26 June 2013


I recently watch Kumaré, a documentary about a young Indian-American man who pretends to be a guru in Arizona and develops a following. I would agree with those who complained about the film-maker's deception. Many of the hoodwinked disciples in the film come off as very genuine people, seeking to improve themselves That said, the sight of self-assured new-age types confidently pontificating about the pseudoguru's magnificent aura and psychic powers is certainly LOLworthy. The most ironic feature of the film is that the message of the "guru" is that he is fake. (Of course, there's a metaphorical reading of the message, to the effect that human personality is, in a fundamental sense, false.) The fact that someone could pass themselves off as a guru so easily should give all guru-seekers (or religious people of any flavor, for that matter) reason to stop and consider the foundations of their faith.


16 June 2013

The Great Gatsby: Not great but quite good

Last night I watched The Great Gatsby. If you're going to see this, I'd definitely try to watch it on the big screen. I loved the party scenes, and the surrealistic use of modern music clips for 1920s parties actually worked for me. The party scenes are spectacular, providing the visual candy of the film. I haven't read the book, but I've heard that the film innovated in having the narration appear from Carraway (who's being psychoanalyzed). Since there's no point at which the psychoanalyst poses any psychological question, this framing device struck me as a waste of time. Overall, I'd recommend this. After watching about ten DiCaprio films, the only one that I didn't much care for was J. Edgar, and I think most of the blame for that belongs to the scriptwriter instead of to the actor.

7 June 2013

Talk about sweeping powers!

Just another sign that the Bush-Obama war on the right to privacy is still raging on. Verizon has always been an especially sleazy company, so it's perfectly fitting that it should be complying with orders from the sleaziest elements in our government.

The NSA-Verizon Scandal

2 June 2013

Income inequality worldwide

I came across this interesting map showing income equality using the GINI index (the higher the number, the greater the inequality). The U.S. shows greater inequality than other advanced nations (no surprise there). On the other hand, I didn't expect South Korea to be rated as having greater equality than Japan or New Zealand.

In the 1960s, the U.S. index was below .40.  The wealth gap has been growing since then with no sign of abating.

1 June 2013

The catcher in the rye

I finally got around to reading The Catcher in the Rye. What a great novel! I love how the author juxtaposes features of Holden (the main character) that are, at least on the surface, negative, with hints of Holden's more laudatory motives. I can see how a book like this could be read and reread by critics over the decades without mining all there is in it. Can you believe that this book has been repeatedly banned in high schools for profanity and sexuality? (In terms of sexuality, I really don't get it, since the book doesn't contain any vivid descriptions of sex.)