The Aviator

Carmen and I haven’t been to nearly enough movies lately, but today we got up early enough to go out and catch the nearly three hour long film The Aviator starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese. This film has been out for a while, but is still in theaters because of its eleven Oscar nominations, including Best Actor (DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Supporting Actor (Alan Alda), Best Picture and Best Director.

When you do a film about as legendary a character as Howard Hughes, you have to go big, and this movie is a big film, full of good performances. DiCaprio really does turn in a terrific performance as Hughes, and I found Blanchett’s portrayal of legendary film actress Kathryn Hepburn to be very well done and worthy of Oscar contention. The film tries to demonstrate the increasing madness of Hughes beginning in early childhood, and progressing through the war years and his turbulent experience as the head of TWA, culminating in the very short flight of the Hercules, commonly known as the Spruce Goose,

I give the film high marks for trying to capture the persona of a very complicated (and very crazy) man. It’s very difficult subject matter, and to be as engaging and as interesting as it is must be recognized as a considerable achievement in direction and screenwriting. Still, the story itself seems to be a bit disjointed, a series of vignettes that seem to be chosen by some other criterion than trying to make a proper story arc. Still, I’d rank this movie about eight out of ten. DiCaprio and Blanchett are worthy of Oscar nods, and Scorsese for direction, but I don’t think its your best film winner at the Oscars.

Sliding down the slippery slope

I’m not paranoid.

Damn, I just realized that by saying it, I probably am, but holy-land-o-mercy. Have people gone completely insane?

A high school in Sutter California has ordered all students to wear mandatory RFID tracking tags.

The badges introduced at Brittan Elementary School on Jan. 18 rely on the same radio frequency and scanner technology that companies use to track livestock and product inventory.

Well folks, the transformation from “place of learning” to “place to store livestock and/or criminals (your pick)” is complete. And people wonder why academic achievement in the United States is so low.

It’s absurd to think that a group of 600 children in rural California need to have tracking devices akin to those attached to sexual predators just so that they can prevent vandalism and “speed up taking enrollment”. If I were a parent in their district, I’d be completely outraged. What this really appears to be is a draconian measure designed to limit the involvement (and thereby, the expense) of having teachers and staff deal directly with students and their problems.

Most kids aren’t criminals, but treating them like they all are will certainly not help. It’s your job to teach kids and help them become good members of society: do you really think that “we are watching you all the time?” is the message that you need to send to them to make them behave?

You’re not in the middle of Richmond or L.A. for pete’s sake. You’re in podunk rural California, and you are dealing with kids who are 14 and under. Get some perspective, man.

No more referers logged on the homepage

I removed the list of referers from my homepage. While it is interesting to see who is coming from other sites, it’s also clear from recent search results that I’m being targeted (although hardly singled out) by large numbers of comment and referer spammers who are presumably encouraged by even the slimmest appearance of one of their sites on my blog. I now will monitor this stuff using and using other tools.

Untapped Gmail Generosity

Well, I was kind of depressed that only one person stepped forward to request a gmail account. Does everyone already have a gmail account? Well, perhaps so. Theo stepped up and mentioned the gmail invite spooler which redistributes unused gmail invites. They have 182K accounts in the queue, ready for distribution.

Wow, that’s 182 TERABYTES of untapped mailbox space. Amazing.

Anyway, I still have 48 gmail invites, ready for the asking. Send me an email and I’ll send you one back.