Saturday, November 29, 2008

Evolve Already

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:




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.



Anonymous said...

Hey, glad you could make it! :D And so was Bernice.

Regulus said...

Thanks, Quill. I had a great time. You'll have to tell me more about that story ... I sorta fell asleep while you were telling it. I can't recall the last time that happened!

I tried to take more Thanksgiving dinner pictures -- in a non-intrusive way -- but my cellphone camera truly sucks.

krzysztof said...

As for Kristof, everything looks on target for him to return to the U.S. in early Jan. 2009.

Correct. For now I'm immensely busy and I'm enjoying my time here. Would you believe that although I found a gay club here i haven't had time to go yet????!!!!!!!

Rita said...

That moon picture reminded me how beautiful the moon was last night. I was even going to get a nice moon picture, but I got drunk & instead.

& everyone's blog reminds me how much I despise christmas.
Maybe, I'll just stay drunk until January.

Big Pissy said...

...and the saddest part about the Wal-mart massacre is that it didn't even surprise me.

I'm only surprised that it doesn't happen more frequently.

Regulus said...

"Would you believe that although I found a gay club here i haven't had time to go yet????!!!!!!!"

Then there must be something screwy in that Polish - Gdansk water over there, kitten.

This evening we're supposed to have Gary's belated Thanksgiving dinner, although truth to tell, I'm turkeyed out ... not to mention spaghetti with garlic, oil, and capers.

Between those two things, you would have thought ... this weekend based on the amount of time I spent in el excusado ... I had drunk some water from Guadalajara.

Never mind.

Handmaiden: I just read your blog entry about your brother's situation in Thailand and posted a comment. Not sure what to say but I offered an opinion anyway.

Re. drinking, I thought you swore it off for Lent ... Ha ha

Why don't you treat yourself for Christmas to a short stay at a snowy ski lodge somewhere in the Cascades? You don't even have to ski (I don't).

Big Pissy: I think the Valley Stream Wal-mart crowd was extra riled up about something. The store bears a serious responsibility for not looking after the safety of its employees. This is one of those cases that requires a huge law suit because it's the only way to inflict the kind of financial pain on a corporate behemoth to make it realize it has to change its ways.

The whole frickin' Black Friday shopping thing is a media contrivance that has gotten out of hand in recent years, all the more so as the economy has soured and the corporate interests that own the media feel the need to whip up the populace into some buying frenzy. It's pathetic -- and totally unnecessary. The Christmas shopping period lasts just about one month. Some stupid 5AM frenzied shopping marathon the day after Thanksgiving is not necessary.

Anonymous said...

I ordered a book titled "The Easy Way to Stop Drinking" by Allen Carr.

We'll see how easy it is. :)

I honestly have too much to do to take a vacation right now, even for a couple of days.

I am thinking about going to Eugene for a sustainability workshop next weekend, maybe I can combine business with pleasure.

fifi said...

Now that I have a moment, I shall speak upon the wonders that I see here.

2001 space odyssey: one of my favourites. I believed it on the same level as the bible when I was a child.

Tonihght the rescent moon and the alignment of venus and Jupiter will make a smiley face. True. And it happens to be cloudy, so bad luck. I'll try to keep watching to see if the clouds blow away and I'll take a photo.

Happy birthday by the way. I think it took place while I was in la la land last week...

krzysztof said...

Ok, Ok I will go. But the only ones I know of so far are open only on weekends and I usually drink elsewhere on weekends. So little time....

krzysztof said...

Oh I did some search I now I know what the problem is: there's a boatload of gay bars here but they are scattered all over the tri-city area. Definitely no 17th street

Regulus said...

Handmaiden: A sustainability conference in Eugene? That sounds interesting. You should go to that. Maybe you can share your experiences at that commune you visited a couple weeks ago to compare the differences in sustainability issues for an actual city (Eugene) versus an agrarian commune.

I've never been to Eugene but it does sound like a nice city.

Fifi: I was getting worried about you. Where were you?

Re. the movies, were you talking about the 1968 film or the 1984 film? The former is so psychedelic and weird ... the latter, at least to me, had a story line I could follow and an uplifting message. But I tend to think rather literally. Stanley Kubrick (director of 1968 film) was also rather misanthropic, judging by the full body of his works.

Kristof: Gloria and I were wishing you could have been at Gary's belated Thanksgiving party last night. She is nervous about leaving for Peru -- and for such a long time. I'm going to miss her.

LP and Marvin (Gary's landlord) actually got to meet last night.

The trouble for me is that I am so stressed and busy about my two upcoming class final projects, one of which is due on Wed., while working full time. I need to work on the one project -- the NJ budget one -- today at the office in lieu of doing work. I'm very stressed and have a headache this morning.

Re. your Gdansk doings, why are you so busy?

As for visiting the city's assorted gay bars, maybe that can be a Friday or Saturday night thing. It's probably good that there is so 17th Street equivalent with its many facets. Makes it easier, even if less center-of-the-gay-Universe interesting.

krzysztof said...

I'm actually doing a lot of work like a good boy that I am. Besides, old friends started coming out the woodwork when I got here and there's a lot of partying all over town.

I found some bars that are open daily and I'm thinking of maybe checking one out tonight. Also, tomorrow I'm meeting another former classmate who is gay and I hope he can give me some tips on where the best places are. Will see.

don't be stressed. As Eric U. used to say, shit always works out

Big Pissy said...

Oh no! I missed your birthday!

I'm sorry! :(

Regulus said...

Thanks, Kristof. Looking forward to your return.

BP: No worries, sweetie.

fifi said...

It was a rerun of the 1968 one, shown at the independent arthouse movie theatre. I was about 11. I thought it was very trippy-cool.

rackorf said...

Sticking ya tongue into Bernice's ear is a bit off - Nooft is rolling in his hole.
The walmart thing was pretty fucked - good chrissy cheer for the season - shows the true spirit of lots of folks - dead set useless cunts.
BTW - Where's Travistee disappeared to?

Regulus said...

Fifi: I still think the ending was a little too freaky-psychedelic for my tastes!

Rackorf: I was not doing that to Bernice. I was just sort of holding her. She has a long nose/snout and so it may have seemed that I was doing that just by the camera angle. Plus it was a pretty crummy picture -- I really need a decent camera.

I basically agree with your Wal-mart assessment. The question is how individuals who, I suppose, are mostly decent folks turned into such a yowling mob. I guess that's the nature of mob behavior.

Re. Travistee, as near as I can tell, about 6 weeks ago she got tired of blogging, or at least she wasn't getting any enjoyment out of it. So she took her blog totally private. This has happened before -- both taking the blog private and changing URLs (I've done the URL change myself but for a different reason). I decided (since I had ceased to be a regular reader of her blog) just to let it be and not try to get an invitation to her blog. Beyond that, I don't know what happened. She has had some significant changes in her life in the past 18 months or so. Bottom line is, I don't know what happened.

Of course, I know a certain unconventional Australian blogger at the far end of this planet who tends to vanish for extended periods himself ...