01
Aug 17

A Military Response to North Korea: Hypotheticals…

I’m not down with Trump on anything, because he’s an incompetent. But I’d consider non-nuclear, concise military action against North Korea…The claim that it would kill millions in the region is over the top. Since Trump and his staff are largely incompetents (although the guy who is running the Defense dept does have it together as a strategist, I think) I would expect them to totally screw any military action up there, at least if Trump is making decisions. If the Pentagon and experienced strategists come up with an intelligent plan, that could be executed without his interference, I would not be opposed to it.

I’m not a pacificist and I do think NK is a real threat due to its ICBM testing and its declaration that it is ready to attack us. In my way under-qualified opinion I *suspect* that what the smart strategist would do would be to move anti-missile emplacements into place asap, move ships equipped with the requisite Tomahawks et al in place, prep drones with rockets and stealth jets, designate these targets: all the missile emplacements employed by N Korea within reach of Seoul. Simultaneously, a bunker buster attack on the known site of the NK nuclear weapons development facility, possibly selective targets in Pyongyang. These attacks should come in rapid waves. We would NOT use nuclear weapons…There might well be few missiles launched, in return, by NK–but they won’t have much left to shoot them from…The run-up to all this would be done with as much smoke-screening and secrecy as possible. Keep in mind that this would not be carpet bombing–only military and research facilities would be targeted. This could be carried out to “de-fang” the North Koreans and I believe it would end with, at least, internally-effected regime change. It would not require a long commitment of troops or air power.

All this is hypothetical, just thinking about what could be done. But if there was a good plan –something like this–and if I were one of the Joint Chiefs I wouldn’t oppose it.

People in Seoul would take shelter or be carefully evacuated, as the attack starts, if possible.. US and SK troops would be withdrawn to a safe distance and then special forces would hit Pyongyang, while our on the ground forces now in SK would advance once the initial bombing was over. NK would fold–or sue for peace. Kim Jong Un would be killed or removed from power. But would there be a price in casualties? Yes. *However*–*more lives would be saved* in the not-very-long run because NK is starving and in many cases torturing its own people…This would set them free, to unite NK with South Korea…


01
Aug 17

FINALLY saw ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE

I finally, finally, FINALLLLLLLYYYYY saw ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE. I saw it on cable. I meant to go see it in the theater but it was nowhere near me and people slagged it so…however, I enjoyed it, it made me laugh a lot, and seemed simply an extension of the show with a great many more celebrity cameos. (Barry Humphries has a good part in it!) I can see why many Americans were not thrilled by it, I suppose, first of all you need to be a fan of the show, which I am, and second, you have to get past the way that it’s sort of less concentrated, in its movie form–the TV show is visually concentrated in a few sets, the occasional street scene, and we’re very much involved almost face to face. The movie has a sort of movie distancing, at least for awhile; also the accents fly thickly, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve gotten so I often watch British television (a great deal of my tv watching) with the subtitles turned on! And I recommend that with this one. It’s bubbling with bizarre imagery, it’s a farce, Pats is still Pats, Eddy still Eddy, Bubble is still Bubble…played by the fabulous Jane Horrocks… and it had cool music in it too…

There was some controversy about how they had a white person play a Japanese person but this turned out to be *absolutely*, as it were, BULLSHIT…the character was Scottish….And the movie did NOT flop–it cost less than four million to make and made 34 million BEFORE the DVDs and cable…


03
Jul 17

BEWARE THE TRUMP SWARM

Bill Maher said Trump voters aren’t upset by his public misbehavior, his vulgarity, but instead “they bond with him over it”. They remind me of the sort of entourage that follows a school bully around, the ones who laugh and encourage him as he bullies someone.

Many people have probably noted the phenomenon of Trump Trolls turning up in swarms now–first time I noted it was on the Washington Post’s subscription page. They were there in large numbers, a Trump Troll Swarm using many of the same links and “fake news” phrases, condemning the WAPO; I decided to subscribe to the Washington Post online because they said not to (and because it’s good). But their numbers and consistency made me feel that they had been directed there by someone else, an organization; then, when I posted a particularly pungent Washington Post article about Trump and his Russian connections, on Facebook, they swarmed in on my thread. I counted forty of them, arriving in short order–people I’d never heard from before.

The bully’s entourage apparently had been directed by some low-level, perhaps unofficial, Trump propaganda group or bot to ridicule the post, and what they called “the big Russia Hoax” being pulled off by the “mainstream media”. I predict we’ll see this more and more–in wider numbers. Beware The Swarm.


03
Jul 17

A Voice from My Pants

I heard a voice coming from my pants pocket. “I’m sorry,” said my pocket. “I didn’t understand your question.” A nice lady, it sounded like, was calling out to me from my pants pocket as I pulled weeds in the yard. “What the hell?” I said. “Could you repeat that?” she said. My phone, yes, had bumped something and –it was my front pocket so I won’t say I butt dialed Siri.

I find the phenomenon of over anxious, too-easily-activated Apple phones irritating. About a week later, I was doing some recording in my little studio, and of semi dancing a bit to the guitar solo. I’d forgotten and left my phone on. During a lull in the song I heard voice in my pants say “Hello? Hello? Hazel Dell framing? I can’t hear you.” Somehow a business call had been re-called. In my pants.

Then today, I took my youngest son and wife out for a July 4 weekend brunch. I heard music from under the table at the restaurant. First I heard the Pixies, then the Toadies, then, amazingly, the band Television. “Wow,” I thought, “this restaurant has a *really hip mix* playing! But why did they put the speaker under the table? Then I heard a song from Lou Reed’s first solo album. “What wonderfully good taste!” I said, looking under the table for the speaker. “Lou Reed’s singing from under the table.” My son said, “It’s your cell phone.” The MP3s I have on my cell phone had been activated. My wife, the waiter– a young guy–and my son were all laughing at me.

I blame Apple.


26
Jun 17

Do Conservatives Fear Complexity?

One of the problems with Democrats and progressives standing up to conservatives (and “conservatives” as in Trump, who actually believes in nothing but Trump), is that progressive people recognize truth in *complexity*. The other side usually rejects complexity as if it were a kind of amoral smokescreen. It’s much easier to say, “a fifteen dollar national minimum wage is a giveaway to people who don’t want to work harder for more money” than to explain that 1) it’s not that much money, it’s an expensive society to live in 2) the money stimulates the economy overall because the average person will have more money to spend, and they’ll spend it 3) the evidence is that low-wage laborers work as hard as anyone else does, often harder. There are also four and five and six in the ever-more-complex but convincing list of considerations.

Same goes for food stamps/SNAP programs, and other safety nets–most people who get them *are* working already, and under tough circumstances, but it’s easier to say they’re loafers. It’s simply easier to say that single-payer healthcare, medicaid, and so on, are “only needed by people who haven’t worked hard enough” than it is to explain that medical problems can come out of nowhere and be overwhelming even for hard working, wage-earning people, and many working people have become homeless because of medical bills, and it actually helps the economy when we don’t have to rescue them with emergency rooms and special housing and we’ve allowed medical costs to get out of control in this country…and more.

It’s easier to say, “the free market will eventually end pollution” than to explain how the history of regulations and how they are not harmful to the marketplace.

It’s not that Republicans are (ironically) intellectually lazy, in particular, it’s just that they feel safer with simpler explanations, with echoing some parental homily, than with the uneven, challenging ground of complexity…Simplification offers simple emotional satisfaction.

 


24
Jun 17

MOST RELIGION IS SPIRITUAL-FOOD POISONING

A young mind inundated by lies, swept away by them, reshaped so that he can bury his conscience–so he can learn to “beat and kill prisoners”. Decent people twisted by religion–and the most twisted form of religion, or perhaps pseudo-religion–into blind indecency. Spirituality–that is nourishment, to me.

Organized Religion, say Christian or Muslim, is at best a relatively harmless analgesic; at worst it turns good people into monsters. Fundamentalist religion is a “brain-hack.”

Read it and weep:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/is_fighters


18
Jun 17

Proof of God!

Proof of God! This afternoon my wife Micky and I were in the park walking our two dogs, one leashed dog each, and realized we (meaning I) had forgotten to bring poop bags. And the dogs had that restless, searching stiff-legged appearance. Then–one of them pooped hugely. We don’t believe in leaving dog poop about so I looked desperately around for large leaves, which make poor substitutes for poop bags. A tiny elderly Asian lady in dark glasses and a sunshade hat walked up to us, blessed us, and offered me a leaflet. The leaflet called for us to SUBMIT TO GOD before it’s too late. It suggested that Jesus would soon return and we would do well to consult certain apocalyptic Bible verses. Additionally, it was quite specific that when we were offered a bar code to be imprinted on the arm or forehead, or the mark 666–an offer soon to happen–we were to spurn these marks of surrender to the AntiChrist.

