Thursday, June 30, 2005

Egghead proclaims that the Dark Ages are coming.

Physicist Jonathan Huebner finds that the Golden Age of "bright ideas" is nearing an end and that the world of technological innovations will be entering a "dark age" within twenty years. In other news, Physicist Jonathan Huebner forced into retirement by computers that have rendered him obsolete.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Are People Really This Stupid?

From the San Francisco Chronicle comes an article that really makes me wonder if some people even have a clue anymore.

A popular ride at Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo remains closed today as park officials and state regulators try to determine why it left a 7-old-girl feeling nauseated and numb.

Investigators with Cal OSHA spent Monday testing and inspecting the park's Hammerhead Shark ride, which swings like a pendulum before sending riders on a 360-degree whirl, after shutting it down first thing Sunday morning.

Park spokesman Paul Garcia said park officials received a call from authorities at San Francisco General Hospital who said they were treating a girl who said she had a headache, nausea and numbness. The girl told doctors she'd spent Saturday at Six Flags, Garcia said, and the attraction she described riding matched the Hammerhead Shark

Next, authorities plan on suspending all driving in the Bay Area while they investigate why passengers who read while riding in cars makes them feel "a little icky."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why did Scarlett Johansson turn down Mission: Impossible 3?

This officially counts as "Tom Cruise is Still Crazy" news but it comes in the form of the reason why Scarlett Johansson suddenly backed out of plans to co-star in Mission: Impossible 3.

Prior to wooing Holmes, Cruise repeatedly called Johansson to ask her to meet him at the Scientology Celebrity Center in LA. When the actress, who at that point was set to co-star in Mission Impossible III with Cruise, finally agreed, the meeting, which was supposed to be a professional one, took an odd spiritual turn.

"“[Cruise] took me into this room, which was stifling hot, and was showing me all kinds of info about joining the church,"” Johansson told a source. "The whole time he didn'’t even offer me a cookie!"

Cruise instead offered her dinner. After two hours of proselytizing, Cruise opened a door to reveal a second room filled with upper-level Scientologists who had been waiting to eat dinner with the pair. At that point, Johansson politely excused herself.

It was soon after that she dropped out of the film due to scheduling conflicts.

Apparently the closed door antics of those wacky Scientologist might not be so far fetched after all. I don't know about you but I'm imagining weirdwierd ritual scene in Eyes Wide Shut with the creepy music, the robes and the masks. Hey! Tom Cruise was in that movie!

So much for the "Pursuit of Happiness"

I've been meaning to write something about the Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain from last week and an article that I saw today has spurned me to finally follow through.

When I first heard the ruling I thought I must have misunderstood the article, but then upon further review I realized that the ruling did in fact state that city governments can seize people's homes, against their will if necessary, in order to make way for private economic development. How depressing is that?

As someone who wants to one day own a home and invest in real estate, I am now wondering if there is even a point. I mean why should I spend hard earned money on property that I hope to either live on or use as a means to build equity? The city can say at anytime that they want my property for private economic development. Of course they would give me some compensation but it would also be far less that I could get if I was dealing directly with the private developer.

Every city is trying to get old down town areas revitalized and I think that is great. But if I owned a building in that part of town and someone had a great idea about how to improve the area, I wouldn't even get to be in on the discussion of what I would be paid for my private property! Where is the capitalism? The Declaration of Independence speaks of protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One of those pursuits is property as evidence in an early draft that in fact stated the protection of life, liberty and property. So I am not sure what documents the Court used to come to their opinion, but it certainly doesn't sound like they bothered to consult the big one published on July 4, 1776.

Thank goodness for people like Logan Darrow Clements. He has submitted a request to begin the application process for a hotel development in Weare, NH at 34 Cilley Hill Road. What is the significance of that specific address? It is none other than the address of Justice David Souter's home!

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Cafe" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others.

Patrick Henry would be proud!

Monday, June 27, 2005

NASA Watches Sketch Comedy, Gets Inspiration

NASA will be blowing up a piece of a comet on July 4 as a means to study the internal structure. Some people think that engineers and scientists don't have a sense of humor but somebody at NASA with a lot of authority must be watching Mr. Show with Bob and David.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Tom Cruise Does His Research

I don't watch morning TV because I have a job, but someone at CNN does. On the Today show this morning, Tom Cruise apparently got into a tiff with Matt Lauer about Scientology and psychiatry. (Full Transcript)

When asked if he could be with someone at this stage in his life who doesn't have an interest in the Church of Scientology -- Holmes has said she's embracing the religion -- Cruise told interviewer Matt Lauer: "Scientology is something that you don't understand. It's like you could be a Christian and be a Scientologist.

