Saturday, February 27, 2016

Shall We All Return The "Occupied Territories" ?

I have to concede to the far-left and academic politically correct pundits at least one thing.  I do not know any other group that combines totally sincere and heartfelt ignorance with absolute and unthinking arrogance. I am not sure if it qualifies as hypocrisy when one is so ignorant as to not even be aware of what they are saying and how it could easily apply to them, only more so, but whether it is true hypocrisy or just seeming hypocrisy, they have it in spades.

They say that Israel should "return the occupied territories" which, depending on who you are talking to can mean one of several things.  But it probably refers to territory that was occupied by Israel outside the 1967 borders when in 1973 various neighbors attacked Israel and tried to kill everyone.  But they failed and Israel ended up (very controversially) with a variety of contested territories.

I am not going to pass judgement on what Israel should or should not do without much more research and at least one site visit.  But I have no trouble observing just how self-serving and hypocritical those who tell Israel what to do here really are.

Let's review a few examples of "occupied territories".

1. Are you from Australia and you criticize Israel on this topic?  Please have the decency to first return the occupied territories to the indigenous people of Australia that you stole them from.

A review of the occupied territories of Australia and who they were stolen from

2. Are you from Great Britain?  How dare you criticize another nation given your amazing history and the current occupation of Northern Ireland?

3. Are you from or living in the United States?  We have occupied territories here on so many different levels, it might make one laugh if it were at all funny.  The USA was involved in a war with Mexico and claimed as a result Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.  Then of course there is the whole story of California. Puerto Rico?  Guantanamo?  Hawaii?  Guam?

4. Are you from Colorado? The Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenme, Ute, Shoshone and Pueblo people would like it back, if that is all right with you.

5. Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia?  Return the occupied territories.

6. Perhaps the Japanese will want to return Hokkaido to the Ainu?

7. Perhaps the People's Republic of China would like to free Tibet or Uigher?

8. Perhaps the Turks would like to stop their war against the Kurds and allow a free Kurdistan to come into existence?

9. Perhaps Russia would like to return great chunks of Siberia to their indigenous people?

And on and on.

Whether Israel should or should not return the West Bank is debatable.  But before you go around telling other countries what to do, I think it would reasonable to expect you to clean up your own act first.


Ainu People on Wikipedia

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Why I Always Say Nice Things About My Clients

Could it be that American business is so terrified of having their crimes exposed that they would refuse to hire someone who wrote a blog?

A highly respected colleague from long ago who will remain nameless here has advised me to be aware that by writing a blog I have condemned myself to a life of poverty. There is absolutely no way, he avers, that any *real* company could take the chance that their dirty laundry would appear one day in my blog, there for all to see, exposed naked as it were to the whole world.

How very, very pathetic. How sad that a hypothetical business that would be terrified of a little blog, or even worse, that people would go around and live their lives scared that they might say something that would offend the corporation.

Sorry, but I just don't buy it.  I refuse to believe that companies and people are so terrified of a little blog. I sincerely hope my friend is wrong.

But they really have nothing to worry about on my account.  Assuming that they have paid me and people are not jerking each other around, I am incredibly discreet.

Here is some of my philosophy on the subject.

1. I believe in the “mutual appreciation society”. That means that I say good things about you and you say good things about me. It cuts both ways and it is to everyone's advantage.

2. In general, nothing bad about someone is put in writing (and email is writing).  

3. I sincerely adore my clients for the most part and want them to think that hiring me is one of the best things they have ever done. Therefore I do everything in my power to help them be successful and obviously dissing them in public would not be helpful.

4. In the long run, I believe that we live in a very small world, and whenever possible I try to remember this and say nice things. I may not be perfect, no one or company is perfect, and I try not to spread malicious gossip or be the subject of same.  Of course this can be difficult to do in this world given the tendency of people to say nasty things about each other and nuke their bridges, but I try to take the high road whenever possible and that has been my policy for over 20 years.

5. Finally and perhaps most important, I respect the confidentiality of my sources and when requested I keep sensitive information out of my blog, respect the request to be anonymous, and also respect that some information can only be for background only. Unlike the sensationalist press, we are in this for the long run. Besides lets face reality here, who exactly reads my blog that anyone would care what I published in it anyway?

But one does have to wonder if people are not being a little paranoid here in their concern.

Why are people so worried?

Could it be, could my friend be suggesting, (oh my god) that most companies are cesspools of crime and work every day to violate the law and work with government to hide their misdeeds? That in fact they are guilty of the worst offenses and desperate to keep their vile crimes out of the public eye? Is that what my friend is actually saying?

No, that could not be!  Not in the free market system!  Not in America!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Folklore Motifs and "Mary Sue" in The Force Awakens


NB Of course there are spoilers for The Force Awakens (2016) below.

[Add V. Propp Russian folklore motifs.]

[This post is still being written and may appear somewhat incoherent at times until it settles down]

When the original Star Wars (1977) came out there were a variety of reasons proposed for its amazing success, most of which focused, unfortunately, on the visual effects and the space locale. Those who knew their science fiction, or their comparative religion, knew at once that this was wrong. The real reason for the success was, Gods forbid, the story. The folklore motifs were obvious to even the most dim, which sadly did not include most Hollywood executives who can not read the comics without assistance.

Now that the “The Force Awakes” has done so well and is considered the first real sequel of the series since perhaps Empire Strikes Back (1980), it is reasonable to ask what folklore motifs may exist in the plot. There are at least two obvious motifs that reach out and whack one over the head with a broadsword, if I may say so, and one other motif that is more modern.

[Insert references to Propp's compartive folklore.... ]

The three motifs are “the sword in the stone”, “the kind in the mountain” and the more modern Mary Sue character.

Please excuse the bad image quality.

The light saber is embedded in the snow.  Ren tries to get it using the Force but fails, but suddenly the saber jumps out of the snow and into the hand of Rey who also seems a bit surprised.

In the Sword in the Stone, a pretender to the throne attempts to withdraw a magic sword from a stone in which it has been embedded which will confer the legitimacy of the kingship. It is said that no one will rule the land until the true king appears and withdraws this sword from the stone. In the film, our Darth wannabe, Ren, the very spoiled only child of Han and Leia, in a fight with Finn and Rey in the snow knocks Finn unconscious and the lightsaber embeds in the snow. He uses his force powers to try and withdraw the sword from the snow, but he can not. Then suddenly the sword leaps from the snow and nearly knocks Ren down as it travels to Rey who looks a bit surprised. The sword has chosen Rey. It must be noted here that “rey” is Spanish for “king”. There are of course some links of this motif to the Arthurian legends.

The King on his Mountain?

In the "King in the Mountain" motif, a great king from the past who has disappeared is secretly hidden in a mountain, often with a retinue of armed warriors, and he will return one day to save the country from destruction. Of course at the end of the film, Rey uses the map to travel to an island world where Luke Skywalker has retreated and hands him his old light saber. Will the King return to lead his people to freedom?

But what about modern fiction whether written or broadcast? Are there new classifications? Should we start having a regular addendum to the classic Propp folklore classifications?

If so, one of those classifications might be called "the Mary Sue character".

In fan literature, that is, stories written by non-professionals who are fans of a story or story universe, there is a type of character called a “Mary Sue”.  This character is generally the author of the story him or herself who has inserted herself in the story and exhibits fabulous wish fulfillment characteristics such as, in the classic case, fixing the warp drive, defeating the Klingons and Romulans, and sleeping with either Kirk or Spock or both (hopefully not at the same time, but I could not guarantee that)

It is alledged by some that Rey in The Force Awakens is a Mary Sue character. She comes out of nowhere, she can fly the Millenium Falcon, saves Finn from the monsters, defeats Ren, saves the map, finds Luke Skywalker who is probably her father, and so forth.

I think that Rey is certainly a Mary Sue character although it is not clear if she gets to sleep with Spock.  This topic (whether Rey is a Mary Sue) is very controversial on the Internet.

Of course, being a Mary Sue is not a classic folkloric motif, at least not yet.

But perhaps she will be one day. Perhaps academic folkloric analysis should elevate the Mary Sue motif to the level of "the evil villain stops to describe his vile plot to take over the world" and other standards of the current cinema, such as the fight between giant robots, and recognize that a whole new set of motifs has been created to serve the collective unconsciousness of our folk.


Folklore on Wikipedia

Excalibur in the Sword in the Stone on Wikipedia

The King in the Mountain motif on Wikipedia

Here is an article in Forbes Magazine about the Mary Sue controversy.

Friday, February 12, 2016

On Getting A Security Clearance

A colleague of mine from the old days who, to my amazement, occasionally reads my blog, wanted to make very sure that I knew that there was no way I could ever get a security clearance, not even SECRET.

