The Invisible

[Amazon Link] [2.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

This supernatural thriller was critically-drubbed (19% on the Tomatometer), but I the preview on another DVD I saw made it look good. Yes, I was duped by a movie trailer!

The hero here is Nick Powell, high school golden boy about to graduate. (Yes, this is the second movie in a row I watched with high-school-senior heroes. Good catch.) Nick is moody and sensitive, and his English teacher loves his dreadful poetry. He has conflicts with his mom, who doesn't appear to miss his dead father; she's also opposed to his dream of attending a "Writing Program" in London.

Unfortunately, he's recently come into conflict with fellow classmate Annie (she has a dead mother), the violence-prone ringleader of a small high school crime syndicate. (Really.) Soon enough, this conflict results in Nick's invisible spirit wandering around his town, trying to get someone to come rescue his dying body.

Probably every guy who saw this movie thought: "If I were the invisible spirit of a male high school senior, I'd be off to the girl's locker room." Sure enough, Nick makes it there eventually. Although he still looks moody and sensitive about it.

The movie was good enough to keep me awake and involved through the whole thing. But most of my thoughts were how it could have been much, much better.

Oh, about the trailer. The IMDB says:

A subplot involving an elderly man who could see the main character was in the trailer, but not the film.
Darn it, I was waiting for that guy to show up.

Last Modified 2012-10-15 3:06 PM EDT

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The Age of Abundance

[Amazon Link]

Another good book that the UNH Library saw fit to buy, even without my recommendation. I love those guys.

The subtitle on the book is "How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture". Most of the text is taken up with a very wide-ranging history of the last few decades of the US of A. It's full of telling statistics and insightful analysis.

How wide ranging is it? Let's do a sampling: page 50 concerns labor relations and regulations; page 100 tells of the imposition of Jim Crow in the south; page 150, the beginnings of the civil rights movement; page 200, the beginnings of the environmentalist movement; page 250, the economic trainwreck of the early 70's; page 300, modern TV comedy.

Most of Lindsey's history will be familiar to anyone paying attention to current events over the past few decades. But I'm pretty sure anyone will pick up on (at least) some neat trivia. For example, I found out here that Peter Coyote was a founding member of the "Diggers", a radical-anarchist drug-fueled group in the 60s Bay Area. Synchronicity: just after I read that, I noticed Coyote droning on my TV during a PBS pledge break. Times change, don't they?

The author is vice president for research at the Cato Institute. So it's not surprising that his analysis is broadly libertarian, both on economics and social issues. I'm generally very sympathetic to that view, but he doesn't beat you over the head with his ideology, so even non-libertarian readers might get through the book without throwing it across the room.

The book's final chapter is an analysis of Where We Are Today. It's very balanced: Lindsey doesn't have an optimistic thought without balancing it with a pessimistic one a few sentences later. Still, it's thoughtful and thought-provoking. Lindsey is the author of the famous (and famously derided) "Liberalitarian Alliance thesis", the idea that some sensible lefties could be brought into strategic alliances with libertarians to accomplish some limited progress on entitlements, taxes, and corporate welfare; there are some inklings of that idea here.

Lindsey's website, like his book, is also pretty good.

Last Modified 2012-10-15 3:07 PM EDT