Judges and Journalists Agree: Bring Back the Guillotine!

Image via Flickr user stephrog

Via Ed Whelan, I see that Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski believes that our current system of execution—in which we strive for bloodlessness and the minimization of pain so as to aid the consciences of those who support the death penalty—is hopelessly flawed. Here’s Kozinski:

Vox: Black, Gay Community Leader Is ‘Socially Deviant’

Social deviant? Or community leader?

Matthew Yglesias responded to my teasing* by a.) admitting that I was totally right, and then b.) writing that despite the fact that I was totally right, it actually proves his point. In other words, it’s just another day at VOX DOT COM.

Rather than getting into a long thing about anti-heroes and villainy and how they’re not at all the same, I want to drill down into a rather shocking moment in Yglesias’ piece. Specifically, his snide dismissal of True Blood‘s Lafayette as a “drug dealer” and someone who is engaged in “socially deviant” behavior. Lafayette, who happens to be gay, is best thought of as the heart and soul of True Blood—the African-American cook who provides advice in times of sorrow and throws parties when the town needs a pick-me-up. Here, for instance, is Vulture‘s Jennifer Vineyard description of the character:

Why ‘Snowpiercer’ Succeeds and ‘The Purge’ Fails

I want shoe! ... to know your place

Over the weekend, I watched Snowpiercer again, this time on a huge screen at the Angelika Mosaic as oppose to a rather small screen at a D.C. theater.* It plays so much better on the huge screen than it does on the small screen that I’m actually kind of angry that a.) I saw the film in that dreadfully tiny theater the first time around, and b.) so many people are going to watch this film on VOD rather than at the multiplex.

Anyway, I got to thinking again about just how much better this picture was than The Purge: Anarchy. (I scathingly reviewed that film here.) I have to say, I was somewhat surprised to see people I respect giving the film positive notices. Over at Vulture, Bilge Ebiri wrote that it was “breathtaking to watch a throwaway studio sequel break its corporate chains before your very eyes and become something thrilling and dangerous and alive.” Indiewire’s Eric Kohn’s review is headlined “Why ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ Is this Summer’s Essential Guilty Pleasure.”

This town deserves a better class of allegory. And Joon-ho Bong has already given it to us. (Some spoilers for both The Purge: Anarchy and Snowpiercer after the jump.)

EXPLAINER: If You Don’t Pay Your Bills, You Don’t Get Stuff

Image via Flickr user joeshlabotnik

Apparently there’s a big debate going on right now in Detroit about people not paying their water bills. Some believe that you should be able to not pay your water bill and continue to receive water. Others believe that you should only be able to receive water if you pay your water bill.

Seriously.

This is a debate.

Anyway, Nolan Finley, a Detroit News columnist, made the very reasonable point that if you don’t pay your bills, you don’t get stuff. Here’s Finley:

‘The Purge: Anarchy’ Review

Progressive allegory so stupid it comes across as conservative parody
the purge anarchy

Imagine a feature-length film written in the style of an Andy Borowitz blog post.

That’s The Purge: Anarchy.

Like the missives fired off by Borowitz—the New Yorker’s roundly reviled “parodist”—The Purge: Anarchy is ham-fisted, the sort of satire that might appeal to the most rabid and ignorant elements of your cohort, but to no one else.

Our Piecemeal Culture

20120914120348!Exploding-head

I was surfing the Internet yesterday when I stumbled across this piece at the Daily Dot. It was an interesting quick hit and contained information previously unknown to me. And yet I found myself incredibly annoyed by it. Bear with me for a moment while I try to discern why.

Comic Book Creators Love PC Stunts

Instead of Lady Thor, Marvel should just promote Sif (AP)

I wrote an essay last year for National Review about the absurdly liberal nature of the modern comic book industry. And, as if to prove my point—comic books have a pretty long lead time; eight months from idea to your grubby little hands isn’t an unreasonable amount of time—this week saw two of the most idiotically PC announcements in recent memory.

First came news that Archie, of Riverdale fame, would die. While saving his gay friend. Who is married. And a senator. Who was pushing for gun control. And who was being shot at by a pro-gun nut when Archie went down.

It’s as if the manatees who write for Family Guy picked every PC idea ball at once to create the most laughably politically correct storyline that they could. I’m not even mad—it’s hard to get particularly mad about something no one reads. I’m impressed!

The second bit of stunt PC storytelling involved Thor, the Norse God of Thunder.

The ‘Parenthood’ Theory of Licensing

Keanu Reeves, Philosopher

As a libertarian, I generally oppose the state interference that is licensing. In most cases of professional (or occupational) licensing programs, I see no benefit that warrants state interference. … [However!] 3. The state should require parents to be licensed. That is, there is no moral right to raise a child, and we would do …

‘Phatics’ Are for Social Positioning

The Editor's Blog: entertaining AND informative! (Photo by Flickr user greeblie)

A while back, when a number of people were discussing what Twitter is “for”—that is, what purpose it serves, why people use it—I noted that Twitter is “for” moral positioning. It’s a venue on which you can demonstrate to your in-group that you are a moral person and believe the right thing. The more vociferously you stake out your position—the greater venom you deploy against your enemies, the nastier you get during a Two Minutes Hate—the more moral you are.

While reading this important essay by John McWhorter on race and “moving on,” I discovered there’s a fancy linguistic term for such utterances: researchers refer to them as “phatics.” Here’s McWhorter: