Thursday Throwback: Changing Election Laws


Several years ago, there was a brief discussion about whether Republicans might change the law, so that key swing states, the electoral votes would go to the winner of congressional districts. This is the current system for Maine and Nebraska.

There was speculation in Virginia. Politically, it would have helped the Republicans if other states with Republican Governors and legislatures took this up. At the time, that included Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Republicans would have started with 215 electoral votes from the states Romney won. Democrats would have 213 electoral votes from the remaining states Obama won.

After the 2012 elections, the House delegations for those six states include 9 Republicans from Michigan, 8 Republicans from Virginia, 12 Republicans from Ohio, 17 Republicans from Florida, 13 Republicans from Pennsylvania, and 5 Republicans from Wisconsin.

If Republicans were to win the Romney states and every district in which a Republican congressman won in 2012, under this scenario, they’d have 279 electoral votes. This occurs even if Democrats win a majority of the vote in all six states, which would provide twelve electoral votes.

Under that system, Republicans could lose the presidential elections in nine districts which currently have Republican congressman, and still win the White House.

It would be even better for the party if the two at-large electoral votes go to whoever wins the majority of the state’s congressional districts. Under that scenario a Republican who wins the Romney states, and every district in which a Republican congressman won in 2012, that person would have 291 electoral votes. An appeal for party operatives is that this would have been more than any Republican had since 1988. It would be taking advantage of the ways distribution of congressional seats benefits the party. Liberals have claimed that gerrymandering is the main explanation for why Republicans win more legislative seats than they should be entitled to, but much of the imbalance is in how Democrats have a tendency to live in areas where their vote doesn’t matter, either a liberal enclave within a conservative district, or in an area that was already heavily Democratic (IE-Harlem.)

Writing for the American Prospect, Jamelle Bouie suggested it would be voter fraud when it technically wouldn’t qualify as such. It’s dishonest, but wouldn’t be illegal.

Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia at the time, promised to oppose the plan, and nothing came of it. Part of the reason is that it’s good for the state and its politicians if it is seen as electorally valuable. Perhaps, McDonnell had presidential ambitions, which seemed to be true of his four predecessors in the Governor’s office. In that case, he’d want Virginia and its 13 electoral votes to be in play. Granted, the subsequent federal corruption investigation put the kibosh on that, even if his conviction was overturned.

At the time, I thought this would be a bad idea, as 2016 looked like a strong Republican year, due to a combination of historical factors and the political environment (such as early problems with the Healthcare exchange.) I thought a major problem was the plan was it would result in less credibility for the party. I didn’t really think a Republican would manage to lose the popular vote by two points, and still win Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Had Republicans gone through with the plan, and the backlash had absolutely no effect on voting, Donald Trump would have won about 283 electoral votes (it’s not precise, but I’m assuming he would win a congressional district won by a Republican member of Congress in 2016) instead of 306, assuming Democratic Governors in Pennsylvania and Virginia taken their states out of the arrangement. Had they been unable to pull that off, Trump would have won with 285 electoral votes, since he’d have some votes from Virginia to make up for losses in Pennsylvania. Perhaps Virginian Republicans were prescient, because that was the one key state with a Republican Governor and legislature that the party’s presidential nominee ended up losing, so it could have beefed up his electoral numbers.






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When Comics Suck


In Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Sean Howe summed up an uninteresting period

Throughout the line, the creative assignments began to resemble a laconic game of Whac-A-Mole, with each substitution having little effect on the acceptably bland quality that had defined many of the series throughout the 1970s. Bill Mantlo’s Fantastic Four and David Michelinie’s Amazing Spider-Man differed little from Wolfman’s workmanlike renditions; Mantlo’s Incredible Hulk was as aimless as Roger Stern’s had been; every issue of Captain America allowed different writers and artists to showcase nothing much at all. There was nothing new, of course, about a legion of journeymen filling page after page with standard-formula fight scenes and talky expositions, and in fact, the bottom level had been brought up slightly. The difference was that, through all the strife with personnel, the high points had been noticeably attenuated.

It is a good summary of a mediocre period when the bad isn’t that bad, but there isn’t much good, when there’s a stretch of the generic.

For the record, I thought Wolfman’s Spider-Man got pretty good in the second half, especially the Burglar saga.

I don’t have anything against this particular Captain America issue; it just seems like an example of a generic cover.

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Throwback Thursday: Can the Democrat’s Reagan lead to the Republican’s Clinton?

Obama Reagan

Years ago, there was some speculation that President Obama might be the Democrat’s Reagan, leading to a period in which the party dominates the White House. Andrew Sullivan had has a slightly different take on the idea, focusing on what Obama can do to the Republicans, rather than what he can do for his own party.

But it’s good to see him finally realize that this suit was never empty. And that Obama has a chance to do to the GOP what Reagan did to the Democrats: drag them back to the saner center.

He viewed Obama as the type of charismatic intellectually serious Democrat who can force the Republicans to forego the excesses of the past, as Reagan arguably did with the Democrats.

Democrats responded to Nixon’s reelection by nominating a favorite of liberal college students. And they got trounced. After Watergate, they nominated a deeply religious centrist southern Governor. He became President, and then did a bad job. Mondale wasn’t exactly a bad candidate. As the former Vice President, he was an obvious choice, although he ended up losing 49 states. Dukakis may have been a weaker candidate. By all accounts, he was a talented Governor of Massachusetts. But it was a bad idea to allow criminals to go on furloughs.

On the other side, Robert Reich suggested that the President’s policies exposed schisms within the Republican party, something that was quite inevitable. Taegan Goddard noted the internal disagreements.

1. Libertarians vs. social conservatives

These two GOP strains have never gotten along with each other. One group says government should stay out of people’s personal lives while the other tries to impose its own morality on others.

2. Right wing populists vs. the pro-business crowd

Despite campaign rhetoric, pro-business Republicans are usually just fine with government subsidies, liberal immigration policies, and bailouts  — as long as they help keep the profits flowing. But the populist strain in the party sees big business as no better than big government.

3. Deficit reduction hawks vs. small government activists

Though it would seem these two groups have a lot in common, real deficit hawks recognize we must raise taxes along with cutting spending to get the country out from under the debt burden. But the small government fanatics are against all tax increases for any reason.

It’s interesting to look at these arguments with the benefit of hindsight. Obama didn’t end up handing the White House to a successor like Reagan did, and the successor wasn’t someone who made Sullivan happy. Trump wasn’t a traditional libertarian or social conservative, not has he been a deficit reduction hawk or a small government activist, though he does seem to have merged a business background with being a right-wing populist.

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Dunkirk and the Bechdel Test


A portion of a positive review of Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk has resulted in some controversy.

The trio of timelines can be jarring as you figure out how they all fit, and the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.

The obvious counterpoint was that Dunkirk‘s setting doesn’t really allow for diversity. However, there are some people who do care deeply about whether a movie is diverse, so this can be information that is useful to them when making a decision about whether to go to the movies, and providing that information is one of the responsibilities of the critic. Anyone upset by the lack of inclusiveness in Dunkirk is wrong and stupid, and should be told so, but conservatives do often argue that newspaper writers and publishers focus too much on their own obsessions, rather than the interests of the readers, so blasting a critic for giving information that may help them make a decision on how to spend their time and money is wrongheaded.

The critic’s concerns do highlight one of the shortcomings of the Bechdel test, and various measures of inclusivity.

This comes at a time when New York Post/ National Review film writer Kyle Smith has gotten pushback for his statements on the Bechdel test.

If women don’t like movies the way they are, they could correct it on either the supply or the demand side using their market power. They could refuse to buy tickets to films that don’t pass the Bechdel Test. They don’t, because that would be stupid. More women could also write more movie scripts that pass the test and sell them. I was mocked for saying that if a woman thinks the test is important in blockbusters, she should write a fantasy series like Lord of the Rings that passes the test — a Bechdel Blockbuster. Aha! They wrote. You forgot about J. K. Rowling! You know how you can tell I didn’t forget about her? I mentioned her in my piece.

Yet Rowling, like the audience, evidently doesn’t care about the Bechdel Test, either. If she did, she could have insisted that all the Harry Potter films pass it. (Not all of them do.) I thought it obviously implied that whatever hypothetical writer wrote a hypothetical Bechdel Blockbuster series would have to make sure the resulting movies adhered to the test. Few or no women filmmakers would insist on that, because it’s hard enough to get a movie made without attaching feminist baggage to it. The Bechdel Test is so irrelevant that you can be one of the leading female filmmakers for two decades, making movies about women the whole time, as Sofia Coppola has done, and never even have heard of the test, as she hadn’t until a few weeks ago.

The Bechdel test—from the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For”—measures whether a movie meets the bare minimum for inclusiveness by featuring two female characters who talk to one another about something other than a man.


It is worth remembering that the views of a character do not necessarily reflect those of the author, although Bechdel does not make the distinction in discussions of the test.

There’s a difference between saying that more films should reach this standard, and arguing that every film has to pull it off. Progressives often fall in the latter category, not realizing that some movies just aren’t going to feature interactions between female characters. Some films are going to be set in settings that are disproportionately male, such as prison, the front lines of a military conflict, or the rooms of a Wall Street firm. In some cases, that may be the result of sexism in the settings the film depicts, but that is still going to make it less realistic to have two named women talk about other topics.

Guides on writing for film emphasize the need for screenwriters to be economic, so that every character serves a purpose, and that scenes always move the story forward. A film with a male protagonist is going to be less likely to pass the Bechdel test, because so many of the interactions are going to be between the lead and the supporting characters. If there’s also a male antagonist, as would often be the case with professional or athletic rivals, or with individuals who have amassed power in the public sphere (it can certainly be argued that they’re more likely to be male due to sexism, but that requires acknowledging that they’re more likely to be male) the film is even less likely to pass the Bechdel test, because that leaves less space in the film for interactions between women, especially if it’s not discussions about the protagonist or the antagonist.

The Bechdel test prizes certain kinds of films, especially those with larger casts and multiple intertwined storylines. Technically, Dunkirk has that, although the focus on European and Canadian soldiers in World War 2 Britain means there are going to be a lot of white guys.


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A Story of Monopoly and Regulation From Mark Twain


In his memoir Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain has an interesting anecdote about the emergence of a monopoly.

This was when he was a young steamboat pilot. It started with the development of a union, to protect wages at a time when there was an amply supply of steamboat pilots. Initially, the union came to attract weaker applicants.

For a long time wages had been two hundred and fifty dollars a month;
but curiously enough, as steamboats multiplied and business increased,
the wages began to fall little by little. It was easy to discover
the reason of this. Too many pilots were being ‘made.’ It was nice
to have a ‘cub,’ a steersman, to do all the hard work for a couple
of years, gratis, while his master sat on a high bench and smoked;
all pilots and captains had sons or nephews who wanted to be pilots. By and
by it came to pass that nearly every pilot on the river had a steersman.
When a steersman had made an amount of progress that was satisfactory
to any two pilots in the trade, they could get a pilot’s license for him
by signing an application directed to the United States Inspector.
Nothing further was needed; usually no questions were asked, no proofs
of capacity required.

Very well, this growing swarm of new pilots presently
began to undermine the wages, in order to get berths.
Too late–apparently–the knights of the tiller perceived
their mistake. Plainly, something had to be done, and quickly;
but what was to be the needful thing. A close organization.
Nothing else would answer. To compass this seemed an impossibility;
so it was talked, and talked, and then dropped.
It was too likely to ruin whoever ventured to move
in the matter. But at last about a dozen of the boldest–
and some of them the best–pilots on the river launched
themselves into the enterprise and took all the chances.
They got a special charter from the legislature, with large powers,
under the name of the Pilots’ Benevolent Association;
elected their officers, completed their organization,
contributed capital, put ‘association’ wages up to two hundred
and fifty dollars at once–and then retired to their homes,
for they were promptly discharged from employment.
But there were two or three unnoticed trifles in their by-laws
which had the seeds of propagation in them. For instance,
all idle members of the association, in good standing,
were entitled to a pension of twenty-five dollars per month.
This began to bring in one straggler after another from the ranks
of the new-fledged pilots, in the dull (summer) season.
Better have twenty-five dollars than starve; the initiation
fee was only twelve dollars, and no dues required
from the unemployed.

Also, the widows of deceased members in good standing could
draw twenty-five dollars per month, and a certain sum for each
of their children. Also, the said deceased would be buried
at the association’s expense. These things resurrected all
the superannuated and forgotten pilots in the Mississippi Valley.
They came from farms, they came from interior villages, they came
from everywhere. They came on crutches, on drays, in ambulances,–
any way, so they got there. They paid in their twelve dollars,
and straightway began to draw out twenty-five dollars a month,
and calculate their burial bills.

By and by, all the useless, helpless pilots, and a dozen first-class ones,
were in the association, and nine-tenths of the best pilots out of it
and laughing at it. It was the laughing-stock of the whole river.
Everybody joked about the by-law requiring members to pay ten per cent.
of their wages, every month, into the treasury for the support
of the association, whereas all the members were outcast and tabooed,
and no one would employ them. Everybody was derisively grateful
to the association for taking all the worthless pilots out of the way
and leaving the whole field to the excellent and the deserving;
and everybody was not only jocularly grateful for that, but for a
result which naturally followed, namely, the gradual advance of wages
as the busy season approached. Wages had gone up from the low figure
of one hundred dollars a month to one hundred and twenty-five, and in
some cases to one hundred and fifty; and it was great fun to enlarge
upon the fact that this charming thing had been accomplished by a body
of men not one of whom received a particle of benefit from it.


But then there came a need to hire pilots, even if they were in the association. Once they got their jobs, they made life harder for anyone from outside.

Winter approached,
business doubled and trebled, and an avalanche of Missouri,
Illinois and Upper Mississippi River boats came pouring down
to take a chance in the New Orleans trade. All of a sudden
pilots were in great demand, and were correspondingly scarce.
The time for revenge was come. It was a bitter pill to have to
accept association pilots at last, yet captains and owners agreed
that there was no other way. But none of these outcasts offered!
So there was a still bitterer pill to be swallowed:
they must be sought out and asked for their services.
Captain —- was the first man who found it necessary to take
the dose, and he had been the loudest derider of the organization.
He hunted up one of the best of the association pilots and said–

‘Well, you boys have rather got the best of us for a
little while, so I’ll give in with as good a grace as I can.
I’ve come to hire you; get your trunk aboard right away.
I want to leave at twelve o’clock.’

‘I don’t know about that. Who is your other pilot?’

‘I’ve got I. S—-. Why?’

‘I can’t go with him. He don’t belong to the association.’


‘It’s so.’

‘Do you mean to tell me that you won’t turn a wheel with one of the very best
and oldest pilots on the river because he don’t belong to your association?’

‘Yes, I do.’

‘Well, if this isn’t putting on airs! I supposed I was doing you
a benevolence; but I begin to think that I am the party that wants
a favor done. Are you acting under a law of the concern?’


‘Show it to me.’

So they stepped into the association rooms, and the secretary
soon satisfied the captain, who said–

‘Well, what am I to do? I have hired Mr. S—- for the entire season.’

‘I will provide for you,’ said the secretary. ‘I will detail a pilot
to go with you, and he shall be on board at twelve o’clock.’

