Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

“IT IS WITH MUCH EMBARRASSMENT THAT I RETURN.”

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24 January, 41 AD. Roman Emperor Caligula is walking through Rome with his friends and cohorts, guarded by the Praetorian Guard, the Secret Service of their day. They come to a pedestrian tunnel, and the guard insists on separating Caligula from his cohorts while walking through the tunnel, for security of course. Then in the middle of the tunnel, the guard drew their swords and killed Caligula. Let’s just say Caligula wasn’t very popular. He had a nightmarish upbringing, so no surprise he turned into a monster. He only reigned for about four years, and was 28 when he died. The Praetorian Guard then proclaimed Claudius the new emperor, not the last time they would kill a caesar and appoint a new one.

I went and saw the latest Jumanji movie. It was what I call a parts movie. IE it had all sorts of good parts, good actors, good special effects, decent writing, all fun to watch. But it didn’t add up to anything, it was all basically formula. They took the previous movie, jazzed it up a bit, and ran with it. Modern sequels all just kind of blur together. If one likes Dwayne Johnson movies, or the previous Jumanji movie, lots of fun. Note it’s not a kids movie, at least little kids.

January 24th 1900, the Battle of Scion Kop. Part of the Boer Wars. One European colonial army conquering another European colony. The British of course. They got a lot of their empire by conquering other empires’ colonies. Hyenas feeding on jackals, colonialism is really ugly if one thinks about it, but so fully normalized in western society that the ugly bits are overlooked. Anyhow, yeah, bad day for the Redcoats. I don’t think they were wearing red in 1900 though, but I could be wrong. The British climbed to the top of a hill at night, made a disorganized and poorly planned attempt to dig in, and in the morning found themselves in a very exposed position. Which the Boers were happy to exploit, eventually driving the Brits off the hill with heavy losses. Speaking of Redcoats, the French went into World War One with their soldiers wearing bright red trousers, because, you know, that’s what Napoleon would have wanted. Turned out to be a bad idea on a modern battlefield.

Speaking of colonialism, here’s a wonderful example of the colonial mindset in action. Greta Thurnberg suggested maybe people shouldn’t invest in the fossil fuel industries that are knowingly destroying the climate for profit. A suggestion up there with saying maybe don’t invest in industries that use slave labor, IE one of those no-brainer suggestions. So the US treasury secretary suggested she go study economics before offering her advice. No need, letting the fossil fuel industry destroy the planet’s climate is going to be very bad for the economy. No economics degree required. Here’s a tip. Any time someone says “It’s going to be bad for the economy” what they mean is “It’s going to mean slightly less obscene profits for the rich.” Can’t have that.

“It is with much embarrassment that I return.” 24 January 1972, Shoichi Yokoi is discovered hiding in the jungles on Guam. He was a Japanese soldier in hiding since 1944 when the US recaptured Guam during World War Two in the Pacific. Mr Yokoi was among the last three such holdouts to be discovered. Guam is only like 10 by 20 miles, so hiding for 28 years is impressive. A replica of the cave he hid in is a tourist attraction to this day. The quote is something he said upon his return to Japan, it apparently gained some popularity there.

There were a number of Japanese holdouts after World War Two. A subcategory of “people hiding from civilization.” One could write a book I suppose. A family of Old Believers discovered in remote Siberia. The Bounty mutineers. The Australian aborigines I blogged about. A handful of stone age tribes. The guy who hid in the woods in Maine for decades. I’m debating it myself. I have no family, and my friends hate me. And I have lived in a cave before. On the plus side, I’m a moderately successful blogger. Life, always full of decisions. I guess when you’re dead, no more decisions. The appeal of suicide suddenly becomes clearer.

But no. As a friend once said, you’re gonna be dead a lot longer than you’re alive. Have a great weekend everyone.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: An 1887 painting of a famous Old Believer being arrested. Credit: Vasily Ivanovich Surikov 1848-1916. Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 24, 2020 at 10:19 am

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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January first, New Year’s Day. Oddly enough starting the year on January 1st is a relatively new thing. In much of Europe it wasn’t until after 1500. In the Ottoman Empire it wasn’t until 1918. And in Thailand not until 1941! Yes, there are Thai people alive today who remember when New Year’s Day wasn’t January 1st. Before then it was April 1st. So that means there must have been an extra long year or an extra short year when they made the switch.  Must of been a huge hassle with contracts, birthdays, and such. The legal equivalent of when Sweden switched to driving on the right.

