Featured

Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms

All about Meniere’s Disease. Updated periodically.

When I’m questioned about why I’m retired already, or when someone airs doubts like are you really disabled? the subject of Meniere’s disease is bound to surface. It is bound to surface because Meniere’s disease is the answer to both questions. If you just stumbled across this article on my blog and want to know what is Meniere’s disease? I’ve never heard of it. I can understand that feeling. I’d never heard of it before its symptoms wrecked my life.

Continue reading “Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms”

July 4, 2020. American Carnage.

Twitter (I consider it a personal insult that these pieces of shit live in my house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I’ve endured this insult for almost four years. Patience is what is needed now. -ed.)

The post asked me to defend the words in the image when it appeared in the Facebook group. Defend the words in the image? Why? But then one of the Stormtrumpers asked the question.

What’s wrong with it?

What I see in the image is two guys standing at urinals talking trash. That’s what I see in that image. Oh, wait. There is a Spacex launch in the distance. Neither of them are Spacex employees. Not sure what they have to do with that. They have everything to do with the fact that there are 120,000+ Americans dead due to the Coronavirus pandemic rampaging unchecked across the American landscape, but they have very little to do with the success of private industry taking us back to the Moon.

Manifest Destiny? We are the children of the enslavers, the inheritors of the fruits of genocide. That is who we are, that is what Manifest Destiny meant. To conquer the continent and claim it as our own at any cost. Going to the Moon? Spacex is going to the Moon. Corporations will slice the Moon up and fight each other over the spoils if we continue on the current course.

Americans are the collected rubbish and cast-offs of every other continent, fueled by their own aggrandized image of themselves. That’s what is wrong with Manifest Destiny. Our destiny is what we make of it, and it certainly isn’t manifest. Don’t get me wrong. Humanity should spread throughout the solar system and explore all the places we can get to in order to discover everything we can about the universe that makes us what we are. I’m just not comfortable with the first and last White president and his Christianist cohort declaring that it is our destiny to own the moon.

Youtube – New Book Shows Depravity Of Trump Admin Family Separation Policy – Rachel Maddow MSNBC – Jul 7, 2020
Separated: Inside an American Tragedy by Jacob Soboroff

We cannot continue as we are. We cannot look toward the future while standing on the bodies of this many innocent people. To do that is inhumane and cancels any hope you might have for a brighter future.

The US has to find a new way now. Better to fail than to spread these corrupted beliefs any further than our shores. We need to accept that not only are we the conquerors and the enslavers, but that we are the conquered, the oppressed and the descendants of slaves. We need to liberate ourselves from our own history, and we do that by rejecting the racist notion of Manifest Destiny right now. Today. We can do it if we try.

Facebook

Youtube NPR.org – Frederick Douglass Descendants Read His Fourth Of July Speech

Oh, you think I’m piling on now? You think this negative attitude isn’t warranted on Independence day? Listen to the voices of those children recite the words of their father from over a hundred years ago and realize that we haven’t done anything to deliver justice for these people. Don’t point to the Civil War as proof of doing something. We restored the nation and then turned our backs on the former slaves. A hundred years and we still have cops killing them in the street over a minor provocation. We trample on the poor and the homeless and leave the refugee starving on our doorstep.

We don’t deserve to go the Moon. Maybe the next country to raise its head above the level of shit we’ve left floating in the common pool will be worthy of escaping this planet. But not us, and not now.

That is what is wrong with Manifest Destiny.

Juneteenth

Today is Juneteenth. On June 19, 1865 enslaved people of African descent in Texas were told that slavery had ended, and we celebrate that message of emancipation every year on this day.

However, black people fought for freedom long before that time in history. From the underground railroad to protests in Ferguson to this revolution, the fight for freedom has never stopped.

Take action with the Movement for Black Lives.

