Monthly Archives: April 2012

Weekly Meditation: Do it Now

Sorry that this meditation is a little late, I was at an Ingrid Michaelson concert in Tuscon (I wish there was a meditation for learning to tolerate cities you loathe, but I have nothing for that right now)…of course this also meant I didn’t have time to find a line in the holy book I was thinking of doing for this week…but no matter.  I was instead struck by a line of equal depth and wisdom this weekend:

“Don’t waste a minute on the darkness and the pity sitting in mind.”

This line of course comes from Michaleson’s new song “Do It Now”  (If you’re not familiar with the music of Ingrid Michaelson…you life is that much sadder.  I would really suggest you familiarize yourself with her music…even her depressing stuff if uplifting.  I have loved Ingrid’s music ever since I first heard “The Way I Am” on a commercial and have yet to be disappointed by anything she has put out…there is even an oblique reference to one of her songs in Republicans and Reincarnation “if you know what I mean”)  Now while the line itself is almost a little too obvious in it’s call to banish negativity from your mind to justify a whole blog… looking at the whole song does get quite a bit more involved.

“You say that you’ve got nothing left,

there’s nothing left in you to find.

You’ve gonna ride it out, gonna wait it out,

living to die, you’re living to die.

No one’s going to wait for you.

So do it now.

Do it right now.

Don’t waste a minute on the darkness and the pity

Sitting in your mind and:

Do it Right Now.”

Again pretty clear at most levels.  Life moves on while you wait for things to happen, and if you’re just waiting for life to open up and give you everything you need or allow you to do what you want, you’re going to be waiting a long, long time.  And the song is pretty clear, since you can’t wait for everything you want, you have to go and get it.  Now this is a basic of the law of attraction, that you have to act first and the universe will respond only after you have started to act…although I am not saying Michaelson is making such a claim, only that it matches up with the overarching beliefs of this blog.

Now I could go on about that need to move in the direction you want to go, to “Do it now”…but while I love the Taoism and Buddhism in many things, simply firing the unaimed arrow that never misses it’s mark sometimes lacks the ability to make the progress we sometimes need to find (there is a time and place for the unaimed arrow, and a time for purpose, I trust your reason to decide what you need right now).  So before we can deal with doing what you should do in life to fulfill your purpose in life you need to know what that purpose is?

So before you can “do it right now” you need to understand what the it is, the purpose of this particular life (as the purpose of life in general is to learn and to be happy…but this particular life that may manifest in any number of ways).

Now if you already know what your purpose in this life is, great for you (please understand you’re probably in the minority).  So this week I would like you to focus on asking the universe what your purpose in this life is.

May I suggest:

Start and end each day this week with  daily prayer to God (or whatever force you believe in). Follow each prayer with at least 15 minutes of meditation.  First clear your mind and chakras of all negative energy, then just clear your mind and after it has been cleared for a minute or two repeat your prayer for knowledge of the purpose of this life (or perhaps of this portion of your life).

As you go through your day also look for signs or repeated occurrences as this is one of the easiest ways the universe does reveal things to you…but you have to be open to seeing them (for instance if you see about ten ads for a cooking course in real life and a whole plot involving cooking on your favorite TV show and…I’m sure you get the idea…and you’ve always want to try being a cook this might be the universe’s way of getting in touch with you).  In fact it helps if your prayer includes a request for God or whatever power you believe in to be as blunt as possible without any subtlety or finesse…it works sometimes.

Finally, keep a journal for each day (or at least mentally review what happened).  Through this process you’ll notice patterns and ideas that may have alluded you at first but which become obvious on reflection.

Next week we’ll obviously deal with how to put any revelations you have this week into practice…but first ask yourself and the universe what should I be doing right now…

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Filed under Chakra, Faith, God, Happiness, Meditation, New Age, Prayer, Purpose of Life, Religion, Republicans and Reincarnation, Spirituality

Bill Whittle : The Greatest Sentence Ever

It’s nice to see someone else holds Krugman in as much contempt as I do.

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Books for Conservatives: Adler’s “Ten Philosophical Mistakes”

So someone I think is an idiot recommended that I read Robert Nozick’s book Anarchy, State, and Utopia.  Now my expectations weren’t high, as I said the person who recommended is in my informed opinion an idiot’s idiot, but I’m willing to look at other arguments…and the title alone really lowered my expectations.  Sadly my expectations were not low enough.  The preface to the book suggested that Nozick provided the intellectual basis for modern libertarianism…and I can now see why I think most modern libertarians are utterly impossible to deal with.  The short version is that Nozick takes Kant’s hideously flawed ethics and tries to shoehorn them into justifying limited government.  Now an intelligent person (i.e. someone who doesn’t spend their life in academia) might understand implicitly (even if they don’t always articulate it as such) that just looking at means is stupid…and they also tend to understand that just looking at ends is stupid.  Ends and means must be taken together and to focus on one to the exclusion of the others is preposterous at best.  I initially resisted the temptation to hurl the book into the trash even though the entire foundation of Nozick’s arguments were trash piled on trash…but by the halfway mark I couldn’t stand the terrible logic anymore, threw the book away as no one should be subjected to that claptrap and turned back to an old favorite of mine which I haven’t read since college: Mortimer Adler’s Ten Philosophical Mistakes.

 

The book sets out to describe where most of modern philosophy made its mistakes when breaking from classical realism (From Plato and Aristotle to Aquinas).  Adler, one of the most well spoken philosophers of the 20th century, although a bit dry, always does an excellent job in explaining why things are the way they are.  I will someday get around to most of his major books on philosophy, but let me give you a brief overview. Adler was known as the philosopher for the everyman. Not because his ideas were simple or plebian but because he recognized the massive importance of correct philosophical ideas in everyday life and tried to state the complex idea in terms that someone who is not a philosophy major can readily grasp.  Not to say that this makes the books he writes on par with the simplicity of Dr. Seuss, Harry Potter or Obama’s understanding of, well, anything…but he does put it in as simple but still precise terms as he can and he tries to give examples that are readily accessible.  As you can guess this makes him really unpopular with the intelligentsia who like to pretend that philosophy or an understanding of it isn’t something for the average person and thus spend an obscene amount of time trying to obfuscate any understanding of it under mountains of jargon

The under appreciated philosopher of the 20th Century

 

The problem, especially with this book is that the errors made by many of the philosophers in the modern age are very technical and more often in the metaphysical or epistemological area. Don’t yawn.  The reason why this is important is that those little technical errors compound into massive cracks in ethical thought and politics and in turn have a disastrous effect on our lives.  And because of this it is important to understand the mistake, what the correct opinion is and why.

