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I had serious doubts about creating an adult movie about a Bible story that basically only children can take seriously. There are plenty of stories from the Bible that stand up to at least some scrutiny, but the Noah story is simply not one of them. The notion that all species of animal could fit on a small ark, that they could in and of themselves repopulate their populations, that they wouldn’t eat one another on board, that they’d be able to live after the flood in ecosystems completely wrecked are but a few of the holes in this particular story, which I’ve long argued would be a better ground zero for atheists to use rather than the not-quite sacrifice of Isaac. If you wanted to mount an argument that the Bible was written by human beings with very limited understanding of the universe–which one would expect a plausible deity to have–this is the story.

So I don’t really think it’s very good movie fodder, but “improving” the story with big CG battles, sub-Lord Of The Rings touches and tired Joseph Campbell bullshit is one of the more uninteresting ways to take the story. And they warp the most interesting part of the story for me, which is the “apparent madman who has information about the future, shares it and is ridiculed” bit. In this version, Noah is protected by magical rock people, so no faith is required and no skepticism on the part of the people is possible. So rather than being about closely-held faith, it’s about epic quests and battles and all that bullshit:

Does anyone else not get the aura around Darren Aronofsky? I liked The Wrestler and large parts of Black Swan, but I’ve seen more bad stuff than good from him.

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It’s all academic at this point, but I’ll just reiterate that the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” idea is simply not an answer to the problem of torture during the Bush era. It worked for South Africa because, as heinous as Apartheid was, it was the duly passed law of the land. So you couldn’t try those guys under the laws they followed, and you couldn’t try them under laws passed since then, because typically democracies don’t allow ex post facto trials*. So, in that situation, the TRC concept (or something like it) was in fact the best option. What members of the Bush Administration did was actually against the law, back then and today. There’s a much simpler process to deal with that sort of thing–trials. And in any event, this TRC solution would require buy-in from the entirety–not just the handful of Republicans like John McCain and Justin Amash who oppose torture measures, but the entire party, including all plausible presidential candidates–of a Republican Party that has not often proven itself to be inclined to make deals with Obama, or to reevaluate Bush-era security policy, or to be united about much of anything other than opposing Obama. Which is to say that Bernstein’s thinking here is incorrect. There was never any deal to be made here, and even if there were it probably wouldn’t work. Trials were, and remain, the only real answer.

Not that it matters at this point–a Hillary Clinton Administration is certainly not going to take action that Obama’s wasn’t–but the trial solution would have obviously been the best option. Yes, Republicans would have criticized every aspect of it, but in that case they would have been fighting the legal system, rather than just the media. And sure, this would undoubtedly have made the next Republican president investigate their Democratic predecessor for lawbreaking, but that is a feature and not a bug to me. If presidents actually had to worry about being arrested after leaving office for breaking the law, they damn well wouldn’t be so blase about it.

* Unless you happen to be a Nazi middle manager, obviously.

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My guess is that Barbara Boxer does in fact retire this cycle, and that by the beginning of 2019, California’s governor and two senators will be some combination of AG Kamala Harris, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Controller John Chiang. Who will be doing what I don’t know, but going by recent history, those three are the ones who have the strongest sorts of credentials that get those jobs in this state (i.e. statewide officeholders and big city mayors = good, U.S. Reps and state legislators = dicey, famous non-politicians = disastrous). Harris has all sorts of buzz, Garcetti is the rare not entirely repellent LA Mayor (with that big LA base), and Chiang has a history of mammoth wins in the instate counties.

Obviously, you never know. Maybe Harris gets nominated to the Supreme Court, say? Who knows. Some people do worry about Gavin Newsom, though I don’t. You’re talking about a guy who got nowhere running for governor in 2010, when Jerry Brown was considered a vaguely embarrassing has-been, and whose defining moment is over ten years old at this point (but whose d-baggery is much fresher). Given that he has basically no record to run on for the length of his time as Lt. Governor, which by that point will have been the past eight years of his career, and will almost certainly not be Brown’s chosen successor, what’s he going to run on? Being relatively handsome? A record running SF that will be a decade cold by then? Smarm? I just don’t see “winning message” in there anywhere.

I don’t live in a city that has Uber, and even if I did I wouldn’t use it. It seems to be an organization run by douchebags, and I’d just as soon avoid patronizing such groups. And all I know about it is what I got from reading that long, skeptical dissection of Uber’s business model on TPM a little while back. But I feel like this is an emperor has no clothes situation that doesn’t even require that level of knowledge. $40 billion for a fucking cab company that doesn’t even own any cabs? All they really own is an app, and is there an app in the world that is worth that kind of dough? What assets does it have to be worth that kind of money? How is it going to overcome the issues outlined in the TPM piece? Nobody seems to know, and it will be a stock concern to short the shit out of, if the public is ever allowed the privilege of buying stock in it. One gets the sense that the Uber honchos have grabbed ahold of the Wall Street imagination in the manner of a Gordon Gekko, they seem to fill the role of ruthless, dashing, stop-at-nothing businessmen to a tee. If they actually manage to pull this off, it will be yet another obvious clue that Wall Street has no idea what it’s doing, buying into hype and ignoring the substance in a way that should be familiar to anyone who remembers the late 1990s.