‘But if I discharge S—-, he will come on me for the whole season’s wages.’

‘Of course that is a matter between you and Mr. S—-, captain.
We cannot meddle in your private affairs.’

The captain stormed, but to no purpose. In the end he had to discharge
S—-, pay him about a thousand dollars, and take an association pilot
in his place. The laugh was beginning to turn the other way now.
Every day, thenceforward, a new victim fell; every day some outraged
captain discharged a non-association pet, with tears and profanity,
and installed a hated association man in his berth. In a very
little while, idle non-associationists began to be pretty plenty,
brisk as business was, and much as their services were desired.
The laugh was shifting to the other side of their mouths most palpably.
These victims, together with the captains and owners, presently ceased
to laugh altogether, and began to rage about the revenge they would take
when the passing business ‘spurt’ was over.


Soon all the laughers that were left were the owners
and crews of boats that had two non-association pilots.
But their triumph was not very long-lived. For this reason:
It was a rigid rule of the association that its members should never,
under any circumstances whatever, give information about the channel
to any ‘outsider.’ By this time about half the boats had none
but association pilots, and the other half had none but outsiders.
At the first glance one would suppose that when it came
to forbidding information about the river these two parties
could play equally at that game; but this was not so.
At every good-sized town from one end of the river to the other,
there was a ‘wharf-boat’ to land at, instead of a wharf or a pier.
Freight was stored in it for transportation; waiting passengers slept
in its cabins. Upon each of these wharf-boats the association’s
officers placed a strong box fastened with a peculiar lock which was
used in no other service but one–the United States mail service.
It was the letter-bag lock, a sacred governmental thing.
By dint of much beseeching the government had been
persuaded to allow the association to use this lock.
Every association man carried a key which would open these boxes.
That key, or rather a peculiar way of holding it in the hand
when its owner was asked for river information by a stranger–
for the success of the St. Louis and New Orleans association
had now bred tolerably thriving branches in a dozen neighboring
steamboat trades–was the association man’s sign and diploma
of membership; and if the stranger did not respond by producing
a similar key and holding it in a certain manner duly prescribed,
his question was politely ignored.

It’s an interesting anecdote about the rise of a monopoly, albeit one that started at the bottom.

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Movies Watched in 2017 Part 4


Earlier in the year, I set a goal of watching at least 100 films, and to make sure it includes some older stuff, included an additional challenge of focusing on at least ten films per decade (counting the 2010s as one decade, and any movie from the 1910s as part of the silent era.) There have been three previous entries with a tally of my progress: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3

Movie #62/ 1940s Movie #4/ New Movie #54: Passport to Pimlico
I heard about this one in an article about how Mike Myers wanted to adapt it for Wayne’s World Part 2. It’s a decent comedy about what happens when a section of London is legally determined to be an independent nation, following the discovery of documents revealing it is to be owned by the Duke of Burgundy. It’s also interesting as a look at Britain in the post-World War 2 rationing.

Movie #63/ 2000s Movie #6/ New Movie #55: Apocalypto
Mel Gibson’s focus on conflicts between the Mayans is dark and violent, but has quite good storytelling, as well as impressive set designs and costumes.

Movie #64/ 1950s Movie #6/ New Movie #56/ Musical #4: The Court Jester
This burlesque of medieval hero epics is quite funny, as the minstrel to a band of rebels has an opportunity to play the hero impersonating a court jester to get close to the usurper king. Strong performances include Angela Lansbury as a spoiled princess, and Basil Rathbone as a deceitful royal adviser. It has impressive musical numbers, and numerous royal misunderstandings.

Movie #65/ 1980s Movie #8/ Science Fiction Movie #6/ Animated Film #4: The Transformers: The Movie
Some decent dialogue, location designs, and deathtraps, but the narrative is kind of a mess.


