Monday, June 4, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to James Callis, 41. I'm not a huge fan of Baltar as a character, and I wouldn't put Callis on my list of top performances on BSG...but then again that's an awful high bar. We just finished (re)watching the series this weekend with the eldest daughter, who absolutely loved it...I found that the series held up extremely well the second time around (although watching the first miniseries episodes was sort of a brutal experience, just realizing what we were signing our daughter up for -- so many of the characters are so undamaged, or at least so undamaged compared with what's to come). At any rate, I was pretty much okay with the final episode the first time around, and this time I was even more positive. The one thing that I did feel about the series overall this time was that there were a fair number of times where I thought the actors saved some pretty cheesy writing.

Okay, I should get to the good stuff:

1. I'm not quite on board exactly for all of the history he lays out (but then again I'm very much in the minority on interpreting Madison), but David S. Bernstein has a wonderful, wonderful essay on democracy and politicians. High recommend.

2. Hans Noel on the ideological party.

3. Scott Lemieux on the bully pulpit.

4. And Sarah Kliff on the evolution of the spelling bee.


  1. Mr. Bernstein,

    You mentioned something similar in the post on Madisonian Democracy. Just for grins, what do you see as the dominant interpretation of Madison, and why do you consistently define your own views in contrast to it?

    1. The core issue is really about Madison's view of democracy and participation. I think he's in favor of both; most people don't, especially the latter.

    2. I can certainly see how that would make for some lively disagreements over the cheese and crackers. I can also hear interminable pompous dronings about the nature of participation in eighteenth century society, the derivation of the words "democracy" and "republic," and all the other things that make for academic and pseudo-academic chit-chat.

      That, of course, brings up another topic. To wit, does it really matter what Madison wanted? Or does it just matter what we have from him and what we can make of it? And of course, THAT, gets us off on originalist vs living constitutional theory. Best to leave it alone, I suppose.

    3. I still find it odd to refer to the constitutional plan as "Madisonian" when Madison himself opposed major elements of it, notably the "unprincipled" (his word) construction of the Senate. The key architects of the Constitution included Madison, Hamilton, Paterson, Rutledge, Randolph, Wilson and Morris, among others. It would better express what a patchwork the whole thing was to call it the "Mahamprurandowilmor" plan. I'm guessing I won't get many takers for that one, though.

  2. I've been thru the BSG series 3 times (4 times on seasons 2 and most of 3) and it still holds up for me. I'm itchin' to watch it again, but holding off so it retains its charms. And I think you are right about the acting saving some cheese from getting over-ripe.

    btw, I love your birthday-of-the-day posts, and also your many nerd references. Both reasons I keep coming back, if not the main reasons.

    1. Thanks! I've had fun doing them...I'm never sure how many people care about my non-politics interests, but I figure these are easy enough to skip if you don't care.

      If all goes according to plan, I'll next watch it with the younger daughter starting in about 4 years.

  3. How can I trust your judgment on anything when you think the final episode of Battlestar Galactica was good? That was basically my least favorite finale of any show I've ever seen and it was a confession that the writers had had no idea what they were doing for some time. I've not rewatched the series, but my thought in retrospect is that pretty much everything after the departure from New Caprica is weak, although obviously there's some good episodes mixed in here and there.


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