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True Blue Door

True Blue Door's Journal
True Blue Door's Journal
July 3, 2014

Dear SCOTU5: What if your religious beliefs require you to rob Hobby Lobby blind?

According to the five oligarchs who now apparently have carte blanche to rewrite the Constitution as they see fit, Hobby Lobby, Corporate Person, has a Constitutional right to rob its employees of the costs of contraception that federal law requires them to pay for on behalf of the religious beliefs of its owners. So I have a question.

If that naked theft on behalf of religious belief is constitutionally protected, what if someone has a religious belief requiring them to rob Hobby Lobby? Is that protected?

In that case, would it be a protected religious expression to, say, swarm a Hobby Lobby store with dozens of people simultaneously and strip its shelves bare?

Would it be a legitimate expression of religious liberty to partake in the sacrament of its merchandise falling off trucks and cargo ships?

Personally, I think I'm having a religious awakening to the fact that God wants building inspectors, fire inspectors, and OSHA inspectors to take a special interest in the premises and practices of this business.

And who says that filing Federal Trade Commission complaints by the thousand cannot be a spiritually enlightening experience?

Any Hobby Lobby employees who hold these religious beliefs should exercise their SCOTU5-created rights by developing Holy Amnesia as to where they left critical paperwork whose absence will cause their employer large amounts of money.

Woops, sorry, the Lord giveth inventory information and the Lord taketh away inventory information.

I'm sorry, Sir, I didn't mean to delete the entire company's corporate accounts information. It's just I have this religious belief that hitting the Delete button is a sacred ritual.

July 2, 2014

The Zeroth Amendment: The Basis of All "Modern" Conservative Jurisprudence

On casual inspection, one might be tempted to think that the conservative Roberts court and its predecessor under William Rehnquist made a lot of thoroughly arbitrary, random, and contradictory decisions in service to conservative ideology. Sometimes they argued from federalism, sometimes from state's rights; sometimes defended individuals, sometimes the power of the State; and oftentimes their arguments in each where mutually exclusive to standards they later applied to find the opposite. But in every case where the Court reached 5-4 mutually exclusive decisions with its own earlier precedents, there was one constant that actually puts it all in perspective.

Think of it as the Zeroth Amendment to the US Constitution - an unwritten Amendment that preempts all others, and justifies discarding them completely when they become inconvenient to it: Thou shalt not inconvenience the rich, or through inaction allow them to be inconvenienced. When you take this concept into account, suddenly all of the chaotic lunacy of right-wing jurisprudence over the past several decades seems utterly self-consistent.

Take the most recent abomination, the 5-4 finding that Hobby Lobby as a Corporate Person has the Constitutional right to impose its religious beliefs on its employees and violate federal law by refusing to cover contraception. Let's dissect every aspect of the madness: First and foremost, obviously, is the concept of Corporate Persons itself. Corporate personhood is not a new legal Lie - it actually arose from the previous period in American history when the rich ruled with impunity, the late 19th century. But it had lapsed into irrelevancy for generations before being revived in the post-Reagan era as a justification for exempting corporations from the authority of Constitutional government while giving them its full protection.

Now, what is the primary mechanism through which the rich enact their will? The corporation. Ergo, any limit on the corporation is a limit on the privilege of the rich. Thus, via the Zeroth Amendment, we have seen a steady succession of lawless decisions declaring such lunatic doctrines as the idea that a business - basically a machine organized to achieve the one-dimensional objective of maximum financial profit - has Constitutional rights, among them the right to purchase political influence and sway the outcomes of elections purely by force of money. Since the rich are culturally accustomed to all things being for sale and getting their way entirely by buying it, imposing a democratic system on them - even the shallow patina of one - would be an inconvenience, and thus a violation of their Zeroth Amendment right to buy the election outcome of their desire.

The most recent case, while it superficially regards matters of religion, is actually just another case of the Court saying that the rich can do whatever they want with impunity. After all, the case isn't about a religious organization that doesn't want to cover contraception costs, but about a very wealthy for-profit corporation. So the real question was not one of religion, but of money: The owners of Hobby Lobby have more money than their employees, ergo they have greater rights under the Zeroth Amendment and its associated jurisprudence.

Even the 2nd Amendment, with all the seeming absolutism of its most fanatical adherents, is largely just an auxiliary to the Zeroth Amendment. Think about this: To whom does the NRA owe primary allegiance - gun owners, or gun manufacturers? Clearly the latter, since it overwhelmingly opposes measures that are opposed by manufacturers that would if anything benefit consumers of their products. It is 100% focused on maximizing the profits of the industry and literally nothing else. If you were to introduce legislation guaranteeing that every adult non-felon must be issued a gun at cost (i.e., no profit) by firearm manufacturers, the NRA would shriek it into oblivion, and the same gundamentalist madmen who would effectively have been calling for such a measure the day before would propose every conceivable conspiracy theory to denounce it.

Because, once again, the Zeroth Amendment is their guiding light, not the 2nd Amendment: The gun industry is obscenely rich, and besides that, is instrumental in the violent enforcement of the Zeroth Amendment rights of all rich people and their attendant Corporate Persons.

This also explains the absolute Republican obstruction of tax increases despite their own hollow rhetoric attacking budget deficits: They don't care about deficits - they just (a)refuse to raise taxes on the rich (the Zeroth Amendment forbids it), and (b)refuse to fund anything that benefits anyone other than the rich, because that dilutes their power (and thus, once again, the Zeroth Amendment forbids it). It is their one and only Law, the one and only right they recognize, and all others either do not exist as far as they are concerned or are mere rhetorical tools for enforcing the Zeroth Amendment.

I'm not saying this is a principle they consciously adhere to, any more than most Fascists consciously adhere to the principle that power is the only morality: It's simply a fact at the root of their thinking and behavior, demonstrated overwhelmingly and repeatedly. Thus we find that US conservatives, while not quite the nightmare that fascism represents, are at least a cousin to it: Where fascists find sole vindication in the act of eliminating opposition, this (equally totalitarian, but less dramatic) group of sociopaths find sufficient and exclusive vindication in economic leverage. So the US conservative's ideal world is not a battlefield, but a slave auction.

Let us not kid ourselves about where this is going either: The ultimate end of this process will be the granting of voting rights to corporations, which will then be extended to the point that elections are literally auctions rather than merely taking on the aspect thereof due to unhealthy influence. I am not exaggerating for effect: This will, I think, literally occur. And at that point the unwritten, unjust, and insane Zeroth Amendment that exists in conservatives' heads will be in direct existential conflict with the Constitution as written and understood by the American people and every legal scholar who is not a raving psychotic.

But given the meekness with which every step toward that abyss has been met by even the liberal activists of this country, one can't help but wonder if that final step off the edge will be regarded as anything special, or just met with the same cowardice and lethargy as the rest.

The alternative is, at least for now, to acknowledge among ourselves that the decisions the Roberts Court has reached in these Zeroth Amendment cases are lawless and without authority. That they are literally just raving ideologues, two of whom were illegitimately placed on the court by an unelected President, finding according to their fanatic religion of money in direct violation of the laws they were charged to interpret and reconcile.

In other words, we have to step back from the zombie attitude that the Constitution is whatever the Court says it is, and state unequivocally that when their decisions are so far removed from reason, jurisprudence, and the rights of the people that they are effectively creating their own secessionist state via their decisions, we have to take the position that we reject these decisions - not merely "opine" that they are wrong. Because they are not merely wrong, they are fundamentally outside the Court's purview. The Zeroth Amendment, folks, is the seed of right-wing totalitarianism that they've tried to plant without having to win elections or pass Amendments, but simply to put five people on the Supreme Court who will interpret it into existence and strike down any law challenging it.

That is a coup d'etat, not a shift in judicial philosophy. Whether striking down critical portions of the Voting Rights Act or holding the corporations have the Constitutional rights of individuals, this court is attempting to interpret the Constitution out of existence and put in its place a completely different form of government. And like all forms of government, to really come into effect, this Zeroth Amendment state needs your tacit permission to function - it needs your agreement to abide by the lawless, alternate-universe, Neo-Confederate findings of this revolutionary right-wing Supreme Court.

