Archive for December, 2012

MOST POPULAR WATN, 2012

December 28, 2012

“Dude, its meta, its a blog post about blog posts…”

Well its that time again, the most linked, visited, and popular posts of 2012 on Word Around the Net.
After the shooting in Connecticut, a huge debate online arose over mentally ill people getting guns and who is responsible for dangerous lunatics on the streets, which led to my Common Knowledge post on Ronald Reagan and the homeless getting seriously hammered for weeks – it is still getting a lot of attention and forwarding around through emails and facebook.  The sad thing is, you probably know someone as crazy as that shooter, they just haven’t snapped and done anything awful, and probably never will.  And you can’t throw someone into confinement on the fear they might do bad.
It was just a quick throwaway post because I thought she was cute, but my post on the woman who plays Wendy in the latest ads –  Morgan Smith Goodwin – has been consistently popular and high ranking in my stats ever since I posted it.  It appears I’m not the only one that thinks she’s cute.  She’s married, guys.
Other Common Knowledge posts that got plenty of notice are the one I did on Kitty Genovese, Hurricane, and the Titanic.  That series has been pretty popular all year, and I still have more to post on it.
The series I’ve done on surviving economic depression continues to get plenty of attention, as people continue to have the sinking feeling things just aren’t quite right despite the reporting we get.  Every so often I get a big spike from the Songs I Like series, as people read one then start going through the long list picking out songs they know and are curious about.
And as always around this time of year I get plenty of links to the King Star post I did about the star of Bethlehem based on Rick Larson’s extraordinary work.
Other honorable mentions are the Faux Hate post on faked hate crimes, a post on “food deserts,” and my overview of Ayn Rand’s philosophies.  Posts I wish got more attention this year include the one on the Treaty of Westphalia and the one on Celebrity Culture.  There’s a chance I’ll start reposting stuff I think got over looked or insufficient attention next year.
Have a happy new year everyone.

CHRISTMAS AMID TRAGEDY

December 21, 2012

Come, Desire of nations come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the Woman’s conquering Seed,
Bruise in us the Serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness now efface:
Stamp Thine image in its place;
Second Adam, from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Glory to the Newborn King.
Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

