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Sunday, den 1. January 2012

Amid slowdowns in emerging markets, a debt crisis in Europe, a slow recovery here in the United States, and various other turbulent events, the Financial Times reports that global stock markets lost $6.3 trillion in value this year — a 12 percent slide. After some wild swings reminiscent of the 2008 financial crisis, U.S. markets were mixed with the Dow ending the year up 5.53 percent . Remarkably, the S&P 500 ended the year at 1257.60, just .04 points changed from its 2010 close of 1257.64.

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Sunday, den 1. January 2012

A recall of controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker now appear inevitable. In just 28 days, activists collected 507,533 signatures . Organizers have until January 17 to collect 540,208 signatures, which is equal to 25% of the state’s 2010 general election turnout. To be safe, recall advocates have set a new goal of 720,277 signatures by the deadline. The recall efforts success has propted the Scott Walker’s campaign to take aggressive action to invalidate signatures. Walker sued his own Government Accountability Board , arguing the proceedures adopted by the board to review signatures aren’t agressive enough. Without citing any concrete evidence, Walker alleged to Fox News that there was massive fraud in the signature gathering effort. The case is still pending. Nevertheless, Walker has changed his tone in recent days and acknowleged making mistakes in pursuing his an anti-union effort in his first few days in office. Walker told the LaCross Tribune that “that he’s made mistakes in how he’s gone about achieving his agenda ” and “he regretted not having done a better job of selling his changes to state government.” Walker also said he regretted his statements on a phone call with a man pretending to be billionaire David Koch. He said his comments on the call, where he referred to his plan to undermine collective bargaining as “dropping a bomb” and admitted he considered planting troublemakers among the protesters, were “stupid.” Assuming the final signatures are collected and verified, a recall election is expected in the late-Spring or Summer .

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Saturday, den 31. December 2011