"It is a religion. Because it's dealing with the spirit. You as a spiritual being. It gives you tools you can use to apply to your life."

Fair enough but then the interview delved into psychiatry with respect to some comments Brooke Shields made about how therapy and medication helped her after she suffered from post-partum depression.

When Lauer mentioned Cruise's earlier criticism of Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants, Cruise told the "Today" show co-host he didn't know what he was talking about.

"You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do," Cruise said.

The interview became more heated when Lauer, who said he knew people who had been helped by the attention-deficit disorder drug Ritalin, asked Cruise about the effects of the drug.

"Matt, Matt, you don't even -- you're glib," Cruise responded. "You don't even know what Ritalin is. If you start talking about chemical imbalance, you have to evaluate and read the research papers on how they came up with these theories, Matt, OK. That's what I've done."

Well I did some reassures myself and here is what I found out about Scientology:



Scientology Kills

Scientology Lies

The Fight Against Scientology

The Secrets of Scientology

Not convinced? Where was Katie Holmes for 16 days in April?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Land of the Free?

Last night I read the news of the House approving a constitutional amendment that would ban any desecration of the American flag. As we all know from Civics class, it has to approved by 2/3 of the Senate and 38 states in order to be officially adopted. This amendment comes up every few years and apparently never makes it past the Senate but some pundits say that this could be the time. I certainly hope not though.

For a few years now, I have been of the opinion that I can't think of any amendment to the constitution that would pass because of the amount of approval needed. And I don't think that this situation will be any different but it does beg the question of why so many people feel that banning flag burning is so important. To ban flag burning would be ironic to say the least. The flag is a symbol of freedom and to ban the burning of that symbol would be in stark contrast with the freedom that it is supposed to represent. I don't agree with the statement of flag burning and I personally think that it is a pretty cliched and boring way to protest the government but it does no harm to the freedom that we have and it really serves to show just how much freedom we have in this country.

People throw around the word censorship, inappropriately I think, but this would be a true form of the government sponsored control over a certain type of speech. I'm all for patriotism and for love of country, but a flag is a piece of cloth that is a symbol of freedom and not freedom itself. I don't particularly like to see a flag burned but I don't think that a constitutional amendment is the answer. To amend the constitution to prevent the practice goes against everything that the flag stands for.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Ask and ye shall receive

I suppose this is in answer to my sarcastic post from yesterday about the study on cell phones and the risk they pose to drivers: here is a fascinating article about a study on a virus that 80% of the population already has and it can kill cancer cells without killing any healthy cells! Let's hope these scientists are on to something!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

From The Obvious Department

Research money well spent. Now let's get on to those trivial matters like curing Cancer and AIDS.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Best Album of the last 20 Years...

Spin magazine has named Radiohead's OK Computer as the best album of the last twenty years and I have to say that I can really agree with this pick. It mentions that Nirvana's Nevermind was once given the distinction of best album of the 90's, but that has waned over time and I can't help but agree with that as well. Nevermind is an important album as it truly ushered "alternative" rock into the mainstream, paved the way for the success of the Seattle sound and put an end to the cheesy "hair-rock" of the 80's. The thing about Nevermind though is I really can't remember the last time I actually listened to it.

When OK Computer was released, it was a similar watershed because it was hailed as the album from the band that would "save guitar rock." It's funny how things turned out. It is an amazingly beautiful and sad album that was loud and quiet and the same time. It was a departure from their previous straight-ahead guitar driven album The Bends. When it was originally released, I felt at first that it was too much of a departure however I did enjoy it. As I listened more though, it really grew on me. The last time I listened to it completely was just about two months ago and it just happened to come out of my CD changer last week to make way for the new Foo Fighters album (a band that I never imagined would have more commercial success than Nirvana after coming out of what was left after Kurt Cobain's suicide). And today Radiohead is still recording amazing music but have continued to progress farther away from guitars and more into the experimental realm. I honestly feel that Radiohead is the Pink Floyd of my generation. And OK Computer will always be the album that made the already tired and formulaic "alternative" rock genre begin to crumble.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Those Miscellaneous Land-Line Phone Taxes

Have you ever wondered about what some of those miscellaneous taxes are when you get your non-cellular phone bill? When I got rid of my land-line three years ago, I did it because I felt like I was paying $30 a month to get calls from telemarketers. I never realized that there was another really great reason to get rid of it. Stupid government bureaucracy. Let's hope this doesn't get extended to cellular phones and Internet connections.

