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Diary
By lm (Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 01:49:10 PM EST) (all tags)
What are you gonna do?

Media edition.



I recently read Ha-Joon Chang's Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism which was a lovely re-telling of the history of the emergence of the modern industrial capitalist society. The main thesis is that that the advice that the World Bank, WTO, and other organizations offer to developing nations is contrary to the way that developed nations emerged as economic power houses. That argument is supported by revisiting the economic history of the US, Britain, Germany, and Korea.

It's a compelling read even if the argument itself isn't all entirely cogent. Chang's narrative voice is first rate. He takes that hard to find middle ground between being too academic and being too populist.

My two biggest complaints are that his anecdotal presentation makes me wonder if he isn't cherry picking his data and the fictitious though experiments that bookend his work. With regards to the first, he makes no real attempt to provide statistics to defend his thesis. This isn't really a fatal flaw. All you need to do to counter the neoclassical economic consensus is provide a single good counter-example and Chang provides several. Yet it would be nice to see the failure/success rate across the globe with various rated on how closely various countries tried to follow the sort of path recommended by the WTO.

And the bookend narratives were chintzy. There is no real reason to present fictitious thought experiments to open and close the argument when there are so many real life examples. Those parts seemed mostly like filler at best and wishful thinking at worst.

All in all, it's an interesting read if you're interested in macro economics but don't like technically sophisticated books on economics.

:: :: :: :: ::

Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by Godzilla. I grew up watching the local Sunday afternoon "horror" movie presentation Shock Theater. Mixed in with authentic horror movies like the Hammer Films Dracula franchise were the movies that I really watched Dr. Creep to see, Godzilla movies.

My fascination remained through out my life. I hold Honda's original Godzilla and Kaneko's Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack to be the gold standard. So it was with a bit of excitement that I awaited Hollywood's 5th attempt to do justice to the Godzilla franchise.

Unfortunately, I made a fatal mistake. A cow-orker of mine wanted to go see the film with me but he wasn't free until late in the day and we went to a 9pm showing over Memorial Day weekend. Between running in the morning and doing housework all day, I was pretty beat by the time the show time rolled around. I was tired. I was cranky. I wasn't in a great mood to see a movie. I actually dozed off during the penultimate fight scene and missed one of the best parts of the movie.

As I walked away from the theater, I wasn't certain that I really liked the film. In some ways, it was more true to Honda's vision of Godzilla than any previous American production, even the American productions that primarily used Japanese footage.  Yet in some ways, the film felt more like a Hollywood disaster movie than a real Godzilla movie.

It was also difficult for me to bring myself to care about the main human protagonists.  I agree with one reviewer that the real star of the movie should have been Juliette Binoche's Sandra Brody. She and Brian Cranston's Joe Brody were the most interesting characters. A plot that made them more central in their presence instead of their absence would have made for a better film. Instead we get more young and beautiful people as Hollywood is wont to do. I'm a bit surprised by how this turned out because the director's previous effort Monsters was fantastic in its human element.

That said, the bit that everyone came to see, the monster scenes were first rate. This retelling of Godzilla boasts the best decapitation scene I've seen in any movie. That alone is worth the price of admission.

I give Gareth Edwards and crew a B+.

:: :: :: ::

My wife is a huge fan of the TV series Supernatural. I like it too, it's fun. But my wife is a fan. This past spring she spent hundreds of dollars attending a convention with meet and greets, paid photo ops, costume contests and the like all centered around what I consider to be merely a delightful B schlock monster series.

Coincidentally, I discovered a few weeks ago that the original kolchak the night stalker series is now streaming on Netflix. The influence that Kolchak had to have had on Supernatural is pretty obvious. Most shows follow the same plot arc. The hero stumbles into some sort of supernatural mystery. The hero does research to learn how to stop the mayhem. The hero goes toe to toe with the foe of the week.

But then on Facebook my wife lined to a triva page about the her favorite show, 15 things you might not know about SUPERNATURAL. The list isn't especially interesting but two items caught my eye.

1. Eric Kripke's original idea for what would become Supernatural, was a show following a pair of reporters going to investigate urban legends and writing about them in their newspaper column.

6. Creator Erik Kripke had initially intended to give the brothers a 65 Mustang.

I wonder where the idea of an investigative reporter battling supernatural creatures while driving around a Ford Mustang could have come from?

:: :: ::

I'm about 3/4 of the way through David Aaronovitch's Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History which is a good book in its own right but fails to live up to the promise of the title. Really it's a critical review of evidence and personalities surrounding conspiracy theories beginning with The Protocols of the Elders of ZIon and winding its way through the Kennedy assassination, the death of Princess Diana and 9/11 amongst others on its way up to the present day. It does a very nice job of debunking various crackpots and it does so with a rather wicked sense of humor. For example, the chapter on Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln's work on the blood line of Christ is titled, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Holy Shit.

The book is also interesting in showing the overlap between various conspiracy theory communities, how the various "experts" feed on each other in a circular fashion, and how one theory influences the next.

But what I was really hoping for, and what both the title and the introduction to the book promise, was never delivered. With the exception of how a paranoid Stalin bought into conspiracy theories about "breakers" that were undermining him, there is little about how conspiracy theories shape history outside of the conspiracy theory community.

So, it is really a fun and worthwhile read. It's just not as overarching as it looks to be.

:: ::

I was in high school when the Plasmatics released Maggots: the Record. In many ways, it was light years ahead of its time, a sci-fi rock opera gone bad about a crop of monster maggots. All the contemporary issues are there, global warming, genetically engineered organisms, an overabundance of trash and refuse, the imminent demise of mankind.

The Plasmatics, of course, were less well known for their social consciences than they were for Wendy O. Williams getting nasty on stage. The crew I hung out with my senior year had a constant hard on for Williams and the black duct tape that she took to using to cover up her nipples to avoid more arrests for indecency while performing. The most common time to hear the Plasmatics was in basement make out sessions when punk rockers took their girlfriends down into a parent free zone, cranking up the Plasmatics and making out like crazed weasels.

I don't know why but I've been thinking about the Plasmatics lately. The demo version of their Coup d'etat album is probably one of the most important records in the later years of punk. The other day, I queued it up on YouTube while getting my wife out of bed and ready for the day.

``Did she just say `put your cock in me'?''

`Could be'

<lm's wife Googles for the lyrics>

``It doesn't say `cock' here.''

`Well, the demo version is playing. The record label may have tamed down the release version.'

<lm's wife turns off the Plasmatics>

My wife was not impressed.

::

I think Louis CK's ``sitcom'' Louie is the most brilliant thing that has been on television in ages. Not all of the episodes are funny. Some are painful to watch. This season opened up with Louie being told off by a fat woman. The reasons for being told off ring true for probably just about every male in America. In so many ways, watching the show is like looking into a mirror that reveals the national psyche.

This season, they had a rather exceptional episode that begins with Louie going to a festival with a friend and accidentally observing his twelve year old daughter smoking pot with some friends. This triggers a series of flashbacks as Louie thinks back to his childhood and experiences with dope as an adolescent.

The episode is rather brilliant on a number of levels. Many people complained that it was too much like an After School Special from the 80s dealing with the danger of drugs. But the young Louie got away with everything. He sees no lasting consequences from his partying. The episode is not a morality tale for children. Rather, it's a morality tale for adults. How do you approach your children as a loving parent when they massively fuck up?

If you're not watching Louie, you should be.

< Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime | Thinking of ditching scoop >
My fins are gone | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Free trade by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 10:22:44 AM EST
I find it odd that Japan isn't one of the countries examined because it's the poster child for industrialization, one that most of the other asian countries, including Korea, explicitly copied.   It seems odd not to include a country that went from war-ravaged wasteland to second largest economy in the world forty years.

Japanese industry was of course heavily subsidized by the state when it was industrializing, and there were and are significant barriers to foreign ownership.

(Not to mention that the country essentially did it twice, first when the Tokugawa's were thrown out in the late 19th century and second after WWII.)

Again, I haven't read the book, and so have no clue if this matches or contradicts his thesis.  I do know that Japan's actions were certainly not the sort of thing that the WTO suggests.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

Addendum by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 11:06:41 AM EST
That was poorly edited.  Oh well.

As an addendum, I've been reading a lot about the British Empire, and it is interesting that they were very protectionist in the early period in the late 18th century and very much pro-free trade in the 19th, after the empire was essentially built.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
That was a recurring theme in the book by lm (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 07:25:19 PM EST
Places like the US, Germany, and the UK were essentially protectionist while developing their own industries and then once they controlled large portions of the world's trade in certain niches started trumpeting the value of free trade.

Japan was discussed quite a bit. My list of nations wasn't meant to be exhaustive.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Is this the same Aaranovitch by gmd (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 02:32:48 PM EST
 That inspired this highly entertaining but now sadly defunct blog?

--
gmd - HuSi's second most dimwitted overprivileged user.
It would appear to be the same Aaronovitch by lm (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 07:29:17 PM EST
This guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Aaronovitch

Unless the blog you think so highly of is about a different Times columnist name David Aaronovitch.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Mr. Chang discovered that the Western Powers by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 03:26:25 AM EST
raped the ever-lovin' shit outta the third world, for massive win? Good on him!

re: Supernatural - is it the same old Pretty Boy Bullshit Revue featuring Sweaty Topless Dudes which has also kept me away from Arrow? I don't want to watch any WB-style teeny-bopper crap at $39.99 per season.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Not so much topless by lm (4.00 / 1) #7 Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 05:29:52 AM EST
Unlike most of the CW shows on the air, Supernatural seems aimed at adults. It also doesn't take itself very seriously.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
It's also X-files derivative, flavored with an by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 10:44:36 AM EST
explicit Judeo-Christian theology.

We've watched up to season 5 on Netflix.


[ Parent ]
X Files derivative means Kolchak derivative by lm (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 11:37:23 PM EST
The folks behind X Files explicitly name Kolchak as a huge influence.

Having recently watched all the Kolchak series (but not the movies) I also don't see Supernatural being any more Judaeo-Christian in its theology than Kolchak. Both draw from all sorts of myths and religions with various pantheons being represented.

Is season 5 the Leviathan season? If so, the recap from Castiel's POV that is the season finale is probably the single best episode ever.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Also, my wife has seasons 1 through 7 on DVD by lm (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Jun 26, 2014 at 07:02:36 AM EST
She's not opposed to lending them out to make new converts. I can mail you season 1 if you promise to mail it back when you're done.

If you're interested, just PM me your postal address.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the offer... by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #11 Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 01:14:23 AM EST
but it looks like my local library carries it, so I can try it for free.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
My fins are gone | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback