Insufficient Intellect

They were now their own unavoidable experiment, and were making themselves into many things they had never been before: augmented, multi-sexed, and most importantly, very long-lived, the oldest at that point being around two hundred years old. But not one whit wiser, or even more intelligent. Sad but true: individual intelligence probably peaked in the Upper Paleolithic, and we have been self-domesticated creatures ever since, dogs when we had been wolves. But also, despite that individual diminution, finding ways to accumulate knowledge and power, compiling records, also techniques, practices, sciences

possibly smarter therefore as a species than as individuals, but prone to insanity either way.

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (goodreads.com)

I have almost finished listening to this on Audible.

The First Presidential Impeachment

I queued up the latest episode of Throughline when it came out on the 14th of January, and I wondered what take they would give on the subject of impeachment now that we were in the second impeachment for Donald Trump:

Throughline – Impeachment – January 14, 2021

The episode turned out to be a rebroadcast of a previous episode (High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Feb. 28, 2019) but as I was listening to the episode I was thinking “yeah. I wrote an article about my experience reading this book. What happened to that?”

After looking through my online drafts, I can tell my self from the middle of January what happened to it. I flushed it. I flushed the whole article. I was so disgusted with the results of President Trump’s impeachment in 2019 and trial in the early months of 202o (what feels like a decade ago now) that I didn’t see the point in adding an article about this book to the blog. I mean to say, the book and the first impeachment of a President in United States history had no bearing on the results of this modern President’s flirtation with perhaps being punished for his infractions by being impeached for some of them. The tale had no bearing other than that he was left in office just as Andrew Johnson had been, to the disgust of everyone who cared about the future of the country and the plight of the former slaves who were betrayed by Andrew Johnson.

Because I’m fanatical about saving everything I write somewhere, it turned out that there still was a draft of the article sitting in my backups waiting to be dusted off and revisited. Since President Trump has been so enormously stupid as to attempt to overthrow the United States government and not even understand that he should probably run away after failing so spectacularly to do even that job correctly, he has been impeached for an unprecedented second time, almost exactly thirteen months since he was impeached for the first time. Impeached for sedition. That’ll look good on his resume. What follows is an amended set of thoughts on the subject of the book and the relevance of the first impeachment of a sitting President with the current governmental tragedy that we are witnessing.

Impeaching a President implies that we make mistakes, grave ones, in electing or appointing officials, and that these elected men and women might be not great but small—unable to listen to, never mind to represent, the people they serve with justice, conscience, and equanimity. Impeachment suggests dysfunction, uncertainty, and discord—not the discord of war, which can be memorialized as valorous, purposeful, and idealistic, but the far less dramatic and often squalid, sad, intemperate conflicts of peace, partisanship, race, and rancor. Impeachment implies a failure—a failure of government of the people to function, and of leaders to lead. And presidential impeachment means failure at the very top.

Brenda Wineapple

The Impeachers (2019)

I picked up The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple  after hearing her interviewed on several podcasts over a few weeks in August, 2019. I listened to it over the course of a month or so in fifteen minutes stretches as I got ready for bed and then tried to go to sleep. When I dusted off the first abortive attempt to write an article about this book, I decided to listen to it again while editing this article and adding to it. I have now been listening to the book for two days straight and finished it on the morning of the third day. It is much better than I originally thought, and it is packed full of relevant details about the current president and his predicament.

It isn’t the most sleep inducing of books, which is a point in its favor, but I have to keep relistening to chapters in order to try to keep all the players straight. This is a flaw in the narrative that has been constructed for the story of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson to be told in. I have read better histories over the course of the years, but there is nothing particularly bad about this one. It flows well from chapter to chapter, I simply can’t keep all the names straight because I don’t understand their place in the overall story. In case anyone else is having this problem, I’ll attach a list of the obscure characters that the author seems to insufficiently touch on at the end of this article, as well as include a few quotes from them interspersed in the text. I looked them up out of curiosity anyway, I might as well list their names and what I took away from stumbling across them online here in this article. However, the best way to learn about the subject of the book, Andrew Johnson and his direct impeachers, is to just read the book or read one of the numerous other books that have been written about him and them.

Here’s an example of why this book is relevant today:

I cannot believe there is really any danger of armed resistance to impeachment. The force which Johnson could command is so small and the suicidal folly of the course so evident. Still, Johnson is an exception to all rules.

Moorfield Storey

Andrew Johnson and Donald Trump resemble each other in character. Vain, narcissistic and borderline sociopaths, with a certain kind of charisma that they both used to raise crowds to their defense when they were speaking extemporaneously, but when looked at later in the cold light can be seen to be voicing sentiments that are almost completely without merit. They are cut from very similar cloth and neither of them should have ever been allowed near the levers of power, and abused their power when it was given to them.

The story of the first presidential impeachment stems out of the first assassination of a United States president, which followed directly on the heels of the Civil War, a conflict that finally put to rest the question of slavery that had badgered American reality and morality since the founding of the United States following the separation of the American colonies from Great Britain.

I recommend that anyone interested in this subject also read Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin or at least become passingly familiar with the subjects that swirled around in political circles of the day. Because, while the book is entertaining and self-contained from the perspective of explaining most of what you need to know about the subject of the first impeachment of a president, it isn’t going to tell you just how embedded the common notion of white supremacy was, a concept that was later scientificated into eugenics, which in the modern day is inseparable from white supremacy itself, even though it is still an active science in several countries.

Without that understanding, you will not be able to credit just how hard it was to find enough people of power to make the kinds of changes in the South stick that needed to stick without turning the entire project into another form of genocide:

Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

Abraham Lincoln – Second Inaugural Address – Saturday, March 4, 1865

Threading that needle, avoiding the mass slaughter of the plantation owners for the purpose of providing property and means for their now freed slaves, while at the same time allowing the former slaves enough space to be able to exercise their newly-granted legal rights, was the task before the country when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the task that Andrew Johnson was not capable of executing. A fact that he demonstrated many times before the House of Representatives was forced to impeach him for his transgressions of the law.

I especially loved the explanations that Benjamin Butler came up with to explain what it is that falls within the realm of ideas encapsulated by the phrase High Crimes and Misdemeanors:

An impeachable misdemeanor might be an act that subverted the principles of government, such as one that violated the Constitution or that flouted an official oath or duty or law. It could be an act that abused or usurped power.

The Senate was bound by no law, either statute or common, that should limit your constitutional prerogative. The Senate, acting as a court, was a law unto itself. Bound only principles of equity and justice where the laws of the people was supreme.

The Impeachers, Chapter Twenty-Two

The Senate is not required to be certain beyond a reasonable doubt in order to hold the president accountable for the crimes he has been charged with, an idea that is also encapsulated in this article from The Atlantic, as well as my own article on the subject. These definitions did not stand in the way of the president’s defenders then and now, insisting that there were no laws broken so the impeachment could not be a valid one but only a political one. Even a political impeachment is valid, if the reasons for the impeachment are dire enough.

If there was a movie made of what happened after Lincoln was assassinated its title should be Betrayal. Betrayal is what Andrew Johnson did to the visions of Abraham Lincoln. A betrayal of the formerly enslaved people in favor of the wealthy white landowners. If these downtrodden people had been given the voice they were promised back in 1865, we wouldn’t have needed to impeach a white supremacist president in 2019, and then impeach him again in 2021.

Andrew Johnson not only deserved impeachment, he should have been impeached sooner. Andrew Johnson was not the first president that should have been impeached and removed from office. Andrew Jackson should also have been impeached and removed because of his unwillingness to enforce and abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court. He was not impeached because he had a House of Representatives and a Senate that agreed with his treatment of the native peoples in Georgia. These supporters did not mind that he enriched himself by stealing the natives land and selling it through authorized representatives, selling it to whites that wanted to possess the land. (Jacksonland)

Mitch McConnell comparing the Republicans who impeached Andrew Johnson to the Democrats who have impeached Donald Trump did get one thing right. Both impeachments were undertaken late, and both impeachments will likely end with injustice done to the Constitution and the ideal of the rule of law. In the case of the impeachment of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell is already on record as being intent on doing injustice.