Here we go again!

Is our economy on the brink of collapse because of things like this? Maybe we as Americans live on so much credit, but it is too much to ask for the creditors to at least pretend they are trying to protect the information?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Futurama Movies?!?

The Onion A.V. Club has a great interview with Billy West, the voice actor behind Philip J. Fry, Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg and, of course, Zapp Brannigan on Futurama. I thought the Simpsons was great while I was in high school but when I started college, it just seemed to get derivative and boring. Just as I was finishing college, along came Futurama and it ended up being my favorite cartoon series ever. It was far superior to the Simpsons even though they had a few good seasons early on. Fox of course wanted a carbon copy of the Simpsons, but Matt Groening refused and so the show was systematically scheduled poorly so that it would not have a good audience following. Thankfully, Cartoon Network still shows Futurama reruns and I watch them constantly and enjoy them even after seeing them all so many times. Futurama had a lot of heart and there are several episodes that were both funny and touching. I'm not afraid to admit that there are four episodes that actually brought tears to my eyes! (They are all listed among other great moments here.)

Anyway, the interview is great and very critical of the fickle nature of the cartoon/voice-over business, but the most exciting part is the mention of not one but several possible Futurama movies! Now I don't expect them to be shown in theaters, but I would love to see Fry, Leela, Bender and the Professor all back together again for new witty and touching stories. Fox has learned that there is life after cancellation (see Family Guy) and apparently, Futurama DVD sales have been strong enough to warrant a new production. Hooray!

470 People Agree With Me...

...that movies are getting worse. The poll comes in an article about how people think that most stars make poor role models. Well duh!?! They are only people like everyone else. There are certainly some that could be good role models but probably the same percentage that would be found in the general population. I just like the fact that of the 1000 people surveyed, 47% said movies are getting worse. One by one they're starting to fall like dominoes!

"Unpoliced Conversation?"

Last time I checked, England still had a right of free speech similar to the US but if you read the Archbishop of Canturbury's comments about web-based media, you'd think he was an advocate for tightening some freedoms.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has criticised the new web-based media for "“paranoid fantasy, self-indulgent nonsense and dangerous bigotry." He described the atmosphere on the world wide web as a free-for-all that was "“close to that of unpoliced conversation."

Personally, I'd rather not live in a place where my conversation is "policed" so I'm happy to say that we have that freedom in the US and it's not going anywhere.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ultimate Driving Challenge

I had to attend a defensive driving course this afternoon in order to expunge a speeding ticket from my record. Thankfully it wasn't anything like the eight-hour class I had to take in Austin a few years ago, although that one was taught by a comedian. Today's class was scheduled for a mere two hours but actually only lasted for about ninety minutes. The class basically consisted of a video called "Ultimate Driving Challenge." It was quite an amusing defensive driving video because it reminded me of the videos on The Simpson's hosted by Troy McClure. This particular video was hosted by Craig T. Nelson and co-hosted by Paula Zahn. It also included segments featuring Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Danny Sullivan, Deidre Hall and Barbara Mandrell. It was quite ridiculous and it was hard to keep from laughing as TV's Coach was talking about driving safety and all these other B-list celebrities were throwing in their two cents.

On the downside, defensive driving really brings out the Peanut Gallery. There were several people in the class who were complaining about not wanting to be there before it started, but when the teacher came in, they were talking incessantly and making the class last longer. It was quite annoying. It was really kind of sad because as the class was ending, I realized that this two hour period was really the most exciting and socially rewarding two hours of their week. Not to sound like a curmudgeon, but I just wish they hadn't wasted my time.

No matter now though. I "learned my lesson" and I won't speed again for a while.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

My First Recording Credit!

When I went to Azalea Studios today, Fett informed me that I had gotten my first official recording credit! It is for a rather unique recording project by a woman named Kristi McClanahan. She is an AD/HD and Parenting Coach and has devised several teaching programs/seminars that incorporate music to help learn the lessons.

The specific program is called "Tune In! A Musical Approach to Effective ADD Management for ADD Adults and Their Families." When I first started working at Azalea Studios, I was asked to help out on the project that was already pretty far along. I assisted in recording vocal overdubs for "It's Easy To Do" and assisted in mixing "Less Is More." That work was enough to receive a Third Engineer credit on the finished product and I couldn't be happier. It's exciting to have gotten a written credit this early in my new career. It's nice to get recognition for all the hours we put in on those two tracks.

