Thursday, January 28, 2010

Good and Bad Design.

In any design project, there are two elements to the product. You have the essential elements and the non-essential elements. Both aspects have different things that make them attractive.

I read the Wikipedia page on Chris Bangle, the designer responsible for some of BMW's more bizarre design decisions of the last decade, and got to thinking about criticisms of him and his work.

I think a lot of the criticism might stem from Bangle's ostensible arrogance. After creating the Z4, he announced that they had advanced beyond Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao. More than a few people disagreed. I wasn't well-versed enough in design to really talk about it, but that didn't stop me. I thought the Z4 was hideous.

And yet, the Z4, and the 6-Series and 5-Series have aged very well. Many of the details that looked so bizarre at the time now look absolutely pedestrian, and the cars simply look alright. That was the thing, after I realized it, that showed that Bangle and Hooydonk, the other head designer, were actually very skilled. The cars aged well.

The fundamental elements of each car are incredibly solid. The proportions are absolutely perfect, and the necessary lines of the car, from the headlights to the A-pillar, the belt line that flows from the front to the back, and the proportions of the body to the height of greenhouse are all excellent. That strong foundation allows us to become used to the non-essential elements, like the 5-series headlights, and accept them as character details to an otherwise firmly designed car.

Bangle has discussed how he wants to change automotive design entirely, but he's not so pie-in-the-sky as he may want us to think. His designs played with details more than with the foundations of the cars. The Z4 is muscular and looks ready to pounce. The 6-Series is long and smooth, like it's relaxing on the road. His basic designs are rooted in long-established norms of aesthetic appeal.

Perhaps his great achievement is what he wanted all along. He got us used to wild and wacky details while supporting them with an almost invisible foundation that is classically beautiful. Cars are still cars, but they look much better, and, perhaps, we'll be more open to strange car formats that wouldn't have been accepted a few years ago, like the new 5-Series GT.

Weight Training for Health

If you are an older woman and, actually, even if you are not an older woman, weight train. Study after study after study have come out showing the significant, and at times incredible, health benefits of strenuous exercise. Exercise that pushes your body a bit and leaves you somewhat sore.

If you're lifting weights, don't just do what's easy. If fifteen pounds is comfortable, move up to twenty. If abdominal curls are easy, hold two five pound weights while you do them. Only a little work each day makes a difference.

I've been trying to get my mom to weight train for years. She won't, of course. So don't be like my mom.

Exercise: In Women, Training for a Sharper Mind (

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Strategic Sheep Purposes.

I'm watching a documentary about the Falkland Islands conflict. I barely knew that it had happened, but now know far more than I ever wished.

What the fuck was anyone thinking with this? The documentary tries its best to make it sound serious, but it plays out like a fucking comedy. Oh, oh, and it's not just the leaders, either. It's the populations of both Britain and Argentina.

Why the hell does some random war help with the popularity of both governments? When Argentina invaded, two-hundred THOUSAND people took, cheering, to the streets of Buenos Aires. Whyyy?! "Yeah! Our country sucks, but we kicked the crap out of seven people and a whole ass-load of sheep! Viva la Argentina!"

And Margaret Thatcher's government was unpopular, the economy sucked, but the success of fighting off Argentina for a bunch of barren rocks got her re-elected! WHAAT?! The economy still sucked! All of the previous grievances had not been addressed! But, man, they sure showed those bloody Argentinians.

This is one of the most fucked up things I have ever seen. It was comedy. It was ridiculous, expensive, explosive comedy. It's the people of both countries that leaves speechless. The stupidity... the stupidity. What the fuck is wrong with people when, during hard times, we cheer ourselves up with a freaking war?

907 people killed, 16 ships, including two destroyers, 49 helicopters, 45 fighter jets, 2 bombers, and well over 1,000 soldiers injured. What. The. Fuck.

I bet that if I "invaded" some desolate armpit of an area, whatever country to which it "belongs" would send their entire army up my ass and out my mouth. An even better example of this ungodly absurdity is Kashmir. Why do India and Pakistan fight over it?

FOR NO FUCKING REASON, THAT'S WHY! Humans are insipid, greedy, grabby, possessive little rodents. India and China have more land than they know what to do with, and Pakistan has MUCH bigger issues. Yet there they are, bickering like seagulls over a cigarette butt. But hey, that's fine. Pakistan is barely a country, India is as close to a urinal as a country can get, and China is a dictatorial country and as such logic never applies.

But one of the countries involved with this was Britain. A Western nation. We're not supposed to be as retarded as the third-world. We're retarded, don't get me wrong. Boy, are we retarded. But not in this way. We invaded Iraq, but they have billions of dollars in oil. There's good shit to steal, there. But this is Britain and they were fighting over islands that barely count as land.

God! I'm done. I mean, the fleet included the QE2! What the fuck are they gonna' do? Massage them to death? Kill them with British food? Watch out! That lobster might be bad!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Putting it All...

I'm watching History International, which judging from the ads is watched almost exclusively by old men, and it's running a show on 1968 and the sexual revolution with a touchstone in 1969.

I always like to put things into perspectives that are understandable. Put time on a scale that is tangible to a human. For example, all of human civilization is encompassed by just fifty people. If we count a human life-span at 100 years, everything we've ever had or done fits neatly into five thousand years, thus, fifty people. That's a number that can be grasped.

It is the same with the moon landings. It's really amazing how little technology has to develop before a species is able to leave the confines of their own planet. Think about that, in 1969, someone born in 1900 was only sixty-eight years old. Someone born before 99.9% of the population had ever seen a car, telephone, or electric light bulb (I'm not counting arc lamps). No movies, almost no sound recording, no nothing. Life was defined by steam power, horses, and gas lamps. It was the dark ages compared to the Star Trek of today.

In just sixty-eight years, we left the planet! Sixty-eight years! Try to emotionally grasp that. That would be like children born today being sixty-eight when warp drive is perfected. Or transporters. It was inconceivable to people of the day that we would walk on the moon and that they would live to see it.

Or the show right after the one on 1968, the sexual revolution of '69. Hugh Hefner is interviewed talking about the social-sexual mores of the day where gay men were literally prosecuted. Out-of-wedlock sex was punished with jail time. Washington DC had an enforced law on the books stating that missionary position sex was the only type allowed by law. No matter how stupid Bush was. No matter how stupid the people who support Intelligent Design are. No matter whatsoever, times are getting better.

We sometimes lose perspective because of our limited scope. We always live in the now. The now is always the most important, the most pertinent and salient. But because of that, the slow progress of the planet is sometimes missed. Hell, it's always missed, but stepping back a bit and trying to put things into perspective grounds me. It reminds me. It reminds me that we walked on the moon forty-two years ago. It reminds me that just fifty years ago, I could have been arrested for having sex with my girlfriend. It reminds me that all of human existence is contained in fifty lifetimes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm Beginning to Dislike Obama

In my view, the ONLY important element of society with which government should fanatically concern itself is the stewardship of freedom. People have a tendency to willingly give up freedom, even though the freedom of a populace is the lifeblood of a nation. All actions of a government must be taken with freedom in mind, and all declarations of a government must increase freedom. It may decrease freedom in some ways, but the net result is an increase. For example, government health care decreases financial freedom, namely, higher taxes, but it increases overall freedom because I no longer have the fear of injury or illness and being unable to pay.

Obama has been given a single test of our freedom in this country: telecom immunity. Instead of concentrating on this, his most important job, he has fucked up the financial bailout and tried to push through medical change that was doomed from the beginning. Great job!

Obama Quietly Issues Ruling Saying It's Legal For The FBI To Break The Law On Accessing Phone Records (

Air America Brought Down to Earth

The grand experiment that is Air America has ended.

As a liberal-minded person, I was glad to hear that an alternative to Limbaugh and the Fox News crew was finally being aired, even though I never listened to it. Well, I listened to it once a few years ago, but that was it.

Obviously, many of the stations problems could be attributed to bad management, but the undeniable truth is that they never brought in the listeners, and it is about this that I am ambivalent.

I don't know whether I'm sad, because idiots like Rush Limbaugh bring in millions of listeners, or whether I'm happy because the very people that Air America was targeting don't need constant validation; they don't need constant support.

