21 November 2007

anger management

people have pointed out to me that i can be a little... highly strung. in fairness, as i've aged, i've tried to learn to relax a little and not let things get to me so much.

but sometimes, it just seems like there are things in the world that are worth getting very, very angry about. for instance (thanks to martin for forwarding this to me), the idea that the american government is asking soldiers to repay portions of their signing bonuses when they are unable to complete their minimum required time in iraq because they are severely injured.

the fact that the government backed away from its position is hardly cause for celebration, either. after all, if the story hadn't gotten the attention that it did, there is no evidence there wouldn't be department of defense thugs knocking down doors to demand payment. furthermore, the "we goofed" response is almost as insulting as the original demand.

listen, those of us who have jobs make mistakes. the reason that you have more than one person responsible for important things is to try to limit the possibility that one idiot will screw everything up. unfortunately, what tends to happen, and this is a particularly nauseating example, is that everyone abdicates any form of responsibility whatsoever and any amount of idiocy, no matter how blatant, slips through the bureaucratic mechanism like an eel coated in motor oil.

i can only hope that the drones who let notices like this slip through are visited by "mistakes" themselves.

14 November 2007

you doubted me?

i wasn't joking when i said that most higher medicine was a load of crap.

how exactly does one explain needing the time off work for that procedure?

09 November 2007

weird science

i'm not a huge fan of the medical profession in general. while i will trust myself to its care when i am truly in need, i generally try to avoid contact with it, because it seems like one of those slippery slopes that once you start down, it becomes difficult to apply the brakes.

one of my chief reservations is that the research that is done in the name of science often looks like it was designed by sadists or lunatics (or both). as a result, i mistrust a lot of what comes out of such studies, such as this one on aids research.

am i the only one that thinks that there might possibly be complications to any treatment that involved "awaking" dormant viruses in our system with which modern medicine has virtually no experience? that doesn't sound like science to me. it sounds like the plot to a b-grade horror film.

and as if that weren't enough, check out this line, about three quarters of the way through the article: "an experimental AIDS shot not only failed to work, but volunteers who got the injections were more likely to get infected with the virus through sex or other risky behaviours than those who got dummy inoculations". yes, that's right, the vaccine makes it easier to contract the disease it's designed to prevent.

these are the minds to whom we entrust ourselves every time we go to the doctor with an unidentified ailment. what could possibly go wrong?

08 November 2007

labour of love

movie review :: control

the idea of making a film about joy division strikes me as odd. the band's appeal lies in their unfathomable mystery, some magic that others could feel, even if they couldn't explain it. the sheer diversity of joy division fans, and i count myself as one, is testimony that there is some validity to that. outside of the post-glam, post-punk context of the band, there is something inexplicable about them.

thankfully, director anton corbin- an avid joy division fan and chronicler himself- is aware of this. every scene in his biopic of joy division's lead singer ian curtis (and the film is about curtis, not the band as a unit) is suffused with the same atmosphere and aesthetic as the band's albums and videos- restrained, melancholy, emotional.

curtis' story is almost pedestrian on the one hand: far from dreaming of rock stardom, he was an exceptionally average (oxymoron alert!) teenager who listened to music (bowie, the stooges, etc.), wrote poetry, smoked, did some drugs and, eventually, married his high school sweetheart and started a government job. his ascent to icon status seemed unexpected, and, for all concerned, perplexing.

the title of the film is an important "tell" on its perspective. even as he met with success in the various areas of his life, control seems to be the one thing that ian curtis was never able to feel. he at first went through the expected motions of a young man in his social situation and then became driven by the band and the lifestyle that went along with it, while never feeling comfortable in either. curtis had little control over his job, his fame, his money, his emotions and, eventually, even his own body, which fell prey to increasingly disturbing epileptic seizures. viewed in that light, his eventual suicide seems not only sad, but inevitable.

as a result, the film is unrepentant in its bleakness, but wrapped in a beautiful soundtrack. which is not a bad description of joy division. corbin's most deft move as a director- and this is saying something, because he shows a phenomenal attention to detail throughout- is that he relies on joy division's music to form a sort of ancillary script. rather than trying to explain the appeal of the band or the reactions to their music, he gives plenty of time for the music to be heard. this is risky- it undoubtedly alienates people who aren't joy division fans- but it is really the only way to communicate what was so special about them without falling into the trap of over-explaining.

the film does at times become a little heavy-handed (it would have been stronger without the "hypnotism" scene intended to drive home points that were already well made), but overall maintains a sort of dignity that does the band and ian curtis proud.
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