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Friday, July 27, 2007

The Second Best Day of My Life 

It has come to pass -- the third and final Life Moment of 2007's Summer Experience has been completed. I have watched The Simpsons Movie.

First of all, let me say that the visuals are gorgeous. Groening and crew have clearly learned tremendously from the power of CGI as flexed on Futurama -- and they know how to use it tastefully. The computer graphics accentuate the drawn bits, rather than overpowering them.

I also loved the story and the jokes. That magic combination of intellectual humor, sight-gags, dramatic irony, and just plain ridiculous -- it works like sorcery. We didn't see as many characters as I might have liked, but it doesn't matter because the movie is so much fun! (Is it any wonder, when Swartzwelder is in the mix?)

Seeing the Movie

We bought tickets online for the 12:01 showing last night. When we left for the theatre, harsh rain was pummeling the streets. Visibility was pretty low. Then, when we got to the cinema, the power was out! (annoyed grunt)

So I went today at noon. (Diane and I are going again tonight. She didn't want to see it twice in one day.) I got there way early, and grabbed myself a nice spot high up, away from the kids. Still, five minutes before the previews -- er, commercials before the previews -- started, this guy comes and sits right next to me. Freaky! He was later joined by three younger friends (or siblings, I dunno), so I moved over a seat.

Behind me some other kid kept asking his dad: "Why did he do that?" even though Dad shushed him every time. Fortunately, it always happened while I was laughing at a just-finished joke, so it wasn't much of a big deal. Besides, how can I get mad at them? At least they're doing their duty as intelligent moviegoers.

Okay, let's get into it. (TPCQ: "Yes, question for Miss Belamy. In episode 2F09, when Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone, he strikes the same rib twice in succession, yet he produces two clearly different tones. I mean, what are we to believe, that this is some sort of a [the three nerds chuckle] magic xylophone or something? Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.")

Spoiler City! Don't read what follows if you haven't seen the movie!

Two things which I'd hoped to be resolved before the end of the film (and which, alas, were not):
  1. The Wedding Video. Homer and Marge were married -- alone -- across the state line at Shotgun Pete's Chapel and Casino. Yet the video in the movie clearly shows loved ones watching them dance. Inconceivable!

  2. Russ Cargill = Hank Scorpio. It's not my fault that Albert Brooks chose to do the voice for the EPA official to perfectly match Mr. Scorpion. (TPCQ: "Don't call me that. It's Mr. Scorpio. But don't call me that, either. Call me Hank!") I kept expecting him to tear off a mask or drop a receipt for facial surgery. It would have been the perfect nod to the fans. (Not that the Springfield Gorge jump wasn't.)
If you haven't seen the movie, you shouldn't be reading this -- go see the movie. Right now.


Watch the preview, if you haven't yet. Then go see the movie.

Today I'm listening to: Mims! (This is why.. This is why..)

Check out the Spongebob version!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Best Day of My Life 

Today Diane and I are getting married. I'm the happiest man on the planet. Thank you all for your support and help. Happy 07/07/07.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Curse of New Technologies 

Lemme tell you why I hate designers: Apple is coming out with yet another new OS. But I haven't even gotten the last one yet!

Why does this matter? Because all the new nifty apps for the Mac require OSX 10.4 -- and as soon as the new 10.5 comes out, they'll all require that. So we users are left with a choice: Keep upgrading our OS every year at $100/pop, or miss out on funky new apps. It's a total scam collaboration between the software designers and the hardware manufacturers.

It's part of the American lust for what's newer, bigger, faster, slicker. We're never satisfied with what we've got. (Of course, if I were satisfied with what I had, none of this would be a problem.)

Speaking of Which

Thanks indeed to Josh and Jon for getting me onto Twitter, the new asinine online community site. The entire concept of the site is: "What are you doing right now?" Seriously. Go look at it. Pathetic idiots from around the globe all posting moronic snippets about how they're drinking coffee and blogging. Add me!


Check out this sweet morph-tage of women in European art.

Today I'm listening to: Vex'd!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Just One Fix 

I owe you all a long post about the move and the wedding, and you'll get it -- probably in August. Meantime, here's some stuff about Michael Moore's new documentary film Sicko. (We saw it last night and I've spent an hour this morning linking up stuff about it).

First off: Thumbs up. It's well-made, funny, and important. Drawbacks: Moore doesn't go into enough detail about the finances involved, and doesn't deconstruct the anti-single-payer arguments in enough depth.

There are spoilers here, so be warned and stuff. But before we get into the nitty-gritty, I want to provide people with action. If you support a single-payer system, check out the following sites:Why Is It Bad?

Insofar as we all agree it's massively botched, the key question about health care in the US is this: Is the system's for-profit orientation to blame? The answer is: Yes.

Countries with single-payer like Canada and Britain experience problems, to be sure -- universal care is no panacea. But the fact that our system puts profits first is a vital core element that must be remedied.

As Moore points out, the US socializes certain other parts of our infrastructure -- fire departments, schools, etc. And in each of these areas, the fundamental philosophical idea is that public control means a more just system. (I wrote about how this applies to education in A Profit Without Honors, and philosopher Mark Kingwell spoke in The Corporation about firefighting in the US before it was socialized.)

Other Peoples' Health Care

Again, this is not to say that single-payer is without problems. The Wikipedia page on Sicko controversies points out that waiting times are a serious problem in Canada -- whereas Moore wanders around a waiting room hearing patients explain their mere 45 minute delays, the time they spend waiting before coming in is often a matter of weeks. (Obviously, this is no more a necessity of single-payer medicine than 30-student classrooms are a necessity of public high schools. Both can be cut in half if we have the political will to do so.)

Meanwhile, France is apparently in a lot of debt because of their health care system. (Not even close to the debt the US is in, but significant nevertheless.) The Independent also has a good piece about health care in the US, pursuant to the film.

As for Cuba, Moorewatch makes the stinging point that doctors in Cuba don't drive fancy cars like those driven by doctors in Europe. Aieee! Muerta a la Revolucion!

On a more serious note, I'll agree that the happy, clean, efficient hospital we see in Cuba isn't necessarily typical. This picture -- which is hideous and repulsive and not for anyone in the middle of a sandwich -- may or may not be representative, but it sure is a disturbing rejoinder to the immaculate Cuban hospital in the movie.

Still, we should have single-payer in the US, like they have in every other industrialized nation. This is a point where Moore should have used the following clip from The Simpsons (from episode 9F09, Homer's Triple Bypass, wherein Homer suffers a series of heart attacks and requires major surgery):

Also, he should have used Ice Cube's Alive on Arrival and The Coup's Breathing Apparatus. (Bad words in both.)

The Moorewatch Thing

One item that really intrigued me was the bit in the movie about how Moore donated $12,000 to Jim Kenefick, who runs the anti-Michael-Moore site MooreWatch. (Kenefick's wife was ill and they faced financial problems.)

The site has a buttload of posts about the whole affair -- starting here -- but it boils down to this: Moore made the donation anonymously at first. Kenefick used the name "guardian angel" in response to someone else who used "angel" first. When he found out it was from Moore (which he suspected all along), Kenefick said thanks.

Apparently, some people said Kenefick was wrong to take the money once he knew (or suspected) it was from Moore. This is dumb. As Kenefick (or someone else) points out somewhere on the site (I'm too done with this post to find it now), the only ethical wrong would be to take the money and then refrain from criticism of the donor's activities. I would add that this is precisely what many Senators and Representatives do when they get money from insurance and drug corporations.

This page goes into some of the editing slickery in the movie that makes Kenefick look especially mean -- the edits aren't life-threatening, in my opinion, but they're worth mentioning (like many of the criticisms on the site), and Moore's work could be 95% as powerful without them (and then his critics would have much less traction). I discussed all of this in my Fahrenheit 911 post. (I also misspelled fahrenheit. Duh.)

In Closing

The other problem I had with the movie is that it didn't get into research and development. One of the major arguments made by pro-privatized health care advocates is that the US leads the world in new treatments and research into new drugs -- this is supposedly why drug prices are so high here. (And, they say, other countries charge less because they simply leech off our expensive work.) Even though there's a lot to be added about the advertising budgets and executive salaries of drug and insurance companies, there is some truth to this point of view -- the US does have some very impressive research going on, which would be affected if we changed our system.

While I believe it's possible to continue to do this research and provide health care for every human in the nation (you may say I'm a dreamer, but at least I'm not a hideous mutant rhinoceros-looking freak), this element deserves some attention.

Also, Jesse wrote a review. (Sorry for the tacked-on link, J.. I couldn't find a better place to do it.)

Okay, enough of this. I've got a wedding to plan. See many of you on the 7th!


Bloxorz is maddeningly fun and addictive. You have been warned.

Today I'm listening to: Groove Salad!