by Greg Hanscom, cross-posted from Grist It’s that time of year again: When public schools everywhere cast about desperately for a holiday celebration that doesn’t involve Jesus or a dude in a red suit; when families gather from thither and yon to spend a few days remembering why they’ve scattered thither and yon in the first place; and yes, it’s time to take stock of the year past, and look ahead to the one coming up. As the guy charged with keeping an eye on all things urban around here, I curled up with my laptop on a winter’s night that was definitely not as cold as they used to be, dug through the archives, and now offer this, my most humble (and totally non-denominational) retrospective of 2011. The promise of 2010: “bright flight” Photo: Matthew Rutledge The view from Seattle’s Capitol Hill. With Millennials and Baby Boomers both expressing interest in more urban living, it looked like 2011 would usher in the “triumph of the city,” to borrow the title from a book released this year by Harvard economist Edward Glaeser. Between-year Census numbers released last year suggested that, for the first time in a generation in many metropolitan areas, white people were shunning the suburbs in favor of city living. “A new image of urban America is in the making,” William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, told the Associated Press . “What used to be white flight to the suburbs is turning into ‘bright flight’ to cities that have become magnets for aspiring young adults who see access to knowledge-based jobs, public transportation, and a new city ambience as an attraction.” It was music to many city leaders’ ears, and great news for the planet, too, as tightly packed, car-free living is what a green future looks like for many of us. But wait, there’s more … The urban renaissance that isn’t (yet) Photo: Scorpions and Centaurs Chicago’s in it for the long sprawl. When the final 2010 Census came in, it made clear that the renaissance had not arrived yet — at least not in any statistically meaningful way. An analysis of eight metro areas, including Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Austin, revealed that in the past decade, 96 percent of the population growth occurred in the suburbs. Some took great exception to this number crunching, arguing that it lumped a number of full-fledged cities in with the ‘burbs. But while the Census, stripped of much of the nuance that it had contained in previous years, painted a rather fuzzy picture, there was little to suggest any inmigraiton into urban centers. The will was there, it seemed, but with suburban home prices in the toilet and the job market in the tank, Americans just weren’t finding a way to extract themselves from the ‘burbs and make the leap back to the city. Back in the car, kids. Looks like this is going to be a longer haul than we’d hoped … The exurban collapse that is (maybe) Photo: Barrie Sutcliffe Americans (and their personal fortunes) may still be tied up the suburbs, but the farthest exurban fringes do seem to have taken a serious, possibly fatal, hit — at least if real estate prices are any indication. An analysis of Zillow’s real estate database by the Brookings Institution (yes, they’re the same folks who brought us “bright flight,” so take this with a grain of salt) shows that the most expensive neighborhoods in the nation are dense, urban areas such as Seattle’s Capitol Hill and Logan Circle in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, the price of many houses in fringe neighborhoods are now below replacement value. Christopher Leinberger, who did the study for Brookings, argued in a recent New York Times op-ed that this devaluation means that the exurbs will quickly turn into slums. Of course, you could also argue that this is just one more reason people will stay where they are: Why would you sell your place in the ‘burbs for a pittance when it’s not going to buy you half of a house in the city? Time will tell. Meantime, if you’re looking for a screaming deal on a McMansion well out of biking range of town, have I got a deal for you … The reason city living is super — and supergreen Photo: Go Oak Cliff Tactical urbanism: With a few trees, some sidewalk tables, and lots of community input, a Dallas street was transformed. Lest you start getting cold feet about cities, there really is a tremendous amount of energy and creative thought pouring forth from our urban centers these days, the Census be damned. This year, we brought you a veritable blizzard of stories on green building , urban farming , growing bike networks (more on those coming in a bike-tastic retrospective soon!), public transportation , tactical urbanism , street art , and, most recently, neighborhood-level experiments in sustainability. In the absence of real progress on climate change at the state and national levels, cities have led the charge, cutting back their greenhouse gas emissions Kyoto-Protocol-style, to hell with the fat cats in Washington. But the cutting edge is more hyper-local still. Across the country, communities are finding ways to trim down their impact on a local level. And I’m not just talking about recycling and turning off the lights. In Seattle, a high-performance downtown building district aims to cut energy consumption, water use, and transportation-related CO2 emissions to 50 percent of national averages by 2030. In Denver and Brooklyn, efforts are underway to create city blocks that operate as single, interconnected systems , saving gobs of energy and resources in the process. And OK, props to the small towns — and even the suburbs — that are doing strong work too. Viva la Occupation! Photo: Lauren DeCicca via weeklydig I would be remiss to talk about cities in 2011 without mentioning Occupy Wall Street and its many offshoots in cities around the country. While there were a handful of occupations in the boonies , the Occupy movement itself was a powerfully urban phenomenon , a youth-driven movement that had its seeds in the cultural hothouses of American cities. And the clearing out of the protesters by urban police departments will help propel the movement forward even as the original encampments fade. What the 99% will do next is only just beginning to take form, but these kids showed that they have something to say — and know how to make themselves heard. Let’s just hope the good people running for public office this year are paying attention. The promise of 2011: Cities will lead, and the people will push Photo: Thomas Hawk Cities: The final frontier? As the international climate talks in Durban sputtered and fizzled, and the Republican presidential field competed to out-deny the competition , it became ever more clear that if cities don’t lead, no one will. “As mayors — the great pragmatists of the world’s stage and directly responsible for the well-being of the majority of the world’s people — we don’t have the luxury of simply talking about change but not delivering it,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a gathering at the United Nations last week. If things continue as they have been, mayors like Bloomberg will have growing clout on the national and international stage. That’s thanks in part to the protesters whom Bloomberg chased out of Zuccotti Park last month, who have changed the national dialog to focus on issues of inequality and justice. It’s also because of a very real generational shift toward cities as the national ideal. Fifty years ago, America was a nation obsessed with the suburbs. Now, we are beginning to turn back to cities, investing in more sustainable ways of living and finding here-and-now solutions to the problems ahead. These are promising signs, and if the stars align, maybe, just maybe, we’ll see that urban renaissance we’ve all been rooting for. The country and the planet will be all the better for it. Here’s to 2012. Grist special projects editor Greg Hanscom has been editor of the award-winning environmental magazine High Country News and the Baltimore-based city mag, Urbanite. He tweets about cities and the environment at @ghanscom. This piece was originally published at Grist.

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Saturday, den 31. December 2011

Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT’s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here’s what we’re reading this morning, but let us know what you’re checking out as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @ TPEquality . – Bob Vander Plaats is taking credit for Rick Santorum’s surge in Iowa, but so far that surge has only gotten him to third place in the polls . – Truth Wins Out is taking out a full page ad in this Sunday’s Chicago Tribune calling on Cardinal Francis George to resign over his comments comparing the gay community to the Ku Klux Klan. – The top ten lies the black church tells about being gay. – A select group of same-sex couples in Delaware will be able to obtain their civil unions New Year’s Day . – LGBT elders continue to face severe challenges finding welcoming housing . – Barnes & Noble has pulled the offensive “sissy” calendar from its stores, but Amazon.com continues to sell it. – Marriage equality is coming to Cancun . – Mara Keisling offers 14 reasons 2011 was a great year for transgender people . – Right Wing Watch and Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters look back at the conservative anti-gay videos of 2011. – Salon highlights the coming out stories of LGBT youth of color . – Out Magazine showcases 23 same-sex love stories in a photo slideshow. – WATCH: Teenagers react to Rick Perry’s “Strong” ad:

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Saturday, den 31. December 2011

King at a Paul campaign event in August (courtesy Gage Skidmore) Just days before the Iowa GOP caucuses, one of the state’s most high profile conservative politicians is strongly warning Republicans against voting for Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). In an interview with Politico, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suggested a Ron Paul presidency would be “ dangerous ” because of the candidate’s libertarian foreign policy positons: “Iowa Rep. Steve King’s assessment on Ron Paul, one of the two co-frontrunners going into his state’s caucuses next week: “ He’s not dangerous unless he’s president .” “I don’t think that the Paul supporters have really stepped back and thought about what would happen if Ron Paul were operating out of the Oval Office and the commander-in-chief of our armed forces,” King said. Paul’s campaign has soared in recent days, leading the field in Iowa in some polls. Finally taking his candidacy seriously, a number of high profile Republicans and conservative leaders have publicly condemned the unorthodox Texas congressman. King has previously been somewhat bullish on Paul, telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that people shouldn’t underestimate Paul . “ He has a group of solid core , very dedicated supporters that will be there,” King told CNN in July of the Ames Straw Poll. King even appeared at a campaign event in Ames with Paul in August.

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Saturday, den 31. December 2011

by Brendan O’Donnell and Mathias Bell, cross-posted from the Rocky Mountain Institute This is part three in a three-part series published at RMI on Turbocharging energy efficiency programs. When you see the blue ENERGY STAR logo plastered on the side of your TV, you probably think of two things: This is an energy-efficient television. The federal government is providing me some assurance that the energy savings are real, the latter being more vague—I know the government is behind this somehow… What you may not know is that some electric utilities are working hard to increase the number of ENERGY STAR appliances being bought. Traditional utility energy-efficiency programs, especially those targeting mass-market residential customers, have enticed participation mostly through rebates. If a customer saves the receipt for an appliance and mails it in, the utility will cut a check. The ENERGY STAR product is made cheaper for the customer and the utility gets credit for the energy savings. But for many customers, rebates are a hassle that require a lot of time and effort. As a result, participation rates fall short, even though buying the ENERGY STAR appliance is the smart choice. To make things easier for customers, some utilities have wisely begun to work upstream with manufacturers, vendors and retailers. Instead of offering the customer rebates, the utilities are providing incentives to product suppliers to ensure that store shelves are stocked only with ENERGY STAR appliances. One upstream program that we think is particularly effective is the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership’s (NEEP) Retail Products Initiative. NEEP is among the programs examined in Turbocharging Energy Efficiency Programs , a new report from Rocky Mountain Institute that examines the best ways for electrical utilities to boost efficiency. NEEP is a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The Retail Products Initiative leverages the cumulative buying power of the region’s homes and businesses. Rather than relying on individual campaigns, NEEP’s utility partners negotiate cooperative promotions of efficient lighting, appliances and services with retailers in seven states. The utilities and retailers agree on “buy-downs,” which decrease the final price seen by the consumer. Cooperation among organizations has made promotions consistent across utility territories and has facilitated effective statewide campaigns in Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The results have been impressive. In 2010, more than 4,000 retailers stocked their shelves with ENERGY STAR products as part of the initiative. These retailers sold almost 175,000 efficient appliances, with 60-90 percent of the refrigerators, clothes washers and dishwashers on their shelves carrying ENERGY STAR ratings. Utilities paid $23.3 million to achieve these numbers, and customers will save 5 million MWH throughout the products’ lifetimes, which is the equivalent of energy needed for 450,000 homes for a year. With aggressive energy-efficiency targets , progressive utilities are finding more creative ways to sell and fund their energy efficiency programs. RMI’s Turbocharging Energy Efficiency Programs highlights innovative utility programs and strategies. These utilities are looking to break the mold and achieve dramatically higher savings from their programs. In this report, we include more information about what makes NEEP’s program so effective and also include information on programs administered by: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Energy Trust of Oregon Pacific Gas and Electric Xcel Energy Palm Desert’s Set to Save This is the last of three articles to be featured on RMI’s Outlet blog on Turbocharging Energy Efficiency Programs. The first article in the series was written by RMI consultant Mathias Bell and National Resources Defense Council staff scientist Dylan Sullivan. The second article written by analyst Brendan O’Donnell discussed how utilities can achieve higher levels of savings by going broader and deeper.

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Saturday, den 31. December 2011

George R.R. Martin, continuing his campaign to torture us with good things that are still far off, has a selection from The Winds of Winter online. There’s nothing exceptionally surprising about the information that’s revealed in it, but I appreciate the fact that we’re still going to be spending time in Theon’s point of view, however painful it is to be there: My sister, Theon thought, my sweet sister. Though he had lost all feeling in his arms, he felt the twisting in his gut, the same as when that bloodless Braavosi banker presented him to Asha as a ‘gift.’ The memory still rankled. The burly, balding knight who’d been with her had wasted no time shouting for help, so they’d had no more than a few moments before Theon was dragged away to face the king. That was long enough. He had hated the look on Asha’s face when she realized who he was; the shock in her eyes, the pity in her voice, the way her mouth twisted in disgust. Instead of rushing forward to embrace him, she had taken half a step backwards. “Did the Bastard do this to you?” she had asked. “Don’t you call him that.” Then the words came spilling out of Theon in a rush. He tried to tell her all of it, about Reek and the Dreadfort and Kyra and the keys, how Lord Ramsay never took anything but skin unless you begged for it. He told her how he’d saved the girl, leaping from the castle wall into the snow. “We flew. Let Abel make a song of that, we flew.” Then he had to say who Abel was, and talk about the washerwomen who weren’t truly washerwomen. By then Theon knew how strange and incoherent all this sounded, yet somehow the words would not stop. He was cold and sick and tired… and weak, so weak, so very weak. She has to understand. She is my sister. He never wanted to do any harm to Bran or Rickon. Reek made him kill those boys, not him Reek but the other one. “I am no kinslayer,” he insisted. He told her how he bedded down with Ramsay’s bitches, warned her that Winterfell was full of ghosts. “The swords were gone. Four, I think, or five. I don’t recall. The stone kings are angry.” He was shaking by then, trembling like an autumn leaf. “The heart tree knew my name. The old gods. Theon, I heard them whisper. There was no wind but the leaves were moving. Theon, they said. My name is Theon.” It was good to say the name. The more he said it, the less like he was to forget. “You have to know your name,” he’d told his sister. “You… you told me you were Esgred, but that was a lie. Your name is Asha.” I initially hated Theon—and it was hard not to. He was the character who was perhaps most invested in both the lies of the path and in the idea that the path to glory lies through conquest. But he’s become a moving testament to the lasting impact of brutality. And in this passage, he’s an illustration of how history gets mangled. It’s hard for people to believe the things that Theon is telling them about Ramsay Bolton because they’re too terrible, they’re the kinds of events and behavior that we all want to believe can’t be true. And living through the worst events of history can turn our most direct eyewitnesses into wrecks other people consider unreliable narrators.

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Saturday, den 31. December 2011

In a new book, Boston journalist Roland Scott reports that Mitt Romney ran on a pro-choice platform in 1994 after “polling from Richard Wirthlin, Ronald Reagan’s former pollster whom Romney had hired for the ’94 campaign, showed it would be impossible for a pro-life candidate to win statewide office in Massachusetts.” Romney is now trying to assure conservative voters he is pro-life, and has previously said his switch before running for the presidency was a moral revelation .

