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  • Vinenshkoolenhessen

    Posted by Sean Patrick

    Jim McKinney (in for the maternally-leaving Jay Morris) and myself discuss the case of the Romekie family, the Germans granted asylum in the US because they were "persecuted" in the fatherland by now being allowed to homeschool their kids. 

  • Jeff Bridges

    Posted by Sean Patrick

     

    The Academy Awards are coming up this weekend and Jeff Bridges is nominated for Best Actor.  I hope he wins it.  He's been terrific in a lot of movies and I think it's about time.  I saw his performance in "Crazy Heart," the performance for which he's been nominated, and I thought he was great.  But more than just this one film there are his classics such as "The Big Lebowski," "The Last Picture Show" and "The Fisher King."  The latter saw two of his co-stars nominated - Robin Williams (who was later finally redeemed with "Good Will Hunting") and Mercedes Ruehl who took home the Best Supporting Actress trophy.  One of my favorite Terry Gilliam films and I really thought he was overlooked there, like Jim Carrey for "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."  Incidentally, "The Fisher King" was also nominated for Best Screenplay but try finding this gem in your typical Blockbuster and you'll be out of luck - I guess they had to clear shelf space for 150 copies of the latest Adam Sandler flick.

    Anyway, they say there's a good chance Jeff will win it this year and I hope so.  And speaking of Jeff Bridges reminds me that a classic of his from my childhood is getting the sequel treatment almost 30 years later.  1982's "Tron" was nothing short of an absolute landmark in the field of computer animation.  Never before had a film dared to make such a pioneering foray into the future of animation and the film, in my opinion, is still beautiful to look at today, depicting its fantasy world inside then new and mysterious computers. 

     

    I'll admit, the dialogue is a bit hokey (it IS Disney after all) and the costumes look pretty dated, but the film, including its iconic light-cycle scene, made an indelible impression on a videogame kid like me.  And it also featured one of my all-time favorite movie bad guys: David Warner as Sark.  David Warner has always been memorable in menacing roles including Jack the Ripper in "Time After Time," Spicer Lovejoy in "Titanic,"  and The Evil One in "Time Bandits" (I've always hoped Gilliam would work with him again).

    So now in December 2010 we have the next installation, "Tron: Legacy."  I must admit, the trailer for this has really whet my appetite, an updated clip featuring the light-cycles.  Looks tight!  I must admit to mixed feelings though - I hope they do it right and it's more than just a vehicle to capture some nostalgia money.  I guess the reason I think this is because of those horrid "Star Wars" aberrations.

    If I was a kid who liked "Tron" then you know I had to have been hit hard by the original "Star Wars" movies - I saw them several times in the theatre, had all the toys, posters, comics, albums, books, pajamas - you name it! So when I ventured into a theatre in '99 to see "Phantom Menace" I expected to be disappointed and I wasn't, uh, disappointed.  Which means I was disappointed.  God-awful, all three of 'em.  Really a shame, a stain on the legacy of the originals. Sure the acting was terrible and the story boring, but it was more than that and for a while I couldn't quite put my finger on what is.  Then I realized it was the effects.

    When the original "Star Wars" flicks came out, the special effects were completely mind-blowing, and they still hold up today - they still look and sound great, and the "Special Editions" really are cool!  But when those movies were made, you really had to WORK to make those effects.  If you wanted a shot of a spaceship flying across a planet, you had to have someone paint you a matte painting of the planet and space background.  Then design and build a complex model with all sorts of removable panels that reveal mounting brackets so you can film it from different sides.  The model also had to be durable and not melt from the intense lighting it would be exposed to.  Then program a computer-controlled camera to actually shoot the footage.  And then maybe you're layering other shots of bluescreen ships on top.  Anyway, it was a lot of work to make each individual shot.  Go back and look at the movies and you'll see there are good stretches of the films with no special effects in them, other than the sets and costumes they're using.  How long were they on the Death Star in the first one?  Quite a while, and pretty much it's all sets, a couple matte paintings, and the little laser beams from the blasters.  The effects that were there were carefully chosen for effect and it worked perfectly.

    Now we come to "Phantom Menace" and computer animation - Just about every scene has some sort of computer effects in it.  Even if the characters are just standing next to a window, the window will show some ethereal clouds and multiple suns or moons and little spaceships flying all over the place.  The movies are so cluttered and busy with these annoying, meaningless little effects all over the place - embodied in Jar-Jar Binks.  Now the effects come as easy as a few clicks of a mouse, and now that money and work are no longer factors, George Lucas showed himself to have no restraint on the matter.

    This is my concern with the new upcoming Tron flick - the trailer looks great, and in its defense the original had completely computer-generated sets, so to do so would just be in keeping true to the original.  I just hope they don't "Lucas" it.

    And I hope Jeff Bridges wins this weekend!