So, any interesting history on January 1st? A little, there’s always something. The Chenogne massacre in 1945, where American troops in retaliation for the Malmedy massacre killed a like number of German POWs. I’m of a mind that events like this should be taught in school. On the same day the Luftwaffe launched its last air offensive, Operation Bodenplatte, an attempt to destroy a crippling number of Allied aircraft on the ground in Belgium and France, giving the Germans control of the skies over the then raging Battle of the Bulge. It was a catastrophic fail, destroying easily replaced Allied aircraft and losing many irreplaceable trained and experienced German pilots. So it was the Luftwaffe’s last gasp as an organized force, and through the end of the war the Allies completely controlled the skies over Europe.

In 1947 Canadian citizens became Canadian citizens instead of British citizens. I didn’t know that, but it was more a formality and legal nicety than any big change. Going back further, in 1804 “Haiti becomes the first black-majority republic and second independent country in North America after the United States.” That’s from Wikipedia. I guess the hundreds of Indian nations in the Americas didn’t count as independent countries? In 1801 Ceres was discovered, the first and largest asteroid discovered. It was considered a planet for some time, then an asteroid, and now a dwarf planet. Science marches on, if confusingly sometimes.

Back in the here and now 2020 rolls in with a new crisis. Iraqi protesters swarmed the US embassy in Baghdad, causing damage, but no deaths or hostages yet. My first thought on hearing the news was, wait, what, isn’t the US embassy inside the Green Zone, the huge fortified crusader complex the US built in Baghdad? How did protesters even get to the US embassy? Turns out the Iraqi government let them in. Sigh, what a mess. Trump publicly blamed Iran, claiming they orchestrated the attack somehow. At least he’s mastered that aspect of Neocon World Middle East, if anything we don’t like happens, it must be Iran’s fault! That the US airstrikes against Iraqi militia forces killed dozens of people and just might have enraged Iraqis, nope, not relevant, it’s Iran! 

Even if Iran did have a hand in this, it’s just another indication of how America’s hard line policy towards Iran is failing. And he’s threatening Iran that they are going to pay “a very big price.” It’s not like he can sanction them further, so I’m not exactly sure what he means. He’s going to bomb Iraq some more? And no, our embassy wasn’t attacked because Trump has made people around the world not respect us. Good chance most of the protesters don’t even know who Trump is, but they do know America has brought nothing but suffering and death to Iraq for decades.

That’s one of the most frustrating things about Americans, most of them are now oblivious to the carnage and subsequent ill feelings our endless wars in the Middle East are causing. Somehow they are all habituated to it, like it’s normal to be dropping bombs on poor people on the other side of the planet. If some other country routinely bombed the USA Americans would most definitely be attacking their embassy, Americans would be outraged.  Do as we say, not as we do, the imperial disease illustrated.

In any event here’s hoping cool heads prevail, the last thing Trump or the nation needs is another war. Even watching the impeachment show is preferable to seeing another war on TV. Speaking of which, I did see a great movie recently, ‘Long Shot’ with Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron. It was as funny as ‘The Hangover’ and ‘Game Night,’ to give the gentle reader an idea of what movies I find funny. And now I will never hear the word ‘cracker’ again without giggling. I hope everyone had a safe New Year’s Eve, welcome to 2020.

Comments and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Haitian revolution: The Battle of Palm Tree Hill   Credit: January Suchodolski 1897-1875. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.)

Written by unitedcats

January 1, 2020 at 5:41 pm

‘THIS ISLAND EARTH’ AND THE FICKLENESS OF FAME

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I just watched “This Island Earth,” a 1955 Science fiction movie. I never saw it before, or if I did, it was in my youth and I completely forgot it. Nothing in it twigged the “Wait, I’ve seen this before” reaction. It’s free to watch on Youtube, spoilers ahead in case one wants to watch the movie first.

The movie was interesting on multiple layers. It was about a studly handsome scientist (he can fly a jet plane!) who is abducted by aliens to participate in a research project the aliens are running in a last ditch attempt to save their homeworld from evil aliens. Lots of adventure, the aliens do bad things to humans in their project, the scientist and his cute co-scientist love interest visit the alien world, but it’s too late to help, and they are able to escape back to Earth.

A thinking movie for its day, and some of the questions it explores are still unresolved. How much collateral damage is acceptable if one’s cause is just? Would it be OK to sacrifice one person to save the life of everyone on Earth? Most of us would say yes I am guessing. How about if one could sacrifice everyone on Earth to save one’s own life? Is that OK? Most of us would say no I suspect.  Where is the boundary between the two extremes? Beats me, I hope I never have to decide.

The special effects were cutting edge for the time. Which means means hoakier than 1960s Star Trek, but still impressive for 1955. I tried to imagine I was watching it in a movie theatre from a 1950s perspective, and it was pretty cool. One could see how a lot of the special effects were harbingers of effects to come. And this was when one was still expected to use one’s imagination to fill in the details. It was a play put to film so to speak, hyper realism not required.

