Archive for May, 2013

Monday Medley

What we read while waiting until midnight PACIFIC time…

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A Problem with Series Finales

The Office Finale

In case you somehow missed it, The Office aired its series finale last week. Now, I’m on the record with my problems with that show, and fans seemed to like the finale a lot, so I won’t rain on their parade with my criticisms of it. But it brought to mind a problem I have with series finales in general: It really bothers me when characters in TV finales act like they know they’re in a TV finale.

This is a very common problem, especially with comedies. Plot-driven shows can spend their finales concluding whatever series-long arcs it has been developing: (Spoilers) The Sopranos settled Tony’s war with New York, Battlestar Galactica found “Earth,” Lost explained the Island (kind of), etc. But shows that are more character-driven end up filling the time with a lot of “finale talk.” Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read after deleting the AP from our contacts…

Against Student Loans

Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the few American politicians willing to challenge the current financial system, has introduced her first bill in the US Senate. With student loan rates set to double from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1, the Bank on Student Loan Fairness Act would temporarily reduce those rates to 0.75%, which is the same rate that banks borrow money from the Federal Reserve.

There’s certainly something nice about the symbolism of this bill: Highlighting the discrepancy between the rates offered to financial institutions and rates offered to students investing in an education illustrates the inequities of the financial system. When Senator Warren frames it as a choice between students and banks, it’s clear which side you should be on. And since the bill has no chance of passing, that symbolism is important. But the spirit of the bill is misguided, because the problem with student loans is not that they are too expensive, but that they are too cheap. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while remembering Mother’s Day, we swear…

Monday Medley

What we read while celebrating Veinte y Nueve de Abril…

  • Read this, and you’ll never have to read anything else about Tim Tebow again.

The Democracy Project: An Occupy Manifesto

The Democracy Project

An OWS Manifesto

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” —Karl Marx

What ever happened to Occupy Wall Street? Only 18 months after the camps in Zuccotti Park and across the country were being compared to the Arab Spring, people now remember the movement with the same dismissive nostalgia usually reserved for lesser Backstreet Boys. Cynics wonder what the movement ever accomplished, as if OWS fizzled out on its own accord as opposed to being brutally, aggressively, and covertly evicted in a coordinated, nationwide campaign of repression.

Of course, the reality is that OWS never really went away—it only became less visible and therefore easier to ignore after the evictions. Even when OWS couldn’t be ignored, it was always easier to make fun of it than to try to understand it. The lack of concrete demands, the weird hand gestures, and the eclectic mix of people all made the movement impossible to fit neatly into the ubiquitous “Democrat vs. Republican” narrative, and so it was generally viewed as a sideshow or a “liberal Tea Party” by the mainstream media.

But OWS was always better understood in the context of history than in the context of American politics—the entire premise of the movement was that American politics were fundamentally broken in the first place. David Graeber’s new book, The Democracy Project: A History, A Crisis, A Movement aims to place OWS in that historical context. It’s something of a tricky task, since the movement is only two years old, and its long-term effects are still unclear. Continue reading