Posts tagged ‘Caribbean’

There Be Crazy People Here

Yes, our Arizona legislature keeps cranking out the hits

In what has to be the most hilariously unconstitutional piece of legislation that I've seen in quite some time, senators in the Arizona state legislature have introduced a bill that would require all educational institutions in the state -- including state universities -- to suspend or fire professors who say or do things that aren't allowed on network TV. Yes, you read that right: at the same time the Supreme Court is poised to decide if FCC-imposed limits on "indecent" content in broadcast media are an anachronism from a bygone era, Arizona state legislators want to limit what college professors say and do to only what is fit for a Disney movie (excluding, of course, the Pirates of the Caribbeanfranchise. After all, those films are PG-13!).

Amazing.  I had thought the nominal reason for the FCC standards was because non-adults might watch TV and hear a bad word that they likely hear 20 times a day at school.  But college kids are generally adults.  This is just bizarre.

The Huffpo article did not mention the bill's sponsor, but how much do you want to be its a Conservative who has in the past lamented political correctness on campus?  [update: sponsors here]

Hope and Change

Via the WSJ, discussing the US's Siberian Gulag in the Caribbean:

The Obama administration on Monday announced plans for new Guantanamo Bay military trials and for the first time laid out its legal strategy to indefinitely detain prisoners who can't be tried but are too dangerous to be freed.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order to conduct periodic reviews of the cases of the nearly 50 detainees who will be detained indefinitely.

It used to be that people who had never been convicted of any crime but that certain people in the government considered dangerous were called "free men."

Pirates Review

I loved the original Pirates of the Caribbean, and so I was excited to go see the sequel.  I won't write a long review, except to say that this movie is to the original what Star Wars Episode 3 was to the original Star Wars.  It seems to have forgotten what made the original a success, and focused instead on elaborate special effects and a confused plot.  The effects are amazing, and may be alone worth the price of one viewing, but the movie itself was only so-so. 

The plot wandered around aimlessly at times, and key elements, such as exactly how Jack got crosswise with Davy Jones in the first place, get a very very short exposition, which seem odd in a 2-1/2 hour movie.  This is the same mistake many action movie sequels make - the Indiana Jones movies come to mind in particular.  The sequels go for action action action continuously on the screen, forgetting that the original had long stretches of quiet periods that actually moved the plot and characters along.

Of all the plot elements, the sudden introduction of the ex-commodore Norrington seems the most forced.  There feels like there are one two many characters in the movie, with Sparrow, Will, the governor, the east India guys, Norrington, Davy Jones, etc. all having independent agendas.  This is fine for a taught character drama, but for a light action movie it is overly complex, and feels like Mission Impossible 2 where the writers tried to outdo the original in twists and turns and betrayals.  The introduction of Norrington does set up an interesting 3-way fight (kind of reminiscent of the awesome final scene in God, Bad, and the Ugly).  Like much of the film, the fight is kindof fun but falls short somehow.  And looking back on the movie, I can't figure out why the whole first part of the movie with the cannibals was even in there.  Basically, it did nothing to advance the plot.

The worst offense of the movie in my mind is that it underutilized Johny Depp.  Depp, whose performance really made the first movie, is OK but is not really allowed to be great.  The writers have him reprising his best bits from the first movie, rather than doing anything new.  It all feels a bit stale.

Oh, and by the way, does every single Hollywood movie have to find a way to make a large corporation the villain?  I mean, is it a writers guild requirement or something?  Even this movie set in the 18th century has to seek out the one and only large corporation in the world and use it as a villain.

A (Partial) Defense of Larry Krueger

Larry Krueger, a radio personality for the San Francisco (baseball) Giants, recently ignited a firestorm by saying that he was frustrated by the Giants'

brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly.

In response, Giants manager Felipe Alou has demanded Krueger's firing, asserting that this statement represents the worst sort of racism, and that he refused to accept Krueger's apology because "There's no way to
apologize for such a sin."

OK, at the risk that Krueger turns out to be a serial idiot with a long history of racism, I will deal with this statement solely on its face.  And in context, the reaction to his statement strikes me as extremely exaggerated.

Some background:  Typically, hitters can be thought of in two classes:

  1. Picky hitters, that sort through pitches like my wife shopping for vegetables, carefully picking out only the best to swing at, and gladly accepting walks when they come.  These hitters are often considered more "thoughtful" hitters
  2. Aggressive hitters, who swing more indiscriminately at pitches, and who often consider a walk to be a failed at-bat.  These hitters often described as "intuitive" or "natural" hitters, rather than thoughtful.

Some managers prefer the first type, some the second (for example, Miguel Tejada's being indiscriminate at the plate drove A's GM Billy Beane crazy, while other managers are happy to let him hack away for their team, given his huge numbers).  Which brings us back to the Caribbean.  What's interesting to me is that the Caribbean is not actually a race, but a location.  And in that location, it is very clear that hitters are schooled to be type #2 aggressive hitters.  Players in the Dominican Republic, Filipe Alou's home country by the way, have a saying:  "You don't walk off the island".  In other words, to get the attention of the US scouts and come to the majors from the Caribbean, a hitter is trained to be an aggressive type 2 player. They are taught that going down hacking is better than a walk.

