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Archive for January 1st, 2012

For every solution, we have the Federal Government.

From the WaPoo, we have this lovely sign of the apocalypse:

Employers are facing more uncertainty in the wake of a letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warning them that requiring a high school diploma from a job applicant might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Now the story points out that the letter does not have the force of law, and is meant to be taken as a “suggestion”. However, anyone who has ever had to deal with a regulatory agency knows that today’s suggestion is tomorrow’s mandate. And since this idiotic suggestion opens up a whole new avenue of enforcement opportunities (i.e. new budgetary considerations), I fear we can expect this coming soon to an employment application near you.

Also from the article:

The “informal discussion letter” from the EEOC said an employer’s requirement of a high school diploma, long a standard criterion for screening potential employees, must be “job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.” The letter was posted on the commission’s website on Dec. 2.

Now, on one hand, I’m trying to think of what job you could perform without reading skills or math skills. I mean, even the person running the fryer at Mickey D’s has to know how long to set the timer for, right? And a basic knowledge of chemistry made slow days as a stock clerk infinitely more interesting. (Bombs, anyone?  You couldn’t bowl with frozen turkeys and two liter bottles of soda all the time.)

But then, on the other hand, I think of the misspellings we see on fast food signs, or the time when we had that “special” person making our customer service experience a memorable one, courtesy of a public education system that will, when pressed, admit that it doesn’t even do as well as it used to (when our grandparents had to learn LATIN and actually read the hardcore literature prior to a successful matriculation, and now we’re lucky when the kids get out knowing where their own state is located on a map).  I know, I know.  These dedicated experts will always tell us that the answer is to pay teachers more, but I find myself less and less convinced by that reasoning. (And before my friends who are teachers decide to jump down my throat, yes, I understand that there have been other developments changing how you do your jobs, and expecting much more from you than should be expected, but in an age where so much knowledge is literally at our fingertips, how can you be in any way complacent with the almost constant dumbing down of your charges?)

It may be endy, but it certainly isn’t funny.  When government is the only employer, then it will be appropriate for the government to dictate what the minimum requirements for employment will be.

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Telling the story of an icon can be a daunting prospect, and while some might find the proposition that a comic-book hero can be an icon to be hyperbole, I would respectfully disagree. While the short story has long been considered an “American” contribution to literature, I think that as comic books came into their own in the 20th Century, they embodied a form of storytelling that was uniquely American as well, and in terms of mytholigical significance in American society, there are those characters that occupy the loftiest heights in this rich pantheon of characters. Captain America is one of those characters, second only to Superman in terms of what he has meant to generations of boys in this country.

For me, Captain America is the character on the cover above, as drawn by one of his two-creators, Jack Kirby, during the 1960s, known to comic book collectors as the “Silver Age” of comics. Having spent as much as my youth as I did seeking out the 60s and 70s Marvel and DC comics, I consider myself a bit better acquainted with the mythology than most, which means that I set the bar very high for these modern film adaptations of the characters. Some times I’ve been disappointed (The Incredible Hulk), sometimes I’ve been underwhelmed (Ghost Rider), sometimes I’ve felt cheated (The Fantastic Four…yes, Jessica Alba in a skin tight suit was fun, but over all, I wanted a story.), and then there have been the times they got it right (Iron Man, Thor). I can say that they impressed me this time.

First, there is the matter of casting. I wasn’t sure that Chris Evans was the right choice for the star-spangled Avenger, and without the magic of CGI animation making him a 98-pound weakling, he wouldn’t have been. I also realized that the rewrite of Nick Fury in the movies would create an issue with Howling Commandos, but seeing Dum Dum Dugan (played by Neal McDonough) on the screen was like seeing an old friend.  Likewise, Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine and Tommy Lee Jones as the grumpy senior officer in charge of the Super Soldier Project was inspired. 

While the screenwriters did make some changes to the story (a Bucky who knew Cap before the war, and who was the same age and bigger than the pre-experiment Steve Rogers, a Red Skull who was head of Hydra during the war and more loyal to himself than Hitler, how Bucky died, and how Cap took his 70 year nap), they were deftly handled, and as a fan, I found I was not offended by them.

As the story unfolded, I found myself impressed with how the story drew me in, and how it showed the clear difference between good and evil, as represented by Cap, the former little guy who would not abuse the great power he’d been given, and the Red Skull, a bully made stronger by the early incarnation of the Super Soldier Serum.  Cap became an inspiration to anyone who’d seen him in action.  The Skull inspired fear through his cruelty and sheer brute force.  And as Cap gained the respect of those who knew him, his legend grew, where the Skull was a shadowy figure to a world that never knew the extent of the threat that he posed to them. 

At its heart, this film is the comic book brought to life, showing the spirit of a skinny kid who never let the bullies beat his spirit, even as they sometimes brutalized him physically, and sometimes won by using his head instead of his body.

I only regret that Jack Kirby never got to see it.

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