October 16, 2010

Conspiracy of Dunces

So, a few things about this year's crop of candidates.

The other night, Rachel Maddow mentioned a GOP Senate candidate who makes a point of telling his supporters that he can't pronounce names like "Sotamayor". Or "Ahmadinejad".  Or "Chu".  It's always a big laugh line for him.  To this day, Sarah Palin is OFFENDED that Kathy Couric had the nerve to ask her what newspapers she reads.

Now, there are other conservatives who at least recognize that creating the appearance of education is a good thing.  Christine O'Donnell tried to pretend she went to Princeton and Oxford. But, I can tell you for a fact that there are no mice with human brains running around the Evolutionary Biology department at Princeton.  Now, Glenn Beck is trying to create his own university, with classes on Faith, Hope, and Charity.

I think about the creationists, who've now retreated into the realm of "intelligent design", which basically breaks down like this: a lot of really complicated things happened to create the universe, and I don't understand it, but since it all works, there MUST be some intelligence behind it.

I know studying and reading and learning aren't exactly easy.  But, since when did willful ignorance become a virtue?

Why are people now PROUD to proclaim that they don't know things?  Why are people ANGRY when you suggest that they should read more?

I know I'm weird, right?  Because I'm an obsessive researcher.  I love to know, well, everything.  So I study like crazy.  But I'm not asking people to be like me.  I'm just asking people to, I don't know, learn something.

I mean, if you got on a plane, you wouldn't want the guy who is proud that he doesn't know anything about aerodynamics or flight controls or, well, flying, to actually pilot the plane, right?   I mean, no, I don't know how to fly, but I'm not insisting that the pilot be as ignorant as I am about flying just so I don't feel, what, inadaquate as we're soaring at 30,000 feet.

So why are we so ready to vote for "the guy I could have a beer with".  Christine O'Donnell says "vote for me because I'd do what you'd do".

No!  I want someone who'd do what someone who knows more about these kind of things than me.  At least it gets done right.  My pride is not so fragile that I need to see the country go down the tubes just so I can say to my congressman "I could do your job".

I remember reading Bill Bradley's book, "Times Present, Times Past", where he talked about his involvement in the US Senate with water management legislation in California, which is a stupidly complex thing involving land rights, aquaduct construction & management, and a ton of other things I know nothing about.  The end result is that clean water comes out of my tap.  I WANT someone smart about these issues in there making the decisions.

Representative government means representing my interests, not replicating my own stupidity.

Wake up, people!

But the reality is that all of these GOP/Tea Party loons are just a big distraction.  There are people who fundamentally don't believe in government who support these clowns, because the government is all that stands between them and a state of nature, which is what they really want.  There are some economically powerful people who want all of the laws to go away so that we're returned to a world where only the strong survive, because they figure they're strong and they'll win.  They want you to think that government doesn't serve a purpose, or is only worthy of clowns, charlatans, and con men.  And, frankly, I think those people are just fundamentally unAmerican, because the end result of such a world is feudalism.

A conservative I greatly respect is David Frum.  I don't agree with his philosophies or political agendas, but I admire his firm faith that government is a place where the country can be made better.  And he's commented on his blog several times that many of these so-called candidates from the GOP lately actually have no interest in running the country.  Mike Huckabee and Palin and O'Donnell are only in the race so they can get their own TV shows later on some network that pays them a lot of money.

Serving in public office is a privilege that carries a heavy responsibility.  If you believe in your principles, you should want to be the sharpest, smartest, most logically & legislatively sound public official you can be.  Frankly, I wish there were more David Frums.

Don't Let will.i.am Destroyed America!

Remember this video?

And how we were all so inspired and fired up and ready to go two years ago?

I may have mentioned this in a previous blog post, but it's worth repeating:

I had a dream back in February of 2009, about month after the inauguration. In the dream, I was at Camp David during a snow-covered winter night, interviewing President Obama for this very blog.

I kid you not.

And after he'd given me the walking tour of the place and introduced me to the First Lady (where, I'm sure, if it had been in real life, I would have traded a few stories with her about the old Third World Center at Princeton), I stopped him and asked him if there was anything he wanted to say directly to my readers. And the President's words were, and I quote:

"Keep dreaming. But be ready to do the work."

I'm reminded of John F. Kennedy's speech about the moon landing.

"We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

The easy part, my friends, was electing Obama.

When it was all a wonderful silly dream about how amazing we could make this country.

But the fact of the matter is, it's a lot of freakin' work. And I don't have to tell you that work, frankly, sucks. It's tiring and time consuming and it takes away from all the games you want to play and all the movies you want to watch.

But laziness has a very high cost.

My point is, things are very hard in the country right now. And we keep hearing about this so-called enthusiasm gap, where all of the energy appears to be with the people who are so mad that Obama's not a magician and can just make 30 million jobs and trillions of dollars in debt to China and a crappy infrastructure and political corruption disappear by wiggling his nose like Samantha on "Bewitched".

And THESE fools would rather that Obama stop, so we can keep on losing 700,000 jobs a month, like we were back when I had that dream.

I'm not talking to them. I'm talking to all of you who watched that will.i.am song and decided that I should vote for Obama because it would be kewl.

To Hell with Kewl. This country still needs your help. We're moving, very slowly, in the right direction, but we need to continue to have a supportive congress and local government to make it happen.

Obama's not officially on the ballot next month, but everything that he and his supporters have bled to put into law is. And all of the positive things that have been done and could be done are in jeopardy.

Are you really telling me that just because will.i.am didn't call up all of his celebrity buddies to make a new video for this midterm election, you don't have a beat you can dance to that can take your butt into a voting booth next month?

Do we really have to have theme music before we can get to work and save the country?

Just because the Black Eyed Peas aren't inspired to make this election entertaining, that's not an excuse, people!

Click the link in the title of this blog, find out who's on the ballot locally, and VOTE!

And email 20 other people you know and make sure they vote! And tell them to do the same.

Our country is literally dancing on the precipice.

July 29, 2010

Things I Didn't Know About Black America: Shirley Sherrod

So, I'm not going to get into the guts of this whole Shirley Sherrod/Andrew Breitbart fiasco.

But what I will say is, I think the sister has a serious point when she said she'd like to talk to the President about what he doesn't know about the history of Southern Black America.

One of my very good friends invited me to come along with him this summer to tour civil rights era sites throughout the south.  And, in my smugness, I said "dude, I'm Black from Maryland - my family LIVED the civil rights movement.  I don't need to be a tourist."

That said, Maryland is very much the line state.  There was terrible racism and race terrorism there, of course.  But it wasn't really the epicenter of Jim Crow like, say, Alabama, Mississippi, or Georgia during the 50's & '60's.

I don't really know.  And just because I'm Black doesn't mean I know by default.

And neither does President Obama, who, as far as I can tell, has yet to visit any of those Southern states since the election.

My Jewish friends have quite skillfully laid claim to the term "never again" in the face of the Holocaust, and I have yet to meet a young Jewish person who doesn't have some vivid living memory handed down to them by parents & grandparents & great grandparents about why they need to be both eternally vigilant and eternally better than the examples of their oppressors.

How did our history get lost, Black America?  Why aren't we talking to the Shirley Sherrods and Bill Cosbys and Dick Gregorys and Harry Belefontes and Ruby Dees and, yes, Clarence Thomases and Condolezza Rices, about how we always remember, always honor, and always excel despite the horrors?
Eyes on The Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954-1965Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy

Things I Didn't Know About Black America: Clarence Thomas

Thanks to my fellow netizen Brokenbeatnik, I came across the Washington Post article about the opinion Clarence Thomas wrote supporting the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Chicago's anti-handgun law as an unreasonable restriction of the 2nd Amendment.

