Saturday, February 27, 2010

Founding Fathers and Religion

Fascination with the founders of our nation is a unique attribute of Americans. We not only study them, we seek their counsel and pillage their opinions for insight into modern problems, hoping to find shortcuts to solutions.

Gordon S. Wood, in his Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, explains it so:

-"The identities of the other nations, say, French or German, are lost in the mists of time and usually taken for granted...But Americans became a nation in 1776, and thus, in order to know how we are, we need to know who our founders are. The United States was founded on a set of beliefs and not, as were other nations, on a common ethnicity, language, or religion. Since we are not a nation in any traditional sense of the term, in order to establish our nationhood, we have to reaffirm and reinforce periodically the values of the men who declared independence from Great Britain and framed the Constitution."

The Founders were amazing thinkers who wrote so voluminously on such a variety of subjects that we still find in their writings valuable and applicable ideas for our modern world. We should seek their counsel. Unfortunately, though perhaps not uniquely, certainly prevalently, Americans tend to treat the Founders' aggregate ideals as dictums from a hive mind. Many of us behave as if the Founders sallied forth in unwavering solidarity with prescient foresight of the world superpower we would become.

No.

They recognized that being hanged for treason in 1776 was an all too possible fate. Beyond that, many delegates to the Constitutional Convention believed the Constitution would fail within twenty years. Even Washington referred to it as the "great experiment." Some delegates refused to even sign the final document. It was, and is, the result of endless compromises that, by the end of its creation, almost everyone involved was displeased with.

After the Revolutionary War, there was very little solidarity among the Founders. They hurled vitriolic attacks at one another that would shrivel the most vicious of today's political ad campaigns. John Adams hated Alexander Hamilton, famously calling him the "bastard brat of a Scotch peddler." Adams liked then hated then liked Thomas Jefferson, whose backstabbing intrigue caused Adams to lose the 1800 Presidential election. By the end of his second term as President, George Washington had washed his hands of his fellow Virginian Founders Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, George Mason and Edmond Randolph. The author of Common Sense, Thomas Paine, finished off his miserable life hating Washington and just about everyone else. Unable to withstand the constant insults (deserved as they may have been), Vice President Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton to death in a duel.

Just as with any collection of people, we can't narrow the Founders' views into a consensus. On some issues they did generally agree. The Bill of Rights is a list of individual rights that nearly all of them endorsed. Virtually all the founders agreed on what role religion should play in government policies. None. This is the one thing that far too many Christians deny in the face of common knowledge. No matter how much Bill O'Reilly, John McCain, and fundamentalists say the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian ideals, it is still not true.

I watched the O'Reilly factor when he discussed a school principal who removed Christmas decorations from the school. O'Reilly said several times throughout the program that our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian ideals, as if to reinforce by repetition. Worse still, every day, I am flooded with emails from Christians who want to teach divine intervention in science class because we were "founded on Christianity." Nevermind the lack of scientific evidence for miracles.

The most incredible assertion of ignorance came when Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes spoke to congress about the Christian character of our government. He actually brought some evidence, though his conclusions are warped by Christian zealotry. He brings up several instances of religious associations with government made over the course of over two hundred years. I'll speak of his comments relating only to the foundation of our country and the Founders. Forbes said:

-"When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, it ended the revolutionary war and birthed this nation. The signers of that document made clear that it began with this phrase, "in the name of the most holy and undivided trinity."

-"When our constitution was signed, the signers made sure that they punctuated the end of it by saying, "in the year of our lord, 1787."

-"President George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson...indicated how the bible and Judeo-Christian principles were so important to this nation."

Even though his argument hinged on the idea that our nation originated as a Christian one, those comments were the only attention he gave the Founders in his speech. That one line in the Treaty of Paris is an odd choice of evidence and I will start with that. First off, it was written in 1783. Our constitution wasn't written until 1787, so it doesn't really have much to do with the foundation of our current government, but, because it was signed by three of our founders, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay, we'll take a closer look.