The modern record should not distract from the historical though. It is the process of following the trends through history that provides the illumination for current events, not the other way around. Andrew Johnson never did get the justice that he so richly deserved, and that is yet another reason why we remain in this quandary today.

Putting aside such causes of the Senate’s action as women, whiskey, cowardice, greenbacks, Free Masonry, Negro-hate, offices for one’s sixteen pine-tree cousins, a diseased Chief Justice, spite, dyspepsia and noodleism – It is evident, on the face of things, that while a very large majority of the people, and specially of the Republican party, wished its success, there was a very strong doubt among the party leaders whether such success would help the party.

Wendell Phillips, The Impeachers, chapter 27
Characters

Roughly listed in the order that they appear in the book:

  • Edwin Stanton – Perhaps the most famous of Lincoln’s cabinet. You see a different side of the man in this history than you will see in other histories.
  • William Seward – Secretary of State under both Lincoln and Johnson. A much more despicable figure than I had understood him to be from other histories I have read. What a strange man he must have been.
  • Thaddeus Stevens – Leader of the abolitionists in the House. Played memorably by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie Lincoln, he has never been treated more kindly as a character anywhere other than in that movie, and that is a shame on our nation and what our nation means. Stanchly even handed, but willing to manipulate the rules of the House of Representatives to serve the needs of the nation itself, we need at least one legislator equal to him in today’s Congress. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have any of them.
  • Charles Sumner – Leader of the abolitionists in the Senate. No one seems to like him, and there is little of him in this book. Still, we should understand who he was if we are to understand his place in history. I’ll have to try to find more to read about him.
  • Lyman Trumbull – Coauthor of the thirteenth amendment. Author of some of the freedman’s legislation. Senator from Illinois.
  • Thomas J. Durant – Former federal officer and an attorney in New Orleans where he witnessed the sadistic massacre there in 1866.
  • George Boutwell – Former Democrat turned radical abolitionist Republican.
  • James Mitchell Ashley – Proposed the resolution to impeach Andrew Johnson. For this and for his stance on educating the populace (including former slaves) he was soundly defeated in 1868 and never held elected office again.
  • Benjamin Butler – Benjamin Butler would open the House Manager’s prosecution case against Andrew Johnson in the Senate. More should have been written about the history of this man, given how important his role is in the impeachment trial. Butler provides the definitions for the offenses that Andrew Johnson was impeached for, quoted above.

Monocausotaxophilia

the love of single ideas that explain everything, one of humanity’s most common cognitive errors

Kim Stanley Robinson, the Ministry for the Future

Have a look at its bits: mono from Greek μόνος monos ‘alone, single’, taxo from Greek τάξις taxis ‘order’, philia from Greek φιλία filia ‘love’, but causo from Latin causa ‘cause, reason’. These are all parts of the lexical Lego bucket, but from two different sets that have been combined. It just happens that the Greek equivalent of causa, αἰτία aitia, is not much used in modern scientific neologism.

sesquiotic.com

The word was apparently invented by Ernst Pöppel (humor?) I did a search through the history of the wiki page that Sesquiotic mentions as showing up in a Google search. There is no record of the word ever being part of the page. The edits on wiki articles are preserved (in a general sense. Wiki-social does this as well) so the word probably never appeared on the page. why the wiki page shows up when you do a search for Monocausotaxophilia is a question that Google will have to answer.

Bag Man

The story of the downfall of Spiro Agnew, Tricky Dick Nixon’s Vice President. He was insanely popular with American conservatives of the time, just as Richard Nixon was popular with the majority of Americans of the time. They were both popular when they were elected. Spiro Agnew had a secret that wasn’t much of a secret in Baltimore where he had come from, and that secret would lead to some strange twists and turns in the near future as Richard Nixon broke laws in his attempts to stay in office.