Now, ordinarily, I'm not big on gun rights (after all, as my brother always says, nobody in the hood manufactures Uzis), and I'm really not crazy about Clarence Thomas, but I've gotta say, he really caught my eye with this opinion.  If you look at the nearly 20 page paper he wrote, you see that his vigorous defense of 2nd amendment rights is founded in his own first hand experience, I'm sure, of growing up in the Jim Crow South.

Cue Wikipedia again.

I didn't realize that Thomas' home town was founded by freed slaves, or that Gullah (or Geechee) was the spoken language in his home.  I didn't realize the man didn't live in a house with in-door plumbing until he was 7 years old.  I didn't know that he dropped out of seminary after hearing his classmates celebrating Martin Luther King's assassination.

If I did, I shouldn't have been surprised that, in his mind, the Federally protected right to own a gun, unabridged by a local or state authority, was the only think protecting him & his family (heck, even his whole home town) from organized, often local government sanctioned, white racist terrorism from the likes of the Ku Klux Klan and God knows what else.  Justice Thomas practically echoes Rob Brown's book "Negroes With Guns", a tome of self defense that became the cornerstone of Huey Newton's thinking in founding the Black Panther Party.  I have huge problems with many of Brother Clarence's votes, and I'll disagree with him with a lot of things, but I doubt I'll ever question the sincerity of his intentions again.

It reminds me of how I used to think of Condolezza Rice:  she grew up with the same four Black little girls who were murdered in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963 that Spike Lee featured in his documentary "Four Little Girls".  I used to think, "How can she not be more super-pro-Black nationalist after having lived through the horrors of that era?"

But Thomas reminds me that, while many Black folks were radicalized by the internal terrorism of the late 50's and '60's, just as many were raised in households more aligned with Booker T. Washington's thinking than, say, my man W.E.B. DuBois.  That the best revenge was success & dignity in the face of the terror, and those children like Clarence Thomas or Condolezza Rice or Colin Powell owed it to the people who died to reach and strive as far as they could.  So many radicals who didn't have access to the opportunities they had ended up dead, incarcerated, or ostracized.

Huey Newton?  H. Rap Brown?  These are not stories with happy endings.

But are those the only choices?

One could argue that Clarence, Condolezza, & Colin and many others like them earned their success by turning their backs on the broader Black community.  Yes, they're all involved in charity and philanthropy, but when decisions were made in their midsts regarding economic policy, war policy, social policy, and the like that had a direct impact on African Americans at large, did they really do all that they could to protect their voiceless brothers and sisters?

I don't know.

Just like I don't know what sort of sacrifices they had to make in order to reach their positions.  Does their mere presence in those positions carry more weight than their actions while in those positions?

My generation came of age in the post-"Black is Beautiful" era.  We take our ethnic pride and abilities as a given.  But that has not always been the case.  Folks like Clarence and Ward Connerly and others carry the scars of de-legitimacy to this day.  And the memories of the horror probably never go away.

I find myself thinking a lot about "The Spook Who Sat By The Door" as I read about Clarence Thomas this week.

Just getting to the door has been so hard for so many.  But does simply sitting there make it easier for others to join you and/or walk through?  Or are you responsible for wedging it open, no matter the personal cost?

Spook Who Sat By the DoorNegroes With Guns (African American Life Series)UP FROM SLAVERY: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Things I Didn't Know About Black America: Supermax

I grew up in a house with three sets of encyclopedias, which, of course, means, today, I am a compulsive researcher.

Or, as one of my friends from the all-girl's private school around the corner from my all-boy's private school once said, "You're such a little bibliophile."

Whenever I learn about something new that I can't really talk about in some detail and great length, the first thing I do is look it up on Wikipedia.

But through an odd confluence of inputs over the last few days, I find myself knee deep in the recent history of African Americans here in these United States.  So, here's the first in a series of web research diversions into my own cultural & ethnic history...
I was watching Zombieland, and was wondering what else Woody Harrelson was up to as a part of his recent career resurgence.  Cue wikipedia - turns out Woody's dad was a contract killer who died in supermax prison on conviction for taking out a Federal judge and occasionally bragged that he was one of the dudes on the grassy knoll who helped take out JFK.

