What’s Leaving NETFLIX this December that you should watch or purchase before it’s gone!


una-noche

UNA NOCHE – A lushly photographed look at young Cuba prior to the return of Capitalism. While many extol the economic virtues of Capitalism’s return, including one of the protagonists of this film seeking to escape Cuba for Miami, I think this film shows you (as background, not main story)the fragile multicultural stew and unity that Cuba has managed, and that will arguably be lost when Capitalism/Colonialism returns.

Shorn of the 60 year old blockade, Cuba will be able to get new cars, and new technology, and new infrastructure, but that comes at a very steep, and very historic price. It comes at the price of also accepting America’s and Capitalism preferred vices, of rule by division, and stratification based on color, and loss of cultural and local and familial touchstones and interdependence.

Cuba of the coming dawn, is poised to trade its minor corruption of getting a radio or tv, for the big time corruption of gentrification and rule by corporations. This debut film by Lucy Mulloy is a wonderful slice of Cuban Neo-Realism, and in its way as interesting as its Italian neo-realist forbears, such as the brilliant ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS.

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roccoposter

Get both movies here:

Una Noche

Rocco and His Brothers [Masters of Cinema] [Non-USA Format / Region 2 / PAL UK import]

Review: TED Talk Eric X. Li on China and the US


“We live in the dusk of an era. Meta-narratives that make universal claims failed us in the 20th century and are failing us in the 21st. Meta-narrative is the cancer that is killing democracy from the inside.

Now, I want to clarify something. I’m not here to make an indictment of democracy. On the contrary, I think democracy contributed to the rise of the West and the creation of the modern world. It is the universal claim that many Western elites are making about their political system, the hubris, that is at the heart of the West’s current ills. If they would spend just a little less time on trying to force their way onto others, and a little bit more on political reform at home, they might give their democracy a better chance.

China’s political model will never supplant electoral democracy, because unlike the latter, it doesn’t pretend to be universal. It cannot be exported. But that is the point precisely. The significance of China’s example is not that it provides an alternative, but the demonstration that alternatives exist.

Let us draw to a close this era of meta-narratives. Communism and democracy may both be laudable ideals, but the era of their dogmatic universalism is over. Let us stop telling people and our children there’s only one way to govern ourselves and a singular future towards which all societies must evolve. It is wrong. It is irresponsible. And worst of all, it is boring. Let universality make way for plurality. Perhaps a more interesting age is upon us. Are we brave enough to welcome it?

Thank you.”— Eric X. Li’s TED talk: A TALE OF TWO POLITICAL SYSTEMS

I do not subscribe to China’s one party system, but the faults of China’s system aside, it is maintaining itself and its people, unlike the US and its western model that is increasingly about survival through annexation.

The US model is about putting off the problems of here and now, by putting effort into destroying and annexing always the next thing, the next country, the next resource.

However a country that does not resolve the issues of its own back yard before expanding and enforcing its will on other countries, is like a dog with rabies, running around the neighborhood and jumping fences and killing and mating with other dogs. It is a policy of barbarism and ultimately genocide and madness.

So while I do not think China’s system is an answer, compromised as it is by corruption and human rights violations, it is clear to me that unchecked Capitalism masquerading as Democracy, what the US and other Westernized Nations are calling Democracy… is a more compromised, more untenable, more destructive, and ultimately more evil system.

So the crux of Eric’s closing speech (quoted above)is sound, not that we should adopt China’s system, but that we should be flexible, and open to a changing and changed system, and the idea that there are a multitude of systems and solutions that remain untried.

Open to the idea that we as individuals, groups, and nations must always be looking to form… a more perfect union.

A successful nation is perhaps not an end, but a journey. And it is the things we allow a nation to do on that unending journey, in our name, that defines not just the success and the failure, but the good and the evil, of our lives.

Fox News Corporation (ie Liars R Us) and Shirley Sherrod

Today’s recommended link:

MILK AND COOKIES

Here’s the thing.

I don’t want to give a fuck about Fox News. I would like it to not be my concern.