"In the name of the most holy and undivided trinity" is an opening or closing line, a courtesy. It is a statement that really has nothing to do with the body of the document. Even I say "Thank God," but I am not literally thanking a deity. We all know what "thank God" means. It's a common phrase, just as signing a document with the blessing of God was common practice then. That being said, John Jay and John Adams were extremely devout Christians who both could have wanted that line added for personal reasons. Let's take a look at these three men, their roles in the government's foundation and what their views were on Christianity in government.

I'll start with Adams because he is the most complex. He was absent from the Constitutional Convention, being in Europe at the time, but he was an influential voice of the generation. His Thoughts on Government was widely read and the final draft of the U.S. Constitution reflected many of his views. Similarly, he had no direct effect on the Bill of Rights, ratified in 1790, which, of course, secures religious freedom for all. Adams believed whole-heartedly in equal Constitutional protection for all religions, but he wasn't a protector of atheism. He used religion as a political weapon in the 1800 election, claiming that Jefferson would favor atheistic laws. However, his views on religious freedom of all creeds was pretty clear. He wished reason was the guiding force of Christians and despised the concept of "miracles." He believed religious fundamentalists and zealots were more dangerous than any other faction. Even though there are occasional inconsistencies, Adams' writings reveal a strong desire for church and state separation. I will only include his comments in direct reference to the United States and religion. Here's what he had to say on religious freedoms in the United States:

-"Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without the pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind." A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America

-"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this as an era in their history."

-"We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions...shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power...we expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society."

Benjamin Franklin was the only one of the group that actually attended the Constitutional Convention. He was not Christian in the modern fundamentalist definition. He doubted Christ's divinity and thought the Bible and the worship of it were corrupted by time and the diabolical nature of priests. At one point during the Convention, he asked that the delegates say prayer. His motion was denied. Hamilton warned that its commencement might lead the public to form "unpleasant animadversions." However, when it came to the intermingling of government policy and established religion, his views were clearly stated throughout his life.

-"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." Poor Richard's Almanac, 1754

-"I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies." Toward the Mystery

Franklin was religious. He believed that "God governs in the affairs of men," but he certainly didn't think of him in a Judeo-Christian way.

John Jay was a dissenter from the common fold. He believed we were a Christian nation, but he was intolerant of Catholicism. He wished to pass laws preventing Catholics from holding office in New York, even though he was the governor of a state that expressly forbade the favor of any religion. New York Law stated "the free exercise and employment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall for ever hereafter be allowed within this State to all mankind." Nonetheless, Jay said this: "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." It is important to note two things about Jay, (1) he was not at the Constitutional Convention but (2) he provided a minor contribution the Federalist, probably the most influential political text in history and directly responsible for the ratification of the Constitution. In his contribution to the Federalist, he made no mention of religion. In essence, his religious views were uninfluential on the foundation of the country.

Because Forbes thought it prudent to include the courtesies in a treaty as sufficient evidence of our Christian foundation, I'll finish off this section with a quote from the body of another treaty. Section eleven of the Treaty of Tripoli, written in 1796, during George Washington's second term as president, and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1797 and signed by President John Adams reads thus:

-"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as said States have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

There was no public outcry about the treaty. No congressmen like Forbes complained to the Speaker of the House about it. It was routine--commonly accepted. It was also not that big of a deal in religious circles, just like the treaty of Paris was not that big of a deal.

The second example from Forbes about "in the year of our Lord" is a silly, silly point. A.D. stands for 'Anno Domini,' translated from Latin to mean "in the year of our Lord." The Founders did not yet have our now commonly accepted BCE and CE year designations ("Before Common Era" and "Common Era.") I personally still use BC and AD because that's what I grew up with. It is in no way an endorsement of Christianity on my part.

