"Why Should We Care?" -- Hark, the petulant cry of the indifferent First World. The NYTimes' resident crusading columnist, Nicholas Kristof, published a letter from a reader today, one asking why "liberal twits" keep pushing the U.S. to "care" about the rest of the world, e.g. the refugees of Darfur, when the U.S. needs to "take care of its own." In answer, Kristof gives a firsthand report from a refugee camp -- see also the nearly unbearable video feature on the woman he wrote about.
This last bit says it all: "When Americans see suffering abroad on their television screens, as they did after the tsunami, they respond. I wish we had the Magboula Channel, showing her daily struggle to forge ahead through humiliation and hunger, struggling above all to keep her remaining children alive. If you multiply Magboula by 2.2 million, you get the reasons why we should care." True, there are people suffering right here in America too, but something tells me the dickweed who wrote that letter doesn't give a shit about them, either. You, on the other hand, may indeed care -- and there are simple things you can do to help.
While I'm up on my Liberal Twit Soapbox, allow me to Support the Troops™ in a refreshingly bipartisan fashion. I'm sure everyone who's ever bought a tasteful magnetic ribbon for their bumper spent Memorial Day helping out a military family, packing up a box of goodies for the grunts overseas, or saluting those who gave all, right? No? Just barbecuing and guzzling brewskis? Aw, don't fret, there's still time. This concludes our Bitter Public Service message for today.
"Ignorance is God's gift to Kansas." -- Ouch! Irritable Oxford prof Richard Dawkins gives the what-for to the latest gaggle of Creationists. For a slightly more nuanced response, see Scientific American's "15 Answers To Creationist Nonsense." Or cross over completely to the dark side and visit the Creation Musem online!
The Boss, indeed. I spotted this shirt in Vegas, the spitting image of my own bossy kitty, Minerva. For some reason, it's cat web zen day today -- first, head over to KITTENWAR for hours of fuzzy procrastination. Then stop by the Tuxedo Cat Club for trivia, a genetics lession, and of course a gallery of fellow tux kitties. I think the gloomy weather may finally be getting to me, what can I say? Kitty kitty kitty kitty...
"In essence I am being asked what social class I belong to. What kind of Latino I am." -- Thoughtful piece from Salon by writer Daniel Alarcon, who grew up comfy in the suburbs, not on the run from the INS as some folks would love to assume.
"There may be a coming generation who will know the literary classics only from television's adaptation of them, but that knowledge is better than no knowledge at all." -- It's hard to disagree with this sad prognosis.
I simultaneously loathe "Top 100 ___" lists, and can't stay away from them. Time Magazine has a new Top 100 All-Time Movies list, with sublists of Guilty Pleasures and Best Soundtracks. This being Time, of course, the Soundtracks list includes nothing made since 1980 (I think they really meant Best Score, zzzzzz), and the GP list is just weird (Joe vs. The Volcano, OK, but where are the actioners, spinoffs, and chick flicks?! Oh right, both critics are middle age white guys, zzzzzz). The big list itself hits some usual highlights, but only 22 of the 100 were made after 1980 and only about half of those are American films -- are they trying to send a subtle message to Tinseltown or what? If this were a film festival, nobody under 50 would attend 90% of the screenings -- just because a film is "important" doesn't mean it's any good, let alone entertaining or still relevant. They include decades-old fluff like The Shop Around The Corner and Meet Me In St. Louis, but eschew their better modern counterparts like When Harry Met Sally... and Moulin Rouge. And where is The Wizard of Oz?? Gaahh!
Op about to pop. I've always liked Op Art, and one of the masters of the form, Victor Vasarely, is the creator of Cheyt M, above. Like M.C. Escher, op art played with space and depth without the benefit of fancy computer programs to work out all the math. Thanks to the internet, you can play with an interactive Vasarely Bubble, or go insane looking at some high-octane optical illusions. It's, like, far out, man.
Chick Lit v. Chuck Lit -- Hilariously literal comparison of two hot beach paperbacks in the UK, one for lads and one for lassies, "written for readerships as automatically and emphatically divided by gender as public toilets." This is the reason I generally skip over the book swap box at my office: "Will Harriet find a man? Perhaps the likeable, dependable but somehow not very sexy bookshop owner, Miles, whom she has known since childhood? Surely not his brother, the fiendishly cruel bisexual Cambridge English don Dominic, despite his dashing hat and ebony crucifix?" Oh my!
"The Beeb shall inherit the Earth." -- Thus spake Cory Doctorow on the venerable BBC, and how its embrace of emerging technologies and focus on its audience (!) rather than its advertisers (oh riiiight...) will help it thrive as American broadcasters go the way of the dinosaurs. Heh.
"Fostering disrespect for judges can only encourage those that are on the edge, or the fringe, to exact revenge on a judge who ruled against them." -- Sobering words from Judge Joan Lefkow, whose husband and mother were murdered in her home earlier this year by a distraught man whose suit she had dismissed. She addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee today, right as the judicial nomination/filibuster circus gets underway, asking for more money for the Federal Marshals service and for certain right-wing idiots to stop their fiery anti-judiciary invective. I won't hold my breath on that.
Yeee-ha! This excellent neon cowboy, captured by Miss Kim, hangs his hat in Las Vegas -- where else? My whirlwind trip there, followed by an NYC pit stop and a law school reunion weekend, has made TAI somewhat sporadic lately. Oh and plus my silly day job, la la. Sigh. Too bad I didn't win big on The Strip...
Beowulf = Jaws = Little Red Riding Hood -- or maybe not? Check out the (myth of?) the Seven Basic Plots, including "Quest," "Rags To Riches," and the all time Jungian favorite, "Overcoming The Monster." I personally like the configuration of 2 Basic Plots: the Hero leaves town, or the Stranger comes to town. Hijinks ensue!
"Go, frightened bride of the South!" -- Salon's advice columnist, Cary Tennis, has some choice words of wisdom for Jennifer Wilbanks, last week's punchline, the would-be Runaway Bride. I'll be thinking of her as I check out Las Vegas this weekend...as my sister said last night, "Black 22, play it for me!"
DON'T PANIC! This weekend's Ticket Stub was happily torn at a matinee of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, alongside Nat, Jon, Kate & Barry, and a merry cross-section of Boston geek society, from ages 8 and up (it's PG!). When adapting a beloved, quirky, British space fantasy in which the hero wears a bathrobe, dry wordplay and gentle existentialism dominate the dialogue, and the Earth is destroyed in the first five minutes, things could go very, very wrong. But they don't -- how improbable! The film balanced cleverness with goofiness very well, capturing the everyday shlub Arthur (played by everyday shlub Martin Freeman, from The Office and Love, Actually) and his alien compadres with equal accuracy. It came off as a smart, diverting adventure, not a long, dull in-joke. Excellent casting is the key, as well as not overdoing the special effects. I had a different Trillian in mind (why pick an American?!), but Sam Rockwell as Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox went deliciously over the top with a sort of glam rock sendup of a certain fearless leader, hee hee. Mos Def and Alan Rickman need more scenes in the sequel -- please let there be a sequel...hey, how often do you say that? (A)