Archive for the ‘Massachusetts’ Category

Some Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombings

April 24, 2013

Although the police are to be commended for having solved this case so quickly, there are still some things about this episode that a leave one feeling uncomfortable. Such as the unnecessary decision to completely shut down the city of Boston. (Common sense dictated that Dzokhar Tsaraev would likely be found in or near Watertown, and, indeed, he was found hiding in a boat in someone’s backyard in that very city.) Or police officers in military gear searching people’s homes without warrants. Or the government’s refusal to read Tsarnaev his Miranda rights.

The Constitution is really the only thing that holds this fractious country together, yet we increasingly treat it as something disposable, like Kleenex. Mayor Bloomberg of New York recently announced:

    The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry. But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.

This is coy. Bloomberg has made it clear that he has nothing but contempt for the Constitution, as when he ordered the police to attack Occupy Wall Street protestors, or in his “stop and frisk” policy that targets minority youths. He no doubt drooled as he added:

    We have to understand that in the world going forward, we’re going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff. That’s good in some sense, but it’s different from what we are used to.

We already have lots of cameras in our society. Photos and videos taken by private citizens helped the police to pick out the suspects. Hizzoner is specifically referring to surveillance cameras by the police, likely to be positioned to keep the world safe for Wall Street hedge fund managers.

And then there is the question of the motives of the Tsarnaev brothers. There is a substantial amount of evidence that Tamelan was attracted to radical Islam, but Dzhoubar attended a party at UMass-Dartmouth shortly after the bombings, which is not the sort of behavior that one would expect from a Muslim fundamentalist. I suspect that there is a complicated story here, one which we learn about as more evidence comes to light.

Dzhoubar has been charged with using a “weapon of mass destruction”. It used to be that this term only referred to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. It now applies to pressure cooker bombs. No doubt it will soon apply to firecrackers. (But not, of course, to assault rifles!)

The Fighter

March 16, 2011

The Fighter, directed by David O. Russell, is based on the real-life story of “Irish” Micky Ward, who was a junior welterweight boxer in the 1990’s. The film is set in Lowell, Massachusetts; where Ward is from. I went to school in Lowell for a time. I remember it as a harsh place. It was once a center of the textile industry, but it is now economically depressed. It is one of a number of deindustrialised cities in Massachusetts. In such places that have almost nothing going for them, one of the few sources of local pride are residents who manage to be successful, or semi-successful, in sports. In the film, Micky’s older brother is known as “The Pride of Lowell”, because he once fought Sugar Ray Leonard. (I remember when I was young, Marvin Hagler, who was from Brockton – another faded city in the Bay State – was proudly touted by the local media as the “Brockton Bomber”.)

Micky (Mark Wahlberg) is a fighter who is being trained by his crack-addicted, older half-brother, Dicky (Christian Bale). His career is managed by his domineering mother (Melissa Leo). Dicky’s criminal exploits cause problems for Micky and for his girlfriend (Amy Adams). After an up and down career, however, Micky gets a chance to fight for the world welterweight title.

The Fighter mostly has a realistic feel to it. (There is a lot of hand-held camera work, a sure sign that a film is trying to be “realistic”.) It was mostly shot in Lowell, and the performances are believable. However, there were a few things I found far-fetched. (In one scene, for example, Micky slaps a man in a crowded bar and no one reacts.) And it inevitably runs up against the clichés of the boxing film genre, as the wayward brother redeems himself and the hero gets his shot at the title in the final scene. As boxing films go, however, it is better than Rocky and much better than Cinderella Man. I recommend seeing The Fighter.