What have we learned from this?

I didn't really want to post much about the results of the Michael Jackson trial but I did want to say that I am not surprised in the least by the verdict. What are the lessons that can be learned or reinforced from this?

1. If you live in California and you are a celebrity, you can do almost anything you want and not be convicted.
2. The reason that number one is true is that the public prosecutors for the state are completely incapable of building a strong case against celebrity defendants.
3. If you are not a celebrity, all bets are off and you better get ready for a lot of jail time and/or the death penalty.

UPDATE: On tonight's episode of the Daily Show, Stephen Colbert made the exact same points that I did in the above post. I didn't realize he was a reader of this blog!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I Feel Like An Uncle!

Congratulations to my good friends Tim and Lidia on the birth of their daughter Ana! Read more about it on Tim's blog!

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is not a good movie.

I foolishly spent $8.50 to see "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" last night and realized that not only had I paid too much for it, I couldn't think of any movie that is worth $8.50 to see.

I've seen the reports that talk about how it's a hit, but I must ask the question: When will people realize that a high gross on opening weekend has absolutely no correlation to the quality of that movie?

This movie is formulaic at best and pointless at the end. It is a bunch of silly couples therapy jokes strung together with PG-13 choreographed fight sequences. And then to top it off, the wrinkle in the plot that is introduced about midway through the movie goes completely unresolved when the credit finally roll. But the writers threw in one more couples therapy joke at the end to make you forget about how lazy they were in not bothering to actually resolve the plot. And what bothered me more was that people actually clapped in the theater at the end of the movie and it wasn't sarcastic!

I give up! Hollywood you win! I won't go see anymore crappy summer "blockbusters" if you promise not to ruin any more movies and TV shows with unnecessary remakes and/or adaptations. Uh-oh! Too late! The deal is off!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Free Katie!

The Free Katie! campaign has begun to "liberate Katie, a young, gifted, actress held captive by forces we may never understand. Even one summer of captivity is too long for one so bright!" Hollywood gossip is a terribly annoying past-time, but this story will just not go away because Tom Cruise seems to be making a point of letting everyone know that he and Katie Holmes are for real. You be the judge: Crazy In Love or Just Plain Crazy? Of course "Option 3" is that this is all just an elaborate stunt to promote yet another lazy Hollywood remake.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Hybrid Man

I read a story this afternoon about the "Hybrid Man" and I must say, that this is a load of crap!

"We are watching the birth of a hybrid man. ... Why not put on a pink-flowered shirt and try out a partner-swapping club?" asked Le Louet, stressing that the study had focused on men aged between 20 and 35.

I agree that there is no reason for men to not be emotional or infallible but what is this crap about swingers clubs? Is it so hard to be in a committed relationship with one person? Or is this crap just an excuse by French fashionistas to try to justify their decadent lifestyles.

Maybe I am in the minority, but I don't think that's the case. There seems to be an overwhelming push by media types to advocate lifestyles that are contrary to traditional moral values under the guise of promoting individuality and freedom. But I believe that this is a disingenuous attempt to prop up what traditionalists would call immoral or unacceptable behavior.

Why is monogamy viewed as a negative to these people? Is it that these Hybrid Men are so enlightened that they see that there is no need to be committed to one person? I tend to think it is actually insecurity and jealousy of not being emotionally capable of committing to one person for the rest of one's life. And that is just sad. I believe in Love and that when you have found the right person, there is no one else in the world that can satisfy you emotionally or physically. That's not to say that there wouldn't be thoughts of experiences with others, but to engage in such activities would devalue the original relationship. I know a lot of people that think that they could engage in that behavior, but given the opportunity causes them to have a natural guilty reaction. In my opinion, anyone who wouldn't feel guilty does not have enough of a moral and psychological grounding to experience true Love in the first place. They are only capable of shallow and baseless relationships. To me that's not a hybrid of anything...that's just sad.

Shark Season Is Upon Us!

It's not officially summer until a surfer is bit by a shark and a media frenzy is whipped up. So Sunday was apparently the first official day of summer. The AP is reporting that a surfer was bitten by a shark off the coast of New Jersey on Sunday. It was the first reported shark attack in New Jersey in 30 years. And it might have a been a young Great White shark! Stay tuned to the news for Jaws themed reports on the story.

