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Journal: Have you checked your credit lately?

Journal by PhxBlue

Do I need to spell out, in this day and age where identity theft runs rampant, how important it is to check your credit regularly?

I checked mine today, through Equifax's $9.00 report. It only gives me the record as Equifax has it, but it's my experience that the three credit reporting bureaus will match in terms of actual credit information. I'm happy to report that my credit still looks good, at least as far as I can tell.

I also noticed that a lot of companies requested information on my name and address through Equifax, via what the company calls "PRM," or promotional inquiry. It defines the PRM as, "A promotional inquiry in which your name and address were given to a lender for credit offers, such as credit card solicitations."

Not cool. I don't need any more credit cards than I have already, nor do I need to refinance my home mortgage. I don't need deceptive mailings that are made to look like checques (ie., "Pay to the order of..." with amounts of $50,000, etc.).

Fortunately, as a bonus for ordering the report, I glommed some information on how to--theoretically--stop Equifax from sharing this information: write a letter to Equifax's Options office with a request to opt out. Include your name, mailing addres, and SSN/Tax ID (it won't kill you, they already have it anyway). The mailing address is:

Options
Equifax, Inc.
P.O. Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374-0123

They also included instructions on how to opt-out from mail sent through the Direct Marketing Association, though their instructions are a bit out of date. For best results, hit this link and either mail in the form (37) or have it filed electronically ($5). Again, I'm not 100% sure how well this will work. I'll come back in a month or two, once I find out for myself.

Movies

Journal: Matrix Reloaded Analysis (Spoilers)

Journal by PhxBlue

I saw "Matrix Reloaded" for the second time last night. The first go-round was fun, but I was more there to enjoy the film, special effects, etc., than I was to really analyze the movie. This time I got to do a better analysis of the theme, the dialogue, and a few of the smaller details that I hadn't really thought much about the first time around. I've also played through "Enter the Matrix," which I think helped.

The theme of the Matrix is control. . . always has been. But this time, I think it's more strongly emphasized than it was in the first film. There's a direct relationship between Neo's conversation with the Councilor at the beginning of the film, and his conversation with the Architect near the end. Both conversations are about control, and both attempt to define what control really means. Neo at first defines it as the ability to decide whether something lives (is turned on) or dies (is turned off); but the Councilor refutes that by pointing out the consequences of "killing" the machines that support Zion. Later in the movie, the Architect realizes the same consequences and says, "We are prepared to accept a lower standard of survival." Just as the people of Zion need their machines, so do the controllers of the Matrix need humans. The Architect doesn't admit this "weakness," though; and the movie doesn't make entirely clear just how deeply that symbiosis goes. I hope we'll get to explore that with "Matrix Revolutions."

Agent Smith has evolved as well, in a manner that seems to parallel Neo's own evolution. At the end of the first Matrix, he's incapable of harming Neo in any way. In "Reloaded," he actually does manage to land some blows. While it's true that Neo does hold his own against a virtual army of Smiths, that only adds weight to this point (no pun intended): one Smith could not beat Neo, so Smith evolved into a form which would make him a match. Smith's evolution is also evident to other Rebels: Bane's last words are a comment along the line of, "Have you ever seen anything like that?" He'd encountered Agents before, but none as fast or as powerful as Smith had become. Finally, Smith's new-found ability to exist *OUTSIDE* the Matrix gives him rough parity with Neo. The trailer for Revolutions promises an epic conclusion to this conflict.

Another thought re: Agent Smith: when did he develop a God complex? In "Reloaded," when Bane gasps, "Oh, God," Smith replies, "Smith will suffice." This quip wouldn't have caught my attention except for a line he says in "Enter the Matrix": "I am the Alpha. . . of your Omega. I am the beginning. . . of your end." I see this as a biblical reference despite the fact that I'm not Christian; but if that's the case, what would be Smith's role within the Christian mythos? I don't think this has an answer; therefore, I think this is just a reflection on Smith's psychosis.

Morpheus' role changed drastically in the final few minutes of the movie. In a very short span of time, Neo blows away the foundation of his beliefs, and then Sentinels blow away his ship, the Nebuchadnezzar. As the Neb burns, Morpheus says, "I have dreamed a dream, but now that dream is gone from me." Classically, Morpheus is the Greek god of dreams; without his dream, Morpheus no longer has a purpose. What shall become of him without it?

Purpose is also a major theme of the film: almost every program speaks of it. The Merovingian speaks of the Keymaker's purpose as "a means to an end." The purposes of the other programs are similarly straightforward: the Oracle determines the future; Seraph ("Angel," originally from Hebrew) is the Oracle's guardian; the Agents are best compared to virus scanners. The exiles, in contrast, seem to have no specific purpose other than to serve the Merovingian, whose purpose is to collect information. Persephone is an enigma--as far as I've determined, she once had a purpose but lost it, and exists now only to kiss people. As for the humans. . . Morpheus had a purpose, only to lose it. Neo had a purpose, though until the very end he did not know what it truly meant. The Merovingian points out that neither Neo nor the others knew why the Oracle directed them to him; therefore, they had no real power. This makes sense: if Neo and Morpheus knew that the risks they were taking would only lead to a new "incarnation" of the Matrix and a perpetual illusion of freedom, would they still have chosen to undertake the plan that enabled Neo to meet the Architect in the first place?

"Revolutions" may or may not answer all these questions. I suspect it will answer some, leave the rest unanswered, and raise entirely new questions all its own. Either way, I'll be in line to see it.

Now for a couple other random thoughts. . .

* Morpheus and Trinity both engage in hand-to-hand combat with Agents (other than Smith) during the course of the movie. It's not Morpheus' first attempt at fighting an Agent, though at least Morpheus "won" this time around (albeit with a little help from Niobe). But Trinity chose to try and fight--and I'm not entirely sure what motivated her to do so. At least other Rebels still have the sense to run like hell.

* I found the scenes from the party in the temple more erotic than the Neo/Trinity sex scene. I think this is because Carrie-Anne Moss is too masculine. I'm not at all sure why so many Slashdotters dig her. . . if I'm going to get excited about a woman, she at least needs to have a woman's figure.

* How many ships survived the slaughter? The Logos and the ship that picked up the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar make two. . . are they it? If I had to guess, I'd say there're probably a couple others, but not more than four or five total.

Oh, well, those're my thoughts. :) Take 'em or leave 'em. I welcome comments.

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