In much the same way as religion, when you're as ideological as Fox News is and Rush Limbaugh is, you need frequent support for your beliefs. Just look at religion. They hang around with people who agree. Discussing things everyone agrees on. And, verily, try to kill people who don't agree. Obviously, the whole killing thing is waning in Western culture, but you still have evangelicals and people who go door-to-door trying to convince other people. Because when your view is built around little to no reason, the only way you can feel confident is if you have shit in which you already believe spouted back in your face daily.

Because Air American wasn't merely targeting the devoutly liberal, which is a market that is, if not equally as retarded, then close to the Fox News demographic, they found a small audience. They were targeting the intellectual, the unbiased, and the educated. I guess they could have gone super-left, bashing business, government, and evil capitalists, but being super-left while also being a for-profit radio station just seems counterproductive.

So I don't know whether to be sad or happy. Boo, it went out of business. Yay, we never needed it in the first place. Ah well. We can always read Mother Jones.

Liberal talk-radio network Air America crashes (

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Christopher Hitchens and World Peace

Christopher Hitchens is a cool guy. He's intelligent, well-spoken, and uses those characteristics to great effect. He's damned good at speaking his mind. For example, he has to be the only guest on the Bill Maher show who insults and flips off the audience.

He's a vociferous antitheist (in his view, someone who is actively happy that God doesn't exist), and speaks on the subject frequently. I agree with him. He's also very political and has been an on-again-off-again libertarian/socialist/Marxist. I disagree with almost everything he says, here.

Basically, he's all for an invasion of Iran, was a big supported for the Iraq war, and I assume was actively shooting people in Afghanistan. He also does something that any self-respecting intellectual must be loathe in doing: he takes a moral stance.

Morals are very difficult. Even though it's apparent, now, that Iraq wasn't a threat, that doesn't matter. The Iraq invasion was a righteous one. And the Iran invasion would be righteous for the same reason.

A frequent counter to Iraq was "well, why Iraq? Why not every other country we don't like?" Well, Hitchens isn't afraid to say "You're right," and advocate invading all those countries. If a country is evil, and we have the power to destroy it, we should. I have huge issues with that statement.

One, it goes against his arguments against religion. He finds religion detestable because he says that priests, and churches, and God, and everything doesn't have the right to tell you what's right and wrong. It's arrogant and impossible, yet he is doing that vis-a-vis other countries. Iran is bad and we're good, so off goes their head.

I agree that Iran sucks, but it is not our moral imperative and to argue otherwise is dangerously arrogant. If it is, we become the police of the world, fighting injustice as we see it wherever man doth trod. Shouldn't we be more concerned with the injustices inherent in our own society? What about rampant sexism and racism? What about no universal health care? What about homeless people dying on the streets? What about a government who taxes us like hell and gives us little, or crumblinng bridges, the military-industrial complex, traffic light cameras, copyright law, rapists on the street, and hot dogs in packages of eight and buns in packages of ten?

And, importantly, if we assume that it's not our moral imperative, and he himself admits that it's not our practical imperative (they are not a direct threat), I do not want to put our lives on the line to liberate them! I wouldn't go over there, and I certainly don't want to send soldiers that are better served in other places fighting real threats.

An Interview with Christopher Hitchens, Part II (


I live for enemy audiences. I would prefer to speak to a well-sorted advocate for religious thought that with someone who already generally agrees with me.

First off, the enemy encounter is less-frightening. With someone who already agrees with me, they might see me as intellectual competition, or I may fail to impress them. Someone who has thought about all the same stuff as me might determine me to be a total idiot. I'd rather have someone who's gone on an entirely different track.

I also want the competing viewpoint because it's the best way to engage in the classic dialectic. An argumentative exchange of points and counterpoints, where at the end, both parties leave with a greater grasp of the subject. No synthesis needs to be achieved. Both parties either leave shaken or ever more resolute in their original belief, but both outcomes are an advancement from where they started.

