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Monday, March 6, 2006
Or, Maybe it Really is an Honor Just to be Nominated…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:49 am

I haven’t so much as blogged a pixel on the Oscars or Brokeback Mountain, but this headline caught my eye (via Reuters): “Brokeback” too controversial after all:

Larry McMurtry, 69 who has spent his career challenging the stereotype West — and generally won.

That just strikes me as patently silly (and rather whiny)-the movie was nominated as one of the five (I think are normally five) best films of the year, which is substantial validation of the film, it would seem. It certainly doesn’t bespeak of rampant intolerance.

Saying that failure to win it all means utter rejection is kind of like saying that the Buffalo Bills of the 1990s were lousy because they only managed to lose the Super Bowl four-straight years. They may not have been champs, but they still were pretty darn good.

And gee whiz, Brokeback won two major Oscars: adapted screenplay and director (as well as original score (see here).

Filed under: General, Pop Culture, Movies | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Saturday, March 4, 2006
In the Mail: The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:26 pm

I was sent a review copy of The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till that was released at the end of last month for Black History Month and I finally got around to viewing it a week or so ago, and now have gotten around to a review.

The film itself is a pretty straightforward documentary that tells the story of Emmett Till via interviews with survivors and via news footage from the event. It is essentially linear storytelling and is, in that regard, unremarkable. However, it isn’t for the art of cinema that one should see this film; still, it is worthwhile because it does remind us of a dark portion of our own history—one that we don’t always seem willing to full acknowledge.

The degree to which this is an “untold” story is dubious (for example, there was a PBS documentary and recent press coverage because the Justice Department re-opened the case). However, it is wholly fair to call it undertold.

However, the essential underlying story is far from mundane-indeed, it is quite horrifying. The notion that there was ever a time or place in the United States of America where a teenager’s flirtation could result in his brutal death simply because he was black and she was white, is revolting, to say the least. Even worse, the kidnapping and brutal murder of the young man was not considered worthy of punishment by a Mississippi jury.

If one is unfamiliar with the story, this film is worth viewing. It is a dramatic reminder of where race relations (if one could even call them that) once were in places like Mississippi.

I will say this about the film-this is an easy and obvious source to access this important element of of past, one which we all should be familiar, and yet on balance we are not. For that reason alone the film is worth viewing.

Filed under: US Politics, Movies | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Things that Make you Ask: Why?!?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:29 pm

Via the AP: Barry Bonds Impersonates Paula Abdul

Filed under: Pop Culture | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
What We Call People
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:03 pm

Eszter Harigatti’s post at Crooked Timber on gender and academic honorifics (which I will come back to in a different post) led to a post by Kevin Drum wherein he observes that tennis commentators seem to call males by last names and women by first names (something I have no basis to comment upon, having last watched competive tennis when Bjorn Borg played).

This led to comments about the usages of “Hillary” and “Condi” in referring to two of our most prominent female politicos. (I suppose “Hillary” can, at least in part, be attributed to the need to differentiate between the two Clintons. However, there is something to the “Condi” thing and gender. We didn’t go around calling Secretary Powell “Colin” all the time, let alone by a nickname, now did we?)

However, it does seem that being known by one’s first name is as much an issue of fame/notoriety as anything else. In the realm of pop culture we have Madonna and Cher (both female).

In politics, however, we also have: Arnold, Rudy and Jeb. “Arnold”, of course, has the pop-culture element and “Jeb” is as much a function of the fact that there are multiple prominent Bushes.

So, can anyone think of other prominent examples to provide some data in terms of gender-comparisons?

Filed under: US Politics, Pop Culture | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Outside The Beltway | OTB linked with Titles and Academe
Monday, February 27, 2006
A Comedy Break
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:43 pm

(Not that politics isn’t often a comedy break…)

At any rate, if you collected/read comics in the late 1980s, you will find this
ost amusing.

Indeed, if you ever collected comics (and don’t mind the occasional rated-R language) you will no doubt find Dave’s Long Box to be most entertaing.

Another post from Dave that goes along with the one linked above is here (and has the added advantage of being one for the Roger Staubauch fans in the audience).

Filed under: Pop Culture | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Saturday, February 25, 2006
In Memoriam: Don Knotts
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:58 pm

Via the AP: Don Knotts, TV’s Lovable Nerd, Dies at 81

Filed under: Pop Culture | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Outside The Beltway | OTB linked with Don Knotts Dies at 81
Friday, February 17, 2006
Blaspheme Away
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:22 pm

Well, you can’t make Mohammed, but apropos of the ‘toon theme, it’s the Simponsonmaker.

This was as close to a self-portrait as I could get:

h/t: Sivacracy

Filed under: Pop Culture | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

ProfessorBainbridge.com linked with I'm a Simpsons Character
Thursday, February 16, 2006
In Memoriam: Andreas Katsulas
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:28 pm

If you are a fan of Babylon 5, you will be saddened to hear of the death of Andreas Katsulas, at the very young age of 59. He died of lung cancer.

Katsulas played G’Kar on the series, and gave, especially in the later seasons, excellent performances in the role. G’Kar seemed liked a gardern variety heavy in the first season, but turned out to be quite the complex character, something Katsulas did an excellent job of presenting.

Katsulas also portrayed the recurring character of the Romulan Commander Tomalak on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Katsulas is the second of the B5 regular cast to die at a young age. Richard Biggs, who played Dr. Stephen Franklin, died in 2004 at the age of 44.

Source: TrekToday

Filed under: Pop Culture, SciFi, Trek | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Must be Her Acting Skills…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:10 pm

I wonder why she got the job?

