Yarden Katz – Cheerleading With an Agenda

Link to an article by Yarden Katz:

“Cheerleading With an Agenda: How the Press Covers Science”

Bonus links: Stanisław Lem, Solaris and “Economics as Ideology: Challenging Expert Political Power” and Thorstein Veblen, The Higher Learning in America: A Memorandum on the Conduct of Universities by Business Men and Universities and the Capitalist State

Reviews of Anwar Shaikh’s “Capitalism”

Links to reviews of reviews of Anwar Shaikh‘s Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises (2016):

Bonus links: Video lectures by Shaikh and “Innocuous Proclaimations” (this short interview probably renders reading Shaikh’s book unnecessary)

Bias in Favor of Reckless Drivers

Another example of misguided priorities:

SHAILA DEWAN: Rebecca Horting was a woman who was charged with texting while driving, and reckless endangerment, I believe, was the charge. She hit a girl who was riding her bicycle down the side of the road, causing brain damage and the loss of a leg. And she was offered pretrial diversion. She paid about $1,200, I believe, and is on course to have her case dismissed outright. So, this is a deal that the prosecutor will make with you: “Fulfill these conditions, and we’ll dismiss your case.” And, in general, it’s a pretty good, progressive idea to give defendants a way out of the huge consequences of getting a record.

“The Price of a Second Chance”: NY Times Exposé on How the Rich Pay to Expunge Criminal Records

There is nothing “pretty good” or “progressive” about letting drivers essentially get away with destroying the lives of bicyclists and pedestrians through reckless behavior (easily avoidable texting while driving).  There currently exists a major problem in terms of prosecutors refusing to charge drivers who injure cyclists and pedestrians (aside from more general problems with prosecutorial discretion).  Relatively speaking, such drivers are much more deserving of long prison sentences than most current prison inmates….people should not be able to injure or even kill someone with almost no consequences merely as long as they are driving cars when they do it.  So, aside from the contrast drawn in the linked interview between the reckless driver and a completely different scenario, isn’t it more accurate so say that this is regressive?  At the very least, this is a terrible example to use, because it holds up a terrible problem as some kind of model outcome.

Links to Articles on Liberal Reaction to Trump’s Election

A collection of links to articles critiquing the liberal reaction to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, and the related hacking allegations:

Elis Regina & Antônio Carlos Jobim – Elis & Tom

Elis & Tom

Elis Regina & Antônio Carlos JobimElis & Tom Philips 6349 112 (1974)

Tom Jobim was the songwriter of the bossa nova movement.  If the genre was always the bourgie version of samba, then Elis & Tom might be the very finest example of those tendencies.  This is the album that the mediocre Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim should have been.  Elis Regina’s vocals exhibit many of the qualities valued by traditional pop.  So her voice is perfectly suited to these treatments of classic Jobim songs set to decadent, refined and classy orchestration and warm electric keyboards.  She is especially effective on the slower songs with string arrangements (“Modinha” etc.).  And while Jobim’s keyboard playing still has some of the heavy-handed lounge jazz affectations of his past work (Wave, Stone Flower), those qualities are mostly held in check here.  Anyone who doubts the range of the genre should listen to this alongside Dez anos depois, João Gilberto, and any of the slightly, lounge-y bossa nova records of the mid-1960s.  Even as the same songs are re-worked again and again, there are new perspectives offered.  Hardly the stuff of rigid formulas.

Recorded in Los Angeles, this album looks back a bit.  Regina saw working with Jobim on the album as a question of confronting a “sacred cow” of Brazilian music.  This was a period in which Regina, nicknamed “furacão” (“hurricane”) for her mood swings and one of the the most popular Brazilian singers of all time (nearly as well-known as Carmen Miranda), shifted her music to be more political and critical of the Brazilian military junta.  While recording the album, a Brazilian diplomat in L.A. screened Saul Landau & Haskell Wexler‘s documentary (with staged re-enactments) Brazil: A Report on Torture for Regina and Jobim.  Screening the film lead to persecution of the diplomat, Jom Tob Azulay, by the junta.  While nothing about these old songs is overtly political, the way the album looks back and celebrates the music of the pre-military dictatorship period is tacitly political in a very subtle way.



Oblivion (2013)

Universal Pictures

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Main Cast: Tom Cruise, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman

The story is really just an amalgamation of plot points from other films: Moon, Total Recall, Independence Day, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Inception, The Matrix, etc.  But the special effects and technical realization of this movie really outshines all those others.  While the plot may not be ingeniously new, it blends known elements together in a way that is cohesive and effective.  Once the viewer accepts the basic conceits of the science fiction setting, every scene is staged plausibly — there are no scenes that prompt guffaws due to trivial yet implausible details.  At the risk of spoiling a plot twist, the film also takes a surprising matter-of-fact view toward cloning and the social interchangeability of clones.  Reviews of the film were poor.  No surprise, really.  This sort of film, though coming from Hollywood, chafes against what Hollywood prizes.  In other words, it is a better film than Hollywood normally permits, and the plot — derivative or not — has a kind of anti-corporate message that is always officially frowned upon even as Hollywood keeps inserting such messages into various films.  There is also some serious, if under-/unstated, questioning of how contrived and fake certain emotions and social institutions can be.  Tom Cruise is the perfect lead, able to convincingly deliver a role that requires a “useful idiot.”  The rest of roles are well cast too.