Thursday, January 26, 2006

Munich Dogs Spielberg

The Las Angeles Times' Oscar race web site has a long article addressing the question of why Steve Spielberg's movie 'Munich' is not doing that well at the box office and in the movie awards business, e.g., Golden Globes, Oscar, etc.).
I would like to offer my own humble opinion. The movie is tanking because everything Spielberg has done since the last Jurassic park film is uninteresting and unwatchable. I know this is sacrilege maybe even anathema to those who are movie dweebs, but that's the truth, and I think unconsciously the movie-going public is beginning to notice it too. If you watch a Spielberg film the story is secondary to his preaching of a message or revision of history.
Let us revisit the recent past:
War of the Worlds—A remake! What an unoriginal and unnecessary idea.
Into the West—Guess we should have stayed in the East.
The Terminal—Help I'm trapped at the airport. Tom Hanks signals that he wants to end his career.
Catch Me If You Can—Huh? I'm sorry what was the question?
Taken—Aliens want to bred with us, but I'm not sure why.
Artificial Intelligence: AI—Young robot gets heart broken by evil white man—oops, sorry that was the plot for 'Into the West'—by evil human kind.
I think Spielberg has become separated from the audience. He needs to get back to 90 minute films with simple plots and lots and lots of special effects.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Re-enactors on the Skids

Living history museums are in trouble, according to this news story form the Washington Post. To me, it is no surprise that attendance is in decline at these institutions.
Living history museums, to me, don't seem quite right. They are like a gimmick that has outlived it initial period of enthusiasm from the public.
Also, the people playing the roles are condescending. Supposedly the re-enactors are there to provide a flavor of a past era and its people, but I get more of a vibe of a geek (like those who haunt renaissance fairs) who wants to show me how little I know about his or her small area of specialized knowledge. I find this insulting. I may not be an expert on life in a frontier trading post, but I would like the opportunity to do some observation and learning on my own without some know-it-all telling me what I should think.
I'm sure another part of the problem is caused by the revisionists strain in today's teaching of history, which has turned away from teaching about great people and moments in United States history. This movement seems to be dedicated to squeezing the fun out of history, for example see The People's History of the United States, which is inspired by post-modern deconstruction techniques that sees America as just another struggle of power elites.
Let's get back to admitting that there were some great people in American history, and that while I would not want to live in 1830 the era still had much more to offer than being a peasant on a Prussian estate or in Czarist Russia.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Seattle. Just an Ocean Away

According to the Mainichi Daily News, Seattle is becoming well known and popular with the Japanese. Much of this increased awareness results from Seattle Mariners' right fielder Ichiro Suzuki and the recent signing by the Mariners of Kenji Jojima, will be the first catcher from Japan to play on a Major League team.

Let's hope that Seattle's new visitors can put with our currentl streak of rain.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

High Price for Tenure

In regard to the faking of stem cell clones in South Korea, a news story from talks about the power that Korean professors have over their undergraduates:

"Influential professors at prestigious schools "are allowed to build their own private kingdoms, promoting and demoting their underlings largely at will," said Tikhonov, a naturalized Korean of Russian origin also known as Pak Noja.

Listing professors as senior authors on papers even if they contributed little, fabricating receipts to cover up their personal use of research funds, and running errands for them are just a few of the headaches grad school students say they face.

"Most professors tend to think graduate students are their personal secretaries," said a doctoral degree candidate at Seoul's Hanyang University, requesting that his name and even his major not be revealed.

"It's hard to refuse requests in fear of retaliation," said the 34-year-old, who once had to go to his professor's house on a weekend to fix a computer.

Professors argue such misconduct is uncommon.

"I think it's just a small number of professors who make such absurd requests," said Cho Dong-jun, who teaches international relations at the University of Seoul. "If these were common practices, I, as a professor, would have easily known about them, but I've never seen such a case."

Cutthroat competition for a professorship sometimes involves large sums of money changing hands.

In the first eight months of last year, prosecutors penalized 61 professors and administrators, mostly for receiving bribes in exchange for granting tenure. In 2004, prosecutors punished 23 professors and officials on similar charges as well as misappropriation of funds.

In one case last year, a university chancellor received $4 million from 42 candidates in exchange for appointing them as professors, prosecutors said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed."