Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Recent Links, Back from Break Edition

Here's some fun or funny or interesting or scary or worthwhile stuff I've seen recently. (Update: Links added.)

Humor

• Although I disagree with Geoff that the video in question is insightful about why the Star Wars prequels were so bad, this video of a comic about the Star Wars prequels is still very funny. Some NSF language at the end.

• Geoff also recently linked to this internet evergreen, a series of four videos called Strindberg + Helium, which made me wonder if I've ever linked to them myself (although I saw them years ago, and have the swag to prove it). They're hilarious, anyway -- well worth watching.

• The BoingBoing-Did-You-Click-Through?™ link of the day is this very funny Foxtrot cartoon about the DMCA. Alas, the cartoon is already out of date: it says that it's legal to download CDs onto an iPod, but illegal to do so with DVDs -- but the RIAA is now claiming it's illegal to download CDs onto your iPod too. Via Matt, who has a good suggestion on someone the RIAA could sue on this matter.

The Greatest Prank Call Ever -- this YouTube video lives up to its name (unless you want to argue that a prank call is definitionally an outgoing call, while this was a response to an incoming call by a telemarketer.

Via the Nielsen Haydens, this post on the GOP candidates as Buffy villains is hilarious. I suppose you have to be both a Buffy fan and political junkie to get it... but if you are, you'll love it.

Politics

• I don't know if I subscribe to his (unstated in this piece) "vote for Clinton not Obama" conclusion, but Krugman's piece on why progressives should ignore the middle ground is typically worth reading -- and characteristically correct.

• Two widely-linked -- but deservedly widely-linked -- top ten lists for 2007:
- Juan Cole's top ten myths about Iraq in 2007
- Dahlia Lithwick's list of the Bush administration's top ten dumbest legal arguments of the year.

• Apparently Bruce Bartlett is now arguing that the fact that the Democrats used to be home to segregationists -- until it alienated them by (quite belatedly) allying itself with the cause of civil rights -- is somehow equivalent to the fact that those segregationists mostly found a home in the Republican Party. If you want to have the vileness of this spelled out, see Publius at Obsidian Wings.

Matt Stoller on five things progressives should be trying to change, that none of the current crop of Democratic candidates (certainly the leading ones) are trying to change. I'd agree that change is needed in all five areas.

Steve Benen has become one of my daily reads among political bloggers; he's a good source for basic political news & moderate liberal commentary. Today he sums up a big worry about Edwards (on which he is not reassuring) and on Obama (on which he tries to be reassuring but I'm not actually feeling too reassured).

Television

This Mark Bowden profile of David Simon (creator of the HBO show The Wire) is flawed, I think -- too much focus on Simon's anger, and I think it's flat wrong that The Wire doesn't present any of the decent people of the inner city. (Matt Yglesias's blog, where I got the link, has some commentators who make this point well, with examples.) And it's a bit rich to argue that Simon is too personally hard on people who are Bowden's admitted friends, to list their prizes as a defense against the argument "all they cared about were prizes". But it's still a great profile of the co-creator of what is unquestionably one of the best shows ever on TV (and quite arguably the best); and it covers a lot of ground that standard profiles of/interviews with Simon don't get to. If you're a Wire fan, don't miss it (if not, for pete's sake start watching with episode one, season one. Give it a few eps to get into it.) The other great profile, by the way, is this one from The New Yorker. Now, has anyone done a profile of the other co-creator, Ed Burns -- who, judged by what is said of him in various news stories, actually would make an even more interesting journalistic subject than Simon? I've never seen one, but boy would I like to read one...

Update: I thought I made it clear, but in case I didn't: Bowden is biased; he admits some (although if my commentator is right, not all) of his biases. I wouldn't take what he says about Simon on journalism too seriously. But the piece is still, I think, worth reading. Meanwhile, here is more Matt Yglesias commentary on The Wire -- I'm not sure I agree, but it's definitely interesting. (And David Simon himself shows up to comment in the thread!) Later: Demosthenes has a convincing (to my mind) response to Yglesias in reference to the Yglesias/Simon debate, as well as a dismissive comment on Bowden's article.

Later Update: Still more Wire blogging from the conservative rag The New Republic. Nothing new if you've read Simon's first book, but if you haven't, then it's definitely worth a look. (Includes spoilers for the first scene of season five.) That scene, by the way, was also adapted in the first TV show based on Simon's work, as well as in The Wire (and the book itself).

Miscellaneous

• Blogger Jon Swift asked a lot of bloggers to name their top post of the year; the resultant link-fest is well worth exploring. Those blogs I know provided links to interesting posts; and I saw a lot of new interesting blogs too (although also some ignorable wignuts too, so watch your step). Oh, and in case you missed it, here are my picks of my own best posts of 2007 (or just scroll down a bit...)

2 comments:

drdre said...

Fun facts about the piece in the Atlantic:

Mark Bowden is a career-long colleague of Bill Marmimow and John Carroll, the editors for whom Simon has long and openly expressed his dislike.

Bowden was recently hired by Marimow as a columnist on the Philly Inquirer.

Bowden recently blurbed the book of the Sun reporter that Simon publicly accused of fabricating stories and being tolerated and defended for such by Marimow/Carroll. That reporter had previously written a glowing review of Bowden's book in the Inquirer.

If its cool for Bowden to critique the Wire by assessing where Simon is coming from, then perhaps it's equally relevant to critique his strange critique by noting Bowden's personal attributes and connections -- and the Atlantic's indifference to the author's unique stance and history.

Stephen said...

Drdre -- I thought I was clear that Bowden was biased, but perhaps you're right to spell it out more strongly. I still think it's a worthwhile read - I just don't take what Bowden says about season five & Simon on newspapers very seriously.