Confirmation

I watched the much anticipated movie about the Clarence Thomas hearings last night in no small part because I would watch pretty much anything that stars Wendell Pierce and Kerry Washington. At any rate, it was very good, even though it left me yelling at the tv screen.

When the actual hearings happened, I was pretty much apolitical. I was on active duty in the military and just wasn’t very political. None of us were, really. I don’t remember any serious political discussions from the military other than a reference to Dana Carvey as George Bush on SNL, but that was about it. Times were different then in the army, I guess, plus it was in the pre cable news era and we didn’t have any American channels in Germany, anyway.

I do vaguely remember spending about 15 minutes watching the hearings, because I was home for leave post Kuwait/Iraq for a month. Actually flew into Houston with my buddy Geoff, spent a couple days there, drove to New Orleans for a week, then visited a couple of his buddies at Sewanee College, then came home. But that was about it for me- didn’t follow the hearings, didn’t care. I also sort of feel like the Supreme Court wasn’t quite as politicized as it is now.

So watching this last night, even though it was a movie adaptation of reality, was kind of shocking. It was a straight up smear campaign against Anita Hill. The thing that got me the most, though, was the way that Clarence Thomas wrapped himself up in his African-American identity, with the high-tech lynching language, and then, after his confirmation, has repeatedly voted against the interests that effect African Americans. It really explains why so many black people really, really, detest Thomas. That he was replacing Thurgood Marshall is the cherry on top.

At one point in the movie, there was a line to the effect of “no one on the hill can believe the Democrats have done such a bad job with this” and I thought to myself that some things never change.

Done rambling. Watch it if you can.








Open Thread: Tilda Swinton Defends Her Title…

… as the A-list actor who will go wherever the story takes her.

Not 100% sure about Scruffy Cumberbatch — the quick glimpses here seem a little too Christian-Bale-Dark-Knight adjacent — but then, I’m not the target audience.

This EW slideshow is a pretty good summary, from my childhood memories of Steve Ditko’s Man of Mystery comic. Enthusiasts, feel free to tell me how wrong I am!



Friday Morning Open Thread: Happy News

Speaking of film-makers, let’s have a round of applause for our own Tom Levenson, Guggenheim Fellow:

Tom Levenson writes and makes documentary films about science, its history, and the interplay between scientific inquiry and the broader culture and society in which the work takes place. This extremely gratefully received Guggenheim Fellowship will support work on a new book that uses the history of the South Sea Bubble – a watershed event in early-modern capitalism – to explore the connection between the scientific revolution and the emergence of new ideas about money and exchange. A revisionist history, this project aims at both new insights into the scientific revolution as lived, and in the evolution of finance over the last three centuries, with all the wealth and woe thus produced. ..

He began work as a documentarian in 1987, and he has since produced, directed, written, and or executive-produced more than a dozen films on science, mostly for the NOVA series on PBS, among them the Origins mini-series and the two-hour biography Einstein Revealed, both for the NOVA series on PBS. He won the National Academies Science Communication Award, shared a George Foster Peabody Award, and won the AAAS science communication prize, among other honors. His short-form writing has appeared in a wide range of newspapers, magazines and digital publications, and he is currently an Ideas columnist for The Boston Globe

Congratulations, Tom!

Apart from that, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another long week?



The Walking Dogs (Open Thread)

I’ve had complaints that all photos of my dogs look alike because so many of them depict the hounds in repose on the sofa. In my defense, that’s where they are 90% of the time. But just to prove that we do see daylight occasionally, here’s a picture from our morning walk:

p&d april 2016

What a pair of assholes, huh? Open thread!

PS: Regarding the title, I’m still fuming about “The Walking Dead” cliffhanger. Am I alone in that?

Also too, what is the worst movie you’ve paid to see recently? For me, it’s “The Hateful Eight,” hands down. Luckily I only rented it at home instead of paying full cinema freight, or I’d be even more pissed about having no way to recoup the two hours and 47 minutes I wasted watching that piece of shit film.



Monday Evening Open Thread: Respite

Many thanks to commentor Schrodinger’s Cat! I don’t have any expertise to judge Indian cinema, but per Wikipedia, Haider is a retelling of Hamlet and this clip is ‘the play within the play.’ (And a demonstration that you can do impressive political protest with giant puppets, as long as they’re being handled by military reservists.) It impressed my dance-knowledgeable Spousal Unit he’s now scouring the net for a version of the film with English subtitles.

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Apart from enjoying the finer arts, what’s on the agenda for the evening?








Saturday Night Eye Candy Open Thread

From this still, Benedict Cumberbatch is almost too good a Dr. Strange — he’s so close to the 1960s comic that my first thought involved recent leaps in 3D printing technology. But then I’m one of the few who feel that Mr. Cumberbatch is a native of the Uncanny Valley, and what more appropriate aura for the Master of the Uncanny?

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Apart from pop culture, or concerning it, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Horror Movie Open Thread: Teach Screen the Controversy!

Zombie lies, they’re not just for economics any more! Per the NYTimes:

In a decision that has dredged up the widely debunked link between vaccines and autism, the Tribeca Film Festival plans to screen a film by a discredited former doctor whose research caused widespread alarm about the issue.

The film, “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” is directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, an anti-vaccination activist and an author of a study — published in the British medical journal The Lancet, in 1998 — that was retracted in 2010. In addition to the retraction of the study, which involved 12 children, Britain’s General Medical Council, citing ethical violations and a failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest, revoked Mr. Wakefield’s medical license…

On Friday, Robert De Niro, one of the festival’s founders, said in a statement issued through the festival’s publicists that he supported the plan to show the movie next month, although he said he was “not personally endorsing the film,” nor was he against vaccination.

Mr. De Niro’s statement seemed to suggest that this was the first time he has expressed a preference that a particular film be shown at the festival.

“Grace and I have a child with autism,” he wrote, referring to his wife, Grace Hightower De Niro, “and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined. In the 15 years since the Tribeca Film Festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming. However this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening VAXXED.”…

The plan to show the film has unnerved and angered doctors, infectious disease experts and even other filmmakers…

According to the festival’s website, “Vaxxed” will be screened only once, on April 24, the festival’s closing day. A talk with the director and the film’s subjects will follow.

An earlier version of this article suggested that perhaps Mr. de Niro intended to rebut the film during his talk, but that doesn’t seem to be what he’s planning, per Deadline:

[T]he TFF promotional material could easily be taken to endorse Wakefield’s cause. “Digging into the long-debated link between autism and vaccines, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe features revealing and emotional interviews with pharmaceutical insiders, doctors, politicians, parents, and one whistleblower to understand what’s behind the skyrocketing increase of autism diagnoses today.” Also this: “The most vitriolic debate in medical history takes a dramatic turn when senior-scientist-turned-whistleblower Dr. William Thompson of the Centers for Disease Control turns over secret documents, data and internal emails confirming what millions of devastated parents and ‘discredited’ doctors have long-suspected.”…

One happy effect of De Niro’s statement, according to the LA Times: “The De Niro news does quell reports that actor Leonardo DiCaprio was involved in backing the film — as Wakefield apparently told reporters on a promotional cruise — and even may have been orchestrating its Tribeca screening.”