Categories
Movie Reviews

The Interview – Crap with Political Crap

If you haven’t heard of The Interview – you either live in North Korea or you don’t use the internet -either way, the chances are that you aren’t reading this – so, never mind.
the interview
Just in case you fall into some third category – here it is in a nutshell. Seth Rogen and James Franco made a farce film about a pulp entertainment magazine show which lands an interview with Kim Jong Un, the real life North Korean dictator. The CIA enlists them to kill him. Things go awry and gay jokes and anus jokes and sodomy jokes ensue. The film was made through Sony Pictures and as a result – Sony was hacked by real life North Korean hackers who stole tons of valuable data and threatened to blow up any theaters that showed the film because of the portrayal of Kim Jong Un in the film. As a result, major film chains refused to let the movie open on Christmas day and President Obama and many others said that Sony should not bow to the will of dictators and terrorists and so the film was released on Youtube and other sources online and screened in thousands of small theaters nationwide. With all the free press – a great many people who would not have seen this film probably watched it and many who would have watched it probably did not. And that’s the background on this. I watched it on YouTube which cost me $5.99 and robbed me of the chance to see a bunch of gray hairs being offended as Seth Rogen shoved a giant silver phallus in his rectum. More spoilers will follow so if that isn’t something you want to see – dont read on.

The only thing really political about this film was the real life drama that surrounded it’s release. Mostly it’s just a bunch of fart, shit, gay, penis jokes disguised as a buddy film. If you are looking for substance – you won’t find it. If you are looking for intellectual satire, you won’t find it. If you are looking for plot – you better look elsewhere. If you are looking for smart, edgy, funny, or thought provoking – it’s not there. If you are looking for Franco to hint at being gay, Eminem to come out of the closet, or Rogen to shove a bloody silver phallus up his anus – this is your film. There was some nudity, but none of it worthwhile – though the Korean party girls in bikinis were a momentary treat. The jokes didn’t really work in almost every case.

The violence was needless and way over the top with blood spattering worthy of a zombie flick but without the enjoyment of watching a zombie bite the dust.

The only good part about this movie was actor Randall Park’s portrayal of Kim Jong Un. Park brings multiple dimensions to a character that the world knows little to nothing about – a character that is real! A person who controls the fate of an entire nation and has his finger on a nuclear button. Park’s portrayal was sympathetic at times, crazy spoiled at times, and downright scary at times. This, if anything, is the value of the film and the reason why the film struck a nerve with North Korea. I’d like to see Park in a biopic about Kim Jong Un. A serious film. But that wasn’t what this was.

Ultimately, if the North Koreans had succeeded in suppressing this film – it probably would have been doing a favor to the people who ultimately went to theaters to see it. I saw some of them walking out of a Christmas Day screening and frankly, none of them looked like they were happy about paying ticket prices to see this crap.

Categories
Outer Space

The Dominant Life Form in the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots | Motherboard

This is disturbing…and yet, it makes sense. Certainly the dominant lifeform is not human – at least I hope not.

singularity

If and when we finally encounter aliens, they probably won’t look like little green men, or spiny insectoids. It’s likely they won’t be biological creatures at all, but rather, advanced robots that outstrip our intelligence in every conceivable way. While scores of philosophers, scientists and futurists have prophesied the rise of artificial intelligence and the impending singularity, most have restricted their predictions to Earth. Fewer thinkers—outside the realm of science fiction, that is—have considered the notion that artificial intelligence is already out there, and has been for eons.

Susan Schneider, a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, is one who has. She joins a handful of astronomers, including Seth Shostak, director of NASA’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, program, NASA Astrobiologist Paul Davies, and Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology Stephen Dick in espousing the view that the dominant intelligence in the cosmos is probably artificial. In her paper “Alien Minds,” written for a forthcoming NASA publication, Schneider describes why alien life forms are likely to be synthetic, and how such creatures might think.

“Most people have an iconic idea of aliens as these biological creatures, but that doesn’t make any sense from a timescale argument,” Shostak told me. “I’ve bet dozens of astronomers coffee that if we pick up an alien signal, it’ll be artificial life.”

With the latest updates from NASA’s Kepler mission showing potentially habitable worlds strewn across the galaxy, it’s becoming harder and harder to assert that we’re alone in the universe. And if and when we do encounter intelligent life forms, we’ll want to communicate with them, which means we’ll need some basis for understanding their cognition. But for the vast majority of astrobiologists who study single-celled life, alien intelligence isn’t on the radar.

“If you asked me to bring together a panel of folks who have given the subject much thought, I would be hard pressed,” said Shostak. “Some think about communication strategies, of course. But few consider the nature of alien intelligence.”

Schneider’s paper is among the first to tackle the subject.

Full Article – The Dominant Life Form in the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots | Motherboard.

Categories
Alternative Medicine America

Obesity and Master Cleansing

Here’s something interesting – since coming to the USA I’ve gained nearly 30 pounds. That’s in 1 year and 7 months – I went to the doctor the other day and she informed me that I was officially obese. It wasn’t really a surprise – I’d felt the change in the way my clothes felt, my body felt, and my face and belly looked in the mirror. I’d mentioned it to my wife several times “I think I’m getting fat” and like a good husband she would insist “Ridiculous, so and so is fat and you aren’t anywhere near that guy – you’re not fat” It felt nice, but I knew the truth deep down under my new layer of blubber – I was fat. I was obese.

Lots of things contributed to my new found obesity. American food for one – in Morocco and Turkey we were eating fresh vegetables, a fair amount of chicken, and sometimes some lamb or beef. The vegetables in the USA just don’t have the same satisfaction as those in Europe, Asia, Africa or even Hawaii- I’ve noticed that we eat more and don’t feel satisfied. I suspect that’s because of genetic modifications and chemical additives in processed foods – mind you, we don’t eat a lot of processed food. Our USA diet consists of vegetables, a lot of chicken, and sometimes beef or lamb – but also we will sometimes have Macaroni and Cheese or frozen pizza – we are far from fast food junkies but we do sometimes grab a burger and fries or hit taco bell if we are out of town (there’s not one here in Reedsport)…I really think that the additives in those portions of processed food have been affecting us on a cellular level. Then there are portion sizes – food in the USA is just bigger – all the way around it’s bigger. And then there is dessert – in Morocco – ice cream was a treat, cookies were for special occaisions and there just wasn’t all that much candy around – I’ve got a sweet tooth, I always have. In Morocco I would sometimes buy a bag of candy and gobble it all down in a sitting – I’ve done that here too, but there has really been something different about it.

Then there is movement – we didn’t have a car in the other places we lived…here, in the USA, you have to have a car unless you live in an urban area which we don’t. We no longer walk – not even the walks to the Souk – part of it is that there really isn’t very much interesting to see here – I have to admit, we moved to a boring little town and everytime I take a walk I run into the town scumbags. We have bikes but the same thing applies – last time I took a bike ride I made it about two blocks before having a confrontation with annoying little shitheads in the park – you may remember that story. And – we have opened a business which requires me to sit around most of the time – I earn our living either working on the computer or selling things from our shop. It was funny – in this past year when I would start an excercise routine or a change of diet – something would come along and siderail it – I suppose that’s normal when you have a wife and young child – but it wasn’t just that – I was on a nice running regimen and injured my ankle – that healed and I began a morning run on the beach (which I had to drive to) where the sand was mellower on my ankles and knees and then our car died (and we didn’t have the cashola to fix it). I started waking up early to do yoga but the earlier I woke up the earlier my daughter woke up and she wouldn’t let me do the downward dog (or anythng else). I know excuses – the currency of fat people, the lament of the obese.

So there it is – I became fat because I became undisciplined in my portions, diet, and excercise. Time for a reset. My reset is a 10-day master cleanse lemonade detox diet.

I’m on Day 6 right now. I’ve done the master cleanse several times before – the first time it was perhaps the hardest thing I’d ever done. For those who don’t know here is the skinny on this –

Over the course of 10 days you eat no food. You can drink as much water as you want and have approx 6 cups of lemonade made with 2 tbsp fresh organic lemon juice, 2 tbsp organic grade B maples syrup, 1/10th tsp of cayenne pepper, and pure water. So, I haven’t eaten in six days.

The second time I did the master cleanse I was in University working on a heavy course load and I have to admit – when I’m fasting I have a much higher level of clarity than when I am not. That fast was difficult but not as hard as the first time. I lived alone and was single and emptied my cupboards and fridge before I did the fast. That was back in 2008.

I’ve tried a couple of master cleanse fasts since then – but living abroad I had a hard time finding maple syrup of the right quality – shortly after moving to the USA I attempted a master cleanse and failed – it just wasn’t going to happen – my wife and I were both going through our own versions of culture shock and my head just couldn’t stick with it.

This time though – the house is full of food, my wife and daughter are eating their meals, and here’s the thing – I haven’t eaten in six days but for some reason this is easy. I wonder if my body is just feeding on my blubber and that’s why I don’t feel sharp hunger pains, psychologically it’s easy too – maybe because of that visit to the doctor, that moment of realizing I had just crossed the line into the land of my countrymen, the nation of the obese. I don’t know.

I do know that this is my reset button. At the end of this fast I will no longer be obese (actually, even as I write this I’ve gone back to not obese – I’ve lost over ten pounds in six days) but as with all crash diets – that weight will easily come back if I don’t change the way I do things. So, I’m going to change a few things…

After this master cleanse I am going to regulate my portions more closely, I will avoid sweets and processed foods (most of the time), and most importantly I am going to make excercise an essential on a daily basis. I want to feel good and to live an enjoyable life – that’s hard enough to do without being obese. Don’t you think?

Categories
Book Reviews Books and Writers

Shantaram – A Book I was Meant to Read

I want to tell you a story –

A little more than a decade ago, I was a tanned beach boy living in Hawaii. I met a tourist girl and she was looking for an island romance so she invited me to dinner. I wanted to sleep with her – I thought – so I accepted her invitation. In those days I was desperate for intimacy but I was under the mistaken impression that meaningless uncommittal sex and intimacy could be the same thing. I was finding a good bit of the former and very little of the latter – to some extent because often when I would find the latter – I would push the former onto it and likewise I missed a good bit of the former by burdening it with the latter.

What I truly sought was spiritual, emotional, and intellectual intimacy but I kept messing it up with sexual intimacy. This isn’t a story of that – it’s just the oppossite. This particular girl was on vacation and she wanted a no strings attached sexual romp but I screwed that up – over dinner I dove into deeper and heavier subjects- loosened with a few drinks I waxed philosophical/spiritual – she had a deeper nature which she didn’t want to share – I dug and pushed and finally exasperated she suggested a moonlit walk down a deserted beach – the perfect last night in Hawaii for her and now I realize she wanted nothing more than to make love on the beach before getting on a plane and going back to her real life. She had opened up to me too much though and I found myself more excited to learn from her spiritual and philosophical insights than to kiss her delicioius lips.

I think she gave up and we sat under a coconut tree in the moonlight talking until it was time to go. I invited her to my apartment but by this point, I had gone too far in finding out who she really was for her to let me see her being someone she really wasn’t. And the next day we left – and we never met again. I don’t remember her name and she most likely doesn’t remember mine. I don’t even remember all that we talked about – but I remember her saying she had started to read a book in Hawaii and was so captivated by the opening paragraph that she had committed it to memory.

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized somehow, through the screaming in my mind that even in that shackled bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them.”

It impacted me as well, but to be honest, I didn’t remember the quote or the name of the book, but only the spirit of the quote – so – later, when she was gone with no contact information and I was looking for the book that had so affected her – I was unable to find it. Instead, more than a decade later – the book found me. My aunt, the one who has given me so much thought and spirit provoking literature through the years handed me the book with several others and without comment. It was a large book – nearly a thousand pages and with a 2-year old and the struggle to make ends meet in our new home country – the USA (my old home country, by the way) – I didn’t touch it for more than a year – finally, looking for something to read I picked it up and flicked to the first page and there it was – those words – those powerful, important words.

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized somehow, through the screaming in my mind that even in that shackled bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them.”

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is a roller coaster of a book filled with hard won wisdom and insight from a man who has led a life that most people only think happens in movies – not heart warming movies, but powerful movies. This is a novel but there is more truth to it than most novels can claim. Like the protaganist, Roberts escaped prison in Australia and fled to India where he worked with the Bombay mafia and eventually was caught and returned to prison where he served out his sentence and wrote Shantaram.

I am grateful to that girl for priming my brain with his words, grateful to my aunt for delivering the book, and grateful to the universe for finding the right time to deliver it. There was so much in this book that spoke to me – not just the opening line and the theme of forgiveness but also the theme of redemption and the idea that sometimes we can do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason. I could go on – but I won’t. I only recommend that you read it.

Here is a link to get Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

shantaram

Note: I intentionally wrote the above without having read any reviews or looked at the author’s website or even to have read more about the author than his dust jacket bio – now I’ve done a bit of digging. It’s astounding how many people HATE this book – but they have some valid points – none the less – the book is too long, the characters are mostly one dimensional, and there are some serioius prose problems. The biggest reason why most of them seem to hate it though is because of Roberts himself and how he wrote this work of fiction as a way of aggrandizing himself with an alternate fictional history – I make no beef with the valid points – but I only want to add – this is a work of fiction, not a biography. As such, I think it paints those themes of redemption and forgiveness beautifully. I would not want to live the life of Roberts nor the life of his character Lin. I still think the book is a worthy read.