I gladly accepted a leaflet and Micky instantly said, “I’d like one too!” The lady was pleased to give her one, said “Have a blessed day!” then she hustled onward, passing out leaflets. My wife and I exchanged a look, then waited till the lady had passed out of sight. As if also waiting for this, the second dog pooped as well…Yes: once the Jesus lady had gone we used the leaflets, which were the perfect size, to enfold and pick up the droppings of each dog–and we took them triumphantly to the trash can. God, or perhaps Jesus, had sent us those leaflets for cleaning up after our dogs. Proof of dog, certainly…


09
Jun 17

My review of WONDER WOMAN

We saw WONDER WOMAN today. Gal Gadot is charismatic and fierce, as they use the term now, and when she plays Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman in her first exposure to the larger (early 20th century) world, she’s very charming, manages to make you believe in her innocence. One of the things I liked about the film is its firm skepticism about war, especially the horror of harming of non-combatants, and the Wonder Woman character is very definite and clear about it.

The movie was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, director of the very good true-crime drama MONSTER about a woman serial killer. Jenkins was Emmy nominated for her directing of the tv series pilot for The Killing. Patty Jenkins comes through with WONDER WOMAN.

Perhaps the first part of the WONDER WOMAN is a little top-heavy, I mean the first part of the script, smart alec; some might think it’s too long, but what a great thing to explore this myth about Amazonians and Wonder Woman’s origins. But it does make a statement: women as warriors *who do not need men*. Who live in an orderly civilization without men…The movie is two hours and 21 minutes and I personally found it to be well paced. It wasn’t dragged out.

Chris Pine is a likable presence in the film, and he has real chemistry with Gal Gadot. We see some Wonder Woman action fairly early but it’s not till she’s in WW1 and stepping out onto a No Man’s Land battlefield that she *explodes* into action. We can FOLLOW all the action in this, which to me is important–action movies fail at that a surprising amount. The screenplay is by ONE PERSON (Snyder and a couple other guys contributed story) and that is one of the reasons it actually makes sense, it has good internal logic. The whole story works because there was ONE SCREENWRITER instead of a host of screenwriters. And fortunately, it’s a good writer.

This is a much better superhero film than the last few from DC. . .Oh and there’s a cool steampunk vibe, even, about it, when she emerges into the world…

And yes, Gal Gadot is gorgeous and shown to best advantage without seeming over-posed. She looks great from every angle, in this movie, and when you see her profile–what a beautiful nose. Seriously. YES I MEAN HER NOSE you animals! It really is a beautiful Mediterranean/Semitic nose. “Best Nose in a movie goes to…”

I do think the film makes a feminist statement, even if it doesn’t follow the exact outline of every feminist doctrine. Women are powerful! Just look at Wonder Woman…

 

 


29
May 17

The Glib Dismissers Who Helped Trump, Probably Without Meaning To

Glibness. People who make glib, hollow remarks like “both leading political parties are the same” or “voting in this country is a waste of time” or “social progress doesn’t happen in this society” are both intellectually dishonest and intellectually lazy; they’re engaging in a tactic of unconscious self-aggrandizement, casting about for a chance to sound important without doing the work (and perhaps without having the mental means) to justify their outrageous, easily disproven claims. They repeat logical fallacies with a dismissive smugness that they suppose disarms argument. Their claims are so broad and all inclusive they momentarily mask vagueness behind the appearance of cleaving the Gordian Knot; they mask hollowness behind the appearance of incisiveness.

They are either unable to follow up after being challenged with facts, or they do it only with an internet link to an opinion piece–it may happen that, in their patronizing way, before vanishing, they toss off an observation that, for example, “both Democrats and Republicans voted for the Iraq war”, as if that proved that the parties always have the same policies. If we respond by demonstrating that, again and again, Democrats and Republicans have overwhelmingly different policies with different results, that voting for Obama resulted in our taking our troops out of Iraq, that Civil Rights laws represent progress, that the word progress is not a synonym for perfection…well, they quickly bail out.

Really, these people are engaging in a cocktail-party-social, interpersonal gambit, not a political one; they’re trying to make a striking statement without having to defend it, and they’re hoping to harvest a gratifying attention for it. It’s flailing for one-upmanship. The tendency has replicated in social media, spread like a contagious skin disease on the internet…


27
May 17

THE TRUE COUP

I sometimes think that there’s been a coup in the USA but it’s not a military coup or a “right wing coup” (per se). It’s a fossil fuels industry take over, first in congress, and now complete with Trump’s election. “It’s been like that for years,” some glib person is going to claim, probably citing too much Obama/Clinton etc friendliness to fracking. The thought was, fracking was associated with more natural gas, natural gas was associated with “clean” energy, as it burnt fairly clean, so more natural gas instead of coal, say, would reduce greenhouse gases; hence, despite some problems, it seemed a net win. But actually it’s heavily polluting and may well cause earthquakes.

So supporting fracking was an error. But on the whole, Obama kept the oil companies in check. It is Trump who’s initiated their true coup.