Friday, May 28, 2010

The Future in Motion

The internet show Nextnik presents a case of skepticism for the new phenomenon of "motion comics:"

I had not even thought of this problem, but have to agree that it is worrisome. I read alot of comic books as a child, and they spurned my interest in the written word which has ballooned into my producing what you're reading now. The book I am writing now is a sort of ode to what comic books and science fiction provided my mind.

Nevertheless, I wouldn't worry too much. I still see children's books for sale and cartoons, which encouraged no reading whatsoever, have been made out of comic books for a long time. Alot of people my exact same age don't seem to show any interest whatsoever in reading or writing (one girl literally told me once "I don't read") and that is very sad and unfortunate, but Barnes and Noble is still a healthy business in my hometown and throughout the country. The written word has its place and will (hopefully) never be replaced.

Meanwhile, check out some of the motion comics being produced, such as Superman: Red Son:

Or Peanuts!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

A More Self-Conscious President

Remember during the Bush years? The most frustrating problem with George W. Bush was his near complete reluctance to admit personal mistakes. Fortunately, Obama may be a bit of an improvement:

Is President Obama finally taking control of the Gulf disaster, or is it too little, too late? "I take responsibility," he announced at a press conference on Friday. Obama called the leak an "unprecedented disaster," and said "As far as I'm concerned, BP is responsible for this disaster." He vigorously denied that his administration has sat on its hands, saying that the leak has been his "highest priority since this crisis occurred" and that those who say otherwise "don't know the facts." While admitting that he "was wrong" to trust BP's preparedness, Obama insisted that only BP has the technology to close off the leaking well. He also called for transition to a clean-energy economy, saying "If nothing else this disaster should serve as a wakeup call that it's time to move forward on [energy] legislation."

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Demagoguery Is Nothing New

The modern right's demagoguery is not modern at all. When Arab-American Miss Americas are called "terrorists" and Glenn Beck attempts to give "progressive" the sting "communist" once had, it's important to keep the past in mind.

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Tea Party Insanity

None of us are by any means perfect, and I can think of many celebrities, writers and musicians I'm very fond of with checkered pasts. Nevertheless, some of the details about Tea Party leader Tim D’Annunzio seem to border on schizophrenia:

In Hoke County divorce records, his wife said in 1995 that D’Annunzio had claimed to be the Messiah, had traveled to New Jersey to raise his stepfather from the dead, believed God would drop a 1,000-mile high pyramid as the New Jerusalem on Greenland and found the Ark of the Covenant in Arizona. A doctor’s evaluation the following month said D’Annunzio used marijuana almost daily, had been living with another woman for several months, had once been in drug treatment for heroin dependence and was jailed a couple times as a teenager.

There really seems to be a full helping of the sophomoric and the crazy in the Tea Party movement. The main political candidate to get elected as an outgrowth of the movement, Rand Paul, brought up the historically and morally vindicated 1964 Civil Rights Act for public revision, and reports of racial and homophobic slurs have come out of the tea parties. The intellectually serious would be wise to jump ship.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Arizona Seeks to Reassign Accented Teachers

here are legitimate concerns about immigrants with an illegal status "stealing" jobs from law-abiding Americans. While I think people concerned about that are misguided, I can certainly understand it, especially in this economy.

This Arizona law is beyond that though. I hate to make the cliched Nazi comparison, but from purging Ethnic Studies programs to pushing teachers out of schools because they carry an accent, this is bordering on authoritarian:

Recent media reports state that the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has mandated that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes containing students who are learning to speak English.

Huh. You know, I took a Spanish class with a teacher who had an American accent. Maybe she should have been fired. I also had an English teacher in elementary school who was Asian. Maybe she should have been out of there too.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Tea Party's Road to 1964

On freedom of speech, free trade, guns, drugs, immigration and the usual suspects I am a big fan of libertarians. On civil rights, at least as it regards to discrimination in the south and the Civil Rights Act, I'm afraid the Rand Paul/Barry Goldwater approach is where I jump off of the libertarian express. Libertarians would be wise to remember that Goldwater's civil rights approach was used pretty strongly by Lyndon Johnson:

Lyndon Johnson carried 44 states
, while Barry Goldwater carried six in the deep south and in his home state of Arizona. Johnson got 61.1% to Goldwater's 38.5%.

