Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Sickness of the Mind

My one-time colleague Jesse Walker recently marked the passing of director Sid Davis, a man best known for some of the weirdest 1950s educational films you've probably never seen. There was once a big market, going back to the 1930s, for classroom films that told moral lessons to young people - think Blood on the Pavement and those charming anti-sex films that warned kids about the danger of foolin' around outside the bonds of holy matrimony.

One of his real gems is a little jaunt called "Boys Beware," which broached the topic of balding older men in American sedans who troll public parks for teenage male companionship. Davis uses the film to communicate an important message about the sickness of homosexuality. As the narrator explains, "a homosexual is a person who demands an intimate relationship with members of their own sex." My, those homos are demanding, aren't they?

Sure it starts with a free Coke, a weekend fishing trip and some miniature golf. But before you know it, you're a dead kid with only a newspaper headline to announce what has happened.

"One never knows when the homosexual is about. He may appear normal, and it may be too late to discover that he is mentally ill."


Monday, November 13, 2006

Fresh off the Kill Floor

So I went to an advance screening of Fast Food Nation at MPAA offices here in D.C. this morning, at it was one of the oddest movie experiences of my life. Because I wasn't going to be the one writing about it, I didn't do much advance reading about it, and ended up assuming it was going to be a Super Size Me-style documentary version of the Eric Schlosser book.

Not quite. It was an oddly star-filled drama starring Greg Kinnear as a (mostly) well-meaning fast food industry executive, Wilmer Valderrama as an exploited illegal immigrant from Mexico and Bruce Willis as an evil meat supply middleman. As my colleague Peter said, it was a target-rich environment for mockery, as it took its cliched lefty verities with great seriousness. A scene where a foursome of earnest young eco-activists cut through a fence to free a herd of cows was especially hilarious.

The real evil guys in the movie are the (unseen) executives of the local meat processing facility which provides tainted hamburger patties to the fast food industry. In addition to the manure in the meat is the ever-present danger of severe injury to the workers. The plant in the movie is depicted as being a workplace deathtrap; at one point one of the characters describes severe injuries as happening "every day."

Which made me wonder - just how dangerous is the meat processing industry? And how dangerous compared to other lines of work? It turns out that working in meat processing is fairly dangerous - workplace injuries are much higher than average for all private employment - but that shouldn't be terribly surprising given that it's the only industry in which dismemberment is the primary workplace goal. I did notice however, that there are more dangerous lines of work. Beet sugar manufacturing, for example. Much more dangerous. And roughly as dangerous as being a slaughterhouse worker is being a courier. That's right - bike messengers are the real heroes.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Corporate Welfare Explained

Introducing Crasher Mariachi as the voice of reason:


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Immigrant Song

The immigration debate, in a nutshelll:


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Live Blogging Election Results

Reaction to the midterms (through midnight or so) is over at Bureaucrash, co-starring the Prof. himself.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gettin' Religion

Democrats? Republicans? Personally, I worship at the alter of None of the Above.

Limited Government?

I'm not really a Democrat, but I play one on YouTube. And you though Mac ad parodies were just for these guys.

Remember, Remember

In which an American does a fake British accent while reading a monologue written by a Swedish intern, imitating an Australian actor who played a mutant superhero in a movie made from a comic book. In any case, here's to civil liberties.