The movie was lily white of course, as was all of America in the 1950s. Snort. At least the racism was invisible, black people didn’t exist in this world, see, no racism ma! Casual sexism and misogyny, yes, that was there. Just peppered throughout the movie, a sign of the times. And yes, the men all wore suits and the women dresses.

The star of the movie was one Rex Reason (1928-2015), this was the peak of his career and what he is most remembered for today. Rex Reason was his real name, and it took him awhile to be able to use it in Hollywood, since it sounded like a screen name. His earlier movies were made under the screen name Bart Roberts. The whole screen name thing is weird. Heard about a guy who had a great sounding real name, but he couldn’t use it as his screen name, because someone else had already used it. OK then.

His co-star, Faith Domergue, was an early “scream queen” in 1950s and 1960s horror/scifi films. This movie for her too was pretty much peak career, afterwards reduced to B-movies and guest appearances on TV. She was discovered at age sixteen by Howard Hughs, and while her career peaked in 1955, she did have a long and varied Hollywood career. She guest starred on Bonanza, I mean, is that cool or what? She passed in 1999, aged 73-74, sources vary.

The other actors in the film were all similar, none are household names, all had modest acting careers, none ever achieved big name status. Such is Hollywood, many play, only a few achieve greatness. As far as I can tell none of the other people involved in the film achieved greatness either. The director had a few other 1950s scifi hits, but that’s about it. A good movie for its time, still remembered by those who appreciate the history of movies, but nothing to write home about.

Still, there is one aspect of this movie that has flown under the radar. One of the minor actors in this movie went on to have a wildly successful Hollywood career, winning Oscar level awards twice. An actor who achieved great success despite a reputation for biting co-stars. None of the other actors in this movie would ever have guessed it, but the goddamn cat in the movie went on to fame and two PATSY awards, the Oscar of Hollywood animal awards. Boy, that must have rankled the cast. Did they get together in bars in later years to badmouth Orangey, for that was the cat’s name. He went on to star with Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” while they were reduced to B-movies and guest star appearances on 60s TV shows. Fate and fame are such fickle things.

Hope everyone is rounding out a good holiday weekend. Three days of ‘diet, schmiet’ and now I’m back on starvation rations. Six pounds from my goal, four weeks from Christmas feasting. The race is on.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A mutant alien servant from This Island Earth. Credit: Universal Pictures. I’m assuming that since it’s free to watch on youtube that it’s Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 1, 2019 at 11:34 am

Posted in Cats, Entertainment, Movies

BLEACHING LAMPSHADES

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The cat got my frozen dinner roll the other night. I was distracted because I was bleaching a lampshade. It ran under my housemate’s bed, much yelling. The cat, not the lampshade. Finally driven forth, sans partially eaten dinner roll. My life.

In the entire history of the human race, the above paragraph will likely never be written again. I find that astounding. It’s why card games are fun. Get a deck of cards. Shuffle it well. Lay it out. That particular order of cards has likely never been shuffled before, and likely never will be again. Keep shuffling if you don’t believe me.

So, yes, I really was bleaching a lampshade. It had coffee stains on it. My housemate processes coffee constantly, there’s almost always coffee stains after he passes through the kitchen. He’s like Pigpen on Charlie Brown, except it’s a haze of coffee droplets, not dirt. And he was near the lampshade once apparently. The shade looked good when done, matches the newly waxed floor. Still, my cleaning jag may be getting out of control.

In other news, apparently Trump is considering pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty. Who cares about preventing nuclear war when you’re as great as the US I guess. On the plus side, by the time Trump is done no one will ever negotiate a treaty with the US again, why bother if someone like Trump is going to come along and cancel it? I’m missing the greatness in this, but I’m having trouble seeing the greatness in anything Trump has done lately. Still waiting for infrastructure spending, withdrawal from Afghanistan, health care for all, and taxes on the rich. Snort. On the other hand, our media is so messed up now that who can tell. I recommend this article on the failure of the American MSM.

In other sagging greatness news, the once great National Geographic has issued a “Science of the Supernatural” special that any scientist or right thinking person will find appalling. They were always a sexist, racist, and colonialist publication, but at least they fostered an appreciation of science. No more, it’s just another sensationalist rag now writing for its chosen demographic. Which apparently no longer includes anyone who appreciates science. RIP old friend.

Lastly, the Golden Rice saga. Misguided environmentalism may be the death of us all yet, I swear to God.  Global warming is going to end civilization as we know it, and so much activism is aimed at side issues like GMOs or glyphosate. Or worse, fighting against nuclear power, our last best hope for shutting down the coal fired plants that are destroying the climate. The good news is that claiming global warming will be the death of us all is no longer alarmism. That’s because it’s already happening, it’s not some nebulous future threat as the MSM likes to pretend. Fun times.