Planned Parenthood Action

The Grand Delusion

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance occurs when a person holds two or more contradictory beliefsideas, or values; or participates in an action that goes against one of these three, and experiences psychological stress because of that. According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people do all in their power to change them until they become consistent.[1] The discomfort is triggered by the person’s belief clashing with new information perceived, wherein they try to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Imagine a circus – the spotlight is on the entertainment while all the real issues take place behind the scenes. The convention takeaways are never the back-room deals and the negotiations that take place off of the convention floor. The show never includes those details anymore than it includes beating the elephants and the other entertainers into submission. Cleaning up the trash that the audience leaves behind.

Third parties being entered into the mix allows for a full three-ring circus, but again, the things that are of important are those subjects that are in the ring farthest from the one that the barker tells you to pay attention to, and probably not even taking place in the ring at all.

The bigger problems remain unaddressed as the media continues to prattle on about issues that are not really issues. Brown suits and laziness. Age and sickness. Individual enforcement transgressions instead of the central codifying theme of policing (which is racist and racism to the core) I’m still boycotting the news, myself. Let me know when Trump implodes, please?  Wouldn’t want to miss that, and the political discussions will only be relevant after that point.

America spells competition
Join us in our blind ambition
Get yourself a brand new motor car
Someday soon we’ll stop to ponder
What on Earth’s this spell we’re under
We made the grade and still we wonder
Who the hell we are

STYX

Editor’s note. I wrote this on October 30th, 2016, with the exception of what is in italics in the text. It’s funny. I quit paying attention to the news in 2016 because it ceased to be news in 2016. Every now and then I come up to sample the air, but it still isn’t worth spending my time paying attention to closely. We still have a reality TV president with delusions of grandeur, and the media is catering to his Stormtrumping supporters who are equally deluded.

The media does this because they are deluded into thinking that Stormtrumpers represent a legitimate majority of the population. They know, intellectually, that only a third (at most) of the voting population supports Trump. But their experience tells them that the status quo has a tendency to be maintained. Ergo they weight the political field (erroneously) in favor of what they see as the status quo.

It isn’t. Joe Biden represents the status quo, and the majority of Americans know this. The Orange Hate-Monkey will never be the status quo because he simply doesn’t have the depth of knowledge to be able to heft a telling argument in support of his ill-defined Trumpist movement.

There is a reason that Trump’s hardest core of support comes from Evangelicals and White Supremacists (but then I repeat myself) They are the ones with the highest levels of cognitive dissonance. They are the ones that see the most disruption between what they believe and what they see in the world around them. If whites are superior then cops killing the darkest skinned people more often is the way the world is supposed to work. If the Bible (and what the average Evangelical believes about the Bible that they haven’t read) is true, then anyone who makes you feel wrong inside is an insult to god and should be driven out.

They are trying to make their wrong-headed beliefs real. It is our job to stop them. This is the one instance where not bargaining with my opponents is the only way to victory, because bargaining with my opponents means they have the right to hurt people that never hurt them. This circus has to end.

Featured image from Flickr – H. Michael KarshisWelcome To The Grand Delusion

Good Pun is an Oxymoron

An effective pun causes brain hemorrhage. Something akin to a stroke should occur.  You should feel a distinct pain when observing a pun.  A pain in the brain. If a pun is funny it is a failure. The proper response to an effective pun is the overwhelming urge the throttle the person who uttered it. If the hearer doesn’t feel murderous rage, at least momentarily, the failed punster should probably go back to flipping burgers for a living. Wordplay is not their forte.

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy punning; but it does mean that engaging in the practice places you solidly in the sadomasochistic realm, somewhere between schadenfreude and outright self-loathing. Torturing language in that fashion should be painful.

Blocking Stormtrumpers

I am literally sick at the posts some of my ‘friends’ and family are posting. No one cares about people dying. No one speaks about injustice. They all post pictures of looters and rioters. I am thinking about literally cutting myself off from them all. Even the relatives

Talk me down someone

Private Facebook Group Member

I won’t be talking you down. I blocked my Stormtrumper family members years ago. The ones that wouldn’t shut up about it anyway. Similarly I’ve had to stop reading and reposting a lot of the negative Trump crap. If no one is going to do anything about it, I don’t see why I need to keep myself informed about it. I’ll claim a seaworthy sailboat from an abandoned marina in some dead city along the gulf coast sometime next spring and make my way slowly to better clime somewhere. This country is done unless it wakes the fuck up.

