May, 2014

May 14


When more and more publicity and outrage about the evident anachronistic racism of apartheid in South Africa spread round the world, one nation after another joined in subjecting SA to economic sanctions. Much pressure was put on South Africa. That contributed, muchly, along with the efforts of people like Mandela, in ending apartheid. So why is it okay if women in far larger places, in many many places in the world, are kept in a kind of gender apartheid?

We are outraged, and the President, if asked, would denounce the recent stoning death of a pregnant Pakistani woman by her own family, her father and brother, because she married a man of her own choosing–but where are the economic sanctions against Pakistan, a country which allows these murderers to walk free? They stoned her to death with bricks. Pakistani law allows the murder if the woman’s family says it’s okay. So why isn’t that at least as bad as apartheid?

Honor killings–or little girls sold into marriage at age nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Little girls dying in childbirth or having nightmarish cases of fistula because they were raped by the old men they were sold to…common in many Muslim countries…Why isn’t there an international effort, with economic sanctions, to force these countries to change their laws? Why is the plight of women less than the plight of people in racial categories?

May 14

A little truth fueling a lotta Lying

A little truth helps a lot of lying. People who would like to undermine unions see some corruption in some unions and some overreaching greed in some unions and they will say, “Thus all unions are bad.” People who want to weaken government oversight of business and who are paranoid about bureaus they regard as “socialistic” will point to failures or bloating at government bureaus, and say, in effect, “See, all bureaus are bad.” A little truth: some people at the Veterans Administration have been dishonest, irresponsible; becomes a lot of lie, as in: “this failure proves all the VA and the administration who appointed its chief is bad”.

Some cars work inefficiently–does that mean all cars are bad? Electrical fires can burn houses down–so we can’t have electricity.

May 14


Some are saying the VA scandal is a gift from heaven to conservatives–it kind of is. It is shaping up to be the biggest problem of the Obama administration. Of course, President Obama never said, “Make lists of people to delay so you can look like you’re processing more people”. He ordered them to speed things up. They did it the wrong way, at some hospitals. BUT President Obama could have been more pro active in appointing people to oversee the VA issues. The Atlantic states that the Obama’s administration’s tendency to go hard on military related whistle blowers suppressed people who might have blown the whistle on this before it became a scandal. Maybe.

Certainly, he failed to be detail oriented enough in the VA situation. (I remember that Jimmy Carter was faulted by conservatives for being too detail oriented.) Pres Obama has been, like all presidents, prioritizing. He probably is too decent a guy to imagine that this kind of thing (which may be exaggerated but is surely bad enough anyway) would be possible in a VA hospital. He’ll pay the price for having too much faith in his bureaucrats. It’ll be cleaned up, and he’ll finish his administration. But it’s something he should have made a bigger priority.

May 14

That Awkward Place, the Planet Earth

“The trouble with the dominant sentient creatures on that planet” said an extraterrestrial in some story I may or may not write, “is that they are, to use their own expression, neither fish nor fowl. Or as we would say, they are neither sweshflap nor snapflap. They are in that awkward place, between the primal and the transcendent. They are wired for greed, violent dominance, mistrust, xenophobia, reflexive fear; they have all the neurological equipage of a lower beast. But they also know perfectly well, most of them, that most of their primal responses are inappropriate for their circumstances; that they are responding with a fatal misdirection that could lead with breathtaking suddenness to the end of their species. They can sense, dimly, that there is a more objective, freer mind they could be centered within. But the old wiring, the old instincts and innate reactions remain and they blunder ahead into the underbrush, squalling, driven by these demons of early primate evolution, fully aware that there are more fruitful, more constructive paths to take. Most species do not survive past that awkward place.

“Now that we’re done with what the locals call the planet Earth, let us move on, through the wormhole, to system 65899289, where…”

May 14

Radio Waves and Consciousness

You don’t need a brain for consciousness to exist just as you don’t need a radio for radio waves to exist.

May 14

Is it Merely More Media? Or Is it Mirror?

There has been an ongoing debate for years now: has there always been this much violence, madness, abuse; have there been this many serial killers and child brutalizers and cruel fanatics, or is the internet and mass media everywhere just reporting more of what was already there?

I think one can argue that with world population over 7 billlion, heading for 9 billion people, this surging, stampeding crowd creating, like heat under a pot of water, a boiling of social norms–that much of this outlandish phenomena is indeed new.

Yes you can point to the horrors of history–but even if it’s the case that mass media is just exposing what was already there, is just holding up a mirror, then mass media, for better or worse, is helping us by showing us as we really are; as perhaps we’ve always been: a world of sleep-walking half-mad kneejerk-reactive emotionally volatile people; a lot of greedy children who never quite mature; neurologically primitive anthropoids with too many dangerous toys…

And maybe, seeing ourselves, we’ll look around in startlement, and find some remorse, and begin to mature after all…

May 14

It’s Stressful to be A Greedhead; or is it Greedhead to be Stressful?

Heard a radio report about a study measuring levels of cortisol in people to check their stress; women had more stress at home than work–but the highest stress was in rich guys who have to work to stay rich.That’s stressful, maintaining that kind of money, fighting economic entropy. Stress has a way of affecting cognition, has a way of affecting decisions.

People under stress are less likely to be empathetic. If stress is mainly their condition, their normal capacity for conscience is truncated, weakened. That’s just neurology. And that explains a lot about the behavior of the 1%, of corporate CEOs and their ilk.

Of course there’s a way to maintain conscience in all conditions, but few people know about that way. So they’re subject to fluctuations in empathy, in the capacity to give a good goddamn what happens to other people–if they live primarily for money.

May 14

Mom, Can I have the Slime Extruder?

“Mom, can I get a genetic mod like my friends have? Please please please please please please–”

“Okay fine whatever.”

Later: “Mom can I get another genetic mod?”

“You already have the extended tongue that darts out like a snake and goes into bottles and sucks up the drinks.”

“I know but I want the flesh modulation that makes my ear grow out into an arm that holds a smartphone where I can see and hear it at all times. Please please please please–”

“Fine just stop that. Jeez.”

Later: “Mom can I get a genetic mod like my friends that–”

“You already have the tubular tongue, the cell phone arm growing from the side of your head, and you got the navel that extrudes out and looks like a six-inch three dimensional Hello Kitty and the extra mouths on your neck that spit chip dip onto your chips and the claws that spiral out and open bottles and the decorative fish tails on the back of your neck and the purple and green ass cheeks and the thick droopy fur around your ankles…”

“Yeah but I want the tubular tongue, the cell phone arm growing from the side of my head, the navel that extrudes out and looks like a six-inch three dimensional Hello Kitty and the extra mouths on my neck that spit chip dip onto my chips and the claws that spiral out and open bottles and the decorative fish tails on the back of my neck and the purple and green ass cheeks and the thick droopy fur around my ankles…AND I want the slime extruder that allows me to skate on slime. Please please please please–”

“Okay fine, whatever.”

May 14

The BIGGER the smaller

The bigger the corporation, the smaller its conscience.

May 14

The New GODZILLA movie

We saw GODZILLA, the new version, with our friend Kyu Hyun Kim and his wife Young Mi and we had a good time. We saw it in 2D, as it worked out, and I’m not sure how that affected the special effects, which *occasionally* seemed uneven. It didn’t affect the technicalese and military dialogue that popped up a lot–that was just stiff dialogue. But the movie’s charms, especially for nerdy cinema fans, outweigh its faults–by a big heavy dinosaurian amount. The acting is good (some of that military dialogue almost worked at times)–especially the acting of the real stars, the monsters. That’s monsters plural.

Spoilers? At this point it’s probably not a spoiler for most people in the world of social media to say there’s more than just ol’ Godzilla, monster-wise, in the film. But I will not describe the other monsters. THAT would be a spoiler. They’re well designed monsters, pretty well thought out (nothing in the movie is remotely scientific though its thematic respect for nature rings true to people who know nature), and when they’re on screen all is right with the world–or anyway with this movie.

The director is clearly a fan of the original Godzillas and the design of the monster, while looking quite saurian and more real than the original Godzilla, is still a bit of an homage, I think, to that guy in the Godzilla suit. Godzilla is rather hefty about the belly and prone to waddling in places, and that’s just like the original. But you know this isn’t a guy in a suit.

San Francisco, in this picture, only slightly looks like San Francisco. I’m not quite sure what happened on the Golden Gate Bridge, here –I may see it again in 3D, it’s enjoyable enough for that, and then I’ll figure it out.

But I just want to mention there’s a brief homage to one of Godzilla’s pals, in a terrarium, in one early scene. And I further want to say that overall this movie is well paced, nicely orchestrated, and a satisfying giant monster picture. Even when it doesn’t look 21st century good, it still looks good somehow.

It’s not a campy film, despite clear affection for the original film. One reason might be that the “don’t mindlessly mess with nature” theme resonates more meaningfully than ever.

“History shows again and again /how nature points up the folly of men…Godzilla!” (Blue Oyster Cult…sadly, the song is not in the movie.)