For Halloween viewing pleasure, watch this movie. Under the Skin. It’s on Netflix. Wonderful movie, but definitely not the typical Hollywood sci fi schlock. It’s about an alien on Earth. I guess. Reminded me of “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” Sort of. Or maybe “Being Human.” Or unlike any of them, idk. It’s a thinking person’s movie, atmosphere, subtlety, etc. No giant robots duking it out, no explosions, nothing bursting from anyone’s chest.

There will be a Halloween horror post, there may or may not be a Friday post. Happy Halloween Eve. Thinking of starting a new Halloween tradition in my home. Roast cat. Goes good with dinner rolls.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Scarlett Johansson in “Under the Skin.” Credit: Various parties involved with making the movie I guess. Used without permission. Since I’m enthusiastically promoting the movie, I hope I can be forgiven.)

Written by unitedcats

October 30, 2019 at 2:54 am

‘ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD’ AND OTHER NONSENSE

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I went and saw the latest Tarantino movie, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Some general spoilers ahead, as opposed to specific spoilers. People’s preferences for spoilers vary, some don’t want to hear any, other friends want me to describe the movie or book in detail. I have a friend who when he gets a new book, he reads the last few pages first. I still have trouble grasping the appeal of that, but whatever floats his boat. OK, the Tarantino movie. If one is a Tarantino fan, fine movie; not as good as his best, better than his worst.

If one isn’t a Tarantino fan, the movie is two and a half hours of boredom followed by ten minutes of blood curdling violence. “Look, she’s watching a movie!” “Look, what a cute dog!” “Look, they’re driving a car! Again!” I got so bored I started watching the backgrounds to count how many times the same vintage cars were used in the various scenes. Then blood everywhere, the end. See, I saved the reader $7. Or $37 if they live on the east or west coast.

So yes, immediately after the movie, I hated it. Upon further reflection, I don’t hate it as much. It was a tribute to 1970’s Hollywood, and in retrospect that part worked. The main plot and subplots all tied together nicely. There was some quirky Tarantonio style humour. The thing I liked most about the movie, well, I can’t say anything about it without giving it away. I guess all in all using a four star system, I give it a provisional three stars. To recap, If one isn’t into Tarantino films, meh, I can’t recommend ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.’ Everyone else, enjoy!

In real news India lost their first Moon lander Friday. And the first human attempt to land something at the Moon’s South Pole. Bummer all around. Well, they didn’t lose the Vikram Lander, they just lost communication with it moments before it landed. The lander’s orbital component, the Chandrayaan-2 satellite, spotted the Vikram Lander intact on the surface. That doesn’t mean it had a soft landing unfortunately. Attempts to resume communication with the lander will go on for at least two weeks, but it’s not looking good. On the plus side, the orbiter has the best camera yet to orbit the Moon, it can resolve features down to .3 meters (about a foot) accross. Most space missions these days have multiple functions, so that baring a catastrophic failure, at least some science can come out of it. In this case, great science, the best pictures yet of the lunar surface.

No clue yet why Chandrayaan-2’s lander failed, but like airliner crashes, a lot of work has been done in identifying why space missions fail. Teams of experts are likely already meeting to discuss the possibilities. And there are a lot of possibilities, space is a brutal environment. Extreme heat and cold, radiation, and even at the Moon’s distance (1.3 light seconds away from Earth) real time control from Earth isn’t possible. And I’ve always thought there must be all sorts of ways to subtly sabotage space missions. India has at least one rival who won’t be sad to see India fail.

In other world news, Trump has walked away from talks with the Taliban. So much for the US pulling out of Afghanistan and ending America’s longest and possibly most pointless war. Of course when it comes to pointless or even counterproductive wars, 21st century America is a Viking. So once again after a promising start to negotiations, Trump’s efforts at diplomacy have yielded a big fat nothing. At least he’s consistent.

In other Trump news, Trump is still tweeting about his incorrect hurricane prediction. It’s kinda scary, he apparently is unable to admit he was wrong. That’s not a pretty character trait in anyone. The image above was sent to me by a Trump supporting reader. It made me laugh and facepalm. What can I say, if someone’s painting shit on overpasses, they’re likely not too bright to begin with. Speaking of Trump (God, he seeps into everything these days, as if America was just one big load of white laundry that a red hat got tossed into,) every time now I wish readers to have a great week or weekend, I wonder if readers think it’s some subtle allusion to Trump.

