Author Archive: Erik Owomoyela

Argue the law

stoneI didn’t start seriously watching Law & Order until the show (and the police procedural in general) were pretty much played out, so it was a revelation when Netflix enabled me to start watching from the beginning. As cliché as the show’s promise of ripped-from-the-headlines stories would get, it really did a terrific job of capturing the cultural mood of its era.

One very early episode, “Subterranean Homeboy Blues,” presents the case of a white woman who shoots two black men on the subway, and gets through her trial essentially on the argument that the shooting was justified because black men are scary. It was apparently based on the case of Bernhard Goetz, and I got to thinking about it over the weekend as the George Zimmerman trial was wrapping up. And I think there’s more than the obvious parallels worth considering here.

I deliberately didn’t pay much attention to the actual Zimmerman trial, because I think turning one particular case into a cultural event does a disservice to basically everyone involved.

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Keeping a republic is hard sometimes

Egypt rally

For the past few years, I’ve tended to commemorate Independence day by watching an episode of the HBO miniseries John Adams, since it combines two things I generally like doing: Fairly superficial intellectual exercises and watching TV. Normally, I go with the obvious episode — “Independence,” the one about the Continental Congress — but this year I had something else in mind.

A major thread in the show’s later episodes is the impact of the French Revolution on the new United States. It’s an especially timely look now, since just yesterday Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected leader was forced out in a military coup, and there’s a lot of mixed feelings about whether it’s a good thing or not.

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Stick Lady and the Doomsday Plan!

Armed with a powerful new weapon, Mr. Stick is ready to strike back! But the only reason his plan isn’t completely insane is that he probably doesn’t have one.

Originally, there was going to be some explanation in this episode about what exactly the Doomsday Plan is, but that never quite made it into the script. I suppose I could have changed the title, but I still kind of like it.

The war on buses

A bus.

The Washington state legislature doesn’t exactly make Congress look good, but sensible governance isn’t exactly a thing here either. To wit: the state Senate chose to ignore the transportation bill that passed the state House of Representatives last week, threatening huge cuts to local transit services and making the case against bicameralism in one stroke of inaction.

Here’s where it gets really silly: The part of the now-dead transportation bill that might have held off those giant cuts would have given King County the authority to submit a ballot measure asking voters to raise the vehicle registration fee in order to fund Metro transit service, as well as county and city roads.

In other words, the county needs the state legislature’s permission to ask local voters to approve a local tax. And the state legislature won’t give it.

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Star Trek’s Khan Problem

spaceseedhd518

I maintain that if the producers of Star Trek Into Darkness truly wanted to recycle an adversary from the original series, they should have gone with the Doomsday Machine. Not only would the thing have been VFX gold, but it would have helped them avoid what’s become one of the most common traps in the franchise.

Most of the Star Trek movies that came after Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan tried to replicate its success. It’s not hard to see why, since TWOK is arguably the best movie in the franchise. (The Undiscovered Country is my personal favorite, but whichever.) What’s frustrating is that none of the people who’ve tried to replicate it over the years have demonstrated a clear understanding of why it was so good in the first place.

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Joss Whedon’s death problem

Maximum tragedy

I think it’s great that Agent Coulson will be a major part of S.H.I.E.L.D. and isn’t actually dead despite all the evidence from The Avengers (spoiler! …double spoiler?), but something struck me while I was reading Joss Whedon’s rationale:

The idea of the Little Guy is something that I am very fierce about, and there has never been a better Little Guy than Clark Gregg. That intrigued me, this world around the superhero community. It’s the people whose shop windows get blown up when the Destroyer shows up.

My immediate, cynical response was that he might have thought of that before he killed the guy in the first place. And that’s actually a problem I have with almost everything Whedon’s done, because an important corollary to his penchant for killing off characters is that it’s almost always the little guys who take the fall.

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Realism is hardest with the fake stuff

This YouTube video is actually a really clever idea. Obviously the alien spaceships are fake, but that just serves to distract you from the fact that the entire video is CGI — everything else is fake, too.

It’s impressive work, but I’m not actually surprised to read that, “making the photorealistic car and desert environment was even more difficult than crafting the alien crafts.” Because, honestly, the photorealistic car looks more photorealistic than the UFOs.

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