It was interesting reading various blogs around the net this week as people reeled in shock and horror from the insane shootings of kindergarteners and first graders in Connecticut.  Many people have tried to make a political point or advance their agenda with this event, to one degree or another, and I suppose that is inevitable.  But one theme that kept coming back up is how the events made it hard to celebrate Christmas or talk about the holiday season because of sadness, mourning, or just shock.
And that’s really quite sad to me because it reveals how much our culture – even many Christians – have reduced Christmas to giving gifts, parties and decorations instead of what it is really about.  I suppose that’s why there are all those “reason for the season” comments and pictures around this time of year, but really, Christmas should be celebrated all the more in the face of tragedy and horror.
The entire point behind Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ, that’s what the -mas suffix means (we don’t use it for anything else these days, but a lot of birth events were celebrated like that in medieval times like Michaelmas).  Now, before you yawn and move on to the next page, think about that a moment.
The birth of Jesus Christ was about salvation, grace, joy, peace, and hope.  Not campaign slogan hope, not hope as a cliche, but real hope for real glory and peace.  The birth of Jesus Christ was because of things like the evil murder of children…. however old they happen to be.  Jesus himself was the target of a demented evil murderer as a child, and his family fled to a neighboring country to survive.  King Herod, desperate to stop the rise of a foretold king he thought would replace him (or his children) murdered every child of 3 years and younger born in Bethlehem.
See, when the wise men visited Herod, following a celestial event, they asked about a king born in the region, and knew it had happened about 3 years previous to their arrival.  No, the wise men weren’t there for the birth of Jesus the Christ, they were there years later, in the winter.  When Herod heard about this, he became alarmed – a king born, with a celestial event that attracted scholars and masters of astronomy from a thousand miles away?  This had to be dealt with.
So Jesus’ life started with horror as babies were slaughtered all across an entire region just to prevent a rival king from rising up from the Bethlehem area.  It didn’t work, but the thing Herod – and most people of the day (and even some today) didn’t understand is that King Jesus wasn’t born to conquer regions and rule an earthly realm.  He wasn’t there to fight oppression and bring Israel freedom, he was born to deal with the problems behind why oppression and terrible things happen.
This is the main flaw with many reactions to the Connecticut shootings.  Many people are crying and praying to the government to fix everything, if only there was a law against shooting children in schools!  It would stop such an event!  There are calls for gun bans and gun control and people in other nations, ignorant of guns and America, are mocking the country and baffled anyone would want to be able to protect their kids from murderers with their own weapons.
The problem is, banning guns doesn’t do away with psychotic murderers.  It just makes a certain method of killing more difficult to obtain.  If there was a sudden rise of killings with potatoes, banning potatoes would not solve that problem.  The problem isn’t with the tool, its with the motivation behind the deed.
And that’s why Jesus Christ was incarnated, why He came to earth to begin with.  Jesus was born to deal with what’s behind the evil in the world, not its symptoms or actions.  If you have a brain tumor, the aspirin might bring relief from the headaches, but its not going to save your life or deal with why you get the headaches to begin with.  What you need is something radical, risky, and shocking to be done.  You need that tumor out of your head.
And that’s the scope we’re dealing with on earth today.  Putting away murders or banning guns, arming teachers or home schooling kids won’t get rid of the evil in the world.  What’s needed is a savior, someone who will bring an end to sin, to what makes the evil happen to begin with.  Behind those horrific acts through all of history is a cancer of the soul that all humanity suffers from; that cancer is sin.  We all rebel against what is right and good and true and beautiful because we are sinful by nature, it is part of who we are.
What we need is someone to save us from that sin, not its consequences and results.  The briars and horrors of life are because sin exists within us.  There is no “noble savage” living in peace and harmony apart from the corrupting evils of civilization; we can’t run away to a better place or time because we bring the evil with us.  Its like a horrific plague we carry, wherever we go, that horror lurks within us all.  Bad people don’t happen because of bad surroundings or culture.  The bad is inside them – and us – waiting for a way to manifest its self.
Jesus Christ was born to live a perfect life of absolute sinlessness so we could have a hope of salvation.  That perfect life is what is needed, that’s what justice demands: no sins.  And because we have sinned, justice demands punishment as well.  So Jesus came not just to live on earth but to die.  And the doing and dying of Jesus Christ fulfilled that justice and brought a hope, a hope that we can finally be without sin, finally find peace, finally find justice, finally see an end to tears and sorrow and loss and death.
I’ve gone into much more detail explaining this in the Emptiness and Light piece I linked above, so you can read that if you’re curious what exactly I mean by all that but what’s significant here is something few people stop to consider.
Every religion on earth but one teaches you save yourself.  You either work your way to salvation and paradise through specific deeds, such as the seven pillars of Islam, or you detach yourself from the world and embrace your insignificance and the illusion of life such as in Buddhism and Hinduism, or you keep commandments like in Judaism, and so on.  They all boil down to one thing: law; you do this and you achieve nirvana or get your virgins in paradise, or what have you.  All religions, everywhere on earth, but one.
Christianity teaches that it was done for you, by someone far greater, in your place.  It teaches us that all we bring to our salvation is sin, all we offer is our lives of rebellion and pleas for mercy.  Because we are incapable of saving ourselves.  We can’t reach that bar, its too high.  When the standard is perfection, any deviation whatsoever means you fail, and since you can’t do better or more than perfect, there’s no extra credit to make up for the difference.
Because the sin is within us, we are inherently unable to do what we must to be saved, and can only rely on another in our place, a representative to do what we cannot, for us.  And that someone was the baby Jesus, born in a manger with legions of angels exploding into a cold night to celebrate before astounded shepherds.
We all want to fix things our way, we all want to have some credit and do our part.  We all have so much pride and certainty we’re right that we figure we can make it all better if only given a chance.  So much unbelievable evil has been done in the world in that very name, from the inquisition to communism and beyond.  We wrap up our horrific deeds in a pretty package of well meaning and pleasant slogans, but the bones jut out and the blood leaks out onto the floor.  You can put a bow on the whole thing, but you can’t keep the flies away.
Christianity is the truth, and the way – Jesus is the truth and the way, the only way.  Our only hope came to earth in the form of a tiny helpless baby who, despite the words of Away in a Manger, did cry.  That hope gives us a chance of salvation, like a drowned man lying on a beach has only one hope: resuscitation by someone else.
And once saved, our lives should, and over time do more and more, reflect the amazement and gratitude for what has been done.  Not because we’re ordered to be gracious, but because we respond naturally to it, like a human responds naturally to resuscitation by breathing.  Yes we fail, yes we stray, yes we are “prone to wander” away from the God we love, as the hymn puts it.  But Christ lived the life we fail to and died for that sin, too.  And washed clean by the blood of the lamb, we stand before God like a child weeping that we’ve failed our beloved father once more and forgiven once more to try again.  O, to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.
And each day we live in the hope that one day we’ll rest from our sins, finally find peace from that struggle against what we know to be wrong, and celebrate in a time when tragedy ceases, joy abounds, and we finally see the glory we’ve long known was out there but could never find on this earth.
Celebrate Christmas in the light of tragedy?  That is absolutely the best time to do it.

Merry Christmas my friends. God be with you and your family.

COMMON KNOWLEDGE: Civil War

December 17, 2012

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”
-Abraham Lincoln

The American civil war – or the war between the states, depending on who you ask – is one of the most contentious and divisive events in the nation’s history, even today more than a century later.  If you ask most northerners, or people in the west, they’ll say the war was fought over slavery, to set the slaves free.  If you ask southerners, they’ll say the war was fought over the right of states to self govern without federal interference.
Abraham Lincoln is another divisive topic.  He’s either a saint who held the nation together and freed the slaves, or a monster who raped the constitution and a tyrant who ruined the country.  To this day, people get into fights over the topics that tore the nation apart over 100 years ago, and it shows no sign of lessening over time.
What’s right here, what’s wrong?  Who has the truth on their side?  How can we weed through this?  The truth is… both sides are right, and wrong.  The truth is a bit more complicated and subtle than is usually presented by film or debate.
To understand the origins of the American Civil War, you have to go back a long time before it started.  The south was largely settled and populated by two groups: immigrants from the British Isles and Ireland who tended to settle further inland (the mountains, mostly), and landed nobility who purchased and settled large farms and plantations.  Younger sons of nobles in England, Scotland, and Ireland would come to the US to find their fortune, and kept their nobility in mind.
While the north was generally more of a mix of ethnic backgrounds and of more diverse class structures, the south tended to be more blue blood.  They were often very wealthy, very powerful, and very convinced of their superiority.  To this day, many Scots and other UK residents who visit the area are more comfortable with the culture and accent, finding it more homely and familiar than the rest of the US.  It isn’t that there were no poor or other groups of people, its that the culture, leadership, and most powerful people in the region tended to be these wealthy aristocrats.
With that perspective of noble background and wealth came a tendency to reject not just authority, but the idea of democratic rule.  They didn’t oppose voting and representation and all that, they opposed the rabble telling them what to do.  And further, they opposed a central government including other states’ representatives having any say in their actions.
When the US Constitution was being written, not a few people from the south wanted no federal government at all, simply a loose coalition of sovereign states.  The fight to get the constitution written and finalized was a very difficult one, and included actual real violence in the process.  That story is a pretty big one in its self, and I recommend digging into it more fully.
One glimpse into the history behind that battle is the 3/5ths compromise, where southern and northern states battled over how slaves should be represented in congress.  The south had many more slaves than the north, although both had slaves (as did the rest of the world at the time; Africa included).  The south saw a potential for greater power by counting all the slaves for representation.  If they could load up congress with southerners based on their slave population, then they would have more power over the federal government.  The north didn’t care for that and wanted more power for themselves.
And then there were folks who pointed out that slaves could not vote, had no voice, and hence were not being represented in any way so they shouldn’t be considered for the purposes of congress at all.  And yes, there were people calling for slavery to end back then, too.  I’ve written more extensively in the past about the 3/5ths compromise, but it was basically a way for the two regions to find common ground and get a constitution passed to begin with.
The founders such as Jefferson, Washington, Adams, and so on all were opposed to slavery in principle, although most kept slaves.  They knew that they couldn’t end the system and have any hope of building a nation that they dreamed of, so they worked toward a future when it could one day happen.  The south, heavily dependent on slaves for agriculture, would have simply refused to have any part of a nation which banned the practice.
The south continued to rebel against federal control, even after the constitution was signed and the nation formed.  One of George Washington’s first acts was to put down the “whiskey rebellion” in which southern bourbon distillers rebelled against the federal tax on liquor.  Southern states insisted on the right of “nullification” which essentially was the power of states to ignore federal laws they consider unconstitutional.  
Nullification came to a crisis under Andrew Jackson, who on the whole was for small and limited government and states rights.  South Carolina’s economy was suffering and they blamed a tariff applied by congress to trading with England for their problems.  The state’s legislature passed an act that permitted them to simply ignore the tariff as unconstitutional, and the federal government responded by passing a law allowing the federal government to use the military to enforce law.  South Carolina backed down, this time, but the tariff rates were lowered as well.
However, the animosity and concern over encroaching federal power continued.  Southern states were very strong on the principle of state sovereignty, the idea that except in matters of foreign trade and interaction between various states, the federal government had no power whatsoever within states.  This is, incidentally, the position the founding fathers took in both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers, and one I happen to agree with.
Also, the growing anti-slavery movement made southern states very uncomfortable.  They still relied on slave trade and labor for their livelihood (or, at least, the level of wealth they liked) and saw each  new state added to the union which banned slavery a threat to their future.  Each new area which had congressmen in the federal government which opposed slavery meant one more that might eventually ban the practice in America overall.
Further, the southern states tended to be independent overall.  They didn’t care to pay taxes to a federal government, and any new tax was met with great resistance.  They didn’t like northern states having any say at all in what they did.  Frustration, animosity, and conflict between the two regions built over the years and little was resolved.
This is something to be very clear on; the civil war didn’t spring out fully formed like Pegasus from Zeus’ head.  The seeds for this conflict were sown before the revolutionary war, as two very different regions began to clash in ideology and principle.  Surprisingly enough Wikipedia has a pretty good timeline of events that show how the conflict built over the years.
By the time the southern states met in South Carolina to discuss seceding from the union, this struggle had been going on for over a century.  The core of this fight was over slavery, but the general theme was of states’ rights versus central federal control.  Its like an argument a married couple has over a personality clash, but it takes focus on something specific, like the toilet seat being left up.  The argument is over the toilet seat, but the background is something else unresolved.
In this case, it was southern states wanting to be more self governed, but it took focus over slavery because that was the lifeblood of the south’s economy.  Here are a few stats from 1860, the year it all blew up:
  • U.S. slave population in the 1860 United States Census: 3,954,174
  • Total US population: 31,443,321, an increase of 35 percent over the 1850 Census
  • About 20,000,000 citizens lived in the north
  • About 8,000,000 citizens lived in the south
  • 26 percent of all Northerners live in towns or cities
  • 10 percent of Southerners live in towns or cities
  • 40% of the Northern work force works in agriculture
  • 80% of the Southern workforce works in agriculture
The south and the north had very different cultures, and very different concerns.  Each had their say in congress, but the overall momentum of the country was against slavery and against the south’s system of agriculture, and they were outnumbered more than 2:1 in general population, which is how Abraham Lincoln won the presidency in 1860 despite winning no southern states.  Although the Republican Party platform declares that individual states are allowed to form their own “domestic institutions” the south can see the writing on the wall.  The federal government will inevitably declare slavery illegal and end it, despite having no constitutional power to do so.  The northern states already were refusing to extradite escaped slaves, which were considered lawful property of southern owners.
Every state in the union had already outlawed the slave trade (although South Carolina started it up again for a while).  The federal government had only the power under the constitution to prevent slave trade between states and importation of slaves, it could not tell individual states what to do within their borders, not legally.  But the southern states could tell that was on the way.
Just a day after Abraham Lincoln was elected president, South Carolina arrested federal agents moving supplies from one fort to another, fearing the north was reinforcing their base to begin military force against them.  Two days later, they took over the Charleston harbor batteries, raising the state’s flag instead of the US stars and stripes.
Federal military officials begin to take steps to secure southern fortifications for fear that they will be taken over by southern states, seizing federal property and supplies. Southern states are already voting on whether or not they will consider seceding from the union, something the federal government argues they are not permitted to do.
On December 17, 1860 in Charleston North Carolina, a convention is held to draft a statement explaining why the state – and others – were leaving the United States.  The statement is breif and to the point:

We, the People of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the Ordinance adopted by us in Convention, on the twenty-third day of May in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven hundred and eight eight, whereby the Constitution of the United State of America was ratified, and also all Acts and parts of Acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying amendment of the said Constitution, are here by repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of “The United States of America,” is hereby dissolved.

Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas offered similar declarations when they seceded in subsequent months.  Essentially, they saw the constitution as a contract which the north had violated, and they had simply opted out.

Again, the reasons for secession were more than slavery, but slavery was the core and repeated complaint.  They considered the election of Lincoln cause for secession because he was hostile to slavery.  They considered the north’s refusal to return runaway slaves as a violation of the constitution and law.  They considered laws banning slavery and pressure to end it as a violation of federal power and states rights.
So when people argue the war was about slavery vs state’s rights, they’re both right.  The thing is, those state’s rights concerns were almost exclusively about slavery.  Tariffs were part of the concern, but slavery was the repeated cry and hammered again and again in documents from the time.  Had slavery not been the issue, it is unlikely the south would have tried to secede, simply because slavery was the core of their entire economic livelihood, and they would be ruined without it.  That made the issue key and worth fighting over, to southerners.
You can get a feel for that in the Articles of Confederation, the south’s version of the US Constitution.  The document only mentions slavery a few times, and is overall a very fine document with few flaws.  It actually addresses some areas of significant concern today that the constitution would have benefited from having, as I wrote about a while back.  But unlike the US Constitution, which focused on equality under law, the Articles of Confederation specifically mentions and details various points about slavery to make sure it is codified in the document as a permanent part of US law, something the founders wanted to avoid in the constitution.
This is important to keep in mind as well: the south wasn’t all on fire to keep slaves because they were in such love with the idea of slavery or hated blacks so much.  They wanted it so bad because it was how they were able to keep their business running.  It would be like having the federal government ban gasoline today; people aren’t so much in love with gasoline as in love with what it gives and allows them to do.  Slavery wasn’t held near and dear to the southerner’s heart, the money and economy slaves provided was.
So the war started up.  How it started is a matter of some argument as well.  Southerners claim aggression on the part of the north who sent troops down to attack them.  Northerners claim that the south started the war by taking over a fort.  In this, I have to side with the north: Fort Sumpter was a federal facility, with federal equipment, on federal land.  The Fort Sumpter event was prompted by a series of maneuvers by federal officers and southerners in various forts as the federal government tried to protect and maintain its property and the south tried to take it over to prevent it from being used against them.
It comes down to whether you think declaring yourself separate from a nation gives you the right to take everything that’s in your state or not.  The south figured that since they had seceded from the US, the forts were theirs.  The US figured they had built and owned those forts, so they were federal property.  I side with the US on this one; eventually you could work out a deal where you purchase the forts or something, but you can’t just take someone else’s property because you’re mad at them and declare it all to be yours.
In any case, the war exploded and millions died.  Over 600,000 soldiers died on both sides, and many more civilians died of starvation, wounds, and fires as a result.  The civil war utterly obliterated the south’s economy, and they took over a century to recover.  The north, fearful of continued rebellion, stomped all over southern rights and essentially treated the south as a vassal state which continues to this day with laws such as the Voting Rights Act, which requires southern – and no other – states to get federal approval to any changes in election laws or redistricting.
Massachusetts can require voter ID without getting the federal government to approve.  Texas cannot.  Maine can change the districts for congressmen in their state with a simple vote.  Mississippi has to beg the federal government for approval.  This is intolerable in an allegedly free and united country under one constitution, but it continues for two reasons: first, because many in the north believe a caricature of southern bigotry spoon fed them for over a century, and second because it is very politically useful to leftists to control southern, more conservative states.
The south has a lot of very valid grievances.  Nowhere in the US constitution or the discussions of the founding fathers was any official position on how to leave the United States if a state chose to.  It was rarely even considered.  Whether a state can leave the union or not is a matter of practice rather than law: several states tried and war resulted to stop it.  The idea of nullification is similarly unclear to many.  It seems obvious to me given the writings of many of the founding fathers that the states can, and shouldignore unconstitutional laws, but many believe this to be solely the purview of the US courts, especially the Supreme Court.
And as for Abraham Lincoln?  Well, he’s a mixed bag like we all are.  He was a very noble and good many in many ways, fighting for liberty and struggling to keep a nation together in a time of crisis.  His writings are full of humble concern about doing right and obeying God, and his efforts to help blacks were not just noble but heroic.
On the other hand, he basically took the US constitution and shredded it.  His actions were the basis of most of the expansion of federal government we suffer under today.  He ignored large portions of the law in the name of crisis and emergency, he violated the constitution repeatedly in his efforts to do the right thing (isn’t that always the way?), and ultimately he imposed unconstitutional federal power over large swaths of the US in the name of ending slavery.
The greatest speech in US history, the Gettysburg Address, was a blatant violation of the constitution.  The president cannot simply by declaration impose legal change, yet he in that speech announced the end of slavery.  The Emancipation Proclamation had zero legal weight, because the president is not king.  John Wilkes Booth was right in this sense: Lincoln was a tyrant.  He was a generally benevolent one, but President Lincoln ignored law and procedure to do what he thought should be done.
So, the man freed millions of slaves, laid the foundation for the “intercontinental railroad” (as President Obama puts it), and saved the US from fragmenting, but at the same time did it with horrible methods and laid the foundation for the principle that the federal government can do anything whatsoever it wants, as long as the cause is considered right.
So like FDR: good and bad, and we’re still suffering from the bad.  And the civil war was both about slavery and state’s rights, and unfortunately because the south lost… states have very few rights at all.  That war was ultimately fought over the power of the federal government to impose its will on states, and states – and hence, American citizens – lost.
The sad thing is, because of the taint of slavery on this entire conflict, the very term “states rights” and the idea that states are sovereign within their borders has become equivalent to supporting slavery to many.  If you even mention the concept to many blacks, they instantly assume you’re a hateful bigot and love slavery.  Bringing up this aspect makes people instantly turn against you because they associate it with slavery and the civil war.
And I blame the south for that.  Had they not been so fixated on an institution that by the mid 1800s was already fading out due to technological advancements  – something they freely admitted at the time –  then the ideals they argued wouldn’t have been so hideously tainted.  Nullification, state’s rights, and a limited federal government are all noble causes and just ideas ruined by their stupidity and pride.  And we’re all paying the price for that today.
*This is part of the Common Knowledge series: things we know that ain’t so.

