Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Green Lantern

Green Lantern

Hal Jordan/Green Lantern
Ryan Reynolds
Carol           Blake Lively
Hector         Peter Sarsgaard
Sinestro       Mark Strong
Abin Sur      Temuera Morrison
Dr. Waller    Angela Bassett
Sen. Hammond     Tim Robbins
With the voices of:
Parallax     Clancy Brown
Kilowog     Michael Clarke Duncan
Tomar-Re   Geoffrey Rush

Warner Bros. presents a film directed by Martin Campbell. Written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg, based on the comic-book series. Running time: 105 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action).

Green Lantern may at first remind you of a very famous movie from the recent past, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Green Lantern Corps are a group, and it’s a very large group, of intergalactic aliens who run around doing the “peacekeeper” job in the universe. Not only do they resemble the Jedi Knights of Star Wars in their organization, but they carry a Farscape name of “peacekeeper”. Green Lantern, however, is much older, almost by a generation than Star Wars and the concept probably goes back even farther. There isn’t much new out there in the entertainment world, seeing as movie production rarely takes big risks on things it hasn’t sold before.

The long and the short of the film is this: a Guardian of the planet OA, from whence the Corps operate as a home base, took a risk on fear and was devoured by it, then he becomes the movies main bad guy. Hal Jordan, a mere Earth man, is chosen by a Green Lantern ring to continue the service of a mighty warrior who fell to Parallax, the big baddie. Hal is of course, a rookie, and goes through training, then must defend Earth against the fear monger monster. 

Ryan Reynolds is a test pilot who becomes the Green Lantern, he shows kamikaze like tendencies in defeating a pair of computer jets during a test exercise. Blake Lively is the female love interest that the “good guy” must win over with his heroics. And in grand “James at 15” style, he is indeed the only thing that stands between Beauty and the Beast as he saves her not once, but twice. 

In order to do this, win the girl that is, and also save the Earth, Hal must continue to believe in the power of the will (whose color is green) over the power of fear (whose color is yellow). Just like the yellow stripe down the back that Looney Toons cartoons used to use for the symbol of being afraid. Get the girl, be courageous, don’t give into fear for it can consume you. Those are all great ideas and worthy philosophies, when you are just starting out in life, like say at 13 years old or so. But then again, whoever said that comic books weren’t aimed at the sophomore audience? They always have been, that is until recently when they have gotten dark and sexual beyond what is appropriate for the old quarter machines where you could buy a comic and it would slide down the rack like a bottle of coke. No, those days are gone I am afraid. 

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for this message, but we adults will just have to sit and smirk at how simplistic those ideas are presented, as we know better. A lot better. But that’s not my only marginal complaint here. There are actually two bad guys in this movie, one a transforming human besides the great beast of space making its way toward Earth for the final battle. I asked myself why in the world we needed this other precursor to the bad guy and I got my answer in a “scripting trick”. The movie spends way too much movie time explaining all the dynamics of the movie and why it exists at all and in order to make this work, we have to first follow the human bad guy until the explanations are over and we can get on to the real space monster. This makes for a less than satisfying story arch, however, and gives us two surface stories one after the other, and not a fully blown story from start to finish.

Action packed, the movie is indeed. Once things get going and we being training with Hal Jordan, the special effects kick into high gear, and high gear they are indeed. The rings can do anything the person wearing them considers. They even protect against space radiation, explosive de-pressurization and they can make you travel at light speed through worm holes and even reach the Sun in the blink of an eye. Not to mention protection against being within frying distance of that same Sun.

Sci-fi angled it is, in many ways Superman is not, and in all ways Batman is not. Lantern movies will always be “comic book” movies, and that’s not a problem, but it does stop them from being something a little more gravitational in its presentation than a larger movie audience is known to shell out bucks to go see. It’s no Dark Knight, and it never will be. And I hate to mention it, but as good as Ryan Reynolds fits the “nice guy” who gets empowered role, he’s no Robert Downey Jr. either.

