Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Short Update

 There was a time when it would have been unimaginable for me not to regularly post something to this blog. I can't readily describe how overwhelming it was at times to get something written. But for whatever reason I have lost the “passion” for this endeavor that I once possessed.

Yes, part of the reason is my ongoing heart issues, but I would be lying if I wrote that was my only concern. But first an update from my last post.

On November 3rd I had a cardiac ablation performed to rid me of the atrial fibrillation that had been troubling me on an off since February of last year. The results were quite positive at first, especially since I had the procedure performed here in Columbia, and not down in Charleston. Not going to say anything bad about the medical staff here in Columbia, but you can read between the lines.

Unfortunately, my troubles returned on November 22nd with my heart going into atrial flutter. The cardiac rhythm is still good, except that my atrium is throwing in extra beats ahead of the ventricles. I am more than slightly irritated over this but I can only really blame my underlying genetic defect.

I have an appointment to talk about this development down in Charleston scheduled for January 6th.

The second, and probably greater reason for me more or less ending my blog deals with my lack of faith in American society.

It was my hope that with the defeat of Trump his spell over a large share of the country would be broken. His inaction and incompetence on the handling of the pandemic alone should have been enough to consign him, his family, and underlings to the trashcan of history. Hell, I was somehow convinced that the Orange Buffoon would soon be indited on various criminal charges after leaving office.

As it stands now Trump is on the verge of running for president again in 2024 with a better than average chance of winning the election. I feel President Biden is doing an overall good job but optically he appears to be barely controlling anything. The various new strains of Covid still running wild and the disruption of the global supply chain makes him look bad.

Making matters worse, Vice President Harris has under performed in her role in both being a messenger for the administration and, if reports are correct, carrying out the daily duties of her job. A recent news item, NOT from Fox News, says she is not reading the daily intelligence reports both her and POTUS need to keep up with the international situation.

The failure of our political system is only the tip of the dirty iceberg.

While it may not be nationwide since South Carolina continues to be its own bizarre little kingdom, there is an underlying rage in certain people that is both disgusting and severely dangerous. The possibility of a Second American Civil War and all the death and destruction it would cause is something certain individuals are looking forward to with outright glee. Yes, I have directly heard certain individuals talking about how they know people who belong to militia groups and how they are “chomping at the bit” to settle some scores. These same individuals, while not directly connected to any militia groups, do harbor sentiment that says they wouldn't bothered with society being reset to the norms they enjoyed in previous decades.

I have also seen black flags flying from the back of a few He-man, redneck pickups sporting Trump bumper stickers. The purpose of these black flags is supposedly a sign that when the “boogaloo” begins these people will give no quarter nor mercy to their perceived enemies. Their enemies being anyone they feel is a communist, socialist, liberal, or even an enemy of Christ. It still puzzles me how anyone can say they are a Christian but yet supports the regular Republican agenda of endless money for wars and tax cuts for the rich. All the while any mention of providing universal healthcare, public college for all, or even rebuilding infrastructure is called a socialistic waste of tax dollars. Needless to say I have less than an iota of respect for anyone claiming to be a Christian but supports Trump.

Naturally, I have not communicated with anyone flying black flags from the back of their truck but my information on what they mean is good enough to risk an assumption. I'm not foolish enough to seek confirmation that expose me to their wrath if and when violence erupts.

That last sentence pretty much sums up my feelings. The American nation is dangerously polarized with a huge chunk of the population ready to spill the blood of their fellow countrymen and women.

I don't know if this will be my last post. Yeah, my attitude right now sucks but I am truly looking for anything that might give me some hope for the future. I wish everyone good luck and hope 2022 is a turning point for us all.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Massive Cardiac Suckage


More news on the cardiac front for me. For those unlucky enough to stumble upon this post for the first time back on August 1st 2018 my heart suddenly went into ventricular tachycardia launching me into a cardiac adventure that didn't end until December of that same year. Unfortunately, I didn't come away free and clean. Turns out I possess a genetic defect that prevents my heart cells from producing, or correctly producing, a protein vital for proper function.

Four cardiac ablations, two different types of pacemakers, and a whole spectrum of different medicines later I have fought this condition to a standstill. That is until February of 2020 when I started being plagued with atrial fibrillation, or A-Fib for short.

