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Zunguzungu
By Aaron Bady
Anyone claiming to be an expert is selling something. I brandish my ignorance like a crucifix at vampires.
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Sunday Reading

I liked this movie. Had a half blog post about the way the movie has to invent a pseudo-technologized amulet to replace the even weirder way that Carter gets to Mars in the book. iTeleport; a sufficiently technologized culture will make magic indistinguishable from technology, etc. THen I ran out of steam.“the most problematic part of John Carter, and possibly why it was doomed to underperform no matter what happened”:

Because the Barsoom books were so influential to cinema’s greatest sci-fi auteurs, just about everything in it had already been plundered and reused by other hits. And as a result, the more that was revealed of John Carter, the more derivative it looked, even if its source had originated these ideas. Look at what George Lucas took from Burroughs for his Star Wars movies alone: In his movies, the Sith are evil Jedis; in the world of John Carter, the Sith are evil insects. Star Wars had Princess Leia; John Carter has Princess Dejah. Leia’s infamous bikini in Return of the Jedi? Worn by Princess Dejah first. That flying skiff she’s standing on next to Jabba the Hutt? Carter again. Even those banthas in the Star Wars were culled from the John Carter books, which are populated with similar-looking beasts of burden called banths. Looking beyond Lucas, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry famously pillaged the books, as did James Cameron, who in numerous interviews called Avatar“almost an Edgar Rice Burroughs kind of adventure.”

I’m pretty tired of StopKony. Not even fun to critique. Useful reads on Kony 2012, from EZ:

- The Kony campaign was really, really big. Not only did the video reach 100 million views on YouTube faster than any other video in history, it thoroughly dwarfed traffic on #sxsw hashtags, which generally dominate Twitter during the interactive week of that conference.
- A core of highly connected users seem to have been key in launching the social media campaign. Gilad sees evidence that these users were clustered in a couple of communities, notably in Birmingham, Alabama, and sees evidence that many of these users identify strongly with their Christian faith. This aligns with explanations of the viral spread of the video, which point out that Invisible Children has done great work organizing a core of supporters who they were able to mobilize to support this campaign.
- The Invisible Children strategy of influencing celebrities appears to have worked, both in involving actressKristen Bell(who has half a million Twitter followers) in the early campaign, and in influencing other celebrities like Ryan Seacrest and Ellen DeGeneres.

California Unions Compromise on Millionaires Tax:

“They folded like a cheap tent,” Miller said. “By including the sales tax, it leaves the door wide open to anti-tax types who will say the unions are coming to pick your pocket. It throws away the incredible rhetoric of the 99% versus the 1%, it blurs the issue of progressive taxation, and centrally, it’s still temporary.”

What Oligarchy Means: Small Groups of Multi-Millionaires Funding Almost All SuperPACs:

An analysis of January’s campaign-disclosure filings reveals that 25 percent of all the money raised for the presidential race that month came from just five donors. That select group gave $19 million to various super PACs, often in support of more than one Republican candidate. Those numbers come from both The Washington Post and USA Today, though neither gives a complete list of those five top donors of 2012.

Ari Berman has us covered. The list includes Harold Simmons, who has given to Perry, Romney and Gingrich this year; Sheldon Adelson and his wife, who are keeping Gingrich on life support; and Santorum pals Foster Freiss and William Dore. Also in the mix is billionaire investor Peter Thiel, a Romney angel.

If you want to extend the circle out to, say, 200 people, a report from Demos shows that about that many have contributed 80% of all SuperPAC money. These are the SuperPACs that have been a major determining factor in the GOP primary, and which swung many Congressional elections in 2010. This equals .000063 of the electorate.

This has been going on for months now; OPD is out of control.OPD spies on and beats protesters:

Oakland Police Department’s internal communications about the Occupy Oakland movement — which the Guardian obtained through the California Public Records Act — confirm what many protesters already know: plainclothes officers frequent meetings, police monitor Occupy Oakland’s online communications, anarchists are feared, and police use of force that injures protesters, often brutally, is common practice.

Why Republicans Aren’t Mentioning the Real Cause of Rising Prices at the Gas Pump:

Wall Street is betting on higher oil prices in the future — and that betting is causing prices to rise. The Street is laying odds that unrest in Syria will spill over into other countries or that tensions with Iran will affect the Persian Gulf, and that global demand will pick up as American consumers bounce back to life.

These bets are pushing up oil prices because Wall Street firms and other big financial players now dominate oil trading.

Financial speculators historically accounted for about 30 percent of oil contracts, producers and end users for about 70 percent. But today speculators account for 64 percent of all contracts.

Bart Chilton, a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — the federal agency that regulates trading in oil futures, among other commodities — warns that too few financial players control too much of the oil market. This allows them to push oil prices higher and higher — not only on the basis of their expectations about the future but also expectations about how high other speculators will drive the price.

In other words, a relatively few players with very deep pockets are placing huge bets on oil — and you’re paying.

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2 Responses to “Sunday Reading”

  1. Pamela AuCoin says:

    Mr. Bady, you write a good blog. But there’s been way too much praise for M. Harris, which is pretty incestuous, considering he writes for this same rag. You’ve alluded to Chomsky as channelling his inner M. Harris, and called for a (dys?)topian universe with Harris as president. I get it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but it looks suspicious.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Metaphorical incest encouraged here.

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