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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spengler on American Education's Systematic Child Abuse

In the Asia Times Online:

"The grand result of a generation's worth of brain-science application is a generation of schoolchildren who are disproportionately illiterate, innumerate, anxious, angry, and unhappy."

Read the whole thing.  And weep if you trusted your children to these fools and charlatans.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Grey - Movie Review - Nasty, Brutish, and Shoulda Been Shorter

The Grey stars Liam Neeson as a nihilistic old codger with a rifle and no good reason he can think of not to stick it in his own mouth. And a bunch of CGI super-wolves. The story is set in Alaska, but I understand the breathtaking shooting location is actually Canada. Good actors, good cinematography, good location, okay CGI effects, and an audience ready to see Liam Neeson do some more of his reluctant-but-super-capable-action-hero thing. This movie should satisfy. But it doesn't. By the time it's all over, you can't help but think the nihilistic old codger should have pulled the trigger and saved us all a couple hours. Long before it's over, on the other hand, you realize the movie-makers are selling you something funky, and they only promised you an action movie to sucker you into the theater.

I read that some animal rights activist objects to The Grey because wolves don't act in real life the way they are portrayed in the movie. It's sensible to ignore opinions of animal rights activists, but the fellow has a minor point. I imagine wolves do not, in fact, act the way the wolves act in this movie. But he should relax and look at the bright side. If he wants people to think animals are as good as people, this movie can work for his cause. Not because the wolves are nice; they aren't. But in this movie neither are the people. And the guy whose job it is to protect the rest of the oil crew refers to himself as a "hired killer" because he shoots dangerous animals that are attacking his fellow-man. If that isn't laying philosophical ground work for PETA, nothing is.

I've never been to a remote oil field but I have a hard time believing a company would hire these men, or run this kind of canteen, in a multi-billion dollar, high-tech facility. The workers are all dead-enders - drunks, ex-cons, broken men, the scum of the earth. And the company bar where these desperate men drink and fight looks like a cross between a Hells Angels clubhouse and the joint where Han Solo shot that alien under the table. In this economy you should be able to find a better crew for $150K blue collar jobs, but I suppose if the company recruiters did a better job this movie couldn't keep beating you over the head with its vile message. The fake wolves aren't evil, you see, they're just man's alter-ego. And unlike the men in this movie the wolves actually have a purpose in this bitter, wind-swept panorama. They're there to prove nothing men do will keep them from being eaten alive in an ice-cold and merciless, malevolent universe. Naturally and by the way, the major message here is that there is no God, and also he really hates you. This could go without saying but, just in case the audience is slow on the uptake, the characters spout all sorts of materialistic fatalism. Repeatedly. Even after there aren't any other characters left to spout it to.

Are you a self-absorbed baby boomer? Have things have gone so poorly for you, you've decided the universe sucks? Do you roll your eyes when simple-minded religious types talk about things like "faith"? This is the action flick for you.