snap culture: February 2008

  1. Star Wars as told by a 3-year-old William, 2/25/2008 0 comments
  2. My Oscar Picks ben, 2/22/2008 0 comments
  3. gas prices are gonna go way way up ben, 2/21/2008 0 comments
  4. It's true, we're so lame! ben, 2/20/2008 0 comments
  5. 4 great words ben, 2/14/2008 1 comments
  6. my movie list ben, 2/13/2008 2 comments
  7. the onion is prescient ben, 2/12/2008 0 comments
  8. Moral economics? William, 2/11/2008 2 comments
  9. Childrens' letters to God William, 2/11/2008 0 comments
  10. how you doin'? ben, 2/11/2008 0 comments
  11. that must be some bathroom ben, 2/07/2008 0 comments
  12. a debate for the ages ben, 2/04/2008 1 comments
  13. bring on the bag tax! ben, 2/02/2008 0 comments

2/25/2008 Add a comment

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2/22/2008 Add a comment

Here are my choices and my predictions for this year's Oscars:

Best Picture
My Choice: No Country for Old Men
Prediction: No Country for Old Men

Best Actor
My Choice: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Actress
My Choice: ? (I've only seen Juno out of the five films)
Prediction: Julie Christie, Away from Her

Best Supporting Actor
My Choice: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Prediction: Bardem

Best Supporting Actress
My Choice: Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Prediction: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

Best Director
My Choice: Coen Brothers, No Country
Prediction: P.T. Anderson, TWBB

Most of these are "locks" except for actress and supporting actress. Either Amy Ryan or Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton) will win supporting actress, their performances fit the voters' preferences best in my mind. And if No Country and TWBB split the picture/director awards, that's not such a bad outcome.

But what do I know, I hate the Oscars, so they'll find a way to screw it up, like give best picture to Michael Clayton or best supporting actor to Hal Holbrook as though it's some kind of lifetime achievement award, for a movie where he didn't have to "act" and was in for fifteen minutes.

Your predictions in the comments, please. ben


2/21/2008 Add a comment

Just look at the graph, gas will need to rise by 40% to align with oil prices. $4.23 a gallon anyone? [From Felix Salmon.] ben


2/20/2008 Add a comment

If I was unemployed, I might have started this:
Stuff White People Like


2/14/2008 Add a comment

Pitchers and catchers report.

And just as the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano, hope springs eternal at Ho Ho Kam Park. ben


  1. Anonymous Anonymous: In honor of said pitchers and catchers, an interesting article from the on evaluating pitching talent:

2/13/2008 Add a comment

Since you have all been clamoring noisily in the comments section for my favorite movies of the year, here's my ranked list of every 2007 release I have seen:

No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
The Diving Bell and Butterfly
Darjeeling Limited
Into the Wild
Knocked Up
Kite Runner
American Gangster
Michael Clayton
The Namesake
Gone Baby Gone
I'm Not There
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Simpsons Movie
Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
Music & Lyrics
Blades of Glory
Ocean's Thirteen (saw on airplane, sucked)
Evan Almighty (also saw on airplane, also sucked)

The amazing thing is that beyond this list of 24, there are still at least 10 movies I'd like to see. This was a fantastic year for movies. In other years, a run-of-the-mill Hollywood highbrow movie like Michael Clayton might have been the best I saw all year.

Wow, we saw a lot of movies. What part of my ordering do you disagree with? And of the movies I haven't seen, what is the most glaring omission? My Oscar picks and predictions next week... ben


  1. Anonymous Anonymous: My 2007 movies:

    Knocked Up
    Hot Fuzz
    Darjeeling Limited
    Business of Being Born
    1st 20 min of 'I Am Legend' just for the CGI scenes of abandoned NYC
    Walk Hard
    Ocean's 13
    Blades of Glory

    I guess I only see comedies. And documentaries about health care. Other lessons, if Pam from The Office is a love interest, stay away. At the MOMA theater, I saw Airplane!, Run Lola Run and Night of the Living Dead, which would probably be top 5 if made in 2007, but that's not fair.
  2. Blogger ben: i guess i need to see Hot Fuzz, then. 2/20/2008  

