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Entries Tagged as 'Art & Culture'

Harrassment, Racism, & “Harmless Torturers”

October 30th, 2014 · 47 Comments

One of the more useful thought experiments I’ve encountered in philosophy, because it seems to apply to so many situations, is Derek Parfit’s “Harmless Torturers,” from his celebrated book Reasons and Persons: The Harmless Torturers. In the Bad Old Days, each torturer inflicted severe pain on one victim. Things have now changed. Each of the […]

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Tags: Art & Culture · Language and Literature · Sexual Politics · Sociology

The Krypton Problem

October 9th, 2014 · 35 Comments

So, here are a couple weird things about Superman I’ve never seen anyone comment on, though they’re so glaring it seems as though somebody must have. First, Superman has a range of diverse and extraordinary powers common to his species, each of which would seem to represent a complex and independent evolutionary adaptation: Directed flight, […]

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Tags: Art & Culture

Loathe, Actually

December 19th, 2013 · 6 Comments

Like my friend Catherine, I have a lot of problems with the underlying messages about love embedded in the schmaltzy Christmas romcom Love, Actually, which for whatever reason lots of people seem to be writing about lately. I won’t rehearse my objections, because Catherine captures them pretty well.  “Confessing your stalker crush on your best […]

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Tags: Art & Culture

Stop, Hey, What’s That Sound?

October 22nd, 2012 · 43 Comments

The first time I heard the Divine Fits’ debut album, I remember thinking that the members of Spoon must be peeved that someone had so perfectly emulated the band’s sound as to produce what could pass for the best Spoon album since 2002’s Kill the Moonlight. After a quick Wikipedia search, of course, I realized […]

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Tags: Art & Culture

What’s Wrong With Prometheus (a Partial List)

June 11th, 2012 · 478 Comments

The only possible explanation is that Ridley Scott has a Duke Brothers–style bet running with George Lucas: Who can produce the most crushingly disappointing prequel to a beloved classic of late-70s science fiction cinema? There’s no other way to account for the tedious, incoherent two hour train wreck that is Prometheus—a film whose powerhouse ensemble cast […]

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Tags: Art & Culture

Protectionism Against the Past (or: Why are Copyright Terms so Long?)

June 5th, 2012 · 81 Comments

Under current law, this blog post will remain under copyright until 70 years after my death—which if I’m lucky means a century or more from the date of authorship. That’s an insanely long time when you consider that most economic studies have shown there’s almost no marginal incentive effect on production once you extend copyright […]

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Tags: Art & Culture · Tech and Tech Policy

And May the Demographic Odds Be Ever in Your Favor. Or Not.

March 26th, 2012 · 17 Comments

The weekend, a depressing number of supposed Hunger Games fans expressed attitudes ranging from surprise to undisguised racist hostility at the discovery that black actors had been cast to play the characters Rue and Thresh in the movie. As more attentive fans were quick to point out, these reactions were not only ugly but obtuse: […]

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Tags: Art & Culture · Sociology

Nothing Ever Ends.

February 14th, 2012 · 10 Comments

When I heard that DC Comics was planning a series of prequels to Watchmen, my first reaction was the one seemingly shared by most fans of the seminal graphic novel: “For the love of God, why?” Satirists have had plenty of fun contemplating the schlocky derivatives that might be spun off Alan Moore’s masterpiece for […]

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Tags: Art & Culture

On the Enforcement Fantasy

January 25th, 2012 · 15 Comments

This is probably the least interesting (because it should be so self-evident) and yet most important paragraph in a must-read Cory Doctorow essay: In short, [proponents of more aggressive copyright enforcement] made unrealistic demands on reality and reality did not oblige them. Copying only got easier following the passage of these laws—copying will only ever […]

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Tags: Art & Culture · Economics · Law · Tech and Tech Policy

No Logo: Brands and Chains in the Age of Mobile Internet

October 6th, 2011 · 18 Comments

It’s no coincidence that the rise of the American chain restaurant coincides pretty neatly with the automobile’s shift from an aristocratic toy to a mass means of transportation.  As society grew more mobile, a novel problem arose: As you found yourself routinely passing through areas you didn’t know intimately, how could you know where to […]

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Tags: Art & Culture · Economics · Sociology · Tech and Tech Policy