Movie #66/ 2010s Movie #11/ New Movie #57/ Superhero Movie #4/ Fantasy Film #5: Wonder Woman
This was a really well-done superhero film that established the world of the Amazons effectively, before sending Wonder Woman to Europe circa World War One. It had a star turn for Gal Gadot, but the impressive ensemble all had solid moments (Robin Wright’s amazon general’s joy at finally getting to fight, Lucy Davis’ Etta Candy getting some quips in, etc.) Maybe it steals liberally from Thor and Captain America, but it does it so well.

Movie #67/ 1990s Movie #4/ New Movie #58: Mighty Aphrodite
Clever comedy, elevated by the Greek chorus gimmick and a solid performance by Mira Sorvino (who might not have quite deserved her Oscar.)

Movie #68/ 1950s Movie #7/ New Movie #59/ Criterion Edition #15: Mr. Arkadin
The spy drama is flawed, although there is quite a bit to recommend, with a performance by Welles that keeps you guessing, and some impressive visuals.

Movie #69/ 1940s Movie #5: The Philadelphia Story
It might be the best romantic comedy ever, with an all-star cast (Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart compete for Katherine Hepburn) and a smart script. Some parts are a bit icky, especially the insistence of accepting toxic flaws. although it’s easier to enjoy it when you remember characters don’t have to be right when saying what they think.

Orlok Awakes

Movie #70/ Silent Movie Era #5/ German Film #3: Nosferatu (Restored)
It’s one of the most iconic horror movies ever, and probably one of the most iconic movies ever, with a memorable take on vampires, gothic set designs, and impressive sequences.

Movie #71/ New Movie #60/ Silent Movie Era #6/ Fantasy Film #6/ German Film #4: The Golem: How He Came into the World (Black Francis Soundtrack)
The soundtrack didn’t always work (although it was sometimes effective) though I can’t really complain about something that’s streaming for free. The expressionistic sets are great, and it’s fascinating to see the development of horror tropes, in a Frankenstein story that came out a decade before Universal Horror kicked off.

Movie #72/ Silent Movie/ 1920s Era #7: Cocoanuts
The early Marx Brothers film has nice sets, memorable dialogue, and some crappy sound—oddly enough in scenes meant to stun audiences through technological innovation—though it’s worth the technical limitations to enjoy some of the finest film comedians.


Movie #73/ 1990s Movie #5: Trainspotting
I watched due to a combination of an awareness of the sequel, and the recent realization that it was my favorite film of 1997. It’s an energetic take on 1990s Scottish drug addicts who keep screwing up their lives in funny and tragic ways. Fantastic ensemble.

Movie #74/ 1940s Movie #6: The Bank Dick
This can be an excellent overview of the funniest guys in film: WC Fields. The plot is mostly a vehicle for inspired gags small (Fields salutes an opened bottle, raising his hat to the gentlemen) and large (a madcap final race) united by Fields’ alcoholic blowhard.

Movie #75/ 2010s Movie #12/ New Movie #61/ Superhero Movie #5: Spider-Man: Homecoming
I’m obviously a big Spider-Man fan, and I was quite satisfied with his solo debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a story that’s actually about something, and captures the clash between Peter’s private life and his duties as Spider-Man. Great cast especially Michael Keaton as the blue-collar Vulture.

Movie #76/1950s Movie #8/ Criterion Edition #16: On the Waterfront
This may very well be the best movie I’ve seen all year. I’ve seen it once before in college, and enjoyed it then, but it seemed more powerful this time around. The first time I might’ve been distracted by what I knew about the iconic “contender” scene. The cast (including five Oscar-nominated performances) is fantastic, and the sense of atmosphere is excellent, as Brando’s Terry Malloy is caught between loyalty to people who screwed him over in ways they can’t appreciate, and doing the right thing.

