Saturday, November 29, 2008
The mysterious black monolith scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey ... I don't think you'd actually seen that much of a crescent Moon when it is that close to the Sun in the sky, but never mind that.
Well, this extended holiday weekend has been OK for me so far. I had a nice Thanksgiving dinner at Quill's parents' house in Silver Spring. Yesterday, I had a nice happy hour at Cobalt and dinner at Dupont Italian Kitchen with Chris T., followed by an Omega jaunt with my friend Brian and his boyfriend Greg who were visiting from New York City for the weekend.
Here is yours truly, Regulus, talking to Bernice at Quill's parents' house before dinner.
Tonight, I'm going to Phil's place for a gathering. As for rest of weekend plans, see below.
Caution: Political Diatribe Ahead
Before continuing, though, I want to write a bit of political commentary on "Black Friday" yesterday, which refers to the contrived day-after-Thanksgiving shopping event that supposedly kicks off the Christmas season on which our Nation's very survival apparently rests.
I'm not exactly sure where the following deep vein of political commentary venom came from but having written it already (this is my after the fact intro to it), I feel better ... so here goes ...
Feel free to skip this section.
The "Black Friday" corporate media bullshit was in full bore tilt yesterday -- ANYTHING to keep the razzle-dazzle machine and financial Ponzi scheme going another yet another day. But this time, it contributed in an indirect way to the trampling death of a 34-year old Wal-Mart associate** at the stupid 5AM opening of a shitty ghetto Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., where a rabid throng of idiot Americans looking to save $40 on plasma screen TVs stampeded him.
Here is a cellphone image of the mob at the store moments before they burst into the store.
**Wal-Mart associate: a minimum wage earning hourly worker with no benefits. Synonymous term: expendable wage slave.
Here is the New York Daily News story about the event and below is a YouTube clip of an AP television news report about it ...
Oh, yes, not only did the shopping throngs fail to get out of the way of the EMT workers, but the shitty store only closed for a few hours and was reopened and packed by 1PM as if nothing happened ...
... because, Dear Children, in Wal-Mart World, nothing did.
What an ignorant country.
If this stampede happened at some religious hajj in Saudi Arabia or a football (soccer) match in Uruguay, we'd say 'What savages they are,' but it happens in the U.S. of A. and involves dumb ass Americans already drowning in an ocean of debt buying on still more credit a bunch of junk kitschy consumer products, half of it made in China with the latest God-Knows-What petrochemical compounds and most of which they already have the last five versions of and do not need the sixth one.
I suppose not only will Wal-Mart not pay for this guy's funeral, but instead a decision will be made "at corporate" to charge his family for the ruined uniform.
Fuck Wal-Mart with its wage slavery business model and lies about "greening the upstream and the downstream of the supply chain."
I'm sure company will hold this fatal trampling by an out-of-control mob up as a model of workplace safety, corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability.
Also, I see that the U.S. stock market has skyrocketed about 15 percent in the past five sessions on the Dow Industrials after YET ANOTHER sky-trillion dollar bailout was announced (this time of Citi Group). Why is this bad? Because there has been no reform of what got us into this mess, only a combined $7 trillion in bailouts.
The goal of these bailouts -- and Robert Rubin is really no different from Henry Paulson -- is supposedly to "unthaw" the credit markets. My take on it is that this isn't for the purposes of creating a truly prosperous and sustainable green economy, but rather simply to restart the sky-trillion dollar financial Ponzi scheme that has DEFINED American capitalism for the past 20 years -- the operational face of which has become the credit card companies and their cartoonishly evil ways.
It is this system that that has so spectacularly collapsed and that the Rubins, Paulsons, and Greenspans are trying to restart because there is still too much money yet to be stolen and power amassed. This is Disaster Capitalism 101.
Behold, American "Shining City on the Hill" utopia in motion at a Target in Aurora, Ohio, Nov. 28, 2008.
And debt drowning but still baffled American consumer will only be too happy to play along because "my 401-k went up ..."
Throw in some more wars of aggression and war profiteering and Halliburton and Dick Cheney and you've got Disaster Capitalism 202.