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Saturday, den 31. December 2011

The Debunking Handbook is a guide to debunking myths, by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky. This is part five of a five-part series originally published at Skeptical Science. Assuming you successfully negotiate the various backfire effects, what is the most effective way to debunk a myth? The challenge is that once misinformation gets into a person’s mind, it’s very difficult to remove. This is the case even when people remember and accept a correction. This was demonstrated in an experiment in which people read a fictitious account of a warehouse fire. 1,2,3 Mention was made of paint and gas cans along with explosions. Later in the story, it was clarified that paint and cans were not present at the fire. Even when people remembered and accepted this correction, they still cited the paint or cans when asked questions about the fire. When asked, “Why do you think there was so much smoke?”, people routinely invoked the oil paint despite having just acknowledged it as not being present. When people hear misinformation, they build a mental model, with the myth providing an explanation. When the myth is debunked, a gap is left in their mental model. To deal with this dilemma, people prefer an incorrect model over an incomplete model. In the absence of a better explanation, they opt for the wrong explanation. 4 In the warehouse fire experiment, when an alternative explanation involving lighter fluid and accelerant was provided, people were less likely to cite the paint and gas cans when queried about the fire. The most effective way to reduce the effect of misinformation is to provide an alternative explanation for the events covered by the misinformation. This strategy is illustrated particularly clearly in fictional murder trials. Accusing an alternative suspect greatly reduced the number of guilty verdicts from participants who acted as jurors, compared to defences that merely explained why the defendant wasn’t guilty. 5 For the alternative to be accepted, it must be plausible and explain all observed features of the event. 6,1 When you debunk a myth, you create a gap in the person’s mind. To be effective, your debunking must fill that gap. One gap that may require filling is explaining why the myth is wrong. This can be achieved by exposing the rhetorical techniques used to misinform. A handy reference of techniques common to many movements that deny a scientific consensus is found in Denialism: what is it and how should scientists respond? 7 The techniques include cherry picking, conspiracy theories and fake experts. Another alternative narrative might be to explain why the misinformer promoted the myth. Arousing suspicion of the source of misinformation has been shown to further reduce the influence of misinformation. 8,9 Another key element to effective rebuttal is using an explicit warning (“watch out, you might be misled”) before mentioning the myth. Experimentation with different rebuttal structures found the most effective combination included an alternative explanation and an explicit warning. 4 Graphics are also an important part of the debunker’s toolbox and are significantly more effective than text in reducing misconceptions. When people read a refutation that conflicts with their beliefs, they seize on ambiguities to construct an alternative interpretation. Graphics provide more clarity and less opportunity for misinterpretation. When self-identified Republicans were surveyed about their global warming beliefs, a significantly greater number accepted global warming when shown a graph of temperature trends compared to those who were given a written description. 10 Another survey found that when shown data points representing surface temperature, people correctly judged a warming trend irrespective of their views towards global warming. 11 If your content can be expressed visually, always opt for a graphic in your debunking. The Debunking Handbook , a guide to debunking misinformation, is now  freely available to download . Although there is a great deal of psychological research on misinformation, there’s no summary of the literature that offers practical guidelines on the most effective ways of reducing the influence of myths. The Debunking Handbook boils the research down into a short, simple summary, intended as a guide for communicators in all areas (not just climate) who encounter misinformation. References Seifert, C. M. (2002). The continued influence of misinformation in memory: What makes a correction effective? The Psychology of Learning and Motivation , 41, 265-292. Wilkes, A. L.; Leatherbarrow, M. (1988). Editing episodic memory following the identification of error, The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology A: Human Experimental Psychology , 40A, 361-387. Johnson, H. M., & Seifert, C. M. (1994). Sources of the continued influence effect: When discredited information in memory affects later inferences. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition , 20 (6), 1420-1436. Ecker, U. K., Lewandowsky, S., & Tang, D. T. (2011). Explicit warnings reduce but do not eliminate the continued influence of misinformation. Memory & Cognition , 38, 1087-1100. Tenney, E. R., Cleary, H. M., & Spellman, B. A. (2009). Unpacking the doubt in “Beyond a reasonable doubt:” Plausible alternative stories increase not guilty verdicts. Basic and Applied Social Psychology , 31, 1-8. Rapp, D. N., & Kendeou, P. (2007). Revising what readers know: Updating text representations during narrative comprehension. Memory & Cognition , 35, 2019-2032. Diethelm, P., & McKee, M. (2009). Denialism: what is it and how should scientists respond? European Journal of Public Health , 19, 2-4. Lewandowsky, S., Stritzke, W. G., Oberauer, K., & Morales, M. (2005). Memory for fact, fiction and misinformation: The Iraq War 2003. Psychological Science , 16, 190-195. Lewandowsky, S., & Stritzke, W. G. K., Oberauer, K., & Morales, M. (2009). Misinformation and the ‘War on Terror’: When memory turns fiction into fact. In W. G. K. Stritzke, S. Lewandowsky, D. Denemark, J. Clare, & F. Morgan (Eds.), Terrorism and torture: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 179-203). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Nyhan, B., & Reifler, J. (2011). Opening the Political Mind? The effects of self-affirmation and graphical information on factual misperceptions. In press. Lewandowsky, S. (2011). Popular consensus: Climate change set to continue. Psychological Science , 22, 460-463.