If activism opposing these decisions is explicit that these decisions are lawless and hold no authority, then at least this country has a chance, because we will have kept alive the crucial idea that the Constitution is a pact with each and every one of us - not some obscurantist divine doctrine that only some insular priesthood is qualified to understand and interpret.

At least speaking for myself, the Supreme Court has since 2000 greatly weakened its own authority where I as a citizen am concerned. And where decisions like Citizens United, the ruling striking down parts of VRA, and this Hobby Lobby case are concerned, it has no authority whatsoever. Corporations are not persons. They do not have Constitutional rights. Money is not speech. The United States of America has never agreed to a Zeroth Amendment, and will never agree to one. And if it ever comes to a point where these decisions are interpreted in a way that directly limits my freedom rather than merely diluting it by empowering corrupt forces, I will defy any such move and exercise my rights anyway - not merely complain or argue.

While the assault on our rights remains indirect, defying it will be harder, but at the very least we can deny them what fraction of authority comes from treating their actions as legitimate. For now, we can settle for stating as a fact that: Corporations do not have the rights this Court asserts, because such would plainly violate the rights of the people as explicitly guaranteed in the Constitution, and we as citizens pledge to take no action that would implicitly or explicitly recognize such privileges, nor fail to take lawful actions denying those privileges for fear of retribution.

Sorry if I've rambled, but this decision really got my goat. There is no such Zeroth Amendment to the Constitution, so conservatives really need to stop interpreting laws as if there were one, and we need to stop pretending that their acts of radical undemocratic revolution are differences of opinion undertaken lawfully by legitimate authorities. We need to acknowledge that these decisions are not part of the jurisprudence of the United States of America, but the dogmas of a schismatic revolutionary state with no legitimacy.

June 13, 2014

The World Is Coming to A Middle!!!!!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, I have dire news: The Middle is Nigh. Repeat: The Middle is Nigh.

The signs are all around us. Most have heard of the Book of Revelations in the Bible, but there is a less-well-known prophetic Scripture called the Book of Reasonable Occurrences that foretells the Coming of the Middletimes:

And lo, I beheld the Four Pedestrians of the Ad-hoc-alypse. Upon the waist of the First Pedestrian was a golden fanny-pack emblazoned with the chilling words "Stagnant Economic Growth Coupled with Signs of Improvement in Some Sectors."

Upon the brow of the Second Pedestrian was tattooed the words "Greatly Improved Prosperity Among the Masses of the World While Some Previously Wealthy Nations Become More Economically Polarized."

The Third Pedestrian did blow upon a horn, and carved into the horn were the words "General Global Peace and Stability Causing the Relatively Few Instances of War to Appear More Shocking By Comparison With Typical Conditions."

The Fourth Pedestrian wore a black turtleneck sweater, and his voice did proclaim the final harbinger of the Middletimes: "Social Media Causing Some Level of Societal Dislocation Balanced Out By Greater Opportunities for Personal, Political, and Career-oriented Engagement."


The signs are clear: The Middle of The World is upon us! The Time of Difficult But Surmountable Challenges Coupled with New Opportunities and Capabilities is at hand.

I personally have received a Vision from God on what must now be done, and am Chosen to deliver his most solemn and mystical message unto you. Said the Lord unto me: "Thou must engage-est in reasonable dialogue and undertaketh a course of sensible planning over a moderate timeframe to achieve logical objectives. If thou hast any questions, comments, or reactions, please sendeth them via Twitter."

It will not be easy, but it will not be terribly hard either. Our faith will be tested, although the test will be graded on a curve and extra credit points will be assigned for effort and creativity, the Lord assures us.

Jesus, now halfway between First and Second Comings, will send an Instagram Update on his progress that will not bring any sinners to their knees, but may inspire meaningful reflections among a statistically significant part of the population.

The Mighty shall become awkward and inconsistent.

The Meek shall become Average and develop more advanced life-skills.

Issues shall be Mitigated to a Modest Degree.

