Cosmos Reboot

Cosmos_spacetime_odyssey_titlecardI am enjoying Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot of Cosmos. So far it’s as good as the early 1980’s Sagan original. Popularizing science is a thankless task. Successful stars like Tyson and Sagan will earn nothing but envy and scorn from their peers. They’ll be derided as dilettantes and panderers whoring out science for demeaning public fame and filthy capitalist lucre.  “Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.” Such trollish antics are hardly surprising.  Watching the success of the undeserving drives men (and bitches) mad and academics, despite being a tad smarter than the average bear, are not exempt.

The snarky back-biting of resentful peers is understandable and I’m sure people like Sagan and Tyson eventually come to see it as a laurel. Yes, Cosmos is dumbing down General Relativity, glossing over the fine points of the Standard Model and ignoring many of the complications of DNA/RNA replication but what the Hell do you expect? Nature is a complicated beast and human beings are slightly evolved naked apes. Most of us can barely walk and chew let alone ponder the formal mathematics of renormalization. Cosmos will not to turn people into Nobel candidates but it might teach them enough to think twice about bowing to lunacies like: the Earth is six thousand years old, there was a global flood in recent times, dowsing works, unidentified lights in the sky are alien spaceships, vaccinations cause autism, bigfoot is crapping in backyards, evolution is wrong, global warming is going to kill us all and prophecy is real.

Science is hard on nonsense but only if it engages. The biggest mistake you can make is ceding the battlefield to your enemies. Recently Bill Nye took a lot of heat for debating a creationist. In silly lefty circles talking to these people only elevates them. They felt Nye was making a big mistake by sharing the stage with a young earther, but then lefties have always been more comfortable with outright suppression, libelous slander and five-minute hates. Shut up they explained! Winning an argument on pure intellectual merit reeks of white male privilege and decent liberal airheads just don’t go there. Now I’m more of a crush your enemies, “drive them before you, and hear the lamentations of the women,” type of guy. So I’m glad people like Nye, Tyson and Sagan suit up and slay nitwits.

And, when it came to slaying nitwits, Sagan was in a rarefied class. He debunked Mars facer’s, Velikovsky enthusiasts, UFO fanatics and more with characteristic style. Twenty years later his arguments still hold up. Sagan’s adherence to the skeptic’s creed, it’s not the skeptic’s job to prove an assertion false, it’s the proponent’s job to make its case, infuriated opponents and delighted “drive them before you” hard-asses like myself. This all happened before the Internet was widely available so I didn’t see how deeply Sagan got under idiot skin until he died in 1996.

By 1996 the web had spread everywhere you could make a phone call. I was using 56K BAUD dial-up then and for someone who started with 300 BAUD acoustic modems it seemed like a golden age. The day that Sagan died I remember thinking “it will be interesting to read the public’s eulogies.”  I logged on expecting human decency only to find, for the first time, Internet trolls. Large numbers of vicious cretins hated Sagan and actively celebrated his death. The morbidly religious imagined a sodomized Sagan roasting in Hell for the crime of atheism while scores of UFO dolts reiterated the very fallacies Sagan had debunked: the feeble-minded love proof by repetition.  I wasn’t shocked, I don’t do shock, but I was surprised. The tone was everything we’ve come to expect and love in modern unhinged troll-dom. I downgraded my already low opinion of mankind.

As nasty as Sagan’s death celebrations were I consoled myself with the fact that we’re not burned alive for entertaining unpopular cosmologies. It wasn’t always so as Cosmos attests. Left unchecked the omnipresent goons among us would love to grind Orwell’s boot in our faces forever.  Part of what holds them at bay is science and its ambassadors like Tyson and Sagan. So thanks Neil, and please continue ignoring your academic trolls.

Faith a guilty pleasure

Faith Korean TV

Faith Korean TV

It’s a quiet Labor Day weekend in the drivel dome [1] and your fearless reporter is a tad bored. I could help with the housework or get out and exercise but I have better things to do. Last night while trolling the intertubes for something to watch on Hulu I came across a transcendentally awesome Korean TV series called Faith.  I know what you’re thinking. I haven’t fallen off the skeptical horse. I’m still the same old judgmental know-it-all bombastic boomer asshole you’ve come to know and love. The series Faith has, as far as I can tell after many long hours of couch research, nothing to do with religious faith. This is one of the many reasons I adore this show.

Faith is basically another Asian martial arts epic. After the demise of the demigod Bruce Lee it’s been mandatory for Asians residing east of Himalayas and south of Siberia to work martial arts into the plot whether it makes any damn sense or not. The Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Vietnamese and other East Asians all follow Bruce’s mandate with various spins. Naturally, the most odious and predictable martial spins come from the mainland Chinese. With few exceptions mainland martial arts goes something like this.

Evil plots are afoot that are threatening the unity of the homeland. Nefarious forces, mostly internal, sometimes external, are plotting to bring down the well-ordered Middle Kingdom. A charismatic badass plans to exploit disunity, dishonor the people and shit all over the ancestors. Something must be done! The ruler, usually a wise emperor, or a really hot empress, tasks some typically reluctant super warrior to off the badass. The super warrior may have ambivalent feelings about the current ruler but never about the homeland. Sure the current ruler is a decadent pussy boy with weak Kung Fu and that’s too bad for him but damn, the country is not going down on my super warrior watch. Predictable mayhem ensues, bodies pile up, evil almost triumphs, gloats too much, and then falls to a combination of super warrior martial arts and old-fashioned hubris. In the end the homeland is saved and the closing credits suggest the super warrior might get some serious tail. I find it interesting that Hollywood is constantly destroying western civilization while mainland Chinese films forcefully reiterate that the homeland will always abide. I think it’s safe to say there hasn’t been an original mainland Chinese martial arts film since Bruce’s glory days.

Thankfully the South Koreans are not like mainland Chinese. Without the burden of an oppressive humorless government forever threatening serious consequences for plot wrong-think South Koreans can show some humor and originality. Faith is an excellent example. We know right away this is not standard martial arts because the bad guys are mainland Chinese threatening to overrun little Korea.  Even odder, our hero and heroine are the oddest of couples. He’s a tall 14th century ultra-ninja-oid that can shoot lightning bolts from his hands while she is a ditsy 21st century plastic surgeon.  It’s your basic boy meets time wormhole meets girl story. Faith only gets better after the hero drags the ditsy surgeon back to the 14th century. The result is a comical, martial arts, chick-flicky, self parodying guilty pleasure.  You can see the cast members thinking WTF between their lines and is there a better endorsement than that?


[1] Analyze the Data not the Drivel is not suitable for succinct self-deprecating self-reference.

Evil Queens are getting Hotter

There’s not a lot of good news out there. Our currencies are being sodomized by economic imbeciles. High unemployment has demoralized the masses and forced lobotomized bureaucrats to get off their entitled asses and redefine it. The suck—oops stock—market has returned SFO for a decade. CO2 levels are rising. The seas are not subsiding; they didn’t get The One’s memo. Goons are getting nukes. Species are going extinct. The freaking LA Kings are two up in the Stanley Cup finals and, Mohammed in a transvestite musical, the Kardashians are still on TV. In this bleak, soul suffocating, Obamalypse we must take solace from any quarter and I’ve found one; evil queens are getting hotter!

Regina

Regina, (Lana Parrilla), Once Upon a Time’s Wicked Queen.

This positive trend surfaced with TV’s Once Upon a Time: a rare, well written, series that ripped familiar fairy tale characters out of children’s books and deposited them in Storybrooke: a small fictional town in Maine. All of our favorite characters are present: Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio, Rumplestiltskin and, outclassing them all, Regina, Snow White’s poison apple wielding nemesis the Wicked Queen played by Lana Parrilla. Regina is no hook nosed NPR feminist hag. This wicked queen is a high-caliber alpha cougar. Frankly, I envy her victims. Please Regina; make me your next man-toy.

An even hotter queen is Ravenna, another incarnation of Snow White’s mortal enemy, from Snow White and the Huntsman. Huntsman is a dark straight up high-tech rendering of Snow White’s tale. The movie is competent but is afraid of veering off well-trodden material. I found it flat and predictable. Great movies astonish, good movies surprise, ordinary movies entertain and bad movies are lauded by liberal film critics.

Ravenna's spa

Ravenna, (Charlize Theron), in her spa.

Huntsman is ordinary but has its charms. The best character is Charlize Theron’s wicked queen Ravenna. Ravenna has an endearing nasty bitch habit. She must periodically slurp up the life force of attractive young women to stay “the fairest of them all.” Think of it as extreme celebrity Botox. You may object to Ravenna’s ravishing methods but you cannot argue with the results. This wicked queen is setting new standards for maximum babe bad.

As a mainly manly man I thank the FSM for Regina and Ravenna. Evil queening: it’s not for obese dykes anymore.