It was the conjunction of these two popular people on the office of Vice President and President, two popular people who had both committed crimes that they could be removed from office over, that lead to the memo from the Justice Department that advised that a President can’t be indicted (the Atlantic) as Rachel Maddow discusses in this segment of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:

The Late Show with Stephen ColbertWhat Mysteries Does Rachel Maddow Hope Are Solved Once The President Is Out Of Office? – Dec 10, 2020

Without that advisory from the Office of Legal Counsel Donald Trump would have been indicted for his crimes before he was impeached, and his impeachment and removal would have been a foregone conclusion because you can’t be President of the United States and conduct the business of the United States from prison. Well, Mitch McConnell and the cult-like followers of QAnon would have said he was railroaded and that the superhuman Donald Trump could easily do the country’s business from prison, but they wouldn’t have represented a majority. They would have been an even smaller minority than the one that came out and voted for Donald Trump in the November election.

Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House by Rachel Maddow 

I’ve mentioned the podcast that spawned the book she is out stumping for three times on the blog over the past few years. Unfortunately all the links that were in previous articles now lead to non-existent feeds as far as I can tell, so I will have to re-edit them eventually to point to a new feed location (Done. However the feed was restored when I started editing, so I left some of the old links in. Fingers crossed that the feed stays up this time. -ed.) In the meantime, the podcast is also on Youtube just like the segment of LSSC that I linked above.

MSNBCBag Man Podcast – Apr 10, 2019

If you love a good yarn, especially a true tale of intrigue, check out this podcast and book. you’ll definitely enjoy the story. I did.

Embracing Post-Scarcity

…and then he asked me,

As if those shows you watch would get aired without a profit motivation? Would they even have been made? Would Netflix exist? Would Facebook? You take a lot for granted.

I had to admit, he had a valid point. Not that I agree with him, but the point is valid on its face. Every television show, every radio show ever created was created the way they were to specifically address the advertising model adopted by broadcasters in the early twentieth century. All of them exist the way they do because their creators and the networks that paid for their creation were speculating on audience appeal and the value of that appeal on the advertising markets.

I find it amusing, when listening to public radio podcasts, that they stop for an advertising message at precise intervals. Those intervals are dictated by the broadcasters who understood just how much information the listener or viewer could assimilate at one time before being lost in the narrative. You can have this much information and no more, because we need you to pay attention to this next advertisement! Leave the audience hungry, so that they will tune back in after the pause in order to hear the rest of the story.

Public radio and television networks (and especially podcasts. No podcasts need to follow this formula unless they too count on advertising to pay for their content) do not need to stop for an advertising message every fifteen to thirty minutes. They just do that in order to conform to the standards for commercial broadcasts and the advertising model that has proven to be largely unworkable in the post-scarcity economy that the internet is the harbinger of.

The Wife and I have mused together several times over nearly a decade about what this impending switchover to post-scarcity economics implies. Gene Roddenberry and his chief work of fiction, Star Trek, do not do more than imply that inhabitants in that distant future no longer understand what money is and why we ancients could never get past the need of it.

The Wife has asked this very question when I have posed what the impending advent of a freedom dividend or universal basic income(UBI) or guaranteed minimum income (GMI) would mean to the average person. What will the world be like, when people no longer have to work to survive? No one knows, because that economic state has never existed in human memory. But it is about to happen, one way or another.

The world economic system throws off enough human value, measured in increments of whatever monetary system you want to use, for the entire world to be provided with the means to survive without having to work. The operative phrase there being having to. Work will still be done, because people need to work. They just won’t starve or be kicked out of their (modest) residences when they don’t. We already live in a post-scarcity economy, we simply do not have the benefits of that economy spread equinomically across all the participants.

