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premature anti-fascist
A friend of mine recently taught me about the film genre, "Fem-Jep". A woman in jeopardy. The film, _Gravity_ was the example she used: our main interest in watching this movie, is seeing our heroine, Sandra Bullock, be placed in jeapardy, again and again, until by luck and persistence, she reaches the conclusion of the film. It doesn't make for much depth of character development.

 So too with the setup for Ex Machina. We're told that the woman in jeapardy, Ava, will be dismantled at the end of the experiment, no matter what the outcome, thus justifying pretty much any action she chooses.

And this is just one of several plot points that just doesn't hold together, *especially* for an audience versed in modern computer technology. We know about backups, we know about memory storage, and it's only by waving his hands and introducing some techno-babble that the maker explains to us that this situation is different, and the only way for our lone genius recluse to save Ava's code, is to end the instance of her particular program run. It's not a very efficient way to build a robot, but it sort of sets up a dramatic conflict, which is what we paid to see.

We also paid to see boobies. Robot boobies. Since her native design doesn't really include proper skin, there's another troubling sequence where Ava does a reverse strip tease-  she's got to put on proper nipples, long hair, supple flesh, all the expected female anatomy- before she even can put on clothes. We're not supposed to wonder how she's going to charge her batteries out in the wide world, it's more important for her to be seen than for her to actually function.

As I'm walking out of the theater I'm wondering what this is supposed to teach me about people. Ava is people, for the purposes of the film, she's human enough to fear for her life, and to exact revenge on her abuser. So a crude kind of justice is supposedly served on our evil genius. (with some rather pointless collateral damage to her rescuer, which made no sense to me.)

 Which has me wondering, how much control did Nathan supposedly have over Ava's programming? He presumably wrote her behavior before we join the story, but during our time with him, he has no more access to her responses than Caleb, or any other male confused by a woman's behavior. He's so opaque to her inner workings that he can only try to turn her off with a crude club: wouldn't a real robot have some sort of spoken ovveride code? maybe a restraining bolt, like in Star Wars? For a twenty first century setting, this robot is no more advanced than the robot from _Metropolis_, nearly a century ago.

Finally, there's one more unforgivable distortion made for the sake of the plot: A true turing test has not one, but two human components. One serves as judge, like Caleb. But the other serves as control, as a benchmark to compare the machine's behavior. This would have been inconvenient for the plot, because Nathan has to be completely alone in his remote fortress of sciency solitude. OK for a horror movie, but don't try to call it a Turing Test!

 Don't get me wrong, it's a good looking movie, it's even pretty watchable from a male's eye view. It's just not a very good *story*, and at the end of the day, that's what I go to a movie to experience. As it is, if I'm in the target demographic of male, computer literate, awkward with women- if I can relate to the protagonist Caleb- then I'm likely to have my prejudice about smart pretty women confirmed. They're dangerous not just to the men who abuse them, but also to the men who try to help them.

I'm next going to seek out some real human women's perspectives on this film, to see if they're as annoyed by it as I am.
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My oldest, bestest, most loyal friend in the world is in the hospital right now. Its pretty serious. But much of this story isnt mine to tell, it's hers. All I can talk about is my own experience. Im noticing some things....

1) Im careful not to sugarcoat tje situation, not to minimize the grief. Its heavy shit we're dealing with, and there is no one single way to make it all right.

2) Its essential to be positive,to reflect back the best of her, to be my best possible person while theres time for me to be here. In some ways, Im a better person than I think I am. But this is emotionally expensive no matter how willing I am.

3) The rage, the grumpiness, the anger it simmers where I cant stand to look at it, and Im constantly tempted to pick a fight witha anyone available, evem just myself. The only way to avoid these evitable battles, is to notice without passing judgement.

4) Getting older means saying goodbye. Eventually Im going to be the one leaving. Each time this happens, it feels like practice for when I'm the main event. Until that time? None of this is about me.
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Imagine a room full of people, socializing. Half of them extroverts, half are introverts. Seems like the extroverts are not going to be aware of how many introverts there are, since theyre the normal ones. But the introverts are going to know exactly who the extroverts are.

Most of the time I identify as introvert, and most of the time, Im more interested in hearing from other introverts. But these are exactly the people I'm *least* likely to hear from.

And this isnt a slam on extroverts. Its kinda like when women struggle to make a women-only space, just to get a break from male dominated speech habits. Its not a slam on men, its just trying to get some air.

But #somemen, #notallmen, are going to take execption to this, and theres not going to be time or space to sit them down and find that teaching moment and gently convince them its not about them all the time.

