2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 50,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 12 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

‘The Lorax’ Is Brainwashing Our Kids Says Fox News

It was just a matter of time.

What with Santorum’s matter-of-factness about the Republican agenda, Gingrich’s out-of-touchness, and Romney’s resolutely-stoic-good-looks, there had to be something crazy going on out there.

Not one to disappoint, Lou Dobbs has jumped on the conspiracy theory bandwagon by accusing Dr Suess of being a tree-hugging lefty brainwashing child indoctrinator:

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Respite: A Political Breath Of Fresh Air

Man, have I been busy!

I’ve been trying to keep up, but it’s been very hectic for me/us lately with all of the travel and commitments I’ve been doing/keeping.

Today, I’m off to Dillon to address the New Gay-Straight Alliance, Bulldog Pride, at UM-Western. I couldn’t be more excited to encourage this community to embrace diversity and hopefully give them some encouragement from a local boy…. I’m also going to give them information about Pride Foundation’s scholarships for LGBTQ students in Montana. If you know interested parties in Dillon- spread the word.

So, on to the breath of fresh air. This is one of the most powerful speeches of all time about political idealism, humanity and personal values. It should be required viewing/reading for any politician, pundit or citizen. It’s certainly a product of the time, but I find it refreshingly wholesome and simple and welcome right now- as well as topical. It might have been written over half a century ago, but I think it can still be applied today.

Charlie Chaplin from the end of film The Great...

Image via Wikipedia

From Charlie Chaplin’s fabulous movie The Great Dictator (1940) comes this memorable quote from the mouth of a Jewish barber:

“…I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor – that’s not my business – I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another- human beings are like that.

We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful.

But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls – has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die [now] liberty will never perish…

Soldiers – don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you – who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate – only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers – don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written ” the kingdom of God is within man ” – not one man, nor a group of men – but in all men – in you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers – in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Look up! Look up! The clouds are lifting – the sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world. A kind new world where men will rise above their hate and brutality.

The soul of man has been given wings – and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow – into the light of hope – into the future, that glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us.

Look up.

Look up.”

Shut The (Bleep) Up

We watched a little bit of the VMA’s last night- just until the latest episode of Torchwood reran- and I was amazed at all the bleeps that were happening. It almost made the show unwatchable.

Not because I’m a prude, but because I have a hard time with interrupted continuity. I hate distractions.

Ask anybody who has ever sat next to me in a movie theater- or watched a movie with me in my living room; I hate talking, interruptions or distractions. Ken has learned to sit on the aisle, and, if he doesn’t remember, I remind him to use the restroom before the movie. I don’t like talking or noisy crowds in the theater, either. I paid my good money to watch a movie, not listen to your conversation and commentary. For me, a movie is like a roller coaster- I pay my money, I get in the car and I don’t get out until the ride is over.

And I don’t bring my colicky baby.

But when something is continually interrupted, it starts to concern me. I have a hard time tracking. Maybe it’s advancing age and/or deafness that’s making me less tolerant of distractions, but it seems to be having its own manifestation in politics. Candidates are actively interrupting scientific communication in this country. Blatantly standing up in the middle of the show and making factual inferences with fantastical statements. Distracting people from the reality hiding behind the curtain with a little folksy humor or superstitious nonsense.

And I’m annoyed.

Thank God that I’m not alone. Paul Krugman today has an excellent article about the trending GOP tendency to deny science, knowledge- and maybe, common sense- in favor of the popularly held beliefs of uneducated, superstitious people. My words, not his. These are his:

According to Public Policy Polling, only 21 percent of Republican voters in Iowa believe in global warming (and only 35 percent believe in evolution). Within the G.O.P., willful ignorance has become a litmus test for candidates, one that Mr. Romney is determined to pass at all costs.

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.

And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.

Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

And if you want more proof that the GOP is pandering to the uneducated you don’t have to look much farther than Michele Bachmann. Her blind-to-the-facts manner is starting to leak holy water as well:

Speaking to a crowd in Florida over the weekend, Bachmann said the historic earthquake and massive hurricane that rocked the East Coast last week was a message that God is upset with the way politicians in Washington have been doing things. The interview with the St. Petersburg Times…:

She hailed the tea party as being common-sense Americans who understand government shouldn’t spend more than it takes in, know they’re taxed enough already and want government to abide by the Constitution.

I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

Emphasis added. Bachmann’s comments put her closer to Pat Robertson’s take on the week than her most prominent rivals for the Republican nomination.

Part of me wants to yell “Shut the (bleep) up!” The same part of me that was annoyed in the theater during Schindler’s List when that woman with the whimpering and complaining kids (kids around 5, 6 and/or 7 from what I could tell), who kept telling them loudly to sit still, be quiet and stop whining throughout the whole movie- instead of taking them out the door and across the hall to watch Beethoven’s 2nd. In my frustration, I threw a dirty look and a kernel or two of popcorn her way.

It’s how I feel when people, jockeying to be the most powerful person in the world, blatantly disregard science in favor of folksyisms that appease- and get votes. This guy/gal is just like me. They should be president.

Huh? Whatever happened to the drive to be intelligent in our culture? When did it become evil? Haven’t we learned our lesson about folksy presidents from Texas?

I guess not. Just like the lady in the theater didn’t know-or didn’t care- that bringing small children to Schindler’s List would wreck the movie for almost everyone else in the room. But this time, I’m not going to just sit there, fuming. I’m not keeping my mouth shut.

Consider this the opening salvo.

Buttered.