This disturbed me for reasons that I will explain below, and so I researched the topic to the extent that one can on the Internet, and I am happy to say that he is probably wrong, at least for the reasons that he thought. He might however be right for other reasons and this I will describe below.

You may not consider it interesting to wonder who can and can not get a clearance but I do, even though I have no particular expectation or desire to handle or know classified information. I am, you see, a *fan* of the world of intelligence, I have very little desire to be *in* it. It is a difficult world to be in for reasons we will only touch on here. I much prefer to *speculate* about national security matters than to actually *know* for sure what is going on. Speculation is fun, but actual knowledge implies a very serious responsibility. And the more you are involved the more it will affect your life. 

But if I am to ever work in place like the RAND Corporation again, which is doubtful, one needs to get at least a SECRET clearance, even though you are unlikely to handle SECRET material, and that is how the issue came up. The reasons for this are several, but it is not because one will necessarily be handling SECRET material. In fact, when I worked at RAND in my youth I only once handled SECRET material and that occasion could have been easily avoided. Trust me, it was no big deal. The primary reason for needing a clearance is because you are required to be around people and facility that does or may handle such material, and you need to be able to be in those areas without having an escort by your side at all times. 

So lets get our cards on the table. Some people at RAND thought I did a lot of drugs when I went into computer animation and visual effects. I did not. But I certainly was around quite a few people who did drugs, and I suffered from an undiagnosed disorder which made me appear to the uninitiated as though I was on drugs, i.e. I had severe ADHD which was not being treated. I am not going to go over this in great detail, frankly it bores me, most people already have their minds made up, and most people are not capable of understanding the issues anyway.

But what drugs I did do were minor, and stopped as soon as I got decent medical care, which did not happen in LA, only in NY. IMHO, there is no decent medical care in S. California.

The point is, none of this keeps one from getting a security clearance today. You have to not be doing illegal drugs today, and for several years. And there may be a judgment call here on the part of the investigators about certain aspects of your use at the time. However, there is nothing there that makes me particularly concerned. I used drugs to medicate a medical condition, when it was properly diagnosed and treated, all illegal drugs went away.

But there are other judgment calls that could interfere and I want to mention them to you today.

What they are really looking for with the basic security clearance is a somewhat boring individual who fits in with the system and feels that the system is pretty darn good. If you do not file taxes because you are impoverished, that may not be you. If you think your doctors are only concerned about themselves and money and that the medical system is fundamentally screwed up, that may not be you. If you think that the poor are treated badly in this country and that the legal system and government is designed to exalt the rich and disenfranchise the poor, and that there is gross state-enforced inequality of opportunity, that may not be you.

But the law and regulations on security clearances are not explicit on these points. And theoretically one should not be denied a security clearance for holding a belief that is outside some conservative belief system.

So, am I eligible for a security clearance? Without doubt, I *think* I am. But it is certainly *possible* I could be denied one. It is possible *anyone* could be denied one. And then one would have to appeal.

What would happen if I was suddenly exposed to a classified program that obviously violated the rights of Americans, or violated the law, or was outside the system designed to approve such projects? The answer is that I would work within the system to get such a project changed or terminated. I would not do an unauthorized disclosure under any circumstances. If it were not possible to correct the situation, then I would resign from the project and find something else to do. I think that it is very unlikely that I would ever have to deal with such an issue, however.

To the extent that one can figure out such things by what is published online, I believe that I am eligible for a security clearance.

Besides with the disaster that is or was Ed Snowden, I would think that the whole security clearance system would be up for reconsideration and that they would be much better off with people like me. Just my opinion.

For what that is worth.

Patents and the Poor

I came up with an idea that should be patented. It is not a great idea, in fact it is mostly a humorous idea, but it is certainly a patentable idea. I have searched and, amazingly, no one has patented it yet.

Patents are not what most Americans seem to think a patent is. A patent does not keep anyone from using an idea, the way the stupid and hysterical children of SIGGRAPH seemed to think when PIXAR patented something a few years ago. A patent, at most, allows you to spend a lot of money to try and defend an idea from being used by other people.

But a patent is many other things as well, and one of those things is contributing proof to who had an idea when. If, for example, I had patented my performance animation idea when I had it, rather then just doing demonstrations with it, then when former employees or partners who later claimed I had nothing to do with the idea tried to steal it, they would have had much less success.