I can’t say it was a great movie, but it wasn’t all that bad either. So I give it a little over an average rating.

3.5/5 stars        

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Super 8


Joe Lamb       Joel Courtney
Jack Lamb      Kyle Chandler
Alice               Elle Fanning
Charles           Riley Griffiths
Nelec             Noah Emmerich
Louis Dainard       Ron Eldard

Paramount Pictures presents a film written and directed by J.J. Abrams. Running time: 112 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and some drug use).

One thing Spielberg sure loves to do is tell a story from the perspective of kids. I suppose all the wonder and newness of life that kids posses is great stuff for the imaginary landscape of the movie theater. That’s what Super 8 brings us, back to the waist level view point of young kids, many of whom have traits we all know and remember. JJ Abrams wrote the script and Spielberg produced, and both of these gentleman know a thing or two about story telling and the heartfelt innocence of young kids.

Some might believe that this movie was set in the 70’s but they wold be missing the musical cues of My Sharona (circa 1979) and Blondie’s Heart of Glass (circa early 80’s). Joe Lamb, the young innocent kid hero of the film (yes, named LAMB), is a buddy to a young director friend of his who likes to make zombie movies on Super 8 film. They use much cloak and dagger to produce these films, as parents would of course stop their productions. (Footloose anyone?) So they run and hide and skirt the parental laws and film in places they shouldn’t be for the natural production values. This gets them in trouble one night as they film by a train station when a huge freight train derails in fantastic sequence. It literally covers the landscape with debris, and the kids, trying to escape, are surrounded by flames and twisted metal, but you know they all survive.

Joe has lost his mom in a work accident and his father, the local deputy (soon to be sheriff) can’t help himself from sitting on the toilet and crying by himself. Joe makes friends with a local girl who feels for him and they bond in a nice kid sort of way which reminds us all of the time when things were not so puerile between boys and girls, at least no until one’s thirties anyway. So this train has crashed and there is some kind of big thing inside that breaks free, suddenly the government is there investigating and the ground is covered with small cubes that belong to another world. What in the world has just happened? Scooby Doo, where are you?

The kids are on the case in their own investigation and they also have a super 8 film that kept running during the crash as evidence. These kids are more intrepid than any I would have ever known, I can tell you. Many of the situations they find themselves in would reduce a kid to panicked tears, especially one moment for young Joe, where he actually finds courage most adults would not have had in the same instance, as he is held in a deathly embrace and only seconds from lunch time. 

Mystery abounds as the kids operate seemingly right under the noses of parents who should be demanding that they all stay “right where I can see you” until the town crisis is over. But the story is of course about the kids and their adventure at these strange times despite the fact that in a real event one or two of them would have never made it to the third act.

A Spielberg movie for sure, and a professionally done one that reminds one of classic 80’s style movies from the master. 

4/5 stars

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Education, Capitalism, Competition, Schools, Learning, Public Schools, Monopolies

Stupid, Capitalism 
and Education


part 5

It wasn’t always the case that America had state run schools. Once upon a time it was the communities that set up their own schools, and many parents home schooled. Back then, of course, teachers made very little money, but then it was the kids education and the future of society that mattered more, so there was plenty of volunteering. It wasn’t until around the 1830’s that the drive for state run schools was instituted.

Back then there was plenty of justified suspicion as to this matter. When the Massachusetts State Board of Education was formed, it was then promptly abolished. It was obvious that the organization was to lead to a centralization and monopoly of power in a few hands, and thus “anti-democratic” in its inception. How true!

Horace Mann, the so called Father of Public Education, believed that public schooling could cure all sorts of social ills. All in the name of reducing crime, he touted that 9/10ths of the penal code would soon be eradicated. Is that what happened?

These dreaming collectivists created a system that became the adversary of the good. Left to their own devices, private schools would have expanded. The money they saved could have been used to help the charities of the day.

Literally, we are protecting our kids from the benefits of competition by forcing them to exist inside of the system of a monopoly. I get a pretty good regular cup of coffee from a local Starbucks for about $1.50. The surrounding coffee service providers are forced to keep their coffee prices down in order to maintain a competitive edge. Their coffee had better be competitive too, or they won’t even make that margin. If you could only get coffee in one place, you’d be paying taxes on the coffee and have a limited choice as to what would be served... then what sort of service would you receive?

Monopolies don’t innovate. In much the same way as they hand out drab olive colored clothing to citizens in communist countries, these monopolies have “Orwellian” overtones contained in their prime directives. Why does school run from September to June? The Farm calendar from the early 1830’s is the template for this schedule.  Back then, the summer was for planting crops. Today we are no longer agrarian in our efforts on a major scale as a nation. But the public school system is one of blind obedience, not a responder to changing times. Year round schooling might even create shorter school days for kids and increase the amount of covered studies, many parents would indeed support the change. Less than 2% of our country lives by the farming cycle now, but has public education responded? You tell me.

We’re finding today that teenagers actually perform better on a later schedule than the early morning start, due to their unique physiology, but schools have done nothing to adjust to the findings. This should tell you something about the response they have to outdated methods also.

If you believe that America has the best education system in the world, you must be living under a rock. But, its not your fault, you’re not allowed to see anything better.

It would be nice to abolish government involvement in education all  together, but American’s are addicted to feeding at the teet of the Government. Sadly, there is simply no courage to move out on your own when mom and dad are willing to pay your bills for you.

The difference however, is that Government funded would be a better alternative than Government run. Our schools should have that “Starbucks” look, where we have a choice to go somewhere else for a low priced, excellent product. Customers get to decide where they want to have their coffee, and they should also get the choice of where they want to get their kids education. Vote with the feet. Vote with the wallet. It makes for superior choices.   

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Education, Capitalism, Competition, Schools, Learning, Public Schools, Monopolies

Stupid, Capitalism 
and Education

part 4

It has been reported that teachers in New York City can be paid somewhere in the amount of 60 to 70 thousand dollars. For a nine month job, that’s not too shabby. But if you ask teachers they will tell you they work hard enough to be paid 85 to 90 thousand. And why not? Indeed they are given a huge responsibility for bringing up the next generation of our society. NYC teachers also have a pension plan with a government guarantee of an 8.25 per cent return. They are not taxed and the teachers also get ten days per year sick leave.

In the national sense, however, most teachers do make less. Most of the K-12 teachers make around 45 grand a year, but they only work nine months a year. For three months they receive paychecks and are free to do as they please every day. They make more than a chemist and computer programmer on an hourly wage basis.

But just imagine a free market of education. Parents would demand a bigger share of that government spending of $250,000 per classroom for great educators for their kids. Demand would make the value of teachers go even higher, and they could challenge entertainers and athletes for outrageous salaries.

How Much Money Does it Take?
Are they really underpaid? Why would you keep teaching if other opportunities arose that you could succeed at and make more money with. Are there that many sacrificial heroes in teaching? Do they all have Machiavellian type paradigms as they spend their own money to see to it that their kids have books and pencils? If teachers were paid too little, then they would never be able to retain teachers, we would have shortages all over the country. But statistics prove other wise. Many schools have multiple applications for each available position. At charter schools, teachers often make about 15-20 percent more than the government public school counterparts. One size fits all contracts reward bad teachers and punish good teachers. It’s a crying shame is what it is.

The Truth About Home schooling

A growing number of parents fed up with public schools are opting for home schooling their kids. The numbers are still comparatively low, but they make headway every year.

The argument of course, is that socialization suffers in the home schooled child. But a lot of that is just assumptions of those who march in lock step with the establishment. School is where you are supposed to pay attention to the teacher, not have concerns over your classmates and their presence around you.

