Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Remedy

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

tell your doctor right away if your mood worsens
you have unusual changes in mood
or behavior
or thoughts
of
suicide
antidepresants
can increase these in children
teens
and young adults
Cymbalta is not for children under 18
people taking MAOIs
linaisolid
or thyoridizine
or with uncontrolled glaucoma
should not take Cymbalta
taking it with anced
pain relievers
aspirin
or blood thinners
may increase bleeding risk
severe liver problems
some fatal
were reported
signs include abdominal pain
and yellowing
skin
or eyes
tell your doctor about all your medicines
including those for migrane
and while on Cymbalta
call right away if you have high fever
confusion
and stiff muslces
or serious allergic skin reactions 
like blisters
peeling rash
hives
or mouth sores
to address possible life threatening conditions
talk about your alcohol use
liver disease
and before you reduce or stop Cymbalta
dizziness
or
fainting
may occur
upon standing
ask your doctor about Cymbalta
Imagine you 
With less pain

do not stop taking
Xarelto rivaroxaban
without talking 
to the doctor
who prescribes it for you
stopping may increase your risk
of having
a stroke
get medical help right away if you develop
any signs
or symptoms of 
bleeding
like unusual bruising
or tingling
you may have a higher risk of 
bleeding
if you take Xarelto
with aspirin products
anceds
or blood thinners
talk to your doctor before taking 
Xarelto
if you currently have abnormal 
bleeding
Xarelto can cause
bleeding
which can be serious
and rarely
may lead
to
death
you are likely to bruise more easily 
on Xarelto
and it may take longer for 
bleeding
to
stop
tell your doctors you are taking Xarelto
before any planned medical
or dental
proceedures
before starting Xarelto
tell your doctor
about any conditions
such as kidney
liver
or bleeding
 problems
Ready to change your routine?
 

More on the Boggs Twp. Landfill


The Skyline Coming Down Skytop Mountian, Centre County, at Dusk

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

Even writing about the landfill issue stinks.

But I have made some inquiries into the issue for a couple days now and, being late arriving at the scene, my information is rounding into shape.

It is tough writing about an issue that you care about when people you care about lie on both sides of the issue.  For me, though, being at odds on an issue does not preclude friendship nor the need to be as honest as you can.  I asked a lot of tough questions in yesterday's post and, frankly, I felt bad asking them.  But some answers are beginning to filter in.

I was glad to establish contact with Robert Rovner, President of Pa. Waste LLC, who was good enough to talk with me about his application for the Boggs Township Landfill and Mr. Rovner was good enough to set up a personal contact with the group's engineering consultant, John Vargo, who spoke at Tuesday night's DEP public meeting.  I am looking forward to sending Mr. Rovner a list of questions today and to having Mr. Vargo enlighten me on other issues that were raised here yesterday.

One of our readers, Shawn Wilson, has old ties to the railroad industry and commented yesterday that a rail line into the site is a possibility, which could mitigate some of the truck traffic that is such a sticking point with many.

My sister-in-law, Maureen Inlow, is the republican Register and Recorder for Clearfield County (Full disclosure:  I go out on the Mountain and put up those campaign signs everyone hates when she's gotta run for reelection.) and we were sitting down at a big family dinner last night at St. Charles Cafe in Clearfield and the topic arose.  Mo says that the deed to the proposed landfill site gets more visitors than Niagara Falls on a daily basis.

Let's go to the mat with Mr. Rovner, who phoned me while driving yesterday afternoon on a spotty connection.  Can you hear me now?  Good.  Rovner says his investors (listed by name yesterday, scroll down) live in the Chester and Montgomery County areas of Pennsylvania.

"Economic progress takes a lot of time," said Mr. Rovner.  "And the project means millions in revenue to the local area so that they can have ballfields, fire engines and libraries."

The numbers revealed at Tuesday's meeting were quoted around $60 million to Boggs Township over the 25 year life of the landfill and a whopping $400 million in economic activity in the Clearfield region.  I don't know what the GDP of Clearfield County is (yet another question to go and dig up) but that sounds like a right argument for the economic benefit of the plan.

Mr. Rovner blamed former State Rep. Camille George for holding up the process, "Over an animosity he had against Mr. Walker."

This statement goes to a long and ugly political fight around here that, to the Mountain, seems based in both party politics and ideological differences.  C. Allen Walker has been doing business here for decades and Rep. George has been at the levers of regulations over that business.  You can imagine that the Mountain wants to stay as far away from that donnybrook as possible, but it is an element of this political debate, especially since a guy from down east knows it and references it right out of the box.

I asked Mr. Rovner about acid mine drainage at the site and whether or not there were any mitigation efforts in play there.  Rovner said there was no acid mine drainage at the landfill site.  I questioned him further on this because former Rep. Lynn Herman said Tuesday that the landfill would redress acid mine drainage from the site.  Rovner and Herman seem to have different information and that still needs discussing and, hopefully, today's discussion with Mr. Vargo will get to that point.

Lastly, I really took my state representative, Tommy Sanky, to task yesterday for not being at the public meeting.  I feel he has a responsibility to publicly state his position and as a citizen I have a right to know.  Perhaps I'll walk down to his office and see if I still get a warm reception there today and ask that question for you, dear reader.

Rovner had this to say:  "Sankey seems like a very reasonable representative and I think he will go along with what DEP decides."  Further, he said, "Voters rejected the county commissioner who was the main force of opposition to our application."

Fair enough.  So we're getting somewhere.  See, folks, you must talk to the person you disagree with.  And hopefully my questions as a resident and taxpayer here on the Mountain will be answered and I can get back to writing poetry around here - something that is easier and personally more satisfying than this stuff and no less important.

Thanks for visiting the blog today and if my writing is useful to you please feel free to share the links with friends or even leave your comment below.  I ask that you use your name and town if possible.  Your comments gain strength if you put your name to them.

Shawn Inlow
Osceola Mills, Pa.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blasting Away 2 (Reloaded)

Blue Tree in Mist - Drane Highway, Osceola Mills, Pa.

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

It is fitting this morning that we return on Martin Luther King Day to the issue of gun violence in America.  This convergence fills me with mixed emotions from personal experience.  

Two things:  One is that I had a co-worker when I was a police officer that would proclaim it "James Earl Ray Day" on our station.  This is something you only see on white supremacist websites.  I would like to think this was an isolated form of racism.  But, especially early in my career as a police officer, I used to quietly, miserably, count the racist jokes I heard every year on Dr. King's day.  Over the years the insults grew less - or maybe I quit noticing - so I was hopeful.