The final quote from Forbes is by far the most befuddling. He says George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams indicated the importance of Judeo-Christian values to this nation. Because I've already quoted Adams, I'll provide quotes from the other two.

George Washington wrote: "If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitutional Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any religious society, certainly I would have never placed my signature to it. And if I could now conceive that the general government might ever be administered as to render liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded that no one will be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny and every species of religious persecution."

Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that the act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. (Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from presenting even occasional performances of devotion presented indeed legally where an Executive is the legal head of a national church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect)."

Those two quotes, from the most influential Founders, somehow, did not already put a definitive end to this ridiculous debate. Jefferson and Madison made it their mission to include religious freedom for all religions and especially the non-religious. Speaking of which, what did Madison, "Father of the Constitution," who had more influence over the content in the first amendment than any other man, have to say about its meaning? A lot.

-"An alliance or coalition between Government and religion cannot be too carefully guarded against...Every new and successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance...religion and government will exist in greater purity, without (rather) than with the aid of government. Letter to Livingston.

-"What influences, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishment had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people."

At this point, I'm not sure any more quotes are necessary to definitively put an end to the nonsense brought forth in congress, but I can't resist quoting the one thing that fundamentalists Christians usually forget:

-"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances." First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Movie Review: Born of Hope

Born of Hope is a fan film prequel to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it quickly transcends past amateur filmfare. After all, this movie cost as much as Clerks, The Blair Witch Project or El Mariachi. Writer/editor/director/etc. Kate Madison dumped her life savings into the film and managed to scrounge the remaining funds from donations.

The film takes place before the birth of Aragorn (played by Viggo Mortenson in the canonized trilogy) and during his young life. Instead of focusing on his youthful exploits, the film follows his parents, Arathorn and Gilraen, climaxing in a showdown with orcs.

Madison takes painstaking steps to tie this movie to Jackson's trilogy. The moods are similar. The script is consistent, and though the story is by-the-numbers, it's well-written. We are introduced to the movie with a title card that flickers into view and a detached voiceover explaining the history of Middle Earth, just as in the original films. The costumes are consistent with the originals. The Orcs are especially effective. Diffused maps glide across the background during time jumps. The film enters slow-motion during times of bravery and sacrifice. Unfortunately, Slo-mo can be expensive to film. Instead, in Born of Hope, normal speed film is slowed down, which creates a choppy effect called 'fast-motion.' I despise fast-motion unless it's used for a very deliberate reason (the beginning of Reservoir Dogs).

Born of Hope has a few more technical problems that are usually remedied with money and equipment. We sometimes can't hear characters who speak away from the microphone because Additional Voice Recordings (AVR) weren't done. Those lines are lost. The acting varies, but the two leads, Christopher Dane (Arathorn) and Kate Madison (Elgarain), are both very good. Of course, there is a conspicuous lack of crane and helicopter shots, digital color manipulation, and New Zealand locales that gave the original trilogy its epic feel. Nonetheless, Madison's efforts do much to place the film in the same world as Jackson's films.

The film actually improves on the original in one area. Orcs. Because the big bad Uruk-hai don't exist in the timeline of this film, the villains are your garden variety orc, shown as cowardly cockroaches in the original trilogy. Here, they are murderous, persistent, threatening and menacing--not to be trifled with. The film length is perfect. Because of the small budget, we aren't subjected to twenty minute action sequences that too often used to fill the running time. The battles get to the point quickly.

I enjoyed it. It was a nice, new taste of Middle Earth that fits in a realized universe without creating waves or contradictions. That is no easy feat.

Here is the full movie.



Thursday, February 11, 2010

What is Census Advertising Worth?

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) seems to share some of my views on misappropriation of government funds. They attack government officials for frivolous spending and improper distribution of tax money. I love the idea. I wholeheartedly endorse organizations that wish to limit government waste. I am all about efficiency.