About a year ago, I read the thoroughly interesting chronicle Twelve Days of Terror of a series of gruesome shark attacks in New Jersey in 1916. Now that was a frenzy! Although the type of shark was never determined conclusively, most experts think it was either a Great White or one or more Bull sharks. What was truly horrifying about the story is that the shark(s) not only attacked people in the ocean, but also attacked swimmers in an inland canal. The idea of being eaten by a shark in a river is terrifying!

By all accounts, that summer was worse than anything that has been seen in Florida, California or Hawaii in the past few years. Maybe it is morbid curiosity, but sharks are fascinating. These ancient creatures are truly amazing. But they are definitely not going to keep me out of the ocean this summer.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Identity Theft

In this day and age of online bill paying and other electronic transactions, one might be inclined to look to the Internet as the weakest link in protecting your "identity." But two stories that I read today prove that you are pretty much not safe from identity theft even if you personally guard your information or you are forced to use too much sensitive information in your daily life.

The first story comes from New York where CitiFinancial has announced that they have lost 3.9 million customers' personal information including Social Security numbers and payment histories. The information was contained on data tapes that were picked up by UPS last month and have disappeared in transit to a credit reporting company. It's bad enough that UPS lost such an important package but what in the hell was such sensitive material being shipped by UPS for?!? It would seem like this would be the type of material that would be hand carried in a briefcase handcuffed to the arm of a man in a black suit with training in martial arts and a concealed handgun. Am I wrong?

The second story is very disturbing indeed. A community college professor in Winter Haven, FL has been charged with using some of his students names and Social Security numbers to get credit cards for department stores. This has been on the verge of happening for a long time. I remember when I was in college, there was a lot of debate of the use of Social Security numbers as a method for identification of students. The risk is that these numbers were posted in public places so that students could confidentially check their grades. But the problem is that it only takes a few unscrupulous professors or other students to fraudulently acquire numerous credit cards.

I have heard stories of people who have been victims of identity theft and their lives have been made very difficult by fraud. They have had trouble getting future credit to buy a home, car or even business loan. For all the talk and concern with protecting personal information, these two stories are examples of very preventable occurrences.

I myself have been in a similar situation. About a year ago, I received a letter from the company I used to work for stating that one of their servers had been stolen. The server contained personal information of a large number of employees including Social Security numbers. My former employer was gracious enough to pay for a credit check for all employees but that doesn't excuse the fact that someone was able to steal a server from their corporate offices!

I went ahead with my credit check and was very disturbed to find numerous identity errors in my report! My father and I have the same name and that always caused confusion when I was growing up. He and I would open each others mail inadvertently, but what I saw on my credit report was both startling and frustrating. There were several entries included on the report for credit cards that were in my father's name. Furthermore, there were listings for addresses that I had never lived at but my father had. But the information that infuriated me the most was the listings of OTHER SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS!!!!! One of the other numbers was my father's number and I have no idea to whom the other belonged. This was on my official credit report from one of the three national credit monitoring agencies! If they can't keep identities straight, who can we trust?!?

Sadly I think that things are going to get worse until they get better. It's already too easy for malicious people to steal identities, and the companies that should be helping are not doing a very good job right now. I for one am going to keep shredding those pre-approval credit card applications and hope for the best.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

There's No Place Like Home

I just found out tonight that my home state of Louisiana is sinking into the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently, south Louisiana is sinking at a rate of 5 feet per century so in the future, my parent's house will be either ocean front property or will be in the ocean. For all my friends who have told me they want to visit Lafayette, LA and have me show them around, you only have about 95 years to get it done so set your appointments soon!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Military Responsibility

Late Friday afternoon, the Pentagon released a report cataloging several confirmed instances of desecrations to the Koran that occurred at Guantanamo Bay. Some of the instances include copies of the book being stepped on, kicked, obscenities being written on them and, worst of all, being splashed with urine.

On March 25, a detainee complained to guards that "urine came through an air vent" and splashed on him and his Quran. A guard admitted he was at fault, but a report released Friday evening offering new details about Quran mishandling incidents did not make clear whether the guard intended the result.

In the March incident, as described in the report, the guard had left his observation post to go outside to urinate. The wind blew his urine through an air vent into the cell block. The guard's supervisor reprimanded him and assigned him to gate guard duty, where he had no contact with detainees, for the rest of his assignment at Guantanamo Bay.

