Friday Links

What Makes Life Good? An excerpt from Martha Nussbaum’s new book.

–Johann Hari makes the case against the British monarchy.

–How progressive are taxes in the U.S.?

–Ten teachings on Judaism and the environment.

–Marilyn of Left At the Altar reviews Laura Hobgood-Oster’s The Friends We Keep: Unleashing Christianity’s Compassion for Animals.

–A very interesting New Yorker article on the love-hate relationship between fantasy author George R.R. Martin and some of his fans.

–The fantasy of survivalism.

–Intellectual disability and theological anthropology.

–Do we need “Passion/Palm Sunday?” Seems like this comes up every year, and I’m not sure there’s a good solution.

–Mark Bittman on the cost of “lifestyle” diseases.

ADDED LATER: On Dutch efforts to ban traditional Jewish and Islamic practices of animal slaughter.

ADDED EVEN LATER: The spiritual benefits of headbanging, riffing (pun intended) on this Atlantic piece: How Heavy Metal Is Keeping Us Sane. (Thanks, bls!)

ONE MORE: It sounds like the movie version of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is every bit as bad as you’d expect.

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5 thoughts on “Friday Links

  1. The Johann Hari article is powerful. “While millions of people wept at the “fairytale wedding”, Diana was ramming her fingers down her throat, Charles was cursing that he didn’t love her, and they both stood at the aisle raging against their situation and everyone around them while the nation cheered.” Yikes!

  2. Funny thing about Atlas Shrugged. It got an abysmal 9% at Rotten Tomatoes from the critics, while the 85% of the regular audience liked it. Note how Ebert thought he could predict what an audience who liked the book might think of the movie. Note how he was wrong.

  3. I think Ebert committed the cardinal error of offering a review of a kind of work he doesn’t like to begin with. C.S. Lewis suggested that a critic cop to this fact so that a reader who does like that kind of work knows what is being disparaged.

    Take a look at Ebert’s complaints about kinds of scenes in the movie. He lists five kinds of scenes, which are difficult enough as categories. (Is any scene shot in Colorado now damned for being only one of five kinds of scenes?) And this coming from someone who once recommended “My Dinner with Andre” as the best movie of the year? That movie consisted mostly of one scene, with people talking over dinner. I guess bizarre New Age talk in one venue offers endless variety. How easy it would be to dismiss one of Ebert’s favorite films with a similar list of types of scenes. And one that would actually be exhaustive of the movie.

    Or how about “Oh, and there is Wisconsin. Dagny and Hank ride blissfully in Taggart’s new high-speed train, and then Hank suggests they take a trip to Wisconsin, where the state’s policies caused the suppression of an engine that runs on the ozone in the air, or something (the film’s detailed explanation won’t clear this up). They decide to drive there. That’s when you’ll enjoy the beautiful landscape photography of the deserts of Wisconsin. My advice to the filmmakers: If you want to use a desert, why not just refer to Wisconsin as “New Mexico”?”

    Sounds damning. Until you Google Wisconsin and desert together. And see scenery that matches what the movie showed.

    And I can also see that Ebert demands that if a movie includes some futuristic technology, the filmmaker has to describe the actual workings of the technology. Good-bye time travel.

    Or “But you’re thinking, railroads? Yes, although airplanes exist in this future, trains are where it’s at.”

    Uhhh. For freight, that IS the case now. Railroads still carry more freight than airplanes. So how does this count against the movie?

    Ebert should have done at least a modicum of research of some of these things before charging the movie with being preposterous on their account.

    The review was about as careless as the Whitaker Chambers review of the novel when it was published.

  4. Those seem like reasonable points, although from everything I’ve read and seen it still looks like a dreadful movie. On the other hand, I really have no horse in this race since there’s essentially no chance I’ll ever see the movie.

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