Saturday, October 1, 2016

More Blogging, Less Thinking


This post has an uncertain lifespan. It is not clear if I will keep it online for the long term. I might just let it go out there for a few days, and then pull it back. We will see.

There are a variety of changes around here and they will be reflected in my blog. Those of you who seem to track this blog will notice a difference, and I wanted to both forewarn you and explain things.

The big idea goes something like this.

This blog was created and written in one stage of my life in order to achieve certain goals. For the most part, these goals have been achieved although of course there is much more to do. Although I did not write enough of the two books that are planned, I have certainly written enough to have valid writing samples. With a little luck, these longer term goals, for example, describing the early computer animation community of the 1980s in Los Angeles, will be expanded upon and will eventually make it into print. And hopefully several other themes will also get written, some of them may even get a lot of attention.

But in other ways, the blog has to change. First, the illusion of being self-supporting is not tenable. And it was this illusion that allowed me the freedom to write on certain topics at length. I will still do that from time to time, but not as much as before. Probably, I will be working under even more constrained circumstances. And these circumstances are fair. This is how the government and my peers treat people like me, and only the stupid or the criminally naive do not know it.

I have also had enough evidence from my blog and other communications with peers, that if one thing is clear, people do not respect me. So if they do not respect me, then what do I have to lose by being less tactful. Maybe it will cause them to respect me less. If so, so what?

The results as it applies to this blog is as follows. The posts will probably be shorter, more diverse in topic, less “reasonable” when it comes to strong assertions. It has been said about me that “I do not pull my punches”. What is odd about this is that in fact I do pull my punches, or at least I have in the past. Now, I am more likely to just tell you what I think if I believe that the evidence is obvious, and hope you can follow along.

There is a joke that goes something like “if you are going to tell the truth, you had better be funny, otherwise people will kill you”. I will try to remember this.

Also, when you have nothing to lose, why be tactful? The fact is, there are a lot of things about our society that annoys me. Why not discuss them? The fact is that I have been treated like garbage by my field, and it annoys me. Why not talk about it? What is the downside? Are people going to like me less? I doubt it. My friends already know (mostly) what I think, and the people who are not friends might be surprised by my reality, even in one case shocked, but that is actually something of a compliment for a blog writer.

At one point, I thought that through good work and patience, learning new skills, being polite, etc, I would eventually get some recognition, get some projects, demonstrate my more mature talents and so forth, but that did not work out. Today most of my friends who are successful play the corporate game (probably, in their estimation, to be allowed to keep being successful), so they are not going to help. If, then, as it appears, that whatever I do to fix this will not rely on the good will of my peers, or at least my colleagues if they are not peers, why not tell them what I think?

Hey, maybe it will even help. You never know.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Genocide, Insanity and Kinky Sex in the DC Extended Universe


NB This post is rated X and NSFW for its honest discussion of serveral important topics including what it is Wonder Woman straps on exactly and who it might be for.

Be warned, many pictures will be added to illustrate the ideas here.

Out of a sincere desire to lighten things up here on this blog, we are moving beyond poverty and irretrevable life decisions / mistakes and into a whole new world of splendor and nuance, the pretender to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that sick center of corporate greed, the DC Extended Universe, and examine what it can teach us about our dreadful so-called real world.

Obviously I am in a bad mood, because I just exposed myself to not one, but two Superman movies, Man of Steel (2013) and Batman vs. Superman (2016). The audiences supposedly liked the former and despised the latter, but I like both of them and their director Zack Snyder because both of these films are seriously fucked up, dark and nasty.

Lets get some preliminaries out of the way. It is said that “good visual effects can not save a bad film” and these two movies are case studies of that generalization. There is interesting shit (of a visual effects nature) in both of these films and it basically does not mean squat. They may as well have had Superman and Batman jacking off on screen for all the good it does. Now that I think of it, they may have had the dynamic duo doing just that in anticipation of being frustrated by that fabulous ice goddess and my favorite all-girl-lovin archetype Wonder Woman.

