Sunday, July 30, 2006

How Superman defeated the KKK

I just heard a really cool story yesterday. The story is apparently true. I'm sure you could check the internet for more details but it sounds good.

The story was about a white American liberal activist in America in the 1940s. His name was Stetson Kennedy. He was an active anti-racism campaigner. In the '40s the Klu Klux Klan were becoming more active in the USA. Kennedy decided to infiltrate the organisation and try to sabotage them.

He managed to join up under a fake name. He paid his membership dues and started going to their meetings. He was quite surprised because their meetings were rather silly. It was all about secret handshakes, passwords, funny costumes, 'grand-dragons' and 'hydras'. The KKK made a fair bit of money from protection rackets and other borderline illegal activities.

Kennedy started to pass information to the police and other government organisations. They didn't care and no action was taken. Kennedy realised that much of the power of the KKK came from its secrets and he had a good idea. He phoned up the producers of the Adventures of Superman radio show and suggested that they write some episodes where Superman fought the KKK.

The radio show went ahead and the writers used all the secret details about the KKK in the show. Overnight the KKK became ridiculous. They were exposed as a group of sad weirdos. Membership plummeted.

I found this story in a book called Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. The book used the science of economics to answer questions like 'why do crack dealers live with their mothers?' and 'what do sumo wrestlers and school teachers have in common?'. It's an entertaining book, an easy read and it makes you think.

Check it out


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 - Dead mans chest.

I'd been looking forward to this film since I heard that it would be made. I loved the first pirates film. I saw it by accident with my Dad one weekend when he was visiting me in Coventry. I had no real expectations for the film. It could have been very bad, especially when you remember that it is based on a ride at Disney World. As everyone knows, the first film is great and Johnny Depp is brilliant as Jack Sparrow.

The follow-up could never be as good. Dead mans chest is part two of a trilogy. Even if you did not know this fact you could probably guess. The film doesn't really end (without spoiling too much). It has the feel of a TV series like Lost.

The film is too long. It lasts about two and a half hours and a significant proportion of that is padding. A review (in the Sunday Times, I think) was accurate when it described Depp as being 'more like Frankie Howard than Keith Richards' in this film. The electric presence of Captain Jack has been short-circuited.

The story is average. Some of the special effects are cool but the film might be too scary for young kids. It's funny at times but a good editor was needed.

I'll buy the DVD and I'm looking forward to part 3 but only an average effort.

6 outta 10


Monday, July 03, 2006

football sux

Luckily I'm missing most of the world cup cos I'm studying for an exam at the end of the month. I'm not a big fan of football at the best of times but I have watched the occasional world cup game in the past. However, what I have seen of the games this year has been pretty rubbish with England in particular playing below their potential. Scotland, as ever, didn't even get a look in.

Not been to see any gigs recently. I was sorry to read that Sleater-Kinney (who I saw in Bristol a few weeks back) have broken up. It's a bit of a shame because I think they could have made some really cool music in the future.

I've been listening to some good records recently. Picked up a couple of CDs by the Bad Plus which are good. I just bought the new albums by TV on the Radio and Muse which sound OK as well as the final Johnny Cash album, the one that he was working on with Rick Rubin when he died. I might write more about them in due course.

I haven't really done much else of interest. I had worked 7 days in a row since getting back from Manchester so I was tired over the weekend. I watched a film called Rounders on DVD. It stars Matt Damon and Ed Norton as two poker addicts in New York. Basically Matt Damon is cool while Ed Norton is a twat. It was entertaining. Better than watching paint dry. Or reading this blog.....