It's from that standpoint that arguments should not be about winning, but about achieving something separate from the encounter. In this way, arguments are never seen as something worthy of raised voices. Obviously, if we're talking about arguments that could lead to action, such as going to war, raised voices might be necessary, but in this ideal, academic setting, raised voices just make you look like an ass.

I've always felt that this goes back to Socrates. Where Soh-crates generally seemed more interested in showing the errors in others' thoughts, in his encounter with Protagoras, he discusses not a desire to prove Protagoras wrong, but to bumble towards truth. And whoever is proven correct is of no importance, just so long as someone is proven correct.

It's for this reason that I love science. It has been a massive, ongoing dialectic, with new sides and new evidence arising daily. The dialectic is our only path to something resembling "truth," whatever that may be, and science is the biggest one in history. That makes our country's ever-surprising fear and distaste for it all the more depressing. I can only hope all those that speak against science, be it climate loonies or people who support Intelligent Design, will all soon be dead from either old age or acute stupidity.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Feel Special!

Apparently, Atheists are the group that surveyed people would least like to see marry into their family. They beat out blacks, gays, Hispanics, Martians, midgets, and serial killers, presumably.

I actually feel pretty good about that. It's fun to know that I'm at the top of a list about what makes people really uncomfortable.

A few points, one, this only comes from the end of a conversation on NPR, which can be found here, that wasn't even about atheists. There is no source cited, so we have to take it with a grain of salt.

Two, if this is entirely correct, I don't find it too surprising. The "battle" between faith and reason, or God and atheism, depending on how you want to frame the argument, has been brought to the forefront in ways not seen since the early 1900's.

George W. Bush pandered to the extremists; we've seen a jump in evangelical fundamentalists teaching their kids at home; the war between Intelligent Design and evolution seems to crop up at least once per year; and we have militant atheists like Christopher Hitchens roaming about telling people that they're stupid for believing in God.

When you think about what religion means to most people, it's a sort of psychological glue that gives them certain givens off of which they can build a sense of self-identity, right and wrong, and of society and other people. I matter. Something cares about me. Right and wrong exist, and I will do what's right. These are incredibly basic concepts! To try and strip people of these concepts would be crippling to someone without the mental priming to accept them.

By priming I don't mean brainwashing or indoctrination, but providing a sense of self separate from society and something different from their amoeboid ideas of morals and culture. They need to be introduced to ideas like secular humanism, whereby right and wrong are of our own making, but that doesn't make the concepts any weaker.

Because, without those, most people who aren't specifically religious and don't think about it every day are forced to face concepts, ideas, arguments, and truly, fears that they don't usually ponder. For the average person, I can imagine this to be a trying experience that they would rather just avoid. The last thing they want is a constant, living reminder of the possibility that they are wrong.

Depending on what has happened in the news at the time, my thoughts on how to best discuss atheism change. Sometimes, I support Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins in calling people who believe in God total idiots. If extremists haven't done anything recently to piss me off, I'm much more measured. Most people live their lives as reactive creatures, interacting with their environments and each other with little thought of cosmic significance. Religion, even if they go to church regularly, plays little part in their day-to-day existence.

They're good people, and they would basically live identically whether they were atheistic, theistic, deistic, or agnostic. So, really, whether their beliefs on the nature of reality are fully formed or not makes no difference whatsoever. This is the way I've felt recently. Maybe it's because nothing has happened, because I haven't watched Jesus Camp for awhile, or because I'm starting to set aside my righteous indignation for something a bit more level-headed. Regardless, it gives me some ideas on where the atheist/theist debate should go.

Namely, most people use religion for those things I outlines above. They use it as an excuse for bake sales and gatherings. They use it to answer really difficult questions about existence and reality that don't matter too much. In a very cosmic sense, they use it to feel good about living every day.

Instead, atheism should be most interested in the places where the concepts espoused by atheism: reason, logic, measured behavior; are most needed. Atheism is needed in science, in universities where the very purpose of the higher education is to bring up the tough questions, and importantly, in religious extremism.

People's fear and ignorance is what allows idiocy like the ID/Evolution debate to come to fore. These are the battle grounds that matter. Whether people "believe" or not is of utterly no importance.

