King Matrix

On the release of a new poster showing the faces of the heroes of the Matrix looking DEAD SERIOUS and DEEP and VERY,  VERY COOL.

After seeing those expressions one too many times I am beginning to find the characters– and the whole movie– a bit ridiculous. A lot of posturing, looking terminally cool, inflating one good plot device into some kind of weird totem that seems far more sophisticated than it really is. Those expressions! The idea that we should fantasize about “the one” … how different is that from wanting a king or a dictator or a daddy, to take away all our responsibilities and make life simple and make ourselves gloriously subservient?

Pro Life

An anti-abortion activist wrote, “I will kill every Democrat in the world so we never more have to have our babies brutally murdered by you absolute terrorists.”

This is what the so-called pro-life position has come to.  I will kill you all to prove that I believe life is sacred, given by an all-powerful God who will reward me for my virtuous thoughts.

It has been resounding clear for many years that most people in America who pronounce themselves to be “pro-life” are not.  Politically, they support a strong military, the nuclear deterrent (founded on the premise that we would rather have everyone die than allow you to defeat us), capital punishment, and guns.  There is nothing remotely about these positions– wrong or right, from a practical point of view– that can be considered reflective of a value you could call “pro” life.  The hypocrisy is so obvious that it hardly needs to be stated.

So why do so many people, especially evangelical Christians, go around pounding their chests and declaring themselves “pro” life when they are not?   Because what they are really is anti-sex.  Because what they want, really, is to control women’s bodies.  And what makes them really angry is the thought that you or I might be enjoying something that they think obsessively about and which they have denied to themselves.  Sex sex sex.

An unwanted pregnancy is their revenge on the women who defy their views on social order.  You can almost visualize them sneering at the unfortunate teenager whose life is now ruined.  You deserve it.

They do not care about the six-week-old fetus.  They do not care about old people in nursing homes.  They do not care about the Iraqi mothers and children who were slaughtered in George Bush’s invasion.  They only care about making you pay for the sheer arrogance of your condescension towards their credulous views on morality and God.



I Knew I Would Regret Switching to WordPress Sooner or Later

And here it is.

Suppose you were a young, healthy man or woman.  Suppose someone entered your life and fell in love with you and invited you to move in with them.  Suppose they got you everything: every meal, every snack, every drink.  Suppose they urged you to stay on the couch, relax, eat more, relax more, sleep in, sit down, lay down, take the car to the corner grocery store instead of walking.

Eventually, you will not know how to cook.  You will not be able to walk.  You will grow fat and sedentary and stupid.

You are now the ideal customer for Microsoft, and Apple, Google, and Facebook, and WordPress.

I initially signed on to WordPress because it was free and it was convenient.  And because I had to know it because part of my job was to provide technical support to other people who were using it to update websites for the organization I work for.

Yes, I fell for it: the fatty food on a tray in front of the TV.  But I didn’t mind it too much because it still required some work to actually create content, and format it the way you like.

But the other day, I was reading some of my older posts in HTML and thinking, gee, I like the look of that.  It’s more real, more raw, less slick, and has more character than the stupid standard WordPress fonts and formatting.  I had already decided to go back to my html editor and my rather primitive looking but content-focused webpages.

And then, the update to WordPress came, and I wasn’t paying close attention, and suddenly this stupid fucking new “Gutenberg” editor appear out of nowhere, with no option to turn it off.  And suddenly my editing screen was a kludge of stupid options I had no interest in, blocking me from actually putting in the content I wanted to put in.

Gutenberg is an addition to the WordPress platform that will transform the way websites and content is displayed through a series of customizable blocks. This will allow users the flexibility to control the way their content appears on the page and create an easier building experience for anyone looking to create a website.  Some credulous tech blogger somewhere

WordPress, joining Microsoft in it’s perverse and pernicious determination to make everybody as absolutely stupid as possible, has removed the normal editor from current editions of WordPress and replaced it with an idiotic contraption intended to make it easy for idiots to drag and drop multi-media crap into their own webpages so that they have glorious content without actually providing any glorious content.  Just steal it.  Just let WordPress automatically format everything so that you lose any ability to control what your page looks like.  Your page is going to look like a million other pages.

The new editor also allows for developers to create guard rails so to speak that will guide content editors to their intended goals. Imagine that it is similar to the bumpers that are used to improve your performance when bowling.  The same credulous tech blogger.

