Links for 2010-01-08

  • "As well as being the Great White Saviour, Jake is that most useful of plot devices, the protagonist who has to be told things; he is also the Man Who Learns Better, and discards earlier convictions; he is also someone who cheerfully signs up for complicity with what he comes to realize is atrocity, and has quite a lot of expiation to do. Yes, the story is about him, but all stories have to be about somebody--Jake is somebody who has been part of the most negative aspects of human society and who comes to understand that he has been exploited and spat out. His relationship to privilege is complicated even at the start. It may be fanciful to think his surname a reference to the great French Protestant rebel and statesman, but, given Cameron's form in such matters as embodied elsewhere in the film, possibly not."
  • "When you boil it all down, why is the Irish Minister for Justice proposing a nutty on its face law for blasphemy? Because if he doesn't, he might have to deal with an even nuttier prosecution. And why? Because of the nutty Irish Constitution. And why doesn't he want to just change the nutty Constitution? Because he's afraid that the Irish electorate might be just so nutty as to vote overwhelmingly for the nutty option. "
  • The second-best physics book you'll read this year.
  • "I'm not wholly sure what to make of the fact that the evangelical leaders surveyed unanimously interpreted the phrase "top moral issues" negatively. If I were asked to provide my own list of the Top 3 Moral Issues Facing America I'd be tempted just to crib from St. Paul and answer, "Faith, hope and love -- and the greatest of these is love."

    Yet love, oddly, does not seem to be what these folks regard as a "moral issue.""

  • "Some readers will remember that I defended District 9 against some of the criticisms levelled against it. I don't know that I'd do the same for Avatar, at least not its plot. My position on the film otherwise is pretty close to the standard line that the visuals are game-changing to some extent, that this might be the 3D equivalent of The Jazz Singer: a mediocre film that transforms the technology of cinematic representation. "
  • "THE KNAVE
    I am conducted to a gentle bath.
    Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this Knave
    Clean from the land?
    [Alarums. Enter OLIVER and the two NIHILISTS, bearing a marmot]
    Forsooth! This be a place
    Of residence, and much a private place.--
    O excellent marmot!"
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