TINTIN COMES ALIVE

December 12, 2012

“Billions of blistering blue barnacles!!!”
-Captain Haddock

Ever since my brother brought home Tintin books from his French class in high school, I’ve loved the comic (both it and Asterix comics).  The art was wonderful, the stories loads of fun, and the settings fantastic.  Tintin was like a junior James Bond, traveling the world and having amazing adventures.
Although technically a reporter, Tintin rarely showed any real evidence of his work, giving only the impression of being a globe-trotting adventurer.  He was never wealthy, but always had as much money as he needed.  His age was never clear, although he looked like a kid (and was called one) he was also treated as an adult and lived on his own, could drive, and so on.
Written and drawn by a Frenchman named Georges Remi, who wrote under the pen name of Hergé, the Tintin comics spanned six decades, with the first being printed in 1929 (and it was the pulp era that the comic stayed in, all those years).  The comics have been translated into 60 languages and sold over 200,000,000 copies over the years. Although less instantly and broadly well known as Superman or Spider-Man, Tintin is a comic giant.
When Spielberg took up the idea of making a Tintin movie, I had mixed feelings.  The stories fit Spielberg’s skills well, and they would translate well to cinema (all comics can).  However, movie translations often go horribly wrong, especially when not treated with respect and appreciation of the medium, such as the ghastly Electra and Catwoman movies.
I finally saw The Adventures of Tintin last night, on Netflix.  The company had just added the filmi and I had wanted to see it for quite a while.  Tintin is animated, but done with such lush, complex and true-to-life animation that it was sometimes easy to forget it was animated at all.  The characters were not quite true to life, and not quite cartoons, but were a functional and acceptable blend of the two that worked well in my opinion.  My only problem was that Captain Haddock’s schnozz was a bit too pronounced.
The film blended several different comics together, sort of a best-of-Tintin blend of events and bits tied around elements of Red Rakham’s Treasure and some other comics.  The overall effect is a fun, often slapstick, often tense adventure that I enjoyed greatly.  It isn’t great cinema, but then most of what people call great cinema isn’t either.  Tintin was a fun experience of watching his adventures come to life and was very entertaining in the process. I came into the movie thinking I’d have fun, and I did.
The storyline was simple but progressed well, without contradictory or nonsensical moments (there are absurd situations, but nothing that violates logic or consistency of behavior).  The animation was amazing, and although there were a few “Look, its 3D!” moments that were intrusive, the director and writers took very good advantage of animation to do and stage things that would be very difficult or impossible in real life.  Captain Haddock’s unfortunate but comical experience with a plane propeller is one that springs to mind.  Another was a sequence of sword fighting cranes that has to be seen to even be comprehended.
The film didn’t do terrifically well in the US, although overall it has earned more than $300 million worldwide.  The Aventures of Tintin cost about $150 million to make, and in Hollywood terms, doubling your money is not a huge return (don’t get me started on hollywood accounting again).  Still it made enough that a sequel could be seen, and it certainly was set up to have a sequel at the end of the film.  I’d like to see one.
My only real problems with the film were the Captain’s nose, the odd choice of giving the blatantly and famously French characters UK accents (??), and the slight notice given to Tintin’s moral character.  He’s a huge boy scout, a guy who always does the right thing, no matter what it costs him and stands tall because of it.  The Adventures of Tintin didn’t have much evidence of that at all, instead he seemed to be driven by his job and curiosity more than anything else, and that’s too bad.  Still, a very great movie that all ages can and should enjoy.  I recommend it, especially if you already know and love Tintin: 4 stars.

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