The right way to get out of the problem that we are in now, the problem of false scarcity, is the only real question here. The question is not whether or not we can get out of this delusion of scarcity that the wealthy who run the world make sure to indoctrinate their workers with. How do we do emerge from scarcity in a way that the creators of all the things we use on a daily basis finally do get the benefits of their creations? That system has never existed before in history.

In Fields of Blood (Karen Armstrong, 2015) the point was driven home early in the book that the agrarian state was based on the direct confiscation of the farmer’s work. In example after example she paints the inescapable portrait of the leaders of these states confiscating the work of the providers and creators in order to live more comfortable, secure lives, while only marginally providing security and stability for the people that they live on top of.

In the recent science fiction novel, New York 2140 (Kim Stanley Robinson, 2017) the author projects a future where these economic thieves are still making a fine living off of the suffering of other people, even though a good portion of the world’s population is living a marginal existence in the flooded remains of our former coastal cities. I don’t want to spoil the ending of the book, so I won’t go into how the world changes over the course of the novel, but I don’t need to in order to make the point that I want to make in mentioning the book here.

That point is this; we can stop these profiteers, these pirates, we can stop them here and now and just avoid that future altogether. All we have to do is adopt an economic strategy that lifts all boats by design. A strategy that modifies itself as the economics around it shift from decade to decade. That strategy will take the form of a UBI or GMI, but that is just the beginning. The question then really does become, what next?

Well, the creators will continue to create, for one thing. The farmers will farm, because that is what they do. When they get wealthy from their efforts at creating they will either stop doing that or find someone else to help them do that. Someone who is still just bouncing along on subsistence. The farmers are just the beginning of what has become a very complex social structure since the days when Abraham first conjectured that the problem with society was that it stole all of his work, and set off to create the perfect agrarian state. A state that ended up never existing. Dozens of religions have been founded on his simple observations, and still we struggle with the beast that is scarcity and the fear of scarcity.

To answer the question from the beginning of this article, would these shows exist? I have to point out that most people who create do that because that is what they do. The Wife makes movies, has been part of some fifteen films over the span of decades of her life, and she’s never made a dime off of any of them. It would have been nice to make some money from them, that just isn’t the reason she does it. It isn’t the reason that anyone working in film or television or radio or the theater does the work they do. They create the things they do because that is what interests them, and there is a place for them to make these things and so contribute to the world, so they do what they can.

I write because that is what I do. I also don’t make any money off of it. It would be nice to make money; but again, that isn’t why I do it. I didn’t create architectural documents to make money. I did it because drafting and computers and escaping my dysgraphic limitations were what drove me. When I couldn’t do that anymore, and being faced with ceasing to be relevant to the world because I could no longer do the thing I loved, I found a way to do the thing I had always wanted to do. Write. Writing is the thing I had always wanted to do but couldn’t do because I had to feed a family, and writing without a computer interface is an impossibility for someone who has the kind of dysgraphic problems that I have.

The space in which to reinvent myself was provided by socialism, which is why I say that I was Saved by Socialism, and having been given that space and discovering that I had to do something in order to keep living in the here and now, I taught myself to write in much the same way that I taught myself computer assisted drafting (several times) I can now bring my ideas into existence with a word processor for them to be discussed or puzzled over by anyone who runs across them.

This personal revelation of mine is a part of why I keep telling people who clearly are angry about being forced to do a job they don’t want to do, to just stop doing it. Just stop. Wait. Wait as long as it takes for them to get that itch. Some people will never notice the itch. There is no help for those people no matter what I might say here. Most people will get the itch and they will be driven up off the couch and out the door in pursuit of something to do with themselves that feels meaningful in the grand sense of meaning, and not in the personal sense of meaning which amounts to “what can I distract myself with next?”

I want, more than anything, for everyone to be allowed to sit down and say “I’m not going to do that anymore.” …and then have them be forced to admit that sitting at home doing nothing is not a useful, rewarding life that you can be happy in. Because until that experience is a realistic possibility the delusion of scarcity and its fear will drive people to keep working at things that they don’t find rewarding but feel that they must continue to work at anyway unless they want to starve, their children to starve, live on the streets, etcetera.