What if he fucks with the election? The Orange Hate-Monkey is legally barred from altering that, and his term in office automatically ends on January 20th, 2021. He will no longer be president at that point if the election is not held.

…Now, he could have his base scare people into not voting. That would be par for the course for White Nationalists everywhere. We have to be willing to lay down our lives to vote if we want to have the pleasure of continued self-rule. He could also alter the count through his cheating criminal friends. This is why we need our own observers present for all counting of votes. Getting out the vote is important, perhaps the most important thing that anyone of us can do. I applaud any and all efforts to increase participation.

The one true thing that Trump has said in 4 years was his observation that if everyone votes no Republican will be elected to office again. We need to do our best to make that a reality until Republicans forswear White Nationalism and Christianism (like Islamism) those ideologies are contrary to freedom and the American experiment.

Facebook

It’s been three years now. In order to get a sense of the history of what OHM means, I will link a few crucial posts. I wrote The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) when it became clear that the Republicans were going to nominate Donald Trump.  I wrote The GOP Cuddles Up To the NSDAP when the GOP refused to ostracize the OHM for his dangerously xenophobic populism. I wrote Caveat Emptor on the day Trump lied with his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the US constitution. I wrote Bullshit is Bullshit on the day I stopped even trying to catalogue the blatant disregard of the truth by the OHM. It mystifies me why people still listen to him, and why the OHM still holds the office of the president. #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. Anyone who believes differently is a MAGA themselves, otherwise known as a Stormtrumper, h/t to Berkeley Breathed.

Civilization

…any complex society characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government and symbolic systems of communication such as writing.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

We called ourselves civilized long before there was any evidence that we were civilized. I still don’t think we’ve reached civilization yet. Civilization should mean that no one has to kill another person, steal from another person, just to eat. Civilization should mean that no one goes without shelter or medical care unless they refuse to be sheltered or to seek care.

Until we reach that demonstrably low bar, that members of our society need not fear for their lives and property being taken from them to feed some other needy person, then we are not civilized and it is false advertising to suggest otherwise.

Sacred Life

No, if we truly value LIFE, if we truly believe it to be SACRED, then before it even begins we as a people and as a nation must bend every effort to ensure not only its survival, but that it thrives to reach its full potential.

Twitter – Stonekettle

Editor’s note – I planned to add this quote to the end of Roe-v-Wade Was a Conservative Decision If I hadn’t broken the blog (05/16/2020) Now that it’s back up, I think I will add it to something even better than that post.

Losing at Chicken

Fifteen days ago, Texas began reopening. Yesterday, fourteen days later (the average incubation period of the…

Posted by Jim Wright on Friday, May 15, 2020
Facebook – Stonekettle

Austin remains largely under lockdown other than the parts of the economy that Greg Abbott has foolishly insisted on controlling at the state level. Austinites are starting to go out and party now. It is summer (or feels like it) and you really can’t keep people cooped up for months on end when the weather is beautiful. This is especially true when the President and the Governor tell you it is OK to go out and socialize.

The Wife was telling me about an impromptu party that sprang up next door to the worst violator of Texas drinking laws (not to mention fire codes) in our neighborhood. A building that was a Pizza Inn in a previous life but is now an Elk’s lodge, right on the highway that leads out of town to Houston. Every weekend they packed the building to the seams with drunken buffoons, and the drunken buffoons don’t know where else to go other than the neighboring parking lot to get drunk these days.

There is little that can be done to curb these yahoos without the threat of force and that threat of force has to come from the Federal or State governments, neither of which are willing to take a stand against the drive to let off the pressure that most people feel at being told to slowly starve to death in their homes while they simultaneously go broke. Most people in Texas live from paycheck to paycheck, a fact that is even more true in the big cities than it is in the country and towns.

We are locked in the no win scenario here in Texas and across the heartland of the United States. We are playing chicken with a train locomotive on an overpass. We could swerve and take the resulting personal damage on ourselves but Governor Abbott has the steering wheel, and he’s convinced the COVID train is going to swerve first. The resultant trainwreck will be amusing for the outside observer to witness. There isn’t going to be much to recommend living through it.

