Make a Difference

Day: February 6, 2009

Amanda and Gran Torino

After an ultrasound doctors found a large quantity of fluid in Amanda’s chest yesterday, and asked us to leave for a few hours while they sedated her and inserted a drain.

Dad and David and I went and had pizza for dinner and then went to see Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino.  Gosh! Wow! Heck!

It was a great film. My emotions are pretty close to the surface at the moment – Amanda is still dangerously unwell, is not responding as well as we would like, and will need lots of support to recover – so I am not sure whether I would have laughed and cried as much if I had seen it at another time.

What is not so good in the film is that there is a little more swearing than is necessary (though most of it is in context and appropriate), Clint’s growling and grumpiness are a little overdone, and the actress who plays the Hmong girl next door, while pretty and appealing, just did not seem to be able get any real conviction into her character.

Also, some people might find some of the terms used a little hard to take.

There was one couple in the cinema who left half way through claiming the film was racist. No it isn’t. It is partly about racism. That doesn’t make it a racist film.

The heart of the film is a very well paced exploration of the nature and cost of both friendship and redemption. Who and what matters, and why. It is intelligent and moving. It is currently number one at the box office in New Zealand, and will go on my list of DVDs to buy.

Up to 38,000 Civilisations in Our Galaxy

In a process described by University of Edinburgh researcher Duncan Forgan as ‘quantifying our ignorance,’ scientists have estimated that there are at least 361 ‘intelligent civilisations’ (are there unintelligent ones too?) in the Milky Way, and possibly up to 38,000.

While this is interesting, a guess about a number that could be anywhere between 361 and 38,000 does not sound very reliable or useful to me.

Tamil Tigers Almost Defeated

I don’t know what I think about this. The Tamils have not been treated well by the majority Sinhalese. Tamils are in the majority in the north of Sri Lanka. I can understand their wanting a state of their own.

On the other hand, this has been a terrible civil war in which some 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced, with allegations of atrocities on both sides.

If the Sinhalese do finally defeat the Tamil Tigers, I hope their victory will not be seen by the government as an opportunity for payback or further oppression against the Tamil people.

And no, as far as I recall there have been no all-night sessions at the UN or world-wide protests about this.

Villainous Capitalism to Blame – Not

Greedy or stupid policiticans, probably… 

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gets one thing right in his 7,000 word reiteration of the destructive Whitlam era philosophy that big government, big spending and high taxes are good. The thing he gets right is this: ‘Soft or hard, protectionism is a sure-fire way of turning recession into depression, as it exacerbates the collapse in global demand.’

Virtually everything else in the essay is wrong, and can be shown to be wrong. Rudd blames ‘extreme capitalism and unrestrained greed’ for the present crisis. This is utterly counter-factual.

The cause of the present crisis was do-gooding intervention in domestic home loan markets by successive US Democrat administrations.

In essence, starting with Jimmy Carter, those administrations offered incentives to lenders to give home loans to people who would not have qualified under normal lending criteria (or penalties to lenders who did not). This is the ‘sub-prime’ mortgage market, which consisted of giving loans to people who could not afford to repay them.

If you assume (as seems likely) a complete lack of understanding of basic economics in those who formulated this policy, you can allow that it may have been well-intentioned. In fact it should have been obvious to anyone with half a brain that it would leave those to whom the loans were given worse off in the long run, because they were likely not only to lose their homes, but any money they put into them, and their credit rating.

It should also have been obvious to anyone with half a brain that such a system could not be maintained. You cannot continue indefinitely to lend billions of dollars to people who have no chance of repaying it without eventually having a serious impact on the whole economic system.

In 2001 the Bush administration tried to get real answers from the Government Sponsored Enterprises (Fannie May and Freddie Mac) which underwrote those loans, and to ensure proper lending criteria were in place. These efforts were defeated by a consortium of Democrat representatives and senators, many of whom were in receipt of large donations from those bodies.

John Pilla on has more details.

Nyuh Zuhlunders Spuk Funny, eh?

I am a native New Zealander myself. Coming back to NZ this time I was struck by the difficulty I was having in understanding ordinary speech.

New Zealanders are inclined to drop the fina consonan of wors.

But more confusingly, every vowel sound (with the exception of the eu dipthong – as in duel – and the long a – as in way) collapses into a neutral ‘uh’ sound.

Thus muns yuh und up wuth suntunsus thut sund luk thus.

And Now Solis

After Geithner, Daschle, Richardson, Killefer, et al, further consideration of Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis has been postponed because her husband ‘only yesterday paid off tax liens, some of which had been pending for up to 16 years’.’

What is it with Obama’s team and taxes? Is forgetting to pay your taxes part of the whole ‘wealth redistribution’ thing?

‘At the the end of the process the nominee is asked one final catch-all question: Is there anything that could cause you, your family, or the President embarrassment if it became public?
Either Obama and his nominees aren’t easily embarrassed, or the vetters have tin ears the size of satellite dishes.’

Either these people are dishonest, or they are incompetent, or they are just plain stupid. Whichever it is, events so far hardly inspire confidence in the incoming administration.

© 2024 Qohel