Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dana Stevens' Obtuse review of Charlie Kaufman and his Film, Synecdoche, New York

Apparently Ms.Stevens, in Everyone Sucks, her review of Synecdoche, New York , doesn't understand the difference between a value judgment and an objective criticism. She finds this movie "disappointing". Yet she says, "The movie's sense of temporal dislocation is profound and pervasive and very skillfully done..." Then, in the most self contradictory statement she could ever have written, "Synecdoche contains moments of beauty so aching, you find yourself mentally scrambling to fill in the movie that should have existed around them...."

Does it have beauty or not, Ms. Stevens? You rant on in your little audio log about the great things about this movie. Then you descend into how depressing it was and how down it made you feel and how you wished so much the character had something more, in terms of some kind of uplifting cliche Hollywood ending, I can only guess. How obtuse of you.

If you didn't like it, that's a matter of taste. As you say, there are beautiful aspects. That fact that the movie has you in a quandary coming to this bizarre ambivalent conclusion that's it fails in some way because Kaufman directed it, but is yet so beautiful, is absurd, ridiculous, but most of all ignorant and immature.

What if the film is supposed to make you come to some higher plain of awareness that people do trudge through their lives, secretly believing that something great will happen, that someone special will someday come along and redeem them or make them whole in some way? What if that is all the film is about? A fat dumb and happy Hollywood ending would kill it. It has to be what it is. It is genius and apparently beyond your intellectual grasp.

Sure it wasn't as cinematic as Eternal Sunshine. But that was that, and this is this. Appreciate this film for what it is. It is tremendous. I feel this film (were it not for self infatuated reviewers like yourself or for audiences with the same limited intellect) could change people to a higher level of self awareness, to motivate them into doing something real with their lives instead of just trudging onward toward death with false hopes and dreams.

And then you have the disdain and condescension to tell people to give Charlie Kaufman a hug.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How to Fix the Economy: Get Out of Iraq

One of the major economic indicators that the government and Wall Street depend on, especially to tell us whether the country is in a recession or not, is the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). However, there are many who feel this indicator is inaccurate in reporting the real effect of the economy on people, especially people's happiness. The GPI (Genuine progress Indicator) was developed as one better and more accurate alternative, among others.

If you look at these two indicators, assuming that a steady decrease in the GDP for two consecutive quarters indicates a recession as Bush defines it, you'll find that even now, despite the terrible state of this economy with it's massive foreclosures and record unemployment, the GDP does not yet indicate we are in a recession, or even a downturn Looking at the GDP, we are steadily growing our economy at a healthy clip. Two things stand out for me in this distinction.

  1. The GDP includes Crime as a indicator of economic growth (as explained in World Changing online magazine)
  2. The GDP includes war and defense spending and it's industries

The GPI includes neither of these. Without defense spending, along with a few much lesser expenses like crime, we see the real picture of the downturn our economy is taking while boosting the military laden GDP, shown in this chart from Redefining Progress a public think tank.

Redefining Progress notes that the GPI has been flat since the 70s. Some charts, like The Progress Report, show a downturn in the GDI.

So what does defense have to do with it?

Defense spending goes into weapons that are expendable. When we go to war we take massive stocks of equipment and basically throw them away, or blow them up. What production or constructive result comes out of war that benefits U.S. citizens? Nothing. Certainly not anything that would warrant the massive expense of the Iraq war. Any of this equipment recovered after the war is pretty much beyond it's useful life. Time to order the new models. In fact, the defense industry is notorious for, not only overspending with inflated budgets, but also for having state of the art equipment. All of this expense is more or less for stuff we trash.

That doesn't even get into the extravagance we see in defense spending on contractors like Halliburton and Blackwater who exploit the government for outrageous sums, as documented in a film called Iraq For Sale, which depicts Iraq as a sort of cruise ship like luxury resort for contractors in the middle of the surrounding war.

CBC News examines the relevance of the U.S. GDP compared to Canada, which exposes the use of the term GDP for what it really is. a political tactic:

Even as a measure of economic output, however, GDP has its limitations. Take a look at the first quarter of 2008, when the Canadian economy contracted at an annualized 0.3 per cent that quarter and the U.S. economy grew by 0.9 per cent.

That leaves the impression that the Canadian economy was doing worse than the U.S. economy, which was struggling with rising unemployment, slumping auto sales, and one of the worst housing downturns in decades.

"Without resorting to hyperbole, this understates the relative performance of the Canadian economy by a country mile," said BMO Capital Markets economist Doug Porter in a report he titled "Does GDP Matter?" (He says yes, but not as much as usual.)

The article goes on to note numerous other better indicators like the GPI. It would seem then that the GDP is simply a tool of politicians and not an indicator of any substance.

We don't hear Bush, McCain or any of the other neocons talk about the fallacy of the GDP, or that war spending keeps it on the rise, while our balance sheet minus war spending looks a whole lot more like a recession. But we do hear Obama talking about getting out of Iraq and how this immense expanse is draining our economy. In the second debate at Nashville, Obama said:

....So one of the difficulties with Iraq is that it has put an enormous strain, first of all, on our troops, obviously, and they have performed heroically and honorably and we owe them an extraordinary debt of gratitude.

But it's also put an enormous strain on our budget. We've spent, so far, close to $700 billion and if we continue on the path that we're on, as Senator McCain is suggesting, it's going to go well over $1 trillion.

We're spending $10 billion a month in Iraq at a time when the Iraqis have a $79 billion surplus, $79 billion.

And we need that $10 billion a month here in the United States to put people back to work, to do all these wonderful things that Senator McCain suggested we should be doing, but has not yet explained how he would pay for.

If we want to fix this economy we have to get out of the Iraq war.

Blog Archive

Popular Posts

Mistress City

Cinephilia and Beyond

Keyframe - Explore the world of film.