Go see Guardians of the Galaxy. And something else. by MLR

That movie is GREAT. It's pretty much the perfect dumbass popcorn summer movie. And I didn't just like it because it heavily features a talking raccoon with a smart mouth and a love for firearms that are almost as big as he is, although that was definitely a major selling point for me (for obvious reasons).

In other news, have you ever read something that made you question a global paradigm that you always just took for granted? So, people who know me know I read the New Yorker magazine, and recently they posted this article to their website. It's basically a discussion regarding the differences between old-timey crime syndicates in America (read: the mafia) and new-timey crime syndicates in America (read: drug lords).

I won't spoil it too much, since it's kind of a journey to read (which is one thing I love about the New Yorker writing style), but it got me to thinking about human nature. Essentially, a lot of the old mafia guys were doing what they were doing not because they had evil hearts, but because they found it difficult to ascend the social ladder using the normal, law-abiding methods that were available to them (being poor immigrant Italians, mostly). A lot of those guys, once they made it big, got out of crime and started living normal, successful lives, running businesses, whatever.
Career criminals today, though, can't seem to do that in the same way, mostly because they're constantly being harassed by the police and thrown in jail, or their money is being confiscated, or whatever. This is probably due to phasing out of corruption in law enforcement combined with enhanced technology for surveillance or wire-tapping, etc. But you've got to wonder: if the police let things go like they used to, would a lot of today's drug lords take the same route and eventually just use their money to start legitimate businesses? Has the goal of most criminals always just been to make it in a difficult society? And if so, is cracking down on crime with an iron fist really a good method to be using to reduce crime and improve society?

It's the difference between assuming that humanity is evil at heart ('original sin') and assuming that humanity is actually good at heart but occasionally resorts to doing evil things in order to survive. If it's the former, I guess yeah, just throw bad guys in prison and it solves the problem. If it's the latter, though, we're going about this in exactly the wrong way. Call me a liberal, but I guess I've sort of always thought it was more the latter, hence why I tend to approve more of, say, Sweden's criminal justice system than America's. But I've been wrong before, especially regarding things about which I only have a cursory knowledge.

I don't know. Read the article and tell me what you think.

Go see Guardians of the Galaxy. And something else.


4 August 2014 at 20:22:20 MDT

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    I'm divided on this article There are elements drawn from similar no-New Yorker writings regarding the evolution of the Mafia in some locales. Journalisticaly, I am skeptical of some of Malcom Gladwell's source material. Primarily because the author, Malcom Gladwell, has a whispered (and not unjustified) reputation of writing good fiction and passing it off as non-fiction. As well as being a political hack and promoter-for-hire (outside the New Yorker) for various industries that line up at the government trough or need pesky regulations removed.

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      I admit, I don't know much about the author himself. The New Yorker does tend to be quite good about making sure their material is accurate, although as we all know, there's a bit of corruption in every institution. Regardless, it's thought-provoking.

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    Oh, and not to be a total downer, it sounds like Guardians will make a great popcorn munching flick

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    I literally just got back from watching Guardians of the Galaxy. It was amazing. Loved it.