Friday, July 17, 2009

Rant: Minimum Wage Increase

The dollar is about to be devalued again, as minimum wage will soon be increased to $7.25/hour. Remember the "gold standard"? now we have the "commodity labor" standard. ...and the standard is about to be adjusted downward.

$1 will now be worth 8 minutes and 17 seconds of commodity labor (mundane jobs like floor sweeping which virtually anyone can do).

This change will have a ripple effect whereby prices will adjust to reflect the new value. During this adjustment period those getting "minimum wage" will have a temporary advantage in the marketplace. Over time this ripple will settle out, and those making minimum wage will be back in the same position in the economy as before.

The value of commodity labor and the value of commodity goods will, on the whole, maintain their relative proportional balance. A gallon of gas will, after this economic ripple effect settles down, still cost 1/3rd hour of work - no matter the numeric declaration of the medium of economic exchange. Whatever a dollar is, and no matter how many of them you get for sweeping floors for an hour, you'll still have to sweep a floor for about 20 minutes to buy a gallon of gas.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Movie: Knowing


Setting aside the obvious questions of "how could it be THAT precise?" and "why did they take THAT path instead of just grabbing 'em?", an amazing what-if tale of knowing exactly when, where, and how many a series of horrible events would take. Just one piece of paper with a series of numbers, leading to a discovery of meaning that destroys one's philosophy of cause, effect, and probability.

The intensity is sustained, believable, and fresh. Great drama, great horror, thought-provoking. The previews I expect you have seen show imagery hinting at what I can reveal is an absolutely spectacular sequence of total devestation, winning this stage of the ongoing struggle of filmmakers to evoke the most mind-blowing depiction of the destruction of a popular location.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Movie: 28 Weeks Later

The first part of this instant franchise, 28 Days Later, told of the "Rage virus" outbreak in England, which killed nearly everyone by either becoming a zombie* or being eaten by one. The few who survive do so by their wits and risks, being picked off as the relentless packs cross their paths. A stronghold against the outbreak is found, but human nature being what it is even the safest place is not. Little of 28 Days Laater involves zombies, but that little more than makes up for the disparity via sheer frenetic intensity. Insofar as the ending manages to be happy, it is a happy ending (meh).

In typical sequel fasion, 28 Weeks Later takes the most memorable bits and spends most screen time addressing that material: lots of action, punctuated by intense social drama. This time, however, the standard degrading formula really works as the distilled essence pulls the material into a more powerful and accessable story. Having been revealed in the first story that England, being isolated, did not infect the rest of humanity, we learn some 28 weeks after the initial outbreak that the Rage virus has burned itself out and that London may be rebuilt and repopulated. least until two children return from their well-timed trip abroad (having saved them from the outbreak) and, evading adult authority and containment as children tend to, they return home to find their treasured belongings - and their presumed-dead mother. The virus isn't gone, but there is, for a few, a natural resistance to the disease which must be preserved and exploited at all costs. The remaining tale follows the consequences of this discovery, which is simple and dramatic, and may not be predictable. Those of us who appreciate such horror films will, to be obtuse, look forward to 28 Months Later.

* - A trait of modern zombie movies is to never use the word "zombie".

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Movie: Australia

Good solid drama. Finding herself in charge of her late husband's cattle ranch with little advanced notice and little staff to manage it, finding herself unavoidably falling for a contractor thereof, and finding herself the virtual adoptive mother of a half-breed aboriginal boy, our heroine must save the Pacific cattle industry on behalf of the WWII US military and in defiance of an Australian robber baron. ...and this movie pulls it off!

Action, romance, capitalism, survival, and all the other elements of the classic popular American story - set, of course, in Australia.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Movie: Man On Fire

Director Tony Scott has developed a unique style, featuring frenetic hand-cranked multi-shot saturated-color imagery (see the short "Agent Orange" for a PG introduction). This is often poured on thick during high-action, high-stress, and/or high-violence scenes. Know this before watching, as it may be too much for some viewers.

This is a revenge movie. It isn't happy, though characters grow, repent and redeem themselves. The story arc is dramatic as a haunted bodyguard learns to live & love again, only to fail his job, and in revenge proceed to eliminate everyone involved (how that ends may be predictable, but is dramatic).

In stark contrast to, say Shoot 'Em Up, the action herein is believable - perhaps too believable for some tastes. The hero is not impervious to temptation, frustration, nor bullets, and I don't mean idealized versions of any of them.

Well done for a visually stunning tragedy.