If you prefer the charm of hand-drawn animation to the computer-generated sort, you’ll love The Illusionist. The primary character, an aging and outdated European magician named Tatischeff, plays one-night gigs traveling from town to town and country to country, often being cheated by his employers. Eventually he crosses paths with Alice, a teenager who plays at being grownup, and who believes him to be the magician he once was. Their ensuing adventure together is both humorous and haunting. The movie is enchantingly slow-paced, and the animation and sound styles create a nearly perfect stage for this character-driven story.
"So be it." Those three words, uttered by House Speaker John Boehner last week about the prospect of federal work force layoffs, generated a firestorm of anger and anxiety among congressional Democrats, liberals, federal workers (and federal nonworkers in no small number of cases, considering the absence of output), and various other advocates of ever-expanding government.
One of the reasons why so many Americans are confused about the large numbers being tossed around by our leaders in Washington these days is because of how poorly they were taught mathematics in the public schools. They find figures in the millions, billions, and trillions almost impossible to visualize as anything more than just strings of numbers. Most Americans can barely deal with thousands, let alone trillions.
The propaganda machine was out in full strength last week when General Motors generated a lot of excitement by announcing that each of its 40,000 hourly workers will be getting bonuses averaging $4,000. Water-cooler conversations and media coverage alike were abuzz over this news, everyone beaming with patriotic pride that the all-American company was able to come back from the brink of disaster and reward its workers for all their efforts.