Do You Want Humanity on Mars?

Then you had better hope that the tax bill is never passed. The changes to the tax code in respect to high education will devastate the postgraduate population. You cannot get humanity off this damned planet without Ph.Ds.

Do you want research into aging?

Well you better kill this tax bill because we are never going to conquer that condition without advanced medical skill and if you dry up the pool of graduate students you will be cutting you own throat.

That’s just one aspect of a terrible terrible bill flying through congress. It permanently lowers taxes on corporations and the ultra-wealthy, while temporarily reduces them on the middle class as a budgeting gimmick, leaving the middle class to face tax increases to fund the afore mentioned cuts.

Cuts that aren’t even required.

Corporate profits right now are at an all time high. Employment is near full employment. There is no shortage of cash for any of the massive corporations that are preventing them from expanding and razing wages.

Hell, even those commie socialist liberals at Forbes magazine are attacking this plan as a bad one for the US Economy.

If it is so clearly a bad bill why on earth are the elected Republicans hell bent on getting it done. Trump is more easily understandable by some estimate this will save his personal family; nearly a billion dollars but the GOP Representative and Senators passing this will not gain such a reward.

However rewards and incentives are key to understanding this. In American politics there are two major sources of power, a motivated voter base and large donors. If you have both firing on all cylinders you’re in a great spot. If you have one or the other you can work what resources you have and save your job, sometimes.

Populism has stolen the GOP base away from the main elected members. The movement that carried Trump to an electoral victory ignored him in Alabama for the more fiery populist candidate Roy Moore. Steven Bannon is leading digital crowds of pitchfork wielding peasant in assaults on the ‘establishment’ fortress. They have lost control of an energized base that leaves the large donors as their resource to fight off both liberal and the revolting peasants. They simply cannot afford to alienate these mega-donors and the donors want this tax cut. One GOP congress is quoted as reporting that his donors are telling him get this done or never call them again.

We are in serious trouble.

 

Share

A Difference in Magnitude not Kind

It has been interesting watching the political debate surrounding Moore and Franken. On both sides there are people calling for resignations and on both sides there are people calling for pragmatism.

Moore may be a child molester and a hypocrite but he’ll vote for the right policies and his opponent will not

Franken may be a molester of adults and a hypocrite but he’s a good progressive, standing on the right side of almost every issue his replacement may not.

Do you see that these really are the same argument?

I am certain that I know the number of ‘free’ assaults Democrats would allow a conservative is zero, and I am equally certain that number of ‘free’ child molestations the Republican’s would allow a liberal is an equally low zero.

The Tea Party has taken ‘compromise’ to be a dirty word and for the most part politics is compromise but there are things upon which you should not bend and basic morality is one of them.

I walked away from the Republican Part when is embraced torture as a ‘pragmatic’ solution because party unity mattered more than right and wrong. As such I have no qualms about voicing my opinion that Moore is a terrible person and should be gone.

Franken’s assault, though not against children, are also terrible.

If you do not hold people to standards then they and you will never meet those standards. Be wary of pragmatism over morality for in the end you may be left with neither.

Share

Franken

Let me make this real quick as I have a novel that is not going to write itself. (And believe me I have tried that method.)

If there are creditable accusations, and I have not taken the time to make that judgment, then he should step down and Minnesota should hold a special election to replace him.

See, that was easy.

To conservatives who want to hide behind Clinton and Franken hoping to retain control of the Senate with that nut-job Moore.

Franken and Clinton aren’t your shields.

Moore is a direct result of the party you have built over the last few decades. When angering and trolling liberals is more important than policy or ideas then you get men like Moore and he will not be the last.

Share

Blogging will be Light

 

For several months there I was pretty good about some sort of update on just about every weekday but that is not going to happen these last couple of months of 2017.

This is the super busy period at my day-job as the applications of Medicare Replacement plans flood our inboxes.

This is good. I make nice extra money working overtime and truly the work is good work, but something has to suffer. I am still maintaining about 1000 words or so a day on my novel and therefore it is the blogging that will take a hit.

Share

The Lesser of two Evils is Still Evil

It would appear that for some Republicans and Conservatives the Senatorial effort of Roy Moore is a conundrum. Credible accusations have been laid out that he is a sexual predator. Those accusations have not been proven in a court of law and under that standard he remains innocent until proven guilty, but election a person to any public office, high or low, is more than just political philosophy, it is an endorsement of character. Character judgment does not require the high burden of proof of a criminal trail and we can still look upon the flawed character and ask ourselves ‘is this the sort of person who should have power over the lives of others?’

I have seen it argued in the pages of conservative publications that this should be a line in the sand, that to endorse this man would be a compromise too far.

Really?

