Thieves’ Kant

by Henry Farrell on September 21, 2009

“Scott”: reviewing David Harvey’s latest at BookForum (free reg. required).

bq. It is unlikely that anyone has ever confused a page of Thomas Friedman’s with one of Immanuel Kant’s, but between them it is possible to triangulate a prevailing sensibility of the past two decades. Call it managerial cosmopolitanism. It celebrates the idea of a global civil society, with the states cooperating to play their proper (limited) role as guardians of public order and good business practices. The hospitality that each nation extends to visiting foreign traders grows ever wider and deeper; generalized, it becomes the most irenic of principles. And so there emerges on the horizon of the imaginable future something like a world republic, with liberty and frequent-flier miles for all.

The core insight here is sufficiently close to the “Forty Days and a Mule”: post of last week as to suggest a competition. Winner will get the usual prize (a year’s free subscription to CT). Rewrite some of Immanuel Kant’s _Perpetual Peace_ in the style of Thomas Friedman’s _The World is Flat._ Or, if you prefer, Thomas Friedman’s _The World is Flat_ in the style of Immanuel Kant’s _Perpetual Peace._ Or any contemporary purveyor of bollocks in the style of some more learned and wordy philosopher with whom he or she may be said to have an intellectual connection, however tangential. Or vice-versa. Or plausible and amusing variations on any of the above; you get the idea.

The Economics of 3D Movies

by Henry Farrell on September 21, 2009

“Cory Doctorow in the Guardian”:

bq. Somewhere in the past year or so, it seems as though every studio exec has decided to greenlight one or more blockbuster in 3D, using a pretty impressive technology that employs polarised glasses to give a reasonably convincing illusion of depth. … And the 3D is … nice. … But I’m sceptical. … Up is a tremendous movie; it made me laugh and cry, and was intended to be seen in 3D … Nothing was obviously missing from the 2D experience that made me feel like the 3D was a must-have.

bq. And of course, that’s true of all 3D movies. Movies, after all, rely on the aftermarket of satellite, broadcast and cable licenses, of home DVD releases and releases to airline entertainment systems and hotel room video-on-demand services – none of which are in 3D. If the movie couldn’t be properly enjoyed in boring old 2D, the economics of filmmaking would collapse … he economics just don’t support it: a truly 3D movie would be one where the 3D was so integral to the storytelling and the visuals and the experience that seeing it in 2D would be like seeing a giant-robots-throwing-buildings-at-each-other blockbuster as a flipbook while a hyperactive eight-year-old supplied the sound effects by shouting “BANG!” and “CRASH!” in your ear. Such a film would be expensive to produce and market and could never hope to recoup.

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Noticing in the school newsletter that 80% of the 7th graders with a 3.75, and 75% of those between a 3.5 and a 3.75 were girls, I asked my daughter why she thought this was. She retorted something like “duh, what do you expect?”. Then, adopting her pre-and-(I hope)-post-teen persona, she said that she thinks it is partly that the teachers like girls better (not because they are nicer — this my daughter rather sensibly doubts — but because they prudently reserve their nastiness for people who don’t control their grades) and partly because the boys just mess around because they don’t care about doing well.

So I was very interested in the findings in Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities. Bowen, Chingos and McPherson discover something that, to me, was quite a bit more surprising than their findings about undermatching.[1]

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by John Holbo on September 21, 2009

I just got Masterpiece Comics, by R. Sikoryak [amazon]. It’s great. Inspired mash-ups of classic cartoons/comics with Great Literature. Batman and Crime and Punishment. Wuthering Heights and Tales From the Crypt. Blondie and The Book of Genesis. Peanuts and Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”. Bazooka Joe and Dante’s Inferno. Little Lulu and The Scarlet Letter. Here’s a preview from D&Q. Above and beyond the perfect-pitch mimicry, I like the symmetry of the moral critique – of Dostoyevsky and Batman equally, and so forth. You can learn from this stuff. For example, if Stanley Fish had read Sikoryak’s “Blond Eve”, it might have occurred to him that familiar, blanket critiques of curiosity may not make self-evident moral or rational sense. Going a step further, this whole business of condemning curiosity tout court, in the strongest terms, all up and down the scale, in ordinary life, morally and scientifically, concerning matters large and small, can seem downright peculiar. Some sense of the diversity of human impulses and activities that would fall foul of a ban on ‘curiosity’, hence some sense of the problematic character of such a ban, might have crept into his column in some way. Alas.

UPDATE: Before accusing me of misreading Fish, please consider whether this comment satisfies you.