Instapun*** Archive Listing

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April 28, 2012 - April 21, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Indicators of God

Me. Because it's me that's saying it.

KIDS ARE STUPID. I'm pushing sixty now and I keep backing off to the big picture. I think about the fact that our president is almost a generation younger than I am and he is obviously pissed off at everything that made him what he is. Whereas I don't care that much about myself anymore and am pissed off thinking of those who will have to come after and live down our mistakes.

This is the great problem of secularism. Of atheism. Why Europe is dying. They're not producing a next generation. Their belief in God has died and they are living for themselves, which is why they can't abide austerity programs to save their economies and cultures.

Why so-called liberals in our country are prepared to hurl us back into the pre-industrial age in the name of preserving the earth for those species who are not cursed with consciousness. They'd prefer it if four billion people died and the survivors lived like Stone Age hunter gatherers. The Obama administration isn't that draconian. They want to roll back time to the early twentieth century, when we had just enough electricity to power our flush toilets.  

It is, obviously, the old, nay, the ancient, argument of original sin. Human beings are inherently and uniquely a sin against creation itself, greedy, racist, etc, to the point that only sustained penury can ensure sufficient atonement. Every other form of life on earth is justified in what it does to survive. But not humans. We are the sole villains of a universe that somehow has no meaning. And the villainy can actually be specified to originate with the white people who invented conquest and capitalism.

This isn't philosophy. It isn't science. It isn't the total fiction called social justice. It's pure nonsense.

Obama isn't a Christian. He's Spartacus. He wants to hurt what he thinks has hurt him. Which is kind of the opposite of Christianity. And to the extent you let him continue in that mission, you aren't a Christian either. You're just beta and gamma predators yourselves who are content to be ruled by an alpha wolf.

The continuum of human civilization depends on the belief in God. That's the first indicator that God exists. Without belief in God, people feel no need to mitigate their own material demands on behalf of their children. Children themselves become ancillary, their upbringing subcontracted to others, their needs subordinated to egotistical displays of how very very much we care for them. As opposed to actually raising them to be good citizens themselves. So we raise crap and our species dies slowly away.

Without some concept of divine justice, we're back to Atlas standing on an unsupported turtle while he holds up the world. No reason why all of us shouldn't be ravening wolves. But it's the secularists who insist, wrongly, that they are something other than brute survivors.

Can't tell you how many movies and TV shows I've seen of late in which parents break the law to cover for criminal children. This is held to be a great virtue, a kind of triumph of parenthood. It isn't. It's nothing but the alpha of the pack protecting his young. This is my pup, I matter above all others in my pack, and therefore I will do anything to ensure his survival.

I can look like this too. But when I do, I have an idea in mind.

I can tell you with absolute certainty that if I had confessed a murder to my father he would have informed the police at once. He would have testified against me while paying for my defense and he would have visited me in prison up to the day of my execution. And I would have understood. He was a human being, not a wolf.

Interestingly, wolves are called an "indicator" species. They don't adapt well to change in their environments. Why there are (way) fewer than a million wolves alive in the world today and more than 100 million dogs, the supposed offshoot more notable for altruism, loyalty, and, well, love than any other species.

Imagine 100 million wolves. Imagine 6 billion. I'm thinking they wouldn't be straining to find ways to save endangered human beings if the circumstances were reversed.

I'll resume this discussion later. There're far more than one or two indicators of God. But start thinking about the question on your own. I'm thinking we're being asked to consider this question more deeply than we have for a generation. Independent of all our usual cliches.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

At Long Last...

My Review of
 Atlas Shrugged

The mind can be an action hero. Oh yes it can.

ALWAYS KNEW IT WOULDN'T WORK. We're on a new schedule here, not that you should care, but it involves the alarm going off at 4 am. You can do it for days at a time, but sooner or later the body rebels. My wife handles it by sleeping for 12 hours a night on weekends, but I'm yawing all over the place. Sometimes I crash as early as eight o'clock, and other nights I can't even get sleepy. So last night after my wife went to bed at a reasonable hour, I watched Atlas Shrugged on my iPad. And today I can't keep my eyes open. Sigh.

Brizoni already reviewed it here, and he's much more of a fan than I am, but I'm moved to write this because we don't quite agree about what wrong. He blamed the SyFy production values. I have a different take.

I don't think the production values were all that bad. I have four objections to what was done. 1) Setting, 2) Casting, 3) Casting, and 4) Casting.

Brizoni caught the problem but misunderstood it. He called for an adaptation rather than a transliteration. Meaning that he saw the clunkiness of Rand's dialogue when he was confronted with it. Good for him. He's a smart boy.

Thing is, and this is the good news for all you Randians, the movie convinced me there is a movie to be made from Atlas Shrugged. This just wasn't it.

They tried to make it topical, with multiple references to the kinds of economic crises the Obama administration is perpetuating or creating. Which isn't inaccurate, just wrong-footed. Distracting. Like watching an episode of Law & Order where you wince at every snide allusion to the Bush administration. I get what they're referring to, and I even agree, but it's so ham-handed I can't stand it. Give me a movie, not a series of conservative one-liners.