The other thing is that our local school district does not honor Dr. King's holiday, per se.  The kids are excused today for a teachers' in-service day that perhaps saves face.  But the kids do get the opening of buck season off.  What we honor in our society and how we honor those things matters to me.  These anecdotes, for me, inform about the culture where I live.  Race and gun violence have long been issues chained together.  Never more apparent than today.  I don't mean to hijack the issue of gun violence with an overt discussion of race.  But, given the day.  Well.  Let's talk.

After the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre, the issue has been thrust on us again in perhaps even a more pitiful way and the issue is at the top of the national debate.  The state of New York has just enacted a number of measures, being close to the latest tragedy.  President Obama, working through a well rounded panel, has presented some recommendations. 

HERE is a quick breakdown of what the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 is about.  Some key provisions:

The act requires background checks in all gun transfers between private parties except immediate family.  It more strictly defines assault weapons and bans them, along with high capacity magazines, and grandfathers in existing weapons which are subject to registration and regular re-certification.  It also tracks ammunition purchases in real time, allowing large volume purchases to be flagged.  The law also requires mental health professionals to report patients they deem likely to cause serious harm to themselves or others.

These are perhaps the toughest and most comprehensive gun laws in the country and they make sense.

THE PRESIDENT'S PROPOSALS to Congress have quite a bit in common with New York's approach including two elements that National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre called for:  providing armed officers in schools and addressing mental health issues.

The Mountain feels it is double talk for the NRA to come out guns blazing against President Obama's recommendations when President Obama seems to have taken the NRA's recommendations seriously.

If you click over to the NRA SITE you find a political ad that feeds into the NRA narrative of us against them.  The "Stand and Fight" campaign nowhere admits that the Obama plan calls for putting $150 million dollars into hiring officers in schools.  The campaign nowhere acknowledges that the President's plan takes seriously a mental health approach to the problem of gun violence.  These are elements that the NRA has called for and that the White House has agreed with to some degree.

But over on the NRA site you get no such signal.  You can sign up to "stand and fight."  You can join the NRA.  And, oh yeah, donate.   The NRA could be helpful here, but they're choosing not to be.  In my view, the organization is supposed to advocate for the second amendment, is supposed to educate and is supposed to promote gun safety.  Instead of being a part of the solution, they're capitalizing on the issue by sowing the seeds of division and anger.

According to Gallup, 92% of Americans favor strengthening background checks.  62% favor a ban on high capacity magazines.  To be fair, Gallup shows more mixed signals on other permutations of the question.  Here's a Reuters poll taken after the Aurora, Colorado, massacre by republican pollster Frank Luntz that shows NRA members and gun owners in general favor strengthening background checks.  I'm sure there are thousands of polls on the subject now to choose from.  My point is that the NRA and its members may slightly disagree on the issue of tougher gun laws.

Look.  You have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms.  But you know what?  People who choose not to own or carry a gun also have a right not to have their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness terminated.  It goes both ways.  There is a middle ground.




Friday, January 18, 2013

Fiction: Solid - Chapter 2

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

"Solid" - Chapter 2

Note:  Today's post is Chapter 2 of an original serialized sci-fi story I'm writing just for you, dear reader.  Chapter 1 appeared (scroll down) on Jan. 8. 

 

Nick entered the tower he called home after a retina scan and an automated message softly greeted him as the thick glass door slid silently aside.

"Welcome home, Nick Casteel."

Nick strode through a common area that had the feel and look and even the air of a cool temperate forest.  The air inside DynaCorp Tower was more humid and cool than outside.  This was accomplished by having an actual forest contained in the vast atrium which spired high above where sunlight dazzled through the now transparent changable glass and dappled through the broad leaves of the upper canopy and down through pines and then to the child walking the well groomed pathways through moss and fern.

In the elevator he stood on what appeared to be nothing.  This elevator was of the like of the Space Tower, which transported things from Earth to space in the Pacific.  Its floor was substantial only to the proportion of the object it carried and the cargo was whisked mechanically along a carbon strand to the 33rd floor.

A related technology was used in "moving" public sidewalks.  It wasn't the actual sidewalk that moved.  Rather, it was the person's feet interacting with the field, or sidewalk, that made the things solid and pulled the person along a stream of electrons according to thier individual gait in the direction they wished to travel.  The holographic sidewalk, for example, could look like anything at all: water, sand, a concrete sidewalk, and was generally designed in public to facilitate a kind of human familiarity.

In the same way, keyboards were built for a while with the comforting click of the typewriter, despite no longer having mechanical keys that struck the paper as it rolled by on old machines.  It made computer keyboards feel right.

Many things were done for nostalgic comfort, these days.  The idea of school as a place where the youth go to be educated was, itself, anachronistic.  Schools had merged and merged and merged again, growing larger and more impersonal over the years.  Without the backing of industry, the schools would collapse.  Still, people felt like they needed school - almost symbolically - even though the youth could just as easily be taught lessons at home. But people felt comfortable with their offspring "going to school" even if they could not put their finger on why.  Corporations could better control the lesson plans in a centralized school, too, and it provided a kind of fabric to society where, say, DynaCorp developed and benefitted from a certain culture supported by its approved educational system. In a generation or two, the concept of school might disappear from the culture except for DynaCorp's needs.

When public "moving" walkways were first tested, those traversing them would look down at the glow around their feet and inevitably fall, disoriented.  By adding holographic technology, some even reproduced the sound of footfalls, of a sidewalk passing beneath your feet, people naturally fell into their normal rhythms and, voila! the era of public transit changed forever.  You could "walk" to school at a sprinter's pace just by leaning forward as if to run.

Nick appeared to float upwards on footprints of neon blue to the 33rd floor.  He moved into the hallway and leaned forward and sailed toward his apartment.

From the rather pedestrian looking hallway - It looked like any old fashioned luxury hotel hallway might look except there were fewer doors along it. - Nick touched his door and it vanished.  He stepped inside and it reappeared behind him and his mother got a Ping at work that her son was home.

The place was a large open living space with a panorama view of the L.A. heat outside, 104 today- fairly cool with the ocean breeze- and the bay.  Nick touched the wall with one finger and the window changed its tint, dimming the outside world.  He flopped on a sofa, kicking off his shoes.

