionary, it means:

1. a. Hist. A military expedition undertaken by the Christians of Europe in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims.

b. transf. Any war instigated and blessed by the Church for alleged religious ends, a ‘holy war’; applied esp. to expeditions undertaken under papal sanction against infidels or heretics.

2. fig. An aggressive movement or enterprise against some public evil, or some institution or class of persons considered as evil.

3. A papal bull or commission authorizing a crusade, or expedition against infidels or heretics.

4. Span. Hist. A levy of money, or a sum raised by the sale of indulgences, under a document called Bula de la cruzada, originally for aggression or defence against the Moors, but afterwards diverted to other purposes.

5. a. A marking with the cross; the symbol of the cross, the badge borne by crusaders.

b. fig. (with allusion to ‘cross’ in the sense of trial or affliction).

Note the common thread there? “Crusade” does not mean “the vigorous advancement of a cause,” but

1. a. the vigorous advancement of a Christian cause against Muslims,

b. people like Muslims,

2. or people generally considered evil;

3. it can also refer to the document that authorizes the above,

4. the money that finances it,

5. a. the symbol that justifies it,

b. or the suffering all of that entails.

That is what “crusade” means, so her “subtle” attempt to strip it of that context and transform it into some innocuous synonym for political engagement will—wait, she included a picture with this post? I can’t view images through the RSS feed, but I’m sure it’s just some patriotic pablum to distract non-dogs from the shrill of her whistle:

Read more…

Reverse Wishful Thinking

[ 2 ] October 6, 2010 |

Sarah Palin is always wrong about everything. (Unfortunately, in this case.)