You've got to begin by trusting the work. Atlas Shrugged is not about Obama, no matter how well he reflects the mindset being attacked. It's a work of philosophy, an allegory. a parable. In other words, it's a comic book or, to put it more kindly, a graphic novel. It's the 300 of the mind. It requires enormous gyrations of logic to put railroads at the center of a contemporary economic crisis. So don't do it. Make Sin City or Dark City instead.

Accept that Atlas Shrugged is like 1984, a place in the imponderable past where a wrong turn was taken. Trust the audience to make the connections. They will or they won't, but make a damn movie they'll remember anyway. Romanticize the trains, which isn't hard to do, and lionize the woman who was determined to keep them running.

Make it a dark, timeless, hyper-dramatic world, where Manhattan looks like Gotham City, and forget all about contemporary celebrity and society culture. Follow Dagny.

Which leads to my three other objections. Find actors who have the chops to play the lead characters or don't make the movie at all. It's that important. Eschew for once the Hollywood cliche of the underage girl-power executive and the dashing male tycoon who looks like he belongs in a soap opera, not a Shakespearean tragedy. Find the dangerous ones, the smoldering ones, the camera magnets who become the black holes into which all audience attention is funneled. If you have to, lie to them about what they're doing. The audition is not a political science test.

For me, it's imperative that Dagny Taggart be an action star. Claudia Black. Rhona Mitra. Yeah. Brits. Not young but still choice and absolutely commanding, violence suppressed and channelled. The tycoons, Reardon and Francisco, should be equally strong. Make your own nominations. I'm guessing they'll be Brits too.

The movie they've made is glop. Not because of bad CGI, but because they missed the point and made an op-ed instead of a story. "Who is John Galt?" should be a throwaway line, as it is in the book, not a scene-killing non sequitur. Make a movie bout keeping the railroads going because everything depends on it, and don't bother arguing why. That's the reality you're accepting when you pay for your ticket. Period.

All the political shenanigans should be in the background, a constant chaff of weak-minded bureaucrats who keep changing the rules. Make them look pale and keep them in the background. This movie is not about political dialogue. It's about making people fall in love with the ones who consistently make things happen regardless.

And, uh, yeah, if that means junking all of Rand's dialogue, do it. Find the story that is buried in her political manifesto, put it on the screen, and make a goddam movie.

Just don't betray her ideas.

Because she'll come back from the dead and kill you.

P.S. I started with the music because it's the right music for the story. If you want a movie clip instead, here it is.

See? Awfulness is its own signature.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Reductio ad Liberales

Funny is as funny does.

NEW DOORWAYS BECKON. It's only the dumb ones who get all weepy about fetuses and older relatives like babies. If you're educated enough, you know that they're all as inconsequential as a Bill Maher twat joke, if not exactly the same thing. Certainly not worth losing any sleep over. Enlightened medical ethicists know the score:

Don't you just love the PC male and female pronoun usage referring
to neutral, insentient things we're entitled to squash like bedbugs?

The argument above was posed in an eminent medical journal in the U.K., which has a much longer history of government run healthcare than we do. But Americans are catching up. Princeton's Peter Singer is quite as eloquent on the subject:

Singer states that arguments for or against abortion should be based on utilitarian calculation which compares the preferences of a woman against the preferences of the fetus. In his view a preference is anything sought to be obtained or avoided; all forms of benefit or harm caused to a being correspond directly with the satisfaction or frustration of one or more of its preferences. Since a capacity to experience the sensations of suffering or satisfaction is a prerequisite to having any preferences at all, and a fetus, up to around eighteen weeks, says Singer, has no capacity to suffer or feel satisfaction, it is not possible for such a fetus to hold any preferences at all. In a utilitarian calculation, there is nothing to weigh against a woman's preferences to have an abortion; therefore, abortion is morally permissible.

Similar to his argument for abortion, Singer argues that newborns lack the essential characteristics of personhood—"rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness" -- and therefore "killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living."

You probably don't see the wisdom in this argument yet. But that's only because you're a hyper-emotional, under-educated troglodyte who isn't a professor at Oxford or Princeton and has weird ideas about what life is.

You've got till November to learn. After that, the government will render your personal ideas on the subject irrelevant. Then you can lean back and content yourselves with waiting for the great new NBC and ABC sitcoms about how much fun offing newborns can be. I mean, if the mother's got a cute body and a gutter mouth, you'll just laugh and laugh with no thought about what happens after the commercial. The way you always do.

Trust me.

Extra credit for being able to laugh just as hard at the next step: toddlers.

Don't fret. With the help of the MSM -- and probably incandescent comic star Louis CK -- you'll be on board no later than midway through Obama's second term. There's no species of liberal tolerance you can't be taught to accept. Look at how anxious you are to lynch the brown man who killed the black man.

Everyone can become civilized. It just takes time. And close attention to the Comedy Channel.

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