Monday, May 29, 2006

Da Vinci

I used to go to the movies once a month, sometimes once a week. Last year, Michelle and I went to about 6 movies and most of them were bad. The bad ones included The Phantom of the Opera, The hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Good Night and Good Luck, and Syriana. To be fair, we both enjoyed Batman Begins and Revenge of the Sith. We both somewhat liked Shop Girl.

But last year's poor showing obviously influenced us as we hadn't even seen one film this year until last week when we decided to see The Da Vinci Code. This film is stirring up the pot of religious controversy, which is not a bad thing. So let me discuss what the Da Vinci Code is.

Warning! The following material reveals the Da Vinci Code. If you plan on seeing the movie or are offended by accounts of Jesus that are not in accordance with the Bible, read no further.
After the death of Jesus, followers of his teachings continually grew in number. These early Christians were the subject of much scorn and abuse by the Romans. Eventually, Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome. This forced the Roman government to incorporate Christianity over the then, current multi-god religion (Jupiter, Mars, Venus, etc). This occurred in the 4th century. The Romans wanted to stay in control. They reviewed the scriptures and writings of the followers of Jesus and decided what to use and what to throw away. According to The Da Vinci Code, anything that humanized Jesus was tossed. Rome wanted Jesus to be a supernatural being, lest some lowly subject think they could rise to such heights as Jesus. Thus, the new testament of the Bible was created.
Now, if you believe in The Da Vinci Code, you'll believe that the tossed out scriptures were hidden in Egypt with the intention that they would never be found. These scriptures or gospels included the writings of Phillip and Mary Magdalene. They allegedly give accounts of Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene and being the father of the child she was pregnant with during the crucifixion.
The story alleges that it was Mary Magdalene who was supposed to found the church, not Peter. If the Romans had followed this, the Roman Catholic church would be a matriarchal religion, as opposed to a patriarchal one. This of course, is what the Pope and many Catholics would object to. The story goes on about how the bloodline of Jesus endured and still exists today. In fact, the holy grail or the vessel that contains the blood of Christ is actually Mary Magdalene, not the cup that captured Jesus' blood during the crucifixion.
Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci were supposedly members of a secret society that knew these secrets of the church. This society was (is) known as the Priory of Sion. Da Vinci supposedly hid this truth in his works of art, including The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa.
(End of Spoilers)
Do I believe all this? No, not really because it doesn't seem that there is any definitive account of history when you go back that far. Take the Declaration of Independence signing on July 4, 1776. There are so many journals and biographical material about this event that there is virtually no doubt that it occurred. When you go back 1,700 years ago, there just isn't enough collaborative writing. Historians often have to deal with just one or two accounts of an event. This doesn't mean I rule this stuff out either. I realize some people want to insist that the Bible is the absolute truth, the book that God wrote. These people are going to have a problem with the book and film.
I have a problem with the film. It just isn't that good. It's not terrible but Tom Hanks was mediocre. The film tries to be like an Indiana Jones film but the suspense and narrow escapes are weak compared with those films.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It's About Time

I'll bet you didn't know that the U.S. economy, for the past 5 years has seen incredible, almost unprecedented growth. Unemployment has been hovering at around a low 4 percent, inflation has been almost non-existant, most stocks are rising at healthy rate (not an artifical boom like in the 1990's), and the GNP (gross national product) of the U.S. is at record highs. Going further, home sales are way up and the percentage of Americans who own their own home is at record levels. Also, salaries are up at every level of the employment scale. Minority-owned businesses are seeing unprecedented levels of success.

Yet, as I stated above, I bet you didn't know that. Why do I say that? Because the American Research Group's latest monthly survey found 59 percent of Americans rate the economy as bad, very bad or terrible.

What we see in the news today regarding jobs are stories of how are jobs are being shipped to India. Newspeople are quick to report on rising gasoline prices and how that is going to financially hurt us. Yet, these same journalists are reluctant to report any good news. They don't report that we are better off with a great economy and $3.50 a gallon gas prices than with $2.25 a gallon prices with a lousy economy.

I never want to blame a president of the federal government too much for a bad economy. I also never want to give too much credit to them when the economy is good. But come on, let's give them some credit here. It's obvious to me that the reason the media is so reluctant to report good economic news is they don't like the current administration and they don't want to give any credibility to the fact that much of this economic success is attributed to Bush's tax cuts. After all, before the Iraq invasion, the tax cuts were the principle point of attack against the president by the left. Heaven forbid they admit to being at all wrong about them.

U.S. payrolls jumped by 243,000 in February

Job Growth, Wages Send Mixed Signals

I'm starting to see at least some reports of the good economy from mainstream media sources, that includes the normally very liberal L.A. Times. Even in the Times article, though, they caution that the economic boom may be temporary, which of course it is, but they had to put some negative spin in there.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I just want to applaud my fellow co-workers. With 2 exceptions, I, being one of them, our company in downtown Los Angeles is comprised entirely of Latinos. I am pleased that every single one of them came in to work yesterday and did his/her job. I'd like to think they realized that they were fortunate to be in this country and not coming in to work would hurt the very company that is supporting their livelihood.

As for those who did not show up for work in order to use the day to protest, you should all be fired. If you are a student and decided to take advantage of the situation and not attend, you should be held back a grade.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Threat

Author's Note: I originally intended to submit this 2 weeks ago. Sorry for the delay, it's been a hectic two weeks.

Rising gas prices, strong anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, fear of anhiliation from weapons of mass destruction. These sound like topics of today's headlines. Strangely, enough, they were also among the top stories of 1979. Leading the headlines of that eventful year was the Iran hostage crisis.

It is 27 years later and many Americans are too young or put the ugly incident behind them. Most Iranians, on the other hand, probably still hold the resentment towards the U.S. that stemmed from the 1970's Shah of Iran.

I remember discussions in my youth of the Cold War. I remember the fear and anxiety of nuclear war. The discussion was about the Soviets bombing us. Many of my classmates were really scared that one day, the Soviet Premier would just decide to push the button and launch a massive attack on the United States. I, and a few others, didn't hold so much fear because we believed that the Soviets would know they would lose as much as we would had such an event ever occurred. I remember pointing out that I didn't fear the Soviets. I was much more afraid of a country like Iran ever getting hold of nuclear weapons. I remember the chills that ran down our collective spines at such a thought.