Now A-Fib isn't as dangerous as tachycardia, and as one of my doctors likes to tell me people actually “live” with it to the degree it's effecting me. But A-Fib sucks high balls, especially since I live in a place that is hot and humid for a larger portion of the year as compared to being cool and pleasant. Besides sucking the energy to do any activity from my body, A-Fib would also send it into full-fledged flop sweats. So much that a few people actually stopped me in the hallways or my work and ask if I was okay.

Well, back in April I had a simple procedure called a cardioversion where my Columbia-based doctor shocked my defective heart out of A-Fib. It worked, at the time, and I felt great and went about my business. That is until the middle of July went my goddamned heart casually went back into A-Fib. Being deep into the summer at the time, at first I just thought the heat and humidity were taking its toll. That is until the first of August when the dipshit asshole- and I truly mean that- scheduler for my cardiologist in Columbia called to tell me that the doctor really wanted to see me “as soon as possible” but that his first available appointment wasn't until the end of that month.

“Huh...wait, what?” I said only thinking that my appointment with that specific doctor wasn't supposed to happen until the middle of October. The scheduler, being a dipshit asshole quickly cut the call leaving me wondering what the hell was going on. So I called back the next day with the intention of getting an appointment with the cardiologist's physician assistant or nurse practitioner, someone who I'm on better terms with than the Columbia cardiologist.

No, the scheduler went full prissy asshole acting like my request was done just to shit in his morning cornflakes. Still feeling like shit and wanting some answers before the end of August I make another phone call to the Advanced Heart Failure Clinic, a separate practice in the same location, and still got nowhere.

So instead I called the cardiologist down in Charleston and got an appointment just a week later. The Charleston cardiologist didn't waste time and promptly ordered another cardioversion that day upon seeing me. It was quite the surprise actually since I expected him to just kick the can down the road.

I was A-Fib free until September 8th went my heart again casually went back into it. Now I'm looking at a cardiac ablation, my fifth, scheduled for November 3rd here in Columbia. I'd rather have it with the Charleston cardiologist but it's easier on my family to have it here and from all my best information ablations of A-Fib are for more simple than the ones for ventricular tachycardia.

So if anyone out there was wondering what happened to me I simply didn't have the energy to try and dazzle you with my brilliance, or more accurately baffle you with my bullshit.

I'm still going to work during the week and performing the absolutely minimum in outside chores. That latter part isn't affected by the A-Fib, I just don't give much of a rip about the yard work.

As for the November 3rd ablation, hopefully the Columbia-based cardiologist will nail down the bad spots in my heart the first time. He screwed up on the first ablation back in August 2018 and his three others didn't relieve me of the tachycardia. It took the Charleston cardiologist to nail down the life threatening spot on my heart.

Unfortunately, my genetic condition means my heart will continue to be a dick for the rest of my life. Meaning I will continue to live under the threat of things like A-Fib and tachycardia as well as Cardiomyopathy. At least I have health insurance and access to several top notch doctors down in Charleston.

Yes, a heart transplant is a possibility but I don't want to think about that until I absolutely must.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Sum of All My Fears


At the start of the 2000s and the 2010s some assholes published books saying that those decades would bring unprecedented prosperity for the United States. Well we know how those years went but while browsing Amazon recently yet another dumbass has published a book saying the 2020s will see the United States return to its winning ways.

Yeah, as you can imagine given recent events and circumstances things are still highly fucked. What's worse is that all signs and portents suggest nothing will get better for a while. Just for shits and giggles here's my take on the years between now and 2028.

I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

Early 2022: The Orange Buffoon declares he is again running for president. His “Big Lie” is front and center in his campaign saying he was cheated in 2020 and will return to the White House to make America great again. Despite talk of his popularity waning among certain circles, his base begins to herald his return like the Second Coming of Jesus.

All possible Republican presidential hopefuls quickly go out of their way to announce their support for his 2024 run.

2022: Being that the out of the White House party almost always makes significant gains during midterm elections, I see the Republicans taking control of both the House and the Senate. Despite threats of immediately impeaching President Biden and Vice President Harris upon taking control of congress, I believe the Republicans instead will just spend the next two years throwing the government into gridlock. The Republican media propaganda outlets will blame the resulting gridlock on Biden/Harris to pave the way for Trump's 2024 campaign.

If any Supreme Court justices happen to die or retire after the midterms, Mitch McConnell will refuse to allow President Biden to pick a replacement. At that point I don't even believe McConnell will attempt to justify his refusal to confirm a new justice.

