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Friday, February 28, 2014

Regional Autonomy

Regional Autonomy seems to be the logical solution in Ukraine and other parts of the world. I'm reminded of Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

2014 Oscar Nominees

The Academy Awards are one week from tonight. I have seen all nine of the nominees for Best Picture. I noticed that six are based on true stories, and that Matthew McConaughey and Amy Adams are each in two of the movies. I enjoyed all of them, but if I had to rank them, I'd put them in the following order.

1. Twelve Years a Slave

Solomon Northrop's experiences were unpleasant, but we need to see clearly the mistakes of the past so we never repeat them. This is probably the most realistic depiction of what slavery must have been like. Evil is real, the threat of it always persists, and we have a duty to confront it for those who can't. 

2. Wolf of Wall Street

This movie is wild, and you can't help but be amused by all the excess, breaking rules and telling people off. People might take the wrong lessons from it, but it's still important to see. It shows how the one percent didn't really earn their money. After all, I have read from a script, just like they do in the movie, but the difference is I was telling the truth.

3. Gravity

Sometimes I want escapism, and suspense can do that for me. Of the nine, this was the best visual masterpiece, with incredible special effects, an outer space story that could plausibly happen with today's technology. I'm not sure if it's science fiction, but it's science, and it's fiction. My political commentary is that I feel mixed about the space program. It's expensive, but we learn a lot from the research.

4. Captain Phillips

This movie is also suspenseful, but we know how it ends, so that relieves some of the stress. What happens between the beginning and the end has some fascinating details I didn't know about. Now, I don't know about these big shipping companies, but I know pirates are bad, and when I read about this in the news, I thought they were clowns on the high seas. The deal to trade the captured captains I still can't completely figure out, but in my opinion the pirates were mostly bad but not all bad.

5. Philomena

This story is about a British woman looking for her long-lost son. With my interest in genealogy, it held my attention. Before 23AndMe, it took more work, but they did it. I also liked this movie because it took swipes at the Reagan administration and the Catholic Church, which I am upset with over the pedophilia scandal.

6. Dallas Buyer's Club

I didn't know what this movie was going to be about. It takes place at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and they're buying drugs on the black market, before they have been approved by the FDA. My brother died of AIDS, so this movie was not escapism for me, but it's an important story, viewed from an angle that had not occurred to me before.

7. Nebraska

I didn't think I was going to like this movie, but found myself laughing out loud several times. Filmed in black and white, it's about an old man who wants to travel to Nebraska to claim a sweepstakes prize but doesn't understand the fine print. On the way, he is reunited with old friends and family, and has a roundabout catharsis of sorts. Your family might not be as dysfunctional as this one, but you'll probably still find something you can relate to.

8. Her

I saw this movie, by myself, on Valentine's Day, so could kind of relate to the lead character, though I hope I never fall in love with an operating system! Maybe it's some kind of wake-up call. I think he could have done more to relate directly with the human surrogate, and even I could have done better at picking up on the ex-wife's facial expressions.

9. American Hustle

I like how this movie shows the intersection of politics and organized crime, but I worry that it glamorizes the con-artists too much. And the undercurrent is sad news to me. If the mafia is in charge, then the world is a bad place and the best we can do is curse them to hell.

Three other movies that I really like that were not nominated are The Butler, Elysium, and All is Lost. Science Fiction movies I've seen this past year include Hunger Games Catching Fire, Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug, Star Trek into Darkness, Thor the Dark World, and The Wolverine; and I would rank them in that order. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

More incrementalism?

I'm afraid that Hillary will roll to victory and there's nothing I can do to stop it. Our two-party system has become a good cop/bad cop routine. If Hillary is elected, I predict more incrementalism. Do we have time for more incrementalism?