Lying there, the dark haired, dark eyed boy was puzzled.  He'd done something wrong in the history lesson today and it didn't work out.  Nick had never lost a battle re-enactment in history or modern warfare class.  Never.  And he thought he had repeated all of the steps that the South California Police had carried out in the actual civil war.  The result should have been a resounding victory, just as had happened 50 years ago.

But something hadn't worked out.  First there was this troubling uprising in Encino. Though a small and unexpected setback, it prevented SCP from sealing off dissident fighters and ceded control of key water resources.  A series of coordinated but small skirmishes followed that forced him to pull out of the area as the dissidents consolidated control and a well defended battle front emerged.

Nick had, during history class, lost all of Southern California.  Being one of the top kids in his cohort in military science, he was not used to failure.

He'd been green flagged at age 12 for the military section of DynaCorp, where both his parents held high positions, his mother in systems management and his father in aerospace at the Space Tower, so his path was set.  But this failure today unsettled him.  Perhaps Kaira would have an opinion.

Kaira Casteel emerged through the wall across the room beyond Nick's stocking feet which protruded off the end of the sofa.  Tall and slender with black, unadorned hair, she was the picture of efficiency.  She wore an expensive black skirt and suit jacket set of wool and silk with a blouse of white cotton beneath.  A kind of clothing you couldn't wear outside but that was comfortable, even elegant, in a climate controlled living/work space.  The lines were simple, straight, efficient.

"The staff will have dinner up soon," she said, but Nick was inside his own head, staring up at the ceiling.

Kaira had her own difficulties today unkinking a balky supply chain from the DynaCorp farms to the city.  Produce flowed well from farms in Hawaii to the Pacific tower, but here, in SoCal, up to a quarter of the company's best genetically modified crops could vanish along the supply chain into the black market.

The Mestizos who operated the farms took a certain cut as per custom.  The problem there was the sale of the GMOs to outsiders.  DynaCorp was jealous to keep its bioengineering in-house and using well-paid local bosses could only control so much trading.  And security resources were spread thin already.  So a certain amount of loss was considered overhead, the cost of doing business.

But other factors included delivery thefts and even hostile raids from the EarthFirsters to the north.  There was a pretty heavy concentration of bio-activists in the NoCal Province and the local authorities there, if they weren't directly supportive, turned a blind eye.  But the radicals didn't even want the food.  They wanted to destroy the food, believing it contaminated the environment and even subtly changed those who ate it.

The end result of this was most readily felt in shortages in the city and, sometimes, a lack of diversity at dinner time.

A soft tone sounded and a Latina servant entered the suite with a large tray that she quietly put on a table and withdrew.

Nick joined Kaira at the table as they quietly took their plates and utensils from the tray.  Kaira studied Nick.

"What's on your mind?"

Nick didn't want to disappoint Kaira with a poor mark in school.  Moreover, Nick didn't want to go over his own failing.  It was not something he was comfortble with.  Success always came second nature to him.

"I messed up a battle plan today," he'd decided to tell her.  "It didn't make sense.  I don't know what I did wrong."

Kaira tapped the table top and flicked through a couple screens.  Nick uncovered some baked chicken product, boneless, skinless, but tasty and juicy, along with some green beans, some mashed potato product and gravy.  Some soy milk.

"Tell me about it.  You know you have to do your best every time," Kaira said matter of factly.

"I was doing the SoCal Civil War in a history module and I covered Francis' every step.  But it didn't work," Nick's brow furrowed and he spit out, "I missed something.  Chaves surprised me."

"You know the material?" asked Kaira.

"Back of my hand," Nick nodded.

"Have an off day?"

"No!" snapped Nick.

Kaira had had an off day herself and decided to back off.

"Well, Nick, sometimes you can get a glitch in a program and it doesn't act right.  Happens sometimes to me and it can show up in strange outcomes."

The history programs had always been consistent and Nick had never failed to achieve his objectives.  Kaira was saying there was some rare error in the program and Nick couldn't think of anything better.

"I don't see any bad marks today," said Kaira, looking over Nick's data stream which flowed from LA #17 to the surface of the dinner table.  Nick brightened.  There had to be a mistake, then.  It wasn't his fault.

"Glitch in the program," Nick mumbled.

"Looks that way.  They crop up.  Software gets corrupted.  Servers need replaced."  And she saw Nick relaxing about it, which suited her just fine.  She'd had her own problems today.

"Thanks, Kaira," said Nick to his mother.

"Just a glitch in the system, Nick," said Kaira to her son.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Is Rachel Maddow a Journalist?

 Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

The Mountain is concerned with the quality of information in our public discourse.  So much so that I think I'm going to go on a week-long news fast and then reintroduce news content slowly into my system and I'll report back to you, dear reader, about the results.

The methodology will be a week long total blackout of broadcast news.  Any information I get will come from the local papers.

Then, I'll begin with broadcast news by recording and studying the content of a given program for a week.  For instance, CBS Evening News will probably be where I start and I'll endeavor to identify the kinds of stories presented and whether or not they're representative of what's going on in the world.  Then I'll examine the content of the stories to identify whether or not they reflect quality journalism.

Quality journalism.  You can find it all over the place.  There is lots to choose from.  The only problem I see is that the line of authoritative, factual and contextual news has been so successfully blurred in our media today.  For a person who wants truly to be informed you have to have a pretty keen bullshit detector.  If you are not good at identifying solid reporting, you are susceptible to being misinformed or, worse, propagandized.

The issues that rule the day are many and how these issues fit into your world depend on how well you read the news.

I am a professional journalist, but what I do in this space is not necessarily journalism.  What I write for the local radio station is pure journalism.  What I used to write for The Progress in Clearfield or for The Courier-Express in DuBois, Pa. was pure journalism.  I would go and see an event and dig to expose various angles on the story and tell you about it.  I was trained in journalism, a profession which demands the highest standards of ethical, truthful behavior.

Those who want to damage the reputation of the profession, I think, use terms like "the liberal media" or the "lame-stream media."  People on the Fox network need you to distrust what you read so their very biased message can sink in.  The Mountain says, if you are among the millions of viewers of Fox News, you are the victim of one of the most successful propagandist ventures in human history.

To inoculate!  Thus, the nominees for best tools in your media tool-kit are:

1) Authoritiativeness - How many sources are included in the story you are considering?  Of those sources, how many have a vested interest in the issue?  Are those sources being represented accurately?

2) Factuality - This is truthfulness.  Facts are facts.  This thing happened.  That thing happened.  As a reporter, I cannot make up facts.