They are convinced that if they don’t work the world will come to a standstill. Even the Wife says “the world will come to a standstill, won’t it?” I want to see their faces when they realize that the world keeps going on anyway, turning once around its axis each day, traveling once around the sun each year, even though they have decided not to participate in life any longer. Because it is at that point that we really will have arrived at a post-scarcity economy.

Amazonian Elf Sex

…even the provocative director of the X-rated film Fritz the Cat, Ralph Bakshi, managed to keep it in his pants. His ambitious yet incomplete 1978 animated Lord of the Rings stays in the right lane, true to its high fantasy trope, even though the film is wildly psychedelic in its visual flair. Such a great contrast to his other fantasies Wizards and Fire & Ice which was R-rated Adult Swim fare decades before Adult Swim existed! Instinctively and thoughtfully, Bakshi knew that Tolkien’s story didn’t need all the Tits & Ass that had previously made the animator the darling of 70’s arthouse cinema. He kept that out of Middle-earth, indulging it elsewhere more suitably for his other films.

theonering.net
Facebook – TheOneRing.net

I am commenting on the content of the live stream and the quoted article above, so some of this will probably seem to be a little disconnected. But, here goes.

15:45 minutes. The #TORnTuesday hosts discuss Arwen being present at Helm’s Deep in the movie version of LotR, and how theonering.net and it’s fanbase stopped those scenes from being in the final cut. Arwen being at Helm’s Deep would have been perfectly acceptable to me if a) she was dispatched as the leader of the group from her grandmother and b) women were equally welcome in the fighting troops with men and so her presence was unremarkable. This would have required a major rewrite and a re-explaining of why the plot evolves the way it does. Specifically? Eowen showing up at the battle in front of Minas Tirith and everyone being surprised, especially the Witch King (the subtleties of ingrained systemic misogyny are hard to parse sometimes) If women were commonplace things in battle, why wouldn’t anyone have thought about Eowen being in the battle of the Pelennor Fields? I mean, Arwen glowed with the light of the two trees in the first film, she can do just about anything else in the story after that. Considering what else was done in the Two Towers that varies from the book, Arwen being at Helm’s Deep makes complete sense to me. I would love to see those scenes, that version of the film, right next to the final version. I mean, why not? Other than, of course, that wasn’t how J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the scene. It would have been nice to see the Helm’s Deep battle filmed as it was written. I’ll take the parts of it that I did get, I guess.

56:00 minutes. There is the description of the John Boorman scene of the fellowship coming upon the waters of Galadriel. I cannot describe precisely how overjoyed I am that Ralph Bakshi got to do his version of Lord of the Rings rather than John Boorman, who went on to make Excalibur instead. A great movie, but definitely not high fantasy.

Anyone who thinks LoTR, or this Unnamed Amazon Production (UAP) needs more sexing up doesn’t understand what Tolkien was trying to say with his work. Explicit sex scenes shouldn’t be part of Tolkien’s work simply because Tolkien wouldn’t have dwelt on the prurient in that fashion. It is contrary to his vision of what high fantasy was and is.

It’s like telling me that Star Fleet has been subverted is a plotline of a film (Into Darkness) when Gene Roddenberry specifically forbade that storyline in the Trek writers guide. You, the modern interpreter, can certainly go there. Once you do, the film cannot be part of the canon for that created universe. If you insist on including contrary things like storylines that aren’t in the text or scenes that are contrary to the sense of the work, you risk destroying the social groupings that form in fandom around the platform that the work represents because the work no longer presents a uniform vision of itself.

What is a Bad Film?

Ask Paramount how much they like their new Trek that the Abramanator created for them. Sure, that first movie made money. Forget ever making money with the universe after that point.

Elf sex may not be the one thing that breaks the Tolkien fandom groups, especially since slash fiction is what most people create in their own heads (apparently) but if they are going there in the series, it won’t take Amazon long to completely abandon the rest of the lore that Middle Earth is supposedly based on, in the name of drawing more viewers to the show.