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Saturday, den 31. December 2011

The Atlantic Wire suggests that moviegoers are sick of Hollywood’s efforts to soak them by revisiting the same old concepts: The numbers are in, and they show what studio execs likely feared and movie-goers likely suspected all along: Not a lot of people went to the movies this year. Box-office tracker Hollywood.com says that “an estimated 1.275 billion tickets sold” in 2011, a 4.8 percent decrease from 2010 making for “the smallest movie audience since 1995,” reports the AP. A hodgepodge of reasons for the sour showing were cited in the AP and ABC News reports. Among them: Too many sequels, too many kids movies, too many distracting gadgets, the bad economy, high ticket prices, and, something being called an “‘Avatar’ hangover” from 2010. I’m not entirely convinced. Seven of the top-grossing movies in 2011 are sequels, and one, Rise of the Planet of the Apes , is simultaneously a reboot of and a prequel to a popular franchise. The two that fall into neither category, Thor and Captain America , are part of Marvel’s grand Avengers product, and so while they were both handsome movies, are not exactly proof of Americans seeking out fresh concepts. You have to go all the way down to the 12th movie on the list, Bridesmaids , to find a feature that is wholly new, not based on a book, or unlinked to an existing project or franchise. Rio, Super 8 , Rango , and Horrible Bosses are the only other movies in the top 20. Clearly, Hollywood’s having some real trouble selling original stories to American audiences, or for whatever, reason, finding original stories that it feels comfortable trying to sell. The presence of Rio and Rango on that list also suggests that family movies aren’t completely the kiss of death—it’s that other movies weren’t catching hold with the teen and adult audiences in a way that would have pushed those family films further down the list. It makes sense that terrible kids’ movies like Mars Needs Moms would flop, and it’s always nice to see the market recognize stupidity when it sees it as happened there. But it’s really too bad to see a terrific family film like Hugo struggling to make back its production costs: the movie took $155 million to make, and thus far has hauled in just north of $45 million, and I wonder if a lot of that is because people are so sick of paying extra for 3D movies that aren’t particularly worth it that they’re turning away from a movie where 3D is used to brilliant, lovely effect. It would be nice to believe that the two-year box office slump we’re seeing has an easily diagnosable cause, that studios could just sit up and say “Huh, audiences aren’t loving 3D. Let’s ditch the glasses and everyone will come back.” But there seems like a failure to connect on a more fundamental level. I don’t know that the formula for something like Fast Five is easy to distill and make use of in original features, though I will always take more movies with multiracial casts in which Dwanye Johnson acts somewhat hyperreal. And I don’t know what the best way to get audiences in theaters for some great movies that just went so wholly overlooked, like A Better Life . What Hollywood—and those of us in the seats need isn’t necessarily more blockbusters. It’s more deeply compelling mid-budget, mid-gross flicks.

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