But to echo the THIRD MAN, “we do not choose our concerns”. We are born into our times, and must either be shaper or shaped. Producer or product. Labeler or Labled.

I prefer striving toward the former.

Falling down going forward. Fighting all the idiocies and hatemongers and muckrackers of our age.

Fighting all those sneaky foxes. Fighting all the things that would betray us.

There has been a pattern going on too long now, of right wing interests attacking any person of color (be that color Black, or Brown, or Pink) who will not cowtow to their ever more bigoted and totalitarian line. From mayors and governors, elected by many people, being removed from office by the machinations of a klannish and goosestepping few, to mass-media, particularly the ‘news’, as ever more aggregious sounding board for voices of hate.

The Fox News Company indeed.

Here are some other voices, offering the news you won’t hear from Fox:

COLOR OF CHANGE

EFF

MOVE ON — I particularly like the coverage on a Senator Simpson and his ‘stance’ on Social Security recipients. Amazing. 🙂

BOYCOTT FOX NEWS site –site is a little wacky, but I quite like his list of Fox sponsors to boycott. Done and Done. 🙂

DEMOCRATS.COM? –I’ve lived long enough to see the culpability of both parties. Many democrats are acually conservatives in hiding. And a few republicans are actually a throwback to the progressive, abolitionist leanings of what their party was before being hijacked by racists post the reconstruction. But even if Democrats as a rule, don’t walk the talk, I at least like the fact that this site at least talks the talk.

Another BOYCOTT FOX site – Pretty packed site. Definitely worth taking for a spin!

INFOSHOP- Love that logo!

I’ll add to the list as we go.

“You have been sleeping. You have slept too long.”
—ROS

Top Down Economics: Dashiell Hammett, John Grisham, Barack Obama and You

I tell ya, if it wasn’t for pesky things like bills, and a perennial lack of funds, I could spend more time consistently updating this blog. Rather than these “drive-by” postings, that demands on my time have reduced me to.

I really need to write for a living, but the writing markets aren’t what they were. Writers of the 30s and 40s were averaging anywhere between $200 and $1000 for a short story. A $1000 is still a lot of money now. But in the 1930s that translates into probably $10000 in today’s money. Especially considering the average family income coming out of the depression, was around $1500 a year. So heck yeah, a $1000 check for a short story in the 1930s was a good chunk of change.

Even the pulp writers, especially the prolific pulp writers were raking in the dough. Here it is 70+ years later and the market for short fiction has not just dwindled, but the average pay rate has dwindled to a fraction of 1930s pay rates. Most people are very lucky to get a $100 for a short story, much less the $1000 of the 1930s. While the internet is great for turning everyone into writers and radio announcers, it’s done so at the expense of creating a viable monetization model for it, and thus eroding the existing model. The “Why should people pay for your review in the New York times or listen to this radio show, when you can read a 100 free blogs or a 100 free podcasts” mentality.

And don’t get me wrong, I love bloggers and podcasters, but don’t use us as a reason not to pay the professional a decent wage. The same goes for writers. The glut of online magazines has seemingly through their mere existence altered how print publications compensate their writers… and not in a good way.

Nowadays places are paying you less, and want far more. Not just first rights, but world rights, reprint rights, electronic distribution rights, you name it they want it, and generally, for short stories, don’t want to pay you over a $100. In 1937 Dashiel Hammet sold the rights to his popular THIN MAN series to Hollywood for $40000. A princely sum for 1937, and nothing to sneeze at in 2009. Let’s compare it to the $100,000 a “hot” author/screenwriter can command today.

In 1937, that $40000 was income tax free, the price of a house averaged $4000. So you just made enough to buy in cash ten houses. Compare that to today, a superstar writer gets a quarter million dollars for the rights to his novel. After taxes we’re talking if he’s lucky $198,000. Now the price of your average home is still around $250000. With homes in California still going for half a million dollars. So the superstar writer of today makes enough to put down a large downpayment on one house, as compared to the superstar writer of yesterday that makes enough to buy ten houses. Not to mention the fact that studios today have locked writers out of making residuals for new mediums derived from their work.