In a sense, the Caribbean is a big (and very very successful) baseball school for training players to play in the US.  And it turns out that this "school" tends to teach players be more indiscriminate hackers at the plate.  Ask any manager in the majors if Caribbean hitters on average are less picky, more aggressive hitters at the plate and they will say "of course".

So, to some extent, Krueger is getting flamed for saying what everyone already knows.  Saying that Caribbean hitters can be indiscriminate hackers is like saying that PAC 10 quarterbacks tend to be more NFL-ready and polished than Big 12 quarterbacks -- its just a fact that is not always true, but is true on average given how they were trained.  Krueger's real mistake was probably using the term "brain dead", which can be a dangerous term when it has racial overtones, but in context probably refers to hitting style rather than absolute IQ.  I think Alou is reaching to say that Krueger was referring to Caribbean hitters poor English skills, but I will admit that he has more history with Krueger and may have reason to make this interpretation from past events.

Well, at Least I am Consistent

Via Professor Bainbridge, here is a nice Friday distraction for you -- a test via Philosophy magazine called Taboo.  Here are my results:

Your Moralising Quotient of 0.00 compares to an average Moralising Quotient
of 0.29. This means that as far as the events depicted in the scenarios featured
in this activity are concerned you are more permissive than average.

Your Interference Factor of 0.00 compares to an average Interference Factor
of 0.15. This means that as far as the events depicted in the scenarios featured
in this activity are concerned you are less likely to recommend societal
interference in matters of moral wrongdoing, in the form of prevention or
punishment, than average.

The test basically gauges wether you think an action can be immoral if no one is harmed, or if no one but the individual actor is harmed.  Its making a point that libertarians often make, and I made more generally here about respecting individual decision-making.  The distinction between immoral and yukky is also useful.  However, the nature of the questions reminds me of this funny bit by libertarian Dave Berry about libertarianism, sex, and dogs (scroll down):

John Dorschner, one of our staff
writers here at Tropic magazine at The Miami Herald, who is a good friend of mine
and an excellent journalist, but a raving liberal, wrote a story about a group
that periodically pops up saying that they're going to start their own country or
start their own planet or go back to their original planet, or whatever. They
were going to "create a libertarian society" on a floating platform in the
Caribbean somewhere. You know and I know there' s never going to be a country on
a floating anything, but if they want to talk about it, that's great.

John
wrote about it and he got into the usual thing where he immediately got to the question
of whether or not you can have sex with dogs. The argument was that if it wasn't
illegal to have sex with dogs, naturally people would have sex with dogs. That
argument always sets my teeth right on edge.

And I always want to retort
with, "You want a horrible system, because you think the people should be able to vote
for laws they want, and if more than half of them voted for some law, everyone
would have to do what they said. Then they could pass a law so that you had to
have sex with dogs."

Postscript:  By the way, I consider myself profoundly moral.  I just don't tend to apply morality to situations where an actors actions affect only themselves, or other via mutual consent.  More on this in another post.

 

Charlie's Grandpa Joe is Really Scum

We were watching the old Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on DVD the other day.  This movie choice was made by the kids in anticipation of the new Johnny Depp version coming soon (since Pirates of the Caribbean, my kids are huge Johnny Depp fans).

I guess I really never paid much attention,  but Charlie's Grandpa Joe (played by Jack Albertson) is a real schmuck.  This little boy and his mother slave away for pitiful wages all day to support their four grandparents who are infirm and stuck in bed.  Grandpa Joe has laid in that bed for years, maybe decades, and never once tried to get out and help his family.  But, given the chance to go on a special trip to the Chocolate Factory with Charlie, Joe soon bounces out of bed and dances around the room.  Where was this energy when the family needed a wage-earner?

I don't know if this was intentional or not.  My guess is that this might not have been intentional - the early 1970's were the height of welfare sensibilities, and it would probably have been unlikely that Hollywood would try to include any messages about a slacker dad who failed to support his family.

Update:  By the way, in response to one of the comments, I am mostly just having fun with this.  I love Willie Wonka and am not so much of a Scrooge to turn on the movie because of an issue like this - heck, if I only enjoyed movies I was in complete ideological agreement with, I would have a very small movie collection. 

But, I do beg to differ with the commenter who said that Grandpa Joe provided the best adult supervision of all the parents.   This is actually not true, at least in the factory itself.  When each child pursued their fatal screw-up, in most cases their parents were trying to stop them, however lamely:  Augustus's mom says to stop drinking from the river, etc.  Charlie's Grandpa Joe actually was the one parent (or I guess guardian) who took an active role in encouraging their child into breaking their host's rules (i.e. drinking the fizzy lifting drink). 

I sit here thinking - jeez, am I really arguing about this?  I feel silly, but it does beat arguing about 30-year-old events in the military service of presidential candidates.