2023: This year will be a wild card. Should unexpected events favor Biden/Harris their chances at reelection will be helped. The state of the economy and foreign affairs will depend greatly on whether or not Biden/Harris has any chance. The Republicans will certainly make an issue of Biden's competence and any misstatement or mistake on his part will be amplified and repeated by the media until independents are convinced he can't handle the job. Vice President Harris will certainly be the subject of a smear campaign to paint her as a radical socialist.

The real question is whether the Republicans will go so radical to secure their insane base they will alienate the fairly moderate suburban women.

Expect Russia to launch a massive interference campaign so huge it will make the 2016 interference look insignificant.

The final wild card that could happen anytime between now and 2024 is whether or not Trump and his family members are ever criminally indicted. If the Orange Buffoon and any family members are indicted with such evidence as to make conviction a real possibility, Trump will cut a deal so fast that I wouldn't put it past him to do anything from voluntarily fleeing the country to turning on the Republican party.

Got to admit, I had come to believe that Trump would have been long since indicted on something by now.

2024: If the country remains locked in economic stagnation and/or stuck in some form of Covid quagmire Trump will return to the White House. Trump's earlier disasters will be carefully swept under the rug with his propaganda emphasizing his “success” of managing the economy. Americans don't have the attention span of gnats but in general do have about the same level of intelligence.

It can't be understated the level of revenge Trump supporters have simmering over what the consider was the stolen 2020 election. On the other hand Democrats as sure to be fighting among themselves with progressive most likely whining about how they are ignored and should break off to form their own party.

While it was only whispered about on radical right-wing websites and chat rooms, I see a real possibility of Republican brownshirts groups forming to prevent certain people from voting. During the 2020 election I saw numerous examples of Trump supporters in massive pickup trucks with huge flags flying behind them cruising around polling places. On the surface it would be easy just to say they were peaceably showing their support. But a person would be a fool not to think these activities could easily turn into intimidation tactics.

This will go along with voter suppression laws being enacted by Republicans.

I'd like to think that Democrats might take back at least one house of Congress to counterbalance a new Trump Administration. More than likely that's wishful thinking on my part.

With this being Trump's second rodeo, he will go straight to picking corrupt and unqualified members for his cabinet. I predict his Vice President will be Nikki Haley. Although, Trump will keep pushing Ivanka Trump into staged government activities to build her credibility for a presidential run. For years Ivanka has openly expressed an desire to be the first female president. What friction this might create between his vice president and his unofficial but preferred successor will be interesting.

2025: In 2020, Trump sincerely believe he had the Supreme Court in his back pocket and that they would side with him on the election cases brought before them. Since they didn't, I see a huge possibility that Trump will pack the Supreme Court with up to five extra justices. All certified toadies that will do whatever he demands.

I genuinely believe McConnell would go along with packing the Court. His reasoning being that since the Democrats talked about it after the 2020 election, he would do it. Yes, McConnell will still be alive and running the United States Senate. Remember, Strom Thurmond was kept in office even years after the old bastard couldn't put a five word sentence together. With Mitch they would go as far as inventing a portable life support system to keep him in the senate. If he does die, there are plenty of sycophant replacement available.

I easily expect quick Supreme Court decisions that will promote a genuine authoritarian/police state takeover of the United States. While this is going on the military will be purged of officers whose loyalty is to the Constitution.

2026: By this time I expect considerable civil unrest in certain American cities with Republican brownshirts and actual cops shooting African-American men and women. Trump will stoke these racial fires resulting in rioting that he will crack down on with heavy force. I actually see Democratic-lead cities being taken under federal control.

The 2026 midterms will essentially be meaningless. Popular Democrats that could challenge Republicans in most any office will be accused of something illegal disqualifying them from office. Economic data coming from the government will be fixed to express whatever Trump wants. Whether or not Trump has taken control of the independent news media is an open question. If not, his brownshirts will certainly be used to scare journalists into submission.

2027: By this point the very seams of the country will be coming apart with separatists movements taking shape certainly in California and the Pacific Northwest. Especially if Trump refuses to release FEMA disaster funds until those governors grovel at his feet or change policy. What makes this particularly dangerous is that states like California pay out more money to the federal government than they take in. Whereas most red states receive more federal money that they pay in taxes.

