Sunday 26 December 2010

Coase's 100th birthday- hip, hip

This is a link to a lecture by Coase filmed in 2003. Riveting stuff and very funny especially the bits about Abba Lerner (he tried to convince Trotsky of the virtue of marginal cost pricing- as opposed to machine gunning peasants).

Like Coase, but with a time lag of  plus or minus 50 years, I too attended a Grammar School in North London before moving on to the L.S.E and, like him, I too did not follow any of the Econ courses taught there- in his case, this was because that wasn't his subject, in mine it was because I was drunk- but since then our paths in life have much diverged.
Coase fell under the influence of Sir Arnold Plant- born, entre nous, in the Borough of Hoxton- and, hoping perhaps to mitigate the ignominy of so declasse a connection, rather than despairing of slaying the dragon represented by Lord Reith- Coase ultimately emigrated to the Colonies- not the good ones, but those flagrantly and contumaciously defiant of the authority of our Gracious Queen.
An honorable impulse we might think, but it was in vain that Coase crossed the Atlantic's black and bitter waters, the impertinent attentions of the Nobel Prize Committee chivvied him out of his wigmam and broadcast his shame- thus bringing him to my notice.

In the video linked to above- Coase, remarks on Chicago's difficulty in understanding the traditional Wicksteed & L.S.E concept of opportunity cost- it appears they thought the cost of something one possessed was lower than something one paid for, not grasping that anything owned might be sold (absent transaction costs) at the same price as that at which it was bought.
Wicksteed hammered home the London School's insight regarding opportunity cost by making the housewife the paradigm of the economist. The Edwardian household, more happily than my own, was founded upon the essential fungibility and gross substitutability of the housewife's various functions whereas perhaps the patriarchal meat-packers of Chicago could stomach no similarly chilling a reflection on their own place in the scheme of things.
Borrowing one or two of the hackneyed hueristics of socio-biology, one might argue that this is a weakness of Coase's 'theorem'. Men think more about stuff they own and less about stuff they don't. This changes not some Platonic opportunity cost, but the sort of opportunity cost profiles actually accessible to living human beings.
A different point relates to mimesis as a motive for action and a method of control, but that is to introduce a de Maistrean, a Girardian, note, in what is otherwise Wicksteed's Unitarian Kingdom where Guelph and Ghibelline are reconciled.
If anyone deserves to enter that Kingdom, it is Coase- if for nothing else then for his splendidly cavalier dismissal of the theorem that disgraces his name.

To see why- this is a link to Steven Landsburg saying Coase's theorem means Econ theory can't say in advance whether BP should pay for the recent oil spill. Alternatively, here is Walter Block ranting on about how Coase is worse than Communism because he abolishes property rights- Judges should let O.J kill his wife coz he can pay more for the transgression than she (Block sniggers and says she had low self-esteem) would have paid not to be killed.
This is nonsense. Coase said, and says, no such thing. Following Sir Arnold Plant, Coase saw the dangers in endless Govt. regulations, that's all. For British law, the corollary is that it is a good idea to vest rights to potential economic income streams from goods and services in the existing title holder. It's just that the potential income stream of some other title holder may conflict at which point there is a bargaining problem which lawyers and and arbitrators and. for test cases, judges can facillitate with a view to minimizing transaction costs.
Clearly, transactions costs rise if
a) there is uncertainty as to who owns what or where the burden for compensation rests.
b) the threat of a nuisance, or strategic usage of nuisances, becomes a factor.
This is common sense. However, in neither case does Govt. intervention not worsen things because
1) under (a) the Govt may have a perverse incentive to increase rather than mitigate Economy wide uncertainty (though reducing it in the specific case where it gives a ruling)- for example, by retrospectively legalizing illegal structures or the reverse- simply so as to extort bribes or garner political support.
2) If preferences are too diverse there may be no common-sense meaning to 'nuisance'. I may claim that my loud rock music is to me as the Muezzin's call to prayer and, in consequence, to mitigate the nuisance I cause my neighbors is to imperil my hope of Satanic salvation. My neighbors may consider stabbing me regularly to be an essential complement to the ceremony. To call in the Govt. to resolve the issue however- far from allowing a relative harmonization of preferences- may lead to nuisances burgeoning into cults and ideologies. (Surely the correct explanation for their origin).

