Odds and Ends Vol 23 (2019 New Year’s)

Odds and EndsHappy new years, everyone. I have a few random thoughts to bring you down if you’re feeling hopeful. My new year’s resolution for 2019 is not to end the year in the same state as Frank in the video at the bottom of this post. My experience talking to people is that most feel as I do. I’m starting to think that the greatest compliment one can get is to be called “sad” or “loser” by Trump. That would certainly make my life.

Where Are My Ultima Thule Pictures?!

There was so much chatter about the New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule over the last few weeks. It did so about midnight last night. But thus far, no pictures.

There is one extremely coarse image that I’ve seen, and it is cool. But after Pluto, I’m waiting for something better.

But here’s the thing: I know it takes a while to send back information (roughly 4 hours, I think). And the probe has sent back an all clear. But this is America. We are all children. We want our pictures!

Government Shutdown

It’s hard to say how this government shutdown is going to end. Trump has done the same thing he did early on with North Korea: creating a big and stressful situation. But there is no authoritarian on the other side of this confrontation that he can fall in love with.

And I don’t see the Republicans doing anything but what they always do: enabling the Toddler in Chief. The only way out seems to be to find something to give Trump that will allow him to save face. I don’t know what that is. I hope that Nancy Pelosi does.

Why Bother?

Why do we go on? Well, I suppose we know: the Will — that hungry force that makes us irrational. But at the moment it’s really hard to get past, “Why bother?”

Some time ago, I read about Obama giving a pep talk to his staff after the 2016 election. He gave them the same line as King’s “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I guess that’s true for politics, but even there, you have to understand that the arc isn’t long, it is loooonnnngggg. It is so long that it is mostly meaningless for humans.

And I can’t help but notice that the great capitalist era has brought us back to a kind of feudalism. But in a general sense, the universe bends toward nothing. It is cruel beyond imagining.

Police in The Grapes of Wrath

Last night I watched The Grapes of Wrath (1940). When I first watched it, I really didn’t like it because I felt it blew the ending. Actually, I largely still think that. It’s far too upbeat. And I have other problems with the film. Unlike most movie lovers, I’m not that fond of John Ford. I like a lot of his films, but I think he is overrated as a director.

Anyway, what struck me in the film was the portrayal of the police. They were shown as they really are: inherently corrupt because they are used by the powerful to keep the working class down. I may write more about this later.

There’s no doubt that a Hollywood studio could not make this film today. There is one okay cop in the film, but if Wrath were made today, you’d have to created a major cop character who was a good guy or you’d have to show that most cops are really good. (How’s that for political correctness?! The right has always had more political correctness than the left. What do you think all the complaints about the NFL protests are?)

You couldn’t stop conservatives from screaming that it was anti-cop. Of course, they would be right. But when you have an institution that was explicitly created to oppress the poor in the service of the rich, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with a film being anti-cop.

God Bless America

I came upon this old article of mine, Giving Up on America in God Bless America. It’s worth a read if you don’t remember it. And the movie is definitely worth watching. Basically, it is about a couple of spree killers whose targets are just rude people. This scene is fantastic:

That’s all for now. I’ll talk to you later.

One thought on “Odds and Ends Vol 23 (2019 New Year’s)

  1. According to National Geographic, the little spaceship that could has a transmitter with less power than a light bulb. So we’ll have to be patient! The good pictures are slooowly on their way…

    My favorite silly thing about this story — NASA got the guitarist from Queen to write a song for the occasion. And guess what? He’s an actual astrophysicist! He started his PhD thesis before the band got huge, and finished it 37 years later.

    Even better, one of the songs he wrote for Queen was the Flash Gordon theme. How perfect is that? I spent my time waiting for news of the first “success” signal from the probe humming that tune to myself and making up words. “Thule! Ahh-ahh! Hope the ship don’t crash into it.” Etc.

    You gotta love these nerdgasm moments. Probably the last living theoretical physicist will come up with the perfect answer to everything just in time to be devoured by post-apocalyptic cannibals.

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