Things to rave about

WALL-E: A great Pixar movie, with a moving story, a good amount of social commentary (for the anti-consumerists) and lots of laughs.  Everyone should see it.

Body Worlds One: The best science lesson I’m likely to get all year that’s outside of my field.  You get to every bit of the insides of anonymous people (the focus is on the science, not the stories of individual body donors).  The process of plastination is explained in simple and complex detail (for all levels of experience), and their are various philosophical quotes and narrative explorations of how death has been viewed in society.  It’s quite interesting in how it explores the idea that death is only a taboo subject of late since our lifespans have reached new lengths in the past century.

My favourite quote from body worlds comes from the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger:

Death is the release from all pain and complete cessation, beyond which our suffering will not extend. It will return us to that condition of tranquillity, which we had enjoyed before we were born. Should anyone mourn the deceased, then he must also mourn the unborn. Death is neither good nor evil, for good or evil can only be something that actually exists. However, whatever is of itself nothing and which transforms everything else into nothing will not all be able to put us at the mercy of Fate.

War, Inc.

If you’ve been looking for a movie that combines John Cusack’s typical self-loathing character with sharp political satire on the war in Iraq and profiteering, the movie War, Inc. is for you.

Although it sometimes goes a bit absurd, it’s generally sharp, funny, and a bit scary (in that all satire has just enough truth in it). The greatest image of the entire movie has to be that of tanks rolling through the streets of Emerald City, Turaqistan with billboards plastered all over them. Some of the great dialogue can be found when Cusack’s character (a hitman undercover as a trade show organizer) walks into the trade show and announces the stage must be at the East end of the tent, so that the Muslims won’t have to turn away from the stage five times a day. He then asks his coworkers to remember to be “culturally sensitive.”

All in all I though it was a great film, despite some of the lesser reviews (despite what they think, this is not a Dr. Strangelove-esque movie).

Not seeing the Happening

If you thought The Core was weak on science, listen to this bit about M. Night Shamalan’s (because ghosts and aliens weren’t enough of a reach) new movie “The Happening“:

M. Night Shyamalan’s critically-panned flick The Happening is Hollywood’s first blockbuster to promote the anti-evolutionary theory of intelligent design. Maybe you thought Ben Stein’s ill-fated documentary Expelled was the only movie to argue in favor of the neo-Christian idea that an “intelligent designer” created the universe. Think again. With its references to “unexplained acts of nature” and a science teacher main character who calls evolution “just a theory,” The Happening is basically a giant propaganda machine for intelligent design. Maybe science journalists are jizzing all over its allegedly realistic plants-attack-humans plot, but we talked to Shyamalan and we know the truth.

Avowed Christian Shyamalan told us that The Happening is really about religious faith, and explained that he chose Mark Wahlberg to play science teacher Elliot Moore because of the actor’s intense belief in Jesus. [emphasis added]

Oddly enough, I came across this gem of a description from Uncommon Descent (I’m not going to link them).  They go on to describe how this is just the start of the “culture war” between evolution and fundie-creationism, I think that’s a hidden concession they failed to convince anyone that ID is science (since it isn’t).

If you think there’s any reason to see this shoddy attempt at “science”-fiction, read the rest of the review (spoilers) that’s at io9.

Do yourself a favour

Do yourself a favour and see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Then forgive them for the somewhat of a stretch for the ending, and just enjoy the ride.

I would have to say it is one hell of a fun movie.

This looks like the start to a kickass summer of blockbusters. Here’s a look into what I still want to see by the end of the summer.

First, what I want to be good (and likely should be):

And what I want to be good, but has potential to suck (I’ll hold out seeing these until the initial reviews give some glimpse):

America: from freedom to fascism

I watched a cool documentary this morning called America, from freedom to fascism, which was directed by Aaron Russo.  The premise is Russo tries to find a law / constitutional requirement for citizens of the USA to pay income tax.  What he finds is that in 1913 when the Federal Reserve was created it began a slow decent from a free country to a corporate owned fascist dictatorship.

He finds that the IRS has no legal precedent to  force Americans to pay income tax, to seize their property, or to arrest them for tax evasion.

He finds that the majority of income tax simply goes to paying off the national debt which is mainly controlled by the Federal Reserve.

He finds that the Federal Reserve is in actuality a  private-owned bank, whose owners are unknown (likely the major banks of America).

Near the end he also goes into how acts like the Patriot Act,  and the coming of national ID cards (May 2008) will further evaporate American civil liberties and create a fascist police state.

Very enlightening, and it would be naive to think a lot of this isn’t happening here in Canada too.