Crazy, right?

Realizing that I didn't really know what constituted a supermax prison (in short, solitary confinement for everybody 23 hours out of the day and no interaction with any other prisoners), I followed the links to to ADX Florence, the only supermax federal penitentiary.  And the current inmate list reads like a who's who of enemies of the state: FBI double agent Robert Hansen; the shoe bomber; the unabomber; the 1996 Olympic park bomber; Oklahoma City accomplice Terry Nichols; the guy who masterminded the first World Trade Center bombing; H. Rap Brown.

H. Rap Brown?!?

Wasn't he supposed to be one of the heroes of the civil rights movement?  Shows how little I know, right?

Cue wikipedia again.

Turns out the brother, one of the founding fathers of the original Black Panther Party for Self Defense (yes, let's get the full name right, folks), had converted to Islam and attempted to become an arbiter of peace of sorts.... until two cops got shot up trying to serve him an arrest warrant (one died) and he fled the scene in a bullet-ridden Mercedes.

In reading this, I realized I'd confused him with Eldridge Cleaver.  Probably because they'd both written books about being Black and radical in America in the 1960's (Brown's "Die, Nigger, Die" and Cleaver's "Soul On Ice").  Honestly, I only really knew about them from Mario Van Peebles' movie "Panther".  Oddly enough, Cleaver had become a born-again Christian and a right wing Republican in his old age before he died.  Brown, for his part, had originally been involved with SNCC - the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee - who helped organize the Freedom Rides, Freedom Summer, and the March on Washington, before interference from law enforcement and increasing threats of violence led to a schism in the group.  They had to change their name because, as one leader said at the time "I don't know how much longer we can stay nonviolent.

But, still: a supermax prison?  That guy is still considered an enemy of the state on the level of a traitorous enemy agent and Al Qaeda operatives?  Really?

More to come on these.  In the meantime, if you're not familiar with the history of SNCC, The Panthers, and the crazy political climate of the late 60's & early '70's, you may want to check some of these out:

Panther [VHS]Soul on IceDie Nigger Die!: A Political Autobiography of Jamil Abdullah al-Amin

July 09, 2010

Dreaming about Bond

According to the article above, Christopher Nolan wants to direct a James Bond movie.

We can dream, right?  

Of course, LOTS of big name directors have wanted to do Bond, but have not.  Spielberg wanted to right after JAWS but was denied, which eventually led him & George Lucas to create Indiana Jones.  Tarantino wanted to, but was denied.  

Recently, they've gone the prestige director route, with Marc Forster (FINDING NEVERLAND & MONSTER'S BALL) on QUANTUM OF SOLACE and Sam Mendes (AMERICAN BEAUTY) waiting on deck.  But I suspect the producers don't want a celebrity director for fear that his name may compete with Bond himself.

Silly, right?

Maybe if the Brocolis deny Nolan, too, it will give birth to another totally original action film franchise.

Frankly, I want to see a modern Bond film that really touches on the original flair with a modern twist.  If you look at all of the old '60's Bond movies, they're action movies wrapped within the corridors of the super-duper rich.  

I want to see bullet-time fights on the ski slopes of Chourchevel.  I want to see Bond steal a girl from Raffaello Follieri and manslap the Sultan of Brunei at baccarat.  I want to see an Aston Martin DBS V12 speed chasing through the streets of Dubai.  

Can we get that?

June 04, 2010

Building The Next World

So, this is an open call among my various Macroscope readers.

Given all of my belly-aching recently about the general weakness of sci-fi films these days due to their lack of sci-fi lit foreknowledge, I've decided to put my money where my mouth is.  I've had a bunch of different sci-fi story ideas bouncing around in my head, and I think I'm just going to write one of them as a short story.