CAGW, however, seems to have disregarded a fundamental attempt to identify the truth (i.e. they didn't do any research). The president of CAGW, Dan Williams, openly bashed the Census Bureau's Superbowl ad as a "colossal waste of money." The advertisement cost nearly $3 million, a drop in the bucket compared to the $133 million the Census Bureau plans to spend on advertising between now and May. In the same Fox News Article, Williams says, "That's a lot of money to spend on a glorified public service announcement. While they're counting people, we're going to be counting the dollars that they're spending." Further support of their argument was proclaimed by an outraged John McCain on his Twitter page: "While the census is very important to AZ, we shouldn't be wasting $2.5 million taxpayer dollars to compete with ads for Doritos!"

The Fox article (supposedly "news"--fair and balanced, of course) makes no effort to convey the Census Bureau's reasons for spending the money on the Superbowl ad. Apparently, the CAGW made no effort to ascertain the reasons either. The organization just attacked the Census Bureau for wasting our money. To level the playing field against the willful ignorance (or laziness), I'll provide you with the reasons and "let you be the judge," as O'Reilly likes to say.

The Census Bureau is charged with counting all the people in our country as dictated by the Constitution of the United States of America. To do so, they rely greatly on our voluntary cooperation. It's important that we participate. The Census determines how many members of the House of Representative are issued to each state. It is the primary source for figuring out where aid and grant money is sent. It also serves to paint a portrait of our economy, diversity, and progress, or lack thereof, in many social areas. To do this, the Census Bureau mails out a mandatory ten question form. If we do not fill out the form, the Census Bureau is forced to send temporary employees to our homes, knock on our doors and make us fill out the form. It is quite the process, let me assure you. Census Bureau employees must figure out which households have not filled out the form, track the residents down and get their answers. It costs the American taxpayer $85 million for every one percent of mailers not returned.

To reach a wider audience, the Census Bureau has partnered with over 170,000 business and organizations to help raise awareness about the importance of filling out the census form. They have dumped millions into advertising and nationwide tours trying to get people to mail back the forms. If all of the Census Bureau's efforts convince only two percent more people to mail back the forms, then we save money. According to an article from the political website The Hill, the Superbowl ad likely saved us $30 million.

If it makes a noticeable difference, I'm all for advertising the hell out of the census. If next year reveals that all their efforts made little difference, I'm against it. To provide some recent perspective, in the 90's, the Census Bureau spent $167 million in advertising and the participation increased by six percent. If that is any indicator of today's efforts, this year's census advertising could save us about $377 million.

So, that's the argument for the Superbowl ad. Is it a good idea? You be the judge!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The American Ego

Americans have a compulsive need to defend themselves in the eyes of the world. Now that the world is more globalized, most of realize the world hates us. Instead of taking it in stride, like the leaders we claim to be should, we throw fits. It's a bit embarrassing. An article from the UK Guardian shows the American Government pledged to donate more money to Haiti than any other government--$450 million. The amount will cost the American taxpayer about $2.50. That's fine. Canada, making the second highest pledge, said its government would donate $130 million, costing their taxpayer quite a bit more considering their population (man, woman and child) is about 33 million--approximately 1/9th the U.S. Population. We must keep in mind that other countries are also generous and consider population. While I'm happy the American Government hasn't become so jaded by every other country's opinion and ceased charitable donations altogether, we cannot lose sight of the reason we give relief funds and aid.

In the Guardian article's online comments, most non-American comments bashed the United States for... well, what seemed to be just about anything. Some said we were only donating to Haiti because it is close to us. Some people argued that we are responsible for their horrible state in the first place (this is kinda-sorta true, but not really. Click Here for additional info). Some say it is only in our military interest, otherwise we'd do nothing. I hate these comments as much as the next American, but it comes with the territory of being a powerful nation. Deal with it.