Also, count me really dubious about this:

Raising yet more cash is another step in Uber’s plan to become the world’s premier logistics service, capable of transporting people to places they want to go as quickly and seamlessly as possible. The company has also signaled its ambitions to be a one-stop shop for delivering anything, anytime, anywhere — even groceries — perhaps one day rivaling the likes of Amazon, eBay and Google, all of which run nascent delivery services.

I really am burnt out on people just quoting the underpants gnomes from South Park–it’s not original, damn it!–but this might be the application most deserving of the reference. I can see step one, and obviously I can see profit, but what is step two? Seriously, these guys not only think they can eliminate the taxicab industry–something which they have notably not yet done–but also take on the biggest online retailers in the world? This is madness is what it is. Not just trying to dominate one heavily competitive domain, but multiple? I can only hope it blows a huge hole in the banksters’ pockets when the whole thing flops.

I’m somewhat on the fence as to whether we’ll see another tech crash–at this point the phenomenon could be more accurately described as rich people wasting their money buying fancy online toys that by any plausible accounting aren’t worth the price, than anything genuinely economy threatening–but a few more Ubers and I think the probability rises significantly. Irrational exuberance is rising again, my friend.

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Human garbage Tony Blair trying to defend his role advising dictators on how to spin the media about their repression (via):
“I’m a private individual, I’m not a government department! One of the things people are going to have to get used to is: you are going to get leaders leaving office in their early 50s,” Blair says. “I have a lot of energy. I feel extremely fit. There’s no way I’m going to retire and play golf. You look at someone like Henry [Kissinger]. He’s 91 and he’s still going strong. I love that. Or Shimon Peres! These are my role models.”
Yeah, Henry “finish the genocide quickly so that the media doesn’t take notice” Kissinger really is a perfect role model for this guy.
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I have to hand it to Hillary Clinton: her crew is just as adept at getting the media to write whatever they want it to as President Obama’s team is not these days. Let’s take a look at today’s nonsense (via Political Wire):

Clinton World believes Paul has run the best “pre-campaign” of the group. And the fact that the Republican senator from Kentucky has worked to attract Republicans and Democrats to his cause has made him someone to watch.

Much of the article talks about a Jeb Bush run, and though he gives off the distinct whiff of a has-been, there’s little doubt he has money connections and such. But there’s quite a bit of this Rand Paul stuff that I find difficult to actually buy. I find it extremely odd that any Democrats are really worried about a Rand Paul candidacy, but apparently some are actually going on the record:

Mitch Stewart, a senior adviser to the Ready for Hillary PAC who served in key roles in both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns, acknowledged that two contenders in particular jump out to him: Walker and Paul.

“Rand Paul in a primary could be someone that excites a group of people who would not normally participate,” Stewart said.

At a Ready for Hillary fundraising event in New York two weeks ago that drew hundreds of staunch Clintonites and donors, Paul was discussed as someone Democrats needed to watch.

Paul has “demonstrated a charisma and a presence” in the lead-up to a potential run, said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who worked in the Clinton White House and attended the meeting in New York.

They sound like the scouts from the beginning of Moneyball. I have no idea why intangibles are considered so critical here. I am not Hillary Clinton, just for the record. But if I were, I think I’d see I’d see a Rand Paul nomination as one of the best possible things that could happen to me. I mean, come on, a Paul candidacy would easily unite virtually every part of the Obama coalition while dividing much of the conservative coalition. Worried about minority participation rates and Democratic victory ratios dropping without Barack Obama on the ballot? Well, don’t, since the opponent has vocally opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and vociferously condemns any kind of immigration reform. Sure, he’s offered some half-hearted criticism of voter ID laws, too little to offset those major issues I think. Problems with with the upscale suburban types? Rand Paul is an extreme social reactionary of a sort that should make those people easy pickings for Hillary. Want to improve with older folks and downscale whites? Paul seems to oppose pretty much every federal program they rely on, and has a record of voting accordingly, voting for budget offerings vastly more extreme than even Paul Ryan’s. Plus, he’ll be the most internally divisive GOP nominee since Goldwater, unpalatable to the hawks in a way that will be difficult to paper over. And pretty much the only thing he brings to the table–some millennial-friendly stances on privacy and security issues–are a big question mark in terms of being able to move votes (which is mostly unfortunate, IMO, though perhaps not in this hypothetical). Nominating Paul would be a huge risk for the Republican Party, especially if that fabled “recovery summer” actually happens, and/or if Hillary is able to juice a couple more points out of the woman vote due to the historic candidacy. Obviously fundamentals are most important in this conversation, and nothing is impossible, but being preoccupied over Paul makes little sense. By my reckoning he’s one of the people to be least worried about.

This really sucks. I’ve really been going through the Faces stuff recently. They rocked as hard as the Stones at their best, but they just seemed much more likable. And this owns everything:

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