Silver Linings Playbook

This week I decided to talk about an underrated movie that came out a little while ago, but seems to be getting more attention now. I just watched the film, Silver Linings Playbook, and I have to say I am impressed. I do not know how this movie slipped under the radar of so many people, but I am glad it is being brought to justice now.



I’ll start off by saying that, based on the ads I had seen for this movie, I thought I was going to be seeing a chick flick. I was wrong. This movie is one that is hard to put in any one genre of film. To me, it was mostly a drama with elements of both the melodrama and comedy genres as well. I won’t spoil the plotline, but the movie is about a man named Pat (Bradley Cooper) who is struggling with a mental illness and a hard divorce all at the same time. His entire life went down the drain and he has to struggle with the feelings of wanting get his old life back, while knowing he needs to let everything go and start a new life.


The performances by both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are fantastic.  Both have to play parts of people who are struggling with a mental illness (which I would imagine is not an easy role to act out) and both do a great job. Their acting draws the audience in and makes the audience really care about both characters. Another hidden gem in this movie is the performance by Robert Di Nero. He has a supporting role, but it is impossible to overlook his acting in this film. If you are like me and love anything Di Nero, you need to see this movie.


Overall this was a thought provoking film with a unique and interesting plot line performed by great actors.



Grade: A-


Verdict: They kept it in theaters longer because it took a while to get recognition. Its still in theaters now and you HAVE to see it. Looking for a good new movie to see? This is it.


Proposal for persuasive essay:

My civics issues blog has been about Affirmative Action in the workplace and in college admissions. This is an issue I feel pretty strongly about and I am firmly against Affirmative Action, especially in the college admissions area. The whole topic of Affirmative Action is broad and I think it would be good for me to narrow it down to just talking about college admissions. It is my belief that schools should not consider race as a factor of college admissions. Schools rationalize using race in admissions because they believe people with different skin colors come from different cultures and will produce a culturally diverse educational environment. It is my belief that racial diversity does not equate to cultural diversity. I plan on writing a persuasive essay that persuades people that affirmative action is unconstitutional and unethical in college admissions and that the college admissions process need be reformed to not consider race as a factor of admissions. There is a lot of viewpoints on this topic and I feel it is a substantial base to write this paper on.

Civics Issues 2

In the last edition of my civics issues blog, I posed a question that would set up the arguments for and against affirmative action. Affirmative action is an issue that has produced many polarized opinions around it. At the core of the issue is the question I asked in my last blog: Is it constitutional to admit or deny someone to a university ONLY because of their race? This question is very important and has no simple answer. There are many sides to this issue and I hope to cover them all.


Those in favor of affirmative action have many valid arguments for it and raise many important questions. If we look at the demographics of the job markets in this country, we see what many would consider a sizeable problem. Minority groups such as African Americans and Latinos are desperately underrepresented in professions that require extensive schooling.  If we look at doctors across the United States we see that over half of all doctors are white, while less than ten percent of all doctors are African American or Hispanic combined. Proponents of affirmative action see the roots of this problem in the decades of social and political infrastructure contaminated by racism.  Our country has not recovered completely from the pre-civil rights era of blatant educational and occupational racism.  Those in favor of affirmative action believe that by evening out the racial ratio in college admissions, and then the problem of the racial imbalance in the job market will be “fixed”.


The opposing viewpoint of this is one of far less optimism.  I, and opponents of affirmative action, do not believe this idyllic “fix” for the racial ratio problem is the right solution. At the surface, it may seem like a good idea to balance the race problem in universities in order to balance the job market in the future, but I see many problems in this. This solution fails to recognize why colleges and universities would be overrepresented by whites if affirmative action didn’t exist. The reason why the ratio of whites to minorities in colleges is not representative of the population as a whole is because primary education is not available or of a high quality to everyone and minority races tend to be more deprived of a solid primary education base than whites. The way I see it, there are three steps in this race problem; first we have primary education, then college level education, and finally the job markets. The reason why universities are out of racial balance is because in general, and I emphasize “in general”, whites have more access to a quality primary education than minorities. This then means more whites and qualified to enter into universities and then the job markets. I believe this is a huge problem, but does not get fixed at the university level. In order to truly level the playing field for all races, we must invest in our primary education system. Inner city schools are typically majority African American, and have a much higher drop out rate in high school. If we fix the primary education system in this country, then we can work our way up. “Fixing” the problem at the university level doesn’t actually fix anything. It helps cover up the problem, but does not address the true issue here. To change the infrastructure, we need to start at the bottom and work up. We cannot start in the middle.




Another aspect of the argument in favor of affirmative action in college is the notion of university cultural diversity. Those in favor believe that colleges have the right to consider race as a factor for admission because a culturally diverse environment fosters the educational environment, thus promoting the educational system as a whole.


This is been shown to be true in that a culturally diverse educational environment tends to produce more culturally diverse graduates and eventually employees. However, the problem I have with this is the lack of distinction between race and culture. Last blog I talked about the Supreme Court cases and how the Court upheld the right of a college to foster a culturally diverse environment. My question is: Who is to say that racial differences equates to cultural differences? The country is full of many different people from a nearly infinite number of social and cultural backgrounds. Each community and town in the country has a different sub-culture unique to those people that live there.  So is it justifiable to say that my neighbor who is African American and who has had the same upbringing as my white self, and comes from the same cultural subset of this country as me is more “diverse” simply because of the color of my skin? This is my biggest problem. Race is not a reliable indicator of cultural diversity in many cases and colleges should look for other ways to screen out culturally diverse people to admit.


Next blog I will talk more about the Supreme Court case coming up and the details about it. But I will leave you with another question: Do you think, by your own college experience, that racial diversity within a college population creates a culturally diverse learning environment?





To be a good moderator, I think it is most important that the moderator lets each viewpoint on an issue be given equal weight in terms of focus in the conversation. I think it is more important that the moderator focus on evening out time spent talking on each viewpoint than time spent talking by each person. Sometimes unpopular viewpoints get underrepresented by the conversation and its important for the moderator to not let a popular viewpoint take over the conversation. That said, the point of the deliberation will ultimately be to reach some sort of understanding or consensus. Eventually it will be the moderator’s job to steer the conversation away from simply expressing ideas, to finding compromises and solutions. My hope is that this will all happen naturally in a deliberation, but if that were the case then there would be no need for moderators. I think its most important for the moderator to keep the conversation balanced well, and moving in the right direction. In some cases, that may mean a lot of intervention, while other deliberations may require less interference. I’ll just have to wait and see for next week. Maybe after next week, my philosophy will be different.

2013: A Look Ahead

I debated whether or not I should write a blog this week about a chick flick in the theme of Valentines day, but decided instead to look to the future. 2013 is a HUGE year for movies. There are a ton of new movies coming out and I wanted to go over a few that I am looking forward to. Most of them are sequels to movies that came out in the previous year that I am completely stoked for. Hope you all agree. Here it goes:


1. Star Trek: Into Darkness     May 17th

I absolutely loved the new version of Star Trek they made a while back with Chris Pine starring. I think this film was made beautifully with a captivating plot and great special effects. I have been a Star Trek fan my entire life and was able to relate this movie to other Star Trek movies and shows, but I felt it was a good stand alone movie to get people who have never seen a Star Trek film into the series. I really hope this one is as good as the last one.

2. The Great Gatsby     May 10th


First off, if you haven’t read this book, do it. It is a fun and quick read that would be well worth it to read before watching the movie. This one could either be fantastic or a bust. If they stay true to the book, I think it’ll be good. There is only one person I would cast as Gatsby, and that is Leonardo Di Caprio. I love anything with him in it and I hope this follows suit.

3. Hunger Games: Catching Fire     November 22nd


Again, this could be blockbuster or bust. I haven’t read the books so I really can’t say what I expect from it. All I know is that the first one was very interesting to me and I hope they build off of that to create something great here. I feel like most people will see this one no matter how good or bad it is. At least see it for Jennifer Lawrence.

4. Monsters University        June 21st


The original Monsters Inc. came out when we were just kids. I think it very odd that they are releasing a new one now, but it has a lot of potential. Monsters Inc. was one of the classics from Disney Pixar and appealed to a wide audience. The problem with waiting so long is that now they have to make it appealing to us (people who saw the first one as kids and are now considerably older) and kids. I hope they do this well and this is a hit.

5. Iron Man 3     May 3rd


The only thing this movie needs in order to be successful is a bunch of crap blowing up, and Robert Downey Jr. being all sassy (while blowing crap up). That said, it would be nice if they continued the plot off the last Iron Man and the Avengers movie to create this complex network of comic book Avengers movies. I didn’t like the 2nd one as much as the 1st, so I hope they go back to the blockbuster feel of the 1st.


Anyways, these are just my top five movies coming out this year. Let me know what you guys are excited for!

Honorable Mention: Man of Steel, Captain Phillips, Much Ado About Nothing


Skyfall does not win at all

In a little more than a week, the latest installment of the James Bond series will be released to DVD for your viewing pleasure. Except viewing this film was anything but pleasurable. Lets get a little background here. The James Bond series was recharged with the release of the film Casino Royale starring a new actor to play Bond: Daniel Craig. Craig acted the Bond part perfectly making Casino Royale an instant hit. Then came the mediocrity of Quantum of Solace that was really a plot set up movie. Everyone thought the next Bond movie would be in-your-face and fantastic. But this movie was simply disappointing.


The best way I could describe how this movie failed was that it simply wasn’t a James Bond film. It WAS a good action film, just not a James Bond film. Lets look at what makes a movie uniquely Bond: It needs a dark villain who tries to gain money or power somehow. It needs Bond to come up with a plan that outsmarts the villain. Bond needs to be hardcore, confident, and unwavering in his demeanor. And above all, there needs to be a Bond girl (I am not sexist by promoting this. I am simply stating that the movie is geared toward the male audience and based on every single other Bond movie, a Bond girl is to be expected.) Why did this movie fail in my mind? It didn’t do ANY of this. 1. The villain’s character was just made to spite Bond, and he was not witty at all. He had no motives or depth or plan to take over the world. 2. Half the movie was about Bond’s internal struggle with his past and his duty to his country. I don’t care what Bond is struggling with on the inside, I just want to see him take out the bad guys. 3. Bond is outsmarted at every turn and is beat down by the villain. Bond should never be portrayed as vulnerable, and the “master plan” to catch the villain should not be to just sit and wait and shoot him. 4. There was no strong female character attached to Bond, therefore there was no romance, a key element of every Bond movie.


All said and done, I was terribly disappointed by this movie and was hoping for a lot more out of it. Leaving the theater, I did not feel as though I had just watched a movie that belonged to a series I know and love. At best, Skyfall was a decent action movie with lots of explosions and a cool intro song by Adele. If for some reason you were on the fence about the movie and were going to wait until it came out, you are just wasting your time. I would not recommend this to anyone who wanted to watch a James Bond movie.


Grade: D+

Verdict: If you weren’t excited enough about this movie when it came out to see it right away, don’t see it at all. Please.

Civic Issues 1: Affirmative Action

For this civic issues blog, I chose topic of education. I will focus on mainly secondary education and the racial/diversity aspect of college life. For my “This I Believe” podcast, I spoke about how I am a strong advocate for the abolishment of affirmative action, so I will start off there.


Some background information on this topic is necessary in order to form or express opinions about it. Currently, public and private universities can use race as a consideration factor in the college admission process. This was the case for decades as affirmative action sprung up a result of the civil rights movement, and was unchallenged until 2003 where we had two important Supreme Court cases dealing with the University of Michigan.


The two cases were Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. Without going into the intimate details about the case, I will explain the effect of each case. It was common at the time for schools and universities to have a point-based admission system. Simply put, if you had a GPA above 3.0 you got a certain amount of points. If you had a 4.0 you got even more. Being captain of your sports team gave you some points while having a disciplinary record may lose you some points. At the end of the day, if you didn’t have X number of points, you would not be admitted. At the time, University of Michigan Law School had this point system, but also gave points based on race. If you were white you simply got no points while minority races received more points because of their race.


