Saturday, April 22, 2006

I Think I Just Soiled Myself

According to Variety, J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost, Mission: Impossible III) is co-writing, producing, and directing a new Star Trek movie featuring a young Kirk and Spock. Thank god I'm not one of those Trekkies who will have a fit if every chronological and biographical detail isn't adhered to... I'll take a total reboot of the franchise over another Nemesis anyday.

Common Cultural Currency

On Roger Ebert's Web site, Jim Emerson lists the 101 movies that "you just kind of figure everybody ought to have seen in order to have any sort of informed discussion about movies." Not the best, not the most influential, just the movies that come up in conversations about movies often enough that they're required viewing. And so I will shamelessly duplicate the list here, with those I've seen in bold, so that everyone will know how utterly competent or incompetent I am as a film snob. No real point, but it's always fun to see what's out there.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick
The 400 Blows (1959) Francois Truffaut
8 1/2 (1963) Federico Fellini
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) Werner Herzog
Alien (1979) Ridley Scott
All About Eve (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Annie Hall (1977) Woody Allen
Bambi (1942) Disney
Battleship Potemkin (1925) Sergei Eisenstein
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) William Wyler
The Big Red One (1980) Samuel Fuller
The Bicycle Thief (1949) Vittorio De Sica
The Big Sleep (1946) Howard Hawks
Blade Runner (1982) Ridley Scott
Blowup (1966) Michelangelo Antonioni
Blue Velvet (1986) David Lynch
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) Arthur Penn
Breathless (1959 Jean-Luc Godard
Bringing Up Baby (1938) Howard Hawks
Carrie (1975) Brian DePalma
Casablanca (1942) Michael Curtiz
Un Chien Andalou (1928) Luis Bunuel & Salvador Dali
Children of Paradise / Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) Marcel Carne
Chinatown (1974) Roman Polanski
Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles
A Clockwork Orange (1971) Stanley Kubrick
The Crying Game (1992) Neil Jordan
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Robert Wise
Days of Heaven (1978) Terence Malick
Dirty Harry (1971) Don Siegel
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) Luis Bunuel
Do the Right Thing (1989) Spike Lee
La Dolce Vita (1960) Federico Fellini
Double Indemnity (1944) Billy Wilder
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Stanley Kubrick
Duck Soup (1933) Leo McCarey
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Steven Spielberg
Easy Rider (1969) Dennis Hopper
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Irvin Kershner
The Exorcist (1973) William Friedkin
Fargo (1995) Joel & Ethan Coen
Fight Club (1999) David Fincher
Frankenstein (1931) James Whale
The General (1927) Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman
The Godfather, The Godfather, Part II (1972, 1974) Francis Ford Coppola
Gone With the Wind (1939) Victor Fleming
GoodFellas (1990) Martin Scorsese
The Graduate (1967) Mike Nichols
Halloween (1978) John Carpenter
A Hard Day's Night (1964) Richard Lester
Intolerance (1916) D.W. Griffith
It's A Gift (1934) Norman Z. McLeod
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) Frank Capra
Jaws (1975) Steven Spielberg
The Lady Eve (1941) Preston Sturges
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) David Lean
M (1931) Fritz Lang
Mad Max 2 / The Road Warrior (1981) George Miller
The Maltese Falcon (1941) John Huston
The Manchurian Candidate (1962) John Frankenheimer
Metropolis (1926) Fritz Lang
Modern Times (1936) Charles Chaplin
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam
Nashville (1975) Robert Altman
The Night of the Hunter (1955) Charles Laughton
Night of the Living Dead (1968) George Romero
North by Northwest (1959) Alfred Hitchcock
Nosferatu (1922) F.W. Murnau
On the Waterfront (1954) Elia Kazan
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Sergio Leone
Out of the Past (1947) Jacques Tournier
Persona (1966) Ingmar Bergman
Pink Flamingos (1972) John Waters
Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock
Pulp Fiction (1994) Quentin Tarantino
Rashomon (1950) Akira Kurosawa
Rear Window (1954) Alfred Hitchcock
Rebel Without a Cause (1955) Nicholas Ray
Red River (1948) Howard Hawks
Repulsion (1965) Roman Polanski
Rules of the Game (1939) Jean Renoir
Scarface (1932) Howard Hawks
The Scarlet Empress (1934) Josef von Sternberg
Schindler's List (1993) Steven Spielberg
The Searchers (1956) John Ford
The Seven Samurai (1954) Akira Kurosawa
Singin' in the Rain (1952) Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
Some Like It Hot (1959) Billy Wilder
A Star Is Born (1954) George Cukor
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Elia Kazan
Sunset Boulevard (1950) Billy Wilder
Taxi Driver (1976) Martin Scorsese
The Third Man (1949) Carol Reed
Tokyo Story (1953) Yasujiro Ozu
Touch of Evil (1958) Orson Welles
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) John Huston
Trouble in Paradise (1932) Ernst Lubitsch
Vertigo (1958) Alfred Hitchcock
West Side Story (1961) Jerome Robbins/Robert Wise
The Wild Bunch (1969) Sam Peckinpah
The Wizard of Oz (1939) Victor Fleming
Just 35 out of 101. Hrmph.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Black History Month

I apologize for my laziness. Unfortunately, it is continuing; I am going to again steal from my rather non-lazy obsession with debating on Essembly. One person resolved that "If every other month is white history months [sic], then we need to call them such." He supported this by saying:
I resolved that we needed to have a white history month. The most common argument against this was that we have eleven of them. Every other month is white history month was the parroted response.

