Spotlight

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I must reveal that Netflix sent me this DVD nearly four months ago. Mrs. Salad (who is Catholic) didn't want to see it. And I kept finding other things to do. But it's good! It won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay in 2016, and was nominated for four more. The acting talent is overkill: Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci,… and a bunch of others.

It is the story of how the Boston Globe "Spotlight" investigative team unveiled the slimy history of kid-molesting priests in Boston. The Church did its utmost to keep the problem under wraps, the Massachusetts "justice" system was agreeable, and bad priests walked free, often to offend in different parishes.

There's not a lot of action. Amend that: there's not any action, it's just people pretty much talking to each other. Occasionally shouting. But I stayed awake, while I've been known to fall asleep during the fight scenes in thrillers.

And, hey, guess what? This means I've watched all eight of the 2016 Best Picture nominees. Given the Oscars' current penchant for nominating tediously woke movies, I doubt I'll manage this feat again.

URLs du Jour

2019-04-19

[Amazon Link]

  • Up north from here, Susan the Bruce writes on what we're looking for in a President. Specifically, a National Drinking Buddy. But first, her interesting observation:

    If you Google, “shrill” and the names of any of the five female candidates, you’ll find abundant coverage of their degree of shrillness. Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris all seem to posses the average level of shrill that one would expect from a female candidate. Gillibrand is attractive but shrill. Amy Klobuchar is shrill and bitchy. Kamala Harris is just plain old shrill. Elizabeth Warren has an advanced level of shrill, combined with her being polarizing and not likeable enough. Tulsi Gabbard is deemed “less shrill,” or “easy on the eye and ear.” Next, try Googling “shrill” and any male candidate’s name. You won’t find anything. Shrill is not an adjective ever applied to men. Shrill is being replaced. Polarizing is the new shrill, and it’s used in direct proportion to how much of a threat the woman’s candidacy is. The smarter the woman, the stronger the shrill.

    An interesting take. I left a version of my thoughts as a comment on Susan's blog:

    When I google "shrill" next to candidates' names, the results are disproportionately complaints about the adjective being applied to female candidates. (I.e., not actual instances of ladies being deemed shrill.) So Google is an unreliable measure of actual misogyny.

    Ironically (I think), Susan's blog post, also published in the Conway Daily Sun, often comes up on the first page of results.

    The Huffington Post had an interesting article back in 2016 about their poll asking Americans for one-word descriptions of Trump and Clinton. "Shrill" doesn't appear for Hillary, but "Bitch/Bitchy" does.

    But a lot of the negative-connotation words appearing for the Donald seem (to me anyway) to be mostly applied to guys, e.g. "Bombastic", "Arrogant", "Loudmouth", "Jerk".

    Hypothesis: The sexes tend to be off-putting in significantly different ways. The language we use simply reflects that.


  • At NR, Kevin D. Williamson has an immodest proposal: Eliminate Federal Student Loans. (It's "NRPlus", so I don't know what the visibility is for the general public.)

    Here is a three-part plan for something practical the federal government could do to relieve college-loan debt. Step 1: The federal government should stop making college loans itself and cease guaranteeing any such loans. Step 2: It should prohibit educational lending by federally regulated financial institutions or, if that seems too heavy-handed, require the application of ordinary credit standards in any private educational lending, treating the student himself as the main credit risk in all cases, including those of secured or unsecured loans taken out by parents or other third parties for that student’s educational expenses. And 3: It should make student-loan debt dischargeable in ordinary bankruptcy procedures.

    The easy availability of college loans has been the primary driver of inflated college costs. As Kevin puts it:

    If you make a few gazillion dollars available to finance tuition payments with underwriting standards a little bit lower than those of the average pawn shop, you create a lot of potential tuition inflation. Another way of saying this is that if Uncle Stupid puts a trillion bucks on the table, there are enough smart people at Harvard to figure out a way to pick it up.

    As I'm pretty sure Milton Friedman observed decades ago: government higher-ed subsidies overwhelmingly benefit the relatively well-off. And (by definition) are paid for by the Average Schmoe Taxpayer. The Warriors Against Wealth Inequality tend to ignore this for some reason.


  • Ever since I heard about Betteridge's law of headlines ("Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."), I've been paying attention to its applicability. In the case of Elizabeth Nolan Brown's recent Reason article (Are Socialists More Like Libertarians Than We’d Prefer To Admit?), I'd have to say…

    "Are you interested in revolutionary politics?"

    As I arrive at the location of the Socialism in Our Time Conference, a weekend-long summit organized by U.S. lefty mag Jacobin and the British Marxist journal Historical Materialism, a middle-aged woman approaches me to ask this question.

    "I'm going in there," I say, gesturing toward the entrance, hoping this non-answer will suffice.

    It does not.

    "In there," she says, I will not hear about the Russian revolution, or black liberation, or true workers' rights. Instead, I will hear about Bernie Sanders, who it is fair to say she does not support. She hands me a flyer from Workers Vanguard with the title "Bernie Sanders: Imperialist Running Dog."

    A not particularly insightful observation: People on the political fringes tend to be several sigma off the mean in other personal characteristics as well.

    By the way, if you want to read more about Bernie being an Imperialist Running Dog (and why do those dogs always run, anyway? Sit, Ubu, sit! Good dog!) here you go (from the "International Communist League (Fourth International)").

    While some of what Sanders calls for—like free tuition, Medicare for all and higher wages—would certainly be welcome, the true purpose of his campaign is to promote the myth that the capitalist Democratic Party is the party of the “little guy.” What he is introducing into “the conversation” has nothing to do with socialism but is rather the fraudulent idea that the “people” can vote into office a benevolent capitalist government that will defend their interests against the robber barons of Wall Street. Such illusions have long served to tie the working class to the rule of its exploiters.

    So there, Bernie. The Commies don't like you as much as you like them.


  • Yay, the new season of Bosch is going up on Amazon Prime. At Law & Liberty, Titus Techera does an insightful deep dive into the Bosch's motto: Everybody Counts or Nobody Does.

    Bosch is a driven man on a mission to catch killers. While there is no crime or criminal that Harry has to face which would have been unknown to Philip Marlowe, surely the most famous detective ever to face the glamorous wickedness of Los Angeles, things have changed since Raymond Chandler wrote. L.A. is now the second largest city in America and one of the most important, so wealthy that it’s a major piece in our globalized economy, and obviously plays an outsized role in entertainment around the world.

    Chandler suggested that Marlowe was a knight in The Big Sleep—accordingly, Marlowe favors the political game par excellence—chess, but he plays it alone. Bosch prefers a more existential form of solitude. He stares at the city at night from his cliff-hanger home in the Hollywood Hills, a few miles from Hollywood Station, his professional home since getting himself kicked off the department’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division by Internal Affairs some time before the show opens. That house, a luxury bought with money from consulting on a TV show about a serial killer case he’d worked, is a sign of the things success makes possible in L.A. The secret longings of his heart only find expression in jazz, which combines excellence with an all-American origin. Like his beloved Art Pepper, Bosch came from nothing and achieved some prominence in California. Once upon a time, in mid-century America, jazz was popular—just like the manly virtues Bosch has to offer were.

    As I think I've mentioned before, Titus Welliver does an outstanding job of "being" Bosch. Now when I read a Bosch novel, I "see" him as Welliver.


  • And Michael Ramirez comments on the Mueller Report reaction:

    That better not be a plastic straw you're grasping at!