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Archive for the ‘spectacle’ Category

I saw Wall-E a couple of weeks back. Unlike most, if not all of my friends who saw the movie, I didn’t like it very much. It was of course visually awesome and charming, for the most part, and told a decent enough story. It’s hard to “disagree” with the moral of the story, which, so far as I can tell, is that garbage is bad for the earth. And that submission to the spectacle of marketing is also bad. I got that. But I do think there is a more problematic something about the film – not a “message,” but instead something more like a presupposition.

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There was something exceptionally satisfying – in a sense wholly without honor, I’ll admit – about busting David Vitters for engaging in prostitution transactions. I found it amusing and a sort of just deserts. Now there’s this thing with Larry Craig. It’s the front story everywhere, so we all know a thing or two about it. Since I’m from Idaho (Boise!), I feel some sort of compulsion to read everything and say something. (more…)

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It had to happen. The problem of outsourcing is very real for the United States, and puts us all in such a precarious political and social space. Politically, outsourcing is bad for us because it chooses cheaper labor at the expense of our national interest in reasonable (full?) employment for our fellow citizens. Socially, outsourcing is good for the consumer self, providing cheap goods and services for a lot of us. I’ll skip the familiar reflection on how this is capitalism’s endgame, etc., and just underscore the fact that all of it is just so precarious. We’re off-balance when balance might really help. Outsourcing. Sigh.

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I was driving home and listening to one of my least favorite shows on National Public Radio – Marketplace – when they did a short feature on history-buff tourism in the United States. A nice break from endless musings on the meaning of housing markets, loan rates, control of inflation, etc. The sort of stuff that bores me, but that’s just me. Also a nice break from the idea of tourism as simply blanking out one’s mind at a beach or amusement park. People going somewhere to learn something or see something they were taught about. Or, better, something about which they taught themselves. I like that. (more…)

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Genarlow Wilson is in prison for having oral sex with a fifteen year-old girl when he was seventeen years-old. The sex was consensual. Those are the facts, not my interpretation. There was no rape charge. I hope everyone who reads this will spend some time at $3.60 in order to catch up on the details of the case, including ongoing movement. As well, that site has some fabulous analysis. I’ve wanted to write on the case for quite some time, so here are a few thoughts… (more…)

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One of the purposes of this writing space, for me, is to draw out the real implications of what seem, initially, to be really rather mundane phenomena. Or to draw connections between what seem to be disconnected cultural obsessions – for example, my claim that immigration border-anxiety is at work in our periodic obsession with celebrity crotch-shots over the past two years. The death of Tammy Faye Messner – a.k.a., Tammy Faye Bakker – is an occasion for a lot of thoughts. I’ll just offer a few here… (more…)

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What curious things we do with history, no? On the one hand, the United States (by no means an exception, here) is so much a culture of forgetting. We’d rather imagine the pain of the past to be from another world entirely (it’s not) than engage in a difficult conversation. On the other hand, there is stuff like this: the (re-) sailing of the Amistad, retracing the old slave trade route. That seems like a desire to remember. How couldn’t that (re-) sailing remember? Forgetfulness and the desire to remember. Both typical and unexpected. At the same time. (more…)

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