If the Republican Party wants a repeat of those sort of electoral scores, they should go ahead and run Rand Paul and other Tea Party candidates. It will be the same result, and it will be even easier for Democrats to stick the knife in when there is a black man at the head of the party. Not to mention groups like Stormfront being loud supporters of Rand Paul (and Glenn Beck). If they want to win, they'd be wise to go back to the sort of pluralism, moderation and optimism that wins national elections.

Also, you'd better believe you'll be hearing this sort of stuff again and again as well if a Paulite is to run in 2012:

Rand Paul is a year younger than I am, born like me in Texas during the final years of segregation. I have difficulty believing that any white Southerner my age who questions the civil rights laws that broke down the all-encompassing system of "private" economic and social segregation in our native region does so purely out of libertarian principle. I would have trouble believing that, even if not for recent revelations that his father’s supposedly libertarian newsletter for decades was filled with unsigned racist rants.

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Awesome Responses To Lost

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Did Lost Make TV Worse?

While watching the second to last episode of Lost, a good friend of mine proclaimed "I'm only glad it's over," adding that she is only watching the last few episodes for the sake of conclusion. Meanwhile, her statements have been echoed in the media:

At long last: Lost comes to a close on Sunday and we’ll no longer have to listen to its fans obsess over its silly mysteries. Writing for The New York Times, Mike Hale says the show inspired “a kind of populist biblical commentary, and the logical gymnastics performed to read authorial intention into every word and image and in-joke began to feel religious in nature.” He goes on to groan that the show “has encouraged fans, and critics who should know better, to celebrate the mythology—the least important element of the show, from a dramatic standpoint—while glossing over things like pacing, structure, camerawork and acting … Among the best evidence that something new is happening with Lost is the fact that so many people, if their online comments are true, will be willing to change their judgment of the entire series based solely on how well the final two-and-a-half-hour episode satisfies their need for answers. Forget the first 119 hours—if you don’t tell me what happened to Walt, none of it will have mattered.”

Lost was the first show to break from a half decade slump into the decadence of reality television. If it weren't for Lost, we wouldn't have been presented with even more shows that complement, instead of insult, the intelligence of its viewers, such as Heroes or V. I for one don't quite know what I'm going to do without Lost. V is good, but lacks the same originality and compelling characters.

The very fact that ABC put enough faith into the idea that a show as complex and requiring of commitment as Lost reflects that somebody in the corporation suspended the assumption that TV viewers are both stupid and suffering from attention deficit disorder. Complaints that Lost was too long, theological (I'm not religious, but with the other choices on TV, any form of intellectualism is a positive!) or mythological fail to appreciate the immense progress that Lost brought to television.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Unpublished Intro Shows Moderation of Malcolm X

Some thought provoking insight here:

NEW YORK — Decrying American race relations as a near-war, Malcolm X expressed hope that his tumultuous life story could help blacks and whites, according to a never-published introduction to his best-selling autobiography.

The introduction, read publicly for the first time Wednesday, underscores the ambition, personal-as-political power and foreboding of "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," published shortly after the civil rights leader was assassinated in 1965.
"I'm writing this book for the best interests of the Negro and the white man in America," begins the introduction, read by a Detroit lawyer who bought it from the estate of the autobiography's collaborator, Alex Haley.

"Most sincerely I want my life story to do as much good for America and for both races as it possibly can. ... I give my life to be used to benefit America and humanity, that America will learn that the Negro's problem is a challenge to America's consciousness and that the Negro is America's problem."

The existence of the introduction, and three other unpublished chapters apparently intended for the 19-chapter political classic, has been known since entertainment attorney Gregory J. Reed bought them at a 1992 auction of Haley's estate. Some pages have been exhibited in a Detroit museum.

But Reed on Wednesday read it publicly for the first time, to an audience of hundreds at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. The organization was founded by the civil rights leader's late widow and housed in the building where he was killed.

It's unclear why the introduction or the other chapters weren't in the book, said Morgan Entrekin, who heads the autobiography's original publisher, Grove Press. Now called Grove/Atlantic Inc., the publisher is talking with Reed about possibly releasing the unpublished sections.

The introduction echoes the themes of the book, which traces Malcolm X's evolution from a child who lost his parents to violence and mental illness, to a teenager lured into ghetto vice and crime, to a burglary convict drawn to a burgeoning black Muslim movement, and finally to a fiery voice for black empowerment.

