June, 2017

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.


Jun 17


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:


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…

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…