Home schooled kids have about four hours a day of real school. The rest of they day, usually spent trapped in the school system of regimented daily routines, can be spent for all the social involvement one needs. And that social involvement can be controlled. There is no need to remind parents of the horror that many kids go through as they step from a social environment of the home, where they are loved and accepted (hopefully) to an environment of neurotics and ego insecure strangers.

Everyone knows how puberty can ruin a perfectly sweet and good kid, why subject them to a society of children all being effected? As an added note, just keep in mind the success of Asian children as they practice a common theme for themselves on the way to school achievement. They often get together with friends to actually do the study and homework, and this is a trait that has made many an Asian child a top performer. They don’t struggle with the social paradigms of “giving into the man” if they are a good student, and the results have us all looking for doctors and lawyers and professionals from all walks of life who are Asian. Not because they are Asian, but because of the stand they take on studying throughout their scholastic careers.

It’s a statistical fact that home schooled kids consistently score 15-20 percent higher than kids in a school system setting. They also score higher on the ACT, about 10 percent higher. Schools held at homes have  freedom and love of the learning experience that has until now been crushed by the regimen of the system, and it shows in the results.

The “great thinkers” of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s  who wanted to create a society of piece meal workers who only knew how to repeat the same job over and over until the day they die, have sent us all into a hell no one could ever have foreseen. Home schooling is re-awakening the human spirit that was crushed with industrial maneuvering over the scholastic lives of America’s children. Only with the continual destruction of a system meant to enslave our kids can we see the true benefits of doing away with a system that has made our kids stupid all in the name of big money men who wanted to socially engineer their own workforce.

Voucher anyone?

But what if we gave parents education vouchers? One of these could be as much as $5,000 a year and would be attached to the child so that the parent could send the child to the best school that they could choose.

Critics say that these could destroy public education. (And your point is?......) Public schools would then be overrun with nothing but problem kids and this would turn them into public detention centers and they would not longer be schools. Sure, money would disappear from the system with a big sucking sound you could hear all across America.

This would in turn force the government to make long needed changes to maintain their own position as a school and not a detention center. What would they do? I think that perhaps they have no clue what would happen then. Just keep your kids in our unproductive system, it’s the good kids and the involved parents that keep them the way they are, for without them, the bad kids and uninvolved parents would have no leg to stand on. Remember, teachers and kids who give a dam are punished and the converse are kept afloat. It’s the American school system way. 

The school system in Milwaukee has actually tried the voucher system and the results proved that students everywhere did a better job, those who were pulled out of the public school and also those who remained. The public schools were forced to try harder and be more competent as the money went in other directions, and the kids improved in their performance.

Amazingly, organizations like “People for the American Way” have actually filed lawsuits over the voucher program, stating that it violates the separation of church and state. They say this because lots of parents with vouchers send their kids to religious schools. This was a huge threat, since most schools who are not government schools are indeed religious organizations. However, the ruling was that as long as parents chose those schools and as long as the government did not force them to go to those schools, then the violation was not present. The U.S Supreme court agreed.

Allowing for school choice is nothing new. The G.I. bill sent over 2 million soldiers to college after World War II and some of those colleges were the likes of Notre Dame and Bringham Young. Soldiers could choose whatever school they wanted. American colleges were sparked by the competition for government money from vouchers and in the end result, American colleges are now sought after institutions all over the world. 

more on this next time

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Education, Capitalism, Competition, Schools, Learning, Public Schools, Monopolies

Stupid, Capitalism 
and Education

part 3

All over America thousands of Catholic schools outperform government schools. They spend less than half as much money. Average teachers make more than the top they are paid at Catholic schools, but Catholic schools get the job done. Why? Because they want to be there. They are not as well qualified, they don’t have fancy degrees. But, they are successful in ways public schools can only dream about. 

There are those who will tell you that Catholic schools succeed the way that they do because they have a choice of students. Public schools must take everyone. Catholic schools are able to throw out the trouble makers, but they rarely do. The parents and the students both know that expulsion could happen at any time. Catholic schools involve the parents in ways that public schools simply don’t bother with. Problem kids get the education that is coming their way, they have no choice in the matter.