Who wants to join me?

In other words, I'd like to challenge my other screenwriting fellows out there (and, frankly, anyone else wo wants to jump on board), to write a sci-fi short story between now and, say, the start of Comic-Con 2010 on July 22nd, 2010.

And by "sci-fi" I mean based on some sort of actual science speculation or imagination.  And that's a really broad term.  I mean, technically speaking "Flowers for Algernon" is sci-fi.

And by "short" I mean less than 7500 words (the limit to be eligible for the Nebula Awards, I might add).

I'd love to get a head count to see who's in, and then we'll figure out what sort of forum or format we want to share these stories with the public (maybe some sort of blog governed under a creative commons license, perhaps).

And feel free to share this with whomever else you like that you think would be up for the challenge.  The more the merrier.

So, show of hands?

June 01, 2010

Some final thoughts about "Lost"

So, I know many of my readers out there are fans.  Here are some things that come to mind, now that the finale's been marinating in my mind for a week now.  Beware of spoilers.  Brain dump commencing:
  • First of all, I thought the finale was beautiful, and recasts the entire run of the show in an entirely new light.  Done right, I think the way you end a story tells you what it's actually been about from the beginning.  Just like Battlestar Galactica: they told you in the very first episode what the whole series is about when Adama asks "why are we, mankind, worth saving".  In the same way, "Lost" told you very early on in the catchphrase "Live together, die alone."
  • Then again, I'm a bit bothered by the shifting motivations for Jacob & The Man in Black.  I mean, is Jacob trying to convince the Man in Black that humanity is worth saving to convince him not to leave the island?  Good luck with that.
  • I love the intermeshing (if that's really a word) of the mystical and the sci-fi.  Electromagnetism as a catch all for all the weird time & space distortions on the island.
  • I really love the resolution of Ben's story.  After all the horrible things he's done, he ready does still have some work to do, doesn't he?  :-)
  • So, Miles, Kate, Frank, Sawyer, Claire, & Richard all escape.  Somehow, I don't think this "Ajira Six" is going to get the same treatment as their predecessors.  Can you imagine Frank trying to explain what happened to the other 40+ passengers on his plan?  Can you say "jail time"?  And, really, where are these others going to go from here?  I suppose Kate becomes Claire's nursemaid, which means Sawyer probably won't stay to far away, which means Miles won't stay to far away either.  Richard's path would be the most interesting after this.
  • Jack's story, while triumphant, is, ultimately, a very sad one.  I mean, yes, he sacrificed himself and saved the world & all that, but only because he realized that he had nothing else.  Whatever Jacob had set in motion for Jack at the very beginning had stripped his soul completely naked and left it laying in the street.  Of course he'd take that job!  Hurley still has a family that loves him.  Kate has a child.  Sawyer's too bitter.  I felt really sad about what he'd come to by the end, despite his resolution in the afterlife.
  • And don't even get me started on John Locke!  I suppose his demise ultimately served the purpose of catalyzing Jack, but, man, talk about the suffering of Job!
  • I LOVE the final confrontation with the Man in Black.  May trump Sayid vs. Keamy as the best fight in the series.  Just absolutely epic.
But, at the end of the day, the true triumph of the show is that they could accomplish something so vast & complex, but still make it ultimately in service of character, above all else.  In many ways, Lost is the opposite of "The Wire", where story trumps all, especially character.

In short, a masterpiece of TV story telling.  As far as genre shows go, very little can even touch it.

But, if you're a fan of Lost and you haven't watched the new "Battlestar Galactica", you are really doing yourself a disservice.  The plot is not as complex, but the seriousness of the storytelling and the authenticity of character & performance are on the same level as "Lost".  It's equally spiritual, and, like Lost, you don't realize just how much until the end.

Actually, now that I think about it, "BSG" is kind of the mutant love child of "Lost" and "24", because it's just as ruthless as Jack Bauer's home town, and just as political, but still is a good solid genre show firmly based in characters.