Well this bias system of admissions was bound to make some people angry, and it was in 2003 where we saw a movement against it. The first case, Grutter, was simply protesting the use of race as a factor in admissions while the second case, Gratz, protested the point system. The Supreme Court’s decision was one that tried to satisfy the most amount of people it could, but upheld affirmative action. The Court “reaffirmed that universities may take race into consideration as one factor among many factors when selecting incoming students.” While stating that the point system was “not narrowly tailored to achieve the university’s asserted interest in diversity.” ( In plain English, they said that schools can consider race as a factor but not use the point system.


If you are like me, you are scratching your head wondering why this is was ruled the way it was. If schools are allowed to consider race, then why not use a point system? Does that make it less constitutional? The Court thought so. That’s all that matters. The reason why the Court ruled in favor of affirmative action is because by providing a diverse learning environment, a university can provide a better learning environment. And since the primary goal of an academic institution is to provide an education, this was constitutional.


I really do understand this side of the argument and I feel both sides of this issue make valid points, which I will get into in the next edition of this blog.


Today, the issue of Affirmative Action has been brought back into the Supreme Court in the case Fisher v. University of Texas. In this case, a young woman is claiming that she was not admitted into the university because of her race and that it is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment. She claims to have been deprived of opportunity because of her race and that if race was not considered in admissions, she certainly would have been admitted. The ruling on this case could be coming up in the next few months and could potentially change the admissions process for high school students if the Court changes it mind.


Like I said, I will go into the debate of this issue next week, but I do pose a question:

Is it constitutional/does it deny non-minorities Equal Protection if they are denied from a university ONLY because of their race so that the university can foster a diverse and positive educational environment?

WIP Response to video

The guy in this video makes some very interesting points that are very hard to argue against. He suggests the idea that labels are created by our government and other political  bodies in order to create a certain connotation about a policy related issue. He continues to say that the people who create these labels understand the power that a label can have and that is why they do it. I completely agree with him and he uses many examples to strengthen his claim. What I agree with as well is that he says labels like these impede true discussion. Because the labels emotionally charge people up, it makes it harder for people to have a sensible, and rational conversation about the topic. He finishes with the end claim that the new labels for guns are just a coverup for the fact that people are the ones who are responsible. Again, I agree with him, but its important to think critically about his claim. Even though individuals are responsible for creating gun violence, does that mean nothing should be done? A question to ponder…

The Classics: Frank Darabont Style

You may recognize the name Frank Darabont from a show most of us know and love (and that is returning very soon). Frank Darabont is the director of the Walking Dead, and for all of us who watch the show, I think we can all agree he has created a fantastic series. But did you know Darabont has made more than just that tv show? In fact, Darabont has created over a dozen tv shows and Hollywood movies, including two of my absolute favorites: The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.


Frank Darabont

First off, let me just say that if you love anything and everything that Morgan Freeman does, then you absolutely need to watch these The Shawshank Redemption. I believe that  it is one of the best Freeman has ever done in his lifetime. That said, he is not the only one that makes this movie fantastic. The film is one of those rare films that draws its audience in from the very beginning and keeps them caged until the end. Darabont’s classical dramatic filmmaking style makes this film an instant classic among audiences of all demographics. Everyone who has had a struggle in life that they felt was unfairly put upon them can relate to this movie that will end up giving you hope in hopeless situations.

Shawshank Redemption

The Green Mile has a similar theme of hope in a world of hopelessness. In fact, there are a good amount of parallels between these two movies in themes and filmmaking style. However, instead of Morgan Freeman, this one has Tom Hanks. Another superstar actor who is one of my favorites. This film creates an atmosphere for the audience that is impossible for the audience to ignore or dislike. If you are ever in a setting where you want to watch just a genuinely good, all around, feel-good movie, I would highly recommend these two. They are a must see in our lifetime.



WIP & This I Believe

For the work in progress this week, I believe that we were supposed to talk about the online forum we were going to use for our online deliberation. I chose To me, it seems like the best site to use because the people on in generally respect each other’s opinions. I looked at a few threads and most of them are formal, which tend to draw in intelligent people as opposed to a quick informal site that people quickly post on with no knowledge. I think I am going to end up focusing on something about the budget or spending, although the site has a wide range of topics to debate on.


And on another note, by This I Believe Post: (feel free to comment if you agree/disagree.)