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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

As if the Content of this Garbage isn't Dangerous Enough for Humanity

I can’t even remember the last time I had fast-food, perhaps a few decades ago. I’ve forgotten how much packaging is involved with every order. I’m sure that lots of other take-out food is also wrapped up on landfill-filling amounts of paper and plastic. Without even addressing the question of littering, it's an ecological crime scene with all evidence pointing to the King.


Wednesday, May 04, 2022

What If Everything You Believe is Wrong?

 The difference between liberals and conservatives, at least those conservatives hatched in the past quarter century in the United States, is that a true liberal will change their opinion if the facts point in another direction to what they hold as the truth. If a consensus of scientists came out today and said conclusively that global climate change isn’t being driven by human factors, I’d go out tomorrow and buy a Hummer, or I’d at least take a longer shower than normal. 

 If the Centers for Disease Control came out with a report stating definitively that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” and that guns aren’t a problem, I’d shut the hell up about America’s fetish for firearms.* I happen to live in a nation with very strict gun control laws and shootings are almost unheard. Is this just some bizarre coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidences so I’ll stick to my guns and say that firearms should be highly, highly controlled.

 If taxcuts for the richest Americans led to job growth and income equality, I’d stop screaming about our highly regressive tax system.

 It’s more than mere politics we’re talking about, it’s a matter of how people see themselves, and about how they define themselves. This concept of identity is summed up nicely in this article from The Atlantic:

 “I’m a Republican, my parents are Republicans, all of my friends are Republicans,” Sarah Longwell’s focus-group (Republican Voters Against Trump) members told her. To vote differently wouldn’t just be an intellectual decision for these voters. It would tear them away from their tribe.

 Now that the Republican Party has gone so far off the rails, so far into the deep end of crazy, people who have identified as Republicans their entire adult lives are either getting onboard the crazy train or pretending all of the insanity isn’t happening. Of course, most will continue to vote Republican no matter how weird shit gets because to vote for anyone else will be admitting that they were wrong. Everyone hates it when they’re wrong about anything, but rational people can change their views in the light of overwhelming truth.

 American conservatives simply brand anything that counters their views as lies, fake news, or propaganda manufactured by socialists of whoever. The fake news makers, liars, and propagandists make up a vast swath of our scientists, politicians, economists, and other professionals. It must be very lonely being a Republican these days.

 America’s problem is that suburbanites who identify with the Republican Party are mostly stupid hicks, no matter how close their proximity to a big city. When asked where they live, most suburbanites will claim residency in their big-city neighbor. “I’m from Seattle,” they’ll say. No, you’re from Kent, big difference.

 Most suburbanites never learn the importance of coexisting with other people. This was really brought home to me when I was visiting a major southwest city that really isn’t a city at all, just a conglomeration of suburbs sewn together by freeways. They basically live in their cars and never even see other people except in retail outlets. There is something civilizing about walking city streets and taking public transportation.

 I walk out of the front door of my building and I’m in the middle of the city. I can’t roll up my windows, turn up the radio, and block out the people around me. I can’t honk my horn at them if they are in my path. I have to look them in the eye. How many drivers would act as churlishly as they do if they had to look their perceived antagonists in the eye without the Iron Man suit they wear disguised as an automobile?

 A lot of the crazy ideas that have gripped the minds of conservatives have taken root because of talk radio. Who listens to talk radio? Mostly suburbanites trapped in their cars all day driving everywhere. I’d wager that city dwellers aren’t the market for conservative talk radio as they don’t live in their cars. Urbanites also understand the need for cooperation and compromise.

 Lots of people who have never lived in a big city claim that city life is impersonal, cold, and unfriendly. I’ve found that just the opposite is true. I run into dozens of people on an almost daily basis. Of course, I’m not “friends” with most of these people, but there is a recognition, a familiarity that is comforting. These relationships also require a high level of civility as once you recognize someone, you will see them again and again. People will give someone the finger while driving with the confidence they’ll never see them face-to-face.

 American urbanites are predominantly liberal Democrats and tend to vote in their own self-interests. Rural and suburbanite Republican voters seem to be fueled by anger, not their own interests. They hate immigrants even though they may live in some area with few or no foreigners. They scream about things like Black Lives Matter and Antifa when they’ve never seen a representative from either group anywhere near where they live.