But everyone has a different idea of what a patent is for and what it is not for.  Please do not lecture me about it, I have heard quite enough.  I think I know more about it than you do. I already know that without a lot of money you can not defend it. I know that most patents do not make money.  I know all this. Patents are a tool of business, generally very big business.  But it has other purposes as well as long as you are modest in your expectations. And as my readers know, I am a very modest person.  What I am looking for is credibility.

A patent, once accepted, is published for all time. It will be there in several hundred years, and people will know where to look for it.

But a patent costs money, anywhere between $5,000 to $100K depending on how you go about it.  So the poor are just not in the game it would seem.

That is the American Way.

Or is it?  Surely those of us who believe in the "free market" to allocate scarce resources can come up with a better way?  A way to use the otherwise crass invisible hand to create a new, better patent handjob as it were and create a more equitable society?

One thought is to give everyone a coupon for a "patent" that could be traded on the free market and allow those who want to have more than their normally allowed one patent to have as many as they can afford, and yet allow even the most poor to get one patent by right of birth.

I hope you will support this plan for a patent coupon exchange with your elected representative(s) the next time you get together with him, her or it.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

An Example Where the Rich can Help the Poor

If you took the two top Google people and took their combined 70 billion dollars and divided it up among the lowest 50,000,000 of our roughly 300,000,000 people, that would come out to roughly 1,400 $US per person. Now to someone who is destitute, that is a lot of money. And that is just two of the rich people!

What about the top two Google people? What are they left? Well, they may qualify for that $1,400 themselves, so they have nothing to complain about.

Besides, we can throw in free Lithic Fragmentation therapy, so they get two benefits from their otherwise worthless, jet-filled lives.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Delay of No Consequence Due to Worthless Scum

A brief delay will occur while the worker unit attempts to process extraordinary input from various entities, in particular ones that attempt to malign and attack your noble and under-recognized author.

What could motivate these hateful people? Lust for glory? Self aggrandizement? Certainly. But the main motivator is nothing more than the pathetic attempts of lessor mortals trying to justify their own less-than-perfect perception in the face of my superior knowledge. I say this modestly in an effort to help the less-worthy improve, at least to the extent that they can improve.

Oh worthless scum! Have more than one data point before you condemn me to poverty forever! Oh other worthless scum, have some goddamn evidence before accusing me of security-clearance impossibility. How weird these mammals be!

And why am I forced to endure their delusive beliefs? Could it be that I have erred from the correct path? That my self-less attempt to help my friends, colleagues and related institutions have held me up for contempt and led to my victimhood by these sadly deluded swine?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Complete Lack of Reaction to my Campaign Posts (so far)


[update as of 2/2/2016.  We now have two very impressive comments by friends telling me that this endeavor is hopeless and to do something better with my time.  While I do not think that they completely understand my vision (ahem) I am probably going to take their advice. This is bitter tea for me as I have invested a lot into this already. A total waste of my time?]

So based on the reaction I have received so far to my posts on the SIGGRAPH EC, there is absolutely no interest among my friends to support my campaign or to think that this is a good idea shared by many people.

That is actually what I suspected, and what I have thought for a long time.  It fits several potential models of human behavior and while disappointing, none of this is a surprise.  Either people do not give a fuck about the misery of their fellows and what SIGGRAPH does or does not do about it, or people care as long as they do not have to do any work, including commenting on it in any way.

So far I have one friend who encourages me, and one former SIGGRAPH big wig who is very nice and encouraging and who grubs up information for me that is otherwise hidden by the mysterious SIGGRAPH cartel.

The problem is, without support I am not going to do this.  I am tired of being the abused tool of people who want change but dont want to inconvenience themselves to get it.  There are more important things to do in this world.

But this is an early response.  Maybe there are people who are reading my blog who need time to get the word out and generate a response.  If so, do it now, please.

I could not be more cynical about the computer animation community, however.

How could I have fallen in with such a selfish, anti-intellectual and amoral group?

What the fuck was I thinking?

PS You will note that the formatting of this post is different from all other posts, mostly, on this blog.  This is because of an ancient bug in Blogspot which has never been fixed and never will be fixed. I do not have the energy to try and get around it any more.  You will just have to read my blog for its content, if anyone reads my blog at all, and not for the formatting consistency.  I like Blogspot, its free and its useful, but it is far from perfect and issues like this are part and parcel of using it.