But lets leave the Wonder Gal's sexual preference for later, first lets talk about some serious genocide.

What is the Man of Steel (2013) about? You may think it is the origin story of “Superman” and on one level it is. But because I don't really care for the Superman Mythos, thinking it wildly overrated, perhaps that gave me an advantage over the rest of the audience and I could see it with fresh eyes.

This movie is a seriously sick movie about betrayal and genocide. Oh no, not the stupid, liberal conception of genocide, where they throw that word around every time some homicidal so-called palestinian gets shot for murdering Israel children (Genocide ! They killed our Hamas hero just because he murdered 100 little jewish girls, they are as bad as Hitler!), no we are talking about the real fucking thing.

Billions of people murdered in their sleep. Fields of skulls. Betrayal. Superman is a sick, sick fuck who singlehandedly murders everyone from his planet. What a hero. What a guy. He can now stick it into Lois Lane all night long for our inspirational happy ending.

You mean they made a sequel to this piece of shit?

But I liked the sequel.

This, the most hated movie of 2016, and I really liked it.

Yes Batman vs Superman, what is not to like? I mean, other than Batman and Superman of course, they are pretty fucking dreadful. But Lex Luther, his hot oriental significant other, and Wonder Woman make quite a trio. In fact we could have had two hours of them having kinky sex and that would have been OK by me. And it probably would not have done them any harm either.

Although no reviewer or fan has mentioned this, so far as I know, it is the women of Batman vs Superman who steal this movie.  Even when they do not have a speaking part, they are by far the most interesting characters.  And let there be no doubt why I think so, and please don't hate me, its because they pretty much are all desirable, in one way or another.

But Superman is a stuck up, genocidal, piece of unemotional beefcake and I could not care less. And Batman is a really disturbed murderous vigilante with a thing for bats and babes. Like everyone else in America I wonder if Batman and Superman might not be happier just going at it with each other and stop pretending to like women, but that doesnt happen in this movie.

I like Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luther. He has a great psychotic way of presenting himself and I want to be just like him when I grow up.

And the Wonder Woman is definitely an exotic. Now what ethnic group is that exactly? It doesnt really matter, of course, but its definitely attractive when she takes off her dress and puts on her jock strap for a little gladiator workout with the boys.

Now, of these three, is there any doubt who is on top and who is on bottom?

So there we have it. One movie, a really sick adventure in genocide, and the other some sort of sex and violence fantasy with a great psycho and a hot new lesbian/femdom icon.

Clearly, DC Comics is pulling out all the stops and they have my congratulations..

Man of Steel (2013) on IMDB

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) on IMDB

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Working From My Smartphone Part 5


This is a continuation of a series of posts on the latest economic disaster. You can read part 4 of this series here.

The good news is that the power is on, the water stayed on, the Internet is on.

However, this situation is not sustainable. The problem is, this situation was never sustainable. In fact, the biggest mistake was, in hindsight, to believe that learning new skills, talking to people, doing little projects, and so forth would result in a solution. It hasnt, and it wont.

People's advice is interesting, although not very helpful. Their advice reveals that either they do not know much about my background or, even worse, that they hold me in contempt. I also find it fascinating that people must think that I am stupid, that somehow they can think about this situation for 5 minutes and recommend fabulous financial or career ideas that somehow I have not already thought of.  I have been in this hell for 10 years, friends, whether you noticed or not.

How you can help is not to advise me on things I already know, but on things you know better than anyone. People or startups you think I should work with (and who you introduce me to).  How to get into the right graduate program.  The best way, based on your own personal experience, to start a business in money laundering, international arms sales, or other criminal activity supported by our government policies.  Always based on your own experience, your knowledge, your wisdom, who you know.

I am cleaning the place up, and trying to find a way out. As part of that I am talking to more friends, even though it clearly just exposes me to more criticism, more contempt, and more derision. Probably a few people do actually care, but there is not much that they can do.  Trust me when I say that mere money is not what I am looking for (unless of course you want to give me a lot of money, that might be ok.)

