Austerity for thee but not for me
LoL by: two_kittehs
Austerity cat was on the ICHC/lolcats voting pages this weekend. ICHC has made it slightly difficult to reach the voting pages, there is no link on the front page any more. If you want to vote for my lol it can be found here and it is also on voting page 4 of lolcats, right now.
Austerity cat made his first appearance here.
The review as promised. After seeing the 2009 Star Trek reboot my hopes for this latest Trek movie were not high. The reboot had major flaws, including but not restricted to an utterly unconvincing villain. This latest movie addresses that flaw to some extent. Benedict Cumberbatch’s villain is definitely an improvement over Eric Bana’s villain. Unlike the tattooed and bald Bana, Cumberbatch has a head full of hair and nary a facial tattoo in the movie and even his motivations and actions make more sense. I mostly blame the director and the writers for this sad state of affairs and not Bana.
I definitely liked this movie far better than the last one but it is not without flaws. The movie was a thrilling ride until the last thirty minutes.
WARNING: Spoilers follow
The movie begins with the Enterprise docked under water. Kirk and Spock are trying to save a planet by ignoring the Prime Directive.
The special effects were beautiful. Anyway, getting back to the plot, this results in Kirk losing command of the Enterprise and his rank, but don’t worry he will get both back in less than 10 minutes.
There is an attack on Star Fleet Archives in London, a huge explosion which destroys the building and its surroundings. It involves Cumberbatch and his blood, and a Star Fleet official with an ailing daughter. Immediately the Star Fleet high command summons a meeting in its San Francisco head quarters. Both Kirk who has been demoted to commander and Spock are present. Star Fleet must be awfully small if a recently demoted captain is a part of a high level meeting. The meeting takes place in a room with lots of windows. Was Dick Cheney’s bunker unavailable? Any how, there is another attack, through the aforementioned windows and most of Star Fleet big brass is eliminated including Kirk’s mentor Pike. Was it Abrams intention to make Star Fleet look like a joke? This crew doesn’t seem capable of tying its shoelaces, let alone undertake interstellar travel.
Meanwhile, Kirk has already figured out who is responsible for the attacks, it is one of Star Fleet’s own, a cadet named John Harrison. Harrison is none other than Cumberbatch. Who has already beamed back to an abandoned outpost in Klingon space.
Miraculously the Admiral who has convened the meeting escapes, I found that highly suspicious. More about that later. He reinstates Kirk as Captain and gives him back the Enterprise and sends him on highly secretive rogue mission to destroy Harrison. Enterprise is to be outfitted with top secret weapons. Haven’t we seen this before, an overreaction to a terrorist threat? And I don’t mean in real life, but in Trek, in Deep Space Nine, to be precise.
The rest of the movie is about the pursuit of Harrison who is not really Harrison, and bringing him back to earth to stand trial. Kirk soon figures out that things are not what they seem and both Harrison, and his on-board weapons specialist are not who he thought they were. Even his cargo of weapons is not what it seems. The weapons specialist turns out to be the Admiral’s daughter and Harrison is Khan. The admiral is who he says he is, but his intentions are far from honorable, as are his tactics. When Kirk figures that out, with help from his crew mates namely Scottie and Spock, he changes his mission from destroying Harrison/Khan to bringing him back to earth to stand trial.
The chase initially leads him and the Enterprise crew to Kronos where they encounter Harrison, who saves them from hostile Klingons, and relents to being taken a prisoner. He reveals his true identity while on the Enterprise and we find out the reason why he agreed to come back with them. We learn from Khan about the diabolical motivations of Admiral Marcus, who shows up in a huge ship, snarling, right on cue. Original Spock also makes a two minute appearance who tells the New Spock that Khan is a bad man, a very very bad man.
After many chases, firefights and fist fights, we have a final confrontation between Spock and Khan. Is it a battle of wits? Which one might have expected, since these two are supposed to be the brainiest men in the alpha quadrant. No, its a fist fight on what seems like a floating construction platform, where Khan goes from invincible to popsicle in a matter of minutes. How and why? Ours is not to question why but wait for a sequel to be explained why. I am hoping, that they also explain why Khan’s blood is magical.
Khan was an iconic villain in the original series, and the movies made thereafter. Since I have not seen either the movies or the episodes in which Khan makes an appearance, I don’t really get the significance of Harrison really being Khan. Is he supposed to be extra scary because he is Khan?
As for how an open society can retains its openness and its values, in face of the threat of terrorism, was handled far better in DS9, in the two part story, Homefront and Paradise Lost. It also had an admiral who goes rogue because he thinks that people around him are too soft to handle this new threat. The movie raised interesting questions relevant to the post 9/11 world but then degenerated into mindless and mind numbing summer fare. The cast, including Cumberbatch did an excellent job with the flimsy material they were given. The story did not utilize the characters of Dr McCoy, Scottie and Chekov well. If there is a sequel I hope that they are used for more than providing comic fodder. I for one thought that attempts at comedy were lame. Which is a shame because both Pegg and Urban, the actors playing Scottie and Bones, seem capable of much more.
We need a story worthy of this crew and the franchise. All in all a missed opportunity. Though it did provide a good hour and half of thrilling ride that transports you to a world of possibilities.
Credits (h/t : NYT Review)
Directed by J. J. Abrams; written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof, based on “Star Trek” by Gene Roddenberry; director of photography, Dan Mindel; edited by Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey; music by Michael Giacchino; production design by Scott Chambliss; costumes by Michael Kaplan; produced by Mr. Abrams, Mr. Kurtzman, Mr. Orci, Mr. Lindelof and Bryan Burk; released by Paramount Pictures. Running time: 2 hours 12 minutes.
WITH: John Cho (Hikaru Sulu), Benedict Cumberbatch (John Harrison), Alice Eve (Carol), Bruce Greenwood (Captain Pike), Simon Pegg (Montgomery Scott), Chris Pine (Capt. James T. Kirk), Zoe Saldana (Nyota Uhura), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (Dr. Leonard McCoy), Peter Weller (Starfleet Admiral Marcus) and Anton Yelchin (Pavel Chekov).
While the Senate began the debate on comprehensive immigration reform bill today, the GOP led Congress voted to defund the President’s Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which gives a temporary reprieve to immigrants who arrived here illegally when they were children. To paraphrase the President, please proceed GOP Congressional representatives.
ETA: Since this will never pass the Senate, what was the purpose of this pointless exercise?
I saved the best for the last. You can read parts I and II, here and here. Visiting the Independence Hall was the highlight of our trip. Best of all since it is a National Park, the admission was free. You do have to get tickets, though. We bought our tickets and stood in the line to get into the Independence Hall. Despite the fact, that it was a Saturday our wait was pretty short. After going through the security we joined the a group people sitting in a mid sized room. We were soon joined by a Park Service ranger, who was to be our guide. In his interactive presentation, he tried to get us, his audience in the mindset of the people who had gathered in the Philadelphia State House to sign the Declaration of Independence. What would one require for a successful revolution, he asked. The answers in no particular order, were reliable means of communication, arms, ammunition, an army to use the arms and ammunition and money to fund all of the above. To our list he added enlisting help of other governments for the cause.
The Independence Hall which had served as the State House for Pennsylvania was also used as a court house as well as a prison during the Revolutionary War. What struck me was the size of the room where the Declaration was signed. Compared to the magnificent Government buildings in Washington DC, this room seemed so humble, so small. I wonder what the signers would think of the country if they saw it now. Did they imagine that the original thirteen colonies would span the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific? Their concerns were probably more immediate. Pondering about the consequences of putting a finger in the eye of the powerful British Empire of which they were citizens. Most were likely thinking of what of Benjamin Franklin put in words so eloquently,
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
I asked the ranger the question that had been on my mind all along. Why Philadelphia? His answer, because the other two major cities, namely New York and Boston were under British control. I had no idea that things were that dire for the revolutionaries at the time of signing the Declaration. Must read more history.
We also saw the chambers where Washington resigned after his two terms were over, thus setting the precedent of peaceful transfer of power. After our tour of the Independence Hall, we crossed the road to see the Liberty Bell. The Bell has been a symbol of liberty not only to the rebels who took on the British Empire but also to the Abolitionists, the Suffragettes and later the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century. I wonder if Bob Dylan’s Chimes of Freedom, is inspired by the Liberty Bell?
Friedman and his smug mug are back, this time with supercilious advice about landing a job in today’s tough job market. Ever the centrist, MoU blames both sides for the current situation. Not Democrats and Republicans but job seekers and employers. Apparently both are to blame because they want purple unicorns. If he is likening finding a perfect job or hiring the perfect candidate to be a near impossibility, wouldn’t saying that both want a unicorn be enough? Why purple, are they royal and therefore more difficult to find than non-purple unicorns? Redundant MoU is redundant.
Oh no, not again
LoL by: two_kittehs
Rest of the column is devoted to a company that helps narrow the search for the purple unicorns.
Long story short, it does not matter where you get your degree from, but it does matter who your college room-mate was. It even gets you free advertising in one of the most reputed newspapers in the country. In this column, Sharef, (daughter’s room-mate) plays the role that taxi-drivers usually play in Friedman columns set in more exotic locales.
In the last couple of columns, including this one Friedman seems to be downplaying the importance of a college degree and hyping Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs . I wonder if he gave the same advice to his daughters that he is giving the unwashed masses. Or is it prestigious colleges for me and mine but MOOCs for the peasants. While I have nothing against MOOCs as a supplementary tool to enhance your education it is a bit of a reach to say that they can replace a traditional degree.
According to the Sharef, (daughter’s room-mate) one of the main reasons people get rejected for jobs is that they don’t show the employer how they will help them add value. Earlier in the column Sharef, laments about the writing skills of job seekers.
What surprises me most about people’s skills is how poor their writing and grammar are, even for college graduates. If we can’t get the basics right, there is a real problem.
So pray tell what value does Friedman add to the op-ed page of the New York Times, with his bi weekly torture of the English language and leaps of logic, is it comic relief?
ETA: By doing a quick Google Search I found that, Eleanora Sharef went to Yale, so MoU’s daughter is a Yale graduate. So it is Yale for me and mine and MOOCs for thee.
I tried something new today, made a comics using the builder on ICHC. Scrabble kitteh is my boss kitteh, he is quite a character.
The immigration bill has crossed its first hurdle, it has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 13-5 with the adoption of 141 amendments. You can read the summary of the amendments here, and here. Whether it will make it to the President’s desk and in what final form is anybody’s guess. Its tough uphill climb has just begun, and right now we are just at the base camp.