So too with Extroverts. I still love you all, I just need a break sometimes is all.
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Just now I had another brief, vivid memory of Oly, but it came slowly enough for me to see it coming, and it was smaller than it's been, and I smelled an opportunity to do something... less foolish, maybe even wise- with the experience (of the memory).

{My 50th birthday party really started me thinking about the quality of the memories I choose to lay down into long term memory. Sure, it sort of seems like a wasted effort, given these brief human lifespans, but it's all I've got to work with, and it's important enough to do even if the result is imp[erfect.]

I'm starting to re-connect with projects I was doing long before I met that fellow. I'm also building up more memories of this new place that don't include him. Finally getting the car - after he left- has been a major shift in the way I see the geography. Walking distance no longer defines the perimeter of my horizon.

(Even my view of the light rail has shifted! Before the car, I was content to rely on the hugely simplified Max schematic. Yesterday I had to re-orient my landmarks according to the street grid, rather than the sequence of train stops. It was strangley satisfying)

 So when I thoughjt of Oly just then, it was as if he were on the train platform in an old black and white movie, and I was steaming away on board the train. It's tempting to get distracted by the poetry of that image, but the thing I want to write about is not my dog, not his soul, not even my own death seen through his eyes.... I want to write about my memory of him, as its own thing, seperate from him.

 The trauma of that aweful day is shrinking, becoming managable, and is slowly becoming another book I can place on the shelf with my other traumas. Not just the icky part of that day, but the magic part of why that day was important, that's getting smaller, more managable too. We were together 5/6(7?) years, and now that that interval has a punctuated ending to it, the whole experience can now be evaluated in a way I couldn't really affor to do while I was in the middle of it. Looked at the proper way, I'ts actually kind of liberating.

 If I'm really good, I mean *really* grown up about it, I can weigh this experience with some other significant experiences, and compare them, and try to get a sense of the physics involved. Where my mind went just then, was Bremerton in 1998. In so many ways, I've felt frozen in time, inwilling to learn new things, unwilling to budge, to let go of my grief in that moment back then... I think what really happened was I was afraid to let go of something, afraid to move on.

Contrast the me of 1998, with the me of 1992. They're almost two completely different people. In 1992, I was clawing my way out of a really deep hole, and making some real progress. It felt powerful to be making friends, making money, enjoying a standard of living that I'd never imagined possible for me.

And then in 98, I pretty much gave up. I figured if I never tried to lift my head again, I couldn't be beaten back down. In a way, I guess that was correct, and though I understand the costs involved in that choice much better now, I actually don't begrudge 1998-me that choice. It was the best I (he) had to work with.

I've been really conscious of trying to channel 92 Joe, and get back into the "Can Do!" spirit he embodies. But what I only now just realized is that 98 Joe is standing in my way, telliong me there was a *reason* for all those painful choices made in 98. I'm not being told I can't have 92 Joe back again, just that I can't get there by forgetting 98.

(It's a little frightening how much easier it is for me to think of the 17 years between now and 98, then it is to think of those six years between 92 and 98. It's the same sort of trauma I feel when I pick up Ollie's collar and read his dog tags.

 Such a patient teacher he was. Is.  17 years of beiung stuck in the horse lattitudes, and that's 3 years longer than that person's entire life span. I don't need his ashes or his paw prints to memorialize him, I've got what's left of my life to live, and try to do it as well as he did.

[so many typos and bad turns of phrase. But unless I hit "send" now, I doubt any version of this will ever get posted.]
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Treat others as you'd like to be treated- that seems so abstract, so theoretical, so.... Christian


And Ive been attempting this feat, with one person in particular,for the last 18 months. It's been excruciating. And now that I no longer have to be so bloody fair to this bully, it feels like a huge weight is lifted from me.

And now Ive got this completely unexpected collateral benefit from the effort: I find it much easier to forgive the person that I used to be, for being such a jerk. Having practiced this skill on others, I can use it on myself, and its easier now to live inside this skin
I never would have guessed!
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There's a fairly large subset of the alternative/kink/nerd demographic, who seem deeply concerned about having too much drama in their lives. "This is a drama free zone", they'll say, or, "hi drama people, stay away". I always shrugged it off, until someone pointed out to me that they're actually saying, "I'm high drama, so don't engage with me unless you're into that sort of thing!"

This principle can apply to other kinds of statements as well. When I moved into this place, I quickly discovered that "Emotional Authenticity" was a thing. As in, "tell the truth about what you're feeling". This had never been a problem for me before, I'd never seen it be a problem in others, so I was curious what the hell it meant in this context. Turns out in practice, it means that there are bad consequences to having emotional responses to things... and telling the truth becomes risky, so of course we *say* you're supposed to tell the truth.