The ability to actually see and make changes to your blog on the go – or even post a blog with custom features from your phone is just one of the many updates Gutenberg will bring to WordPress. Text pasted from Word or Google Docs will get cleaned up and converted to blocks automatically and instantly.

Seriously?  The blogger is suggesting that bumper pads at a bowling alley are what we all need.

Can anything worth reading be written on a cell phone?  Seriously?  Are you going to dictate it to “hey Google” and let the master geniuses at Google clean up your text (and censor it)?  You want the NSA to be able to scan your blogs before you even upload them?  (I know that sounds “paranoid”: the idea that such a thing sounds “paranoid” is the U.S. intelligence gathering community’s best friend).

Yes, let’s all go bowling.  There are your bumper pads.  Enjoy yourself.

Let’s All Mock the Snobs

I watched Hawkeye Pierce prank snooty Charles Emerson Winchester on “M*A*S*H.”  NY Times

I watched M*A*S*H when I was younger.  Of course, we loved the prankster, Hawkeye, who was funny and witty and kind and who kind of hi-jacked the show in the first year after it become popular.  It happens to a lot of sitcoms.  Sitcoms are like buildings: an architect designs one with regard to a harmonious and balanced over-all design.  Then the buyer looks at the plans and says, “I love the balcony– I want six more.  And can we make this part bigger?  And I want a wall here.”  And thus the harmony, balance, and the acoustics are destroyed and it becomes a mediocre building.  They are like chefs who prepare a wonderful dish only to see the diners smother it with ketchup and salt.

That is, indeed, what happened to M*A*S*H.  The show became Hawkeye-centric.  That is why Wayne Rogers, who played Trapper John initially, left the show.  He had been promised one thing, in the early scripts, but the producers wanted more Hawkeye.  They wanted more cowbell.  They wanted more Fonz.  They wanted more Sheldon.

The original butt of all jokes was Frank Burns, of course, who carried on a passionate affair with “Hot Lips” Hoolihan.  But Frank was a moron.  Charles Winchester was more challenging: he really was smarter than Hawkeye.

Until now, I never clued into another peculiarity.  We all joined in the ridicule of Charles Emerson Winchester.  Ha ha! So snooty!  He deserves his comeuppance.  Well, the character, as depicted in the show, deserved his comeuppance.  Decoded, the message was different.  Decoded, the message was that educated, intellectual people are not as smart as they think they are and they should be mocked and ridiculed to prove that we working class schmucks are really smarter than they are.  You are not going to see a likable smart character who reads books and thinks about complex issues.   (Unless, like Sheldon in “Big Bang Theory”, they are weird and funny and socially inept.  And everyone suddenly depends on those smart people to keep their computers and “smart” phones connected to Instagram and Facebook.  But Sheldon is never shown to prefer foreign films or books by David Foster Wallace or poetry or serious art; he is a technician.)

Hawkeye Pierce was a progenitor of Donald Trump.  Charles Winchester was a progenitor of Hillary Clinton.  Hawkeye (and Alan Alda, who played him) are presented as “liberal” in a harmless, ineffectual way.  He stands for tolerance and kindness and is against war (who isn’t), but not single-payer healthcare or a carbon tax.

Incidentally, CBS and many fans are pissed off that “Big Bang Theory” never got much love at the Emmy’s, aside from Jim Parsons’ nominations for acting.  “One of the funniest comedies in TV history”, says a CBS executive.  Not even close.  It didn’t deserve any Emmy’s.  The funniest comedies in TV history are “The Larry Sanders Show”, “All in the Family”, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, “I Love Lucy”, and “Seinfeld”.  And “All in the Family” doesn’t really deserve this ranking for it’s comedy, but for its bold introduction of the 20th century to TV sitcoms, for its topicality, and it’s grit.

I thought that TV sitcoms would never be the same afterwards, but here we are, 40 years later, and TV is once again dominated by sitcoms that resemble “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Make Room for Daddy” and “My Mother the Car” more than “All in the Family” or “Maude”.  No, we don’t have talking horses or cars, but the jokes are the same: Sheldon thinks everyone forgot his birthday.  Lucy thinks everyone forgot her birthday.  Edith thinks everyone forgot her birthday.  The Fonz thinks everyone forgot his birthday.  Mr. Ed thinks Wilbur forgot his birthday.

The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 52% approval rating for the first season based on reviews from 23 critics, with an average rating of 5.18/10.  Wikipedia

That sounds about right.