Instead, what do the American commenters do? They boast about how generous we are. They boast about how much money we always give and without us, the world would collapse. It aggravates me when Americans turn national wealth and worth into a competition. Those who say Americans only donate when it is in our interest don't pay attention and know little about us. However, in reading the comments from my American contemporaries, I can see how our image is tarnished. There are enough Americans out there, damaging our reputation, spreading the word that we should be thanked, that we should be appreciated, that we should be recognized as oh-so-totally-awesome, and it's sanctimonious autofellatio.

We should be doing the right thing only because it is the right thing to do and for no other reason. If people need our help, we help without expectation of reward or appreciation. Someone expecting gratitude is making humanitarian gestures for the wrong reasons. I believe that most Americans understand this, even the simplest of us. Or, perhaps, especially simple Americans, unclouded by political complications and outside influence, they know that Good is Good and that's all they need. Everyone likes to be appreciated, but expecting praise for good deeds is egocentric and sad.

I truly believe Americans want to help because they can. We have our financial struggles, but in dire circumstances, we have the funds to lend a hand. So we do. In addition to the pledged $450 million from our government, private U.S. organizations have donated an additional $700 million. I'm very happy that the American public was motivated to donate such a large sum. I'm glad we donated more than any other country. Honestly, though, if we didn't, I'd be ashamed of us. We should help because Haiti needs it and we can do it. People who take those numbers and boast about our superior generosity are missing the point and do not properly represent what America is about. It's not about bragging rights. We should be content to live in a country that can make a difference.

Occasionally, I've run across Americans who think we should donate nothing because we've got our own problems. We've got homeless people and poverty stricken communities, we should focus on them, they say. True we have our own problems and should address them, but our homeless aren't eating dirt to survive as they are in Haiti. Our poor population didn't just have their buildings crash in on families. Our government was not demolished in a few minutes. Most of us have no problem with our government giving aid. Again, most of us think it's a good thing. The rare (and unfortunately loud) Americans who compare our problems to Haiti should find a cliff and make like lemmings. They don't represent us.

For those Americans who throw a royal fit about being verbally attacked when we don't deserve it, I understand your frustration, but do try to practice magnanimity. We can be hateful and petty with one another, boast and sing our praises at home, but please, keep it off the international stage. Because if I were from another country and read the crap you said, I'd kick you the fuck off that high horse too.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Avatar to the Rescue! Maybe.

Some of you are aware that movie theaters lost much of their relevance when Big Screen met DVD. Moviegoers began to forgo opening weekends of blockbusters and opted to wait for DVD releases. Girlfriends had a tougher time convincing their boyfriends that romantic comedies were worth seeing on a fifty foot projection. Boys taking girls on dates no longer needed to pay forty dollars for a movie, candy, drinks and popcorn. If they watched a movie at home it would cost fifteen bucks, tops. Parents no longer wanted to quiet their crying kids without the ability to pause movies. Crusty old curmudgeons could watch movies at home without the nuisance of noisy whippersnappers and cell phones. None of us have to sit in a jam packed theater, wondering why, oh God why, was the only open seat next to the fat, sweaty dude who steals armrests.

I came around to team DVD a little later than some. I couldn't immediately take the plunge because I still remembered getting vertigo in the opening scenes of Mission Impossible 2 and feeling the ground-shaking roar of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. I remembered the chills creeping up my neck upon seeing the Star Wars: the Phantom Menace trailer for the first time on the big screen and having the same feeling when watching Keanu Reeves dodge gunfire in "bullet time." I didn't think it was possible to appreciate that type of movie magic from home. In 2004, I was forced to surrender my obstinate position and admit that movie theaters kind of sucked. One movie experience after another for every year since has reinforced my opposition.