Poll: Blacks Optimistic About Their Future (

Friday, January 08, 2010

Why I'm Racist/Culturalist Against Islam

I am openly racist/culturalist against Islam/Muslims. While I'm generally religion-ist(?) against anyone who's very religious, Islam is unique in that it is a massive, socio-governmental construction. Islam now is what Christianity was in Europe five-hundred years ago.

Yes, yes, no need to tell me the dangers of over-generalizations. I'm well aware that there are many Muslims who are very modern, embrace women's rights, gay rights, and whatnot. But the Muslim world, is different. The countries can be generalized. They are violent, bigoted, horrible countries with which I would prefer to have no interactions at all.

And, again, yes, I realize that our country and our culture has a less-than-stellar history with the rights of various groups. Gays, women, Hispanics, Blacks, Irish, Ital... you get the idea. But we have not made a habit of stoning women to death for some time. You cannot be killed for infidelity. We're not perfect, but we are so far beyond the Islamic world that it's comical.

Basically, the linked story just drives home that, no matter how much the Islamic world masquerades as though it's westernized, it hasn't. It's a veneer. It's a massive pretense meant to sooth jittery Westerners into investing and just accepting what they do as "cultural differences."

No. I'm sorry. I'm not falling for it. They aren't merely cultural differences. This isn't a different way of saying hello, or dressing, or singing. It is essentially bad. Violence is bad. -Ism's are bad. The Islamic world is bad.

British woman arrested in Dubai after reporting rape (The Guardian)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

More Economic Ideas: The Hub

Continuing my thoughts from The Population Vacuum, here is my idea of The Hub.

The Hub is a large-scale construction designed, from the ground up, to be a catalyst of human activity. Human activity means a healthy society. Stagnancy equals Rome.

It is designed with facilities for science, art, retail, food, relaxation, and entertainment. It is designed to foment as much exchange of ideas, money, goods, and services as possible in as small an area as possible.

The Hub will have strong ties to the surrounding area. It will invest heavily in ventures near and far, and will invite in the local economy, let it incubate, and then release it back into the economy. The Hub will not be an economic vacuum, like a super-plaza anchored by major chains. The Hub’s very existence is to prevent the deterioration of the nearby economy and culture. The Hub integrates and does not dominate.

The Hub receives as much of its resources for functioning from the surrounding area as possible. Raw materials for manufacture, food, and retail products are drawn from the locals. This provides fuel to the local economic fire as opposed to squelching it. It also provides a local flavor to The Hub, meaning each and every Hub is unique and desirable. The lack of cookie-cutter operations keeps each Hub out of competition with other Hubs.

The Hub can be smaller scale operations as well. It must not be pure retail. It must include manufacturing, art, entertainment, and as much free production and facilities as is economically possible. Malls could easily be hubs. With a vibrant schedule of activities designed to draw in the local economy, malls could become stronger attractions, raise property values of nearby areas, attract new residents, and foment ideas and economy.

The Hub can be instituted on a micro-scale. Small plazas can build parks, schedule events, and utilize the parking area for tents, stands, and presentations.

One of the primary elements of The Hub is a large variety of non-retail offerings that bring people in every day. People only shop now-and-then, but people always want entertainment, food, and stimulation.

Manufacturing must be included. Objects for sale made on site are necessary for a continued connection to the local economy. Furniture, toys, fabrics, clothing, art, board games. Everything except heavy industry.

Large chains compliment the environment and the smaller stores in The Hub. Starbucks draws in people and causes increases in traffic at local cafes. GAP isn’t necessarily in competition with local boutiques. Large chains are good.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Noam Chomsky on Porn

Every time I start to like Noam Chomsky, he goes and says something to piss me off.

In this video, he likens porn to sweat shops and child abuse. I don't even need to go into all of the reasons why this comparison is so wrong it boggles the mind. He also spends the video making one long value judgment about porn. And just before, he revealed his ignorance of the porn industry by not even knowing what Hustler was. Seriously, Noam? You didn't know? You never saw The People vs. Larry Flint? If you're that clueless, you have no room to pass judgment on the industry. Shut up.