The Catholic school system has the freedom to fail students without interference and this is one of the main reasons they are as successful as they are. New York City’s CHS system serves the same disadvantaged population as the government does, but they graduate 99% of their students. Government schools hover around the 50% range for student graduation. A huge difference that continues despite the obvious results of the two systems. Whom does the public school system serve? Whom do they REALLY serve?

Of course, there are always the charter schools to go to if Catholic school is not your thing. But try to open one. For many who try to open charter schools, or perhaps, switch out a government run school into a charter school, the headaches are enormous. There are massive amounts of government regulations that attempt to limit and control the abilities of charter schools. There have been instances of the public schools fighting the development of charter schools all the way to the Supreme Court. The bottom line here, is of course, the money being lost to charter schools. It seems the development of future generations of educated kids comes at a price. 

A Governor of a southern state was once offered to place his kids in the best schools in his area by the school board. The local school was sub par, and if he had not been Governor, his kids would have been required to attend that school because of the location of his residence. But for the Governor, the rules didn’t apply. 

He then decided that he would institute a plan that would help all kids with their education and called the plan: Put Parents in Charge. Parents could choose any school they wanted and if they wanted to go to a private school, then they would receive a tax credit to assist them with the choice. 

Competition makes everything better. No one would settle for just one kind of product these days, not when production moves us all ahead in various ways in the relentless pursuit of the top profit spot. With kids falling through the cracks right now, how can we continue to ignore the process of competition? But the school boards are locked into their testament of fear, despite the obvious results in every other facet of life. 

The Governor’s plan of Putting Parents in Charge was voted down by the legislature as being a “victory” for education. The claims being that they system is too accountable to allow competition to ruin our education system, it’s just not a proven commodity, at least not where education is considered. But that commodity is proven in every other area of life. Never mind that, though. 

Accountability is the very reason Private and Catholic schools do better than public schools. Everyone there works to make sure the product, an educated human child, is what is produced. If they don’t produce them, the administrator is out of a job.   

The USSR was a government monopoly, and we all know what has happened there. The only thing worse is a unionized government monopoly. If teachers are all paid the same, and they can’t be fired, then they can fart around all day and the kids don’t matter anyhow. Just deliver the health benefits and let them have their coffee lounge.

New York City has something called the NTE, the National Teacher’s Examination. Many teachers refuse to take these tests, even though they are used to determine benefits and pay scales. Teachers in the system are mediocre because it is tolerated. They are all paid the same. 

(Just take a look at the Movie: Waiting on Superman, for an inside look at how these things happen.)

Teachers are ferried around from school to school in the dance of the lemons because excellence is barred by contract. In this contract there are 205 pages of rules to follow. Union monopolies create these kinds of things. The rules forbid paying excellent teachers more than others and they also prohibit firing of teachers who rarely show up for class or maybe have a thing for one of their students. Teachers who are violent, incompetent or sexually aggressive to students make big bucks, and the litigation to fire them is cost prohibitive... so they say.

Tax payers pay millions every year for unproductive teachers in the public school system. Many are put in holding, throwing their own lives away each day as they DO NOT teach, but might as well be watching TV for a living. The system keeps them even though they are afraid to let them near a student. The contract demands that. Avoiding getting in trouble with the union creates an atmosphere where the lazy people drag everyone else down. 

In contrast, it is competition that always stimulates innovation. At KIPP charter schools, kids may stay in class until 5pm every day. They have school on Saturday every other day of the week. Kids and parents have the cell phone numbers of teachers who are always on call to help students with class work. People are involved in these types of schools and the difference shows. Everyone has a jobs here, and the students are the ones who benefit. The student has the job of succeeding in school. The Teacher has the job of turning out high graduation rates for kids who have actually done the work and succeeded, and the parents are the supporters and nurtures of the process.

more on this next time

This is an interesting website, it has some great points to make about what is going on in the world of teaching.

Escape The Hezbollah