So what, the guards don't have bathrooms at the prison? That's a pretty flimsy excuse. I don't like it any more than Newsweek printing unconfirmed reports of a copy of the Koran being flushed down the toilet.

Accidents happen and people make mistakes, but coming up with a convoluted excuse for how urine got on a Koran is pretty pathetic. Maybe I'm just naive and have too much faith in people doing the right thing all the time.

I think that the majority of people in the military go in for a good reason, but there is a small group of people that enters the military to have power. It's quite sad that they would then go on to perpetrate an action they knew was wrong and make up a convoluted excuse for how it was an accident. This is the kind of crap that makes people around the world distrust America and question the motives of the US military.

Furthermore, the fact that the Pentagon waited until after the evening news on Friday to release this report is a pretty sad display. That's a pretty immature way to handle the news. It's like when you were a kid and waiting until your parents were out of town to tell them you did something wrong. It's that childish hope that the extra time will let their anger and the punishment be diminished by the time they got back to discipline you. That's a pretty pathetic strategy for the US military to engage in. Maybe I just shouldn't have such high expectations of the military, but then why shouldn't I?

My real concern is that these newest reports will set off more riots in the Middle East. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The European Union

Today, the Netherlands proved that the European Union as some would like it to exist, is impossible.

I remember hearing about predictions for the Union in the late 1980s and thought that it would very interesting if only from a historical point. The prediction I saw on a television show about futurists and economists actually showed a map of the "United States of Europe." In high school, I was fortunate enough to have a very thorough education of Western Civilization and European history. In college I was able to take a study abroad trip to France and experience French and other European cultures first hand. What I learned then and have been predicting ever since is that a united Europe is nearly impossible in this day and age.

The overriding reason is that ever country in Europe has far too much nationalistic identity to accept a confederacy of nations as states. A majority of Europeans want the world to look to them as the dominant power in the world, but they are really only envisioning their country as that power, not a united Europe. There is nothing wrong with nationalism, but it is an impediment when it comes to agreeing to surrender some of your identity and ability to create wealth for yourself.

I last visited France in 1998, a few years before the conversion of money to the Euro. I felt, and still feel, that the conversion would make travel very convenient because I was always having to change money whenever I took a weekend trip to another country. One moment struck me as very telling of the future of unification. I was on a train from Munich to Paris when I decided to make a stop in the dining car for some dinner. I had some German Marks left over so I wanted to use them before I returned to France. I was trying to figure out what each coin was and apparently I slightly mispronounced the word "Mark." I know this because the waiter told me so in a very condescending manner. I thought to myself, "How is the Euro going to work here? People are so protective of their own identity that they will treat a paying customer like this."

Soon I came to realize that if they feel this way about their currency, how will a majority of the populations agree on anything? Perhaps that thought was a bit extreme but it appears that the general populations of some of the member countries don't support the plans quite as much as the politicians. I do not think that the European Union is doomed, but some concessions will have to be made that will most likely take the power out of the EU and at that point, a constitution would be rendered almost useless.

Star Wars

I finally saw Revenge of the Sith this past weekend and was left with a feeling of slight disappointment to go along with the "closure" of the story coming full circle. I guess I was just hoping to be able to relive the excitement that I had felt when watching the original trilogy. But sadly it was only nostalgia and nothing more. I mean this wasn't a bad movie, but I have seen quite a few headlines and reviews that proclaim this film the best of the series. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a lot that is wrong with the movie.

I enjoyed parts of it but I found that at times, it was excruciatingly slow and tedious. Too much time was spent trying to show Anakin's turn to the "darkside" but it was hampered by the constraints of the movie. It just felt like he was turned pretty darn easily after all that we were lead to believe. It seemed a little forced to me in order to get to the conclusion that we all knew was inevitable.

I actually left the theater feeling like I had enjoyed this chapter less than the last. I remember being very excited by the action in Attack of the Clones but there was no real suspense in this film. I guess that is the trouble with prequels. To it's credit, Revenge of the Sith was better than The Phantom Menace but that really isn't saying a lot.

So now the Star Wars chapter of our lives is over. I for one am glad to see it end. There was a time that I thought I'd never even think such a thing, but George Lucas did so many things with the new trilogy that sacrificed the heart and soul of the original story that I almost wish the prequels were never made. But hindsight is 20/20 and it's easy to criticize after the fact.

For a very funny review of the movie (beware of spoilers) check out Maddox's opinion.