Lost rocked.  I'll miss it.

What are your favorite sci-fi novels?

Statement of the obvious:  I'm a geek.

Always have been.  Always will be.  And I wear it proudly.

Heck, when I was in middle school, instead of joining Columbia House, I joined the Sci-Fi Book Club, where a new science fiction novel was shipped to my house to read every month.

Last week, the New York Times magazine published an article where the interviewed top authors in various genres and asked them to list their favorite books in their own genres.  The one that caught my eye was William Gibson, author of the famed cyberpunk novel "Neuromancer"and his list of science fiction novels.

Now, long time readers of Macroscope know I've had a bit of a bee in my bonnet over the years about how modern day science fiction film seems stuck in "Blade Runner", largely because most sci-fi screenwriters today only reference other films instead of actually reading sci-fi fiction like their predecessors in the 60's & '70's.  And, frankly, I criticize them because I am one of them.  I've not read nearly as many classics in sci-fi as I would like, and I would really hope to change that.

If nothing else, how can you go beyond what's been done if you don't know where the edge is?

So, with that in mind, I'm curious to know, among you folks out there, what are your favorite science fiction novels out there?

And, by science fiction, I mean fiction that is in some way referencing some actual scientific theory.  Fantasy like "Lord of the Rings" or "Chronicles of Narnia" don't count.  And neither does "Star Wars", since there's really no underlying science at work in those stories.

And, with that in mind, here are some of my favorites.  Not in any particular order, but, of course, the order the come to mind probably indicates a level of preference:

  • Frank Herbert's "Dune" series (I've read 4 of the 6 of his original series.  Working on "Heretics of Dune")
  • Arthur C. Clark's "Rama" series (the 1st one is a bit dry, but after he teams with Gentry Lee for "Rama II" and the rest of the series, it's a pretty amazing treatise on evolving human society, literally in a bubble)
  • Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series
  • "The Demolished Man", by Alfred Bester - perhaps the best prose depiction of telepathy I've ever seen or could even imagine.  Just on a totally other level.
  • "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" and its sequel, "The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul", one of the most underrated sci-fi comedies, courtesy of Douglas Adams
  • Mary Shelley's original "Frankenstein"
  • H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds"
What about you?  Feel free to contribute.

April 08, 2010

Kill Zone

My admiration for Barack Obama is no secret, but, I'm sorry, Mr. President, this time, you've crossed the line.

As the article in the title link indicates, the White House has essentially ordered a hit out on Anwar al-Awlaki, the Muslim cleric in Yemen who's basically Bin Laden 2.0 - he preaches against America from Facebook & the web, and who seems to be the mastermind, or, at least, the inspiration, for the Ft. Hood killings and the Christmas Day underwear bomber.

The problem is Mr. al-Awlaki is an American citizen.

How is it that Khalid Sheik Muhammed, a foreign national, is going to be tried here in the US, but Anwar al-Awlaki, who was actually born in New Mexico, is apparently going to be killed on sight?

I'm very far from defending this guy's actions.  But, at the end of the day, we're still supposed to be a nation of laws, not men.  

If he's a citizen, he has the right to a trial by a jury of his peers.  Period.  I'm sure 12 Americans will have no problem sending this guy to the gas chamber if the evidence is as damning as the White House says it is.

Because where do we draw the line?  How about these fools, the Hutaree: the radical Christian militia group that was plotting to assassinate cops at funerals in their bid to fight the anti-Christ?  They're unquestionably terrorists.  What's to stop the President from putting a hit out on their spiritual leaders?  The only difference between them and Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula is their mailing address. 

What's to stop the government from sending out a kill order for YOU if they deem you to be a terrorist without a public trial?

This is bad, folks.  And NO ONE is talking about it.