2028: Trump being an unhealthy old man has to die sometime. But if the bastard makes it to this year he can't run for reelection, or at least that what the Twenty-Second Amendment says. Should he reach this point I can easily see him trying to push the idea that he “deserves another term.” The members of his cult will certainly agree and punish anyone who opposes the idea.

Should Trump die during this term how his vice president deals with his politically ambitious family and the Republican party as a whole will be interesting.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

A Bad Case of Disillusionment


Got to admit, I'm dealing with a pretty big wave of disillusionment with the nature and behavior of the United States. No, this state of mind was not brought on by the Orange Buffoon, although he is more of a symptom of how things have gone wrong. No, I do not consider Joe Biden a failure, but events do seem to have moved faster than his administration has been able to anticipate. Long story short, things are still going to shit and I coming to think there is nothing the sane and rational people can do.

My one real criticism of President Biden is that he seems to be trying to play the normal game of American politics while Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican power structure have gone full kleptocracy/Authoritarian dictatorship. Giving the Son of a Bitch McConnell his due, the bastard has played corrupt politics like a master. All the while mouthing off asinine statements about everyone needing to respect the rules of the senate with a straight face.

If history ever needs a face to identify the individual who did the most to destroy the United States it will be Mitch McConnell. But I honestly can't say McConnell is the only reason for my disillusionment.

The majority of the people on the right of the American political spectrum are simply insane. Listing all the ways those people have lost their minds would take too long and I simply don't have the energy to rant about it anymore. Here's where I would normally say that I know there are good people on the right. But while they are out there, their numbers are vanishingly small to the point of insignificance.

My one sentence explanation for this situation is that right-wingers have become addicted to fear. They fear the “other” and want desperately a return to a white dominated America. They'll betray every facet of American ideals and principles to see that happen.

But never fear, the left of American politics is as usual lost and without a true game plan. To a far lesser extent, they are just as beholding to their money masters and their own antiquated behaviors. But given how American politics are run, they are the only reasonably sane people in the game.

Most of all, the young people of the country, those that will need to find the strength and knowledge to fix the problems seem adrift. From what I read, many have given up and surrendered figuring they will never be able to own a home, raise a family under the same conditions as their parents, or even retire.

Still rambling here but in a way I think the overall problem can be summed up in that the complexities of life in the twenty-first century have outpaced the intelligence of the general American public. We do not have the education, the energy, nor the ethics anymore to answer to the challenges we face as a nation.

I hope I'm wrong but as of right now and the foreseeable future I think we're massively screwed.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Backdoor to a Dystopian Nightmare


Way back in the early 1980's I remember watching Carl Sagan giving a hypothetical lecture on the nature of other intelligent species. Several of the illustrations he used on that episode were like cheat cards or cliff notes on various aspects that made up those hypothetical aliens and the nature of their civilizations.

Most of the made up “facts” on these cliff notes dealt with the chemical, biological, and physical nature of those species. For example one of Carl's fictional species were “electrovores” implying that they consumed electricity to sustain life. I can't describe how that concept blew my little mind, and still does. These cliff notes were included in the companion book to the series and if you have a copy of Sagan's Cosmos they're still fascinating even today.

Now Carl included a cliff note on humanity, listing the same information on it as the others. And like the others there was a short segment giving some details on our civilization. Mainly that the species was divided up into over two-hundred political entities, six global powers. In this same section it was mentioned that cultural and technological homogeniety was underway. In other words, the “intelligent” species of the planet was undergoing a type of global unification.

On a side note, in the same section our chances for long-term survival were also mentioned at less that fifty-percent per hundred years. Given the nature of the Cold War at the time and Carl's fixation on it as a threat, there was only the smallest mention of the destruction of the planet's biodiversity or climate change.

In the last few years my attention has drifted back to the homogeniety of our civilization. Forgive the implied American imperialism, but for years I didn't have a problem with the world more or less unifying into something like a United States of Earth. That is, a loose global federation made up of self governing political entities whose underlying framework revolved around democrat values and egalitarian principles.

My vague notions of global unification were essentially the ideals of a center-left vision of no person or group having a codified or economic advantage over anyone else. Inequality would exist with some being richer and some being poorer, but that the national and global institutions would attempt to referee the playing field and work to give a hand-up to those born disadvantaged.