Mickey Mouse Monopoly

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
-G.K. Chesterton

I just watched Mickey Mouse Monopoly and have found much to disagree with. The gist of the documentary is that Disney is too large and perpetuates its biases and stereotypes through a massive, global corporation, thus poisoning our children's minds.

Using the word poisoning sounds like I'm exaggerating their thesis, and they never use that word directly, but it's accurate as far as I understand. The thoughts Disney perpetuates are negative, children lap it up, and as such it can be considered poison.

Right off the bat, one of the interviewees refers to Disney as dangerous because what she obviously sees as highly negative concepts are communicated as innocent entertainment. I can already tell that I'm not going to agree with most of what she says, since the paranoia required to see danger in innocence is not something I possess. I did for a time. In tenth grade I was convinced the government was covering up shit in Roswell.

They next have two college students that are interviewed for another part of the documentary where they both argue that Disney is mere entertainment, adults read too much into it, and that it doesn't harm children at all. These few seconds of film are the only dissenting voices in the film.

It doesn't take long before the anti-corporate bias of the film begins to shine through. I'm not specifically pro-corporate. In fact, I detest most corporations, their influence, and the people who run them. This hatred has only be intensified with the recent financial bailouts. But corporate power is not one that is forced upon us. We willingly hand over that power because we like what the company is doing. I get the impression that they are likening the corporations to government entities and I think that the comparison is not only inaccurate, but fundamentally and wholesale incorrect. A company loses the instant we stop giving it money, a government can go on regardless.

Moreover, with the advent of the internet, the supposed censorial power exercised by these large companies has dwindled. A single, scathing blog entry can be enough to rip an entire corporation down. Whole websites exist for no other reason than to air grievances against these companies., anyone? Corporations work because people like them. Corporations trying to further their existence beyond this generally requires anti-competitive practices and that is against the law. So, the only issue that is really an issue already has laws against it.

One interviewee who gets used quite a few times is Henry Giroux, author of The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence. He attacks Disney for suing people who try and use Disney's images, be it Mickey or even photos of Disneyland. I agree with him that this is shitty, but it's not just Disney; it's all companies. The website spends it's entire time arguing why trademark and copyright law is bad and is abused by many corporations. Why focus on Disney when they are simply one element in a large network of legal and social issues? I see no reason. We should be concentrating on copyright law, not Disney.

The documentary moves from corporate issues to sexism, where it's discussed how Disney's portral of females has not changed much over the decades. Again, I agree with this to a degree, but they seek out and focus on the elements of Disney production that conforms to their argument, instead of formulating an argument based on the data. Yes, Belle, Aurora, and Snow White are all thematically similar. They're damsels distressing, and they need help. Females are usually very sexual, with fabulous bodies. But, again, isn't this an issue in all of media? And what about females in Disney cartoons like Gummy Bears? Or what about Eilonwy in The Black Cauldron? Peg in Goof Troop, Gosalyn in Darkwing Duck, Perdita in 101 Dalmations, Bianca in The Rescuers Down Under, Lilo and her sister from Lilo and Stitch, Gadget in Rescue Rangers, Elisa in Gargoyles, Recess, Pepper Ann, Teacher's Pet, Kim Possible, or Dave the Barbarian? What about them?

(Oh, and a note about the female rabbit from Bambi, she has a beard! I can't stop seeing it. She looks like a cartoon rabbit version of Earnest Hemmingway with makeup on.)

It's seems that Disney will produce ANYTHING that they think will sell. Sexist undertones be damned. I think that the comparative failure of their non-traditional films, like The Black Cauldron or Mulan, show that people actively desire these stereotypes. They want to get lost in these worlds that are obviously unrealistic and predicated on stereotypes, and it is not within Disney's power to force upon them something they don't want. The Princess and the Frog is non-traditional (to a degree, at least), and it's under-performing. It hasn't even broken $100 million in the American box office. Compare this to Snow White, the number ten movie of ALL TIME. 101 Dalmations? Number eleven. Fantasia? Twenty. In the top one hundred, you will also find The Lion King, Jungle Book, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, and Aladdin.

