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February 05, 2008


Greg Kuperberg

In the end I did vote for Obama, although it wasn't an easy decision. The one sentiment among Obama supporters that I think is truly wrong-minded is the threat to stay home in November if Clinton wins the nomination. That tactic is usually an idle threat; and it is all the worse when it isn't.

In other news, the papers say that Heath Ledger basically won a Darwin award by abusing sedatives. He had six prescriptions, not only sleeping pills but also anti-anxiety medicine. It rather suggests that, like many other celebrities, he had too much ego and self-pity to respect doctors. Now to be fair, anyone can fall victim to acquired situational narcissism --- even Albert Einstein showed some traits of it. Even so, a shallow profession will generally have more of it than a grown-up one.

In yet other news, we saw the interesting and presently highly ironic 80s movie, "The Beast". This is not a perfect movie, but then, neither is "The Battle of Algiers". On balance we liked "The Beast" better.


Well, thanks for the vote Greg. I know I for one won't be staying home even if she wins. Did you get a sense of which way Davis went?

I just Wikipediaed The Beast, and it looks interesting. It'd take a lot for me to prefer it to Algiers, though.

Greg Kuperberg

Somehow Algiers didn't entirely click for me, even though I did think that it was interesting. The movie was propagandistic. That by itself might not have been so bad, but the direction of some of the propaganda was bothersome. One of the "actors" was actually a key figure of the Algerian revolt. The movie whitewashed his transgressions; it also probably exaggerated his loyalty to and prominence in the cause. Also, in parts the movie substituted propaganda for plot and character development.

Davis went for Clinton all the way, for a variety of reasons. To name two, Obama didn't campaign here and a lot of the students didn't vote.


Even if one doesn't side with the FLN, and to do so uncritically would indeed be folly, I think the film has important things to say about counterinsurgency, state-sponsored torture, liberation movements, etc. Colonel Mathieu has always been the most interesting character for me; he isn't portrayed as a cartoonish villain but as a well-intentioned strategist whose detachment from the Algerian population morally corrupts both him and his mission.

It's too bad Davis students didn't organize; I imagine, being mainly California natives, they shouldn't have had much trouble. We did a lot of work getting out-of-state Dartmouth students registered, and it paid off in the Hanover vote.

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