Special thanks to a few friends for their generosity. Extra special thanks to one former employer, who will not be named here, who happens to have had some experience with the system of public assistance in California. He is a wealth of information, none of which you can learn from the Internet.

One advantage of not having power or the internet at home was that it got me out of the house and out into the city, such as it is. I can not tell you how much I hate being isolated here.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hero of the Revolution Chris Wedge and his Adventure in Hollywood


In Hollywood, it is said, people are something that they are not. This is a joke that tries to make fun of the phenomenon that people are working in one area but say that they aspire to be working in another. There are many examples of this in real life, and that is one of the reasons that the joke exists. There are actors, writers, producers, etc, who want to direct. There are many waiters and real estate agents who want to act or write. There are many successful writers who are not satisfied with that and want to also be paid to write, direct and produce their own movies.

On the other hand, the fact is that a small percentage of people do get to achieve their dream. People who come to Los Angeles and work in food service or in computer animation, but actually are able to get acting roles in television and film. People who went to film school and become successful film editors. People who write screenplays for years and work at odd jobs who do become successful, working writers in television or film. Or who work mostly in advertising or trailers and make a good living and who are happy to do so. It certainly beats slinging burgers.

And why not? People are ambitious, people are also talented, and many people are not able to find a situation where they can demonstrate that talent. You must be dedicated, tireless, indefatiguable or you are guaranteed not to succeed. This is why we see so many successful people who are outliers when it comes to ambition, only the very ambitious have a chance.

The danger, the classical danger, of course is to know, or not know, when to stop. If Icarus had not flown so high, but stayed at a moderate altitude, then his flight would have been a complete success. When do you stop trying to recreate yourself, and just try to do as well as you can with what you have? If a writer, to write more great screenplays or novels. If an actor, to be a better actor. If an director of animated films, to direct more animated films.

One of the local heroes of the canon and revolution of 3D animation is Chris Wedge, who with his colleagues at Blue Sky in upstate New York, defied the odds and has become a recognzied and accomplished director of 3D animated feature films. Among other films, he has directed the Ice Age films, and he has also been a successful voice actor of many of his characters. But that is not enough, and he wants to direct live action films.

Chris Wedge Publicity Photo from his IMDB Page

The good news is that his first live action film, Monster Trucks (2017), is coming out soon. The bad news is that the studio that financed it has so little faith in it that it is taking a write-off on the film before it even comes out, something that is very unusual, and demonstrates to what extent the studio does not believe in the movie.

I am very proud of Chris for what he has accomplished and hope that this latest adventure will work out for him.

Monster Trucks (2017) on IMDB

Chris Wedge on IMDB

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Concise Discussion of the Role of Our Government in the Economic Distress of Americans


This is an attempt to be as concise as possible about an issue that is very complex.

Probably if you are interested in the history of globalization in economic thought and for some reason could care about what I think on the topic, you should read the more lengthy discourse which can be located here.

For those of you who want the Cliff notes version, read on.

Many people in this country are aware of serious economic distress among some of our citizens, even though the nature of that distress, and the number of people affected, is controversial.

Many of my friends have trouble believing that our politicians and government would knowingly take actions that would damage the economic well being of many Americans, but they should not be so surprised. "The greatest good for the greatest number" is used to justify many policies that are sure to be bad for some people even if they are, hopefully, good for others.

Ultimately, understanding the structural issues of the economy that has been put in place over the last 20 plus years is going to take more time than most people are willing to devote to the topic. Ultimately if you are going to understand the situation, you are going to have to read a lot more than just this post which can at best point you in what is hopefully the right direction..

As I studied the history and theory behind Globalization, several questions presented themselves. If, as it appeared, that these policies resulted in the economic distress of millions of Americans, to what extent did the US Government pursue these policies knowing full well that this was going to destroy the economic well being of millions of Americans?  The second question, presuming that they did know this was going to be one of the likely results, to what extent did the government put in place policies and programs to help these Americans find new ways to make a living and ease the transition? Finally, whatever the answers to the first two questions may be, to what extent would our government expect Americans to benefit from these policies, and who would they benefit?