A common sense view, and Coase is a common sense guy,  is that nuisances and catastrophic consequences are the responsibility of the producer- assuming he has agency and capacity to curtail them (lack of either can be compensated for- as with children, lunatics, Belgians, etc- and generally is done so in some bilateral or multilateral manner. The fundamental premise here is that Society always wants less of bad things and more of good things- so there is a certain amount of give and take, a certain notion of civility and the common good underlies everything..
Libertarians invoke the homely metaphor of 'homesteading' quite abstract property rights, though that notion never extended to things the homesteader could not develop just as well as anybody else. Courts have tended to quash 'cybersquatters' who buy domain names only of real use to some other party. The notion that 'a Coasian Judge' is doing this for some Benthamite reason is nonsense. Leo Strauss's discussion of property rights absent scarcity makes this clear. Coase is a common-sense, solid values, empirically driven kind of guy and that's why he is revered in the 'Law and Economics' field.

Coase points out that the proper function of lawyers is reducing transaction costs not padding their bills. Well, that's worth a Nobel Prize in my book.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Gandhi and Masturbation-

Gandhi recognized Masturbation as one of the major causes of India's weakness- though, unlike Katherine Mayo, he did not consider it the sole or even predominating factor.

Thus it comes as something of a surprise to me that the late Prof. Ragavan Iyer did scant justice to the one truly novel aspect of the Mahatma's multi-dimensional approach to tackling the root cause of this detestable vice.

The fact that masturbation- as Shrilal Shukla has pointed out- enfeebles the very faculty it seeks to exercise led Gandhi to the insight that only by masturbating masturbation itself- and this includes relentlessly tugging the todger of that very imaginative power whereby the desired image is perceived, or, indeed, uremittingly pulling the pudding of all thought and deed- thus alone, could the demon of masturbation be defeated, that too non-violently, for having bashed its own bishop to Beckett like death- and it was to this praiseworthy end that, from that day to this, the entire panoply of Gandhism's platitudinous puerility endlessly wanks weiners West or East..

Martha Nussbaum- magnifying India's problems.

This is a hilarious interview with Prof. Nussbaum which ends like this-
JOANNE MYERS: Thank you so much for magnifying all the problems of India.

Says it all really.

Friday 24 December 2010

India's imminent break-up- the dead-man's switch.

I read somewhere that high-speed trains have a 'dead-man's switch' such that if the driver suffers a heart-attack while reading this blog or loses consciousness by reason of the extreme paroxysms of auto-erotic self-strangulation to which the task of imagining my dewy dhoti clad form must inevitably drive him to, then the engine cuts out automatically causing the train to come to a halt.
In a sense, the union of India is like that train- we might imagine that it has some sort of auto-pilot or inbuilt stabilizer (indeed, in theory, the sedition law should operate in this manner) such that the train continues to speed on while the driver keels over from sheer onanistic exhaustion- but the reverse is the case, India has a dead man switch and, it appears, that switch has now been triggered.

Last year, an obscure Chinese political Scientist suggested that China should try to break up India into a collection of 20 or 30 smaller states. At the time, the very notion seemed risible- but, today, watching Swami Agnivesh explain why his friend Dr. Binayak Sen has been given a life-sentence for Sedition (the bastard worked for the poor! He spoke out against the Sab pe Zulum cut-throats! Worse, he was friends with a Hindu Swami! Hanging is too good for him!) while, over on Al Jazeera, there's a segment on a poor woman sleeping on the pavement in New Delhi because some Minister bilked the Exchequer of 40 billion dollars- what can one say? The dead-man's switch is in operation. There is no such thing as an Indian Nation State. The project of synoecism has run out of steam. There is merely theft and a Parliamentary 'chor bazaar'- a thieves' market place- operating at the heart of things.

From the point of Economic theory, it appears to me that there is now too much diversity, not just at the level of outcome but also preferences, for a National Politics to make sense. In a sense, politically imposed poverty could make it appear that there was this huge constituency for more of the same but that is simply not true any more. Kerala has already gone through demographic transition. A malnourished woman in Kerala may look like a malnourished woman from somewhere else, but she doesn't want the same things. Kerala could get a windfall 20% gain by going its own way right now (provided it tackles its own craziness) and do a Chinese style 5 year income doubling thing- this generates pay-offs for local satraps at the level of Capital Gains so vast as to give them an incentive to fix the system.
The same can be said to one degree or another of other progressive states. True, appalling poverty statistics mean that better implementation of Poverty Relief programs may appear a money-spinner but those sorts of programs have inbuilt efficiency costs and superior mechanism design can help local power-brokers to switch from rent-seeking to capitalizing dynamic gains.
Another constraint on the Center's capacity to hold things together is the bogey raised by the doctrine of command responsibility such that when these kleptocrats go abroad to visit their money, they may be unceremoniously chucked in jail for Human Rights abuse and War Crimes and so on. Who needs that headache?
A Congress Minister, that too a Hindu, is now calling for Azadi for Kashmir- the thing makes sense. Why paint a target on your back for the vociferous Kashmiri constituency in the West? What actually is lost, from your Swill Bank account, if Kashmir is lost? Your portfolio is already diversified. Thanks to Manmohan Singh, any asset in India has already been borrowed against and the money transferred outside via false invoicing or bogus transactions- i.e the capital gain has already been realized in hard currency and hedging what remains isn't particularly expensive.
Blue sky Globalized capitalism already has its weather system of cyclones sustained by the very volatility they create such, where it matters, a sort of  Cloud computed 'dominance without hegemony'' can operate and dividends accrue- yet, civil society needs hegemony to cohere- but, it appears to me, that will be supplied under the rubric of Separatism not Synoecism because, for India,  the moral equivalent of the dead man's switch has already been triggered.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

The education of Henry Adams- WTF?

This is a story of a guy who just couldn't get no edumication no matter how hard he tried but who still somehow started to begin to see that education had ceased to be possible save as a branch of Mathematics- Pareto's, if I were to hazard a guess.
Unfortunately, coz he didn't know any Math and was as thick as shite, he wrote this crap book which Americans are forced to read coz they have no Medieval History, but since this fuckwit taught it at Harvard for a few years, well, this book is all that falls to their lot of that branch of the tree of Knowledge best fit for mereticious, for ultimately Manchesterist, skoptsi self-flagellation.

What does education actually mean? Well, its stuff you can study and pursue such that after a given point the actions of other equally 'educated' people around you become predictable such that stable Nash equilibria emerge and so on and so forth.
So - a kind of ars dictaminis facilitating Civilization rather than the blind engine of Civil faction.
Adams discovers that no such education existed. His bunch of assholes fucked up the country big time for no good reason- or rather, for no reason good to themselves. It was all just pretence and pi-jaw- that's all.
Nobody had any problem with the Southerners sticking it to the 'Negro' till their dicks were slicker than shit so long as they didn't come to Boston to recapture their slaves- coz. like once the Niggers cross the Mason-Dixie they're ours to stick it to.
The British Cabinet- where Pam turns out to be the good guy and Earl Russel a demon of mendacity and fucking Gladstone the ultimate shit-head- teaches Adams that education don't exist.

His second big education comes with the Banking Crisis in 1893, but of course the asshole doesn't get that his own pro-Silver silliness was part of what made that inevitable.  So Adams turns Anti-Semite, the precious little flower, does diddums hate dem nasty Jews? What? Diddums does? What an aristocratic litttle diddums it is! Bless my soul and fuck me sideways if I tell a lie.

The odd thing about Harvard is that, despite Game Theory having been on the Menu for over 50 years them 'educated' clunkheads aint got a lot further down the road- 'cept they keep a lid on the cussing out of niggers and kikes & shite.

But, like that's gonna help Obama. Yeah, right!

One last point- America does have a Virgin, America has a Madonna- her name was Marilyn Monroe and she too had her education and we are all her children.

Sunday 19 December 2010

the Kerala model- why it wont work elsewhere.

Kerala is different. Why? It's actually quite a nice place to live. Kidnapping isn't a heavy industry. Movies and novels and magazines aint utter shit. That means some Doctors are going to want to live even in backwater villages- especially if they've inherited land there.
Furthermore, its radically  fucked economy means you have cheap nurses part of whose reproductive cycle occurs in the province.
But what happens if Kerala's economy gets a little less fucked coz like the Cubans are backtracking and. anyway, the other alternative of cutting off the hands of lecturers is soooo last decade?
Well, then the statistics go into reverse- like what happened in China when the barefoot doctors got shoes and ran the fuck out of the rural backwaters and didn't stop running till they'd started to do well for themselves.

Still, the Kerala Model DOES offer a beacon of hope, not alas! for Kerala but for ...urm... dunno...Cambridge?
Some place with a lot of caste complexity. Oh yes, and land reform.
So not Cambridge then. 

But don't tell Amartya Sen- there's a dear.

In any case he turns up his nose at poor old England's N.H.S, preferring the other Cambridge for medical help.

This I think is his lasting contribution to the Capital reswitching debate and the War between the two Cambridges. Joan Robinson would have been so proud!

Saturday 18 December 2010

From Vivian Grey to Dorian Grey- what changed?

Beating kids is important. It's what Civilization is about. But, for some strange reason, a lot of kids don't like being beaten. Worse, their Moms and Dads- especially the horny handed blue collar sort- show a regrettable tendency to thrash the school-master unmercifully if he lays hands on their little dears.
It's no good complaining to the Village police-man or the Curate or whatever. Teachers are considered a good punching bag for the rising generation of farm hands.
For this reason, school masters throughout history have wanted to educate the children of the elite, or- even better- become Professors of some sort.
This is because, traditionally, it is okay to beat the kids of the elite and talk poisonous hateful shite at the University level.
I recall my young friend Disraeli writing what I thought quite a promising little roman a clef- Vivian Grey was its name- in which the hero pulls a pistol so as to inflict revenge upon the usher who'd given him a flogging in the School Room. But, by taking umbrage at a mere usher and treating a puerile punishment as a personal affront- Disraeli gave the lie to the notion that he was indeed 'a man of fashion'.
Only children of the lower orders resent a flogging.
Wilde's Dorian Grey is a horrible example of what happens to a blue blooded gentleman (his aristocratic maternal grand-father had gotten his father killed in a duel) who hasn't had the stuffing beaten out of him at Public School. But, by then, it was already too late. Schoolmasters had become a sentimental bunch- Wittgenstein, the last of of the Cambridge sadists, plied his cane only  in Austria, till that is, his old School-fellow, Hitler purified Aryan pedagogy of its last trace of a grand Civilizing mission- and Saki, bewailing England's inevitable collapse in 'When William Came' puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of the lower orders whose Moms wouldn't let them be flogged. 'Our Alf- he never done it!' they'd squawk, the slatterns and their 'Our Alf, he never!"' became the dirge of Old England's winding sheet.
More generally, I maintain, the West ceased to exist the moment kids refused to take a beating. Indeed, with the mass production of cheap flick knives and bicycle chains, a fundamental plank of Western Thought, Western Culture, simply ceased to exist.
It is in this context that Post Colonial Theory has a contribution to make. It mourns the violence it invokes as constituting its episteme in precisely the same way as any other random thing you can think of, only don't forget to add in something about the far deeper violence, nay genocide!, involved in Globalization and how like isn't it ironic that something or the other happened on Twitter and anyway I will now write a book about- not Gramsci, I did that last week- urm, Gandhi and passive revolution or something.

Prynne and translating 'difficult' poetry

This is a link to a talk by the great British poet, J.H. Prynne on the difficulties involved in translating 'difficult' poetry- including his own.
Before proceeding to mangle his arguments, may I advance my own little nugget of wisdom? I may not? Fuck you.

The first thing that struck me was that Prynne reckons Shakespear's Sonnets are a case of difficulty of language being part and parcel of difficult thought. Difficult mark you, not costive, not crapulous, but  difficult.
Are there any difficulties of thought in the Sonnets?Well, perhaps, if one wishes to get away from allegory and seeks some psychological or historical information from them. But, isn't that Nineteenth Century historicism gone mad?
Still, let Shakespear's sonnets stand as difficult poetry in the sense that a smart guy like Prynne can get a lot more out of them than a dumb Curry & Chips Cockney.
Not that I didn't like the Sonnets. I read them  when I was 19 and thought 'this shit dun be okay'- except I didn't think this thought to myself but to Jack the Ripper as played by Jerry Lewis in that daydream I had when listening to a lecture about the reswitching debate during the War between the 2 Cambridges.

But pace my own difficult thoughts or difficulties in thinking, Prynne brings enormous sensitivity to the entire semantic field and stresses 'choice'- choice of word, choice of image, choice of allusion- as that which defines difficulty. We are far off from the notion of the poet as 'sweet Nature's child, warbling his wood notes wild'- or of poetry as 'sphota', an explosion of meaning, like a boil full of pus which bursts to general merriment and applause.
Equally, the schizophrenic's word-salad and Paranoid, Poundian, pseudo Profundity are not the object of Prynne's meditation- difficulty is neither a mental illness nor a linguistic imposture- on the contrary, Prynne's method makes room for actual Philological scholarship, for attentiveness to genuine advances in the Physical and Social Sciences rather than the schwarmerei of  fashionable charlatans,- and as such appears perfectly legitimate and praise-worthy (even if his poems are above our heads).

Prynne's focus on word choice appears, in denying Bhratrhari's sphota theory, to be enamoured of a strong version of Chomskian i-language such that words are more important than their shaping, poets present us with a Cornell box and politely fade away into the aether- rather than getting drunk and trying to have sex with the vacuum cleaner.

 However, I feel Prynne still hasn't gone far enough. I think poets should be dissected, turned into cat food, and then be forced to clean that stain under the sofa which you thought I wouldn't notice, you bastard- I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE!

Sunday 12 December 2010

Hailing Heroes of Hindutva- Rajini Narayan

Rajini Narayan set fire to her husband's penis after he called a fat, dumb, bitch. Strangely, the Australians prosecuted her for murder. She explained that she was only trying to purify his penis with fire- an ancient Hindu custom.
The Ozzies have convicted her of Man-slaughter- a clear example of anti-Hindutva paranoia- she would have been acquitted quickly enough if she'd explained all she was just throwing a little shrimp on the Barbie...

Friday 10 December 2010

But for you, these lands were rich

But for you, these lands were rich.
Rabid Dogs is God your bitch?
 You bark in the Manger
Is Religion in danger?
Go die in a ditch.

God is Music's Middle Class.

Pluck taut strings, you strangle tyrants
Modulate your timbre, or kill giants
For God is Music's middle class
Shadows too have exams to pass.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

My verdict on Ayodhya

Which would I prefer- to see a Temple commemorating Lord Rama or a Mosque commemorating Emperor Babur? Well, I like Babur- he was a great writer, a conossieur of wine, and the story of his circling the bed of his son Humayun 'praying God lift/ His Evil from his best Gift/ and take back the taker, not the Gift' is truly touching.

But, Babur is a secular figure not a fountainhead of Spirituality.

It is tragic figures, tragic that is from the point of view of the Secular World- figures like Lord Christ, Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Hussain, but also Lord Rama- who represent the true glory of Spirituality which has the power to redeem even the most selfish and stupid glutton and drunkard.

What if, instead of Emperor Babur, the disputed structure commemorated Hazrat Ali or Hazrat Hussain or another such impeccable Spiritual personality? What then indeed! There would never have been a dispute in the first place. No doubt some nut-job suicide bomber would have it down on his hit list- but any damage he may cause would swiftly be repaired and people would be more closely knit together.

(Watch Ram tera ghorak dandha video - here)
The Marxists have their own view of things. It is unfortunate that, for purely tactical purposes, they have sought to divide the Faith Community along Hindu/Muslim lines. If the disputed structure had commemorated the accursed Yazid, the Maoists would still be demanding its reconstruction. Why?
In the same way that Charile Manson wanted to spark a Race War in the U.S.A, they want to spark a Sectarian War in India. They believe they can pick up the pieces and inherit everything when the storm blows over. They are wrong. What they are doing is marginalizing themselves- rendering not just themselves irrelevant save as puppets- but also marginalizing the cause of Social Justice- which doesn't actually mean anything more sinister than letting a young girl go to School so can become more productive in employment, which in turn means a bigger dividend for my Pension fund and more money for me in retirement..

Oh. Right. I see. Okay, so maybe the Marxists have a point.