3) Context - This is giving the wide view of a story.  Giving the story meaning within the wider world.  Without context, something can be quoted in such a way as to make it false.  Just check any political advertisement.  Well informed people need adequate context.

A Journalist writes in the space of these three tools, laying out as accurately as possible what he has found.  A Journalist, having seen the story first hand, may have his own opinion of it, but is not allowed to say, "I think..."

Looking down the barrel of wrong-headed Authoritativeness, you might like to tune into, say, Meet the Press on a Sunday morning.  What do you normally get there?  Guys from foundations who have a vested interest in the political discussion being well perceived from their viewpoint.  That is: someone is making money if this viewpoint prevails.  Making money doesn't, in and of itself, make a view-point a bad view-point, it's just that the educated news consumer needs to recognize profit as a motive.

When looking at Factuality, you have to consider whether or not the premise of the story is true.  Premise: IS the government going to force you to buy health insurance?  Context: IF SO, how does that affect you?  A reporter provides authoritativeness by fleshing out as many reasonable viewpoints on the issue as possible.  Not just one.  And not just from one think-tank.  Many.  And by reading the deep reporting you can get the big picture and use the news instead of the news using you.

Pick any premise:  IS global warming real?  IS the deficit going up?  IS there really a war on Christmas?  IS social security going bankrupt?  IS the government coming to take my gun?  By reading more, you can get more accurate information to use in a meaningful way.

Beware when a news source (and I hear O'Reilly do this all the time) says, "Some people say..."  What Bill, who stresses context over authoritativeness and factuality, is saying is "I Opine" or "I think" or - more likely - "Rupert Murdoch thinks;" something a real journalist does not do.  The Factor isn't telling you who "some people" are before stating the fact.  The fact, in news terms, is unattributed and just left standing as if it is so.  This alone takes you from the sphere of journalism into the sphere of opinion.  The best opinions, though, and this is a vanishing aspect of our media, ARE authoritative, factual and contextual.

The other thing that's a dead giveaway when you're looking for bias are color words.  These are words that provoke passion.  "Pinhead," if you are listening to the EIB network on the AM dial.  If you hear someone described as "Hitler" or a "fascist" or a "slut" or a "socialist" outside the legitimate uses of the words themselves, you are listening to a biased source.

One of the most niggling color words I've heard in recent years is the conservative use of the word "democrat" where the term used to be "democratic."  Someone somewhere decided to call the other party the "democrat party."  This turned the actual name of something good into a slur, in my view.  "Democratic" sounds good.  But when you say "The democrat party" it takes on a color that "the democratic party" does not.  The sound is more cuctive and, you could argue, less pleasant.  I would consider the use of that word in that way to be a color word that only a partisan would use.  The AP Stylebook, in fact,  does not sanction the usage of the phrase "democrat party."  So, the media source that is using the term is violating the accepted AP style that real journalists use.

So.  Is Rachel Maddow a Journalist?  In one of my prior posts (scroll down, Dec. 19) a discussion of "Electioneering" was hijacked by discussion of Ms. Maddow instead of the issue I was focusing on, which was election fraud.  But I asked my wife, the former executive editor of the daily local newspaper, that question.  Is Rachel Maddow a Journalist?

"Well.  She couldn't do the evening news," was her reply.

Is she factual?  Yes.
Does she provide sources?  Yes.
Does she provide context?  Yes.

But here's the rub.  She acknowledges a liberal worldview.  And she does advocate for some things, gay rights being chief among them.  But she does so fairly.  I have seen Maddow have on her show numerous sources she disagrees with on substance and yet treat the guest fairly and allow the guest to delineate their viewpoints. 

But is she getting the facts right?  I think she is.  I think she is being truthful.  Is she providing objective sources?  I think far more so than O'Reilly, for instance.  And is she providing a larger contextual frame for the story?  I think in her opening 15 minute segment especially, she is.

Being an honest journalist does not mean bringing on a liar to balance something that is true.  Part of the journalist's job is to be a bullshit detector or at least to expose bullshit.

So does Rachel Maddow = Bill O'Reilly?  No.  Rachel Maddow is > Bill O'Reilly on the journalistic scale.  Does Rachel Maddow = Journalist?  I think so.  But, like Ms. Mountain says, she can't do the evening news.

And that's where I'm going to start this coming Monday.  The CBS Evening News.  I've not watched CBS seemingly in the entire internet age.  Ever since the network's signature show, 60 Minutes, gave up doing the hard reporting that they built their credibility on in favor of puff pieces about football players, I haven't been able to stomach CBS' idea of news.  Ever since they fired a fine journalist, Dan Rather, and replaced him with News-Model Katie Couric over a story that was provably true, the one about George W. Bush's record of service in the U.S. military, I've not been able to stomach CBS news.

Maybe, by this coming Monday, with a week away from broadcast news, I'll feel better about things.  Maybe my health will improve.  What if I never come back and zoom off into a starry sky of bliss?  I mean, what do you really get from the news anyway?  Violence.  That's about the size of it.

If you would like to try a site that allows you to rate the news for fairness, I have been a member since the launch of a website called NewsTrust.  The site attempts to give users like you and me the ability to critically analyze stories in the media by using an online tool that identifies fairness and bias.  It's an awesome site.  You can even post stories you'd like to have considered by the body of News Trust.  Try it out this week and when we come back to talk about media next week, maybe you'll feel better too.

Here's the link: http://newstrust.net/ .  And until tomorrow, enjoy!

Shawn K. Inlow
Osceola Mills, Pa.




Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Golden Globes

 Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

If you are to believe the Hollywood Foreign Press, which hosted its 70th Golden Globe Awards last night on teevee, you should be watching the Showtime series, "Homeland," since it won best teevee drama, best actor (Damian Lewis) and best actress (Claire Danes) last night.

On the big screen you should be rushing out to see "Les Miserables," which won in the musical/comedy category for best picture, best actor (Hugh Jackman) and best supporting actress (Anne Hathaway) and you should not have missed "Argo," which surprised with wins for best (drama) picture and for its director, Ben Affleck.

The HBO movie "Game Change," about the selection of Sarah Palin and her 2008 run for the white house with John McCain, also picked up three globes in the TV movie or mini-series category:  for best film, best supporting actor (Ed Harris) and best actress (Julianne Moore).  Moore, acknowledged host Tina Fey and CBS News anchor Katie Couric, in her remarks.  Fey famously pilloried Palin in skits on Saturday Night Live and Couric nearly demolished the candidate with soft toss questions in a 2008 CBS interview.

