Monthly Archive: March 2007

Mar 15 2007

The Power of Film

Films can have an enormous emotional impact on a viewer, swaying them emotionally in ways that their intellect would oppose. I was reminded of this recently when I watched two films from the silent era, Buster Keaton’s The General (1927) and D. W. Griffiths’ Birth of a Nation (1915). The latter was one of the …

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Mar 15 2007

How the media patronizes us

The presidential election campaign for 2008 has already started with a whole host of declared and undeclared candidates running. George Bush’s performance seem to have persuaded people that anyone can do a better job than him. On the Democratic side, we have Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack …

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Mar 14 2007

Life is coarse grained, research is fine grained

In a celebrated remark in the case Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) involving “hard core pornography”, US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said that “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But …

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Mar 13 2007

The undogmatic dogmatism of scientists

In a recent online discussion about whether intelligent design creationism should be taught as part of science, one of the participants took exception to a statement by someone else that the theory of evolution is so well established that it was of no use to allow for the inclusion of intelligent design creationism. The challenger …

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Mar 12 2007

Torture on 24

The willingness of our so-called intellectuals to use fiction as a basis for justifying barbaric policy decisions is truly astounding. I have written before about how people who should know better (and probably do) continue to evoke the TV program 24 to justify the use of torture because the main character routinely uses it to …

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Mar 09 2007

A low-brow view of books

In yesterday’s post, I classified the appreciation of films according to four levels. At the lowest level is just the story or narrative. The next level above that is some message that the director is trying to convey and which is usually fairly obvious. The third level is that of technique, such as the quality …

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Mar 08 2007

A low-brow view of films

Although I watch a lot of films, I realized a long time ago that my appreciation of films (or plays or books or concerts) was decidedly at a ‘low brow’ level. To explain what I mean, it seems to me that there are four levels in which one can appreciate a film (or play). At …

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Mar 07 2007

Morality and ‘people of faith’

Former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney has declared himself a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. I argued earlier that Romney’s religion (he is a Mormon) should be immaterial to whether he is qualified to be President. But at a recent campaign event, he was challenged by someone who called him a …

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Mar 06 2007

Tennessee: The state that never gives up

Readers will recall that Dayton, TN was where the celebrated Scopes trial on the teaching of evolution was held back in 1925. Well, that state is still fighting against the teaching of evolution. The latest effort is chronicled in the newspaper the Nashville Postwhich reports on a resolution proposed by State Sen. Raymond Finney (R-Maryville). …

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Mar 05 2007

Macho Christianity

It had to happen some time. I have written before about how most people’s knowledge of the Bible is a CliffsNotes version, just the sketchiest of outlines of what is says. This is convenient because it enables each group or individual within Christianity and Judaism to pretty much adopt any lifestyle and morals and values …

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