Malyalee influences on Immanuel Kant.

Much has been made of Kant's Scottish ancestry but his debt to Kerala has scarcely been acknowledged. Recently, Shashi Tharoor's daring 'de-Kanting' (as Prof. Binmore puts it) and re-formulation of Ethics has re-opened the whole question of Malyalee- in particular Shree P. Menon's- influence on Kant.

Menon Sahib, whom Kant addressed as Prolego (Prahalad? Palghat?), had a great influence on Kant' views though, with typical European condescension the sage of Konisberg wrote a letter of introduction for Prolego Menon to all future Metaphysics. This gives us the clue that Shri P. Menon may have been a student or, more likely,  a waiter at a South Indian Restaurant and had requested this favor from the German philosopher.

Monday 6 December 2010

Narendra Modi- cleared by S.I.T? So what?

It appears that the Special Investigation Team has exonerated Narendra Modi from complicity in the post-Godhra riots.
So what?

The situation in Feb 2002 was as follows
1) Modi had been C.M for only a few months. He wasn't firmly in the saddle. His following within his own party was small. He belonged to a numerically unimportant community and wasn't playing the O.B.C card- indeed, few people would have known he was a 'low' caste Ghanchi.
2) After the Pak sponsored attack on the Indian Parliament in December, tensions between India and Pakistan were at an all time high. Gujerat is a border state. Thus, neither George Fernandes, as Minister of Defense at the Center, nor Modi as C.M (the usual fall-guy for communal violence, especially as he was a political light-weight in the State) could allow the riots to get out of hand.
3) Suppressing the riots meant Hindus- activists of his own party- might get shot. But, it had to be done. This was the only way to break the cycle of violence that began in 1969.  I suppose it was convenient for everybody to leave Modi in place till elections were called. Nobody expected him to win by such a margin. Partly this had to some earlier initiatives which were bearing fruit, but- in the main- it is because suppressing riots with a hand of iron is part of Good Governance- like clamping down on kidnapping as a heavy industry. It's the sort of thing which voters want.

I don't know whether Modi handled the post-Godhra situation in the best possible way, but the fact that the cycle of violence ended that same year (Modi stepped in to prevent the Akshardam terrorist atrocity from sparking communal strife by simply putting all the blame on the Pakistani ISI) is a tribute to his toughness and understanding of the real issues which voters worry about.
Modi isn't good at communal politics. He is ham-handed. He denies tickets to Hindu party men and gives them to Muslims in a corporation election with the result that his party loses on their own home ground. If some Muslims are now voting for him it is on economic or other grounds not because they are Muslims. Modi's brand of politics is fine if the only thing voters worry about is Development, Governance and Poverty Relief.
At one time we believed he could appeal to Hindus on Religious grounds. But to do that is to be sensitive to minute differences in caste, creed and symbology. Some people can do that instinctively. If you go to a Vaishnava temple in the morning then take a darshan from a Saivite sage in the afternoon.
I think it is this quality that the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has. The Congress Gang of 4 consists of a Sikh, a Catholic (Sonia Ji), a Muslim (Ahmed Patel from Gujarat), and a Bengali Hindu (Pranab). There is no suggestion that Kashmiri Dhars are running things behind the scenes (as happened in Indira's early years) or that it is Dosco old boys (the impression in Rajiv's first year or two)- which, I suppose, begs the question of who is running things.
Personally, I suspect it might be Billi the Cat because such was its lust for power, it escaped from my lap in 1974 and despite plaintive calls of 'puss! puss!' and offers of milk in exchange for doing my Sanskrit homework, ran swiftly down Curzon Road in the general direction of the Seats of Power.
Good luck to you, Billi, is what I say. Illegetimi non carborundum!

Russel Crowe in 'The next 3 days.'