What this reminds me of the most, is back in elementary school when the adults would say out loud, "Are you being bullied? Come to us, tell us what's going on, and we'll fix it for you!". Which was so completely unrealistic, they could have more truthfully said, "Are you being bullied? Figure out how to deal with it on your own, because we really don't want to be bothered with the politics of 8-year-olds."

To my mind, the *real* story about Bill Cosby, is not that he drugged and raped women, or that maybe he didn't. The real story is how many people had his back while he was (allegedly) doing it, and how many people still back him up today. It's rape culture, to be sure, but rape is just a particularly vicious form of bullying.

As hard as it is to talk about "Rape Culture", it's even harder to talk about "Bully Culture". Too bad.
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Not long after I'd moved into this Portland house last year, my girlfriend drove down from Seattle to visit me. She wanted to make it into a driving vactation with her two kids, so they came along as well. And there was a couple of sofas in the living room for them to crash on.

But that furniture went away, and was replaced by some kind of bench setup.

Then, some time after that, a friend of mine from Seattle came down as part of a conference, and I offered him some crash space. I made up my bed and slept on a sofa, now downstairs.

But that sofa went away too. New projects, less space.

And today I was informed that my time here will end March 1, because there's yet another person who needs a space to stay, and my room is all that's left to offer.

So, as much as I hate to be asked to leave (yet another place) and move (one more time)....

...at least this time I'm not being told it was something I did, or said, or didn't do, or say.

The things I do to stay with this dog! Not that life was any more stable before he entered it!

Current Mood: bitchy bitchy

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Three vaguely related stories have collided to create a perfect storm in my mind.

boingboing.net/2014/10/08/20-meaningful-things-you-can-d.html

This is a thoughtful response to all those glib, shallow checklists that we routinely see in women's lifestyle magazines, designed to let people believe they're actually paying attention to important problems, just before they click the remote to watch the shopping network. It's the first indication I've had that someone out there feels the same way I do about this stuff.

nextbigfuture.com/2014/09/ocean-acification-mitigation-deatils.html

This helps me let go of images of starving polar bears, and let my mind consider the truly epic scary shit. Existential Threat. 30 years ago, I was paying close attention to the threat of nuclear war, it seemed great enough to alter the way I lived my life in response. The implications of Ocean Acidification are truly, deeply, horrifying. And while Nuclear War was something unlikely to happen unless someone had a very bad day, This shit is going to play out whether anyone notices... or not.

www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/scientists-zero-whats-causing-starfish-die-offs/

Starfish Wasting Disease may not have anything to do with global warming. It also may have nothing to do with anything that humans are doing. And yet... It's far more unsettling to me than any Ebola scare. The coastal ecosystem is going to be changing a lot in the next few decades, and it seems doubtful that this is going to be good for humans.















 The storm in my head is still raging, I don't know what to do with this stuff... Yet in the larger sense, it never really died down just because the Berlin Wall came down, from the nuclear nightmare. It just changed. I'm left with a very powerful resolve to make one single change in my life, and that's to become a better politician than I've ever tried to be before.

"politician" in contemporary American colloquial syntax, means someone whose job it is to tactfully ignore you. I'm thinking of it in the older sense, of someone whose  job it is to really *listen*- and then act accordingly, in equal measure. It may not be the best word to describe what I want to be as I grow up, but it works for now, and it gives me something different to think about from starving sea birds, or undersea creatures pulling themselves apart.

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 Yeah, I know, in 1969, I was all of 5 years old, so I don't get to feel any nostalgia. But I grew up in the 70s and 80's and I got a good heady whiff of what the kids back then had been smoking... and I miss it.

Mostly I miss the idea of counter-culture. If you were of voting age when the Vietnam "police action" was going on, you could find a broad consensus the these United States were going in the wrong direction. And there was support and succor to be had among those who agreed with you. These days, (from my limited perspective) the wars in Iraq and Afganistan and again in Iraq, they are something to grumble about. But they're not something to rally around.

Just for fun, let's tally up my 'natural' affinity groups, in no particular order:

Anti-car, pro-bicycle, pro-mass transit, anti-gas subsidy

Boycott Isreal/human rights for Palestine/end the occupation/stop bombing Gaza

Occupy Wall Street/end rent backed securities/jail not bonuses for the BankGangsters

The CopyFight/RIAA vs everyone else. Micropayments. DRM is broken and cannot ever be fixed.

The time bank movement. Local currencies. Bitcoin.