Here’s a thought. Why not create a new thing and get people to watch that, rather than pretend that the new thing is somehow related to something you feel nostalgia for? Nostalgia is overrated.

I have little interest in watching what Amazon does to Tolkien’s second age elves; even if Jeff Bezos does embroider the life of Galadriel, a strong female lead character, so lacking in Tolkien’s work. I am loathe to sound off about entertainment that I do not want to feel obliged to watch. If I sound off on the subject, and they cite my words as some motivation for changing their work, I would feel obliged to spend quality time evaluating the resulting product.

I have little trust left for the corporate creators of entertainment. I am way beyond reticent when it comes to promising my time in this fashion. I’ve written off many of my most treasured memories of youth at this point in my life, as well as abandoned new infatuations when they betrayed what they supposedly were about in the beginning. I’ve written them all off because some corporate stooge somewhere wanted to make a few more bucks off of my nostalgia one more time.

So I am prepared to pretend that Amazon’s elf stories don’t exist just like I pretend that other entertainment that doesn’t entertain me doesn’t exist, before I’ve seen one second of the work as it is intended to be seen. It is my feelings being used to motivate me here. The only way that I can stop them from being used to manipulate me is to compartmentalize those feelings and lock them away where they can’t be abused by the unscrupulous. It is up to Amazon to produce some work or other that motivates me to watch it based on it’s own merits. Gratuitos elf sex isn’t going to be considered meritorious. That statement can stand in for anything else I might say on this subject.

…it should be ‘high’, purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry.

J.R.R. Tolkien (goodreads)

Featured image: Frodo, Gollum and Sam looking over a ledge, scene from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. I googled the article title trying to find an appropriate image to feature for the article. DO NOT Google the article title. Just don’t do it. The blog oneroomwithaview.com has a series of articles titled Best Films Never Made that includes an article about Boorman’s attempt to make his version of Lord of the Rings. Paul McCartney was who he wanted to play Frodo. Frodo having sex with Galadriel. There’s an image you can’t unsee.

Trump the Demented

“It seems like if you leave a dementia test bragging about all the extra points you got on your dementia test, you have dementia.”

Jessi Klein

Person, Man, Woman, Camera, TV has been making viral rounds this week. I couldn’t bring myself to care long enough to even figure out what that Orange Hate-Monkey bullshit was about. I did try though. I got two minutes into,

The Late Show with Stephen ColbertTrump Proves His Cognitive Abilities With Five Magical Words: Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV – Jul 23, 2020

…and just gave up. Too much OHM lip-flapping, not enough humor. Today (Sat. July 25, 2020) with hints from,

‘Wait Wait’ For July 25, 2020, With Not My Job Guest Padma Lakshmi

I was able to deduce that the OHM is still bragging about how well he did on the dementia test they gave him, two weeks after the bomb dropped that they had tested him for dementia but didn’t bother to tell the American people about it for two years.

Facebook

Fresh Air – Mary Trump, The President’s Niece – July 23, 2020

Suggested reading:

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump Ph.D.

I listened to the entire book last week. It was an interesting listen if only marginally about Donald Trump himself. It was more about the monster that was Fred Trump, and how that monster drove his eldest son into the grave while twisting the minds of the rest of his children. Creating the fascist demagogue that we know as Caudito Trump, the Orange Hate-Monkey in the process. Donald Trump is exactly who his father made him to be. Ruthless. Vindictive. But he is also what he was when he was sent to military school. Slovenly. Empty-headed. Narcissistic.

Mary Trump would say (and did say in the book) that her Uncle was unfit for the office of president. As a doctor with first-hand experience with him, she should know.

Mencken: the American Iconoclast by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers
Facebook – Stonekettle

Let There Be Light

He fled the light and the knowledge the light implied, and so came back to himself. Even so do the rest of us; even so the best of us.

