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Saturday, December 29, 2018

connecting the dots & the 6 degrees of separation in popular culture

Wikipedia as a source

"Six degrees of separation is the idea that all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 and popularized in an eponymous 1990 play written by John Guare. It is sometimes generalized to the average social distance being logarithmic in the size of the population."

Sometimes when watching movies or television from the 1960s and 1970s you uncover a common practice.  Television series would repeatedly use actors and actresses in different roles where they'd appeared previously in a different role.  If you "binge" watch a series this becomes readily apparent. 

In my experience Hogan's Heroes is by far the worst in this regard, but, I am aware I have not watched a lot of programs where that degree of use is worse.   Also, however much this might seem that I am pooping on the practice, I am not.  I don't assume most people would think it that bad at the time either.  I have seen very famous character actors in uncredited roles, and it makes me smile.

Dick Wilson, also Charmin's Mr. Whipple appeared as a semi regular character, Klink's adjutant officer, Felix Gruber also appeared as numerous variations of members of the underground.

I was watching Dragnet and by an actor's voice knew he'd been behind the voice in a brief cameo in a movie I love, King Kong versus Godzilla.  Rodrigo Infante was tagged!

In tonight's experience I saw an actor, Leonard Stone, in a Dragnet episode, and had other times in the series as well.  His face is very recognizable.   I'd seen him in MASH, in SOYLENT GREEN, in WILLY WONKA, and dozens of episodes of television programs from the day.

I am not saying this all for any desired effect, or any major point to be made.  It is just different than the present in terms of programs I've watched in the last 20 years...

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Boardgame Wars to end all boardgame Wars

With the advent of computer games there was focus upon battles and in fact wars that were the most easily adapted as well as, the ones that the players would pay to play.  This led to somewhat of a lack of games in wars that were nonetheless important to the present world's layout, and political alliances, as well as a vacuum in games about wars that were less dramatic, less exciting in result, than the epic or strategic, decisive conflicts. 

This doesn't mean there shouldn't be games about them.

"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today." David Beatty 1st Earl Beatty

I do not play computer games, or actually, many video games.  The boardgame world that interprets various wars and battles is more complete than the computer or video games in terms of overall attention to the many conflicts of humanity.

"At eleven o’clock this morning came to an end the cruellest and most terrible War that has ever scourged mankind. I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came to an end all wars." David Lloyd George

I was pleasantly surprised to learn of a number of games about the First World War that I had never played, which was a great event that still ripples the pond of the present.  In these three images are boardgames to consider, in each theater, format and alliance.

“Fight on and fly on to the last drop of blood and the last drop of fuel, to the last beat of the heart.”
  Baron Manfred von Richthofen

FROM WIKIPEDIA World War I (WWI or WW1), also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. More than 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians died as a result of the war, a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents' technological and industrial sophistication, and tactical stalemate. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, paving the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved.

The war drew in all the world's economic great powers, assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the United Kingdom, France and the Russian Empire) and the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, and the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria the Central Powers.

"Men, I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die. In the time that it takes us to die, other forces and commanders can come and take our place."  Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Merry Kaiju and a Happy New Year

The 12 Kaiju's of Christmas for me include monsters, guardians, robots, prehistoric beasts and protectors of his people.  These are treasured moments and memories in my life, and I have to say, if you look closely, most of these creatures came about a long time ago.  I am told by my son, who I love, that I am old.  Well perhaps.

But recently, I have great hope.  I've loved movies about the beasts and ideas and genres of my past, but, recently, Pacific Rim, Godzilla 2014, and Kong Skull Island give me as much or more joy as those of my childhood.  And while some people hated, or did not like any of these, I am not saying they are fucking greatest movies in the cinematic history of mankind.  Movies by Tim Burton, Akira Kurosawa, Fritz Lang, Ridley Scott, and precious few directors don't just appear out of the blue.  We have to enjoy some movies for what they are, others for what they did with what they were, and enjoy those few gems we have a chance to see. 

Tim Burton once referred to Godzilla Versus King Kong as a cathartic experience, or even, a joyful experience to his sensitivities as a child.  I so agree.