Tarriffs on Natural gas. Stop(regulate!) Fracking. The Pacific Gyre is full of plastic. (and the US is building new plastic production because of cheap natural gas.)

Global Warming. The anthrogenic kind. Science vs denialism.

Autism. Gluten Free. Vaccines. Anti-science vs stupid people.

Hobby Drones for peaceful purposes, end the FAA ban

Athiesm-the happy kind, not the angry kind. Universal Unitarianism, the athiest kind. One can talk science and still claim to have a soul.

Polyamory. Sex Positive culture. Legalize prostitution. Morman Polygamy, Muslim Polygamy, what makes theirs wrong and ours right?(SWINGERS VS POLY: can't we all get along?)

End rape culture. Feminism. Woman's right to choose vs "pro-lifers"

Catholic Church human rights abuses and coverups.

Too many unwanted Pets!

Gee, it sure is a shame that after 60 years of nuclear energy production, the US still doesn't have a civilian waste disposal program in place!

Renewable energy is not exotic energy

Micheal Brown. Fergeson. David Brame. Milton Olin Jr. Police militarization, corruption is out of control. Civil forfeiture needs reform.

We eat too much of the wrong kinds of meat. Factory farming, not so much. Antibiotic use is out of control.

Single Payer Healthcare.

Intersexed babies need a thrid tickybox for the birth certificate, neither male nor female. Stop all genital mutilation. (and lets scale back circumcision while we're at it)

Burning Man needs to sell tickets to named individuals only. Plug and Play camps need to be audited.

Why is "Evidence Based Medicine" even a controversy? How much of medicine could be better handled in terms of hygiene instead of engineering? The science of Medicine is in deep trouble, and I think we're all being used as Guinea pigs in ethically questionable medical experiments.

Something more interesting than the ISS should be happening in space.  I don't like to argue with Ayn Rand's followers about what that should be.

Bipolar is a condition, not an illness. So is being on the autism spectrum. Neurodiversity should be a human right.

.....and I'm out.

How many of these political issues were even on the horizon in 1969? How could one community or movement encompass or address all of these questions?

I have a growing suspicion that-with the exception of the global warming one- all of these are going to be moot points fairly soon.
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Night before last, I went to go see _(Robin Wright at) The Congress_, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Congress_%282013_film%29which turned out to be a film adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's _The Fututolgical Congress_. I didn't catch that angle until the end credits, and somehow that helped everything pop into place.

 Originally I was content to enjoy a quriky, difficult film. But the more I thnk about it, the more I appreciate what they did with the source material.

Here's wikipedia on the novel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Futurological_Congress

It sounds a lot like _The Matrix_, doesn't it? Except where The Matrix is built upon software running on computers, running on hardware controlling human minds, The Congress runs on psychoactive drugs running on human brains still operating in the real world.

All this would have sounded far fetched to me, not that long ago. But a while back, I came into possession of an E-cig setup, and it still had some charge and some juice, and one day on a whim, I took a substantial drag. And I didn't feel anything, so I took another drag. It was unlike any cigarette I'd ever had before. And the effect was subtle enough, I told myself it hadn't worked. Except that 24 hours later, the same time of day, I found myself craving another puff on that E-cig. This wasn't so much a recreational drug as it was a programming device, for programming *ME*.

In 1971, when the Novel was written, Robin Wright was 5 years old. She was 16 years away from making The Princess Bride. The state of computer technology at that time was... primitive. The premise of scanning this actress' performance into a CGI machine was a long ways off, and Lem's book doesn't go anywhere near the first half of the movie.

What so impresses me about the film, is how they re-worked societ mind control in the 70's and played it out into American mind control in the teens. We don't just use drugs to program our minds, we don't just use computers, we use the concept of celebrity itself... and whatever celebrities make themselves available for that purpose.

 When I saw the matrix, I didn't see it really having very much to do with computers at all, they were just a metaphor. The real idea behind it was all about changing the meaning of what we witness, into something more acceptable to those with the power to care.

And in that sense, The Congress gets much closer to the core of what The Matrix was trying to warn us about. How many of us really believe it's possible to do anything to slow or stop anthropogenic climate change?  We may accept what scientists are telling us about what's happening, but there's no one out there with a convincing narrative of how we can alter the way we live on the planet in order to leave the place better than how we found it. So much easier to talk instead of the distractions being put in our path by those getting rich with the way things are.

 I guess I'm too stubborn to accept the logical conclusion here, I should give up and try to live my remaining days in as much dignity as they system will allow me. I'm still hunting for bread-crumbs, clues to what's *really* going on. This movie smells important to me, far beyond its entertainment value.

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