Facebook – AustinTexasGov – We are in stage three

Editor’s note: July 4, 2020. Governor Abbott swerved to miss the oncoming train today. He has reinstated the statewide requirement for masks, with several very large exceptions. Too large, according to Mayor Adler. Weirdly, I never stopped wearing a mask outdoors even though I didn’t have to wear one and still don’t have to since I won’t go into a crowded public space so long as the pandemic rages. Hopefully I will get my ballots by mail as I requested. Hopefully there will be people present at the vote counting that will ensure that mail-in ballots are not simply thrown in the trash. There are some very thin shoe-strings of hope weaving the future of the country together. That is not a reassuring thought.

What is a Bad Movie?

Campy films aren’t necessarily bad and cult classics really can’t be deemed good. There have been more than a couple of posts on Facebook (maybe as many as ten) asking me to pick films that I liked but I thought were bad films. I picked two movies (Joe Vs. the Volcano and Buckaroo Banzai) because I love them and I really can’t defend them. They don’t hold together and/or loose their audience halfway through. They didn’t make enough money in the box office and they haven’t gotten beyond a core cult following as time progresses. As an additional condition of love/bad I should add that I’ve seen both of these movies more than 10 times each and I never tire of watching them. I never tire of watching them while people who watch movies with me regularly object if I propose watching them again. The Wife’s film is ID4. I’ll scream if I have to watch that one again. But then she has about ten films that she cycles through, as well as two or three series that she has on repeat in the room while she’s constructing some art project or other, just as background noise, and I run screaming from all of them. That is the hallmark of a bad movie (or bad TV) that you love. You end up watching it by yourself.

Plot. Theme. Characterizations & cinematography. All of those bases have to be covered if you are going to make a good movie. Carpenter is the king of camp, and I consider Prince of Darkness one of his best films of all time. Big Trouble is another one. I wouldn’t put a Carpenter film in a list of bad films. His films (even his bad ones) are campy enough to be watchable. I’ve sat down and watched any one of a dozen Carpenter films with family more times than I’ve sat down to watch the two I’ve listed, and I still get takers to watch them (especially The Thing) I could go on for several more paragraphs but I’ve been a lifelong movie buff and I’m married to a woman who has been involved in more productions than a good number of professionals in the business. I know whereof I speak, even if I don’t have degrees to back my critical opinions up with.

CineFix – 2001: A Space Odyssey – What’s the Difference? – Jun 17, 2015 (h/t to openculture.com)

Visual and written media are different, this is an understood fact.  The adaptation of a written work to film is an important subject of discussion, not just a pedestrian piece of entertainment. Why a film adaptation of a written work is perceived to be better or worse than its inspiration is a subject of high importance to the funders of film ventures.  The buy-in of the author of the written work and their involvement in the making of the film does indeed seem to be key to a successful adaptation.

Let me offer a few examples.

The Harry Potter films all had the direct involvement of the author from the beginning of the film franchise.  I find the study of J. K. Rowling’s evolving talent fascinating.  I read the books myself, and read them out loud twice to my children. We then all went to see the movies. Now, while my daughter lamented at some of the parts left out of the story in question, I could see Rowling’s growing understanding of the film medium evolve from movie to movie, just as I watched her understanding of the written work evolve over the course of the several books she has authored. The films, just like the books, get tighter and more interesting as her understanding of the two different mediums grows. I would offer them as some of the best examples of book to film adaptation.

It can also be a good idea for the author to know his or her own limitations. I’ve read the Hunger Games series and watched all four movies. I find the movies far more interesting than the books were, and more believable.  The characters are far more sympathetic on screen and the actors that were chosen have all performed admirably.  I don’t know the level of the author’s involvement with those films, but I haven’t encountered her promoting them like Rowling did. Yet the films do seem to capture the essence of what was compelling about the Hunger Games novels. A worthy effort.