Therefore, if those eleven months are indeed 'white history months' then we should call them such.
To which I replied:
As is typical with racist arguments, you are taking the correction of an inequity and pretending it is an elevation into superiority. Black History Month makes up for the fact that there would be twelve white history months without it. We live in a white-dominated culture; by default we focus on white history. You can't pretend that white and black history are on equal footing and come to the conclusion that it is therefore unfair that black history gets its own month.

All arguments against Black History Month and affirmative action boil down to conflating the black and white experience as if they get fairly distributed throughout the educational and occupational system, when the reality is that they just aren't. If they were, schools would have already been teaching the things that are added during Black History Month; they aren't. If they were, college enrollment would already reflect the ethnic makeup of the applicant pool; it doesn't. If they were, employers would hire roughly proportional to the ethnic makeup of the qualified applicants; they don't. There are only two reasons these could be the case: 1.) black people are inferior, which they aren't; and 2.) black people are discriminated against, intentionally or otherwise. Black History Month and affirmative action correct these inequities, they take away the unfair privilege of white history, white education, and white employment. They are fair, just, and morally mandatory for any society which values those qualities.
And now I share it here so as to not have to actually come up with a blog post.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Men: Abortion Isn't About You

I have been fooling around on lately. The short description might be "MySpace for politics;" it is a social networking site where users can vote on a variety of user-created resolves and find other like-minded people, as well as generally have a good time. If you're into that sort of thing. At the moment it is skewed pretty heavily towards the young and white, so it would be nice to get some variety in there.

One of the resolves I had a bit of a discussion over was "Abortion violates a man's rights." The argument was that since men and women are equally complicit in conception, men should have their say in abortion considerations. The two faces of the issue are the cases where a woman might abort a fetus that would develop into a child the man wanted, and cases where a woman might bring to term a fetus that the man didn't want, which he would them be financially responsible for.

In the first case, I should think it is fairly obvious that forcing pregnancy and childbirth on women is unethical and amounts to slavery.

In the second, the situation is a bit more complicated. It is true that forcing fathers to provide financial support to unwanted children is imposing a burden on them against their will. At the same time, it is clear that in a world without abortion as an option, these men would be financially responsible, even for accidental pregnancies. So in World A, with no abortion, a man must pay for children he conceives, regardless of if he intended to conceive them or wants them. In World B, with abortion, the question is whether this availability means that a man can absolve himself of this responsibility because the birth of the child is contingent on the mother choosing to have it, even against his will.

I would argue that the availability of abortion changes nothing. There are many, many ways in which a man can avoid unwanted children; they are all contraceptive. Women also have many ways; contraception, but also abortion. It is not "unfair" that women get to make a choice concerning their own bodies while men don't. Men get full control of their own bodies, as do women. If fetuses gestated in external pods, the decision would be equal, but they don't: they gestate inside women. If you are a man and take all reasonable precautions to avoid pregnancy but a woman gets pregnant despite them, you are responsible for the resulting child, but for the nine months it is a part of the woman's body, she has sovereign control over it.

So sorry.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Rush Limbaugh is a class act

Have you heard about how some of the Duke lacrosse team allegedly beat, strangled, and gang-raped a black exotic dancer while calling her racial epithets? Now I know Rush is an easy target, but talk about heartless:
[Al Sharpton is] trying to figure out how he can get involved in the deal down there at Duke where the lacrosse team, uh, supposedly, you know, raped, some, uh, hos.*
Later, a caller asked him specifically if he called the gang-rape victims "hos," and he said he did. Then he apologized, but it was one of those half-assed apologies where you don't apologize for what you do, but for the effect it had.
I regret that you heard me say it.
The man is classy all the way.

* There is in fact only one victim, but both Limbaugh and his caller use the plural. Must not have been paying attention.

[via Oliver Willis]

Transplants grown from patients' own cells

Science fiction writer Larry Niven had a series of stories focused on "organlegging," the practice of selling organs for transplants on the black market. The idea was that with demand growing faster than supply, a hefty profit could be made selling parts. It even resulted in some draconian societies building up banks of organs taken from petty criminals. I always thought this was nonsense, because we'd have better ways of getting organs before any of that came to pass.

It seems I was right. For the first time, doctors grew replacement bladders for seven patients by culturing their own cells on a bladder-shapped scaffold. The result? A new, fully-functional bladder with no chance of rejection. Dr. Anthony Atala and his team, the group behind the procedure, are working on growing twenty other organs, including hearts, in the laboratory.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Weekend link roundup

Some of silly and amusing little things that have caught my eye in the last week.

A man with no arms is fined for speeding in New Zealand. Says the police officer who stopped him, "Obviously driving at a speed like that, arms or not, you're just waiting for an accident." [via Boing Boing]

The Atheists of Silicon Valley have compiled over three hundred proofs of God's existence. I'm convinced.

Professional dominatrix Princess Natasha changes her Web site to protect young children searching for a cartoon. I just find it amusing to imagine the ten year-old girls trying to find their favorite heroine and instead discovering a world of whips and latex. [via]

Do you watch Lost? Wondering what the hell that map was on the blast doors? See for yourself.

Am I the only person who kinda wants to revel in the B-movie grossness of Slither?