April 03, 2010

Tinker Toys

So, ever since the auto bailout last year, I've been thinking a lot about how to reinvent domestic car manufacturing into something much more efficient & successful.  Which is why this article from the UK version of WIRED really grabbed my eye.  Because apparently the emergence of the web, open source development methodologies, crowd sourcing, innovative 3-D modeling & technologies, and easy access to cheap overseas manufacturing hubs are allowing for the complete reimagining of the manufacturing base.  Today, instead of needing millions of dollars to start a new business based around a mechanical product (i.e. a new car, a new vacuum cleaner, a new kind of cell phone, even a new kind of Lego weapon (I kid you not), you only need the ingenuity, creativity, and the cash to build a prototype to get started.

Of course, it raises other issues, though, right?  Because now we're essentially saying that China is the world's manufacturer.  Which means all of those manufacturing and manual labor jobs in the factories that fled the United States over the last three decades stay gone.  Now, for the educated, engineering class like me, we just see lots of opportunity.  But for all of those people who either made their living or intended to do so through UAW memberships and working in the local industrial plant, this is a very dangerous and scary new world. 

As Chris Matthews once pointed out on Hardball, it's all well and good to tell everybody that they need to go get educated to compete in the 21st century economy, but not everybody is going to get an electrical engineering degree so they can start their own xPhone business. Some people just want a steady paycheck with a reliable company.  Are we really saying that, in the new world economy, America is a country for entrepreneurs and inventors only, and that our working class is just a relic of a by gone error?

Given the new technological landscape, someone needs to devote some very serious thought to what can be done with all of the skilled trade workers out there who are just looking for an opportunity to contribute to someone's business.  Isn't there a way to make a profitable domestic American version of the Alibaba network in Japan?  Isn't there a business model that allows us to actually still make things in the USA?

February 06, 2010

Should I really like Bruce Wayne?

So, before I begin, let me just say, I love "The Dark Knight". I never get tired of watching that movie. I think it's a masterpiece at every level.

But there are two moments that always get this nagging little voice in the back of my brain squawking.

The first is where Morgan Freeman's character puts the conniving Wayne Enterprises lawyer who uncovers Batman's identity in his place:

"Let me get this straight: you think that your client, one of the richest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his spare time beating criminals to a pump with his bare hands. And your plan is to BLACKMAIL this person? Good luck."

Good writing & performances. But stick with me for a moment.

The second scene is when The Joker crashes the crime boss meeting. And as great a scene as that is, I couldn't help but notice something.

Sal Maroni - Italian American.
The Chechen.
Gambol - African American.
Lau - Asian.

This one room had more ethnic diversity than any other scene in the entire movie. But these were the criminals.

Who were the heroes? With the exception of Lucius Fox and, some may say, The Mayor, they're all non-ethnic whites. In the case of Bruce Wayne & Harvey Dent, fairly upper class non-ethnic white men at that.

Dent constantly refers to the criminals as "scum".

I don't know. Am I crazy?

But I felt like I never saw what was actually so bad about Gotham City. Did it have criminals? Of course. Every city does.

But if John D. Rockefeller's great, great, great grandson & his wife had been gunned down after sneaking their scared son out of an opera at Lincoln Center, and that son grew up to decide that he would devote all of his considerable resources to allow him to run around New York City in a costume to shoot up the Gambino crime family and the Brooklyn drug cartels with military grade firepower, would we really consider that kid a hero?

There's a really understated element of direct class warfare in the Batman mythos. In many ways, Bruce Wayne starts reminding me more and more of Bill the Butcher in "Gangs of New York". And class warfare almost always has a racial undertone to it.

I mean, I know it's just a movie based on a comic book, but, as a writer, I always try to think about the fantastic in the most real terms possible.

Like the irony that Captain America, who makes his debut punching Hitler in the face, is, in fact, the living embodiment of the Nazi ideal of a so-called master race. I guess that's why The Red Skull is constantly trying to steal Cap's body.

And let's not even get into the homoerotic undertones of THAT superhero conflict!

But I digress.

I love The Dark Knight. It's one of my favorite movies.

But still....