The GOP has already embraced torture. It is headed by a man that many consider to be a cheat, a liar, a narcissist, and a sexual predator, but now you are trying to argue that the line you cannot cross has suddenly appeared?

Buddy, that line came and went years ago. I know I was a member of the GOP and I walked away because I will not compromise right/wrong for fell fickle politics.

Share

Movie Review: Murder On the Orient Express

Based upon a novel first published in 1934 this week saw the release of another film version Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. Assembling an all-star cast, just had been done in 1974’s version, Kenneth Branagh stars in directs in this murder mystery.

Branagh plays world famous detective Hercule Poirot. In this adaptation Poirot is portrayed as a man who suffers from OCD before that condition had been recognized much less named, Recalled to London on an emergency he manages to get passage on a the Orient Express though all the cabins had been reserved. During the trip from Asia Minor, while traveling through the mountains of Eastern Europe the train becomes stranded and a passenger is murdered. Passionate for justice and suspecting that the local authorities would likely convict and execute the wrong person, Poirot endeavors to solve the locked room mystery before the train is freed from the snow.

Though the plot is more than 80 years old I will not spoil the mystery on the off chance someone reading this is unaware of the rather unusual nature. I will say that it stays, generally, faithful to the source material, as I understand it, including Christie’s horrible habit of withholding clues, yielding a mystery unsolvable by readers and audiences. As an additional demerit the mystery’s resolution is silliness and utterly impractical.

That said, this is a movie worth seeing, and worth seeing in a proper theater. The film is lush, vibrant, and lovely. While not all the CGI train shots work perfectly more than enough do so to transport the viewer to another time and another place. However what really makes this watchable are the performances. This movie is really a series of scenes in a confined space, so it is not abut action, stunts, or thrilling sequences, but about characters interacting and the cast is superb.

If you have the slightest interest in the film and in watching some great actors go at each other, see this.

Share

Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is the third stand alone film based the character of Thor, who is in turned based on the mythological Norse god of Thunder. Many people feel that Marvel studios have been floundering a bit with what exactly to di with this character. His first outing in Thor many said was a story and scope that seemed to small, too constrained for such a gran operatic character, while the second movie Thor: The Dark World many accused of trying too hard for gravitas. Personally, I enjoyed both movies and Blu-rays of each sit in my library, but they are also not my favorite films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This time out Thro is dealing with Ragnarok, the Norse myth’s end of days prophecy, and event being hastened along by Hela the Norse goddess of the death. Taking a tonal cue from the successful Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Thor: Ragnarok is a film that has serious potiential outcomes for its character and the MCU’s grander continuity while also playing many of it’s beats and scene for laughs. This is a very difficult balance to effect and while I think there were one or two miscues overall Thor Rangarok lands well and it a very entertaining movie. Chris Hemsworth, following on his performance in the remake of Ghostbuster, proves that comedic muscles he displayed in that re-envisioning were no fluke. Mastering the emotional turns of dram to comedy with flair and competence. Tom Hiddleston continue to show why he is the most popular actor in the MCU, and sadly Idris Elba continues to be criminally underused for an actor of his tremendous talents. Of course it wouldn’t be an MCU film without newcomers to welcome to the grand canvas. Tessa Thompson show good range and depth with her character, a scavenger with a mysterious toe to Asgard. However it is Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster that simply steals scene after scene, proving that while Hiddleston and Hemsworth has charisma and talent they are no match for old age and treachery. Goldblum has always guided his performances with a off-center balance that makes them difficult to predict, and in this role his abandons all pretense of balance craft a villain that is at turns comedic, threatening, and full of guile. Of course there has been plenty of chatter about Cate Blanchet as Hela. Cate is Cate and her performance is enjoyable. What a treat it would have been had Hela and Grandmaster share a scene or two.

Mark Ruffalo returns as Banner/Hulk and for the first time I truly enjoyed a Hulk sub-plot. Upping the characters’ verbal abilities and improved FX makes it possibel to have the Hulk as a character.

If you enjoyed and mix of drama, action, and comedy seen in the two Guardians of the Galaxy films then Thor: Ragnarok is likely to be a hit with you.

Share

Feet of Clay

Well, Kevin Spacey has long been one of my favorite actors, going all the way back to his brilliant turn as Mel Profit on the television sires Wiseguy. While I have not love nearly all of the films but a country mile his performances in them have always been stellar. His rise as a beloved actor, based on his talents, was well deserved.

And, it the reports are to be believed, he is a reprehensible human being.

Quite damming for him is that fact that this is not a single episode, but as what nearly always happens with people who behave this way, there is a long history and once people start coming forward the avalanche starts and as the Vorlon said ‘it is too late for the pebbles to vote.’

Spacey’s apparently cynical ploy of coming out to distract from the story has rightly enraged a number of people in the LBGTQ community. He attempted to use their lives, their persecution, and their pain as a shield for his own hide. That alone says quite a bit about character. We do not need to hold him over the lip of a volcano to see his true self.