So Sayeth The Lord. Amen.
May 23, 2014

Top 10 Reasons the Sun is a Left-Wing Conspiracy

The Sun. "El Sol." "Helios." "That Yellow Eye-Burny Thingee." For going on the 6,000 years of Earth's existence, mankind has wondered about the nature and purpose of the great light in the sky. Well, wonder no more, for its true agenda has been exposed: The Sun, ladies and gentlemen, is a cosmic welfare program.

1. Provides free, universal light and heat.

Without the Sun's nonstop gravy-train of welfare energy, planet Earth would be a global iceball with no atmosphere slightly warmer than absolute zero - basically worldwide Michigan. But instead the Sun - that great celestial Sugar Daddy - showers us daily in unearned rewards.

How can we stop this unforgivable affront to capitalism, you ask? We can't. Free, abundant energy is forced upon us like a Red Army jackboot, brutally grinding our faces in pleasant weather and pretty foliage. Mr. Burns, we need you now more than ever!

[img][/img]

2. Disrespects private property.

Imagine an inconsiderate neighbor who twice a day shines a bright spotlight through your windows, and completely ignores your protests. Well, the Sun does that to literally everyone on the planet, and then buys our silence with the pacification of having liquid water and a gaseous atmosphere. No wonder it sets to the left, and turns the sky Red in the process. If it's not careful, some day the productive people of this planet will Go Galt to Pluto.

[img][/img]

3. Makes People Lazy

Go anywhere that people seek to connect with the Sun, and there is one thing you will definitely not see: Hard work. Instead, just a bunch of lazy people whiling away the day under the nurturing rays of Nanny Sun, basking in morally tainted light that at no point came from chopping or digging something. Children raised in this environment grow up thinking that the world will provide for them...because it does. The Yellow Orb of Socialism must be stopped!

4. Rises from the East

By the time sunlight reaches the United States, in its long uninvited path across our sky, it has already shone for most of the day upon all sorts of godless heathens and effeminate Socialist European nations. So the question must be asked, why do they get light before us? And how tainted is the light we receive by the attitudes of the smelly Frenchmen who have had it before us?

5. Costs Jobs

There is literally no greater cause of unemployment than the Sun. Think about it: Every iota of free energy and heat it provides is some amount of money not being spent in the energy, heating, and cold-weather survival industries - money that would otherwise create jobs! Now, you might ask if the jobs created by the Sun might outnumber those it takes away. You might ask that, but if you do, I'm calling Homeland Security on your Commie ass.

In any case, that's not the only way the Sun takes away valuable employment opportunities. It cuts street prostitute business hours in half; guts the profits of the lightbulb industry; undermines the business of bars and strip clubs; and imposes unnecessary self-loathing after an all-night drinking binge.

6. Remains threateningly out of reach of human weapons.

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If the sacred teachings of the NRA have taught us anything, it's that security comes from mutual terror and the omnipresent threat of instant destruction. How then can we possibly hope to demand respect from the Sun when it sits 93 million miles away?

Suppose the Sun were hijacked by terrorists? There would be nothing we could do about it! They could sell it on the black market, hold it for ransom, or crash it into an Olympic curling championship, and we would be powerless to stop it. I for one am tired of Big Sun interfering in our lives with no accountability. No insolation without representation!

7. Disproportionately favors California.

Nowhere is the Sun's left-wing bias more clearly demonstrated than in the double standard it applies to California vs. Arizona. In most of California, the Sun is a sweet, gentle, big-boobed friend-with-benefits who lights up your day and will give you a handy if you ask nicely.

But travel just a bit to the Southeast into Arizona and a different relationship applies: The Sun turns into an evil Nazi death-bitch who craves the taste of your bone marrow as a salad dressing. And let's not even get into its general absenteeism in that other great free market paradise, Alaska. It's always trying to punish hard-working, enterprising white people with a lot of guns. Speaking of which...

8. Turns white people brown.

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Is there any greater racist in the universe than the Sun? Not only will just a few minutes of exposure turn white people brown, but those white people who can't tan - whose rugged individualist skin refuses to conform with the dictates of socialist radiation - may get cancer due to their courageous stand for epidermal freedom.

Well, I don't know about you, but I call that genocide. Do you hear that, Sunkist and Sun Microsystems? Your names celebrate an astrophysical Hitler.

