A Matrix Trilogy

I would still like to see a Matrix trilogy.

Yes, the Wachowskis made three movies with the word “Matrix” in their titles, but no one who loves The Matrix is satisfied with the sequels. They weren’t really sequels so much as a weird sort of meta-fan fiction. They didn’t continue any of the themes of the first movie and they didn’t really continue the story. They told a different (much less interesting) story that looked like the original but had a completely different core. Continue reading A Matrix Trilogy

Forbidden Planet

A concise way to describe Alicia Machado’s career and lifestyle is that she is a high-end prostitute. In America, she’s known for being “Miss Universe” 20 years ago, but in the Spanish-speaking world she’s known for being naked and/or performing sex acts in various media, and for being a “girlfriend” to various gangsters. That’s who she is.

Hillary Clinton is the serial enabler of the world’s most notorious womanizer. The Clinton name is more closely associated with the sexual exploitation of employees than with any government policy, and Hillary is thoroughly complicit in Bill’s abuses. She is also a notoriously and conspicuously corrupt politician, having been caught in innumerable lies and tied to all manner of shady dealings. That’s who she is.

Donald Trump is a notorious womanizer who’s made a habit of marrying nude models and then abandoning them for younger nude models. His businesses have included strip clubs and agencies that supply nude models. He’s also a shameless braggart and a liar who never gives a straight answer to anything and who (allegedly) makes a habit of cheating his business partners. That’s who he is.

In 2016, what’s in the public mind as a serious issue that should determine who will rule the United States? What’s in the candidates’ advertisements? What was talked about at the Presidential debate?

Donald called Alicia “fat,” and Hillary say that’s just too mean.

That’s what the contest for President of United States looks like: three of the world’s most shamelessly immoral people fighting over who’s a meanie. Reality TV has leaped off our screens and come to horrible life in our nation’s highest offices and institutions. It’s like that “Forbidden Planet” trope where the characters’ subconscious thoughts manifest and attack them. (Life imitates art?)

I don’t have any real point here. It’s just kind of blowing my mind.

Cop Memes

The question was put to me: If cops do not, in fact, disproportionately abuse blacks, then why don’t black people trust police?

A corollary question occurred to me: If cops are not disproportionately helpful to whites, then why do white people trust police?

Police really aren’t particularly trustworthy. Various forms of corruption are rampant in many departments, and this has historically always been a problem. Many police practices are really just “Sheriff of Nottingham”-style revenue collection, especially the egregiously abusive practice of civil asset forfeiture. Many of the laws police enforce are unjust, and police generally are not punished when they abuse their power.

This is not to bash cops as uniquely evil, but rather to point out that are not uniquely good. They’re people doing a job, just like all other people doing jobs. Sometime they are bad, and sometimes the job itself is bad. We have at least as much reason to be suspicious of a cop and his motives as we do any other person in any other profession.

But we don’t think of them as people doing a job. We ascribe to them unique qualities that we would not ascribe to other people. In black culture, they are ascribed evil qualities, malicious bullies looking to cause pain and loss, and they are assumed to be in the wrong in any conflict. In white culture, they are ascribed good qualities, heroic figures looking to serve and protect, and they are always given the benefit of the doubt.

Why? Why do we ascribe such strong moral qualities to members of this profession but not others?

My answer is that neither group is assigning qualities to police based on their actual experience with police, or by the application of any philosophy. It’s just a matter of which memes people are exposed to. In white culture, police are almost always portrayed positively, as noble, caring and competent. In black culture they are almost always portrayed negatively, as corrupt, callous, and foolish. People see these portrayals (generally as children) and assimilate them into their worldviews, then perpetuate them, so the portrayals become memes and self-reinforcing.

The influence of what you expect to see on what you think you see cannot be overstated.

Racism

What is racism?

Racism is defined in many ways by many people. Some say racism is about power, when one racial group has more power than another. Some say it is about injustice, when one racial group receives special treatment as compared to another. Some say it is about attitude, when individuals in one group regard themselves as superior. Some say it is about perspective, when people from one group do not understand people from another.

These are all wrong (or at least incomplete).

Racism is simply this: using appearance to segregate people into blocs.

Whenever it is assumed that people have common interests, common experience, common goals, common attributes, common attitudes, common problems–common anything–based merely on their bodily appearance, that is racism. It is always harmful, no matter what is being assumed, and no matter who is doing it.

Life on […]

Whenever any sort of discovery is made in space, it is always viewed through the lens of a search for life.

Organic compounds on Churyumov-Gerasimenko? The building blocks of life! An ocean on Europa? Great place to look for life! Water on Mars? That could mean life!

Screenshot from news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150928-mars-liquid-water-life-space-astronomy (altered)
Screenshot from news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150928-mars-liquid-water-life-space-astronomy (altered)

I wonder how these discoveries might have been received 50 years ago, back when America was actually working to put humans on other worlds. Would we have thrilled over Martian water because of the prospect of finding microbes? I wasn’t there, but I think we would have been more interested in water because of its usefulness to humans. Whether or not there were microbes would have been a secondary consideration, viewed through the lens of human exploration. Continue reading Life on […]