Friday, December 16, 2005


I saw King Kong and must admit that Peter Jackson can do things on film that others simply can not. Richard Rodriguez is the only other film maker that can use digital imagery as seamlessly as Jackson. George Lucas wishes he was this good.

Kong was amazing on screen. The ape was a true functioning character in the film. The interactions between Kong and Naomi Watts were the best parts of the film. Kong struck me as someone who was tired. Tired of the sameness of his days. Tired of beating up on dinosaurs. Just tired. This is why he seemed to respond to Watts' Ann Barrett because she was different than the other women which he had eaten. She stood up to him and messed with his head a little. I saw an interview with Peter Jackson in which he described Kong and how they were making his face very expressive and how he would act through his eyes. This was great. What was also amazing was how much on Naomi Watts' acting was through her eyes. Not just her scenes with the ape but throughout the film, she said more in visually than verbally. It was an amazing performance.

My one criticism of the film is Jack Black. He is awful. Of course this is not new but it continues. Everytime a scene shifts to him it seems to break the flow of the film. Jackson is generally very good with casting, but IMHO he blew this one. Badly.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Novak and the CIA Leak

Bob Novak, the columnist who outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent, said in a speech before the John Locke Foundation

“I'm confident the president knows who the source is. I'd be amazed if he doesn't. … So I say, 'Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.”
This according to a CBS news story.

Novak is the first and primary person who should be asked about the leak. After all, he is the one who wrote about it. This kind of bullshit statement simply illuminates the arrogance of the talking heads of today's MSM. People like Novak, in their opinion, are above reproach and scrutiny. Their actions can not be questioned, so don't bother us is their attitude.

What every person should do is write their local paper and demand that they cease carrying Novak's column until he publically comes clean with who told him about Valerie Plame. Whether of not the President knows who leaked the info is important, but Novak has to answer for his own actions before he can call anyone elses into question.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I watched the new George Clooney flim Syriana this week. It was a rather disjointed and confusing movie. I know that nonsequential plots seem to be the big thing now adays but enough is enough. Through the first half of the film each piece was self-contained and the various plots could be followed, but I almost wished I could take notes to keep track of who was doing what.

It also represented a rather closed view of American business with the rest of the world. In the film, an oil executive stated that the Chinese economy had never reached it full potential because they could not get sufficient oil and he was proud of that fact. When you consider the ever closer integration of manufacturing between the US and Asia, restrictions on Chinese oil basically results in higher prices in American stores. Perhaps I am a little over enthusiastic about Thomas Barnett's arguement that through globalization (economic and security) peace will develop or Thomas Friedman's arguements about the flattening nature of the world based on economic integration, but if these two are even close to correct, then oil executives such as the one represented in the film and creating massive blocks to both economic development but also world peace.

The film also suggests that the Chinese are willing to stand by and do nothing as the CIA assasinates an Arab Emir to prevent him from awarding an oil contract to China. I find this rather difficult to believe.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Single and Mormon

Time Magazine has an interesting article in it that represents me fairly well which has le to this post. The author, Jennine Lee-St. John, depicts the condition of singles in the Mormon Church. I found this particularly interesting as I am one.

My faith is very important to me and I gain great comfort from the truths that I find in the doctrines of my church. This does not mean, however, that I am always comfortable within the Church's communal or social environment. Brigham Young, the second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, once said that a single man over the age of 25 was a menace to society. While that age has slid upwards somewhat, it is still a sentiment common to many Mormons. On more that one occasion I have been directly asked what fault or defect did I have that has prevented me from getting married. Since violence is generally frowned upon in polite society I typically ignore these queries.

A commonly quoted piece of advice in the Mormon Church is that we should be in the world but of the world. This means that while we cannot cut ourselves off from the world around us, neither should we fully immerse ourselves in all the activities that are available and separate ourselves from those parts of the world that would lead us to violate the code of conduct that our dogma requires of us. As a play on this, one that was rather serious and somewhat sad, a roommate of mine and I, felt that we were in the branch (local congregation) but not of the branch as by being single we were in effect ostracized from the non-worship activities of the congregation.

The Mormon Church is fundamentally centered on the family unit. The entire organization in built around it. For those of us in the Church that do not fit into the common mold, it can be difficult. The leadership has recognized this and tried to build support systems for nonmarried members where possible. The most common representation of this is separate congregations for singles (where population density allows). Unfortunately for many, these congregations currently only serve those 30 and younger. Having spent some time in an older singles congregation (now defunct) in New York City, I must admit that I often miss the opportunity to worship and fellowship with others who understand the issues and trials that I face. I spend many a Sunday morning listening to lessons on teaching my nonexistant children and many a time I have wanted to just get up and walk out, fortunately I usually don't. I have pretty much given up on going to Church on Father's Day though. It is usually more that I can take.

This is my life and in the end, I am in the situation I am because of the choices I have made. No one has forced me to be as I am. That does not mean that the feelings of isolation that I have at times are not real and of significant impact on how I relate to my fellow members of the Church. That's just the way it is.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights

The supreme court is taking on a rather important case next week, namely Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights. This case is centered on the desire of many law schools to deny military recruiters access to their students. They object to the military's "practice" of don't ask don't tell.

A couple of points, first of all don't ask don't tell is not a practice, it is a law, signed by that great egalitarian Bill Clinton. To change the policy, Congress would have to change the law which they are not going to do. Admittadly the military does not want the law changed and did not want the law in the first place, but its the law so we are all stuck with it.

The second law that is important here is the Solomon Amendment. This says that schools who take federal money can not deny military recruiters access to the campus. This worked for a while, as the schools would let the recruiters on campus but not provide them with support or access to the schools recruiting office (these help students meet with recruiters from potential employers). The military generally met off campus or in some out of the way place.

After 9/11 though, the military needed to recruit more lawyers and thus began to demand access to the recruiting office support which has led us to this point.

I am interested that these same law schools never put restrictions on tobacco companies, or junk bond firms or any other institution that could be deemed socially unacceptable. Of course they had a lot of wealthy alumni in these place who would not give large donations if they had singled out in this fashion.

The Supreme Court should tell the law schools to get over themselves. They suck at the public's tit thus in return the military's recruiters get access. They always have the option of not taking federal money, but they will never do that. They seem to think that they are somehow entitled to public money with public responsibility in return. Hopefully the court will inform them that they are mistaken.