Time Travel

To tell you the truth, I believe it’s one of the scientific impossibilities, like faster than light travel.  However, it makes for a rollicking good sci-fi story, when it’s done right.  I’ve enjoyed the comedies, Back to the Future, Bill and Ted, and so on.  I’ve enjoyed the more serious attempts.  The Star Trek episode where Kirk goes back to depression era Chicago and falls in love with Joan Crawford.  Even Superman traveled  back  in time, but that was stupid.  In fact, the whole Superman story was stupid.
Anyway, it blends history with science-fiction, which is like the peanut butter and chocolate of genres that I like.  Right at the moment I am watching two back to back time travel programs, it’s like  a four hour binge and everybody else in the house is  asleep.  The thing is, I’m not really sure about either one.
The first is called Outlander, I think, about a 20th century (40s and 50s) woman who has somehow been transported back to 18th century Scotland, where she’s trying to prevent the battle of Culloden Moor, and seemingly not doing a great job of it, but it’s really not so much about time travel as it is just about her surrounded by men in kilts who talk about honor and Scotland and stuff and are led by her truly buff husband.  It’s got interesting characters and the battle  sequences are quite exciting, but they almost never show her in the 20th century and I still don’t understand how she got there.
The one I’m watching at the moment, called Time Travelers, is a bunch of people  who travel back to our present from the future, because the future’s all messed up and they want to repair that, like in 12 Monkeys.  They inhabit the bodies of people who are about to die, so they’re not really  doing anybody a disservice, except there are people who know them and so  it gets confusing.  There’s the couple from the future, but he (his host body) has a wife who’s also not half bad, and she has a tyrannical ex-husband.  There’s the guy in the body of a high school student, so high school stuff, and another whose host is a heroin addict, and another who was retarded and her poor social worker has no idea what to make of it.  But, it’s basically an excuse for action adventure as they run around rescuing kidnapped kids and preventing terrorist attacks and getting weird messages from girl scouts who talk like robots.
It’s O.K., but I wish they’d show how their future is messed up and just what is their long term plan for saving it.

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Messed Up Memes

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.”

-Alexander Pope

A large part of  my  frustration, I am certain, is due to falsely inflated  expectations.  It is a life problem for  optimists.  Our hope in humanity, and the future, is constantly being dashed on the  sharp and jutting rocks of reality.
What frustrates me most, of course, is bad spelling.  I’ve learned to accept it, usually.   Correct  people  and they just get snippy.  Even, sometimes, people who claim to be writers and lovers of  language.
But, there are a few instances where I’ll call people on  it.  Loose instead of lose, for example.  Seriously, if you  write it like that, I  know you are not a reader of books, and grant far less credence to your opinion than I would have otherwise.   Another is one poetry site I belong to, where the idea is to critique other people’s poems.  Some people there can be seriously mean and nasty.  I mostly just correct people’s spelling.  They think I’m shallow.  That’s O.K.  I can live  with shallow.  Another case is if it’s a ‘meme’ or, in any event, something with a background color.
Now, I know how easy it is to do those things.  The colored backgrounds are available if you just keep it short enough, and since lots of people are used to Twitter, that is not a problem.  Even memes are pretty easy to do.  You just go to a site that generates them and they walk you right through it.  So, it should not be surprising that a lot of people who can’t spell for shit post them.
But, it surprises me just the  same.  Every  damned time.  The colored background,  or the picture, grabs your attention and  there’s an implication that this post is a little more professional, a little bit more worthy of consideration.  And then, you see the misspelling.  The one that set me off today, which is the irritation acting  as the inspiration for this blog, as a grain of sand activates the pearl making substance inside the  oyster, was when someone wrote ‘Quite Down,’ when it was clear from the  context they meant Quiet Down.
Despite the fact that it’s very  easy to edit your own posts, it’s remained up all day unedited and will probably remain that way  forever.  It  could be because the original poster doesn’t know how to edit their own meme – which is why I used that famous quote from Pope at the beginning – but it’s more likely  they just don’t give a shit.  Some people are like that.

