Assessing M. Night Shyamalan's career.

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July 21 2006 10:47 PM

Shy of Expectations

Assessing M. Night Shyamalan's career.

(Continued from Page 3)

rcf broadens the debate on medical malpractice costs to include all the players: "Realize doctors are not the only medical providers who make errors. Nurses do, clerks do, aides do, lab techs do, PA's do. Such an error no matter who makes it can lead to a cascade of subsequent errors." Read his reform proposal here.

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For Dayenu, the point of medical malpractice cases is "to make patients (or their survivors) whole again. They are not designed to improve health care. In fact, in some ways they fail to do just that, by convincing policymakers that a lawsuit solves the problem for the next patient, when it doesn't. In the first place, the problem isn't just paying claims, it's the cost of medical malpractice insurance. In the second place, is there any proof that malpractice cases do anything to improve health care to individual patients or even stop individual bad doctors from practicing medicine?"

michaeltwatson, author of America's Tunnel Vision—How Insurance Companies' Propaganda Is Corrupting Medicine and Law, writes in to make a plug for his book and deplore the prevalence of medical error.

You can add your two cents in Medical Examiner. AC7:30pm PDT

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

There exists in our society a widespread fear of judging that has nothing whatever to do with the biblical "Judge not, that ye be not judged," and if this fear speaks in terms of "casting the first stone," it takes this word in vain. — Hannah Arendt, Responsibility and Judgment

If there are actual themes to the weekly discussions taking place in our Fray, last week's would surely have been "who's to judge?" Stephen Metcalf's iconoclastic assessment of John Ford's The Searchers was blasted with a fusillade of canon ire by outraged film lovers in our Dilettante Fray.

By volume, the most common sentiment appears to be the mind-poppingly contradictory belief that nothing but criticism merits critique: "People who's job is to criticize other peoples work don't have much going for them in the first place. In other words Stephen, GET A LIFE!!!"

Other posters seem to believe that the best critic is little more than a mirror at the end of a dimly lit hall, reflecting the image of what the reader will eventually experience: "A critic's job is to look at whether or not the general audience will enjoy a movie and offer their opinion on THAT."

To those with high hopes for a demotic literary culture, the experience of reading every thread in the Fray may call to mind Heidi Julavits' assessment of contemporary criticism from The Believer's inaugural issue: "Reading many reviews these days, I have the feeling of dust settling on a razed landscape, in which nothing is growing, in which nothing can grow. And this is what makes me depressed, and then angry, and then invigorated by the possibilities that every wasteland suggests."

But flowers already bloom, even in this Philistine desert. Most notable are lucabrasi's excursus on Vertigo, jumblejim's passionate plea on behalf of the untutored aesthetic, and NickCharles' ivory-tower rebuttal. For a condensed display of other good points and good discussions, you can view the Editor's Picks. (Newbie users may wish to click here to restore regular Fray-vision.)

Over in the Movie Fray, angry Fraysters are fit to keelhaul Dana Stevens for her movie review of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.In the course of panning the film, Stevens confesses to her readers that "the movie depends heavily on in-jokes and references from the previous installment—a movie I always meant to see" but never did. The consensus opinion (perhaps a first on the Fray) is best expressed by bob_mong:

How can a movie critic be too busy and/or apathetic to see one of the top five grossing films of 2003, a film that was nominated for five Oscars? What was especially amusing/appalling was how she tries to justify that apathy for her profession:

Dropping in on the middle chapter of a trilogy seems as good a way as any of assessing the state of the franchise.

Actually, no, it doesn't seem that way. Rather, it seems like as lazy a way as any of assessing the state of the franchise.

Should a preference for the subject under review be part of a critic's job requirements? Dancing_Otter,a self-professed sci-fi writer,takes her standards to the next level:

It's all too common for "mainstream" reviewers to heap disdain on a genre they clearly neither appreciate nor understand. I mean really, would anyone dare to start a serious review of --say, wine-- with: "I don't drink wine, but man this red stuff really tastes weird to me."

Last week's Dear Prudence column presented a tinderbox of domestic drama—a weeping bastard child, philandering mother, dithering father of doubtful status, and an inscrutable stepmom-to-be. Into this incendiary mix, the New Prudie casts a hot judgment against the letter writer:

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