  • A question of sacrifice

    Posted by Sean Patrick

    I was flipping channels on the radio driving between jobs last night and happened upon a Christian station.  I listened for a few minutes as the singer sang about Jesus’ suffering on the cross and how his sacrifice washed us clean of sin.

    Now I expect I’ll get some flak about this but I feel compelled to ask a question – it’s in my nature.  Follow me on this and see where I get it wrong.

    My understanding is that Jesus is God, and at the same time He is the son of God and He came to Earth and during His time here He occupied a corporeal vessel, and that was “Jesus” on Earth.  The corporeal Jesus was tortured and crucified as were many other people in those times.  Three days after the physical body of Jesus was executed, Jesus returned to Earth and appeared before His disciples.  Am I right so far?

    Since Jesus wasn’t really a man but rather an immortal God occupying a human body, He really couldn’t be killed in the same sense that you and I can be killed.  If you or I are killed, that’s it – we’re dead.  Forever.  But since Jesus was a God all along, He couldn’t be killed.  You can destroy the physical body He was occupying, but that’s nothing to an all-powerful God.

    So the question I have is: how can this be considered a real sacrifice?  I mean, “dead” for three days?  He wasn’t actually dead of course – He was just no longer occupying a physical human body.  Since Jesus is part of God (or is God – I can never keep this whole “It’s three Gods but at the same time one” thing straight) then I guess He is supposed to have existed for all time, right?  So, for infinite time before He came to Earth He did not occupy a physical body, and after His physical Earth-body was crucified He simply returned to the state He had known for, well, infinite time before that, right?

    Looking at this from a purely logical standpoint, it seems to me Jesus didn’t really sacrifice anything.  “Sacrifice” is to give something up.  What did Jesus give up?  After the Earth-Jesus-body was crucified He went back to being a disembodied God – the same thing He had been for infinite time before that.  One can say that while in corporeal human form He felt the physical pain and suffering of being crucified, but that pain and suffering would be no greater that that suffered by anyone else who was so tortured in those times.  And for that matter, I would presume that throughout the course of human history there have been others who have suffered even greater physical punishment.

    If someone rushes out into a street to push a child out of the way of an oncoming car and in so doing is themselves killed, that I would consider a supreme sacrifice – that person gave up their life and is dead forever.  I’m sorry, but I cannot see what exactly it is that Jesus gave up – what does He not have now that He had before?

  • A point of clarity on Health Care

    Posted by Sean Patrick

    Because it seems I'm frequently forced to repeat myself on the Jay Morris Show (M-F 3p-5p live streaming video at wkzo.com) let me just state once and for all my feeling on private health insurance companies.

    The Emperor has no clothes.  Everything you've been fed about the need for private health insurance companies is a lie.  Profit-driven health insurance companies have never saved a life, or developed a new drug or medical procedure.  When people give you that tired crap about "free market fostering innovation" as it relates to the health insurance INDUSTRY, the only innovations they can point to are in billing and denying claims in the name of the almighty profit.

    When I point out that health insurance companies are a giant, sucking leech feeding on the misery of Americans, Jay likes to make the leap to the absurd and and say that I oppose anyone's ability to make a profit in America.  Then I must remind him that I have never said any such thing.  If you build a better TV, then more power to you!  If you make a better cheeseburger, congratulations on your profits!  But does this mean that people should make money on absolutely EVERYTHING in life?  If so, then why don't we make a profit on child pornography?  Oh, because someone gets hurt?  But that's exactly the case when a profit-driven health insurance company denies a legitimate claim, which the average citizen, not to mention one that's trying to fight cancer for example, will not have the time or resources to fight.  It's absurd, just plain false, to claim that there are not enough things in life to make a profit on if we don't have profit-driven health insurance companies.

    By that "profit-above-people" thinking then, perhaps when your house is burning down and the firetrucks roll up they should swipe your credit card before hooking up the hoses - imagine the profit we could make fleecing people when they're at their most vulnerable, their most desperate!  Whattaya mean that wouldn't be ethical - this is precisely how health insurance companies make their money.  We acknowledge as a society (I hope) that some things are more important than money - police and fire services just come and do their work, you aren't asked for your "police insurance" first.  Perhaps the "anti-public-option" types feel we should also tear down those socialist public schools?

    The profit-above-people free marketers like to talk about competition, but for all intents and purposes among health insurance companies there is none.  If you get coverage through your employer, as I do, you don't get a choice of companies - the only company you get is the one your employer works with.  You may get a choice of a few different plans, but that's it for your alleged "competition."  If these companies really are looking out for their victims, er, customers' best interests then they should welcome some actual, non-fantasy competition.  If a public option would put private health insurance out of business (one could only dream for the good of America) then I'm still waiting for a free-marketer to explain why the Post Office hasn't put FedEx and UPS out of business.

    Incidentally, private health insurance really isn't "insurance" in the traditional sense.  Let's look at homeowner's insurance.  The idea is that several homeowners pool together their money so that if someone's house burns down, that risk is spread out among several people.  The person whose house burned down will be able to start over, and everyone else can be glad it wasn't their house that burned.  You should be so fortunate as to pay your homeowner's insurance and never have need to actually file a claim.

    Health "insurance" is not like this though - in the course of a normal lifetime EVERYONE at some point or another will have need for medical care, even if only for preventive checkups.  So it's not a matter of IF you will ever make a claim, but WHEN and for how much.  In this respect then, the health insurance company is more of a money handler - you pay into it regularly out of your check, and occasionally (hopefully not too often) claim some of those funds to cover your medical needs.  If these companies could be trusted to do the right thing, the moral thing, the ethical thing, that would be all well and good.  But the reality is that when profit is your motive rather than doing what's right, bad things happen.  Like breaking your promises and denying valid claims on flimsy pretenses knowing that the vast majority will be unable to fight back effectively.  When profit is your motive you will deny coverage to those who need it most.  It always cracks me up when people desperately looking to validate the existence of their Health Care Company overlords try to fear-monger people with images of the government telling them what doctors they can see, or what procedures they can or can't have.  It's amazing to me they can say itwith a straight face, because that's exactly what private health insurance companies ARE DOING RIGHT NOW!!!  How is this any different? 

    Health insurance are desperate to justify their own existence, and so give generously to politicians who stand before the cameras and decry "socialist medicine" (funny how these same pols won't touch "socialist" Medicare though...).  IMHO, any politician who opposes a public option does so not because it is in America's best interests, but because they are trying to protect the profits of these companies to which they are beholden - and they don't even have the balls, er, I mean, integrity to come out and say it to your face.  Some things in life are too important to make a profit on.  Healthcare is obviously one of them.

  • What's good for the goose...

    Posted by Sean Patrick

    Schools across the country have been forced the change their allegedly "insensitive" Native American-themed mascots, and I for one am encouraged.  For a long time, my heritage has been callously disparaged by a prominent university and the time has come to apply this same standard.  Please help the cause by visiting my new Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Im-Irish-and-I-find-Notre-Dames-mascot-offensive/321949693702?ref=mf

  • The Cold War has finally ended!

    Posted by Sean Patrick

    Anybody notice the Nike "swoosh" prominently displayed on the Russian Olympic Hockey jerseys?  If that isn't Capitalism I don't know what is!  It's one thing to upset the Russians in 1980 - it's another to get them to willingly wear our corporate logos on their uniform!  Truly a great day for freedom!

  • The need for speed

    Posted by Sean Patrick

    Should speeding ticket penalties be based on your income? A $300 fine for someone well off is pocket change but for someone just barely getting by that can be the rent money. You can say if you can't afford it don't speed, but in the case where both have broken the law, the lower income individual is punished more severely.  I'm not condoning breaking the law - I'm talking about consistent punishment of offenders.

    And let's take the case of DUI - again, not defending DUI.  Let's say when it's all said and done a DUI ends up costing about $5000.  For someone making $75K/yr, this represents .67% of their annual income - they write a check, go to a few classes and they're done.  But for someone just getting by on $20K that represents a whopping 25% of everything they make.  That could put a family out on the street.  Again, the driver is of course at fault for commiting the DUI, but they're being disproportionately punished because they make less money.

    Punishment is supposed to be a deterrent, it's supposed to sting, so the next time the offender will think of the consequences before they act and choose to obey the law.  But for the wealthy offender there is much less incentive to change behavior because the financial punishment is almost negligible.  Is the wealthy offender "less guilty" of the same offense?  I think not, and therefore such penalties should be based as a percentage of one's income and I look forward to wealthy offenders explaining to me why that wouldn't be fair.

    Pic of the Day:

    The South Haven Lighthouse a couple weeks ago on a Sunday with my fiance...

     

     

  • Hi

    Posted by Sean Patrick

    Welcome to my new blog, In My Humble Opinion.  I will evdeavor to scribble random musings as often as possible.  I hope you'll join me for the Jay Morris Show, M-F 3p-5p at wkzo.com and click on WKZO TV!

     

    I stopped by Teacher's Center in Portage earlier today, while I was looking around in the store I heard "Margaritaville" in the speakers overhead.  Made me wonder to myself how often my teachers had commiserated together over a few drinks at the bar after school, and how often my name came up.

     

    While I was leaving, I couldn't help but get a quick shot of this and wonder how many will be outraged about it.  These are science kits, ostensibly to be used to teach our kids (being a "Teacher's" Center and all...), and I imagine many throbbing-veins-in-the-foreheads of folks imagining their kids being taught Global Warming.

    Teacher's Center Window