"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Monday, May 07, 2012

Linkfest - Avengers Assemble

Just realized it has been weeks since posted anything. I guess just have not found much that I felt like posting about but here are a few new things. Most of it is politics related after the break.

The Avengers Smash Weekend Record
In just three days, The Avengers took in a record breaking $207.1 million in the US box office smashing the previous record of $169.2 million held by Harry Potter 7.2. The movie deputed in most other parts of the world last week so now at the end of its first full week out, its total is already a staggering $654.5 million. It did in one week what the most successful movie of 2012, The Hunger Games, took months to make. For those on the fence, you should see it.

It really is as good as people say. The first hour of story building can drag at times but even then the character interactions are entertaining enough to not matter. When the movie shifts to New York though, that is when everything snaps into perfect place. The last hour is just wall to wall action that always servers the characters or the story. There are even a few "Whedoneque" moments of humor that are inserted at just the right moments.

This movie is the epic story telling that Michael Bay keeps trying to achieve with Transformers but falls short because he fails to recognize that spectacle that doesn't serve the story or character is pointless. See the entire tilting building sequence for evidence of this. It had lots of spectacle but could remove entire sequence from movie and have no impact on story or characters. You can't really say the same about the Avengers. Every sequence has purpose, even a throwaway line that is followed up after the credits. When watch do make sure to at least stick around for the mid-credits scene that introduces the villain Thanos. His goal? Make Death fall in love with him by destroying all life. Hopefully Whedon will write and direct the sequel just to see that fight. Next time he might be able to get in the classic "Avengers Assemble" line as could not without it seeming forced and corny. Good call.

CISPA Passes House
Once again Republicans show their disrespect for the Constitution by passing CISPA in the House. The bill "allows private companies and the federal government to share information in order to prevent cyber-attacks." On the surface that sounds good except for a few things. One, it fails to define what a cyber-attack is. So really anything that impacts the internet could be defined as a cyber-attack therefore giving the government carte blanche to snoop on your online activities. RIAA and MPAA, just an example, could use this little lack of definition to use the law to get all the information on all the activities of anyone they suspect may not be using music, TV and movies in the way they see fit. Oh you added some background music to that YouTube video? Let’s use CISPA to find out who you are and sue. The slippery slope logic here may seem weak except we have already seen it used time and time again with stories of grandmothers without computers being sued and the like. When you give those in power the means to make it easier to abuse their power, it’s not a matter of if they will do it, just when.

Pre-Existing Conditions Prevent At Least 36 Million from Getting Insurance
Another reason to like Obamacare - the pre-existing condition. Under the current system that Republicans are fighting like hell to preserve, if you have a pre-existing condition then you can join 36+ million Americans that are not able to get individual insurance or at least have to pay an arm and a leg for it. Obamacare would outlaw that. The number climbs as high as 122 million Americans depending on how "generous" an insurance company is about their definition of a chronic condition. I know Fox News has people against it but wish people would employ some common sense. The current system simply does not work. The Republicans have now had 4 years to offer solutions and the only one they have is "let the states decide!". One state did, Massachusetts, and the GOP have attacked it for having employed a solution. So really "states decide" is "let corporations decide!". Do you want corporations deciding what care you should get? Oh yeah they already do. Remember their other slogan, "Don't let the government get between you and your doctor!" Right now you have some faceless corporate bureaucrat already between you and your doctor. One whose continued employment, raises and promotions is depended on often he says "no!" to such things as procedures, medicines and more. How is this better? If you can't answer that question then you should not be against Obamacare.

Six Social Security and Medicare Myths
Another important aspect of America that Republicans want to demolish thinking it will benefit big business is Social Security and Medicare. Of course they do this by confusing the truth and spreading lies. A few truths are the programs have plenty of money and any shortfall could be fixed with a simple bill to lift the payroll pay tax. Cutting the programs will not fix the federal deficit as social security is forbidden from contributing to the deficit. In other words, as of right now, out of the 14 trillion this country owes, exactly $0 is because of social security benefits being paid. So ending those benefits will reduce the deficit by $0 dollars. Another myth is millionaires abuse the system. Considering that only .05% of the country is millionaires and probably only a fraction of that fraction would be cheap enough to want what would be less superior care to what their money could pay for, the number of those types of abusers is insignificant. Stopping it would cost more than it would save. A few other myths are busted but to sum it up, neither program is causing the deficit nor ending them will not save it. The only things that can ultimately save it is cutting defense spending, cutting the Bush tax cuts, raising taxes and of course trimming wisely.

Assault on the Postal Service
Below is a video from the Ed Schultz Show that summarizes what is really going on with the US Postal Service. In short, the Republicans back in the Bush era decided to kill the service, thinking that other private companies would appreciate their efforts by passing a bill that requires the US Postal Service to prefund 75 years of their pension plan in just 10 years. No other part of government, no corporation does such a thing and most couldn't afford to do it even if required. The result is the US Postal Service starts in the hole and stays in the hole. Yet again more proof that the Republicans have no respect for the Constitution as the existence of the Postal Service is specifically mandated in the Constitution.

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