9. Where have we seen a yellow star before?

[img][/img]

It's in plain sight, people!

10. Oppressively forces people to see things.

Let's suppose your fat, geriatric neighbors are having sex in their patio hammock. Ordinarily you could be spared this horror by a lack of light, but of course there is the Sun, tyrannically shining down on everything where no one wants it! You simply cannot help seeing, and thus are traumatized forever. While some lazy, worthless light-moochers may want that free light, oftentimes the Sun just forces it on people whether they like it or not. Like Stalin. And if you complain, well, nothing will change. You must cower behind walls, blankets, and umbrellas like a hunted Resistance movement to escape its Sauron-like gaze.

Join Rand Paul in supporting his Freedom From Daylight initiative: Bold legislation that would command NASA to develop the means to destroy the Sun once and for all!

December 27, 2013

Famous Movies as Described by Republicans

1. The Hobbit

Socialist midgets steal the property of a Job Creator dragon.

2. Scrooge

A principled conservative businessman is terrorized by supernatural left-wing thugs into giving away his hard-earned money to welfare leeches.

3. Animal House

The tragic story of an idealistic young patriot, Douglas Niedermyer, tormented by lazy anarchists.

4. A Few Good Men

Sissy lawyers tear down a courageous Marine colonel for enforcing discipline among his troops.

5. The Shining

A strong father figure is forced to take drastic measures to control his whiny, ungrateful wife and disobedient son.

6. Roots

A poor African villager is adopted by a generous American family and taught the value of hard work.

7. Dr. Strangelove

Terrifying portrait of how America's military was hamstrung by peacenik civilians during the Cold War.

8. Se7en

The inspiring story of a devoutly religious man persecuted by police for attempting to live by Biblical principles.

9. All the President's Men

A disturbing look into the liberal media's conspiracy to bring down one of America's greatest Presidents.

10. Mississippi Burning

Heartwarming look at a Southern community's heroic stand against federal bullying.

November 6, 2013

My Nature Photos #1 (San Gabriel Mountains)

I haven't been out into the mountains lately due to mechanical issues with the car, but I have a huge backlog of photos from previous drives and hikes that I'd love to share here. Here are a few of the best, and I may share in subsequent editions if these are appreciated. Oh, and I don't do any Photoshop chicanery with my photos, so what you see is what I saw when I was there:

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710964376/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710964376/]P1011920[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710869245/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710869245/]P1011927[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710945304/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710945304/]P1011931[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710959806/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710959806/]P1011933 - Copy[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710941674/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710941674/]P1011940 - Copy[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10711136503/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10711136503/]P1011941[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710862675/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710862675/]P1011942[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710938744/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710938744/]P1011952 - Copy[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710937514/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710937514/]P1011963 - Copy[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710936164/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710936164/]P1011965 - Copy[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710935264/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710935264/]P1011966[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710934144/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710934144/]P1011974[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710857115/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710857115/]P1011976[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710949826/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10710949826/]P1011985[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

I love going out into the mountains to get these photos. I just love it. My time waiting around my while car gets fixed has been purgatory. A rental just can't handle it.

November 6, 2013

Hopes and Worries for the new Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio

Every time an apparent liberal heavyweight shows up on the horizon, heading into a big-time office with grand ambitions and lofty rhetoric, the light and shadow of politics deepens. Bill de Blasio is one such person, who has (rather radically) reintroduced wealth inequality and class disparity into the public debate in a way that it has not been present in a very long time despite the issue being the elephant in the room for decades (and I do mean elephant - smirking, flag-lapel-pin-wearing, teabagging elephant).

He won the mayoralty of America's flagship city by speaking to what the sclerotic political institutions had long deemed a third rail in American politics - the glaring fact that a very few among us are increasingly reaping all the benefits and luxuries of society while the rest are left to foot the bill as workers and taxpayers. Nowhere is this fact more painfully in evidence than in New York City, where one part is a 21st century Versailles of soft living, infinite options, glittering (and heavily guarded) skyscrapers, Michelin restaurants, and grownup playgrounds where anyone who appears "not to belong" could be followed and whisked away by police at a moment's notice; and the other New York where things keep getting harder, landlords rule with an iron fist, and if you're a minority, the police behave like predators to your entire family day and night.