And yes, I get it that print publications aren’t what they were. That the multitude of media and mediums currently available has cut into the bottom line of print publications, so you have magazine circulations in the 10s of thousands rather than the 100s of thousands. And exorbitant ticket prices covering up the fact that less and less people are going to the movies. For every DARK KNIGHT that does well, their are a few score of REDBELTs that don’t.

But the thing is the increased cover and ticket prices, and ad and tie-in prices offsets this… so that the various mediums, are still ending up in the black.

So there is no reason the writers whose work is the source for the cartoon, and the film, and video game, and the internet download, shouldn’t receive residuals in these mediums as well. But It is just like in every other big business these days, the suits want maximum profit while sharing as little as possible of that with the workers who make the profits possible.

There was a time when if the company did well, that was passed down to the workers, in raises, bonuses, profitsharing, pensions… not any longer. If you’re not a suit at the corporate headquarters, or in the board meetings, if you’re just the poor sap who actually does the work… you get none of those things. You get a job with a payscale that is gradually going backwards, and the always pleasant possibility of having your job outsourced from under you, to a country where the suits can pay the workers even less and get away with it.

When economic gurus talk about the weakening of the dollar this is what they mean. And the only ones getting rich in such a system are the banks and the conglomerates. The setters of prices. The manipulators of money. So that you have a top down system, where the base, the majority of the population, is canabalized crushed to support the excesses, expenditures, waste, and greed of a vocal minority at the top.

When Barack Obama put the nation further in debt to the tune of 1.4trillion dollars, to bail out the very people who were and are responsible for our nations economic crisis, the banks and the conglomerates, that is a top down system in effect. It’s the many people being canabilized to support the few, an inherently flawed and unsupportable system, that grows more unsupportable the more the dollar is devauled by spending money that we do not have.

In essense not just locking the taxpayer into bondage to pay for the excesses of greedy, rich men, but locking the taxpayers’s children for generations to come.

It’s slavery. 21st century style.

And it’s the reason no one can make a living wage anymore. Not writers, not technicians, not engineers, not anyone.

The wealth would have and will have to be distributed more evenly throughout the pyramid for the pyramid, for the people and the nation to survive. The people are the foundation for the nation, and economically, emotionally, educationally, culturally; the American people, and the American foundation… under a storm of unchecked, venal capitalistic tyranny.. is crumbling.

Capitalism is this seasons shiny new Fascism.

And will goosestep us all to death, if not stopped.

On Presidents, Breaking Faith, Endless Wars and You

What if we’re wrong?

What if we are wrong about all the things we wanted to be right about?

What if we’re wrong about apple pie, and liberty, and democracy?

What if we are a police state, not for the good of the many, but for the greed of the few?

What if the FDA doesn’t care about protecting you? What if they don’t care about you staying well? What if a nation filled with the sick, is of more value to them, and their pharmaceutical backers, then a nation committed to being well?

What if a President rode to victory on the promises and the hopes of generations past and generations present, and in a few short months has completely betrayed every oath and every promise?

What if he answers to the same ends, and administers the same means, by which our world has been brought to this endless war? To this odd age, where all America has left to sell… is death.

What if it’s a game? The Republican and the Democrats, rigged puppets pulled by the highest bidder. And your life the ball they play with. What if we are a nation, that is ruled by gangsters and goons and greed?

What if the only true service your nation wants from you, is capitulation, and apathy, and fear?

What if our government taps our phones, reads our emails. monitors our correspondences, fragments our unity, intimidates our associates, and decimates our liberties?

If it does all those things to even one, one person, one group, one area… without checks, without balances, without oversight, is it still our government?

Or is it a state of monstrous governors and the mutely governed? Of butchers and their sheep?

And if so, what are you prepared to give up, to live by their rules, and what are you prepared to give up… to live by your own.

Odd questions for a Friday. Perhaps made all the more odd, by the certainty of the answers.