Each of the following statements could have pages, even volumes, of discussion to support them.

1. The issues around the economic policies that go under the name of “globalization” or “free trade” are not new, but have been discussed and debated since the 19th century by some of the most important economists in the history of political economy, including Ricardo, Hume, and Marx.  It is in fact one of the central issues of political economy of that century.

2. In other words, although the extent of the impact of “globalization” is larger because of new technologies, there is excellent and relevant theoretical work and empirical case studies on the topic and the debate goes back a long way.  Therefore, there is no possible excuse of ignorance.  These policies are alleged to have certain important positive economic effects, but they are also very well known for having certain negative effects as well. 

3. “If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they would still not reach a conclusion”. (Attributed to G. B. Shaw).

4. Although the positive impact of globalization on the world economy is very much debatable, what is not debated are the likely negative, local results. These results include, using my own terminology, first order and second order effects. A first order effect is when an industry goes overseas and people lose employment. A second order effect is when a community suffers because of the lost income of its citizens and the impact on the local businesses, on the lost tax income, and on the social implications of unemployment and its effect on the unemployed and their families.

5. To use one case study, an industry which had spent $500 million a year to get certain services done locally, finds that by spending $450 million overseas, they can get the same work done and save $50 million. This is seen as good because the company has made $50 million more profit, all else being equal. But the community as a whole now has much more unemployment, and the local community no longer has that $500 million circulating.

6. Therefore, whether or not the company is more profitable, it is very arguable that our society as a whole is certainly not better off. But whether you agree with this or not, it is hard to disagree that these policies were as certain as one can be in economics to cause hardship for those who are to be unemployed and the communities they live in. Although one might not be able to predict exactly which industries and communities will be hit the hardest, one can certainly predict that many will be and in fact you may be able to predict very well which ones and to what extent with a little study.

7. But if the company is more profitable, don't we all benefit? No, because in this country, most of the wealth is owned by few of the people. We have all heard different numbers, but for the sake of discussion I am going to use a more moderate estimate, and say that 75% of the wealth is owned by 10% of the population. Therefore, any benefit of this policy will go to the 10% or so that already owns the wealth, and none of the benefit will accrue to the local community, or people, workers, etc.

8, So the first question is answered. The US Government supported and enabled a structural transformation to the economy which was known to (extremely likely to) economically disadvantage workers and their communities in our country. Maybe not all workers and communities, but certainly many of them.

9. The situation is made worse by other government policies as well. I will mention three. The first is that the H2B visa program is famous throughout the world as being used by companies to help them take work from local communities and outsource/offshore the work to other countries. The second is that the US Government has failed to use its power to counteract various subsidies put in place by other countries to benefit certain industries at the expense of the American industry and its workers. The third is that the US Government deliberately and explicitly does not measure real unemployment in this country and disingenuously therefore discusses unemployment in terms that they know understate the real situation.

10. Finally, given that the US Government knew the likely effect of their policies, what steps have they taken to retrain the worker into new industries, and to support them and their families while they go through this wrenching dislocation. The answer to that is also clear and unambiguous, we have done nothing to support these people. Not one thing.

Therefore, did the US Government pursue economic policies that were as certain as one can be about such things to cause great economic hardship to working Americans? Yes. Did they do anything to help ameliorate or compensate those workers for the hardship they experienced and are still experiencing? No. And one more question, were the beneficiaries of these policies guaranteed to be people who were already wealthy? Yes.

There is another side to this story, which has to do with the economic theory of growth in a globalized economy. By no means is this theory universally accepted, but even if it was it says nothing about the people whose livelihoods were destroyed by these policies, and this negative impact of the policies are extremely well understood and predictable.

A proper post on this topic should contain at least one page of references to supporting documentation, and maybe that will be added later.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Oh Oh, What if People Really Did Read My Blog?


