Posted by sanityinjection on July 12, 2015
Trying something new here. I very rarely go to the cinema to see a movie, so I thought I’d share my review of the new animated movie “Minions”, which opened this weekend.
First, let’s understand what this movie is. It is not breaking any new ground in the world of cinema. It’s a light children’s movie with slapstick humor and cartoon violence, but with many references geared toward adults. This movie is not trying to change you or make you think, but simply to pleasantly occupy your time. In that, it generally succeeds, with plenty of action and plot movement to keep you engaged.
“Minions” is the third movie in the “Despicable Me” animated franchise. While it doesn’t rise to the level of the original, it is at least as good as the rather mediocre second film. For the most part, it can stand on its own with viewers unfamiliar with the other films, with the exception of some scenes at the end that will be harder to appreciate. “Minions” is a prequel to “Despicable Me” set mostly in 1960s England. This choice makes for a lot of easy 60s pop culture references that adults can enjoy. For example, a scene in which three royal guards are hypnotized into performing a well-coordinated rendition of the musical hit “Hair” will just seem like a bit of random silly fun to kids, but also tickles the adult funny bone. There are also subtle homages to a wide range of films including “March of the Penguins”, “Ratatouille”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and “Vacation”. Moviegoers who sit through all of the credits are rewarded with a music video at the end featuring almost everyone in the entire movie.
Much of the fun of the movie naturally comes from the minions themselves (voiced by director Pierre Coffin) and their “Minionese” language, which for all its gibberish is largely understandable through context. I found it particularly fun trying to pick out the words and phrases from actual languages that are incorporated in their babble, including French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Hebrew, and probably others.
The marquee name in this movie is Sandra Bullock, who gets to chew a little scenery as the main villain of the piece (the appropriately named Scarlet Overkill), but whose considerable talent is hardly tested here. In addition to Bullock’s character, a second strong female character is none other than Queen Elizabeth, voiced by Jennifer Saunders. Generally, however, the acting talent is pretty irrelevant; much like a “Chipmunks” movie, it’s all about Coffin’s minions.
“Minions” doesn’t hit too many sour notes, though one scene in which the minions are depicted creating a short human bridge from Australia to India will ring false to anyone with a basic grasp of geography. It lives up to the “fun for the whole family” label that almost every children’s movie seeks, but not all realize. There are a lot worse ways to kill 90 minutes on a hot summer day. My rating: 3 out of 4 stars.
Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged: animated, Minions, movies, reviews | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on June 22, 2015
In the wake of the Charleston church shooting, politicians both inside and outside South Carolina are calling for an end to the display of the Confederate flag in that state.
To be clear, I don’t like the Confederate flag. I think that with the exception of specific uses in a historical context, it is generally used as a banner of white supremacy. When I see someone wearing it or having it on a bumper sticker on their car, I assume they are either racist or extremely ignorant. However, I also believe it is for the people of South Carolina to decide this.
But my purpose today is to point out that most of the politicans who are suddenly so vocal on this question are the worst kind of hypocrites. Why? Because when they were actually running for office in South Carolina, none of them had the guts to be so vocal about the issue. Take Mitt Romney, for example. He was quick to take to Twitter to call for South Carolina to take down the flag.
However, Mitt Romney competed in two Presidential primary contests in South Carolina in 2008 and 2012. During neither of those did he ever make such a clear and forceful statement about the Confederate flag. I guess it’s easy to have political courage when there’s nothing on the line.
So forgive me if I’m less than impressed by all the pols jumping on the bandwagon on this issue, because they figure the shooting makes it safe for them to do so.
Posted in Politics | Tagged: Confederate flag, hypocrisy, Mitt Romney, South Carolina | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on June 19, 2015
Sadly, President Obama lost no time in using the tragedy of the Emanuel AME church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina as propaganda for a renewed assault on the Second Amendment.
The shooter – presumably Dylan Roof – used a gun to murder his victims. According to the President, that means it should be harder for people to get guns. He believes that only hunters and sportsmen should have guns. Oh, and the the federal Department of Education, of course.
Perhaps the President would have been happier if Roof had simply set the church on fire, as white supremacists have done in the past to black churches? Is that form of mass murder healthier for our society? Or shall we place restrictions on purchasing lighters and matches?
The truth is that people who are determined to commit acts of mass murder will do so in any way they can. If they can’t use a gun, they will build a bomb (like the Tsarnaev brothers), or release poison like the Aum cult did on the Japanese subway. Placing excessive restrictions on one type of weapon won’t stop that. It will, however, defeat the intent of the Founding Fathers to protect individual liberty by ensuring that Americans always have the means to defend their homes and their property from a tyrannical government, and from their fellow citizens when the government cannot or will not help them.
In 1933, a Dutch communist named Marinus van der Lubbe set fire to the parliament, or Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany. The German government – led by Chancellor Adolf Hitler – immediately seized on this act of terrorism to suspend civil liberties and implement mass arrests of their political opponents, including legislators. That left no one to oppose the Nazis when they ended democracy and freedom in Germany by a democratic vote of what was left of the Reichstag. Since then, “Reichstag fire” has become a metaphor for any tragic incident which is then used to cast blame on one’s political opponents.
President Obama is not Adolf Hitler. But he is actively seeking to do what Hitler did – seize upon an act of terrorism in order to assault the civil liberty of law-abiding American citizens – the right to keep and bear arms.
Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: church shooting, Dylan Roof, gun control, gun crime, President Obama, Reichstag fire, Second Amendment, South Carolina | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on June 19, 2015
The recent shooting of innocent people at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina is a tragedy and an abomination. There can never be any rationale or justification for such an act. The shooter – presumably one Dylan Roof – deserves the death penalty in my opinion. Roof may be tried on federal charges if the Justice Department determines that the shooting constitutes a “hate crime”.
In fact, this incident is pretty much the textbook example of a hate crime – a crime in which the primary motive for the act is hatred toward a particular ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or other protected class. Roof apparently chose his target specifically in order to attack black people in hopes of starting a race war.
Now, just for a moment, let’s imagine that was not the case. Let’s imagine that Roof shot those people for some other reason – he was angry with one of them, or just angry at the world in general and taking it out on innocent people. Absent his racial animosity, this would not be a hate crime. But I ask you, would that make it somehow less heinous? Would that make it less awful for the people who have to figure out how to go on living without their loved ones?
The only difference between a hate crime and any other crime is the ideological motivation of the criminal. But think about what that means: Hate crime legislation criminalizes not the criminal act itself, but the opinions held by the criminal. That is a direct violation of one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by our Constitituion: the freedom of conscience, or the freedom to think and hold whatever opinions we choose – no matter how offensive they are to the majority. In fact, it has been argued that you cannot have freedom of speech without first having freedom of conscience.
Should Dylan Roof – assuming he is found guilty of this terrible crime – be subject to additional prosecution on the basis of his racist beliefs? Specifically, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 mandates higher penalties for hate crimes. Should it really matter what he was thinking – or speaking – when he pulled the trigger?
I find racism abhorrent, but I think Roof or any other American has the right to hold such abhorrent beliefs. What he doesn’t have the right to do is shoot people, regardless of whether he dislikes them because they’re black or because their shoelaces are tied a certain way. Trying him for a hate crime is not going to somehow convince other racists to see the error of their ways. In fact, the opposite could be true – by making Roof’s racism the crime, he might become a martyr for white supremacist groups.
I believe South Carolina already allows the death penalty for murder. Let Roof be tried under that statute. Or, if the Feds have to be involved, let them try him for domestic terrorism, which trying to start a race war by murdering innocent people arguably is. But any prosecution under a hate crimes statute – of Roof or any other bigot – is itself an attack on the liberty of all Americans to hold unpopular opinions. When the government can tell us what we are allowed to think, then we are already living in a totalitarian state worse than anything Hitler or Stalin could have imagined in their wildest dreams.
Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: Charleston, church shooting, Dylan Roof, freedom of conscience, hate crime, racism, South Carolina, Terrorism | 2 Comments »
Posted by sanityinjection on June 17, 2015
If you’re an American and you haven’t been living under a rock, you are surely aware of the recent controversy surrounding Rachel Dolezal, who until recently was the president of the Spokane, WA chapter of the NAACP. Dolezal resigned after her parents revealed to the media that while she has frequently claimed to be black, she is in fact white. It also emerged that while a student at predominantly black Howard University, Dolezal sued the university alleging racial discrimination against her because she was white. Dolezal continues to maintain that she considers herself to be black.
Some questioned why the racial identity of a person should matter so much. If Dolezal, or anyone else, wants to identify herself as black, why should that be anything other than a personal matter? The NAACP has pointed out that you don’t have to be black to head one of their chapters.
Indeed, in an ideal world, I would agree that it shouldn’t make any difference. The reason that it matters is that in the USA, African-Americans have been declared to be a protected class by virtue of the long history of racial discrimination against them, and can therefore be the recipients of various accommodations through “affirmative action” programs, particularly in hiring and academic admissions. When a person chooses to list their racial status on an application, hoping to qualify for affirmative action, it is no longer simply a personal matter. It is a public one.
Dolezal has made her racial identity a public matter on multiple occasions. Ironically, the first time was her lawsuit against Howard, in which she publicly identified as white. More recently, she has reported herself as the target of multiple hate crimes for being black, most of which authorities now believe were fabricated. Why on earth would anyone do this?
As the Daily Mail’s Dominic Lawson writes:
Rachel Dolezal is merely the most spectacular example of the growing phenomenon of people posing as victims — itself the consequence of a culture which portrays victimhood as a form of moral superiority…It is what comes of putting ‘victims’ on a pedestal once accorded to genuine heroes.
People like Dolezal seek to be viewed as victims because it gives them – among certain segments of society, particularly in academia and the media – a measure of respect and attention that would normally have to be earned by actual accomplishments, which is much harder to do. She clearly learned from her failed lawsuit against Howard that she could never be truly viewed as a victim as long as she was white. So she began attempting to be perceived as black – not least by moving to Northern Idaho, where there aren’t that many actual black people around for comparison. Like Walter Mitty, she worked so hard at this goal that she not only persuaded other people, she ended up persuading herself as well.
As a society, we can remove the incentive for frauds like Dolezal by ceasing to provide special advantages to anyone based on their status as a minority – racial, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever. Giving a minority individual preference in any situation does nothing to undo previous discrimination, but in fact constitutes a new act of discrimination. Would we provide the victim of a robbery restitution by committing a robbery against someone else and giving the stolen goods to the first victim? Without affirmative action and the societal celebration of the cult of victimhood, there will be no more Rachel Dolezals.
Posted in Current Events, Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: Affirmative action, discrimination, hate crime, protected class, race, victimhood | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on June 17, 2015
After a 5 year hiatus, I have decided to revive Sanity Injection. At first I may be somewhat sporadic in posting, but I hope to get back to making multiple posts per week within the next couple of months. I hope you’ll find the blog to be as relevant as it was in its first incarnation. Thanks for reading!
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on April 21, 2010
I have decided to close down Sanity Injection after nearly two years. Due to some changes in my life I will not be able to continue to put in the time and effort to take the site to the next level.
Thank you to everyone who has read and commented here. I have learned a lot from you and enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you as well.
I’ll leave the site up for a little while so you can catch up on anything you might have missed.
Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »
Posted by sanityinjection on April 12, 2010
Doctor Zero examines the question of whether the 47% of American households which pay no income tax should have the right to vote. It’s a politically impossible idea that hearkens back to the days in which only those who owned land had the vote, because they were the ones who had a permanent stake in the proper functioning of government (not to mention being more likely to have had sufficient education to vote intelligently.) The idea is that if you pay nothing toward the cost of government but receive benefits from it, your vote is all too easily bought with more government benefits which cost you nothing.
In discarding the idea, the author notes that it is not benefits for the truly poor and needy that are bankrupting America, but rather entitlements for the middle class who do pay taxes – Social Security, Medicare, and now ObamaCare.
I confess I have long found the idea of restricting the franchise attractive. However, even if it were politically feasible, any such restriction puts in the hands of men the right to establish who deserves to be represented in government and who does not. We might feel we could draw that line in the right place today, but then what would stop future leaders with less foresight and integrity from redrawing it in less wholesome ways? After all, it was not so long ago that poll taxes and literacy tests were used to enforce the disenfranchisement of blacks for no better reason than simple irrational racism. The true value of America’s founding mythos that “all men are created equal” lies less in its truth than in the safeguard it represents against tyranny.
Posted in Politics | Tagged: benefits, disenfranchisement, Doctor Zero, entitlements, franchise, government, income tax, representation, restriction, right to vote, taxation | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on April 12, 2010
Check out this article in Fortune contrasting the health insurance markets in New York and Arizona. Shawn Tully explains that ObamaCare is going to have the same burdensome regulations that have driven premiums in New York sky-high:
Posted in Politics | Tagged: Arizona, health insurance, health insurance reform, New York, ObamaCare, Shawn Tully | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on April 8, 2010
One of the worst-kept secrets in journalism is that the major news organizations rarely engage in any actual reporting. The majority of the news they report is lifted from the wire services or from another news agency. Rather than spend the time and money to send a human reporter to check facts and interview people, it’s much easier to depend on what their colleagues have already done. The trouble with this is that any errors or bias in the original story get repeated, reflected and magnified on down the line until they attain the status of fact.
So it has been with coverage of the Tea Party movement. Most new desks have been quick to pick up on the reports of isolated racist comments and signs and reflect that as characteristic of the movement as a whole, without ever sending a reporter to a Tea Party rally.
With this in mind, I applaud CNN for bucking the trend and sending reporter and producer Shannon Travis to attend several Tea Party rallies in Utah and Colorado. Travis, as it happens, is African-American, and his reporting makes clear that he did not find anything like a racist or hate-filled atmosphere at the Tea Party events: “Almost everyone I met was welcoming…Some of them e-mailed me after my trip, thanking our crew for fairly giving them a voice.” He also noted that his was the only national news team that covered the events in person.
To CNN’s further credit, the story was not buried in some obscure corner of the site, but was linked prominently yesterday with a photo on the CNN homepage.
Here’s hoping other news networks and media outlets take a cue from CNN and start doing more reporting and less repeating.
Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: CNN, Journalism, news media, racism, rallies, reporting, Shannon Travis, Tea Party movement | 2 Comments »