No. I was saying ‘Have a great week!’ long before Trump was even visible in Clinton’s rear view mirror. Now though, I guess Trump has kinda claimed the word ‘great’ for his own. So, um, have a wonderful week everyone. (See, not an allusion to Trump.)

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: An overpass in the USA, circa Sept 2019. Credit: Anonymous, permission was given to publish it here.)

Written by unitedcats

September 9, 2019 at 4:49 am

Yesterday, a Forgotten Battle. Today, One That is a Bit More Familiar. June 6 1944, D-Day.

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June 6th 1944. The day John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and Sean Connery waded ashore in Normandy. Oh wait, that was the movie. It was a good movie, at least that’s what I recall. I plan on watching it again soon, I see that it’s on Netflix. What an age we live in, I can have a movie I watched in my childhood beamed into my room. Plus 871 billion cat pictures.  So, 71 years ago, the largest wartime invasion in history. And the most carefully planned military operation in history. It’s a big deal, no doubt about it. I’m sure there’s all sorts of articles about it, as always I hope to add at least some perspective. Or have some fun.

Could the invasion have failed? Eisenhower was prepared for that eventuality, he had a statement ready in case the invasion was a failure. German troops might have secret weapons, Rommel might pull off a brilliant feat. His worst fear must have been that the Germans had found out about the Allied plan and were ready for them. In any event, that didn’t happen, the Allies successfully fooled the Germans into thinking the attack would happen at Calais, 200 miles (300 km) away from Normandy. And in fact, extensive wargaming has shown that the invasion couldn’t have failed in any military sense, the forces the Allies deployed had an overwhelming advantage. The Allies for example flew more than 10,000 air sorties on D-Day. Two (count them) German fighter planes made a quick strafing run of the landing beaches. No, the only way the invasion realistically could have failed was if the weather had turned really really bad and stayed that way for weeks. Thus keeping Allied aircraft on the ground and limiting Allied shipping to the landing zone. Didn’t happen, and the Allies won a great victory and opened up the western front in the war against Hitler’s Nazi occupied Europe.

There’s a few common misconceptions about D-Day, as astute readers may know. While it was a great victory, and it hastened the end of the war, the war was already over before the D-Day landings. The Germans had suffered catastrophic defeats in Russia, and the Russian juggernaut had grown so huge that there was no question Soviet armies would be rolling into Berlin. D-Day was also not just an American affair, which one wouldn’t know from watching Saving Private Ryan. Only two of the five landing beaches were American, two were British, and one was Canadian. 25 Australians also came ashore, and I’m sure a scattering of other nationalities. 150,000 men … and one woman.

Losses were less that the Allies had planned for. Maybe 3,000 dead. Only one warship was sunk, an American destroyer, the USS Cory, was hit and destroyed by German shore batteries. It may have also hit  a mine, and that’s the official story, not that it really matters. Over 100 aircraft were shot down by German antiaircraft fire, losses the Allies could easily afford. On D-Day the Allied soldiers were ordered not to take prisoners. That part Saving Private Ryan got right. The order was not always followed though, I mean, the Germans were white people. Japanese soldiers, yeah, they rarely made it to the prison camps. I digress. One group of soldiers surrendered to a passing American ship, not all the Nazi defenders were enthusiastic in their service to the Reich.

In any event, I’m not trying to discredit the American and Allied accomplishment. Perspective is everything. Just trying to strip it of jingoistic nationalistic nonsense. And see it for what it was, one of the great military efforts in history.  And a great success, thanks to the careful planning … and the disaster during Exercise Tiger in April, where the deaths of hundreds of American GIs in a training exercise showed that there were some kinks in the plan still. In any event, I have no great wisdom to impart. I’ve no doubt written about D-day before, it just seemed like a good topic to get back into blogging with.

Lastly, yes, the picture I chose is somewhat grim. A dead American soldier on the beach. In today’s weird insulated media world where to Americans the only danger from war is the unlikely chance one will get electrocuted by their PlayStation, I just thought it was a reminder that no matter how great the victory, afterwards the victors have to clean up the bodies of their dead friends.  One would think that might make people want to avoid wars, but I’m an optimist. One other point about World War Two, is that we still pretended soldiers coming home from wars were heroes, and couldn’t admit they had problems. Most people I know who had fathers who saw combat in World War Two said pretty much the same thing about them. They never wanted to talk about it, and it haunted them all their lives. Yes, World War Two veterans had high rates of alcoholism, drug addiction, and suicide. War is not healthy, and many of its survivors will be sick for life.

Even now this war is fading into history. Most of the veterans are long dead,  in a few decades the last will die and World War Two will slip from memory into history.

