Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ain't gonna study war no more

All my life, I have been listening to justifications for war. All my life.

Constantly, whether acted upon or not.

I realized, driving down the road today... this is not the experience of non-Americans. And I was suddenly starkly jealous of all of you. It must be nice to live in Brazil or Nepal or Paraguay or Iceland or Canada or someplace where your country's population and artillery-soaked media is not always always always talking about the need for military intervention in some area of the world most people have trouble locating on a map.

My God, I am so tired of it. I am weary. I am also SICK over the fact that innocent civilians have already lost heat, water, food, roads, medicine, the necessities of life, all because I have a cowardly president afraid to stick to his bullshit lying campaign promises. And let me tell you, with ONE exception ((waves to the peanut farmer from Georgia)), I have had that same exact damn president ALL MY LIFE. Yes, totally interchangeable presidents. We always think THIS ONE (dubbed President Hopey Changey by witty blogger Lotus) is gonna be the one to NOT act like the others. We always think THIS ONE will be better. Somehow, in some way better.

HAHAHA, yeah I was taken in, as this blog makes clear. I have considered deleting my entire blog out of sheer embarrassment, but then, that would be unfairly presenting myself as someone smarter than I was, less gullible than I was. Instead, I was someone A HALF-CENTURY OLD, yet I nonetheless believed the okey-doke, even after I had already seen decades of lying American presidents. There can be no excuse, except that yes, I was operating on HOPE. My HOPE VALVE was on automatic pilot, cruise control... I wanted so desperately to believe.

And now, I see. I see clearly.

I have talked about strategic voting many times on this blog. And with that in mind, I can't say I will never vote for Democrats again. Certainly, here in South Carolina, that would be utterly suicidal. The Republicans hate poor people and openly seek to eradicate us. I can't trust them. We are left with inferior choices in this election year, as we so often are. Why won't the good people run for office? Why do decent ordinary working people vote for politicians who openly despise them?

And why do they promise peace when they intend no such thing?

I am heartbroken and distraught. This attack on ISIS is bullshit to make Lockheed Martin and the other endless munitions makers and military contractors staggeringly rich. I don't believe anything the media tells us; I often wonder if Americans are now as cynical as the citizens of the late-stage Soviet Union were, as the stories we are given change every day, even several times a day.

Lotus, linked above, provided an amazing quote from George Orwell... as always, timely as ever:
Every war when it comes or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.

And to the media-pundit hacks like David Gergen and the others? When are you enlisting? You were not in Vietnam, you were working for RICHARD FUCKING NIXON... so tell me, WHEN ARE YOU ENLISTING FOR THIS WAR YOU SO ENTHUSIASTICALLY EXHORT US TO GET INVOLVED IN? If I hear another made-to-order Harvard/Yale "pundit" or "expert" (translation: a well-trained media toadie/lackey, who promptly reports whatever they are told to report) from the cushy white suburbs say "Right on!" about poor and already-exhausted rednecks, blacks and Latinos doing another tour of duty in the silos pushing buttons on people, I will SCREAM and SPEW... which is one reason I finally turned off the cursed television. I can't stand to hear their lying filth one more minute.

I am meditating, and I am thinking of all the other people not able to meditate, as their homes fall around them.

All I can say is: I am sorry, Syrian sisters and brothers, my fellow humans.

I was not consulted on your fate when they decided to tax my money to make bombs to destroy you. In fact, I was lied to and told that my votes might even prevent that. And I was dumb enough to believe, since I did not know what else to do.

Please forgive me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Europa Report

I have now seen Guardians of the Galaxy twice, in both 2D and 3D. And it still ticks me off that, yes, the BADDEST BITCH IN THE UNIVERSE, Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana), has to be rescued by A MAN, and a hapless one at that. Good Lord. Is there NO ESCAPE????

Well, maybe not from Marvel Universe... but there are these cool things called INDIE MOVIES, and I now hereby recommend one: Europa Report was sheer joy from beginning to end.

I had almost forgotten how old shows like The Twilight Zone and the early Star Trek were made: on the cheap, with the emphasis on provocative, interesting scripts, excellent acting and cool, otherworldly ideas. Europa Report (2013) reminds us that IDEAS and DRAMA are behind good sci-fi, and no amount of razzle-dazzle special effects can take the place of these compelling and enthralling story-telling elements.

Europa Report was made on a scant budget (less than $10 million) and occasionally, it does seem like it. But the whole concept of watching an upload of the first mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa (a mission by a private company, of course) is a creative way around not having the razzle-dazzle. As in the original version of ALIEN, we are watching the everyday blahblahblah-boredom of a long space mission, where people might easily become stir crazy and act silly. And then shit happens, somebody goes drifting off into space (I hate it when that happens), and we are suddenly reminded of the tenuousness of life, especially millions of miles away, "sitting in a tin can"--as in David Bowie's famous lyric.