Russel Crowe's latest film- 'The next 3 days' is a so-so remake of a French thriller which worked very well for the English audience because the stars were unknows for us.
Ugly middle aged guys like me were happy a not-ugly exactly but pretty ordinary French guy- that too a teacher- turns into a lean mean action hero. His wife- a fragile blonde- too was very affecting.
The re-make couldn't really hit the same high notes- at least for those of us who'd seen the French film- or work quite as well in reversing expectations.
Still, Russel Crowe has lost none of his old magic- indeed, that's the problem- surely the guy would just need to turn on the twinkly eyed cherubic charms and all those prison guards and police men would have just given him what he wanted?
Again, the idea that muggers might ever conceive of dishing out a kicking to Russel Crowe- don't they know he just has to suck in his gut to turn into Gladiator?- seems bizarre. Okay, Crowe has the acting ability to pull it off- indeed he makes it credible. But the fact remains, his is a larger than life presence- perhaps what this film needed was an Edward Norton who can do the Caspar Milquetoast to Incredible Hulk transition in a manner that tells us things we need to know about violence in our society.
Brian Denehy has a great cameo as the monosyllabic Father. And the kid is adorable. The female lead, however, I've already forgotten, though I saw the movie just 2 days ago. Let me look up her name. Elizabeth Banks. Hey, I like her! Zack & Miri make a porno... whole lot of other stuff... how come I don't remember her face from 2 days ago when I can still recall the face of the French actress who played the original role?
Was she mis-cast? More like wasted, if you ask me. She's a great talent. It would have been great if she and Crowe could have sparked off each other more, perhaps getting a bit more humor in- there's a scene where she tries to jump out of the car when she thinks she won't see her son again- the psychological foundation for this wasn't adequately laid and an opportunity missed for Banks to really own that scene.

Still, it's a perfectly okay film if you haven't seen the French version.

Tron Legacy- an okay 3 D film missing a dimension.

I don't go to the Cinema often- in fact, just twice this year. My first visit was to see the 3D Avatar which totally blew me away- though I admit I did cry a lot and get very frightened and my girl-friend had to threaten to take away my bottle unless I stopped jumping out of my seat to throw popcorn at the bad guys.

I saw Tron Legacy on Saturday and was considerably underwhelmed. Why?

Was it simply because the Tron Universe is constrained to be digital and monochrome- well, not monochrome, what's the word for a 2 color palette with glossy Kouros black and shiny neon white? Naff-Stringfellows-type-Nightclub-chic-from-the-benighted-Eighties? Okay that's not exactly a word, but it would be in German- only they'd manage to add in a lot of bleak theological stuff and finish it off, phonetically, with a fine brutalist stamp.
This palette is seriously underwhelming in 3D. Avatar's vivid tropical forest colors and xeno-biological hyper-organicism, on the other hand, made it the ideal movie for 3 D treatment.
Tron, back in 1982, was a breakthrough movie in that it went the other way- it took us from a 3 D world to a 2D world, like Edwin Abbot's Flatland.
Recall, that it was only during the second half of the 70's that people began to see that the future was digital not analog- Martin Cruz Smith's 1972 novel about a super-computer manipulating people was entitled 'the Analog bullet'- and that, in some sense, there was going to be a flattening of networks with the focus shifting to operating systems- an economist might say mechanism design- rather than the emergents on the Social sphere that demand our loyalty and seek to prescribe life's proper meaning.
Tron Legacy- dominated by Jeff Bridges, except this is a guy at his best if there is a ironic counter-current to his surfer dude machismo as in 'the Big Libowski'- in taking 'the grid' 3 D and introducing a theological element- God the Father creates a Lucifer in his image to take care of the boring bits involved in formulating Perfection, but Lucifer turns against the autonomous life forms which spontaneously arise because they are necessarily  imperfect- this sequel does not actually add a dimension to its topos but, rather, subtracts from its mythos by foreclosing its possibilities.
The result is that a huge talent like Michael Sheen is wasted as analogue to the Matrix's Merovingian- and comes across as a silly poofter rather than a sinister cyber Machiavelli.
One thing that puzzled me was the chicken wire effect in the flashback scenes. Is this to suggest the older l.c.d projectors from ten or fifteen years ago? Dunno. But it looked ugly.
On the other hand, a lot of Daft Punk fans are going to be watching this movie and, for all I know, maybe the whole mise en scene works for them.
 What stamped itself on my mind, however, was not the cinematic mise en scene but  Tron Legacy's scenes a faire script- I mean who cares about freeing up Operating Systems in the age of Cloud Computing and hand held wi-fi toasters and so on?
This film is like legacy software- no doubt a legend in its day-  which just don't play well with what we're now using.