It's obvious that audiences enjoy something non-traditional, now and then. Both Shrek and Shrek 2 are on that list, as is Finding Nemo, but that's it. Perhaps it's because people expect a certain thing from Disney and don't want anything else? Shrek's success is a sauce that the movie companies have been trying to recreate for years. Every damned CGI film that comes out is loaded with pop-culture references, snarky characters, both male and female, and bright, colorful, over-the-top action. But, again, that's it. It's very derivative, with all the movies shooting for the same general personality. Even fairy tales are subject to this hip-ification. Happily N'Ever After and Hoodwinked both took fairy tale raw materials and applied a healthy dose of Shrek to them.

Disney takes the same raw material and applies the Disney juice to it. Just as derivative, but in a different way. They use those stories and fairy tales, which are almost universally racist and sexist, because those are the psychosocial constructs that give us cultural touchstones. Universals with which we all relate since they've been a part of our lives. Shrek lampoons, and it works because we all know them, while Disney worships, and it works because we all know them.

One thing that annoyed the ever-loving crap out of it is the myopia of those interviewed. They only attack those aspects of the films as negative that fit with their preexisting interests. The professors of race talk about racism. The professors of women's history concentrate on sexism. Well, what about all the other elements of fairy tales that can be construed as highly, highly negative.

What about "love at first sight." Forget the sexism and racism for a second and concentrate on the other cultural touchstones used. Isn't it damaging to think that I'll meet someone, love them immediately, have some wacky adventure but live happily ever after? Isn't the very concept of Happily Ever After essentially harmful because it's so hilariously unrealistic? What about Scrooge McDuck being a stingy Scot? Or the stereotypical French chef? Or, for the love of all that's holy, what about Lampwick? Irish stereotype, much?

But that's just it. It's a stereotype. It's not realistic. It's a story. A flight of fancy. If it was realistic and only discussed subjects carefully to make sure that no cliches, biases, or stereotypes were used, the whole endeavor would be tearfully boring. The women are all attractive and the men are all manly! So? That's the point. It's fantasy. If the real world made a habit of invading my fantasy, I'd commit suicide pretty quickly.

We restrict movies about real stuff to adults because children don't like those movies. They attack Pocahontas as being an unrealistic portrayal of Native American relations. Well duh! Would they rather have an animated The New World? If I was a kid, I'd leave the room lickety-split.

They close the documentary with more anti-corporate discussion, using both a quote from Michael Eisner and an interview with what I assume is some random mother, first implying and then directly stating that Disney has a moral obligation to teach our children about the real world and to not fill their heads with stereotypes.

No. No they do not. I find the very idea of that absurd. It is the parents job to do that. It's Disney's job to entertain and to make money in the process, which is exactly what Eisner said. To say otherwise is to belittle the impact of parents and to ascribe moral judgments to something that doesn't need them and, truly, would suffocate under them.

The Siamese cats were racist. Pocahontas was inaccurate. And, someday, your prince is not going to come. It's not hard to tell children these things. Let them enjoy, and then correct their misconceptions as they arise, because you will have to do that regardless of the movies they watch.

When I was younger, I liked Disney. Disney creations affected my fantasies, and that's alright. Complaining about Disney coloring a child's perception is pointless since children live in a fantasy world. The real world and the fantasy world are tightly connected. As such, saying that someone's perceptions at age eight, like the children interviewed, are guaranteed problems in later life is highly inaccurate. Problems arise as they get older and their fantasies become expectations. This is where parenting comes in. Sexism is nearly impossible if your parents aren't sexist. Like all the arguments against cigarette advertising, even though the only variable strongly correlated with starting was whether the parents also smoked.

By my early teens, I was keenly aware that those fantasies were not reality. Both of my parents were raging alcoholics by this time, so I had little parenting, but I managed to figure it all out. Actually, I became intensely anti-Disney and would regale anyone who would listen with how The Hunchback of Notre Dame was nothing like the book.

The point is that fanciful ideas about life are not harmful to a child. Their perceptual construct is wildly inaccurate and that's not Disney's fault. Incorrect ideas about life, society, and who we are in the grand scheme of things are, usually, the fault of the parents. My parents were not racist bigots, and no crows or apes in a Disney film will change that. Disney is not harmful.