But only time will tell if Blasio is equal to the challenge he sees and dares to invoke, because (not to sound like a Matrix character) but knowing the path and walking the path are not the same thing, and convincing the people of New York to give him the authority to try is not the same thing as convincing the myriad interest groups, political blocs, and semi-gangster parasites who make up the New York political machine to go along with his plans. Furthermore, only time will tell if he can withstand the onslaughts of the VAST assortment of powers and resources that will be arrayed to sabotage him and ensure he goes no farther than city politics.

We can already surmise the shape of some of these traps in the very nature of the government he inherits. Bloomberg has created one of the "safest" times in New York history in terms of crime, but he did so by cheating - he turned the city into a police state where minorities have no civil rights and police are not bound by the 4th Amendment at all. Obviously crime is going to go down when the police have unchecked power, but that's not a bargain a free society is willing to make, because it just substitutes crime by criminals for crime by authorities. If/when Blasio intends to cut the Gordian Knot of Bloomberg's NYPD policies, he is going to walk a tightrope that on one side are skyrocketing crime statistics as the relationship between police and citizens returns to "balance," and on the other side are merely cosmetic changes that preserve an indefensible circumstance making life oppressive and frightening for the city's minorities.

That's just one of the many Roadrunner booby traps Bloomberg has left in his wake, that Bill de Blasio will have to either defuse, avoid, or spring with such alacrity that they can't do the intended harm. And even then, it remains to be seen how he intends to force a thoroughly corrupt, 1%-puppeteered city government into addressing the aforementioned elephant in the room, and how he intends to cultivate relationships with a state and federal government that are no less under the control of their own cadres of rich sociopaths. Either he will learn multi-dimensional politics very quickly and play a municipal version of Ender's Game on the streets of Gotham, or he will - sadly, as most do - flounder in the face of traps and sabotage from all sides, then quietly disappear into the background, another failed hope.

November 5, 2013

Five directors who "Get it."

What is "it," you ask? Well, the thing they have and others don't.

1. Martin Scorsese

I would watch grass grow if it was filmed by Martin Scorsese, and it would of course have a killer soundtrack. Thanks to my parents unwisely having allowed me to see Goodfellas on HBO at age 13, I spent the next two years neglecting my education in favor of petty crime. And I don't regret a moment of it, because it was the most fun I had until college. The cautionary parts of the movie had gone right over my head, but the part where Henry Hill did whatever he wanted and collected money as if it were laundry lint made perfect sense to me. And somehow it worked and I got away with it for two years. Basically, Scorsese is the devil - but the devil you love. He breathes driving, pulsating life into everything, including more benign subject matter like "Kundun" and "Hugo." A true avatar of the Italian-American spirit, no matter what subject he's addressing.

2. Stanley Kubrick

As visceral as Scorsese is, Kubrick was ethereal, and yet equally powerful. His cold eye was piercing with the light of a thousand suns, razor-sharp, and yet the environments he created were woven with impenetrable intricacy and immersive experience. Every moment is fraught with pagan intensity, glaring eyes laden with meaning, words packing a weighty wallop, and visuals from heaven's own vault. Reportedly a tyrant to work with, his actors' sacrifices on set were always worth it. Unfortunately, he's dead, so there will never be another entry from the Director of Directors.

3. Roman Polanski

Geniuses tend to be crazy or immoral in some way: Scorsese created one of the most beautiful films of all time (if not THE greatest) based on the life of a useless junkie hoodlum and made it seem like the most epic thing ever; Kubrick was a sadistic tyrant who emotionally and sometimes physically tortured his cast to get the desired performances out of them; and Roman Polanski...well...you know. But Polanski's movies tend to be seamless Gothic masterpieces, as if immaculately conceived from wafting smoke in the midst of a symphony orchestra. If there is an "it," he most definitely has it.

His Holocaust film "The Pianist" is probably the best movie ever made on the subject, reducing colossal horrors and wrenching chaos to the human-scale struggles of one man's survival. No self-important melodrama or sweeping, operatic depictions of larger events - just desperation, fear, and determination amid events not under the main character's control. Polanski's contributions to the horror (Rosemary's Baby) and noir (Chinatown) genres are no less amazing, and I happen to also be a fan of his more deprecated smirky horror movie "The Ninth Gate," which I recommend to anyone who hasn't seen it.

4. Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson is basically all of the writing talent of David Mamet with the addition of good camera instincts, music, and an extended attention span. While it's often difficult to enjoy his movies as entertainment because they're so kaleidoscopic, and also hard to remember details about them for the same reason, there are so many powerful scenes with inescapably weighty performances, perfect soundtrack accompaniment, and unexpected dialog that you almost have to grudgingly admit that Anderson gets it. Probably the most iconic example would be Mark Wahlberg's character Dirk Diggler hitting rock bottom in a crack house in Boogie Nights just as his friend goes berserk and tries to rob armed drug dealers.

You can see it in his face as he's internally collapsing, all while chipper Rick Springfield music plays in the background and a sleazy crackhead/dealer played by Alfred Molina dances around manically in his underwear. It's the most ludicrous, pathetic thing ever, and the two main characters (including John C. Reilly's character) know it and try to bail, setting in motion a piss-pantsingly realistic shootout. If you were ever in a situation where you were around two really dangerous people who got into a fight, you can sympathize with the main characters as they ran like rabbits from the scene.

5. Coen Brothers

Technically these are two directors, but since they always work together, I'll include them as one. They not only "get it," but they get it in a way that no one else does - their films all have a certain grounded, solemn moral sensibility, even when the material is purely comedic. Even in a movie as deliciously silly as The Big Lebowski, the characters are profoundly solid, and rooted in human truth. And in their remake of True Grit, an Oscar-nominated action-Western, there's a pervasive air of tragedy and horror every time someone gets shot - no one is a disposable redshirt, even if they have barely any screen time. Even though the main character is an old-hand gunslinger with a long line of bodies behind him, you see his face darken and collapse when he's forced to shoot someone. The Coens are by far some of the most humanistic filmmakers, and yet their morals are never preached - simply embodied in living motion.

November 2, 2013

Would this be a good place to continue some of my science series?

I had run a popular science blog elsewhere called "Getting to Know Your Solar System," structured like a guided tour of the regions and major bodies of the solar system, with lots of beautiful probe images and my own explanatory narrations and diagrams. What remains of them is only partly salvageable, but it was my proudest work, and I'm hoping to eventually resurrect the series here. Basically its' like this:

Each entry shows lots of beautiful images of a celestial object in the solar system, while also describing the science behind it, its environments, its orbit and other behavior, how humans discovered it, and what we might some day do with respect to it.

It can get quite involved, and some of the entries have run many pages long. When they get too long, I've had to break it up into multiple entries. For instance, I broke up my discussion of Earth into six different postings to at least superficially cover the vast amount of knowledge we have about it.

What do you say, folks? Some of you might have seen my Getting to Know Your Solar System series in its original home, so now that it can't continue there anymore, would you like to see it resurrected and brought to completion? And is this the right folder for that? Let me just whet your appetite:

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10634450526/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10634450526/]Saturn Clouds 3[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10634428915/][img][/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/106981058@N06/10634428915/]rainbow[/url] by [url=http://www.flickr.com/people/106981058@N06/]brianswiderski[/url], on Flickr


November 2, 2013

You might be a geek if....

You tried to buy a hooker with Bitcoins.

You know the Three Laws of Robotics more intimately than the Bill of Rights.

You thought Paradise Lost was a ripoff of The Silmarillion.

Someone calling on the phone rather than texting is invading your space.

You tried to use a Jedi mind-trick on a mugger, with painful result

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Name: Brian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Southern California
Member since: Mon Oct 28, 2013, 05:48 PM
Number of posts: 2,969

About True Blue Door

Primary issue interests: Science, technology, history, infrastructure, restoring the public sector, and promoting a fair, honorable, optimistic, and inquisitive society. Personal interests: Science fiction (mainly literature, but also films and TV), pop culture, and humor.
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