I finally saw Her, the movie that traces a romantic relationship between a nebbish Joaquin Phoenix and an artificial intelligence voiced by Scarlett Johannson. The movie itself is terrific, filled with great performances and quietly beautiful moments. I was also struck by director Spike Jonze’s vision of a future Los Angeles. He shows us a dense city teeming with skyscrapers (many of which have been lifted from present-day Shanghai) where people can take the subway to the beach and hang out in rooftop parks. Everything is clean and well-lit and inviting. It’s a future where the hipsters have won. It’s one of the most optimistic visions of the future I’ve seen in a movie and it has stuck with me for the past several days. So many movies portray futures where everything is fucked and that can be entertaining, but I want to settle down in Spike Jonze’s utopian L.A.
Given the news that Minneapolis will be hosting a Super Bowl in 2018, I’m wondering how much my place could fetch on Airbnb for that weekend. My guess: quite a bit. I’m located within walking distance of the new stadium (currently under construction) and the airport is easily accessible via light rail. My kitchen isn’t terribly well-stocked, but that’s a small price to pay for location and a decent Wi-Fi connection. This may be the ticket to funding a European trip or paying off a chunk of a car loan.
What are my readers’ experiences with leasing out your place to strangers?
Network television still manages to occasionally surprise me. NBC recently announced that it picked up Constantine, a series based on the rather dark Hellblazer comic. The story focuses on John Constantine, a demon hunter and exorcist who is not a terribly happy person. Will it be any good? I’m skeptical, but at least they hired a proper British bloke to play the lead, so it should be at least more watchable than that awful Keanu Reeves movie from several years ago. Perhaps NBC can do the same thing here that they did with Hannibal: create a low-rated series that has a devoted fanbase large enough to keep it alive. Again, doubtful, but I’ll likely be watching in the fall.
The trailer doesn’t look terrible, for what it’s worth.
Vox, Ezra Klein’s wonky news venture, always provides me with interesting lunchtime reading. For example, here’s a post highlighting a clever British ad campaign designed to help avoid awkward social interactions with people with disabilities. I can particularly identity with the kind of interaction depicted in this ad:
So remember, folks, don’t bend over when you’re speaking to me or I’ll think you’re a condescending ass.
Kudos to Vox for covering disability issues and I hope we see more posts like this in the future.
A new government report makes it clear that climate change is significantly affecting average Americans and its effects will only grow worse if we continue to do nothing. According to the report:
Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours. People are seeing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies, the plant varieties that thrive in their gardens, and the kinds of birds they see in any particular month in their neighborhoods.
In a more rational country, this report would prompt a coordinated national response to the very real threat that climate change poses. But as long as conservatives persist with their two-pronged strategy of denialism and fear-mongering, we can’t expect rationality at the federal level. Some states and local governments are taking concerted action to reduce carbon emissions and diversify their energy supplies, although I’m skeptical that these initiatives will have much impact on a national or global scale.
It’s difficult to resist the conclusion that humanity may already be well and truly fucked; we just need a few more decades to fully appreciate it. I hope that’s not the case. I hope that there are some really gifted engineers, scientists, and political leaders among today’s preschoolers because they will be the ones who will have to manage the brunt of the crisis.
I’m late linking to this, but Harold Pollack has a great post in Wonkblog about how Medicaid forces poverty on people with disabilities. This is common knowledge in disability policy circles, but most people don’t grasp how difficult it can be to maintain Medicaid eligibility and have any semblance of financial independence. It’s common for people with disabilities to hide assets with a family member or keep income off the books to ensure that they don’t lose access to vital services. Those of us who buy into Medicaid are allowed a bit more leeway with our finances, but we still must be careful.
Congress really should revisit the strict Medicaid income and asset limits for people with disabilities. But as long as Medicaid is regarded as a program for only the poor, policymakers won’t be eager to change the status quo.
Disney unveiled the cast for Star Wars: Episode VII yesterday, confirming rumors that many of the original stars (Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker) will reunite as everyone’s favorite former rebel scum. The cast also features a number of actors with lower profiles, keeping with the spirit of the first movie. Other bloggers have noted that the cast is heavily tilted towards men and it’s a fair point, although Disney has responded that at least one more female role has yet to be cast. I’m pretty sure that the Star Wars galaxy is populated with plenty of interesting women with stories to tell, no matter how far away it is.
I’m also taking bets on how long it will take the Internet to produce hybrid Star Wars-Girls slash fic featuring Adam Driver’s character in really uncomfortable sex scenes.
Joel Hodgson, creator of the original Mystery Science Theater 3000, revealed that he may revive the series online sometime in the not-so-distant future. For us long-suffering MSTies, this is promising news. MST3K could find great success as a streaming series and I would gladly contribute to a related Kickstarter. I get a little giddy just thinking about all the riffing possibilities that our hyperactive 21st century pop culture would provide for a series reboot. And the movies! If Hodgson could get the rights to something truly awful like The Happening, we may witness true brilliance unfold before us.
Conservatives really need to come up with a better process for vetting their potential folk heroes. Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy received plenty of media attention (much of it adulating) when he and a bunch of sympathetic militia members chased off federal officials who were trying to repossess his cattle. Bundy didn’t see a problem with not paying fees for grazing his cattle and plenty of people took up his cause as a means to protest everything they disliked about Obama’s America. Fair enough. But then Bundy decided to opine on topics unrelated to cattle or grazing:
I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro…They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.
Am I surprised that some geriatric self-styled “patriot” and country bumpkin has an abiding fondness for the bygone days of slavery? Not really. Most of Bundy’s militia pals and a sizable number of Fox News viewers would nod in agreement with this statement. But the next few days will see plenty of leading conservative politicians putting as much distance as possible between Bundy and themselves. It’s becoming something of a ritual in conservative circles. They rally around a Joe or Jane Sixpack of the Week—someone who represents all that is good and true about the Real America. Then Jane or Joe says something stupid, usually about people of color or women. And the rally is over and Jane or Joe find themselves friendless and alone.
I don’t know if I’ll make it to Coachella next year, but I do have tickets to this summer’s Rock the Garden music festival here in Minneapolis. This is the first year of the festival’s 2-day format and I’m excited to see Best Coast, Spoon, and local sensation Dessa. This will also be my first year attending RTG, which is only a couple miles from my home. Let’s hope the weather cooperates and that I can find a decent sightline to the stage.