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Pedophile Priests

There’s another scandal  of Catholic priests molesting small children, mostly boys.  Of course, this  scandal comes up  now  and again.  But it  seems this  is  a  pretty big deal, this time.  300 priests in Pennsylvania, charges spread out over the last  70 years.  Some old men with  long memories must have come forward.
Although it’s still a small  percentage  off  all  the Catholic priests out  there, it  is a not insignificant  number.
The thing is, what do you expect?  One of the  requirements of the  job  is that  you be unmarried.  You have to  take  a vow of  celibacy.  What kind  of guy is going to answer a job application like that?  Well, I suppose some men who are completely uninterested in  sex, but that is a rare breed, indeed.  Probably rarer than actual child rapists.  Most of the men answering an ad like that are  looking for a way  to hide their eccentric sexual tendencies.
These old priests were probably molested  as children themselves, and their molesters before them, on and on  back into the mists  of time.  I’d be willing to wager that pedophilia is older than farming or  fire in  the march  of human development.  The Catholic Church just hung a sign on the door.

We shouldn’t rush to judgement, of course, innocent until proven  guilty  and  all that, but one thing I’ve been reading has convinced me, personally, of their guilt:  their lame excuses.  “It  was just horseplay, and inappropriate contact.”  Most grown men feel no inclination to engage in horseplay  with  young boys.  The kinds who will,  and will have ‘inappropriate contact’ are the  same kind  who  will take it farther if they  can get away with it.
“It’s not rape if there was no  penetration.”  Well, just  what exactly  is  it that you’re admitting to doing?  Does fellatio  count  as penetration?  And even  if you’re  found guilty of something  short of  rape, it  would  probably not be a good  idea if  you continued to be a priest.  Or  had  any job around children.
And the classic “I thought she  was 15.”  The girl in  question was 11.

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The Most Classless Person Ever

The presidency, I’m sure, is  a tough job.  Trying to protect the environment, not tank  the economy, negotiating with foreign  powers who all have different interests, and so on.  But, there are some easy things, some things they can get right almost automatically: sending congratulatory letters to people on their hundredth birthday, rushing aid to disaster zones, and making a nice little eulogy and speech of condolence when somebody dies, things like that.
Well, Trump has a track record of screwing up even the small  stuff, so I was wondering how he would react to Aretha Franklin’s passing.  I figured he would just let it slip by and spend the day slamming Bannon and Omarosa, because all of Trump’s former employees are crazy, or incompetent, or dogs.
But he did worse than that.  He praised her, of course,  and said she was a wonderful woman “who worked for me on  several occasions.”
I doubt that very much.  She achieved stardom in  her young 20s, back when the Donald was merely the spoiled college student son of a racist slumlord.  He hadn’t even had his first lawsuit yet, much less his first bankruptcy.  The other point is that Aretha Franklin was not only a great singer, she was also pretty political.  She knew Martin Luther King personally, and championed several causes which Trump would have heartily disapproved of.
So, for him to say she worked for him (unless it is technically true, like maybe one time she sang at an event he had his name associated  with) is slanderous.  Maybe  he’s confusing her with Omarosa, because there can’t have been that many black  women who’ve ever worked for him.  Maybe he’s just so arrogant and delusional that he assumes everybody must have worked for him at some time.
I suspect, though, that he knew what he was saying  wasn’t true,  and  just didn’t give a shit.  Shame on him.  Shame.

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Isle of Dogs

We went to see Isle of Dogs tonight, but the idea was more just to go see something at the outdoor cinema, which is a very cool thing to do, both  in  the literal and metaphorical senses of the word.  The fact that  it was Isle of Dogs, a movie I’ve wanted to see ever since it came out, kind of sealed the  deal.
It’s literally cool, of course, because even after a baking hot day, it is reasonably pleasant outdoors after dark, when the great source of heat is  absent  from the sky, and the air temperature begins to devolve, and become somewhat closer to the temperature of outer space, which it fortunately never reaches, because we are still under the blanket of the atmosphere, even  if it  is invisible and we can see the stars.
It’s cool in the metaphorical sense because you can sometimes see very good movies at a greatly reduced price, and sometimes you can see bad movies too, and you don’t feel too  guilty about it, because it is a greatly reduced price.  It is a cool thing to do because it’s a thing in our neighborhood, something we can walk to, a cultural event we try to tick off at least once or twice in a summer.

