1.) I am completely hyped for "Iron Man." Like total DragonCon-nerd kind of excitement. I'm listening to Audioslave's "Cochise" and Sabbath's "Iron Man" all the time because they're in the trailer. Recently I picked up some "Iron Man" comics, just to see what was up with Tony Stark these days in the Marvel Universe (turns out he's now the director of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Fellow nerds will understand immediately the implications of that statement.) All this hype and anticipation is, of course, entirely manufactured by Marvel Comics (who financed the movie all by theyselves), and a week after it's out I'll have forgotten all about Tony Stark and will be looking ahead to the cinematic exploits of Banner, Jones and Wayne later in the hot months, but until Friday, "Iron Man" is looking to be a very big deal. (Also, Aintitcool's Harry Knowles and Moriarty both raved about the movie after they saw an early screening. Things are looking up for this thing not to suck.)
2.) Reverend Wright is bringing me way down. His very public, very unapologetic, very impolitic appearance yesterday at the National Press Club was all about him, I think, no matter what he says he was doing with regards to defending "the black church." Listening to snippets of his press conference on NPR on the drive home yesterday, I could hear how much fun he was having up behind the lectern fielding questions. He backed down from nothing, and only helped Obama once when he confirmed Obama's claim that Obama had not been present for Wright's most incendiary sermons. But besides that, Wright was busy plunging a chef's knife into Obama's side over and over again, defending his 9/11 comments and reaffirming his belief that the US government invented AIDS to wipe out the black race.
Mostly what Wright did yesterday was deepen the suspicion that many working-class white voters already have (a group Obama's apparently had trouble connecting with) that despite Obama's inclusive, hopeful rhetoric, Obama is an African-American of the Sharpton/Jackson/Wright mold, an angry black activist in other words, and if president, would not have their interests at heart, would in fact be working against their interests. That is, of course, a myth, but Wright helped yesterday to perpetuate it, and from a cursory viewing of all of this one can reasonably assume Wright may be attempting to sabotage Obama's bid for the White House. I can't even begin to understand why Wright would do that, but the evidence is plain. Is Obama going to be able to get out from under this guy?
3.) Who but freaks get into Harvard anymore? I read this article from the Times the other day about elite South Korean prep schools that focus like laser beams on getting their students into America's Ivy League schools. Fifteen-hour school days. Parents who scold their kids when they come home with a 98 on a test. Sixty-seven of your classmates ace the math section of the SAT. Here's a day in the life of a student at an elite S. Korean prep school:
"She rises at 6 a.m. and heads for her school bus at 6:50. Arriving at Daewon, she grabs a broom to help classmates clean her classroom. Between 8 and noon, she hears Korean instructors teach supply and demand in economics, Korean soils in geography and classical poets in Korean literature.
At lunch she joins other raucous students, all, like her, wearing blue blazers, in a chow line serving beans and rice, fried dumpling and pickled turnip, which she eats with girlfriends. Boys, who sit elsewhere, wolf their food and race to a dirt lot for a 10-minute pickup soccer game before afternoon classes.
Kim Hyun-kyung joins other girls at a hallway sink to brush her teeth before reporting to French literature, French culture and English grammar classes, taught by Korean instructors. At 3:20, her English language classes begin....
...Evening study hall begins at 7:45. She piles up textbooks on an adjoining desk, where they glare at her like a to-do list. Classmates sling backpacks over seats, prop a window open and start cramming. Three hours later, the floor is littered with empty juice cartons and water bottles. One girl has nodded out, head on desk. At 10:50 a tone sounds, and Ms. Kim heads for a bus that will wend its way through Seoul’s towering high-rise canyons to her home, south of the Han River.
“I feel proud that I’ve endured another day,” she said."
I'm not sure this is a snapshot of a future America where everyone is working in the service-industry because absolutely everything else has been outsourced to frighteningly-driven kids like this, but it may be a glimpse into how much work we may soon have to ask our kids to do just to stay competitive with the other 6.3 billion people in the world. And all that work won't be to stay ahead of the world and improve our quality of life, all that work will be just to keep our heads above water.