March 30th, 2005

The Schaivo case

I just need to vent my opinions. The Schindlers are wrong, wrong, wrong. I can't speak to their motives--perhps they think they are truly acting out of love for their daughter, although from what I know about human emotion I'm sure other less pure things have mingled in there--just the question of who has the power to make a decision is enough to engender huge feuds, let alone a possible lasting grudge over division of her malparactice settlement. But come ON people, it's been FIFTEEN YEARS. She's never going to get any better. There is NO HOPE. This doctor they have become attached to is, in my opinion, a pure quack. Let her go!

While I don't for a minute believe in the different diagnosis of "minimally concious state," even if it were true, it wouldn't change my opinion. Imagine being trapped in that condition--unable to move, speak, or swallow on your own, with occasional fading in and out of conciousness just enough to know that months or years were passing in the blink of an eye: or perhaps worse yet to be stuck in an eternal present--. I can think of little worse. I would not wish it on my worst enemy, let alone someone I loved.

I think that underlying all the Shindler's motives is a despicable selfishness. THEY cannot bear to let their daughter go, and so wish to keep her for uncountable years longer as a sort of minimally animate Terry doll.

Even worse are the twisted ideas driving all the political figures and activists who have jumped on this bandwagon. What do they really want? I understand the slippery slope arguement against possible involuntary euthanasia--an unralistic fear in my opinion--but has anyone considered what the contrary position means? What these people are really saying is that every person and their friends and family MUST suffer through every possible second of life, no matter how hideous, that medical science can wring out of a body. Is this not horror? Is this not torture?

The truly ironic part of course, is that, more than a few decades ago, someone like Terry Schaivo would have died very shortly due to being unable to swallow. Naso-gastric tubes or intravenous feeding would have delayed the process only months or a few years at best, with death from eventual infection or other complications. It is only medical intervention that has kept Schaivo alive at all. If we are speaking of her "alloted span", St. Peter has been waiting to welcome her these fifteen years.


I found "Steamboy," the much anticipated new anime film by Katshurio Otomo, director of the ground-breaking "Akira" to be disappointing. I find that it has both "Akira"'s virtues--beautiful animation and design-- and vices, to wit, a minimal plot, and a final cataclysm that goes on far too long. Some other writers have guesstimated that the ultimate crisis, involving the destruction of the London Exposition, much of surrounding London, and ultimately the "Steam Castle" itself, takes up half the movie. It may not be exactly true, but sure feels like it.

Such plot as there is deals with the struggle between Steamboy Ray Steam's grandfather and father over their mutual invention, the Steam Ball, a kind of hyper-efficient steam storage battery, with Ray in the middle. Grandfather Lloyd believes in pure science for the advancement of humanity. Father Edward, embittered by his disfigurement in a lab accident, has sold out to the "O'Hara Foundation," who are in reality ruthless weapons manufacturers and dealers. The struggle over the ball is somewhat complicated by the intervention of the British government and rival inventor Stephenson, who is perhaps not as good a guy as he initally appears.

Character development is minimal, with the possible exceptions of Stephenson and his assistant, who acquire some ambiguity as the plot unfolds. The mad scientists stay mad, and Ray is spunky and heroic throughout. Steadfastness is actually a virtue in one character, Miss Scarlett, the bratty and spoiled scion of the O'Hara munitions empire, who sees nothing wrong in the family business. I kept expecting her to see "the error of her ways", and it DIDN'T happen. The closest she comes to a moment of doubt occurs whan she sees a "steam trooper" killed in front of her, and has a moment of squeamishness when she realizes that there is "a man inside the machine." Kind of refreshing, actually.

As I said, very fluid and believable animation, particularly involving the steam machines, and wonderfully intricate design, especially in the Steam Castle. A pity there isn't more story to go with the wonderful effects. I was looking forward to something like an industrial-era "Princess Mononoke", but only got "Akira" warmed over. Miazake need not fear for his laurels as a storyteller. "Howl's Moving Castle" based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones will be out soon--.