Anyway, Isle of Dogs.  All four of us liked  it, which is pretty rare, because we  can never agree on which TV programs to watch, half the time the kids just walk out of the room if I’m watching something in English.
It was kind of a weird film.  Animated, but not Disney style, that’s for sure.  Much  more Japanese than I thought it was going to be.  Not just because it was set in Japan, and the people were speaking  Japanese a lot (it was in  English when  it  needed to be, which they accomplished by  the plot expedient of having all  dogs speak English), but Japanese as far as the story telling and animation style goes.
So, worth watching just  stylistically.
I’d give it a an 8 on a scale of 10.

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The Monsanto Case

Monsanto has been ordered by a court to pay a man $289 million because one of their products, Roundup weed killer, gave him cancer.  Now, admittedly, the man used a whole lot of Roundup.  He was a gardener for the school district in Solano, California.  He used that stuff all the time and drove around with a tank of it on the back of his truck.
Still, his situation is not unique – probably lots of other gardeners use Roundup in huge amounts and have contracted cancer – so the payouts, if everybody pursues legal recourse, could bankrupt the company.  Hard to say.  It is now Bayer-Monsanto, and they are a bloody huge corporation.
There are two aspects to this case that disturb me greatly.
A) Roundup is still legal.  It goes into the soil, it stays in the soil, and it causes cancer, but it’s still legal.

and B) Monsanto has known this shit was dangerous since 1983.  We have no idea how many lives have been seriously foreshortened between then and now, and the executives at Monsanto don’t care.

I’m sure there are those who would defend its continued legality due to the fact that it actually does kill weeds.  I can see the agricultural need for that, I suppose, although there must be less carcinogenic alternatives.  But in an urban setting, i.e. the lawn around the schoolhouse, chemical weed killers are completely unnecessary.  We can learn to live with a few weeds.  So, our lawns will  look a bit less pristine.  The planet will  be healthier.  If you have a big house, and you want to keep your big, green lawn, then you can always hire somebody to pull the weeds.  This may cost a bit more than chemical weed-killers, but that’s what’s known as trickle down economics.  You pay people to do stuff.
As to its having been known since 1983, well, that is not at all a unique story in the corporate world.  The oil companies have known about man-made global warming since 1959.  Tobacco companies knew that cigarettes caused cancer long before the general public did, but they kept selling them, and kept promoting them.
IMHO, any executive who has this kind of knowledge and fails to make it public is guilty of murder, and should be tried as such.  In other words, it should be illegal NOT to be a whistle blower.
Because killing people is very bad, and ‘it  was just a job’ is not a good enough  excuse.

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The Lying Press

Politics is complicated and one of the most awkward things in arguing about it is when two people (or entities) who you are opposed to start arguing with each other.  That’s happened several times with Trump, of course, because he eventually winds up arguing with almost everybody.  I’m not about to sing the Koch brothers’ praises just because they’ve turned on Trump, and I’m certainly not going to rush out and buy Omarosa’s book just because she heard Trump say that word, the one that’s an acronym of ginger.  First, it’s not surprising, we know perfectly well he is a racist.   His father was in the Klan, for goodness sake.

His campaign, and his administration, have been racist from the get go.  And she was perfectly happy with it for a long time.  She can’t just come forward and claim to be a champion of the  black race now.  Rachel Dolezal is far blacker than she is, in the way that counts.

Then, there is the whole ‘lying press’ and ‘the press is the enemy of the people’ thing.  Coming from anybody else at all, I’d agree entirely.  They have been spreading lies for a long time.  It was in 1897 that William Randolph Hearst wrote to one of his reporters in Cuba “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.”  And he did.  The press helped to lie us into Viet Nam, they sold us the war in Iraq based on complete lies that they knew were lies, and they helped to elect Donald Trump.  So, I’m not too sympathetic with the press.

Over the last couple of days, there’s been a lot of talk about how a hundred  newspapers are writing editorials defending newspapers,  and the role of journalism, from Trump’s unprecedented attacks.  That is not  a terribly surprising, or noble, thing to do.  Newspapers writing editorials saying newspapers are great.  What a surprise.
When they start reporting on the war in Yemen, they might regain a bit of their credibility.  When they start defending Julian Assange, they might regain a bit of their credibility.  But, just saying “We’re not liars” is not nearly enough.  Every liar says that.  Even Trump says that.

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