The word pedophile has been tossed around but from first blush this may not be the case. Pedophilia as I understand it is defined as sexual attraction to someone five or more years younger than you and who is pre-pubescent. It sounds to me like his victims, and yes I will use that word, were post-pubescent but still quite young and immature.

When you are 24 and you seduce a 14 year old sexually, that is not a level playing field. That is not an interaction between equals. It is predation. It is using the guile, authority, and power of adulthood over someone who has none of those attributes.

It doesn’t matter if you are an A-list star, or Mary Kay Letourneau, such actions, if true, makes you a predator.

Share

Halloween Horror Movie #16 Night of the Living Dead 4K

No, that is not yet another remake, revision, or remix of the movie that created the modern zombie genre, but rather the 4K restoration of that original.

Before he passed away George Romero worked with the Museum of Modern Art, and with funding from the George Lucas Family Foundation, to restore from original elements that film that so many years ago made his career. Though not announced it is expected that there will be a 4K and Blu-ray release of this restoration from Criteria and that is something I am looking forward to.

The restoration screened last night at San Diego’s restored movie palace The Balboa Theater. When I first arrived in San Diego in 1981 it was part of a series of grindhouse theaters showing films 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Now, returned to it luster and glory it is an upscale venue for live performances and film.

Before the movie we were treated to a live organ concert with an impressive device that filled the theater with full rich sound without the aid of any amplifiers or any electronic circuit. Being Halloween there was brief costume contest. (My personal favorite was a pair of women doing a fantastic job the creepy twin girls from The Shinning.) Then, after a few technical glitches, we watched The Night of the Living Dead.

What can I say about this movie that has not already been said a thousands times before me? It is, though that word is never uttered in the film, the progenitor of the modern zombie genre. It is a film with a black lead made in 1968 that never once mentions race and yet the subtext of the race relations infuse every scene with that character. It is a film from the sixties with a very seventies sensibility, making this movie ahead of its time in more than one respect.

Watching it on the big screen, something I have never had the chance to do, and in a restored version, proved to be quite surprising. This is a movie with many technical faults, stilted acting by some of the cast, and clumsy dialog and yet sitting there I never once felt bored and ready to leave. It was very nearly as if I had never actually watched the movie before. (It was also clear a number of people in the audience were fresh to the film, supplying reactions and screams that would have thrilled Romero’s heart.)

It is a shame that it played only one night. Many of my friends planned to be busy on Halloween with ‘better’ activities and they missed treat.

So ends my horror film reviews for this Halloween. I do hope you enjoyed them.

Share

My Take on the Pulps

When I was 12 or 13 I discovered the Doc Savage novels. These were pulp adventures from the 1930s with the lead character Clark ‘Doc’ Savage and his troop is talented men that crisscrossed the globe fighting evil. For a time these were quite popular and a team of writers working under a single name churned out loads of books. There was a 1975 film, but it was lackluster and gathered no attention.

Lately it has been circling my thoughts what would it be like to write one of these pulp adventures set in the here and now? (Or at the very least a parallel here and now.) Now I can see there are people writing pulps today but they are primarily set in the 1930 and that is not what I am thinking about. I also see some novels pushed as having a pulp-like quality but in my opinion that do not quite hit that mark and are distinctly different from theses adventures books.

All of this has prompted me to formulate a set of rule for writing a pulp adventure, should I do this crazy thing.

1) Short. Perhaps it was a function of the costs of paper, or the hellish deadlines these writers worked under, but the classic pulp novel were usually around 50,000 words long and often shorter. (For comparison my military sf novels are around 90 to 100 thousand words.)

2) Third Person Objective. These novels did not get into people’s heads very much. They were plot driven with events sparking the next event in the sequence until the adventure was over.

3) Black and White. Adventures about the struggled between Good and Evil were the bread and butter of the pulps. These were not written with nuance and the villains were not the heroes of their own story.

4) No Crisis of Conscience. The Heroes of pulp adventures, fitting in with the Black and White plots, did not doubt that they were right, and they did not have temptation to do the evil thing or take an immoral short cut.

5) No Evolution of Character. The Heroes, already in their perfected form, did not grow and change due to the course of their adventuring. They ended the story exactly the same person as they went into it.

6) No Quiet Introspective Moments. These are adventures, fights between Good and Evil, not explorations into the protean nature of the human soul. Pulp book did not waste time having characters just thinking and doubting themselves for pages and pages.

7) Do the Right Thing. Heroes not anti-heroes are the name of the game and that means that the lead characters always are moral, both in spirit and in deed. They always do the right thing.

Looking over these rules, I can see writing one of these would be quite a challenge.

Share

Literary Saboteur

Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com