 

Now I’m going to go over a brief summary of these ten categories of mistakes, but understand, yes my justification of why certain ideas are right and others wrong is going to be lacking…go read the book if you want the full justification.

First category:  “Consciousness and Its Objects” Adler deals with the mistakes of Locke, Descartes, Hume, and Kant, skepticism, solipsism, and subjectivism.  In dealing with our ability to use our minds, these philosophers made the gross mistake of driving too deep a wedge between our minds and the outside world.  Skeptics claim we can’t be sure if what we’re experiencing and the solipsists claim that we don’t actually experience in the outside world and really just experience in our minds with no connection to the outside world.  It may seem stupid to go over a category that seems so common sense…but the problem is that the attack on the correct idea–that your mind perceives a world that exists outside of your mind and that the things in our minds (ideas, sense, memories, imagined ideas and things, conceptions, other objects of thought) and the two are very related—is a more common problem than you think.  Ever have someone tell you “Well, you can’t know that” or “well that’s your opinion” after you state an article of fact.  It may seem like a rather esoteric issue, but in fact it is the root of many problems in ethics, politics, psychology, and human existence. *

 

David Hume comes out looking like the idiot he was in this book...

Second Category: “The Intellect and the Senses.”  If you thought the last one was esoteric, this one is even more so.  Common sense and reason tell us that there is a difference between our thoughts and our senses.  One is informed by the other, but they are not the same thing.  And you would think it would take a real moron to mistake the two.  Well, let me introduce you to Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, George Berkley, David Hume who basically thought they were one in the same…and Plato, Descartes, Kant and Hegel who thought that they had little to nothing to do with each other.  The reason this becomes a problem is that it begins to degrade the nature of language (I’ll spare you the steps on how this works, trust me this is what Adler points out)…and that this is also a basis for the arguments of crackpots who think that humans are not superior to animals. So if PETA has ever annoyed you, you can blame this logical error as being part of that problem.

 

Third Category: “Words and Meaning”.  Locke seemed to argue that words are useless in communicating ideas (one wonders why he wrote so much) and Hobbes and Russell seemed to think words can only be about real things and that reference to non-tangible things is to be just speaking gibberish (if you can’t touch or see it, it’s not real).  Common sense may immediately dismiss these preposterous ideas, but if you’ve ever gotten into an argument of semantics with a moron who thinks they know more than you do (when they don’t) you may begin to understand why this issue might become relevant.

 

Fourth Category: “Knowledge and Opinion.”  You know something when you believe something to be true, you have a reason to believe it is true, and it is true.  You could teach a child that 2+2=5…but they couldn’t know that 2+2=5 because it’s not true…similarly a child can repeat the phrase 2+2=4 but until they understand why that is, they don’t have knowledge.  Without reason and truth it is merely opinion.  And in common usage of the term knowledge we can know things we have evidence and reason for even if we don’t know it in the same way with the same absolute certainty of arithmetic.  For instance, I know that capitalism within a Classically Liberal society is better than any other system yet conceived, and I have mountain of evidence, logic and reason to back this up…although if you wanted to be really strict it is merely highly justified opinion…but for the common philosophic usage of the word, I know this for a fact. I’m guessing again this seems pretty obvious…but let me introduce you to David Hume who thinks you can’t know anything beyond math and since nothing can be known you can’t even really have justified opinions and thus all ideas are equally unfounded…oh there’s Immanuel Kant who tried to get around this by filling our mind with an out of the box operating system he calls a priori knowledge.  Adler takes several pages to really dig into the stupidity of Kant’s lacking understanding of how we know things, but let me share with you my favorite passage from the whole book:

Kant, justifiably, comes out even worse than Hume

“How anyone in the twentieth century can take Kant’s transcendental philosophy seriously is baffling, even though it may always remain admirable in certain respects as an extraordinarily elaborate and ingenious intellectual invention.”

Which has to be one of the best back handed compliments I’ve ever read.

Why do Hume and Kant lead to such problems with their inability to know anything about knowing?  Well because in one way or another it leads to destroying the value of scientific falsifiability and reasoned argument and reduces all knowledge to nothingness…which leads to a complete abdication of personal responsibility to know the truth of things.  Look at any organization that requires mindless following (Nazism, Communism, the Democratic National Committee, Islamofacism, numerous individual churches) and all the problems they create to see why this is an important issue to understand.

 

Fifth Category: “Moral Value.”  Hedonists (Epicurus, Mill) ethical skeptics (Hume, Russell, Ayer) and wacky deontological Kant get beat up in this.  The hedonists fail to make the important distinction between wants and needs and mistake the former for the latter.  Skeptics, deriving from the earlier mistakes believe foolishly that you can’t make any meaningful statements about ethics and so whatever is popular at the time goes (see the lack of ethics is sociology departments, multiculturalism, and ignoring the barbarism and oppression of women in Islam…not to mention backing a lot of evil in the recent history of the world by governments). And what evil isn’t backed by the skeptics usually can look to Kant and his categorical imperative which Adler states “is an empty recommendation.”  From the detached and survey nature of the book Adler simply states proper ethics is “We ought to desire whatever is really good for us and nothing else” and work toward that true good…but he points you to Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics for more details.

 

Sixth Category: “Happiness and Contentment”  Tied heavy to the last chapter is the true good in life: Happiness.  And happiness is collection of virtues in action not just material contentment as utilitarians like Mill and Dewey might mistake it as (or you know the current government).  And while not a very common mistake Adler as tears apart the Stoics (and Kant) who didn’t understand that while doing the right thing is very important, you also have to succeed some of the time to actually be happy

 

Seventh Category:”Freedom of choice.”  You have free will and anyone who says otherwise (determinists and scientists, those who say that there is only the physical world) have no reasonable grounding for their beliefs.  Although while your will is free, it is informed by the outside world, nature and nurture.  This one is actually important to understand because you wouldn’t believe how often I am seeing arguments that people are mere victims of their computer like minds and its programming, with no will of their own…and it shouldn’t take long to figure out what kind of government that will lead to.

 
Eighth Category: “Human Nature.”  The fact that this book was written in the early 80’s didn’t allow Adler to be familiar with the term multiculturalism, but he was shooting down the stupidity of that dumb idea long before it took hold. Human beings are human beings and their nature does not change by race, culture, time, or upbringing and this means that rights are the same and inalienable for everyone, they do not change for any other group.  Also, he tears apart those ideas of PETA in raising animals to the value of humans.

Ninth Category: “Human Society”.  In this section, Adler takes aim at Rosseau, Hobbes and Locke for their arguments about the state of nature.  His argument is that these three treat the state of nature as if it was a historical reality and not a thought experiment.  To be honest I’ve never heard anyone take this extreme stance (but I will admit I’m more familiar with Locke than the other two…but I also admit that academia is an odd place and easily see this chapter coming out of an argument with some professor at the University of Chicago where Adler taught.  He argues, as would any historian or anthropologist that society and government have grown over time because humans are naturally social creatures.  He then attacks anarchists who believe that mankind can ever be molded into a being that doesn’t need society, like Marx’s communist utopia.

Tenth Category: “Human Existence.”  This chapter really required a full understanding of the previous chapters to go into any detail…and since I wanted to keep this blog “manageable” (at least by my long winded standards)…so let me just say Adler maintains life has a purpose and meaning.

 

Again I realize I’ve glossed over a lot, but I highly recommend this book to anyone who deals with any kind of discussion of ideas (politics and religion especially), understanding the underlying premises that Adler goes over is infinitely important.  Adler is not as simplistic as Rand who makes a good primer in philosophy, but lacks practicality and depth, but nor is he as dry as the works of his beloved Aristotle or Aquinas.  He’s dry but not so much that it’s almost unreadable for pleasure, he has meat on the bones of his philosophy, and while a few decades out of date it is still modern enough that the languages used doesn’t suffer from the kind of gap you get with a lot of the older philosophers.  Oh, and he’s right ninety-nine times out a hundred.  Really you should read this book.

 

Now let me counter some obvious and addle brain responses I expect to get because I’ve reminded people that there is an excellent attack on all the BS philosophers so beloved by the Ivory Tower…

(1)“Adler isn’t respected by philosophers!”  Well, the philosophers you read must never have mentioned in their worthless tomes that popularity doesn’t equal truth.  All that matters is if the argument is a reasoned one and conclusion is true or not.  If every philosophy professor in the world said Adler (and by extension Aristotle and Aquinas, since Adler is more about reiterating the correct philosophies of others and adapting them to modern issues than coming up with his own ideas) was an idiot, it still wouldn’t prove that he was wrong, only truth and reason would do that.  (Now please don’t think that I think everything Adler said is true, he’s human, he’s wrong sometimes, but when compared to Descartes, Hume, Berkley, Foucault, Satre, James, Kierkegaard, Leibniz, Marx…you get the idea, he’s on a far more solid grounding of reason.)

(2)“Well you didn’t disprove (such and such philosopher] and their statement of [such and such bullshit] in your blog.  Thus you’re wrong.”   It’s a book review, it’s 200 pages long, of course I can’t get into specifics.

(3)“Well Adler didn’t disprove…”  Yes he did, you didn’t read the book.

(4)“I did read the book and he didn’t…” actually he did, see page…

(5)“I did read the book and he didn’t…” You’re right he didin’t. He did tear out all of the idea that that specific point is based on though which kind of makes tearing that point apart silly and redundant.

(6) “You didn’t accurately describe [such and such BS philopher’s] ideas correctly”  Probably not.  Do you get the concept of a book review or a blog?  If I made this a 200 page discussion why not just post all of Alder’s book?

(7) “Adler’s biased”…you mean he has a reasoned opinion and while he admits that there is grey in the world will not back down from self-evident truths because there is also black and white in the universe. Yes, in that case he is biased…Although you might then like his 1,000 page tome “The Great Ideas” where he actually discusses all of these philosophers and their ideas quite dispassionately.

(8) “I did read it and I don’t agree with anything he had to say!”  Why are you telling me this?  Like I care.  Don’t listen to my book reviews if you dislike them so much.  Really I don’t understand people who keep coming back to be infuriated because they disagree with me and want to express their displeasure.  I can understand trying to keep up with people you disagree with so that you can consider new idea…but I just don’t get the childish need seek out and bully those you disagree with.

 

*There is some important hair splitting to be done here in relationship to my views as New Ager, and if I get any requests, I’ll go into that…but (1) I can see where you might see some contradictions between this point and New Age belief that I would agree would constitute a prima facie case against my spiritual beliefs (2) I have considered them and I believe that while there is a prima facie case to be made it does not hold up under scrutiny.

**On another side note you may want to watch Lost before reading Adler’s book…otherwise you may have a knee jerk reaction into hating half the cast from day one…and I really love Hume on Lost.

 

 

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Filed under Books, Books for Conservatives, Books for New Agers, Constitution, Declaration, Education, Evils of Liberalism, Free Will, God, Happiness, Individualism, Long Term Thinking, Natural Rights, People Are Stupid, philosophy, politics, Reading Suggestions, Tyranny

The Greatest Comedy Film of all time! (and one last honorable mention)

Hitmen, FBI Agents, Cops, Criminals, teenagers, a maid, a housewife, a corrupt executive, an ad executive, and a bum who lives in a tree...what could possibly go wrong

#1 Big Trouble

“Make her stop! Dear God in Heaven make her stop, she wants my soul!”

Based on one of the greatest comedy books ever written, by the ever hilarious Dave Barry, Big Trouble is probably the greatest comedy of all time.

What you haven’t heard of it? The story of dysfunctional families, annoyed hitmen, and two really stupid criminals who manage to get a nuclear weapon past the ever inept group of people known as airport security? Can’t imagine why not? Oh, wait I know exactly why you’ve never heard of this film…because the original theatrical release date was supposed to be September 15th 2001…yeah read that thing about a nuke on a plane and then date…and I think we all see why this movie was buried with a very brief theatrical release in 2002.

Which is a shame because this movie is hilarious beyond the telling of it.

Trust me, if you haven’t seen this movie, this is one of the few movies that I will say you have to see before you die (you should also read the book).

I'm fairly certain you could still get this nuke past the MENSA members the TSA employs.

Henry: Hold on a second. We have a Die Hard situation developing in the kitchen.
Leonard: What?
Henry: There’s a guy there in the kitchen.
Leonard: A guy? What’s he doing?
Henry: Well my guess is he’s either gonna whack em’ with a rolling pin or he’s gonna bake em’ a cake. I don’t know. Could go either way with this crew.
Henry: Holy shit. Betty Crocker’s got a squirt gun!
Leonard: Let me look!
Henry: Forget about it. This is better than pay-per-view.
Henry: There goes the warranty, and here comes the Iron Chef.

 

 

And one last honorable mention…I didn’t want to put this one in with the other honorable mentions because this isn’t just some mere also-ran. …and it also doesn’t exactly fit anywhere else because it is not just a single work…but it is some of the best comedy in all of film and TV…

And the last honorable mention is…
The Collective Works of Joss Whedon.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, Doctor Horrible, Toy Story, Cabin in the Woods…and likely Much Ado and Avengers.
Everything Whedon does is unspeakably funny. From Buffy’s quip, to Wesley’s faults, to River’s insanity, to Topher’s observations. There is not an episode and hardly a scene without its humor. I couldn’t pick any single episode for two reasons. The first is that even the bad ones have their wonderful moments. The second is that like Shakespeare or any truly great writer, Whedon never creates humor without tragedy or tragedy without humor. There are funnier episodes to be sure, but those are also episodes of deep and moving, and sometime very depressing, pathos…and so while I feel the need to mention his skill in writing great comedy none of it is purely in the comedy genre…






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Filed under Art, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Humor, Joss Whedon, Movies

Paul Krugman just keeps getting dumber…

It’s been a while a since I’ve read a Paul Krugman article.  I’ve been busy with a lot at work (hence the lack of a lot of blogs lately) and well, Paul’s line of drivel you have to be in the right mood for anyway.  But I had some free time yesterday and it appears that this moron’s moron thinks he’s in a position to critique Romney’s understanding of economics (Remind me Paul, how many businesses have you created and saved over the years…zero?  Fascinating.)

So, Krugman’s critique is twofold.  First the Romney campaign had a photo-op speech at a closed plant, which they admit was symbolic of the Obama administration, but actually this plant closed during the Bush years…and it’s unfair to blame Obama for the fact that the bad economy started under Bush but has gone into a tailspin under Obama.  This is an interesting critique, because even the Romney campaign says the plant was a symbolic image not a literal one, and Krugman is throwing a hissy fit as if Romney is blaming the Obama for this particular plant closing…and not you know, using the image as a symbol.

The second part of his argument is that it’s all Bush’s fault and Obama is not to blame for anything….

“Which brings me to another aspect of the amnesia campaign: Mr. Romney wants you to attribute all of the shortfalls in economic policy since 2009 (and some that happened in 2008) to the man in the White House, and forget both the role of Republican-controlled state governments and the fact that Mr. Obama has faced scorched-earth political opposition since his first day in office.”

That’s right.  He had his hands tied “since the first day in office.”  You know the first day where he had a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.  You have no idea the hurdles you have to clear…especially when like 10 Republicans in the Senate are RINOs.  Is Krugman the worst liar ever…or just unbelievably stupid?

“But that’s not the critique Mr. Romney is making. Instead, he’s basically attacking Mr. Obama for not acting as if George Bush had been given a third term. Are the American people — and perhaps more to the point, the news media — forgetful enough for that attack to work? I guess we’ll find out.”

Actually, Paul, he’s attacking Obama (man of higher regulation, deficit spending, increased medical entitlements, stimulus, government takeover of industries, letting the Fed get away with crippling low interest rates and inflation, over and under regulation in the wrong areas, and giving into unions at every turn) for actually acting just like Bush (man of higher regulation, deficit spending, increased medical entitlements, stimulus, government takeover of industries, letting the Fed get away with crippling low interest rates and inflation, over and under regulation in the wrong areas, and giving into unions at every turn)!  The fact that many of Bush’s policies didn’t help the economy is because they were inherently Keynesian, like Obama’s and like yours.  I liked and supported Bush at first because I liked his rhetoric of lower regulation, tort reform and less spending…but the facts are that he didn’t do any of that and in the end was just a hint of things to come with Obama.  So yes it is Bush’s fault for the start of our economic problems (and his Democratic Congress…can’t forget to blame them too)…and it is Obama’s fault for looking at a forest fire and deciding to throw kerosene on it.

But does Krugman admit that this?  That his Keynesian BS policies are to blame?  Nope.  In fact did you know we should get down on our knees and thank Obama for saving us?

“This is especially true if you focus on private-sector jobs. Overall employment in the Obama years has been held back by mass layoffs of schoolteachers and other state and local government employees. But private-sector employment has recovered almost all the ground lost in the administration’s early months.”

This is really interesting as Bureau of labor statistics say that in 2008 there were 113 million private sector jobs  and now they say there are 110 million private sector jobs.  (I’d love  to show you a single chart than can map the private sector employment month by month through the Obama administration…but the labyrinth that is the Bureau of Labor Statistics is designed not to give you raw data, only the spin of the administration in power).  So 110 million is “private-sector employment has recovered almost all the ground lost” from 113 million…if you ignore 3 million people…and all the people who entered the workforce…and ignore that a lot of those are double counted as a lot more people who have jobs have two jobs right now…and if you ignore that a lot more of the 110 million is lower paid jobs than when we had 113 million.  So if you ignore all that we’ve completely recovered.  Oh and as to his thing about teacher’s getting fired, first, lots of teachers do need to be fired, but as I doubt Krugman is going to argue to get rid of union’s favorite “last hired, first fired” policies his words ring rather hollow…the most inept teachers are still on the payrolls and still need to be fired.  And Krugman himself is one to point out that all of those state and city loses have been matched if not exceeded by the growth of federal government employment (you know the one sector that should NEVER grow during a recession, depression…or really ever under any circumstances).

“I guess accusing Mr. Obama of not doing enough to promote recovery is a better argument than blaming him for the effects of Bush policies. However, it’s not much better, since Mr. Romney is essentially advocating a return to those very same Bush policies. And he’s hoping that you don’t remember how badly those policies worked.”

Actually Romney isn’t advocating returning to Bush’s big government, spending craze.  But let’s look at what Obama could have done, which had he done these things we would be well into real recovery by now.

Cut spending. If Obama had cut every Department and Office by 5% on day one (which Romney is going to do) and then set down to finding out what can be further cut and keep cutting until we actually didn’t spend more than we take in (which Romney has also promised to do) the dollar would be stronger, inflation would be lower and we wouldn’t be feeling as many ripples from much of Europe’s imminent collapse (and keep in mind it’s collapsing for doing all the things Krugman has always said we should do over here…except maybe Sweden which has been becoming more and more capitalistic and oddly enough more and more economically stable).

Lengthen the time for medical patents…instead of regulating drug companies and the companies that make the chemicals that are needed to make those drugs to the point where most of them are planning to leave American shores forever if this jackass is reelected, thus causing massive shortages in the nation’s drug supplies…if you had cut regulations and extended the time to hold a drug patent you would have spurred further investment into private R&D (you know the kind that actually yields results).

Letting insurance cross state lines…hmmm actually allow insurance companies to have to compete.  As I recall competition always lowers costs.  Which would be much, much better than a government take over which will skyrocket costs.

Pass right to work. Instead of kowtowing to the unions which drive up costs and produce some of the worst teachers conceivable, maybe passing a right to work law in this country (which I believe Romney wants…and on a side note Santorum, like Obama would fight to the death to stop).

Cutting Fannie and Freddie loose. Instead of wanting MORE sub-prime loans which caused the housing bubble…maybe we could fire sale what these two horribly disastrous companies own and bring some sanity and stability to the market.

Reducing or ending all student loan programs…like the housing market, the government has over inflated the cost of college.  College loan programs needed to be gradually reduced and then ended.  Yes this will probably kill funding into theoretical physics, causes causing T.A.’s to be a thing of the past, and make professors actually teach their courses instead of writing useless journal articles that no one reads…I’m just so broken up by this.  Oh it will likely reduce every college student’s tuition costs, which means the middle class will no longer enter the work force already under crippling debt.

Cut regulation…in general there are too many regulations on the books. You know that expression that ignorance of the law is no excuse…well that was in a day and age when most laws were seemingly common sense…at this point there is no way that every American is not violating 50 U.S. regulations that they know nothing about nor could conceivably know.  Regulation is a just and necessary function of the government, but what the government is doing these days isn’t regulation, it’s tyrannical insanity.

Cut the minimum wage (or just end it).  Yes I know this is a long long shot, and not even Romney is proposing this…but it would actually spur hiring, especially for low skill workers who could, oh I don’t know get skills and experience.

Drill.  ANWAR, oil shale, Keystone, drill, drill, drill.  Even if it doesn’t immediately boost production it lowers the fears that oil speculation thrives on.  If you know what that there will be supplies for years to come then prices in any commodities market goes down.

Support border patrol and sane immigration and guest worker programs.  The fact is that the open border breeds both crime from the cartels (which have been supplied with a great deal of firepower by Eric Holder and Barack Obama…who if they weren’t who they were, would be guilty of aiding and betting in murder…or at least you would be if you knowingly ran guns for the cartels) and it breeds massive government expense in healthcare costs for illegal immigrants (which have crippled some border states) and education costs for the children they bring.  This needs to stop. Close the border, and allow guest workers (not their families) to come in.

Support democracies not terrorists…oh and maybe if we supported democratic revolts (like the Iranian protesters Obama just let get slaughtered) and not fascist juntas (like the Arab Spring) it might help stabilize the world economy, which would always be good for us.

Lower the capital gains tax.  Hell, do away with it.  Any first year economics student could tell you how this will be the economic equivalent of shooting adrenaline into the heart…it takes a Nobel Prize winning Yale economist (and he won for research in microeconomics…he knows less than anything about macro) to not know this basic fact of reality.

Tort Reform—I can’t beat this drum enough. Tort Reform. Tort Reform. Tort Reform!  Kill the ABA and their ambulance chasers, reducing insurance and overhead costs at EVERY level of every industry…you think that might have a cascade effect to spur investment and the economy.

Let’s go back to Krugman’s statement:

“I guess accusing Mr. Obama of not doing enough to promote recovery is a better argument than blaming him for the effects of Bush policies.”  Actually I blame Bush for not doing a lot of this too.  I just think that Romney will try to do a lot of this, and assuming he gets a GOP House and Senate he will be able to accomplish a lot of it.

“However, it’s not much better, since Mr. Romney is essentially advocating a return to those very same Bush policies.”  Well there’s a lie if ever I heard one.  Please, Paul could you give me a specific Bush policy that Romney wants to return to?  Because I think Ryan’s plan that Romney has endorsed is about as un-Bush as you get.

“And he’s hoping that you don’t remember how badly those policies worked.”  No, he’s not hoping that.  He’s knows that “It’s about the economy…and we’re not stupid” like you are Paul.

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The Greatest comedies of all time #3 & #2

#3 Arrested Development

The lovable dysfunctional family.

“I’ve made a huge mistake.”
“Have any of you ever seen a chicken?”
“There’s always money in the banana stand.”
“I just blue myself.”
“Spring Break!”
“I never thought I’d miss my hand so much.”
“Anyong.”
“No touching!”
“Illusions, Michael. Tricks are things whores do for money.”
“Watch out for hop ons.”

Almost every quote of this show is comedy gold.

Okay, technically not a movie. But that it is a solid 3 seasons of unending humor with even the weakest episode better than most of the films on this list. And given my loathing for almost all sitcoms, it is a small miracle that I not only like Arrested Development, but love it as much as I do.

From Ron Howard’s voiceovers, to treating it as if it was a documentary, to beyond plausible dysfunction of the Bluths at every level. There were jokes in this that only were funny on the second viewing, and there were jokes that took almost a dozen episodes to buildup before you got the punch line. On the whole it was near perfect. Every thing is perfect comedy gold.

And while I think all right thinking people were sad to see it go…there is always something good about a show ending before it jumps the shark (except for the fact that we actually did see the Fonz jump the shark in this show). And because there was a stop, I have hopes that this coming 2nd run of the show will be equally as good.

#2 Airplane

“Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”


Possibly the best slapstick film ever made.

Making fun of disaster movies, classic films and language in general, this movie has no rival among slapstick films, and if you think it does then I think you picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue…that and you may have a drinking problem.

Every scene, low budget though it may be, is perfectly executed. But if I had to pick a favorite scene it has to be the bar scene with the fighting girl scouts and the bizarre Saturday Night Fever moment (which I couldn’t find a full clip of)…
…but while not quite as good as the original the trial scene from Airplane II is also one of my favorites.

But these are good too…

…yes I’m sure you’re curious what the #1 pick is…tomorrow…

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Greatest Comedy Films #5 &#4

#5 Arsenic & Old Lace

If you think your family is a handful, try being Mortimer Brewster. The insane uncle who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt is the sanest one of the bunch. You’ve got the homicidal brother. And the mass murdering old aunts. And everyone else in the neighborhood also appears to be a bit off.

When most of us think of Cary Grant comedy we usually have Grant in mind as the debonair straight man who plays off the insanity of the rest of the cast. In this case a young Cary Grant, while his character is certainly more mentally stable than everyone else in the movie, the insane troupe is calm and unaffected by their mass insanity while Grant as the sane man in a group of crazies is bouncing off the walls trying to bring order to a situation that has none. As seen by Grant’s facial features here…

Starting with this film I find the rest of this list may cause severe problems to breath from laughing to hard.

#4 Blazing Saddles

“A sheriff! But law and order is the last thing I want. Wait a minute… maybe I could turn this thing into my advantage. If I could find a sheriff who so offends the citizens of Rock Ridge that his very appearance would drive them out of town. But where would I find such a man? Why am I asking you? “

Only Mel Brook could come with lines of racist slurs that only humiliate the racists. “…but we don’t want the Irish!” The sad thing as vicious a critique of racism as this movie is, you could never make it today.  The politically correct mores of modern society would never let the slurs of this film be made, despite the fact that they are being aimed at humiliating those who use such words.

Rivaled only by Young Frankenstein (which I’ve already discussed) this is probably Mel Brook’s funniest film. If this movie has one flaw, it is the ending which, I think we all admit is a little forced. But even that can’t dim the surreal ingenius/ingenious of Kahn’s bizaare/bizarre stage number or Sherriff Bart holding himself hostage. There are few scenes in this film which aren’t hilarious.


…And Methodists! …?

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Weekly Meditation: Kill the Buddha

Last week I pulled a line from the Tao Te Ching…for this week’s meditation I will pull from Buddhism.

 

Kill your idols.

There is an old Buddhist saying:

 

“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.”

 

No I’m not advocating killing holy people, calm down.

 

The point of the statement is that idols, prophets, wise men, philosopher are all in many ways more dangerous than they are useful to those that relinquish their mind/soul to another.  The message of the Buddhas, Krishna, Christ, Lao-Tzu, saints, and all legitimate prophets has been, without exception, that God and the truth is in you and your soul—that you are capable of discovering and knowing the truth because it is already in you.

 

This line is important because we often forget that the truth is within in us.  Forgetting it we look to outside sources to give us the truth.  We look to holy books, and philosophers and priests and books and systems of belief to give us the truth.  Ummmm…it’s not there.  And using one book, one idea, one philosopher or saint as your guiding star makes you a fool because you are following someone expecting them to give you the truth when you should be looking within your own mind and your own soul.  The truth can only be discovered it cannot be given.  Thus, when you meet a Buddha, kill him (i.e., that you don’t get so wrapped up in what he has to say that you begin to follow him, and kill any instinct you have to blindly follow) and trust your own mind and soul.

 

Does this mean you should ignore what others have to say?  No.  Use the words and ideas of others to supplement your own thinking to give you ideas and to show you doors you did not know existed before.   But always use your own mind/reasoning and soul to judge those ideas.  It is the mind and soul of God; it’s more than qualified to judge things on its own if you let it.  Just don’t get so wrapped up in what they have to say.  Obviously I trust no single Holy Book as superior to another.  For instance anyone who reads the political side of this blog knows I love Aristotle and Aquinas as philosophers…but I could tell you off the top of my head 50 major places Aristotle was dead wrong and twice that for Aquinas.  Equally anyone who reads the political side knows I love the economics of Hayek, Friedman, and Sowell, but I can list numerous places where I think they don’t have all the answers too.  (Some idiot recently even tried to say I march lockstep to Rand, which is funny given how much I critique her very limited vision…she’s fun to quote and has some of the broad strokes down, but that woman was a little crazy).  My point is, probably even the wisest people don’t get it right 100% of the time…and that more often than not the prophets, philosophers, and leaders people follow so blindly are not worth following.

 

Now, what this means is you should judge everything you hear and ask “Does it make sense?”  “Is it logical?” “Is it true?”  and if not to discard it.  Now we all get into the habits of disregarding information from known idiots and paying more attention to people with better track records, and that’s fine, just so long as you are open to idiots being the proverbial monkey at a typewriters who can occasionally say something correct and for those you trust to be occasionally wrong and willing to judge what they say by its merits not by who said it.  And you need to trust that you are a divine being…are you capable of making mistakes? Yes.  But it should not be your preset belief that everything you believe is wrong or that you cannot know the truth. You are more than capable of knowing the truth, at some level you already know it, you must trust you can know the truth, trust that you do know it and act on it.  Yes be open to being proven wrong, look for the contradictions, look for evidence, listen to REASONABLE doubts, but you must assume that in lieu of those, you know the truth and must act on it.  Are you probably going to be wrong on some stuff, yes.   But you will never find out what until you act on it.   One of the major points of life is learning and learning cannot occur if you don’t act on what you believe.  The pretentious and fearful like to pontificate skepticism, relativisms, and existentialism—that you can’t know the truth, that there is no truth, that there are many truths—but guess what there is one truth in existence, it exists and your mind and soul are capable of knowing it.  And the only way you will find it is to use logic, use reason, use your mind and act on your beliefs with the conviction that until you are proven wrong you are right.  Be open to being proven wrong, look for the evidence that would prove you wrong in fact, but default belief must be that you are right.   And judge for yourself!  Do not let others dictate for you; kill the Buddha if you meet him on the road of life.

 

So this week’s meditation, sorry for taking so long to get here, it’s a dense quote (and I really haven’t even touched upon all it’s meanings) is to question your beliefs.  Question why do I believe this?  Is it logical?  Is it in line with everything else I know?

 

I know this is a variation on last week’s meditation, but this is an important concept.  You need to learn to trust your own thoughts and think for yourself if you are going to learn and find happiness…and if you can’t learn to trust your thoughts, what is the point of learning to control them through meditation?

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Happy Irrational Fear Day…err I mean Earth Day

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Greatest Comedy Films #7 & #6

#7 A Shot in the Dark

“François, I just cut off my thumb.”

Ah, Inspector Jacques Clouseau when played by the great Peter Sellers. Clouseau is perhaps the dumbest person on earth, and in this the only Clouseau movie without the words “Pink Panther” in the title, and thus it is ironic that it is the best of the Pink Panther movies. I’m not entirely sure who deserves more credit for this moment in insane comedy, Sellers as Clouseau or Blake Edwards as the master of comedy behind the camera, but when these two men collaborate, even at their worst (see Revenge of the Pink Panther).

Clouseau the investigator who has never solved a crime. Clouseau, the master of disguise who never fooled anyone. Clouseau, the master of martial arts who only is able to defeat his trusted (?) assistant Kato, who is constantly out to kill him. Clouseau, the man who drives his boss Dreyfus to self-mutilation and homicide. The only thing Clouseau is really good at is providing an endless stream of laughs while investigating a murder.

#6 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

“Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.”

Let me speak anathema. I’m not overly impressed with many of John Hughes films. Sixteen Candles, Uncle Buck, and Planes, Trains & Automobiles did nothing for me, and I was utterly unable to sympathize with any of the characters of The Breakfast Club (and we’re not even going to talk about some of the shit he wrote beyond saying that if it wasn’t for Hughes we would never have been tortured with hell that is Macaulay Culkin). But as much as his works clearly did resonate with me as much as the rest of America, there is no denying the greatness of Ferris Bueller. Maybe it’s just the beauty of the image of a smart-ass getting everything he has worked for (and make no mistake it’s not that the world just opens to him without effort, he works for all of it), but there is just something unbelievably beautiful about the way Ferris Bueller lives his life and looks around once in a while. Ferris is an embodiment of what individualism and hard work will get you (and he does work hard, he just doesn’t work hard at what society wants him to, “It’s a test on European socialism. I’m not European; I don’t plan on being European. So what do I care if they’re socialists. They could be fascist anarchists; it still wouldn’t change the fact that I don’t have a car.”)

The comedy credentials of this film do not even need to be described…while I don’t think this is the funniest film of all time it is certainly one of the best known films. It would probably make the top 100 list of film buffs and philistines, those who know movies by the boat load and those who only know a handful. Honestly if you don’t love this movie then either you’ve been living in a cave or are quite possibly mentally unhinged (there are few other excuses for not loving this film). So I won’t wax long on its comedic effect.

However there are some things that recent events have brought up to me some other lesser appreciated points of this film.

First off is the lesson in economics that it is too sad that many did not learn. That government interference through higher taxes and more regulation leads to depressions, also that people named Bush know less than nothing about economics. The utter lack of flair and style is part of its charm.

And of course there is the issue that half this film is people whining about “It’s not fair.” Why does that sound familiar?

“Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe Ferris isn’t such a bad guy. After all, I got a car, he got a computer. But still, why should he get to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants? Why should everything work out for him? What makes him so goddamn special?”

Oh that’s right because the movie goes out of its way to show that people who worry about what’s fair or not that other people get things that they don’t. The clear message of the movie is that those who worry about others are pathetic and the people who only worry about their own lives are not just the ones to be admired, but the ones who actually enjoy life.


And let us not forget it probably has some of the wisest words ever uttered on film:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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International Liberty

Last year, I did a popular post on what happens if you redistribute grades in a classroom.

Someone has turned this idea into a video, starring some well-known political figures.

And if you want to see a real-world example of how students react to this idea, here’s another good video.

By the way, I can’t resist being pedantic and re-explaining that socialism is not the same as redistributionism.

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Just because I saw this and thought it was fun

Liberals hate conservatives because we use logic, and facts, quotes in context, and truth.  Many liberals (though not all) and other idiots use “it’s not popular,” “it’s not from the Ivory Tower,” “my professor didn’t talk about that,” and who get annoyed when you call them on the implications they make call you bully, being a small thinker, and a bigot when you use those facts and truth against them.  It’s kind of funny actually.

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Ramblings of ConservativeCathy – The Buffett Rule or is that the Buffet Rule?

Taxes should not be a “buffet” where you get to pick and choose what you like and don’t like.  It is supposed to be a just and equal system.  Which is preposterous as it is based on penalizing those who are more successful –not quite sure how that is just or equal but we will deal with that later.

Let’s talk about all those millionaires that do not pay taxes or pay less then their secretaries.

The tax codes are difficult to follow and it is fair to say that many people pay taxes multiple times on the same money.

Basically taxes are based on actual income earned from working in a progressive manner with those making more paying a higher percentage rate.  But the main problem is with all the loopholes written into that code.  Most of us are familiar with mortgage deductions and charitable contribution deductions, but there are many many pages of many more deductions.  These are the loopholes everyone is referring to.

