22 July 2014

Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter

I just finished watching Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter, a 2013 German TV series. I just about passed it up due to the dopey English title Generation War, but I'm glad I watched. The film follows five friends after they split up in Berlin around the beginning of WWII. The actual fighting scenes are shot very well, capturing some sense of the jarring effect that large weapons must have when one is actually in a battle. Like so many movies, the film has a completely unrealistic premise of people continually running across each other within the enormous Eurasian theater of war, but I guess a little suspension of disbelief is always called for--it's a movie after all. Unlike many American films, the characters are geeky enough to be believable. Some of the dialogue associated with Friedhelm, who has no patriotic feeling or delusions about the war from the beginning, are interesting. For example, at one point toward the end, his friend asks him why he would keep on fighting when the war's coming to a close--what's the point? In a deadpan, he responds that there never was a point.

16 July 2014

Dealing with the corporate mob

As the song says, "you can check out any time you want but can never leave."

WaPo has a short piece on the nightmare experienced when someone attempted to cancel their Comcast service. Years ago, I had a similar experience with Verizon. Can't our representatives pass a law against this sort of thing? I think there should be a law that would fine companies for making it much hard to quit a service than it is to sign up. For those of us who don't want to spend hours on the phone, there should always be an option of simply sending a letter that says we don't want the service. It's as if we got a shotgun marriage to the company and have to then go through months of litigation to get the divorce.

11 July 2014

The disease

You've got to love Doonesbury, telling it like it is for over 44 years.

4 July 2014

Sippin' Kentucky bourbon while basking in the Martian sun

Someone pleeeeeeeez tell me this from the Onion...

Kentucky’s Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment met today to discuss the new EPA rules to fight climate change by limiting greenhouse gases from power plants. The committee is chaired by Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, a proud climate change denier who has suggested in the past that Kentucky secede from the union in order to avoid federal environmental regulations. Let's listen to one of the Republican state senators, the honorable Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, in his own words:
“As you (Energy & Environment Cabinet official) sit there in your chair with your data, we sit up here in ours with our data and our constituents and stuff behind us. I don’t want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.

30 June 2014

Winter's Bone: A for authenticity, F for plot

I just watched Winter's Bone. The film does a spectacular job at catching the mood of rural white poverty. Although never really poor, I grew up around a lot of poverty, so the scenes brought back many memories from childhood--the trashy yards and only partly functioning toys strewn about. My guess is they filmed actual locations; I can't imagine anyone creating such authentic sets. The film's characters are likewise very authentic. That said, I wish they would have had a more intriguing plot. Please tell me if I missed something.

29 June 2014

Turning the tables