Friday, February 24, 2017

Random Thoughts I

Stealing this format from Thomas Sowell. Just some things floating around my mind.

History

When you look at human history, would you say that the good guys usually win? The way we are taught history in school, you might think this is true. We get this nice neat narrative centered around our country. Our nation's evil deeds are painted over. Even the most left-wing and biased of teachers only dig at the surface level sins. Kids don't learn real history. When we really study history, we learn that it isn't about good guys and bad guys. It is really just about power and opportunity. Reading The Man in the High Castle enforced this idea in my mind. Had the Nazis and the Japanese won most certainly their version of history would have made them out to be heroes. Who are the good guys of the world today?

X-Men Apocalypse

I watched this the other day and had to laugh at the fact that Magneto is shown to be more heroic than Superman was in Man of Steel. Without even thinking, he exposes his identity to save a random man in a factory. This leads to the loss of his wife and daughter. It was an instinctive and tragic decision. Clark, by contrast, stands by and watches his father die in a tornado. What exactly was he risking? A handful of strangers might see him do something miraculous. So what? It was his father. His mother's husband. It still amazes me that he just watched him die in such an unnecessary fashion. The original Superman movie did it much better by having the father die of a heart attack, which taught Clark humility and forced him to realize that he couldn't save everyone (worked as decent foreshadowing too).

In any event it was a pretty terrible movie (as most comic book films are). Just very silly. I have no idea how there was even a fight at the end. Why Apocalypse and Magneto did not just flatten all of the heroes at the start is a mystery to me.

Homogeneous Societies

One thing I like about Japan, and indeed most homogeneous societies, is that you see people of the same ethnicity doing all of the different jobs. Japanese people dominate the upper echelons of wealth and power. Japanese people own the media companies. Japanese people pick up the garbage. Japanese people work at 7/11. Japanese people are doctors, scientists, cashiers, waiters, construction workers – all of it. Back in NYC there were many jobs you almost never saw white people doing. Some races have disproportionate representation in high level fields like law, politics, business, and media. Other races are just understood to be the ones to do lower level work. Ethnic income inequality inevitably leads to ethnic strife. No easy solutions to that.

Aldous Huxley

“The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior 'righteous indignation' – this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.”

Another Thought about Superman

I always liked to think that the destruction of Krypton was not an accident. Instead I assume that Krypton's destruction was carried out by some entity that feared the Kryptonians. It makes sense. The Kryptonians were an advanced space-faring race. They would have eventually figured out that yellow sunlight grants them godlike powers. In fact Jor-El already knew this as he told Clark about it. What would have stopped the Kryptonians from simply moving to a planet with a yellow sun. Imagine a world with billions of Supermen. Unstoppable.

Cellphones

We are literally down to one design. All smart phones are completely identical. They are all just miniature tablets and there is not even that much variety in size anymore. I miss when we had flip phones, physical keyboards, and other variations. Sad!

H. L. Mencken

“For all complex problems there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

Impression of CNN

I was back in the United States for a few weeks and watched a few dozen blips of CNN. Not more than a few minutes spread out over several days. On about 90% of those blips, the content was critical of president Trump. This is statistically significant in terms of overall journalistic integrity. Now, some might say, “Well it's Trump's fault for doing so many bad things!” And I suppose then the relative lack of critical coverage of Barack Obama was because he always did “good things.”

So for all of you people claiming the media is biased, you have your answer. Obama did good things and Trump does bad things. Once he starts being good he will get better coverage.

I for one am completely mollified.

On Modern Adaptations

I recall reading an interview with Elizabeth Olsen wherein she expressed gratitude for her costume in the film Avengers: Age of Ultron. She played Scarlet Witch, a character known in the comics for her somewhat revealing attire. To paraphrase Olsen, she basically said she was glad that the producers updated her costume for modern audiences, as the traditional comic one was too sexy.

It isn’t just sexy clothing either. It is things like changing a character’s race, making a supporting character gay, or making a villain more sympathetic. In general I think that updating a story to suit modern sensibilities defeats the purpose of telling that story to begin with. If we’re just going to change every peace of fiction from the past to make it properly match contemporary cultural moors, then how are we to ever learn anything from them? Every work of art just then slavishly reflects back our own society. By this logic we should rewrite all of Shakespeare’s plays in modern English and take out all of the ‘problematic’ bits about women and minorities.

Ugh, someone is probably already doing that…