And while it happens that not every movie that gets a series continues to be great, I like the movies I've seen recently and have great vast expectations for the future.


Monday, December 17, 2018

The World of Animation

I get asked quite often what Netflix series I watch and particularly, what anime series I like. I don't watch anything on television I don't get cable and don't have good reception on broadcast, so I watch cooking shows and documentaries on Youtube. But I have liked some animated series. I am not able to watch some shows I'd otherwise watch, but Netflix and HBO and the sort, not really my thing.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Art and the propaganda to build a new society

“All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescabably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.”  Upton Sinclair 

Art is a means of expression.  Creative ways of presentation can draw new ideas, and new perspectives.   Or art can serve the corporate state and allow and encourage the state to dictate values, ideas, and desires, or more, create a new version of the history of that state.  Beyond that, the corporate state can cause a false memory to grow.

“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” Adolf Hitler

Human minds wander, gathering recollections and beliefs, and a disciplined presentation of a certain few points can cause the mind of an individual to believe in, but actually remember falsehood.

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”  George Orwell

Not every piece of propaganda by a state is wrong, necessarily, but causing people to believe in space exploration isn't an enormous or great thing. Most consider exploration and space to be a fine thing.  But add space exploration which is a far off desire to that of the presentation that the state can only grow and serve more people if you accept its version of reality, means, getting people to agree that space exploration is great is not the point, but, the concept is, only by following the Soviet leadership can we achieve this great goal.  Of course we think the environment deserves saving, we only have one planet.  But, saying such through the auspices of the Soviet state means, only by supporting the state can we save the planet.

The Soviet Union was not, necessarily aimed at evil goals.  The rise of the collective state is meant, at least in the theoretical, to be a beneficial spreading of the resources to all the people, rather than to the wealthy, the elite or the powerful.  In practice we know that the truth was quite different.  The state served the political elite.  Does that mean we should declare all of the state bad?  In this case, we should at the very least recognize that the corporate state killed anyone who disagreed with it.  It starved 5-8 million Ukranians who refused to go along with farm collectivism.

You might rightly think that one failed experiment doesn't remove the rightness of the goal.  But in practice collectivism does not work.  It hasn't worked.  The small European states that had a working socialist model had a small population, a generally ethnically similar population, and most of these efforts ended up failing.  Cherry picking the results leads to a overly bright view of collectivism.

"Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both."  Martin Luther King, Jr.

I might here be accused of suggesting I think Communism is evil. I think how it was practiced was evil.  Do I throw in Socialism with the Communist failures?  No, but, I think we have ignored the mass insanity it often requires to make it work.  If you tore the theories apart as people tear apart capitalism, you might end up thinking nothing works.  And the truth is, there are reasons why capitalism works that are often ignored.  Did the US grow economically due to pure capitalism?  No.  It grew upon the backs of tobacco and cotton farmers and the availability of cheap, indeed, even slave labor.  If you think slavery would have been removed if it wasn't a waning economic boon, well, you need to reassess your view.

But maybe, if it makes you feel better, I should be seen as thinking economics are rarely moral agents.  Distribution of wealth often follows how much or little the citizens desire wealth.  My values are not conducive to being a participant in any society.  And if you suggest I deserve to starve or not thrive as a result?  Ok.  I think humans have systems that require exploitation, wherever monetary wealth is concerned.

“There is nothing in the record of the past two years when both Houses of Congress have been controlled by the Republican Party which can lead any person to believe that those promises will be fulfilled in the future. They follow the Hitler line - no matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as truth.” John F. Kennedy

Art that expands the state and the corporate state's ideology serves a master that we should be wary of, and distrust the message.

“It is possible to argue that the really influential book is not that which converts ten millions of casual readers, but rather that which converts the very few who, at any given moment, succeed in seizing power. Marx and Sorel have been influential in the modern world, not so much because they were best-sellers (Sorel in particular was not at all a widely read author), but because among their few readers were two men, called respectively Lenin and Mussolini.”  Aldous Huxley