Ms. Fey and Amy Poehler were very good as hosts and, as a host should, made for a comfortable and funny evening's proceedings.  The only other real highlight - outside the weirdly trippy Target commercials which I kind of liked - was the heart-felt acceptance speech by Jodie Foster when she was feted for the Cecil B. DeMille Award.




Vault has seen most of the films at hand here and have to say that the films that offer the most were the oddballs this season.  Vault loved "Life of Pi" and the quirky "Moonrise Kingdom."  Still the Globes did not even mention my clear pick for best film of the year, the mythic and beautiful "Beasts of the Southern Wild."

Vault will also yield to all the screaming about the newest incarnation of "Les Miserables."  One reader, Gayle from Clearfield, calls it "The opera of our times."  And she's right.  This one had me fair and square wiping at the corners of my eyes no less than four times.  Hathaway as Fantine has a career making performance in a nutshell with her bravura "I Dreamed a Dream," and you'll never look at Hugh Jackman the same again.  Have to say, though, that my favorite song in the film is the revolutionary theme "Red and Black."

Daniel Day Lewis, of course, won best (drama) actor for his towering performance in "Lincoln," which otherwise got shut out.  And don't say we didn't warn you that DDL is on an unstoppable freight train to Oscar gold with his rare performance.

I guess the only other thing of note by way of winners and losers was that the globes thought highly of the HBO comedy series, "Girls," which won for best teevee comedy and its writer and star, Lena Dunham, also won for best actress in the category.

Lastly, Vault would like to remind you, dear reader, that there are many films we miss in the domestic market every year of the highest quality and if you really want to try for something good and outside your normal box try any of these globe nominees for best foreign film:

Amour (Austria) - The 2012 winner of the Golden Palme at Cannes (read: best film on earth this year) has also been nominated for five Oscars.  The film deals with an elderly couple whose love is tested when the man has to become a care-giver for his wife.

A Royal Affair (Denmark) - An 18th century historical drama about the cuckolded King Christian IV and how the Queen's affair transforms the country.

The Intouchables (France) - Based on the true story of an affluent quadriplegic who hires a young Parisian petty criminal to be his caregiver, forming an unexpected life transforming bond.

Kon-Tiki (Norway) - Explorer Thor Heyerdal navigates a fragile balsa raft on a perilous trip thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean.

Rust and Bone (France) - A faded boxer meets a woman who trains whales at a water park.  After a tragic accident, their relationship takes an unexpected turn.

* ***************************** *
HOUSEKEEPING:  Many readers have noted that the comment section below has not been functioning.  I've looked into the matter and think I've got that fixed, so please feel free to try the comments below and leave your thoughts on the latest films.  I only ask that you use your real name, or at least initials, and your home town with your comment. 

Thanks for reading the Voice of the Mountain.  Please feel free to pass the link on to others and, until tomorrow, enjoy!

Shawn Inlow
Osceola Mills, Pa.








Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Photos: Warning Signs!

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

It is Friday, and that means it is time for a photo shoot.  I was encouraged to do more photography for you since the response to my "Lawn Furniture" (scroll down to Jan.  4) was very kind, to say the least.

Today's photos contemplate warning signs.  I am always struck by the way signs constantly give us information and usually it's information for the good.  Normally they warn against dangers but sometimes they warn us in a more sublime way.  Let's have a look.



This sign was found on the door of a Panera Bread in Pittsburgh.  That for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there is surveillance "on duty."

This was the sign that welcomed you to the Panera, where you can get a good soup and sandwich...under surveillance.

The need for surveillance is apparent given the way I go at tomato soup and a grilled cheese.





This sign warns you about church.

This is a very forward thinking sign, I think.  Given the different kinds of ways that the good word can be interpreted by us fallible humans, you need to be careful around your places of worship.

The Mountain will say this:  The words in red are hard to misinterpret.


This guy here warns that "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires."

The only reason that this sign really bothered me was because Smokey Bear is wearing a BURGLAR'S MASK!!!   No.  Okay.  It's something more strange than that.  It is a Smokey Bear with a Racoon head.

I vacation on the Island of Dr. Moreau, if you're wondering.

But Smokey Racoon said the fire danger was nonexistent that day, so I felt much better.





One day I was on a walk around my hometown and noticed this (left) sign.  It warned of fire trucks.    And it was a good thing because it wasn't sixty seconds later that THIS (right) happened right in front of me.  I had been given advance notice of fire trucks.

I was in a medical facility in Pittsburgh and  on the way out was this green door with this sign on it.  And I could not keep myself from wondering... "WHY?"  Why must that door be kept closed at all times?  What is behind the green door?  Why have a door if it must be kept closed at all times?  Why not just have a wall?

Since you're wondering, I did try the door.  It was locked.  Mystery unsolved.


Here was another sign that could be either a helpful direction or a warning.  It was a sign on a door inside a residence in Philadelphia.

What makes this sign more grave than it appears is that it is the basement door of the residence where Edgar Allen Poe probably wrote "The Tell-Tale Heart."

And there was something in me that balked at going under the floorboards in that particular residence.  Have to say, though, that Poe's basement... Very cool.  Very cool.  Very "Cask of Amontillado," if you follow me.

There was no sign on how to get out.








Now here's an interesting thought.  Here' s a sign that warns there is no way out.  The road is a cul-de-sac, so you might as well just turn around buddy.  This means you.  Cause... No way out.  Don't even think about it.  Waste of your time.

Perhaps there are no shopping malls on that road.

Perhaps this particular sign is commenting on the lonely orange extension cord that is hanging over the top of it.  There is, quite literally, no outlet. 

I was powerless to help.

They tell me I have no outlet.  Just this blog.

You're welcome.





 Here is a helpful instructive sign in the New York City subway.  Across from the platform, across the tracks (I always wondered which rail was the famous "third rail."  I mean, there are three of them and there was no warning sign about which of the three rails was the third one.), there is a shallow recess in the wall.

Why it is there, I cannot fathom a guess.  But, since it is there, it must call out for some idiot to jump down from the subway platform, dance across the three potentially deadly rails and stand in that recess there to see whether or not there is enough room to stand there when the train comes.

Warning signs, I guess, prevent the stupid from killing themselves.  So I have to wonder at whether we need them at all.  Probably to prevent the stupid from killing others by accident.