Fight Club is another instance where the film retains the essence of the book, and yet is actually better as a movie than the book was as a book. Very few adaptations not only don’t insult the original work, but mange to improve on it. It’s also one of the few internal stories that works on the screen, largely because the internal is external (as it is in the book) without the viewer knowing this. If you don’t understand the reference, then you haven’t seen the film. Stop reading and go watch it now.

On the other end of the scale we have every attempt to adapt Dune to the movie screen. I’m not convinced that any of the parties involved (much like the 007 movies and Ready Player One) ever read the books. Frank Herbert was still alive at the time of the filming, but never seemed to have taken an interest in the first movie produced. If Alejandro Jodorowsky is to be believed, then Frank Herbert was very much involved in the project when he was developing it. The final product of the effort taken over by Hollywood bore almost no resemblance to the book that I’ve read, and I’ve read it (and Dune Messiah and Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune) more times that I’ve read the Lord of the Rings. The mini-series from SciFi comes close to capturing the essence of the novels, but still manages to fumble capturing the theme. The subtleties of the realpolitik have never been captured by any movie that I’ve seen. Most books that I’ve read also fail at giving it life (Hunger Games being the latest to attempt it that I’ve read) unless they are biographies of real historical figures. Even some of those fail at being interesting and real at the same time.

I, Robot remains the epitome of failed adaptations. Rather than simply destroying one character, as Peter Jackson did with Faramir in the Lord of the Rings adaptations, the entirety of Asimov’s work on the robot series was completely thrown out the door. None of the characters share more than a name with their counterparts in the books (a series of short works and novels) the tone of the film is luddite in nature, with all technology representing a fearful threat. This is a framing for the film that Asimov would have rejected out of hand. The plot hinges on a point that contradicts all of Asimov’s writing on the subject (the ability for a robot to kill a human) only to be countered at the last minute with a physics defying descent to an inexplicably located central computer system that isn’t even in Asimov’s works. The continued existence of the film serves as firm proof that there is no afterlife, because I can’t imagine Isaac Asimov not returning from the dead to correct this blasphemy enacted in his name.

The people who complain about minor character details being missed, or sections of the work, like Tom Bombadil (again, in Lord of the Rings) that don’t lend themselves to plot progression, simply don’t understand the constraints of the visual storytelling medium. However, it is clearly important that the filmmaker not only be a fan of the written work, but has to understand how to pull the plot, theme, and narrative out of one medium and place it in another in such a way as to be recognized by the literary fan, so that the people who paid to read the written work will also pay to see the movie. If the producer, director, writer and actors all don’t agree on this and make their best efforts to pull this feat off, you end up with just another blockbuster that you hope makes it’s exorbitant production costs back in the first few weeks of it’s public release. Because you won’t have fans buying it and talking about it years later.

Understanding the limitations of the medium that the story is told in can be key to being more forgiving. For example: A keycard is familiar and its purpose is understood by the viewing audience. Using a keycard to bypass security serves to advance the plot more easily than how you might describe the problem and its solution in a book. You don’t have to spend time explaining how to transfer fingerprints or the knowledge needed to understand bypassing security through the software, if you just have the protagonist steal a keycard. This simplification of the storyline removes at least 10 minutes of film time and who knows how many dollars from the budget. Most of the changes that are made to a literary work being adapted to the screen are done for just these kinds of reasons.

Putting Tom Bombadil into the Fellowship of the Ring movie introduces relationships and characters into the story that really don’t advance the plot and don’t increase the viewers engagement in the story itself. In the book, the brief aside of Tom Bombadil between Buckland and Bree serves to draw the reader into the story, into the world of Middle Earth. Bilbo never encountered any of the problems that Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin did because he stayed on the Great Eastern Road when he traveled from the Shire to the Lonely Mountain in the Hobbit. Tom Bombadil, for the reader, serves to illustrate the problems of leaving the road unsheparded. This makes the Hobbit’s willingness to follow Aragorn more believable when they meet him at Bree. They’ve just survived death at the hands of ghosts and magic because Tom Bombadil was there to save them. The screenwriters rightly decided that shortening the narrative there was without any real cost to the overall storyline. The only people who object to going straight from Buckland (mentioned as the ferry in the movie) to Bree with a single scene cut are the people who are anchored in the literary narrative, incapable of appreciating the different demands a viewing audience brings to the theater with them.