Karima Adebibe is New Lara Croft

Filed under: Pop Culture | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Classic
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:55 pm

Via the AP: Conan O’Brien Meets With Finnish Leader:

Last year, O’Brien caused a political stir when he endorsed the 62-year-old Halonen for a second six-year term — which she won last month — because “she looks like him,” using mock ad campaigns that backed her and attacked opponents.

The visual evidence is here. Too funny.

More: Is Conan O’Brien unduly influencing elections in Finland?, which has this pic:

Filed under: Global Politics, Pop Culture, Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Saturday, February 11, 2006
One of My Favorite Quotes
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:29 pm

The prior post, and specifically the stuff I linked to from Althouse, made me think of my favorite moment from Black Adder, the second series:

Blackadder (to Baldrick): […] Try to have a thought of your own, Baldrick, thinking is so important. What do you think?

Baldrick (his servant): I think thinking is so important my Lord.

The whole dialog is here.

Filed under: Pop Culture, Academia | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Friday, February 10, 2006
Legal Justification IV: FISA
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:12 pm

(Part of a series of sorts: Previously: Part I, Part II, and Part III).

This afternoon I was suffering surfing (although I think that was a Freudian typo) the radio and caught a few minutes of Tom Sullivan sitting in for Rush Limbaugh (I was bored with the Gretsky conversation being engaged in by the guy sitting in for Colin Cowherd-there’s only so much that can be said with the current fact set, and he kept saying it over and over and over).

At any rate, he mentioned some column (I can’t remember by whom) that allegedly demonstrated how what the President has done to date was within the scope of FISA and cited section 1802. Indeed, he challenged all who were listening to Google “FISA Section 1802.”

The portions that he read over the air were such that it was clear Sullivan really didn’t know what he was talking about, as he seemed to think that the administration had been complying with the briefing requirements listed in 1802, when this has clearly not been the case (noted below).

However, upon reading the section, it becomes clear that Sullivan missed more than just the reporting requirement issue.

This portion of the code is numbered and named as follows: US CODE: Title 50,1802.

Electronic surveillance authorization without court order; certification by Attorney General; reports to Congressional committees; transmittal under seal; duties and compensation of communication common carrier; applications; jurisdiction of court.

I am no attorney, but this looks like a rather relevant portion of FISA vis-a-vis the NSA program currently under scrutiny. Note, in particular, the bolded portion below:

(a)
(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—
(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party;

Unless one construes the AUMF to fulfill the requirements in sub-section (a)(1), it seems plain that the NSA program is in violation of this portion of the statute. If the AUMF does not fit that sub-section, then the problem goes beyond the warrants problem to the problem that the law explicitly forbids the capturing of the communications of a “United States person.”

Even if we assume that that is the case, the administration has failed to conform to the following sub-section:

if the Attorney General reports such minimization procedures and any changes thereto to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at least thirty days prior to their effective date, unless the Attorney General determines immediate action is required and notifies the committees immediately of such minimization procedures and the reason for their becoming effective immediately.
(2) An electronic surveillance authorized by this subsection may be conducted only in accordance with the Attorney General’s certification and the minimization procedures adopted by him. The Attorney General shall assess compliance with such procedures and shall report such assessments to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence under the provisions of section 1808 (a) of this title.
(3) The Attorney General shall immediately transmit under seal to the court established under section 1803 (a) of this title a copy of his certification. Such certification shall be maintained under security measures established by the Chief Justice with the concurrence of the Attorney General, in consultation with the Director of Central Intelligence, …

Note the inclusion of the Intelligence Committees of both Houses of Congress and the Chief Judge of the FISA Court-i.e., checks and balances.

There haven’t been any such reports to the committees in question. Yes, there were briefings of a set of members but not of the whole committees. Indeed, this week was the first time that the full committees have received formal briefings.

The remarkable thing about Sullivan’s argument is that he read the reporting requirements over the air, and simply assumed that they were being complied with.

Filed under: US Politics, War on Terror, Talk Radio | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
The MNF Trade
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:47 am

Too funny: Al Michaels deal reunites Disney with original animated character

A four-time Emmy Award winner, Michaels agreed last July to stay with ABC/ESPN as the Monday game switched to the cable network next fall, but he asked to back out and instead will broadcast Sunday night NFL games on NBC with John Madden, his partner on ABC during the past four seasons.

As part of the deal, NBC sold ESPN cable rights to Friday coverage of the next four Ryder Cups through 2014, and granted ESPN increased usage of Olympic highlights through 2012 and other NBC properties through 2011. NBC, in turn, gets expanded highlight rights to ABC and ESPN events.

Plus:

By granting Michaels his exit papers, The Walt Disney Co., ABC’s parent company, will get back a piece of its history from NBC Universal: the first animated character created by Disney and the forerunner to Mickey Mouse.

His name was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and the cheeky bunny was created in 1927 by Disney and his chief creative partner, Ub Iwerks, at the request of Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Pictures.

The very notion of making a trade for an announcer, is quite amusing.

Filed under: Pop Culture, Sports, The NFL | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Monday, February 6, 2006
Speaking of the Commercials…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:24 am

….James Joyner reviwed them live last night.

Filed under: Pop Culture, The NFL | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Super Bowl Commercials 2006
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:10 am

Forget the iFilms link I posted last night. Should you feel the need for Super Bowl commercials, go here.

However, I must confess, aw quick perusal of the list does not bring to mind anything from last night that was all that fantastic.

I stick with the Nimoy/Aleve commercial, because do so recognizing my Trek bias.

Filed under: Pop Culture, Trek, The NFL | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
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