Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Last Airbender: Ten Point Review

Before I jump into the ten points, let me say this: I really wanted to like this movie. I really wanted the M. Night Shyamalan of Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense to find a way to thrill us again and Darling Wife had the same hopes. Instead, what we got was a muddy story, a silly script, and some of the worst acting I’ve seen outside of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Is M. Night Shyamalan at all relevant as a director anymore? Not that I can see.

  1. About ten minutes into The Last Airbender, I told my wife that this movie is much better when people stop talking. Or glowering. Or emoting.
  2. Sadly, there is much talking. And glowering. And emoting.
  3. There is also, early on, a really strange moment during a feast where one of the bad guys does an eerily spot-on impression of Dr. Evil.
  4. The visuals, while not entirely convincing, are still fun to watch and almost act as the film’s salvation…
  5. ...But the script is so bad and the acting so laughable that there is no salvation.
  6. I blame the writing and the direction.
  7. Still, the sets and the costumes are impressive. The art direction, in fact, is simply beautiful.
  8. I have to admit, I rather liked the six-legged flying luck dragon bison.
  9. Not since the young Anakin Skywalker has their been such a bad lead child actor in a major movie.
  10. Even so, when the focus goes to the fights and the visuals, there are occasions where the movie rises above its base material. It just doesn’t happen often enough to make it worth the lost hours of your life.

Warren Buffett Isn’t Much Helping the Conversation About Taxes

Warren Buffett believes that the truly wealthy should pay more taxes, asserting, essentially, that his peers don’t pay their fair share. He is a smart business man, but I’m not sure what he thinks a higher tax rate on the wealthy will accomplish. It won’t balance the budget and the money won’t be used well even if those taxes do increase.

If he wants the wealthy to be a force that helps the economy and helps the government’s bottom line, then he should encourage the wealthy to invest in new businesses, to invest in ideas, to work to support what they believe will lead our nation to better days. And if our government wants to see jobs created, they won’t get in the way. Every new job created is a productive, contributing citizen when that job comes from the private sector. Every new job created by the government, on the other hand, is another tax-funded drain on the coffers. We need more of the former and fewer of the latter--and Buffett is advocating for the wrong side of the equation.

If he wanted to help even more, he would encourage a smarter, more disciplined government less eager to spend money that it doesn’t have. I doubt very seriously that he would dare to run a business using the same rules that our government does--and if his business were running into the same kinds of difficulties, he would be looking for ways to run leaner and more efficiently. Our government, on the other hand, has a pair of crutches to keep it from having to behave in an adult manner: taxpayers and the ability to manufacture money. Why make the hard decision to cut programs or benefits, why austerity, when it is so much easier to print more money or raise taxes.

Whatever the case, though, Mr. Buffett is encouraged to give give give to the government coffers. The money won’t be used well and it won’t be used efficiently and it won’t make a difference in the final calculation. If it makes him feel like a better man to throw good money after bad, though, there is no one stopping him. If he doesn’t, though--if he chooses to find smarter, better ways to invest and spend and give charitably--then it proves that he doesn’t believe his own lie. It proves that he knows that the government isn’t the path to the best results.


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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vets Day

I’d like to take a moment to wish a happy Veterans Day to all of you who serve or who have served. A special note of thanks for the families who have supported all of those service men and women.


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