(The above image was taken by a US government employee and is thus Public Domain under US copyright law. It’s what I said it was, I don’t know his name. I did promise some fun, but the only D-Day joke I could find was kind of lame. And, full disclosure, the PlayStation comment isn’t original.)

Written by unitedcats

June 6, 2015 at 9:59 pm

Posted in History, Movies, War

The Simulation Argument, are we living in the Matrix?

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The Simulation Argument goes as follows, one of the following three statements has to be true:

1. For whatever reason intelligent species such as ourselves never progress to the point where they could run computer simulations of the human brain.

2. For whatever reason if such species do acquire the ability, they don’t exercise it.

3. We are more than likely living in a computer simulation.

That, in a nutshell, is the simulation argument. Discuss?

There’s a couple of codicils of course. By computer simulation of the human brain or computer simulation I mean having a computer powerful enough to create a simulated brain and its environment so detailed that the brain in question thinks it is a real brain living in the real world. And the scientific consensus at this point that such is possible with a powerful enough computer. Yes, gentle reader, it’s entirely possible that you and everything you know are simply historical simulation software running on a  far-in-the-future’s High School Student’s desktop computer.

Let’s look at the statements in their turn. Can we assume that humans have no technological future and are inevitably going to wipe themselves out or revert back to the Stone Age? No one really knows, and there are statistical arguments saying that the odds aren’t good. Still statistics and reality are two different things. I for one am going to assume humans have a future unless there is proof otherwise. So for the purposes of argument, I am assuming statement one is false.

OK, statement too. Future humans won’t have any desire to run realistic simulations of human beings? That would assume that humans who develop such capable computers lose their scientific curiosity and their desire to play computer games. Neither seem likely. Or for some reason such simulations are insanely dangerous or otherwise unlikely to be widely pursued. Basically for this statement to be true, we have to assume that the nature of the human race will change in the future, or there is some unforeseeable practical objection to such simulations. I think it’s safe to say that logically then this statement is unlikely to be true.

Lastly, if the first two statements are false, why is the third statement likely to be true? Because once humans start making such simulations, more than likely eventually countless simulations would be made. Even just looking at the Civilization game series, the number of “people” simulated on millions of computers has to be billions times millions. And that’s just one game. The odds are simply overwhelming that we are living in such a simulation, like it or not.

Fascinating, but aside from the intellectual heebie-jeebies, this is all moot, there’s no way we could tell whether or not we are living in a  simulation, so there’s no way to actually prove the Simulation Argument true or false right? Well, turns out there is. There are some ways that in theory we could today look at certain Cosmic Ray measurements and see evidence that we are in a  simulated world. I don’t fully understand it, particle physics not being my strong suit, but the gentle reader can read about it here.There are also some other implications of the Simulation Argument that I didn’t cover in the brief analysis, the actual argument in all its glory can be perused here.

I for one hope they make these measurements, science may not be able to prove God doesn’t exist, but let’s at least try to find out if we are living in the Matrix. Have a great simulated weekend everyone!

(The above image is taken from a promotional poster for the movie The Thirteenth Floor. It’s claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, and its a low resolution partial copy of the original poster. I also highly recommend the movie to my readers. Credit and copyright: Centropolis Entertainment. Vanilla Sky is another movie along those lines, and also recommended.)

Written by unitedcats

October 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Nazi Dogs

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A man in Germany has been jailed for teaching his dog the Nazi salute. Helpfully illustrated above, by  a previously contentious German dog. The dog above was trained for some sort of movie thing, some people were upset but no one was jailed. In the current case, the fellow had made a point of displaying Nazi regalia, he could be called a Nazi activist. So his going to jail is more or less voluntary on his part, it’s not like some schmuck trained his dog as a joke and got jailed. Yes, in Germany, displaying Nazi symbols is illegal. Holocaust denial can get one jail time as well I believe.

At first pass, I thought this was crazy. I wrote a blog about it even. Upon sober reflection, literal as well as figurative, I decided that wouldn’t be politic. It’s not my place to criticize German law, or more accurately, question the German’s sanity because of this law. I too have the American disease, I think I know what’s best for everyone sometimes. Since this anti-Nazi law violates my “principles” of free speech, I was outraged. That’s ideology, and ideology will betray one every time. It makes one a slave to an idea … and a slave to those who would use that idea to promote their own agenda.

Which is what Hitler did.  It was a really bad thing, one of the more terrible things in history in fact. And now there’s laws against even displaying Hitler’s symbols in much of Europe. Moving right along, if one doesn’t use ideology, one can at least use common sense. And in this case, I can’t think of any possible harm this particular law is causing. (I don’t want to hear any slippery slope arguments, those are almost always silly.) The guy was deliberately violating the social contract, law or no law; if this is how the Germans deal with it, so be it. Five months in jail is not exactly cruel and unusual punishment, he’ll survive.