In Chicago, Illinois, they have signs that warn you in the park about speed humps.   I have never heard it called that, but there you have it.                                                                                                                                                                           In my own very poor mind, I get unsavory images of, you know, a quickie.  Or or the Black Eyed Peas video for the song "My Humps."  So you wanna proceed with caution when you see this warning sign.


This sign on the left warns of Tetris.

The sign on the right informs visitors to the Ground Zero Memorial in New York City of the things you can't bring in there.

Good to know ahead of the screening process ahead.













The small, lonely sign to the right informs me that I ought to slow down.  It warns me to slow down.

I think this is a good idea.  Maybe the problem with people is they are always going too fast.  I need to chill and go fishing for a while or something.  I need to relax.  I would love to see a warning sign that said, "relax."

My Dad, the week before he died, told me that I had better stop and smell the roses.  Maybe my old man put this sign in my path for a reason.





And, finally, to close out our Friday post and send you on a weekend, my very favorite sign-post in this life-time so far.  The pictured welcome sign is posted outside the Curtis Park Athletic Complex where our District Champion Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties soccer team plays our home games and where our amazing Lady Mountie Softball girls routinely kick booty and take names.    There oughtta be a warning sign about THAT.

But no, this sign kindly welcomes visitors and then screams at them the fifteen enumerated things that are expressly prohibited and you better not mess because the "rules will be enforced" and you are warned that the area is under surveillance.  Probably by the same guy who's watching the Panera down in Pittsburgh.

So, until next week, have a great weekend and thank you for checking out the Voice of the Mountain.
As a parting gift, a little poem that I stole from an old Johnny Hart "B.C." strip.

"Through winding hills
And steep inclines
Keep your eyes on the road
And not on the signs."


Shawn Inlow
Osceola Mills, Pa.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Poetry Corner: Dick Cheney

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

Good Afternoon.  Today's poetry corner was inspired by my learning that former Vice President Dick Cheney had received a hart transplant.  My first thought was, "Who was the poor bastard who had to die so that that guy could continue living?  And is that guy rolling over in his grave right now?"

You see, I have disagreed with so many things this man has done that I perceive him as an evil man.  That's my perception.  And I sure as hell wouldn't be an organ donor if it was going to keep that guy alive.  So, I know, that's not very Christian of me.  And I wanted - I really wanted - to write a poem called "Change of Heart" that would have imagined how a good man's heart not only kept Dick Cheney alive, but changed the man for the better, infecting him with love.  I imagined what good a man like him might do if he, in an Ebenezer Scrooge-like epiphany, became a force for good in our world.  I wanted to write that poem.  But I couldn't.
 

Dick Cheney

I am Evil Incarnate.
And I cannot die.
I have mischief to make.
I have more fish to fry.

My name is Dick Cheny.  Even though I grow old,
I've got to live on 'cause God won't take my soul.

My heart is a black thing
That's shriveled and dead
From the things that I've done,
All these thoughts in my head.
 
I've savaged the land.
I've sent nations to war.
Killed thousands and thousands
To make more.  To make more.

My name is Dick Cheney and Gold's what I need.
I'm mad with the power.  Possessed by the greed.

My body grows old
And I can't take it with me.
When one part wears out
Then my doctors assist me.

They find a young man
Who is ready to die.
Then they pay for his heart
While his kids say goodbye.

Then they bring it to me
While they lay him to rest
So a good heart can beat
In an awful man's chest.

My name is Dick Cheny.  King Maker.  War-Monger.
I can't take it with me, so I've got to live longer. 

So a good man has died
That a villain might live.
Begotten, his heart was
The least he could give.

If he knew his donation
Would save such a man,
I wonder if he'd
Reconsider his plan.

And the Frankenstein Monster
Walks the earth to this day
While his literal saviour
Just rolls in his grave.

                     My name is Dick Cheney.  Even though I grow old,
                           I've got to live on.  Jesus won't take my soul.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fiction: "Solid" - Chapter 1

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

NOTE:  Today, I'm featuring the first chapter of a story I have yet to complete.  The story is called "Solid" and it takes place in the near future and will take you to several places across a climate-changed world.  From the tribal American desert to a very changed Los Angeles to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to near and deep space.

I'm not completely sure where the story is going, but I'm vetting the story with you, dear reader, and The Voice of the Mountain is where I aim to test run the story in a serialized format.  Please enjoy the story and feel free to offer your feedback along the way in the comment section.  Be critical if you like.  Ask questions.  Point out weaknesses.  Lord knows I have limited experience in L.A. outside of narrowly escaping a gang of Latinos in a parking lot once.  So I'm very limited on the subject of Los Angeles.  In the coming weeks, I hope the story takes shape and becomes a feature you enjoy.

I need art for the piece and I have many friends and family who are capable.  If the story ever sells, I'd hope the art would sell with it.  Josh is already working on some images.  But if my friends Doug or Ben are interested, I would love to table the artwork right with each chapter.  For now, dear reader, you have to use your imagination and together let's see where this story takes us.

Solid

Chapter 1: Chappel

 
Chappel Panic walked out of the L.A. marshes on her way to school.  She always cut through a corner of the swamps every gray morning.  The green and the wet gave comfort to her even while most would find the place somewhere between disgusting and dangerous.  The pathways here were made by her feet or those of some of the larger animals.

The bile of the city seeped into the vast marsh and the marsh was changed by it even while the city was transformed by the marsh.

The path she walked was beaten down from her twice a day walking.  The tall grasses and the black waters were receeding and the oddfrogs were getting out of her way even as she padded along in her red sneakers toward a kind of education.

The marsh extended for miles in a great estuarial square, bound on each side by the hard lines of the city, etched on the horizon like faint mountain ranges.  Besides Chappel, the only human intruders on the space were L.A. Department of Water hydrogeologists which she observed from time to time - studying them  as she might any species in her swamp - quietly and from a safe distance.  They wore protective clothing and left monitoring devices.

Chappel, by contrast, wore only her schoolgirl clothes; a non-descript t-shirt and pants, both made of cylex, a breathable kind of fabric that wore a bit like old-fashioned paper - very light, but one rustled slightly when one walked.  Her pants were rolled up to the knee against the travails of the marsh and exposed the slight white spindles that were her legs.

Now churning uphill, Chappel rose to a dry patch of earth and was in sight of a city walkway.  In short order she stepped onto the moving sidewalk and was being whisked along to her destination.  At the first junction, the walk slowed and Chappel danced onto another walkway and was soon speeding off in another direction.  The walkway began to arch upwards like a rollercoaster above the tangle of the city below and Chappel, impetuous and impatient, began to run.

