Inside Llewyn Davis

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

"Coen Brothers" attached to a movie usually makes it an automatic must-watch for me. But this 2013 movie slipped through some cracks, and I saw it sitting there on Amazon Prime, so… It's not bad, not their best. But definitely contains one of the Best Movie Quotes of All Time: "Where's his scrotum, Llewyn? Where's his scrotum?!"

Llewyn is on his own personal odyssey, although he doesn't seem to know where he's going. He's a denizen of the early-60's folk music scene in Greenwich Village, and it's a tough go when you're low on money, principles, and ambition. (Everybody seems to agree that he's got talent, though.) Oh, and he's also homeless, crashing on couches and floors. In one of those apartments he manages to lose a friend's cat, which escapes out of a window he's opened. This is a major plot driver.

There's a miserable side trip to Chicago, to follow up on a possible professional opportunity. It doesn't work out. There's his possible impregnation of a friend's fiance; although she's not sure it's his, she wants an abortion just in case it might be.

And he gets beat up a couple times. Or is it just once?

URLs du Jour

2020-11-02

  • Philosopher Michael Huemer tackles an important, relevant question about Voting: Civic Duty or Immoral Waste of Time? He's very unsentimental, a refreshing change from … well, just about everyone else. The whole thing's good, but here's an excerpt:

    “What if nobody voted?” That’s somehow supposed to be an argument for voting, but I have no idea how the argument is supposed to go. I don’t know what the premises are. Whether you should do X depends upon what would happen if literally everyone did X? That’s generally crazy.

    • If literally not one single other person voted, then I would of course vote, since then my vote would be decisive. But this is such a bizarre scenario that I don’t see what relevance it has.
    • If fewer people voted, then what? Say voter turnout went down from ~50% (as it usually is) to ~30%. So what? I have no idea how that’s supposed to be bad. It would probably be good, since the people most likely to keep voting are the more educated people.

    (Not that it matters, but I'm classified under Huemer's reason 1.3: "Expressive Voting". All this paying attention to politics has to be good for something.)


  • The Josiah Bartlett Center suggests New Hampshire must avoid another coronavirus crash.

    This week, New Hampshire’s initial unemployment claims fell below 2,000 for the first time since March. And the state’s positive PCR coronavirus test rate edged up past 1% for the first time since the state started increasing its testing and calculating the percent-positive rate late this summer. Whether the state can keep the former trend going depends on how the latter is handled. 

    It’s hard to overstate the importance of keeping the economy from sliding back into a recession. Contrary to the sentiments of delusional anti-capitalists who blithely assert that the economy can be sacrificed indefinitely for the purpose of crushing the virus, a thriving economy is a tremendous social good and ought to be a top governmental priority. 

    The let's-do-another-lockdown advocates dismiss the economy as an abstraction, easier to do when you're insulated from its effects. But if you want alarm, check out Granite Geek: COVID tracker: More cases enter the hospital, a really bad sign.


  • Kyle Smith (NRPLUS article, sorry) writes on Joe Biden's Notorious Indecisiveness.

    What kind of president might Joe Biden be should he be elected next Tuesday? No one can really say. Consider two widely circulated Biden videos.

    Video one: (context here): Biden, campaigning in the New Hampshire Democratic primary and surrounded by activists, approaches a young progressive who says she worries that he won’t do enough to fight energy companies in the name of climate change. Biden takes her hand and says, “I want you to look in my eyes. I guarantee you. I guarantee you. We’re going to end fossil fuel.”

    Video two: Biden, campaigning for hard-hat votes in Pennsylvania, where fossil fuels harvested via fracking are the basis of an industry that enjoys widespread support, vows “a clean energy strategy that has a place for the energy workers right here in Western Pennsylvania,” adding, “I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again, I am not banning fracking, no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”

    Kyle is mighty kind to call this "indecisiveness". A more parsimonious explanation: Biden is perfectly comfortable with lying to your face, if he thinks that lie can get you to vote for him.


  • At Reason, Baylen Linnekin looks at a neglected issue: Food Issues That Should’ve Been Front and Center in the 2020 Presidential Election. He hosts a number of food policy folks. Wyomingite Tyler Lindholm makes an interesting comparison:

    Presidential elections are consistently devoid of one topic, in particular, let alone food policy….Why shouldn't States be the master of their own markets and in return let the people be the master of their own free market? To put it into perspective, it is now easier to sell marijuana brownies in Colorado directly to a consumer than it is to sell a ribeye steak in Wyoming directly. Standing on the principle of removing barriers for States to economically develop by promoting direct-to-consumer sales is a winning issue. It's also important to note though that farmers and ranchers rarely have lobbyists to line pockets. I expect nothing.

    I'm not overly worried, but for some reason Dannon® Oikos® Greek Traditional Yogurt, Toasted Coconut Vanilla flavor has been impossible to find around here.


  • The Google LFOD News Alert rang for an unhinged anti-Trump screed at Salon: Trump's wall is based on a ridiculous fantasy. The first paragraph is a gem of name-calling:

    Donald Trump's "wall" is a monument to his evil as shown through cruelty, racism, white supremacy, nativism, ignorance, fear, violence (against people and the environment), greed, corruption, incompetence, malignant narcissism, sociopathy, psychopathy, and authoritarian-fascism.

    Friends, that's fourteen bad things. One ("violence") against two sub-things. Impressive.

    But LFOD? Well, it's an interview. It doesn't really matter who's doing the questions and the answers. Here you go:

    Is America a schizophrenic country? Considering all this talk of a second Civil War in the Age of Trump, conservatives, and other members of the right-wing with their conspiracism and lie-filled echo chambers, and of course Trump himself who is a pathological liar, the country feels like it is being torn apart at the seams. Too many Americans are not living in the same reality although they are ostensibly in the same country.

    There is a period in the history of this version of America where a great migration takes place. Different parts of the country are freed to do what they want. Some of those areas of the country have very little if any government regulation. It really is "live free or die." There is another zone where it is organized more communal principles and has government protections. Over time those zones end up at odds with one another and go to war. And because time is moving faster outside of the United States than inside of it all of these events take place over 100 years.

    If that's confusing, sorry. The answering guy has written a "graphic novel" where LFOD… oh, never mind.