 Our 45th President, Fuckface Von Clownstick, did nothing at all for working class Americans. His only real legislative victory was lowering taxes for the richest Americans. I can’t imagine anyone the Republican elites give less of a shit about than working class people, and if they do care, they have a strange way of showing it.

 It's just sad that anyone thinks that the Republican elite care abort abortion. All Roe vs. Wade did was to make abortion legal and safe for poor people. Rich people always had and will continue to have access to abortion, no matter what the Supreme Court decided.

 What have conservatives been wrong about? Where to begin? Viet Nam, the Gulf War, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, tax cuts for the rich, global climate change, public transportation (they mostly reject it), fuel efficient cars (Fuckface Von Clownstick actually wanted less regulation on fuel-efficiency even though automobile manufacturers were OK with these rules), and now they reject Biden's election result without any valid proof.

  *Of course, the CDC hasn’t said that guns are OK. In 2020, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S, more than any year on record (suicides 54%, murders 43%). Nearly eight-in-ten (79%) U.S. murders in 2020 – 19,384 out of 24,576 – involved a firearm.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Citizens in Action



Just across the street from my building there is a pedestrian area that runs for a few blocks. Just recently, the city added a little park in an abandoned area in the middle of a block of flats. I was told that the neighbors got to elect how the park would be designed—in this case it’s geared towards little kids.

Pedestrian area, blue circle is the new park. Cock and balls painted over.
 Most people in the city will never see this, but Valencia just got a little better.



Saturday, April 23, 2022

Copa del Rey 2022


Copa del Rey final tonight in Sevilla: Valencia Club de FĂștbol vs Real Betis. Only in Spain does a major sporting event begin at 22:00. In case you didn’t know, the bat has been the symbol of Valencia since the Reconquest of the city in 1238. Legend has it that on the eve of the battle with the Moors, Jaume I found a bat in his war helmet which was supposedly a bad omen, but he said screw it and the rest is history.
"A por la novena" means "for the ninth" meaning this will be Valencia's ninth victory (the third since I've lived here).
Ugh, we lose on penalties. Penalty shootouts are a terrible way to lose and a bad way to win.
Spoiler Alert! We lost on penalties.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Penumbra School of Cinematography or Black is the New Black

Screen shot  Better Call Saul

 If you haven’t taken notice already, there is a growing trend in new films: the blacked-out screen. More and more directors shoot so many scenes in almost complete darkness in which you can only see about five percent of the screen if you are lucky. There's little room for any other color when black paints so much of the screen. If directors don't want images in their films, maybe they'd be more comfortable working in radio? If you aren’t watching at home in complete darkness, you can’t tell what the hell is going on. Even with the lights out at home, you have trouble following what's on the screen.

 The new batboy movie is almost completely unwatchable because of the darkness. The series Better Call Saul is also very fond of the extremely low light school of cinematography. In the latest two new episodes (S06E01, S06E02), I couldn’t see much unless I was sitting in total darkness in my bedroom. If you skip over the entire series, you notice this a lot, like every single scene with his mentally ill brother who is allergic to electricity or whatever his problem was.

 Here is some free information for anyone who doesn’t know this already: noir crime fiction doesn’t mean the lack of light, it is a darkness in theme and subject matter, generally featuring a disturbing violence and unclear boundaries between good and evil. No amount of poor lighting will turn your poorly-written screenplay into a noir story.

 I just don’t understand why a director would put blinders on his audience so frequently. If you want to make a night scene, it doesn’t have to be pitch black. It’s often very light out at night, what with stars and streetlights and illuminated signs and whatever, right? If it’s night outside, why does an indoor scene have to be barely visible? Turn on some damn lights! 

 I’ve just seen the first episode of the new series The Offer and just about every scene is shot in candlelight, an unlit room with light shining through a curtained window, a club or office as dark as a cave with visibility at about ten feet. If there is daylight, it’s only to show characters walking into ill-lit rooms, or shadows play a prominent role.

Take this scene from The Offer E01. Why would a couple sit in their kitchen with the lights off? Is this wartime London and there is a blackout? Did their power get shut off? So many unanswered questions with "Why can't I see anything?" topping the list. It's not stylish; it's highly annoying, like it makes you think there is something wrong with your TV.

 Christ, the lighting is criminal. When Puzo's publisher tells him, "I'll lay odds that you're gonna be signing more than thirty books," we pan across the street to see what? the big line for his signing except you can't really see anything because it's pitch black. Doesn't NYC have street lamps? The lighting (or lack thereof) screws up a major moment in the episode.