URLs du Jour


  • Brutal Assault 2009 Poster A relatively new addition to the blogroll is The College Fix, an aggregator of higher-ed-related stories from a conservative/libertarian perspective. Today, sharp-eyed Robby Soave juxtaposes (a) Mitt Romney's common-sense advice to a college kid griping about high tuition ("Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education.") and (b) a NYT writer deeming such advice "brutal."

    We're apparently in for a season of painful rhetoric, where every refusal to pander to spoiled-child demands for free stuff, delivered via government subsidy or mandate, is dubbed "brutal."

  • At The Right Coast, Tom Smith teases out the real problem with Rush Limbaugh deeming Georgetown U student/activist Sarah Fluke a "prostitute": it's really kind of insulting to prostitutes.
    I do not speak for the prostitutes of America, but I think in fairness Rush owes them an apology. I suspect the vast majority of them are working hard to support children and, yes, their drug habits, but when they got addicted to those drugs most of them probably did not realize the hell they were letting themselves in for. I think they deserve our sympathy more than our contempt. It's not fair to compare them to somebody who is enormously privileged compared to them, and instead of wanting to exchange sex for money, just wants the money so she and those similarly situated can have sex when and where they want without the normal consequences thereof, including even the financial consequences.
    Somehow I doubt that even Rush is brave enough to make that point on the air.

  • Jacob Sullum also considers Ms. Fluke's testimony and (like many) finds her cost accounting to be dubious, but (worse) her logic is faulty:
    Cost aside, the essence of Fluke's argument is that reproductive freedom requires free birth control. By the same logic, religious freedom requires kosher food subsidies, freedom of speech requires taxpayer-funded computers, and the right to keep and bear arms requires government-supplied guns.

  • The great Steve Landsburg has been inspired to write one, two, three posts on the Fluke controversy, all worth your careful consideration. The second one, in particular, analyzes the arguments put forth by people who…
    […] I now call “contraceptive sponges” — people who want others to pay for their contraception because — well, just because they don’t want to pay for it themselves.
    I believe that might be a pun. Long time since we've had a good one.

Last Modified 2012-03-09 2:18 PM EST

The Big Year

[3.0 stars] The Big Year (2011) on IMDb

[Amazon Image] A perhaps unlikely topic for a major motion picture: high-end obsessive/competitive bird-watching, sorry, "birding." (I have birders in my family, so I have a nodding acquaintance with the field, but nobody's at the level portrayed here.) It's billed as a comedy, but… it really feels more genre-free. It's just a story, illuminating a little world of which most of us are unaware. Yes, it's funny in spots. But so is life.

The story is about the struggle to observe a large number of bird species within a single calendar year within the USA/Canada. The previous champ in this area is Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson); looking to surpass him are retiring business genius Stu (Steve Martin), and amiable slacker Brad (Jack Black). And the movie pretty much just follows these guys around over the course of the year.

They go everywhere, pretty much at a moment's notice, at even the merest rumor that a rare species might show up at some remote location. Bostick is kind of a cocky jerk (but not a big enough jerk to make you hate him); Stu and Brad become buddies, united by their desire to see Bostick taken down a peg.

A big part of the movie is showing how the birding quest affects the less-obsessed: family, friends, associates. Stu's business ex-partners keep imploring him to come back to help; Bostick's wife wants to start a family, and (correctly) feels neglected; Brad's already lost one wife, and his no-nonsense dad (Mr. Brian Dennehy) wants him to settle down and start living in the real world. The one where you might occasionally see a pigeon scurrying out of your way on the sidewalk.

There's a lot of fantastic scenery. I was ready to believe that the filmmakers really did trot all over the continent for shooting, but IMDB claims that most of the locations were in British Columbia.

Here's one thing I found out: you can use the word "shit" once in a movie and still have a PG rating.

There are a lot of pretty well-known actors here in relatively minor roles. If you watch it, you may find yourself saying "Hey, that's…" a lot. (As in: "Hey, that's Anjelica Huston!")

There's nothing at all wrong here, but I keep remembering the insanely great movies Steve Martin used to make. Any chance we could get one more movie out of him comparable to Roxanne or L.A. Story?

Last Modified 2012-09-24 4:52 AM EST