So when a millionaire receives income from working they pay at the highest percentage rate of taxes (not counting deductions) then they take that money and invest it (means making it work by putting it into other business) then when they receive additional income from that investment they only pay approximately 15% on that investment.  Now that money that they were paid for their investment has already been taxed for the company paying the interest on the investment in several different ways and now that it has been paid back to the investor he must now pay that additional 15% on it.  Keep in mind that if he lost his investment he can only deduct that which he lost minus whatever he had received on it (this is very simplistic but close enough I think – if you invested $10,000 and had received $1,000 on it you now lost $9,000).  I am not sure if you can declare the complete $9,000 as deduction but even if you can you have lost much more than that in reality as if you had just put it into a bank or some bonds or such you probably would have earned more (unless this is a short term loss) but you can not take that into account – you also can not take into account that you previously paid taxes on the $1,000.

The reason we offer a lower tax rate for investment is that it is good for the economy and society as a whole.  Already the tax rate for companies is the highest in the world and the tax rate for investment is the highest in the world so actually we are hurting ourselves when we claim it is not fair for millionaires to pay a lower tax rate.  They already paid the higher rate when they actually worked and earned that money now they are only investing it instead of hoarding it like Scrooge McDuck.

Now back to Mr. Buffett – my understanding is that he does still work for his company but chooses to take his pay in the form of stocks.  That means that he has enough money to live on so instead of taking actual pay then he pays only 15% on the profit on his investment annually (the stock).  Now in reality if he sells that stock he will pay the higher tax rate again but right now he is only being taxed on the capital gains he receives.  So you are not comparing apples to apples in this scenario.  Of course the ultimate irony about the Buffett rule is that is comes from a man who one minute states he wants to pay more but doesn’t go to the IRS web site that allows him to pay more of his own free will, and who says he should pay more one moment and next the company that he is chief executive of, Berkshire Hathaway, is behind in taxes by millions of dollars dating back to 2002 and is fighting in court what they should pay.  Hypocrisy thy name if Buffet.

What we are doing is cutting our own throats to do something that sounds fair on the face of it but if you look at it in the real context you can see that they are not really paying less in taxes but just postponing the inevitable and as the pot grows the inevitable will be a substantial amount.  Also keep in mind that with a death tax penalty that for most people the inevitable moment comes when they die and their estate is over taxed at around 45-50%.  Gee I think that more than makes up for the lower taxes while they were alive.  Especially when you think of all the benefit the economy received by their keeping the money working in the economy instead of hoarding it or accumulating materialistic things.

The Republicans have often but to no avail offered up plans where the tax becomes flat meaning it is a lower rate for all but then there will be no loopholes or deductions.  Actually this will bring in more money to the treasury in the long run.  But the Democrats want something quick and flashy like an all you can eat buffet sign.  Pick whichever group it is popular to beat up on and tax them.  Tax them as much as you want, it’s all you can eat.  No concern for the long term health of the economy, no concern whether it will have immediate effect, just tax what you want because you want it.  Just like a buffet.  And when you’re done at the all you can tax buffet, gorge yourself and clogging the arteries the of the economy (yes I know this metaphor is running too long I’m almost done) you can go and put a couple hundred million on Solyndra at Roulette wheel.

It would be great if society started to think long term versus short term and what sounds nicer instead of what will work in the long run and be more just and equal in the long run.  I personally will support a VAT tax (and only a VAT, not a combination of VAT and income) as I have serious problems with income taxes due to penalization of success.

And let me add that all persons in the US can of their own volition give money to the treasury or even dedicate additional money to our national debt.  So if someone really believes they are not paying enough taxes then they could very easily write that check and the government will gladly accept it from you.  So I find it very hypocritical that so-called wealthy/millionaires want the government to pass a law to be able to by force take additional money from them but not want to willingly just give it away to the government.  Would it be that they know with their money they can afford the best tax accountants and attorneys in the world that will allow them to still pay less money then the amount the law states????

Please also do some research and you will find that everytime congress has added a tax for the “wealthy” they end up adding it downward as it really does not bring in the funds they want so by wanting someone else to pay up you actually end up making the middle class pay up.

So, logically you must come to the conclusion that all of this is political hype and nothing more!  And still no one wants to solve the actual underlying problem – SPENDING!!

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Greatest Moments of Comedy in Film #9 & #8

#9 The Trouble With Tribbles

“Most curious creature, Captain. It’s trilling seems to have a tranquilizing effect on the human nervous system. Fortunately, of course, I am immune to its effect.”

Okay, technically not a movie…although I’ve included TV episodes on my lists before. But this is the only standalone episode of any show to make it on this list…true there were some very funny episodes of the other Star Treks, some great moments of X-file humor, and I am still looking forward every year to The Closer’s Flynn and Provenza episode. But while almost every show has a great moment in comedy, I think only the “Trouble with Tribbles” really rises to the bar of the Top 30 comedies (if I did a top 40 there might have been an X-file episode or two, “Bad Blood” & “Jose Chung’s”, but I figured 30 was pushing it as it was.

Tribbles are possibly the cutest prop ever developed. A purring ball of fur. How can you not love a purring ball of fur? But it’s not just the tribbles that make the episode.

I will be the first to admit there were some pretty low moments in the original Star Trek. Episodes of bad writing, bad directing, bad special effects and yes bad acting. And when it was bad it was really bad (see “Spock’s Brain”)…but, oh, when they had a good script and a good director then the actors would bring up all the talent they had and everything worked into some of the finest moments of TV history. And “Tribbles” is one of those truly great moments.

Near perfect comedic timing from both Shatner and Nimoy in almost every scene in dealing with a situation that is beyond preposterous.

Looking for a quick 45 minutes of nonstop laughing The Trouble with Tribbles never fails.

#8 Duck Soup

“Remember, you’re fighting for this woman’s honour, which is probably more than she ever did.”

I love the Marx Brothers. Mad cap wit and pure insanity. And Groucho as the Prime Minister of a nation is just more insane than you usually get even in a Marx Brothers film. (And there is the sad fact that he’s a better leader than a lot of the world’s current chief executives). I will admit that this has a much weaker plot than some of the other Marx Brother films…but why are you watching Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo for plot? But the mirror scene, the war scene and a dozen others I find this perhaps the funniest of the Marx Brother movies…but only by a small margin.

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