Speaking of Nazi saluting dogs, apparently the real Nazis got concerned about one in 1941. A Finnish businessman reportedly had a dog named Hitler that raised its paw in the Nazi salute on command. The businessman was interrogated and claimed his wife had named the dog as a joke after its habit of barking with one paw in the air. The Nazi’s didn’t believe him, and investigated ways to charge him with insulting Hitler, as well as trying to sabotage his business. They couldn’t just shoot him though, Finland was a German ally, not a puppet state, and ultimately the good businessman lived and prospered long after the war. History does not record the fate of the dog.

No, I’m not making this up. One would think Nazi counter-intelligence would have better things to do in the months before the invasion of Russia, but government agencies investigating all sorts of weird things is by no means limited to the Nazis.  It’s kind of the nature of bureaucracy to find stuff to do, and when dealing with someone like Hitler, would anyone want to be the one to explain to Adolf why this open insult to the Third Reich wasn’t investigated?

In summation, I am capable of changing my mind. Ideology is bad, I’ll be blogging on that soon enough. Cultural imperialism is bad as well, and insidiously a part of the western mind set, and must be guarded against.  Yes, there will be a test. Lots of them. If you’re still here after one, you pass. They’re all pass/fail tests actually.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Clearly it’s an historically important image, and even more clearly, in no conceivable way does its use here interfere with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit and copyright: RTL. If the gentle reader hasn’t see “The Limey,” do so.)

Written by unitedcats

March 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Rant with links, or Doug’s Darkworld meets Donnie Darko

with 9 comments

For those who don’t get the reference, Donnie Darko is a kid in a  movie who has a series of increasingly bizarre and creepy adventures only to discover at the end that he was killed at the very beginning of the movie. Sort of. As the news, especially the Republican’s War on Women, gets weirder and creepier, I wonder sometimes if I didn’t survive my stroke, and this is just some bizarre afterlife. That, or some evil force has taken control of the body politic in the USA. It all ties together, the war on women, the war on terror, and our overseas adventures … all driven by a cult that has infiltrated our government and apparently the minds of many Americans.

First, the War on Women or whatever one wants to call the increasingly harsh laws being proposed to, well, put women in their place. And to turn back the clock to an era where there was no birth control. In the seventies we had Bobby Riggs spewing misogynistic nonsense, and the media and most people considered him a joke and a throwback. Now we have leading pundits calling women sluts and laws designed to force women to have children if they get pregnant. All  the name of saving babies, but since the only method they are proposing is making their religious code public law, this is about religion, not saving babies.

And this segues neatly into the Kony 2012 thing. This is a slick You Tube movie telling about the atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and surrounding countries. And it’s very much pro US intervention in the region, yes, the US army is going to go in and catch or kill this terrible man. Aside from the fact that the film wildly simplifies a horrible mess that the Ugandan army and government played a big role in creating, it’s predicated on the colonial assumption that the poor Africans need our help. And since an Evangelical organization created this movie, this is about crusading and conversion, all in the name of saving babies of course. Here’s what Africans say about it. I particularly liked: ” … once again Africans are being made to look like they need saving by yet another White person with a saviour-narcissist complex.”

Like all the children we saved in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some lovely stuff going on now, kids who dare wear western dress are apparently being stoned to death in Iraq now. Yeah, we turned Iraq into a fundamentalist Iran aligned mess, and seemed to have learned absolutely nothing from the situation and are going ahead and doing the same in Libya and Syria. And with our heads completely in the sand with what is going on In Afghanistan. Yes, the forgotten war, project number one in our post 9/11 cowardly violent ongoing spasm of re-shaping the world to prevent anything bad from ever happening to the USA again. It was our Christian duty, how could it have gone wrong?

The truth though is that many or most Americans completely swallow the “We’re there to help those poor brown people” line. And the beauty of the crusading colonial mind set is that when ti fails, as it almost invariably does, why it was because they were too stupid and primitive to learn our clearly superior ways, hamstrung by a 7th century religion. Said the people hamstrung by a 1st century religion. It’s a war on the truth. And that goes hand in hand with a war on science. The people making huge sums of money off the current situation, and the religious right, both hate science and are doing their best to suppress it. Using the power of modern technology and advertising, they are doing a good job of it. And going at it from both ends, science education is under attack across the USA, as evangelicals get their corrosively anti-science teachings into the classroom, one way or the other.