Stephen King, The Gunslinger

I went on and read/listened to volume two of the Dark Tower saga, the Drawing of the Three. I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the second volume, and I can’t recall a significant moment of the film purportedly based on the first book, which means I’ll have to go back and watch that movie again (Look for this to be updated then) in the meantime Stephen King’s afterword in the second volume, citing how this work was such a departure from his normal writing endeavors, made me pick up and start reading/listening to the Shining.

The one thing I noticed about the second volume of the Dark Tower saga that stuck (other than did-a-chick) was the references to the movie interpretation of the Shining that Stanley Kubrick graced the screens with back in 1980. Very little of what you saw on screen in that movie was even in the novel that Stephen King penned. No elevator full of blood, no encounters with the dead twin girls, no hunt through the hedge maze, no “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” repeated ad nauseum as a demonstration of the father’s madness. King’s tangential reference to that movie, as well as other movies of the time, leaves you thinking that King wasn’t very impressed with Kubrick’s vision of what the Shining was about.

It’s hard to translate the written word to the screen, even when what is written is written specifically to be filmed. Stephen King’s books are a lot like other novels that are worth reading. The language on the page draws images in your head, and those images will never be the exact same images that any other person has. The script writer/director/actor all have to agree on what the image on the screen should be, and they are all hampered in their ability to get their interpretation of the words onto the screen by the limitations of the technology that exists at that moment to realize the images.

When a book relies on the internal horror of the individual’s mind to advance the plot, every attempt to turn that into a movie is doomed to failure. It is doomed to failure because every single reader will come in expecting to see their mental pictures on the screen, and they aren’t going to see them there.

I take great pains to reserve judgement on a movie based on books that I’ve read. I try to set aside what I know about any given character that I’m watching on screen. Set aside what I know that isn’t in the movie I’m watching. This helped me get through all the Marvel movies based on characters that I’ve followed since childhood. Helped me watch the Harry Potter movies without demanding that this or that scene from the book just had to be in the movie.

There will be enough time to reflect on the whole achievement of the movie after the credits roll. Time to reflect, unless the movie lacks the hooks to make it relevant to your experiences outside the movie theater. That movie is soon forgotten. Does that make the movie a bad movie? Only a second viewing will answer that question.

Working in Pajamas

Me? I wanted to be a writer since I was kid. It’s a sickness, writing. A weird mental disorder that makes you sit in front of a keyboard for hours, daydreaming and playing with ideas and wondering why anybody would read the blather on the screen. But my grandmother gave me a Hardy Boys book (#8; The Mystery of Cabin Island) for Christmas one year when I was about 8 or 9. I’d been an indifferent reader up to that point, but that book captivated me and my lifelong obsession with words began right there. Somewhere shortly thereafter, in a staggering moment of epiphany, I realized there were actually people out there who got paid to sit in front of a keyboard and daydream and those people didn’t have to put on pants every day. Hell they might not even own actual pants – unless you consider pajamas legitimate work apparel.

I knew then that’s what I wanted to do.

Stonekettle

Crake Coronavirus?

When I listened to this story on Shortwave,

Short Wave – China’s Coronavirus Is Spreading. But How? – January 24, 20204

I was suddenly struck with a question. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought it. Could this be a Crake event? You know, Crake of the novel Oryx and Crake, the creator of the Crakers? You haven’t read that book? You’d better do that, and soon.

However, it looks like the virus came from a snake. So, whew! Not the engineered end of human civilization. This time.


February 1, 2020. People are still freaking out about this virus. It is even possible that they are more panicked about it now than they were a week ago when I wrote this.

Calm down people. Like the talking head said on the Inside Europe podcast for this week, the death rate of the disease is probably closer to that of influenza (ten times the death rate of influenza, but still, not end-of-civilization serious unless we let it be the end of our civilization. That would be pretty stupid if we did that. Right up there with blowing ourselves up with nuclear weapons. Which we still might do. -ed.) than it is to some kind of new killer bug that will wipe out human civilization. So, you know. I’d worry more about catching the flu, myself. Get your flu shots, for crying out loud.