Here are just a few experiences that nudged me away from theaters. I could not stand being subjected to commercials after the movie was supposed to have started, especially after paying $8-10 per movie. I got pissed off when they wouldn't let me bring bottled water in, because they sold bottled water for $4.50. The seats are never particularly comfortable and in some of the less popular theaters, they aren't too clean. If you ever wondered why seats in some theaters fold up, it's to make the greasy popcorn crumbs fall through to the floor. I got sick of dim projection. I could hardly see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon because the theater owners reduced the intensity of projector bulbs in hopes of either reducing their power bill or to make the bulb last longer (which doesn't work). I watched three movies at my local theater that were shaking so badly, I had to take off my glasses (making everything blurry) to make it possible to tolerate. The theater did not replace the shaky projector for two years. When I watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the projectionist forgot to change the fucking reel. I've never even heard of that happening. During a screening of K-Pax, eight fifteen year old girls talked, giggled, answered loudly ringing cell phones and eventually, after I asked them nicely to be quiet, started throwing popcorn over their shoulders at me and my friend. Never one to take the high road, I pelted one of them squarely in the back of the head with an ice cube, which won me a smattering of applause from other patrons. That was the worst of many giggly-girl encounters. If the giggly-girl was on a date with dumbass-boy, rest assured, red laser lights were zinging across the screen. (I must admit, laser lights were more popular about five years ago. The last I saw of them in a theater was during a viewing of 300 in 2006.)

I'm aware that businesses can't fully control the behavior of their patrons, and I rarely blame a theater for rowdy kids or talkative people. I hate some theater crowds, sure, but that's not the biggest reason I hate theaters. It is how they are run. Charging 400% retail for snacks is unacceptable. That sort of gouging should only happen at ballgames, which are once in a lifetime experiences. The greatest play in the history of the sport may happen on any given night. Concerts are the same way. Bands never play the same way twice. Movies cannot boast that sort of uniqueness. The movie will not change from one viewing to the next. To ensure that we buy their drinks and snacks they refuse to let us bring our own. They do this in because they make most of their money off snacks. When a business can't make money from its primary reason for existence, without extorting its patrons, it's time to update the business model. I'm most shocked by the cost of tickets. Kansas City has about the least expensive movie ticket prices in the nation, and ours cost about ten dollars. I can rent newer movies for $3-6 depending on its DVD release date. I can own most movies for $20, and DVD sales have an astronomical markup. I don't care where money goes, what the cost is, or why movie tickets cost $10-15. It's not cost effective for the consumer and should be abandoned.

For more than five years I've wanted theaters to crumple under the pressure from their unsustainable business model. I was awaiting the day that they folded into oblivion, leaving room for only a few of the best, consumer friendly theaters and well-maintained IMAXes. And I still believe that to an extent, but damned if James Cameron's 3D Avatar didn't shake my faith to the foundation. All of the sudden, this movie marvel created a need for theaters.

I've listened to nonsense hype about 3D for over a decade. To me, 3D always looked like one cardboard cutout set a little closer to me than the background. I hated the effect. It was unnatural to my sense of depth perception, doing more to distract me than it did to enhance the experience. Many critics complain about the dimness of 3D. I only remember its annoyance. Even Superman Returns' 3D on the IMAX was jumpy and blurry. Avatar gave me depth. Long corridors and rounded objects stretched into the distance, each line of trees in the forest was distinguishable from the next. The effect makes Science Fiction seem more science-fictiony.

I get depressed when I think of watching Avatar on a home TV, no matter the size (with the possible exception of my friend's 65-inch monster HDTV). Only a handful of movies in the past few years were worth seeing in theaters. Fewer are released with each passing year. If we suddenly saw a surge of films taking full advantage of Real 3D, creating wondrous worlds and mystifying spectacles with epic storytelling and fearlessly pursuing the story to a logical conclusion, regardless of running time, I would go to more movies.

For the first time in years I can at least see a beneficial function of movie theaters. I hope new filmmakers will take advantage of the 3D big screen experience, otherwise movie theaters are expendable. Pixar is planning on releasing Toy Story 3 in 3D. If it too is as an impressive technical achievement as Avatar, I might forgive past transgressions and once again look forward to opening days at the movies.