I loved Fellowship of the Ring when it came out as a movie. It remains a testament to what Peter Jackson thought he could sell to a bunch of rabid fans ready to tear the heart out of his three-movie project before the first movie was even cold in the film canisters.

The Two Towers is a completely different matter. The Two Towers is a bad movie in pretty much the same way every second movie is, plus a few other insults thrown in. I’ve already mentioned Peter Jackson’s treatment of Faramir as one of my objections. Dragging the Hobbits to Osgiliath served the purpose of having a crisis moment for Faramir where he and the audience see the danger of the ring for themselves. In my estimation it is unnecessary.

As a film editor I would have sliced off all hints that they ever left Ithilien, had the Witch King show up, have Faramir renounce the ring (he does anyway) and send Frodo and Sam on their way. No need to draw out the crisis moment. No need to have Sam utter that heartfelt speech about not being here that always makes me laugh and agree with him. No. You shoudn’t be in Osgiliath. Now you have to come up with a device to get the Hobbits back onto the borders of Mordor. Oh, look! A tunnel! Just what we needed.

The less said about Treebeard and the ents as they appear in the movie, the better. I don’t think that Jackson had all those sequences worked out in advance. They have a hurried quality to them, which (bararum) Treebeard himself would not have appreciated. The second movie was always going to be the connector between the grand achievement of Fellowship of the Ring, and the closing moments of Return of the King. The book The Two Towers is a long slog, too. That the series of movies were completed at all is a tribute to Peter Jackson and his crew.

…and then he went on to destroy the Hobbit. Peter Jackson’s the Hobbit is J.R.R. Tolkien in name only, just like I, Robot having the name Asimov’s in front of it makes it his movie in name only. I haven’t watched the third Hobbit movie, but I will eventually. The elf/dwarf river dance in the second movie combined with the liquid gold surfing was more than I could take. You strip out Jackson’s love of overly-long action sequences and you might have a set of movies worth watching (see Jackson’s King Kong) his weaving of the various themes that predate Tolkien’s writing Lord of the Rings, themes that aren’t in the Hobbit, was clever if not at all like the book itself.  The first movie announced Jackson’s intentions to not follow the book so I wasn’t too upset when he didn’t follow it in the second movie.

Since they weren’t really J.R.R. Tolkien and they were definitively Peter Jackson, warts and all, I saw no need to rush out and watch the last movie in the movie theater. Now that I am longing to see movies in a theater again it may be time to dust off some of the movies I’ve put off watching and try them out. See if I think differently about them now.

So what is a bad movie? It is up to the moviegoer at large to determine this, just as it is up to the reader to determine whether any given book represents good writing or not. Let me put it this way.

ranthonyings.com

On my laserdisc copy of Star Wars Han Solo is the only one who fires a weapon in the Cantina scene. That is the way it was supposed to be before George Lucas screwed up all the original movies re-editing them. It is because of the re-edits that I have said for awhile now that neither Disney nor the Abramanator could screw up Star Wars. George Lucas already did that.

…But then the Abramanator said “hold my beer” and proved me wrong. That is also why I won’t buy Star Wars on any of the new formats that are available. Not unless I get an original version of the movie to view. A New Hope is a bad movie. Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were great movies. It’s just too bad you can’t buy them anymore.

Or you could just ignore the critics and go see the movie.

Stonekettle Station

Some of my thoughts on this subject were inspired by comments on this Facebook thread. The featured image is a screencap from the infamous watermelon scene in Buckaroo Banzai.

The Meaning of Design

If you don’t stretch you won’t know where the edge is. I was constantly stretching into areas that I didn’t know very much about.

Designers don’t just look, but they see. They don’t just hear, but they listen. And they don’t just touch, but they feel. To design is to attempt to make a world a better place.

Sara Little Turnbull
The Mask – Throughline – May 14, 2020