Archive for June, 2005

Heard on the radio this morning: “Of all the movies so far this season, only BATMAN BEGINS can even remotely be considered a financial success.”

My reaction: “Gee, maybe that’s because so far this season BATMAN BEGINS is the only movie that hasn’t sucked.” If Hollywood wants my money, they can earn it by making good product. So far this year I see little evidence of this.

(In fairness I should note that I haven’t seen CINDERELLA MAN, which has received excellent reviews from a number of people whose judgement I trust; nor have I seen HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, which if it is up to Miyazaki’s usual standards should be fantastic. Of course, the latter has nothing whatsoever to do with Hollywood.)

They say that the proper response to bad speech is good speech. This goes to show that good symbolic speech works too. If flag-burning is protected, this sort of thing should be as well. Right?

I always get a kick out of incidents that demonstrate the left’s glass jaw in the face of counterprotest.

Everybody on the web today has been talking about the Supreme Court’s awful ruling in Kelo vs. New London. I feel a little bit like I did on 9/11, only instead of going to bed in the United States and waking up in a Tom Clancy novel I went to bed in the United States and woke up in a third world country where the rich and powerful can steal people’s homes with impunity. If a man’s home is his castle, it’s now officially a castle under siege.

I simply can’t describe how appalled and angry this decision makes me. Interestingly enough, from the discussion I’ve read, my anger seems to be shared by people all across the political spectrum for a change. Just about the only people who like this decision are large corporations and municipal governments. I think this is an illustration of the psychological power of narrative. The simple one-sentence description of this case is “the court ruled that the government can take your house and give it to a large corporation”. Conservatives hate the part about the government taking your house, and the left hates the part about giving it to a large corporation.

I just wonder how long it’s going to be before a development based on stolen houses gets destroyed by arson, or a construction worker gets shot by someone refusing to leave their home when it’s scheduled for demolition. Messing with people’s houses produces rage faster than anything except messing with people’s children.

I think I’ll make a contribution to the Institute for Justice, the public litigation firm that was defending the homeowners in this case. They do very good work, and I can’t remember a case they’ve been involved in where they weren’t on the side of the angels. (Which is more than I can say for the American Civil Liberties Union, but that’s another topic.) I’d encourage anyone else who is as angered by this travesty of justice as I am to do the same.

Update: Just had an entertaining thought. Local governments are now empowered to use eminent domain to steal property from A and give it to B as long as doing so will allegedly result in economic development. Howzabout a requirement that the type of economic improvement that is supposed to follow from the theft be precisely specified, and should it not materialize a subsequent requirement that the stolen property be returned to its rightful owners? The economic development reports that are used to justify these thefts often have zero relation to reality. Could we at least penalize these people for stealing property fraudulently? (Yes, I’m still pissed about this after a good night’s rest.)

Anne adds:

I’ve been trying to think of something to say in response to the Kelo ruling, beyond describing my emotional reaction to it (incandescent rage alternating with fear). Finally, someone on Fark (darkhorse23) has said something that I think encapsulates my thoughts:

When I read the decision, I got the sickest feeling in my stomach because in one quantum thought, I could see where it could end up. . .

Government by fear.


Interpretation of Eminent Domain law has been creeping in this direction for years. It’s a very small step from “the government can take your house but they have to compensate you for it” to “the government can take your house”.

Anne and I just got back from watching BATMAN BEGINS. Based on the early reviews and comments I was hoping for good things from this movie, and I’m pleased to say that it was even better than I’d expected going in. This is a rarity for big Hollywood movies these days. Movie studios have reportedly been in a panic because box office revenues have been down significantly year-over-year. If there’s any justice, BATMAN BEGINS will help reverse that.

When doing a Batman story, the most important thing to get right is the psychology. Unlike most superheroes, Batman is self-created. His powers don’t stem from alien physiology or radioactive animals — they were created by him through training, research and effort. And that effort had to be expended by choice. This means that psychology and motivation are far more central to him than to other heroes. And BATMAN BEGINS understands that. The whole movie is an answer to the question “What makes Batman tick, and how did he get that way?”

After the horrible train-wreck that was BATMAN AND ROBIN, the studio knew they had only one more chance to rescue the franchise. If they failed, they wouldn’t have a chance for another generation at least. So there was a lot riding on this film. And they succeeded.

More like this, please. Keep making ’em this good, and I’ll keep coming back to watch ’em.

Robert Hayes obviously has way too much free time on his hands. But I suppose that would explain why the old TIE FIGHTER computer game, which presented the Empire as the good guys, made so much sense.

Cervantes. De Tocqueville. Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy.

My God, are college students these days really that ill-informed about their own history? I knew all those from memory. I didn’t even have to dig for them. And I went to a public university. Aren’t the prestigious Ivy League colleges like Dartmouth supposed to provide a better education? Somebody needs to be sued for educational malpractice.

Many people are aware by now of the upcoming remake of “War of the Worlds” starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg. It’s also pretty well known that Tom Cruise is the sort of raving nutcase we call a Scientologist. What I hadn’t noticed until now was this:

Coincidence? Not where Scientology is concerned, you can be sure.