She felt superhuman as she sprinted along the walkway and the air whipped against her face, her hazel eyes squinting above her wide grin.

A red safety sign flitted by, "No Running," in the now enclosed walkway.  The air constricted and she felt a draft from behind.  At the crest, her speed made her stomach sink as she was suddenly airborne briefly as the walkway leveled and sank gently away.  Her flying red hair grazed the translucent ceiling and her red sneakers ran on nothing but air.  It was like flying.

She landed taking big, leaping steps, to avoid sprawling on her face and coasted to a cool and graceful stop where another junction came into view.

Other children were on this footpath.  Had they been on the path from the marshes, she might have bowled them all over.

These new commuters were dressed much like Chappel with the exception of the sensible shoes.  These plain shoes were light and comfortable and would outlast her own but for the incidents and accidents of running and stomping around in a swamp.  She looked at the grey things on the feet of a kid just ahead.  Those shoes wouldn't last a day in her world.

A boy standing more or less beside Chappel stepped away and a little ahead of the tousled wild thing with the red hair and shoes.  He was clean and dry and neatly groomed and she smelled of the sweat glistening on her brow and faintly of the earth that caked her shoes and spattered her uncouthly exposed legs.

Chappel felt this slight as she felt all such expressions of prejudice.  She didn't know whether the slight, good looking boy was showing disdain or shock.  Whatever, Chappel thought, the Nancy-boy better keep his lip shut or she'd flatten him.  That's what Uncle Marty called the kids who were being set up for government jobs.  Marty always said in the old days softies like that couldn't even step on the playground.

The walkways merged and merged again until Chappel was amid a throng of children on their way to L.A. Public #17.  She tip-toed off the walkway to a large plaza which channeled students like spectators into a stadium.

Passing through turnstiles, Chappel knew she was being scanned and she closed her eyes.  The others seemed either to not care or not know that their entire bodies were being searched and identified.  Both the idea of being searched and of being present and accounted for at school dimly bothered Chappel.  She had always vowed they would never look in her eyes.  Uncle Marty, always full of truisms, said the eyes were the window to the soul.  So Chappel didn't mind so much them knowing her identity as much as them knowing who she was.

School #17 was a massive thing built on the bones of the old school.  Chappel knew only one teacher and few classmates.  The only adults, besides Mr. Hurtado, that appeared were maintenance people.

The flood of children moved down wide halls past an immense section of administrative offices and into the well of a giant auditorium.  Each student filterd to the seat with their corresponding number.  Each seat was a comfortable affair with a pull down screen upon which interactive lessons played out.

At the dais in the center front of the auditorium stood Hurtado.  He was a thin, well dressed, Latino man and he was the only teacher in a classroom of 12,000.

The youngest students sat closest to the dais.   The oldest sat furthest away and matriculated out the top of the auditorium.  Just over half way up, Hurtado saw the familiar bouncing ball of red hair on her way to her seat.

He entered her number on a keypad and her biographical information came onto the screen.  Looking down as he loaded the day's history lessons he noted how she stood out in the crowd.  She even walked differently than the others, in a kind of baroque, shifting way that looked aimless, haphazard.  And that color of red hair was not one available in gene labs.  Indeed, he thought it impossible even in nature.

She was a born.  One of the children who were conceived and born the old fashioned way with all the attendant risks.  There were many of them in society and Hurtado could look around the auditorium and select them easily enough by sight.  They were a significant minority, though, and this one, Hurtado thought, was special.

He liked the way she attacked her lessons.  In the history module where students played out battles in the Spanish Civil War from different perspectives, she chose not only Governor Francis' role, but also that of the famed local rebel, Chaves.  It was clear that young Ms. Panic pushed and pulled at the lesson plan and received the lesson like a prize-fighter.

The school would have a detailed list of borns and certain administrators made their living at keeping keen track of their progress.  Hurtado made notes on Chappel, too, and kept them to himself.

Borns, statistically, tended to grow into dissidents.  They were agitators who stubbornly persisted in asking nagging questions of governments and officials.  Officially, they were free persons in a free society.  Unofficially, they were red-flagged and they needed to be watched.  Borns sometimes became terrorists at about the same time their questions became too inconvenient.

Chappel Panic, Hurtado thought, had no idea how difficult a path her life would be.

Hurtado knew the difficulty first hand.  He had been what used to be called an illegal immigrant in a country his forebears had once called home, but his impeccable paperwork and diction made him a U.S. born, an educator.

He was the perfect company man.  He knew people even in an age where few met in person and fewer looked you in the eye.  He could read a bureaucrat even on the screen in a teleconference.  Even in the syntax of a memorandum.  Hurtado could see which way the wind blew - officially and unofficially.  He seemed always to know the truth and then an extra measure of the truth.

It was this set of skills that insured Hurtado and ensured he would be the last teacher standing at L.A. #17.  He remembered his farewells ten years ago with Stan Polonko.

Stan was senior to Ed and the district had been downsizing again.  The teachers' contract called for another increase and the district could only pay one teacher over the next three year term.  One of them had to go.

The two stood leaning against their cars in the teachers' lot; a lot with only ten spaces.

"I don't know how you do it, Ed.  Keeping up with all the new tech and making sense of all the stats they need.  Its just too much."

Hurtado smiled.  "It's not about absorbing things.  It's more like knowing what to filter out," said Hurtado.  "And there's a lot of nonsense.  Most of it is nonsense."

Stan laughed, leaning on the fender of his car.  Ed knew that the secret to staying with the system was not being interested in the details of the teaching, but in the way that the data flowed.  Programs were set for education and they were administered and his job was merely loading the approved information and then simply getting out of the way of the students' outflow of data.

The administration would make whatever meaningful statistics out of the information that they deemed necessary.  Hurtado, knowing how the data flowed and to where, was the one instructor School 17 could not do without.  He understood it.  Not just where the information went, but why.

This was knowledge that made him essential.  More essential than Stan, anyway.  And it was only the safest of instructors - those who were not inquisitive, those who didn't want to be too involved, who could be trusted anywhere near that kind of data-flow.  This, Ed knew, could be translated into power or ruin.  The thing was to remain indifferent.

For students, the way they interacted with the educational code meant they would go to work in menial jobs, tech jobs, infrastructure jobs, military jobs, aerospace fields, and on and on.