And of course while all this is going on, the rich are making out like bandits. Yes, the economy has been recovering the past two years … except virtually all of the recovery has gone to the top 1%. That still blows my mind, Obama bailed out the rich, and there’s still people who think he’s a man of the people? I could go into his enthusiastic endorsement of assassinating Americans or outlawing protest, but I guess believing in Obama is no more insane than believing the Earth is 6,000 years old or that “intelligent design” is a scientific theory. Hell, I guess compared to Rush Limbaugh calling the women of America sluts, Obama must look damn good to many people.

Basically evangelists and the rich have hijacked America and aren’t even hiding where they are going anymore. Two thousand years after Christ’s ministry, global misery is still being perpetrated in his name. A war on women, a war on science, a war on truth, a war on the non-Christian people of the world. And of course a lot of oil and money to be made on the side while we are saving all those souls, I mean babies. Is it all my stroke damaged brain’s imagination? I wish. Have a great weekend everyone.

(The above image is the rabbit from the movie Donnie Darko. It’s a low resolution grey scale copy of the original, and I’m basically plugging the movie, so I think I am safe claiming it as Fair Use. It’s not being used for profit, yadda, yadda, yadda. I chose it because that’s the sort of mood I’m in. My Muslim neighbours are having a party downstairs, I think I’ll go join them.)

Written by unitedcats

March 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES, WARNING, SEEING THIS MOVIE MAY DAMAGE YOUR MIND

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A TV commercial just came on saying “Battle: Los Angeles” was the world’s number one movie. I’ve seen it. If it’s the world’s number one movie, it’s because it doesn’t have much competition. Not that it’s a bad movie. If one likes alien invasion movies, say Aliens crossed with Independence Day, it’s a passable and even enjoyable movie. (Aliens and Independence Day, whatever else one may say of them, are at the top of their genres.)

—Insert mild spoiler warning here.

The idea behind “Battle: Los Angeles” was to make a realistic alien invasion movie, combined with a gritty combat movie. In that, to a large extent, they succeeded where others have failed. In Independence Day for example, or Cloverfield, or Skyline, the alien’s rationale and tactics we’re both silly and/or incomprehensible. So I can get behind the idea of a realistic alien invasion movie.

And the producers tried, they really did. The start of the movie was great. The aliens managed to figure out a way to get close to Earth without being detected, and launched a basically D-Day style invasion of Earth. As war movies go, way cool. They emphasized the importance of air power. The aliens had a military very analogous to human militaries. They weren’t invincible, their weapons were no more powerful than ours. It was a great fight, humans were the aborigines that a colonial oppressor had decided to exterminate.

Sigh. The movie at one point explained the alien’s rationale for invading. I can only hope that in the director’s cut, this will be edited out. It was so stupid, that it rivals the scene in Independence Day where a Mac laptop interfaces with an alien computer system. The ugly truth is that if aliens capable of star travel wanted to capture Earth, they would just toss rocks at us from the Asteroid Belt, obliterate our 10,000 largest cites (and 90-99% of the human race,) and hunt down what humans remained like the vermin that we are.

The other really stupid thing, the aliens were terrible shots. I mean not just bad, but terrible. I mean, how hard is hit to it someone with a automatic weapon from 3 feet away? Maybe they weren’t used to Earth’s sunlight,  or gravity, or ere hung over from a  big pre-invasion party the night before, I dunno. Still, even with those two stupid things, it was still better than most alien invasion movies. Most alien invasion movies consist of endless stupid things and horrible plots as well. I think in that vein, Signs might be the stupidest movie ever made. It had the stupidest aliens too, I mean, an  alien travels light years to get to Earth, but can’t figure out how to get out of a locked pantry? The clincher was the thing that made the alien invasion doomed … water as like acid to them, just spray a bit on one and poof, fried alien.

Let’s think, say you’re a human leader and are looking for alien planets to invade. You find one. It has vast sulphuric acid oceans lakes, and rivers. Clouds of sulphuric acid float throughout the atmosphere, and sulphuric acid rain is commonplace. And the life forms on the planet are all mostly made of sulphuric acid. Would that make a great planet for humans to  invade and conquer? Of course not, it would be insane. Of course, considering some the USA’s recent invasions, maybe it wouldn’t be that far fetched.

Then there’s the fact that even watching the trailer, I thought, “The aliens want LA, so? Give it to them.” What can I say, I have  a Northern Californians attitude towards Southern California.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, is central to illustrating the post, and I’m basically plugging the movie so I can’t imagine anyone would object. Credit and copyright: Columbia Pictures. Next we get back into the disaster that continue to unfold in Libya and Japan Washington, LA getting blown up was just a  light diversion. Starting to look like LA is the Tokyo of our times as far as city destroying alien invasions go. If you see the movie, enjoy.)

 

Written by unitedcats

March 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm