Archive for the ‘Snippet’ category

“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”

Oscar Wilde


This was so satisfying to read. I loved the big shock at the end related to the author of the HuffPo piece. Response pieces like this won’t do anything to rid the world of clickbait; even so, it provides such catharsis.

By the way, I enjoyed “The Force Awakens” and thought the meta-storytelling techniques were hugely satisfying. J.J. Abrams gets the cultural influence Star Wars has played and makes repeated nods to this. For instance, Han Solo not being on the Millennium Falcon for 30 years is used as a plot device in the film, but I can’t help but think that the real reason for this plot decision is because we haven’t been on the Millennium Falcon for 30 years. We are part of the story.

My money is on Rey being a Skywalker, but I’m deeply rooting for her to be a Kenobi for so many reasons.

Well, I’ve waited a few weeks to write my “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” review and finally, after multiple viewings and numerous vibrant discussions, I feel that I’m ready to give this movie the review it truly deserves.

I gave the film a ton of time to sink in. I analyzed the story structure and plot. I got to know the characters, both new and old, and came to understand the motivations and performances of the actors portraying them. I prepared myself to gush over the rollicking relationship between Poe Dameron and his new Stormtrooper pal, Finn, the brilliant puppeteering of BB-8 and the star-making performance of Daisy Ridley as the burgeoning Jedi known simply as Rey. I was ready to tell you about how much I adored the direction the filmmakers took with the legacy characters of Han, Leia and Luke while making Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren one of the most layered and interestingly flawed villains I’ve ever seen. I was excited to prognosticate over clues that were left in the film to set up the remainder of the series. Sure, the movie has its flaws. It’s a little heavy on the nostalgia and there are a few moments that are little too convenient for me, but there are a million other things I loved that quickly outweighed those problems. I’ve spent the last few weeks searching for precisely the right words to convey just how excited “The Force Awakens” has made me for the future of the franchise and planning how I would use those words to write a fair and balanced review.
But as I sit down to write that review…I simply can’t.

And here’s why…

The Huffington Post’s article, “40 Unforgivable Plot Holes in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.

Over the last few weeks I saw this article reposted over and over both by folks in the film industry and outside of it. The reposts often carried captions from Facebook users like “Yep!” or “This is exactly my problem”. Oh shit. Did I miss something? Maybe the Huffington Post and half of Facebook saw something I didn’t. I needed to know more. So I read the article. I read it numerous times. In the end, I came to my own conclusion…

The Huffington Post has no idea what the fuck it’s talking about.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve grown exhausted with the horseshit, hater culture that online, millennial ‘journalists’ use to click-bait their way to some sort of self-perceived intellectual high ground. Hate first. Don’t bother asking questions later.

After all the thought and effort I put into prepping my review, the Huffington Post article had somehow stunted my ability to write about the new “Star Wars” movie. But I refused to be deterred. Thus, this article is not intended to review “The Force Awakens”. It’s intended to rip the head off the Huffington Post’s dumb-ass review and shit down its still-gasping esophagus.

Now, keep in mind I’m not a professional reviewer or even a journalist. I’m just a regular guy who has spent the better part of his life dedicated to studying story structure, plot, character, scene study and script development while working on twenty some-odd motion pictures over the last seventeen years. I might not be the guy to question the Huffington Post’s lofty review, but I’ll give it a shot.

So what are these “40 Unforgivable Plot Holes” and why is the Huffington Post ass-backward in their review? I blame it partly on the click-bait era. I also think that being a contrarian dick makes people feel intelligent. But those aren’t the reasons the review is horseshit. It’s horseshit because it really seems like the reviewer didn’t watch the movie at all.

Let’s take a look at these 40 “holes” and see just how hard I can plug them.

Take a read. It’s worth it.

Death to Bullshit

Awesome new site from Brad Frost.

People’s capacity for bullshit is rapidly diminishing.

When information is cheap, attention becomes expensive.
-James Gleick

Politico presents stupid theses

Here’s the latest from Politico: Abortion bill’s collapse shows moderates’ clout

John Boehner has a new balancing act: Handling the moderate backbencher resurgence.

That’s their opening line. First off, the GOP’s strategy since 2013 has been to avoid outing extreme conservative ideas, which is why they had such little success in 2012. The midterms were all about laying low, and after the government shutdown, Boehner really buckled down and shut up the fringe in his party that were hurting them at the polls. Because, while the base pushes for an ever more conservative agenda, which is generally good in midterms, it isn’t anywhere near as effective in Presidential years when our electorate is built much different, demographically. Perhaps 2014 demonstrated that even in the midterms, ideological purity may be off-putting, which is why the GOP avoided much of the discussions of abortion, etc. last year.

But I think Politico’s thesis is incredibly simplistic, and even wrong. There isn’t a moderate backbench resurgence that the parties are catering to. When elections roll around, both parties are focusing a majority of their attention towards a narrow swath within the same general demographic that tend to be more fluid in their voting habits, and hence independent, than entrenched, partisan, ones. If I had to describe that demographic, they would be white, middle-class, and college educated, conveniently known as “soccer moms”, as this group tends to vary election to election more than possibly any other group. It’s the one group of whites where the GOP does not win with significant margins and could be particularly damaging in a Presidential election that features a woman at the top of the Democratic ticket. Capturing this demographic, or I should say, ensuring this group comes to the polls, in my view, is what wins a majority of general elections (assuming your base is energized and excited, not necessarily a guarantee these days).

I grow more tired of the momentum narratives told by the media as each day passes. While convenient, our political sentiment cannot be explained solely by policy decisions made by leaders during that year. New demographic groups do not just magically appear or resurface. Policy choices cater to specific portions of the electorate that hold different weight depending upon the realities of particular election cycles. When turnout varies so widely from one election year to the next depending upon the emphasis placed upon particular election years by the media and the public’s perception of the relative importance of particular elections (say, for president, as opposed to a “mere” local election), it’s clear that momentum plays a much more muted role in political outcomes than does the average type of person that comes out on any given year. There’s a reason why presidential elections tend to be younger and browner. And that reality has an effect on results.

Theses that ignore these simple truths (however upsetting and unsettling they may be), are quite simply, stupid.

Howard Dean and the DNC

Great interview in Salon with Howard Dean and how he remade the Democratic Party in 2008.

Tell me about the origins of the 50-state strategy. What was the goal?

My experience from having campaigned and from being governor is that there are Democrats everywhere, and if you want to nurture the party you have to nurture all of them. If you focus only on the states that are mostly Democratic, it’s demoralizing to the other states. So you never get any growth. So the origin of the 50-state strategy was to be prepared to go anywhere. The idea was, if you ever wanted a Mark Begich, you had to invest in Alaska before a Mark Begich came on the horizon so you could be ready. Mark Begich is the example that I use. Nobody expected Ted Stevens to be indicted, but when he was, we were ready. So the origin was to invest in the party throughout the country. There was also another aspect to it. My strategy to win the presidency was to find a way to win without Ohio and Florida. Obama came along and ran an incredible campaign, which was great and very metric-oriented to get votes out. But I was prepared to preside over a Democratic campaign in 2008 where we didn’t win Florida or Ohio, but we win in the West, we’d win in Colorado, possibly Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. That would put us over the top, and would have as well for Kerry in 2004. So, that was another part of it.

Yeah, 2008 and 2004, but not 2010 or 2014. For as smart as Dean’s strategy is, the Democratic Party is forced to operate on two different arenas. The one used in Presidential years don’t work in the midterms. I’ve been working on a much longer piece to fully flesh this concept out which I hope to publish sometime.

NBA Commissioner supports sports betting

Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, is the first sports executive to stop denying the reality of sports betting: that it currently operates in a gray zone, free of regulation, consumer protections, and financial transparency.

For more than two decades, the National Basketball Association has opposed the expansion of legal sports betting, as have the other major professional sports leagues in the United States. In 1992, the leagues supported the passage by Congress of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or Paspa, which generally prohibits states from authorizing sports betting.

But despite legal restrictions, sports betting is widespread. It is a thriving underground business that operates free from regulation or oversight. Because there are few legal options available, those who wish to bet resort to illicit bookmaking operations and shady offshore websites. There is no solid data on the volume of illegal sports betting activity in the United States, but some estimate that nearly $400 billion is illegally wagered on sports each year.

While gambling exposes citizens to a lot of challenges, these problems already exist in a sort of black market that only makes such problems more difficult to resolve. Good for Commissioner Silver for speaking the truth.

Elizabeth Warren rumored to move into new leadership role

Huge news for the soon to be Senate minority. Unlike the GOP, who’s messaging seems to be top notch (and often times better than the underlying policy), Warren is the rare Democrat that knows how to effectively frame messages. Should hopefully provide some much needed clarity and level the discourse of the parties.

Only 35% of Nightly News Election Coverage Covered Real Election News

Speaking of an ignorant electorate,

A study conducted by Media Matters revealed that in the network news coverage of the midterm elections from September 1 – November 3, only 35 percent of segments mentioned key policy issues. Media Matters looked for discussions of issues including the economy, federal deficit, health care, climate change, foreign policy, immigration, same sex marriage, reproductive health, gun safety, campaign finance, voting rights, and equal pay for women…

Bloomberg finds American’s not quite as ignorant as Italians

It’s quiz time, people. Let’s start with an easy one: What percentage of working-age Americans are unemployed and looking for work?

If you guessed about 6 percent, give yourself a pat on the back. You have a pretty good understanding of the unemployment rate, one of the basic measures of economic well-being. If, on the other hand, you guessed 32 percent — which would rank America among the most desperate nations on Earth — then you guessed just like the average American!

That’s one of the findings of a survey released this week by U.K. pollster Ipsos Mori, which interviewed 11,527 people. In the 14-country Index of Ignorance (Ipsos Mori’s name, but we approve), Americans are second only to Italians in how little we understand some of the stats that track the most basic contours of our society.

How can democracy work when at least a third of the electorate is using completely different “facts” than what is reality? Whose fault is this?

Hobby Lobby, 1st Amendment hypocrite

By now, the Monday morning quarterbacking in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby has died down and we are left, instead with more substantive analyses of the case. There are quite a few good ones.

But I saw this yesterday and thought, is this for real? Well turns out, Allen won her appeal after being denied unemployment benefits, so it’s not simply a case of a random person in the news trying making unsubstantiated claims just to have their 15 minutes (as is all too often permitted in the news these days). A court of law determined that, in fact, Hobby Lobby wrongfully denied benefits to her. Shameful considering their supposed religious beliefs.

When a very pregnant Felicia Allen applied for medical leave from her job at Hobby Lobby three years ago, one might think that the company best known for denying its employees insurance coverage of certain contraceptives—on the false grounds that they cause abortions—would show equal concern for helping one of its employees when she learned she was pregnant.

Instead, Allen says the self-professed evangelical Christian arts-and-crafts chain fired her and then tried to prevent her from accessing unemployment benefits.

It gets better though (if by better I mean worse). When Allen tried to sue for wrongful termination based upon her being let go because she is pregnant, she couldn’t.

Though the multibillion-dollar, nearly 600-store chain took its legal claim against the federal government all the way to the Supreme Court when it didn’t want to honor the health insurance requirements of the Affordable Care Act, the company forbids its employees from seeking justice in the court of law.

Allen had signed a binding arbitration agreement upon taking the job, though she says she doesn’t remember doing so. The agreement, which all Hobby Lobby employees are required to sign, forces employees to resolve legal disputes outside of court through a process known as arbitration.

It’s insane that such contract clauses are even legal in this country. Yet it’s collective bargaining and unions that are destroying this country…

This story is exactly why claims of religious freedom in Burwell are completely ridiculous. There’s no requirement that 1st Amendment religious beliefs be consistent, truthful, or even logical for the Supreme Court to offer 1st Amendment protections. Hobby Lobby here demonstrates that axiom perfectly by objecting to paying for contraception (using a pre textual explanation of being religiously pro-life), while also objecting to paying for leave due to pregnancy (using the explanation of something, something, hey look, a bird!) or showing a complete lack of regard for the future of an unborn child being born into a family with an unemployed mother (because, they can’t be sued for denying others the same rights they enjoy). Disgraceful.