Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dishonest Money Review

Title: Dishonest Money (Financing The Road To Ruin)
Author: Joseph Plummer
Publisher: Joseph Plummer, 2009

The economy is based on supply and demand, right?  What if that was wrong?  What if I told you that the concept of supply and demand was barely scratching the surface of how the economy works?  Look at Greece.  Do you think simple supply and demand led them to their financial crisis?  Or do you think it was something more?

Dishonest Money is a fairly short book, but it is jammed full of information.  Joseph Plummer does an excellent job of taking a highly complex subject and presenting it in a way that anyone who isn't an economist can understand.  Some might argue he doesn't go into enough detail.  I think that if this is your first book on the economy, it probably covers just the right amount of information to get you started.

Joseph Plummer talks about how the business elite created the Federal Reserve for their own financial gain, and the implications that has had on our economy.  He discusses at length the differences between commodity money, receipt money, fractional money, fiat money and debt money.  He also explains how the people in power can manipulate the money supply to impose a de facto tax on us through the process of inflation.  By creating inflation, the Federal Reserve is decreasing our buying power.

The only part of this book that I thought could have been done better was the end section which stated what we could do to counter this corruption.  Joseph Plummer's advice was simply to prepare for the worst.  While I believe everyone should be prepared, I was expecting more of a plan of how we could do away with the Federal Reserve.  Instead, we are told to buy gold bullion, buy at least a three-month supply of food, buy a water filtration system, and buy a handgun.  All sound advice, but not how I was expecting a book on the economy to end.

However, this is an excellent starter book for those of you who want to learn more about the intricacies of the economy.  Joseph Plummer suggests a more comprehensive book about the Federal Reserve for those who want to take it further.  But for those who want a base understanding, this is the book to read.

Recommended further reading:  The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve

© Nate Phillipps 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Karate Kid Trilogy

For $13 at Wal-Mart, you can buy all three Karate Kid films.  If you love anything Karate Kid, you can get the four film set (including The Next Karate Kid) at Amazon.  I opted to get the trilogy, as I've never seen the fourth one, and don't really have an interest in seeing the fourth one, as Daniel isn't in it.

The Karate Kid (1984)
By far the best of the series, The Karate Kid stars Ralph Maccio and Pat Morita as Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi, respectively.  Daniel and his mother move from New Jersey to California, where Daniel has such a difficult time fitting in, that he becomes the punching bag for a group of older, karate students.  Mr. Miyagi eventually agrees to teach Daniel karate so he can defend himself.

I loved this movie as a kid.  Watching it again as an adult, I liked it slightly less.  Daniel comes off as a whiny brat, at least in the beginning.  He tones it down as the movie progresses.  The Mr. Miyagi character is fantastic.  His unorthodox teaching technique, and his bizarre sense of humor push this film into the classic category.  The Karate Kid also explores the morality of when it is acceptable to fight, and what is acceptable to fight for.

The Karate Kid II (1986)
Daniel and Mr. Miyagi return to the screen for another karate adventure.  This time, Mr. Miyagi gets a letter informing him that his father is dying.  Mr. Miyagi and Daniel travel to Okinawa where an old nemesis of Mr. Miyagi's makes their stay uncomfortable.  Daniel clashes with one of Sato's stooges.

The worst part of this film is probably the beginning, where it recaps the whole first movie.  Obviously this was made before anyone thought people would be able to watch movies in their home whenever they wanted.  It's an alright film, which is only good because of the first one.  Daniel is a lot more whiny in this film, and sometimes you want to scream at him, "Didn't you learn anything at all in the first film?"

The Karate Kid Part III (1989)
John Kreese returns, with the aid of a buddy, to exact his revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi.  Daniel's desire to fight puts him at odds with Mr. Miyagi, who wants Daniel to retire.  Daniel is forced to find a new teacher.

After two movies of seeing Daniel getting beat up and curling into the fetal position on the ground, you would think either A) it would get old, or B) he would retain some knowledge and skill and be able to defend himself.  But no, neither of those are the case in this film.  Despite taking karate to learn how to defend himself, and despite the teachings of a direct descendant of the person who invented karate, Daniel still does not poses the knowledge or skill to be able to defend himself against anyone.  If you thought Daniel was whiny and pathetic in the first two, you haven't seen anything yet.  This movie would be alright if Daniel only had a spine.  This film is the weakest of the trilogy.

All in all this is a good collection; you get all three Karate Kid movies, and a few special features on the first disc.  If you want the complete story of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel, this is the set for you.

© Nate Phillipps 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Liberal Fascism Review

Title:  Liberal Fascism
Author:  Jonah Goldberg
Publisher: Broadway Books, 2009

If you're like me and are generally conservative (in the sense you want small government), you have probably been called a fascist.  Jonah Goldberg starts out his book, Liberal Fascism, with explaining that the term fascism is one with no clear-cut meaning in modern politics.  He then goes on to explain that this is precisely the reason liberals like to use it.

Rather than being pulled into a name calling contest with liberals, Jonah examines when fascism started, who started it, and why they started it.  By looking at the historical context of fascism, he points out that fascism is almost always a left-wing phenomenon.  Why, then, do liberals delight in accusing right-wingers of being fascist?  Well, that's all part of the vast political strategy that the liberals employ to trick voters.

In this book you will find that everyone from Woodrow Wilson, FDR, JFK, Hillary Clinton, Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, and many more have contributed to fascism here in America, and abroad.  Written in an easy to understand style, this book is full of footnotes and references.  Jonah Goldberg did his research and doesn't pull any punches.  If you want to know why politics has gotten so bad, and how it got that way, this book is for you.  It's also a great read if you're in the midst of an argument with a liberal.

© Nate Phillipps 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

John Carpenter Master of Fear Collection

I recently picked up a DVD set that has four movies on two discs.  There are no special features, save some audio options, but the films are there.  It contains The Thing, Prince of Darkness, They Live, and Village of the Damned.  All four films are by John Carpenter.

In lieu of a complete movie review of all four, I'm going to do an abridged version.

The Thing (1982):  This movie is the reason I bought the DVD.  Kurt Russell does an excellent job of being a leader, and a rebel.  This film is very much my Psycho of the 80s.  For a horror film, it has everything you need.

Prince of Darkness (1987):  This is probably the weakest of the four.  Which isn't to say it isn't good.  I quite enjoyed it, it just wasn't at the same level as the other three.  Donald Pleasence is the big star in this film, although he doesn't get a whole lot of screen time.  There are some good moments in this movie, but they are spaced too far apart.  Also, this film has a longer runtime than the others, which probably doesn't help.

They Live (1988):  Going through film school, I heard a lot about this film, and all of its criticisms of society.  Despite relatively unknown actors, this film was great.  John Carpenter really plays with perception in a border-line hypocritical way that at times is frightening, and other times is hilarious.

Village of the Damned (1995):  Kids can be really creepy.  This movie probably had the best cast of the bunch: Christopher Reeve, Mark Hamill, and Kirstie Alley.  In this movie, Carpenter focuses mostly on two or three families, and their experiences with the new 'children.'  It was good to see Mark Hamill in something where he wasn't swinging a lightsaber.

Basically, this collection is a good buy.  No, there are no special features, but, looking at the DVD for The Thing, you wouldn't really be missing much.  Unfortunately with some of these older movies, there's just not a lot in the way of special features.  Ultimately, if you're the casual movie watcher, and are looking to experience John Carpenter, this is the set for you.  If you're the film junky and you simply have to have all the features, you'll probably want to buy these seperately.

© Nate Phillipps 2010