Category Archives: struggling to think of a connection to history

October 31, 2013, 10:22 pm


Obama’s reelection team thought about replacing Biden on the ticket with Hillary:

President Obama’s top aides secretly considered replacing Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with Hillary Rodham Clinton on the 2012 ticket, undertaking extensive focus-group sessions and polling in late 2011 when Mr. Obama’s re-election outlook appeared uncertain

You mean a President with slumping approval ratings, facing a difficult reelection fight, thought about doing something that might conceivably help win the election? I can’t conceive of such a thing.

No, there is no level of sarcasm sufficient to handle this being a news story.

June 15, 2012, 4:38 pm

On Scalzi’s Redshirts and historical narrative.


John Scalzi‘s Redshirts is great fun, and honestly, I read it because I expected it to be great fun, and I got what I expected. But it also made me think seriously about how historians handle narrative.

It is no spoiler to say that the book is about the peripheral characters who, in Star Trek, get killed to advance the plot – or really, not even to advance the plot, just to give a sense of great stakes to the story. Kirk, Spock, Chekhov and some random crewperson in a red shirt beam down to the planet. The person in the red shirt – the redshirt – is going to get killed, because they’re expendable and we need to know how deadly the threat is this week. The poor redshirts aren’t people, they’re cannon fodder – not for the Enterprise, mind you, but for the script-writers. Even if their details get filled out a bit, it’s only in the service of giving their deaths greater…

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June 9, 2012, 6:54 pm

Some notes on Prometheus and Jesus and Lawrence of Arabia.


Prometheus wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the Star Wars prequels, but my saying that tells you about how good it was. And it tells you what kind of movie it is, too - it is after all a prequel, that exists to explain a lot of the weird stuff in Alien. The thing is, as Patton Oswalt shrewdly notes, just because we like ice cream doesn’t mean we’d like to eat a bag of rock salt. We don’t actually want to see Darth Vader as a little kid; we don’t, really, need to know where the Alien came from and what the space jockeys were unless it’s wrapped in a story bigger than “oh, that’s what that thing was.”

There are, though, some parts of Prometheus that are truly excellent. Michael Fassbender is the main one. His performance as the android David is excellent. Fassbender should have been in a decent adaptation of an Asimovian robot story; he knows how to wrestle …

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May 3, 2012, 12:18 am

This Blog Likes Hillary Clinton

If only because she’s outcooling the Big O with her screen demands : “there be Muppets involved, and that is non-negotiable.”

And the Hillary text meme is quite epic, page 4 in particular:

Tumblr m1zhtl3kZL1rt7gleo1 500

May 2, 2012, 11:39 pm

The War On Drugs Still Going Well

DEA Apologizes to Student Forgotten in Cell For Days:

After four hours at an agency field office, Chong says he was questioned by agents and told he had been in the “wrong place at the wrong time,” and that he would be released. Then, he says, he was placed in the dark cell and forgotten there for four days, despite kicking and screaming for help. He grew delusional, drank his own urine for hydration, and, eventually, attempted suicide by breaking his glasses and using the shards to cut himself. U-T San Diego reports that he attempted to carve “Sorry Mom” into his arm.

The agents also apparently left a bag of meth in the room, just in case Chong got bored.