Archive for September 18th, 2015

Our dysfunctional democracy: The Bushies’ win-at-all-costs mentality helped kill American unity after 9/11

September 18, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 18, 2015

Author’s note: I started to write about this topic in my inaugural Recent Readings and then realized that I had way too much material to pack into just a paragraph or three. Hence, the following post. MEM 

Heather Digby Parton, the indispensable Salon commentator, began her column on Tuesday by assessing American unity immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Back then, Parton writes, “The man who should have been president, Al Gore, famously said, ‘George W. Bush is my commander in chief.’” By wide margins, Congress passed the Patriot Act and authorized military action in both Afghanistan, which harbored the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks, and Iraq, which had no connection to that tragedy and had not been actively developing weapons of mass destruction for years prior to the 2003 invasion.

Parton doesn’t delve into it, but, to my mind, it seems that very much the wrong set of people were in the White House in 2001. I write this not because I believe that there was a miscarriage of justice in the Florida elections process, and in the Supreme Court, although both of those things arguably happened.

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Rivals in magic duel to the death, and possibly beyond, in ‘The Prestige’

September 18, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 18, 2015

Author’s note: I had this post almost ready to go on Sept. 9 when my computer went kablooey. Well, I’ve got a new machine now and I’m back online, so here, at long last, is the post you’ve been waiting for — my review of a Christopher Nolan film released nine years ago. Enjoy, all! MEM

The Prestige, Christopher Nolan’s 2006 movie based on the 1995 Christopher Priest novel of the same title, begins by plunging the viewer into the heart of a tangled web of misdirection and deception.

Just before magician Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) performs his signature feat, dubbed the New Transported Man, spectators in an immense ritzy London theater sometime near the beginning of the 20th century are invited to the stage to examine what purports to be a teleportation device. But one of the men who’s chosen to do so is not what he seems. As Angier runs through his spiel, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) brushes past a stagehand and descends below the stage, where he finds a blind man — completely oblivious to Borden’s presence — sitting patiently.

The scenes are narrated by a long monologue that turns out to be delivered by Cutter (Michael Caine), Angier’s ingénieur — a facilitator of illusions. “Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts,” Cutter tells us.

The first part is called the pledge. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course, it probably isn’t.

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