Portraying his experience as a reflection of racial oppression, Malcolm X says he aims "to end the white man's enslavement of the black man's mind." Apparently written in 1964, it describes the state of American race relations as "just this side of war."
It also reflects Malcolm X's sense that his life was at risk.

"Today I have not the time to write a book merely with the ambition to excite or stimulate some readers' minds," he observes, foreshadowing haunting predictions of his violent death.

Reed said he bought the unseen autobiography chapters, as well as the manuscript of the published book, to ensure their conservation. He spent more than $120,000, "a lot of money for me, but at the same time, it was really a steal for mankind," he said in an interview.

He has occasionally given talks about some of the material, including an unpublished chapter setting out a 13-point plan for blacks to achieve economic, social and cultural independence as a prelude to "true integration."

The missing chapters delve into Malcolm X's philosophy and ideas for improving the country, rather than focusing on events in his life, Reed says.

One of the civil rights era's most controversial and compelling figures, Malcolm X rose to fame as the Nation of Islam's chief spokesman, proclaiming the black Muslim organization's message at the time: racial separatism as a road to self-actualization. He famously urged blacks to claim civil rights "by any means necessary" and referred to whites as "devils."
But after breaking with the Nation of Islam in 1964 and making an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, he espoused a more internationalist approach to human rights and began emphasizing that he didn't view all whites as racists. He also took the name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

He was shot to death on Feb. 21, 1965, as he began a speech at Harlem's Audubon Ballroom, now the Shabazz center. He was 39.

The only man ever to admit involvement in the assassination, Thomas Hagan, 69, was paroled last month from a prison work-release program. Two men convicted with him — who he said were not among his four accomplices — were paroled in the 1980s. No one else has ever been charged.

Hagan has said the assassins acted out of rage at Malcolm X's criticism of the Nation of Islam's then-leader, Elijah Muhammad.
Often branded a demagogue and extremist during his lifetime, Malcolm X was celebrated with a postage stamp a quarter-century after his death. The autobiography and Spike Lee's 1992 film, "Malcolm X," helped build his stature as an agent of social change.

Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X's daughters, and William Alex Haley, the author's son, said at Wednesday's reading they appreciated Reed's efforts to preserve the civil rights leader's legacy.
As for the missing chapters, "it doesn't matter what happened to them," Haley said. "It matters that we can read them today."

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Marvel Escape Plan

Wow. I saw DIllenger Escape Plan years ago while opening for Queens of the Stone Age. Marvel Comics and thrash metal are not too things I ever connected prior to this.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Christopher Hitchens’ Revelatory Memoir

From his new memoir, coming soon to a bookstore in your town square:

”Every now and then, even though I was by then fixed on the pursuit of young women, a mild and mildly enjoyable relapse would occur and I suppose that I can ‘claim’ this … of two young men who later became members of Margaret Thatcher’s government. For this very reason I can’t really give any more names.”

This may be a wild claim, or the honest truth. Hitchens sure knows how to be outrageous, as is shown by his testimony in the upcoming book that the 42nd President of the United States was fond of pot brownies:

Hitchens confirms that Clinton never inhaled; instead, he writes, he consumed pot brownies:

“He preferred, like many another marijuana enthusiast, to take his dope in the form of large handfuls of cookies and brownies,” Hitchens writes.

There’s nothing too shocking about that, but it is humorous. Anyways, if true, it’s unfortunate and hypocritical that Bill Clinton accelerated the drug war during his presidency.

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bad Rabbits Stick It Up

While indie rock bands like MGMT echo the folk sonance of 1970s bands like America, Bad Rabbits (whose album is available now as promotion over at Karmaloop) goes in the opposite direction entirely by bringing the distinct sound of funk back on their Stick Up Kids.

The stand out song is distinctly "Advantage Me," which has full advantages over the other songs on the album. Bad Rabbits seems to fully know what era they're playing around in, because towards the end of the song they bring in the guitar riff from Michael Jackson's "Thriller," the last album of the genre to unite fans from across the musical spectrum.

Unity is a theme by which Bad Rabbits looks to advance. The band is multi-racial, a sign of progress beyond the racial uniformity of the musical era they emulate (when rock bands like Funkadelic were labeled as "R&B" even though they sounded just like Pink Floyd). Progress, as just mentioned, is another theme, as Bad Rabbits' affiliation with Karmaloop shows that the superb clothing line is moving past the hip-hop era and into a more mature musical and cultural stage.

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