Movie #77/ New Movie #62/ 1930s Movie #8/ German Film #5: People on Sunday
This was included as a DVD extra on an issue of The Believer I bought a while back, so it was interesting to finally watch it. It seems initially like a lightweight piece about young Berliners enjoying the weekend, but it is elevated by great storytelling (Billy Wilder wrote the script; Fred Zimmerman was the cinematographer) and takes a turn as a young rake decides to abandon his date in favor of her friend.

Movie #78/ 1970s Movie #9: Jaws
A very watchable movie about a somewhat exaggerated premise that is quite useful to any aspiring screenwriter. I like the clash between the blue-collar Quint and Richard Dreyfuss’s wealthy oceanographer, one of the best Act 1 endings ever (the false hope with the capture of another shark) and the many little moments (the greedy mayor’s rationalizations for what he did; the genius closing, etc.) It’s strong competition for On The Waterfront in the category of best movies I’ve seen this year.

Movie #79/ 2000s Movie #7/ Superhero Movie #6: Iron Man
Downey Jr’s Iron Man is one of the best film superhero leads- a guy who finds the norms of superheroes as ridiculous as much of the audience. It’s an excellent intro to the MCU with storytelling that is smart, if sometimes a bit obvious, and a lot of fun.

Movie #80/ 1940s Movie #7/ Fantasy Movie #7/ New Movie #63: It Happened Tomorrow
This was a charming romantic comedy based on the idea of a budding reporter briefly getting insights into the future, and using that to build his reputation, and get Linda Darnell’s pretend-clairvoyant to fall in love with him, before it all backfires. Perfectly suited for Dick Powell.

Movie #81/ 1970s Movie #10: Network
Very smart script with excellent scenes for Robert Duvall and the five actors who got Oscar nominations (three who got Oscars.) The criticism of television and the prioritization of profit over news has only gotten more relevant, even if the criticism of the TV generation seems a bit like an old guy picking on the young.

Movie #82/ 1950s Movie #9/ New Movie #64/ Criterion Edition #17: Ashes and Diamonds
This is an excellent war film that deals with the transition of one era to another (from being part of the resistance to being part of the rebellion) exploring the ambiguities on all sides. Beautifully shot with an excellent lead performance by Zbigniew Cybulski (described as the Polish James Dean, although I’m not convinced James Dean was ever this good) as a soldier caught at a crossroads.

Movie #83/ 1950s Movie #10/ New Movie #65/ Criterion Edition #18: Pather Panchali
With this I’m done with the 50s, as well as the 70s, and the current decade. A beautifully shot exploration of childhood in rural India, it captures small joys and heartbreak. Good god, is there heartbreak. I can’t think of any other film that depicts extreme poverty so effectively.

There are a total of 18 films left on my itinerary (two from the silent era, two from the 1930s, three from the 1940s, three from the 1960s, two from the 1980s, five from the 1990s, and three from the 2000s) and it allows me to reflect me on why I’ve seen more of certain decades and not others. Some of it’s chance, although I’m more likely to have already seen the notable films of certain decades (the 90s and 2000s especially) and be less interested in that. Recent DVD purchases have biased me towards the 50s, while the 30s and silent era had plenty of shorter films.

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Florida Voters


A weird thing about Florida.

In the 2004, 2008 and 2012 elections, turnout in Florida was higher than in Texas, despite Texas having a much higher population.

In 2012, 8,474,179 voters came out in Florida compared to 8,077,795 in Texas. New York was at 7,065,648.

This continued in 2016. 9,420,039 Floridians came to the polls, compared to 8,969,226 Texans and 7,721,453 New Yorkers. Florida’s estimated population of 20,612,439 is a bit higher than that of New York (19,745,28) but lower than that of Texas (27,862,596.)

It’ll be interesting for a political scientist to look into why it is this way. Does Florida’s reputation as a swing state mean more people go to the polls because there’s a greater sense that every vote matters? Does Florida’s older population vote more often? Do New York and Texas have a lower percentage of people eligible to vote (although do they really have significantly smaller immigrant communities than Florida)?

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