2/12/2008 Add a comment

The Onion headline February 8: GM Introduces New 2008 Line of Layoffs, with these quotes:
"We're General Motors. Firing great people is what we do."
"Nobody, and I mean nobody, expected General Motors to come out firing the way it has in 2008."
"Bigger, bolder, more daring—these 2008 redundancies are sure to create a stir."
CNN headline February 12: GM Offers Buyouts to 74,000. You can't make this stuff up, except when you do. ben


2/11/2008 Add a comment

How do economists deal with institutional moral repugnance? In other words, what's the difference between wife-carrying and dwarf-tossing? Should economists make a distinction?




  1. Blogger ben: I completely discredit this article for allowing this quote in: "The problem is not that economists are unreasonable people, it’s that they’re evil people." Does a Yale psychologist really believe this? 2/11/2008  
  2. Anonymous Anonymous: It's less that a Yale psychologist thinks that economists are evil, and more that a NYTimes journalist doesn't understand psychologists' jokes. 2/12/2008  

2/11/2008 Add a comment

Dear God, ... William


2/11/2008 Add a comment

"Some Patriots played in a Pro Bowl sauna yesterday at Aloha Stadium, but their reception from the sellout crowd of 50,044 was ice cold. The six Patriots who played in the all-star game in 80-degree temperatures and on artificial turf that was hot to the touch were greeted with a surprisingly emphatic chorus of boos during introductions yesterday. Cornerback Asante Samuel, linebacker Mike Vrabel, nose tackle Vince Wilfork, center Dan Koppen, tackle Matt Light, and guard Logan Mankins followed a standard-bearer of the Patriots logo onto the field amid fireworks as the crowd erupted with the only negative greeting it accorded any of the game's participants."
From CNNSI. As for the photo of Asante Samuel, insert bad "lei" joke here. ben


2/07/2008 Add a comment

I enjoy perusing the campus crime notes because they usually contain relatively harmless stories about public urination or intoxication. But I couldn't pass up posting today's gem:
Where: Facilities Services Building C
When: Tuesday at about 11 a.m.
What: A radio left unattended was stolen from a shelf in the bathroom, the Department of Public Safety reported. The radio was valued at $2,300.
You're telling me that the Facilities guys have a radio on their bathroom shelf that's worth over two grand? Was it a Bose home theater system? Or a Bang-Olufsen BeoSound 1 with additional speaker attachments?

Either there's a decimal point missing in the price, or an insurance company is getting taken for a ride. ben


2/04/2008 Add a comment

After many years of people saying "you have to see this show," we have finally gotten around to watching Freaks and Geeks. And it is awkward and hilarious and heartfelt all at the same time. It captures everything I hated about junior high and high school a little too perfectly. It was a critical success when it aired in 1999 but didn't catch on to a wide audience, and was unceremoniously canceled without ever airing all of the shows they completed.

On the one hand, I wish the show had continued on for a few more years. But would it have outstayed its welcome? Could it have kept up the same stellar level of writing and acting? Could it have avoided reaching the point where none of the actors look remotely young enough to play high school kids (90210, I'm looking at you)?

But the real question is this: Suppose that it went on for three more years, all the way through Sam's high school graduation. Would you be willing to trade three more seasons of Freaks and Geeks for the following Judd Apatow films:

40-year-old Virgin
Talladega Nights
Knocked Up

Discuss in the comments. I think I have to take the movies, but it's a tough one. ben


  1. Blogger William: Glad you finally got around to watching Freaks and Geeks, Ben. It is indeed excellent. But I do worry that it would get long in the tooth going into season 4. They could have done a second season at the high level, I think, and then it would have started going downhill. Next on your list: season 1 of Veronica Mars, which I think rivals Freaks and Geeks as the top single season of high school-based television. Freaks and Geeks may be first, but Veronica Mars is a close second. 2/04/2008  

2/02/2008 Add a comment

From the Times: Ireland's plastic bag tax seems to be working even better than anticipated. ben