Add in Sebastian Mallaby, Fred Hiatt and his WaHoPo editorial board and the Council on Horseshit Relations blathering about the "historical dictates, imperatives, and mandates of globalization in the 21st Century," and you have Disaster Capitalism 404.
Finally, add in some abrupt climate change, food and resources shortages, riots, mayhem, and an impoverished Third World police state -- but one where enough of the public is doped up on religious fundamentalism so that they can get properly whipped up over irrelevant side issues that supposedly will "protect traditional values" (read: gay marriage), even while their world and its supposed values are being torn apart by the same corporate fascist powers that be and -- voila! -- you have earned your undergraduate degree in Disaster Capitalism.
As it is, I've enjoyed some of Paul Krugman's pieces lately, including his Friday 11/28 New York Times op-ed I reposted on my poor neglected Arcturus blog. I also enjoyed his level-headed and cool analysis in an upcoming article in The New York Review of Books (dated Dec. 18, 2008) available here.
Obviously, Prof. Krugman (D - Nobel Prize Winner) has a very different approach to these issues than my semi-coherent ranting, but I still don't think the gist of what I'm saying is too far off the mark when it comes to BushCo era war profiteering and the massive financial Ponzi scheme that needs to be cleaned up now -- not simply restarted to have this repeat again, probably with even more disastrous results because the U.S. Gov't will have its hands tied that much more.
Totally changing subjects and on a more upbeat note, I watched on YouTube the ending "birth" scene efrom the 1984 movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact, which was the follow-on movie to the late misanthropic director Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Both are based on the Arthur C. Clarke novels.
This birth scene includes the part where the Jupiter implodes on itself (pictured above) as the number of monoliths multiples exponentially into the trillions, causing the to undergo a gravitational collapse until nuclear fusion turns on in the core, turning the planet into a small sun. Jupiter is a gas giant that is actually an "unlit" brown dwarf star.
I love this scene as the expanding shock wave front overtakes the fleeing ship (but they make it out safely anyway). Then the twin suns in the skies over Earth are really cool too, at least I think so.
And, of course, the almost Biblical message that HAL provided before he was destroyed that had been given by an unknown advanced race millions of years earlier who intended to help with the development of life on the Jovian moon of Europa but who knew intelligent humans would evolve during that time from the primates they found when they planted the first monolith on Earth:
ALL THESE WORLDS
ARE YOURS EXCEPT
USE THEM TOGETHER
USE THEM IN PEACE
It ends with one of the most famous musical pieces ever used in a film (used also in the 2001 movie): Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra), Op. 30
I didn't realize Roy Scheider had died this past February. Nor did I remember that John "Third Rock from the Sun" Lithgow starred in this film.
Oh, yes, the aero-braking scene earlier in the movie when they use Jupiter's atmospheric resistance to slow down and gravity to insert the spacecraft into orbit around the Jovian moon of Io is also pretty cool:
You'd have to be moving pretty darn fast to fly around half of Jupiter that quickly, and skimming the cloud top level would result in incandescent heating of the ship (or preferably, its heat shields) from air resistance.
About half the dialogue is in Russian. (Mike G., you wanna help me out? I got you to watch the 2001 movie but I don't know if you saw this 2010 movie.)
Back to my holiday weekend ...
Tonight I'm going to a small party at Phil's place. Gary is still away in NY though he may be back later tonight.
Tomorrow, I once again have to be in College Park on campus at 10AM (read: 1030AM) to finish up the group project for my state and local government budgeting class. That is the project where we balance New Jersey's budget and make recommendations for structural reform.
I could not have done this without the approx. 3-1/2 hours of time the deputy director of the Legislative Budget and Finance Office in the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) who went way far beyond what he needed to do in explaining details of the state's budget and the complex and difficult pension issues.
Tomorrow night, Gary is then having a sort of belated Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night at 6PM. It is also a sort of going away party for Gloria, who is leaving for an 18 month World Bank assignment outside the United States.
As for Kristof, everything looks on target for him to return to the U.S. in early Jan. 2009.
As for work next week, there is the usual array of things I may not be able to finish through no fault of my own since they are contingent on the interview cooperation of others, but I'll talk about that later.
Anyway, that's all for now, I must go evolve into my night plans.