Students like Chappel, those who were born, had no chance at more than a life on the fringes.  She was genetically doomed to failings of all kinds.  Chappel could be defective in the head or heart.  She might up and croak of an embolism or simply go buggy.  Statistically this was all true.  It was never said.  But it was true.  True things are always the quiet things.

Still, Chappel was a rare intellect.  It would get her nowhere but in trouble one day, but, to Hurtado, this was a data-stream to behold.    

In the history sections, she role played the great U.S. military leaders of the past as well as their enemies.  She had won World War II for both the Axis and the Allies.  She had understood the Battle of L.A. so deeply that she could inhabit governor or rebel as the lesson plan changed with equal aplomb.  In fact, her successful trials in Chaves' shoes had to have attracted attention somewhere.

It wasn't that she was a military genius.  It was more, Hurtado thought, that she understood people.  People, genetically groomed or not, all ticked in basically the same way.  It was a truth Ed Hurtado appreciated.

In today's history lesson, he'd locked two students, unbeknownst to each other, on either end of the Southern California, or "Spanish," Civil War.  Chappel Panic was leading the rebellion. 

 

NEXT week, well discover a second character, Nick Casteel.  Nick is a genetically modified child who is being groomed for military service and is troubled by an unexpected turn in his results in school.  We'll follow Nick home and meet his mother and begin to look into a different aspect of Los Angeles some 50 years in the future.

I chose the name "Casteel" having stolen it from my chiropractor, Mark Casteel, who has offices in Philipsburg and State College.  I like the name for this character because it conveys strength, even rigidity or a lack of flexibility, in the way cast steel might be very strong but not very flexible.  This will be a quality of the character and it will be set in opposition to the character of Chappel.  Also, I like the name Casteel because it sets up a plot surprise that I have coming down the road.  We'll see how that plays out.

 Until next time.  Enjoy!

   

- Shawn Inlow / Osceola Mills, Pa.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Movies x 5

Voice of the Mountain

by Shawn K. Inlow

Video Vault has always been about finding that little movie you've missed.  But today we're going big and going small at the same time by talking about some Oscar hopefuls as well as one small film that you will likely never hear of that just blew me away.

We'll start with the big awesome films and work our way down to the smaller awesome films.

Vault thinks the best picture of the year has to be the indie wonder "Beasts of the Southern Wild."  Starring nobody you've ever heard of and directed by first time writer-director Ben Zeitlin, Beasts, and everyone connected with it, is going places.


Zeitlin creates a kind of fable world, called "The Bathtub," a kind of submerged jungle bayou shanty-town whose very existence is threatened by rising sea-levels.  In this closed-off, nearly tribal, community lives Hushpuppy with her dying father.  Hushpuppy is played by this tower of awesomeness, the then 5 year old Quvenzhane Wallis.  So special is this child actor's debut that she must be nominated for best actress.


While we're talking about magical films, "Life of Pi" comes in a close second for Vault this year. Filmed in a sumptuous 3D, director Ang Lee gets even more fable-ous in this story about an Indian boy trapped in a life-boat with a Zebra, Orangutan, Hyena and a Bengal Tiger.

The story is exotic and strange and some of the individual shots in this picture are absolute stunners.  But what Vault was left with was a beautiful parable about the nature of faith.  You are presented with an unbelievable story and then are asked whether or not you can believe it.  The great teachers in the world have taught in parable.


In taking in "Lincoln," Vault felt a bit like I was being forced to do my history homework.  The film is masterful in many ways, especially in the way it distills a story about Honest Abe into the fight over the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

If a single actor can make a film, Daniel Day-Lewis delivers this baby in the kind of performance you'll see maybe two or three times in your entire life.  This is the closest thing to a lock for the Best Actor Oscar I've ever seen.  You can bet your house on this.  And it is this performance that makes "Lincoln" a must see.


Day-Lewis is backed by an amazing cast including the scene-thief Tommy Lee Jones as Senator Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania.  And the film has the full weight and might of director Steven Spielberg behind it, so it'll probably win more awards than it actually deserves.  And it deserves more than a few.


Now, I'd like to come away from all this Oscar talk and talk about two films that I just plain liked, "Promised Land" and "Surviving Progress."

I don't know whether I liked "Promised Land" so much because I agree with its message against the natural gas industry or because it was just a pretty good film.  I so worry that the "fracking" boom in Pennsylvania is going to ruin our water supplies and leave us with nothing.  If your water is polluted, your community is done.

So I was drawn in by the story that finds Matt Damon and Frances McDormond trying to sell a rural Pennsylvania town on natural gas leases while an environmentalist, played by John Krasinski (of "The Office" fame),  tries to inform the locals of the dangers of the gas boom.


I mean, I identified.  I've been walking along old dirt roads on Rockton Mountain that were beaten down and made wider by the gas rigs going in.  These once beautiful country lanes that now have posted speed limit signs.  I mean, I've stared at those drilling crews from Texas and Oklahoma and West Virginia as they drove by me and I fought back the urge to grab them by the throat and rip them outta their big trucks.  The Mountain, you see, is being raped again.

But allow me to choke back my rage and tell you that the film does a great job capturing the rural Pa. vibe.  I mean, the look of this film could be Main Street in Coalport or any other little town around here.  I just found the film to be really about us and so I liked it a lot.  You should go and see it.


And lastly, here's a little documentary that I must have read about once and never got around to plucking out of my Netflix queue but it may turn out to be one of the most important films I've seen in years.  Perhaps you will agree.

"Surviving Progress" is a film that tackles some of the anxieties that we wrestle with here on the blog.  It features some of the great thinkers of our time such as Steven Hawking and Jane Goodall among many others and  it asks a simple question:  Is mankind's rapid technological and cultural progress really a trap?


The film, in a very real way, lays out its thesis in broad strokes.  What is progress?  What is the function of economy and are the ways we practice economics in need of a serious rethinking?

Vault was blown back so often by so many of the great minds featured in this film that I can scarcely highlight much of it to you.  Still, I will leave you with this quote from Steven Hawking:

"We are entering an increasingly dangerous period of our history.  Our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past, but I'm an optimist.  If we are the only intelligent beings in the galaxy, we should make sure we survive and continue.  If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe.  We have made remarkable progress in the last 100 years.  Our only chance of long term survival is not to remain on planet earth but to spread out into space."

Until Next Time!  Enjoy.

Shawn Inlow
Osceola Mills, Pa.

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