One more time I have some evidence that people I know actually do, from time to time, read my blog. God only knows why they do this, and who they all are, but its completely frightening to think that people might actually read what I say here.

On the other hand, most of the people who read this blog probably are friends, or at least acquaintances, and in general, my friends are very smart people, even if we do disagree from time to time, or even if people have been known to jump to conclusions or misunderstand something I say.

It is true however, that since I come from a writing tradition that is very, very different from today's marketing oriented culture, and since I am known to be colorful and dramatic from time to time, people could get the wrong impression.  So I want to take this moment to ask everyone who reads this blog to recall that while I am trying to be helpful here, I am also trying to be entertaining.  So don't take anything too seriously except perhaps metaphorically.

Metaphorically, you can take pretty much anything I say at face value.  If that makes any sense, which I don't think it does.

Anecdotes From Public Support in the State of California


One of my favorite moments in my little research project to see if the state provides any support for the poor is as follows.

After three weeks and no less than 10 visits to the local San Diego N. County social services center, I was told by a functionary that even though all forms had been filled out as required many days ago, that no decision had been reached.  I informed her that I was now out of food (this was clear from the beginning) and could anything be done.  She said no, but she did prepare a series of documents to show me where I could go to a homeless shelter.  (I thought this was interesting as I had not indicted that I was homeless, but she must have assumed that I was. Possibly she was just trying to be helpful in any way she could given that she was powerless to make the system work as it was supposed to).

Well I turned on the charm, by which I mean, I demanded to see a supervisor, waited another two hours, and did talk to a very nice and overwhelmed man who after about 45 minutes of intense work was able to get the program approved.  It turns out that there were further delays, but by mid-afternoon of the next day everything was resolved.

But the fun part was I mentioned to the functionary that I was writing up a document describing what public services are actually available and what is involved in getting them (listen to my words: you can not get this information from the Internet or from anything they publish....).

So I told her I was writing a document that was a result of my research, so that people could actually know what was available and how long it would take, etc.

And she looked at me with contempt and pity and said "Whatever keeps you busy".  In other words, I was completely worthless, and nothing I did or could do would be of value to anyone.

This is how the state treats poor people, in case you wanted to know, which I doubt.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Working From My Smartphone Part 4 (Infrastructure without Power)


This is a continuation of Working From my Smartphone Part 3.

3:36 pm Monday 9/19/2016

One additional note, there should probably be a second cooler/ice chest so that the food can be better organized. Also, one should have a half dozen or so plastic/whatever containers with watertight lid for such things as potato salad, soups, etc that need to be cooled and should not be allowed to tip over and spill over everything.  There are in general not many shelves in most ice chests.

10:00 PM Sunday 9/18/2016

This post reviews some issues in the general area of "strategies for sustainability".  Obviously no one wants to "fall of the edge" and be a burden to one's friends.  So there are various approaches to avoid this, but it is difficult to discuss for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that each subtopic is itself complicated. All I can do is to bring up a few issues that are simple enough to post here and discuss some progress and potential partial solutions.

An example of a "small problem" is preparing for and managing being off the power grid. Two examples of larger problems that are not so tractable are (a) making enough income to be self supporting and (b) understanding exactly where the power is going and what it costs given that the price fluctuates wildly day to day and possibly hour to hour.

On the topic of managing being without power, this recent situation demonstrated that we had actually prepared to some extent.  I want to review here what worked and what could be better.

The following worked fairly well.  Battery powered lighting was adequate. Smartphone provided excellent communications and at a reasonable price ($40/month) given that I get email, voice telephony, texting, Facebook and mobile web browsing.  I was able to recharge the phone locally by using the car battery accessory port. The local library provides excellent access to the internet with real keyboards and screens a few minute drive from here for zero cost and in a pleasant environment. It is available basically during business hours 7 days a week.  For two dollars worth of ice (two 10 lb ice bricks), I have been able to keep cool that subset of food that requires a cool temperature, and one can easily eat without cooking if one wants to (at least for a while).

We also got lucky in that when the power is turned off, the gas is not, although I doubt this happens because the energy company is being generous. But the end result is that as long as your water is on, one can have hot water for showers.

Things that can be improved for modest cost include (a) more portable lighting, possibly with solar recharge, (b) longer smartphone life with an external battery which itself may be charged with a portable solar device, (c) an emergency radio of some sort for additional communications and entertainment, (d) possibly a camp stove to heat food and boil water, and (e) possibly a bicycle to be able to get to the local library without having a car.

I have reviewed the camp stoves, and the low cost option is the Coleman 2 burner Triton for $40.00 and the much better Camp Chef 2 burner Everest for approximately $100.00.

In compliance with our government's efforts to destroy employment in this country and impoverish Americans, both stoves are made in China, and may even, according to one source, actually be made in one factory over there.  Apparently this is one of the reasons that the Camp Chef stove is available for $30 less from a Chinese company, they just stole the design and made additional copies at that same Chinese factory.  Now that is the kind of ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that our Government can support!

But the unexpected benefit of not having power was the increased necessity to get out of the house and out into the community.  I miss that already.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Working From My Smartphone Part 3


This is a continuation of "Working from my Smartphone Part 2" which you can find here.

2:36 pm Saturday

With the help of friends, I have been able to get the utilities restarted.  I have mixed feelings about this, and believe that extreme measures are necessary to prepare or to prevent this from happening again.  Or to create a lifestyle that more accurately reflects my means.

At the very least I am researching public assistance, and it is definitely a mixed bag. Do not assume you know *anything* about it unless you have gone through it yourself.

I do have a backup plan for about one year from now, and it requires considerable effort and expense now if I want to be living in that plan a year from now.  More about this later.

The following is on my list for improving my preparedness for being treated like garbage by the power and water utilities (in America, you either have money or you can go fuck yourself).  Most of this is also useful for car camping / burning man like activities, and has been on the list for a while.

A. Improved or enhanced battery powered lighting
B. Extended battery pack for smartphone
C. Camping stove with propane canisters
D. Battery powered radio / short wave / emergency bands
E. Possibly a keyboard / dock for the smartphone or maybe a tablet/laptop with better battery life
F. Possibly some sort of solar power to recharge battery for smartphone
G. Some sort of online, measureable power distribution control to keep a tight handle on power
usage when the power is on.

5:47 pm Saturday

I am now leaving the house for the first time since I returned last night and repowered the estate.  I do not understand why I can not find  a powerstrip that measures current on each plug, aggregates results, and makes it available on my local internet or wifi.

I have unplugged the refridgerator, washing machine and dryer.

I am determinedly working my way through the detritus here to make it easier to move.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Working From My Smartphone Part 2


This is a continuation of my post located Working From My Smartphone Part 1. This post will be updated many times in the next few days.

Friday 3:44 PM

At least one friend has misunderstood something I said.  Although I am interested in living off the main power, because it is too expensive, that does not mean that I want to live off the grid. I want internet access.  I want to interact with more people, not less.  I hate being a hermit, I have hated it for years. Internet access is not the same as visiting friends down at the neighborhood cafĂ©.

Friday 4:20 PM

My little experiment on using minimal medication is working well.  The idea is that if I can get the medication use down even more, then not only do I save money but it makes things like trips to China much more possible.  It requires my maintaining a Zen like attitude of acceptance which is not all that easy for me, to say the least.  I have noticed that a minimum dose of medication helps a lot to avoid the normal panic attacks (that come from such things as anxiety about money).  In other words, a minimum dose is clearly much better than none at all, even if the small dose means that I am still exhibiting rampant ADD/ADHD symptoms.  What was I talking about again?

OK, I am going home to look for my missing power supply for the external disk enclosure so I can get my resume off the main disk of my computer. No one in their right mind would ever want to type that resume in from scratch.

By the way, Mercury is very retrograde.

That could explain everything.

More later.