Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Star Trek Pics

Paramount has released some new pictures from the forthcoming Star Trek 11.

I think there is no doubt the movie is going to look fantastic, but I'm still nervous about everything else. Especially when I read this new interview with director J.J. Abrams. Here is an excerpt that troubles me.

Plus, at heart, Abrams is still more of a Star Wars guy. ''All my smart friends liked Star Trek,'' he says. ''I preferred a more visceral experience.'' Which is exactly why he accepted Paramount's offer in 2005 to develop a new Trek flick; creatively, he was engaged by the possibility of a Star Trek movie ''that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.'' That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed. ''We have worldwide aspirations and we need to broaden [Trek's] appeal,'' says Weston. ''Doing the half-assed version of this thing wasn't going to work.''

The best of Trek - "City on the Edge of Forever," "Devil in the Dark," "Amok Time" - was at its best precisely because it engaged the viewer's head. That was its appeal. Of course there were great action packed episodes, too, and The Wrath of Khan amongst the movies to give Trek some rousing excitement, but it was not the heart of the show. It was icing on the cake. The writers of the new movie claim to be fans of the original series, but if Abrams takes the new movie too far away from what made the series great in order to offer a more "visceral experience," then he is going to disappoint a lot of people.

Of course, maybe that's what he wants. After all, The Voyage Home (non-fans know it as "the one with the whales") is the largest grossing Trek film to date. Most fans of the show, including me, do not find it to be the best of the films because of the forced humor. But that humor helped it find a larger audience. If only the studios were more concerned with making quality films instead of films that make lots of money, but that's another rant.

Oh, and for the record, I am also a huge fan of Star Wars

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Racism in America

Because we nominated a black person for President and he will in all likelihood win, that means racism is dead in America, right? We can all hold hands and sing Kum-Bah-Yah.


Or not.


H/T: Ta-Nehisi Coates

President Palin

Ha ha ha.

H/T:Andrew Sullivan

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blissful Ignorance

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised given my cynical nature. The egregious ignorance on display, though, was enough to shock me a bit.

In my Intro to the Study of Religion class (which I had to retake because the credits in this class didn't transfer *grumble*) last week, the assigned reading dealt with religious splits, sects, and cults. During the course of discussions on the message boards, two students demonstrated their incredible lack of comprehension. In their first posts, both indicated their firm Christian convictions right off the bat and then basically condemned all other religions and those Christian denominations which are not the right ones. One equated Buddhists and Jehovah's Witnesses with the KKK. The other called both Catholicism and Hinduism cults, and not in the sense that all religions can be called cults but in the sense of something bad-nasty.

I probably would not have been so shocked to hear this from a "man on the street." This was in a class, though, a non-denominational class about studying all religions. I can't understand why someone so zealous in their faith would even bother taking a class like this that doesn't take sides or condemn any religion, but rather neutrally examines them. Wouldn't someone like that be happier going to Sunday school where their narrow beliefs won't be challenged and rigorous thinking won't be on the schedule?

"Why, yes, Johnnie. God did make the world in just six days and everyone who doesn't believe that is going to burn in Hell. Okay class, let's sing 'Jesus Loves Me.'"

I rather harshly excoriated both of them and the professor stepped in to tell us (well, me) to cool down. I have a hard time letting stupidity like that slide, though. The older I get, the more likely I am to call people on their bullshit. Somebody needs to.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cash for Grades

Courtesy of GeekDad comes a story of another school district (Washington D.C.) paying their students for good grades and behavior. I understand the motivation behind this. Money is a powerful motivator. Look at what we are doing with many of the militias in Iraq. Still, I think it is a bad idea. The children aren't going to strive for good grades for the sake of good grades; they are going to strive for good grades for the money.

Now I know I can be altruistic when it comes to things like education. I love learning for the sake of learning, but I realize that I am in the minority. Still, I think we can find better ways of motivating children, things like more individually geared curriculums so that students spend more time on things that appeal to them. Not every kid needs to go through algebra or multiple years of literature as much as we would like to think they should. Tweak the classrooms to the individual and not the group. Have more intangible rewards like field trips or a longer recess.

Money is too easy and ultimately teaches a bad lesson. Don't do sometime unless you are getting paid. Is that what we want our kids to grow up learning?

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Watch this clip of Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) claiming that being critical of the President and American policy is not patriotic.

This is wrong on so many levels, it's not even funny. One of the great things about America is that is our freedom to stand up and be critical of the government. Patriotism is not mindless acceptance of what our leaders tell us. It is standing up and asking "why?". It is telling our leaders that they are accountable to the American people and that it is their job to explain to us what they are doing for our interests. And if we do not like the answers we get, it is our job to say so. Not quietly to ourselves, but to everyone we know. Of course the person being critical has the responsibility to back up their claims with facts, however, that does not take away from the fact that capitulating to authority simply because they are authority is not patriotic. It is fascist.

H/T: Yglesias

Weekly Music Video

Elis is a great gothic metal band from Germany. Sadly their lead singer, Sabine Dunser, died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 29 before the release of the group's last album, Griefshire. Her voice was very light and angelic, but powerful. Her parts had been recorded for the album and it was released, but no one is going to truly replace her in the band.

Elis - "Show Me the Way"

Weekly Secret


I'm Baaack

Two weeks. Three weeks. Who's counting? Anyway, it's high time I got back to writing around here. I'm still swamped with school, so don't expect a frenetic pace. For my own sanity, though, I need the occasional break from writing "serious" papers, so here I am.