Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Static and Noise

Comic Book Movies. This weekend I watched both Kick-Ass and Watchmen. I'm not normally a comic book guy--somehow that whole chuck of geekification missed my interest--but I absolutely loved both of these movies. Kick-Ass may have gotten a little bit too out of hand towards the end, but dammit if it wasn't just the right amount of interesting plot, wanton violence, and aesthetically pleasing cinematography. The Watchmen was another gripping movie, and I'm not exactly certain how on earth it's taken me this long to watch it. I vaguely knew of the plot before I watched it, but for some reason I delayed. With my current Nixon fascination I decided to go ahead and order it on Netflix. I'm glad I did, and the original comic book--er, I mean, graphic novel--is currently en route to my house for immediate perusal. I doubt any of this will get me any further interest in comics, though. 

Credit Card Changes. It baffles me that anyone could possibly be shocked--shocked!--that credit card companies are raising their interest rates. The new law that regulates credit cards took effect this week, and they are already changing the way they do business--you know, because the government changed the business on them. In a nutshell, the new regulations basically harm everyone (higher rates, lower credit limits, more paperwork) but helps those who don't pay their bills (lower late fees, making certain restricting the ability to adapt to changing behavior on the part of the consumer). As a general rule, I think credit card companies aren't evil incarnate--yeah, I don't like that they sneak in rate hikes for stupid reasons and are piss-poor at explaining finance charges. But they also get a lot of blame for things that are the fault of the consumer--i.e., living beyond their means. As usual, the government has decided that they will legislate away personal responsibility and in its stead frame the entire industry that ends up being worse off for everyone.

Ground Zero Mosque. My position isn't fundamentally different than most people's, or at least I think--I respect the right for the mosque to the built, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. My fear has always been that America would end up like Europe--you know, the Europe that looks down on us for being an aggressive, cold-hearted nation while they are busy banning minarets and headscarves. Thankfully, any American anger towards Islam has been latent and focused on specific acts, rather than a broad-based persecution. I'm not naive--I know full well how Ramadan goes down in Omaha and Birmingham--but we're a far cry from the type of restrictions that Europe has enacted. On the other hand, if our cities were being demographically assaulted like they are in Paris and London, I'm sure that attitude will change rapidly, and the Ground Zero mosque is simply a harbinger of things to come. I think we're a large enough nation that we will handle things a bit differently, but unless such an assimilation is long-term and slow, I'm not so sure.

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