Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My 2008 Netflix Queue

Moviewise, 2008 was a year for old favorites and first time delights. The old films enjoyed again, some for the third or fourth time, were:

  • Leap of Faith
  • The Mission
  • Driving Miss Daisy
  • Amadeus
  • Life Is Beautiful
  • Crash
  • Being There
  • The Third Man

There were also a number of older films I had never seen before, but which I finally got around to watching:

  • Innocent Voices
  • Lonesome Dove
  • The Silence
  • Through a Glass Darkly
  • Persona
  • Saraband
  • End of the Spear
  • Saints and Soldiers
  • The Nativity Story
  • The Butterfly
  • The Long Walk Home
  • Jane Eyre: BBC Version
  • Gone Baby Gone
  • And then there were newer films that I managed to squeeze in. Among the best of these were:

  • The Kite Runner
  • Bella
  • Dark Knight
  • Charlie Wilson's War
  • Vantage Point
  • Babel
  • Most
  • No Country for Old Men
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Facing the Giants
  • All of the above were, in my opinion, good to very good films, and I'd recommend them all with the caveat that some are R-rated.

    Movies that ranged all the way from "okay" to "painful to watch" were:

  • Au Revoir Les Enfants
  • The Great Debaters
  • Night on Earth
  • 8 1/2
  • Inside Man
  • The Brave One
  • Deja Vu
  • Man on Fire
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • There are many more good films out there, of course, and if anyone has any recommendations please don't be reticent about passing them along.

    From Bill and I best wishes for a great 2009.


    Good for the Gander

    Gary Varvel offers us cartoon commentary on recent developments in the news. The opinions expressed in the text are ours:

    It is perplexing, don't you think, that the Israelis simply fail to understand that if the Hamas terrorists want to kill them it's not very civilized of them to do anything substantive about it.

    If Mr. Madoff goes to jail for his Ponzi scheme which defrauded thousands of people of their life savings, and he should, then so, too, should every person in congress who resists social security reform and/or who obstructed serious investigation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and/or who used their legislative influence to force banks to make high risk home mortgage loans.


    Spend Less, Pay More

    Jason shares with us an article in the Albany Democrat-Herald which informs us of a clever idea hatched in the fertile mind of Governor Ted Kulongoski:

    "As Oregonians drive less and demand more fuel-efficient vehicles, it is increasingly important that the state find a new way, other than the gas tax, to finance our transportation system."

    According to the policies he has outlined online, Kulongoski proposes to continue the work of the special task force that came up with and tested the idea of a mileage tax to replace the gas tax.

    The governor wants the task force "to partner with auto manufacturers to refine technology that would enable Oregonians to pay for the transportation system based on how many miles they drive."

    The task force's final report came out in November 2007. It was based largely on a field test in which about 300 motorists in the Portland area and two service stations took part over 10 months, ending in March 2007.

    A GPS-based system kept track of the in-state mileage driven by the volunteers. When they bought fuel, a device in their vehicles was read, and they paid 1.2 cents a mile and got a refund of the state gas tax of 24 cents a gallon.

    The residents of Oregon get fleeced coming and going. The more they cut back on fuel consumption to save both gas and money, the less revenue their voracious government rakes in. But voracious government can never be expected to cut their spending. Oh, no. Elected public servants cannot be asked to forego their great retirement and medical insurance programs, or any of the other entitlements and emoluments of their esteemed office. Better it is to compensate for revenue shortfalls by taxing the mileage driven by the poor saps who purchased fuel-efficient cars.

    Perhaps we should look at this, though, not from the standpoint of the lowly taxpayer, but from the point of view of a politician. Why should they simply raise the gas tax, if revenues have fallen, when they can create a whole new parasitic bureaucracy affording rich opportunities to descend yet again upon the long-suffering public like a horde of hungry paper-pushing wood ticks? And, of course, once the mileage tax is enacted, the gas tax can be raised anyway. If only a way could be found to tax the air we breathe surely our political leaders would rejoice and levy the tariff forthwith.

    Exit question: Can you guess the party affiliation of the governor of Oregon whose brainchild this is? Here's a hint: He has a letter to the citizens of his state on his website .... from his dog. Oregon's voters have no one to blame but themselves.