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March 2009

Know1ng didn't please most of the crix, but I liked it

Critical reaction to Know1ng has been unfavorable, even though it led at the box office this past weekend.

Helmer Alex Proyas has always made films that defy compartmentalizing—I, Robot (2004); Dark City (1998); and The Crow (1994)—and that makes things more difficult for the crix. Also, there were some themes in Know1ng that can be awkward for them, including life after death, determinism versus randomness, and (SPOILER: how someone might react if the world really were coming to an abrupt end).

Though it has its flaws, Know1ng is well worth your time. Read my complete review.

Here's some crackpot advice: Stop eating fish to save the environment

Yes, indeed. That's the gist of an article recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

If you're surprised by the lack of editorial standards, don't feel too bad, as many of the key points are buttressed by citations from equally absurd articles, only those appear in the more prestigious Science and Nature. And, that's when the authors of Canadian Medical Association Journal entry aren't citing THEMSELVES as the authority.

Twenty-five years ago, not only would this sort of thing have been laughed off any editorial review board, it would have probably black-balled the author for a good long time. Not anymore, though, with PC running rampant in the science journal world. Well, they ARE academics...

I have fun tearing this one apart in my latest HND piece. Enjoy.

Fun movie critic terminology

Movie Mom Nell Minow, a somewhat prissy critic, who rates movies on behalf of young kids, has popularized, and maybe even coined "The Gothika Rule," which provides that if a movie has a truly idiotic ending, she will give it away and save you the time, money, and misery of seeing the film.

Gothika (2003) is a mostly crummy horror vehicle starring the scandalously overrated Halle Berry, whose career consists largely of rotten films, often with ludicrous endings. Gothika is no exception. I wonder how many people actually saw Monster's Ball (2001), the uber-contrived PC mess that got Berry her Oscar? Her CHARACTER, not her performance earned her the award.

Her single mom, widow of an executed murderer, replete with a fat kid and hard life, turns the heart of a racist white prison guard. Sounds like a liberal's ultimate fantasy. Gee, I wonder why she got the Oscar.

Minow seems to ignore the great site The Movie Spoiler, which lets crix off the hook. They don't have to reveal anything, but can imply the that movie sucks, which will prompt a visit to the spoiler site.

Watchmen review

The comic book nerds love it, since the visual feel exactly matches the graphic novel. For the rest of us, though, the pic is overlong and boring at times.

Rorschach is the most interesting character by far, and should be on-screen all the time, but he isn't.

For all the fuss about this property being a comic icon, frankly, the story is weak. On the other hand, lurid violence--if not sex--is well-represented in the movie. At least half of the two comic book staples are included, then.

Read my complete review.

Now you can keep track of CPSIA victims

Connie Ballas is a mom and owner of From My Room, a children's and maternity resale store in Naperville, Illinois.

She recently started the Victims of CPSIA 2008 blog to identify specific victims of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

Even the Euros, whose penchant for over-regulation would put our moronic Congress to shame, have never come up with something as destructive as CPSIA.

Connie's blog features a picture of a mushroom cloud with the caption "Well, we got the lead out ..."

Fair enough, but most in the anti-CPSIA community are unaware that at least lead has a long history of human toxicity, while phthalates have NEVER been implicated in any damage to any human. More than that, phthalates have about a six decade unblemished safety record.

What French paradox? Wine is NOT a health food

You've probably heard of the so-called "French Paradox," whereby the French, who have a diet higher in saturated fats than the typical American, have a lower rate of coronary heart disease. Some years ago, this was explained by the much larger quantity of red wine consumed by the French.

I had a hard time buying into this since—for one thing—it was just supposition, and to the best of my knowledge, no one ever did any epi studies to even suggest it was true, let alone prove it. As I detail in my HND article, the wine explanation has been completely discredited. Moreover, there are not only lifestyle explanations, but some in France suggest that the rates of coronary heart disease in France are under-counted.

Far worse is data coming out of the UK suggesting that drinking alcohol is a big risk factor for cancer in women. an alcohol/breast cancer connection has been known for awhile, but the general connection is something new. (Also covered in the HND piece.)

Green jobs and broken windows

That's the title of my recent HND piece.

The "green jobs" part of it refers to President Obama's promise that his enlightened approach to solving our energy and environmental problems will result in millions of good "green" jobs—that can't be outsourced.

The only problem is that the very jobs that can't be outsourced are the lowest paying ones, such as working at the local recycling facility. Design and manufacture of solar and wind power items, for example, have already been outsourced in many cases. More than that, jobs in other non-favored industries will surely be lost.

As to "broken windows," this refers to the fallacious belief that the government can create jobs, without taking away from some other productive aspect of the economy.

On a related matter, Obama does not seem to realize that credit does not come from thin air, but is based on savings, while consumption must be based on production.  Read Peter Schiff's article.

Real economic consequences of CPSIA

To all those that drank the "These critics are spreading misinformation about CPSIA" Kool-Aid, we refer you to this editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

Makers of children's products and charities that run second-hand shops are stuck with more than $1 billion of inventory they can't sell because of a new federal product-safety law, according to surveys by trade groups and the charities.

"We have millions of dollars worth of merchandise sitting in 30 40-foot-long trailers waiting to be hauled out to a landfill somewhere," says Michael Klein, president of Constructive Playthings Inc., a closely held Missouri toy maker. The banned products include beach balls, inflatable toy guitars and blow-up palm trees.

Local outposts of Goodwill Industries International are also "filling up trailers with the stuff," says Jim Gibbons, chief executive of the charitable group, which collects and distributes used clothes. The law affects clothing because lead is sometimes used in buttons, zippers, rhinestones and other embellishments.

Goodwill's Mr. Gibbons says its stores may have to destroy $170 million in merchandise. The Salvation Army say it will have $100 million in lost sales and disposal costs related to used goods.

Plenty more in the WSJ piece.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act isn't being called the worst law in the last 50 years for nothing. And all this coming during a bad economic downturn.

How about some hope and change, Mr. Obama? The silence from the executive branch on this incredible mess is truly deafening.

BTW, you might get a kick out of this one, as it kind of ruins the "drinking the Kool-Aid" meme...

It is a popular misconception that 900 followers of cult leader Jim Jones committed suicide by drinking Grape Kool-Aid laced with cyanide at their commune in Jonestown Guyana in the late 1970's. This is not true. The followers of Jones actually drank cyanide laced Flavor-Aid, a cheap imitation of Kool-Aid. The Flavor-Aid flavor they consumed was grape. Therefore, Kool-Aid played no part in this tragedy. [from many sources]