The landing on Europa is terrifying. I felt almost-dizzy watching from that point onward, but in a good, delicious way. I could identify with the crew, who kept saying how they couldn't believe they had actually arrived and how long they had dreamed of it, how long they had waited. As I said in my review of Another Earth, I looooove invented-scenery of enormous planets in the sky, and they give us a great view of Jupiter-in-eclipse, which they see from their landing site on Europa. They are nearly hypnotized by it, as I surely would be.

And one of the best things? When it seems their landing site is on ice too thick to get the samples (the whole reason for the trip), one of the women crew-members announces she is walking out onto the ice to get it herself. NO MAN HAS TO DO IT! It's not even a man's IDEA! Praise the Lord, a woman decides to save the mission! Huzzahs! (And she isn't even the baddest bitch in the universe, as Gamora is, but just another scientist.)

The crew's collective devotion to the mission, in and of itself, is intense and moving; in fact, it is quite wonderful. I often think the science-freaks (those irreverent atheists) have no respect for anything, but after seeing this movie, I get it: they respect the scientific process above all else, even above their own lives. The sample-collector (played by Karolina Wydra) doesn't know if radiation will fry her out there on Europa's surface, but dammit, they need the specimens and she plunges out onto the strange unearthly ice with no hesitations whatsoever. Her voice quavers with emotion when she finds a small one-celled creature in the ice, which she says appears Precambrian. It is like they have found God or something, and it is hard not to imagine the emotional intensity of seeing such a thing, close-up and for real. The acting is fantastic and always believable.

I don't want to ruin it for you, but the ending is brilliant and understated, both scary and amazing (terrifying and wonderful, said some reviewer I now can't find to link). Science is like that, right? The closing of one door and the blasting open of still another you never even knew existed. You can't go back, once you know.

And did I mention that this lovely understated but brilliant ending is made possible by (more huzzahs!) another woman crew member who ain't scared? (And let's be clear: by this point in the story, I would be a raving hysterical maniac, so that is truly saying something.) I can't tell you how proud of her I was.

Just as we involuntarily grimace when Gamora needs rescue (and try to forget that we just saw the baddest bitch in the universe floating around like zero-gravity-Sleeping Beauty, waiting for Chris Pratt to scoop her up in his manly arms), we are unaccountably PROUD when these Europa women kick some scientific ass and do important stuff without waiting for men to tell them.

This tells us how far we have to go.

Check out the movie. If you like drama and don't need a bunch of bells and whistles (as I admit Guardians of the Galaxy has a parcel of em), you won't be disappointed. If you have ever had intense dreams or fantasies of visiting other planets, you will find it mesmerizing, and it will stay with you a long time.

The women come out great, but the science is the thing. It's the real star.

Monday, September 15, 2014

South Carolina election commercials

I now present to you some of the worst campaign commercials you will ever see. Get out your barf bag now.

Well, okay, maybe not the worst, but... dreadful, simply dreadful.

First up, Governor Haley shores up her lady-voter base that put her over the top in 2010, by addressing BULLYING.

Say what, you ask? Bullying? We can't drive on our shitty roads; we have kids dying in Protective Services; we are going flat-ass broke... and we suddenly have the Governor playing Big Mother and assuring us that she CARES! (Note: she cares about nice white middle class girls like the one in the commercial; obviously, those dead kids in foster care can suck it.)

This commercial would never be made about a male candidate. That's enough reason to hate it.

Further, do teenagers send suicide notes to the Governor? Seriously? (More on the ad here) And what exactly would a governor do, to stop bullying?

"Nikki Haley Makes a Difference"

I told you it was bad.


And now from Haley's Republican/Independent challenger on the Right, here is Tom Ervin, who is some kind of relation to Senator Sam Ervin of Watergate committee fame (son or grandson?).... but right now, it is interesting that he seems to be downplaying that connection. (notice their kinship isn't mentioned on either Wikipedia entry) On the Right, Sam Ervin was hated for helping bring down Richard Nixon, while on the Left, he was hated for being a Jim Crow politician. It was the great middle that loved Sam Ervin, who unexpectedly became a star during the televised Watergate proceedings, as he would periodically huff and puff, become amusingly annoyed and pointedly lecture the witnesses on the meaning of the Constitution. He was a huge hit, and I am surprised Ervin isn't reminding voters of his famous TV-star relative.

Maybe Tom Ervin figures its better to leave good ole dad/granddad out of the campaign, especially when you are running against a nonwhite woman, the first nonwhite and the first woman to be elected governor of SC.

Anyway, here is the ad, targeting older voters and veterans.

"That's Tom"

Is that the most sentimental, treacly thing you ever saw? Argh.

As we said on our radio show last week, the idea is that you can call some politician any time you need help, the way Haley famously promised: "If you have trouble voting with the new rules, just call me and I will make sure you can vote!" Politicians want the old-bubba network of making lots of personal friends by getting stuff done for them, as in those old, well-oiled Democratic machines of the North (and the Dixiecrat machines of the South). Notice the ad subtly trashes the VA, yet makes no overt criticism, much less suggest what should be done to make improvements. The overriding concept is that these faceless bureaucracies sure do suck, but a nice guy like Tom can make it alright.

These are the choices on the Right. This means we will probably end up with one of them. Watch em and weep.