Of course, the Cold War ended with a total crash and burn for the only other economic system that seemed a viable alternative to the wrestling tag team duo of democracy and capitalism. Okay, let me go ahead and clearly say I am not here to praise communism, it's dead and has dissolved into a stinky dust.

On the other hand in the years since the end of the Cold War, the tag team duo of democracy and capitalism has broken up with the latter now a legitimate threat to the former. It's a problem all over the world but particularly here in the United States the amount of money in a person's bank account generally means he or she are more equal than another with less money.

The situation has gotten so bad some of these rich folks openly talk about having more votes for elections than us common folks because they have more invested in society. Then there is this Republican/Libertarian fixation that corporations should be considered “people.” From what I learned that only was suppose to mean that they could be sued in court, not hold some position of power in society or representation in government.

This brings me to a concept that I had long since recognized but didn't have a solid idea about until I discovered a book by the British cultural theorist, Mark Fisher. Fisher had coined the term“Capitalist Realism” defining it as the widespread belief that capitalism is not only the only viable political and economic system but that it also now impossible to imagine a viable alternative. That since the fall of the Soviet Union this lack of an alternative to capitalism has a set a limit to political and social life with the effects reaching into education, mental health, and even pop culture and methods of resistance.

So you might be thinking just what does this all mean and how did the collapse of a discredited and evil system like communism screw over the liberal democratic world?

Well, it should be easy to realize that economic inequality all over the world, but especially here in the United States has grown considerably since the end of the Cold War. That this ties in nicely with the collapse of the labor movement here in the United States. Labor unions being the one strong and dependable counterweight to the power and influence of the rich elites who all always looking for ways to increase profit, even at the expense of the dignity and lives of their workers. 

With capitalism looking like the only viable alternative anything that even slightly differentiates from philosophy of increasing profits begins to smell like communism. Remember folks, good old capitalism of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth didn't have a problem with sending kids younger than ten years-old into dangerous factories and mines.

I think maybe the most insidious thing about Capitalist Realism is its effect on pop culture. Going real loosey-goosey here but since we've been left with no real alternative everything in our society seems to be viewed in a monetary value. Fisher writes:

Capitalist realism as I understand it ... is more like a pervasive atmosphere, conditioning not only the production of culture but also the regulation of work and education, and acting as a kind of invisible barrier constraining thought and action.

My takeaway being that as long as you can make a buck off something it's not only a worthy project but an admirable one. Take this idea to the extreme and I can see the justification of everything from driving up the price of insulin to outrageous prices and no-talent skanky publicity sluts making their fortunes selling sex tapes. (The Kardashians are the biggest but there have been others.)

The penultimate and most dangerous result has to be the belief that the government can be run like a business. That the privatization of essential government services can be beneficial saving the ever precious taxpayer from the burdens of having a decent society. Because of this mindset we now have for profit prisons where it can be argued that we have backdoored a return of slavery. Yes, the inmates have committed crimes against society but to use them in commercial ventures that make millions in profits for stockholders and CEO's is just “slavery with extra steps” to use a term from a recent television show I like.

In the long run the United States may have defeated the existential danger of Marxist-Leninist communism, but the price for the win was the soul of our society. Another way to look at this is that we have bought our way into a real dystopia. 



Monday, September 6, 2021

You Can't Fix this Level of Stupid


We are so doomed!!!!




 In all the annals of stupid that I have been exposed it was this week that I saw something so strange that it defied all my expectations. I stumbled upon the meme to your left accidentally as I was wasting time at home watching the grass and weeds in my yard grow. See the fun part is seeing my neighbors drive by and give me dirty looks for not having a seamless carpet of deep green in my front yard.

After discovering this meme, I was enthralled at the interlocking levels of stunning stupidity and brazen incomprehension that one person can possibly endure and still be able to remember to breathe. I say that because Jesse here is legitimately saying that he could do the following:

  1. That he could force his way into an international airport with just a good old American AR-15 while carrying his sick son.

  2. That they could then force their way onto a fully fueled plane with a pilot.

  3. That this pilot would then fly across the Atlantic Ocean and land in Italy.

  4. Then Jesse would fight his way off the plane, with his son and then to a hospital.

Those were just the most basic steps since anyone who has read something more that the infantile propagandize drivel of your average conspiracy-plagued Fox News host knows you can't readily hijack a plane like you might a car driving down a deserted street. Now I'm sure in Jesse's armchair commando mind he's probably recruited a number of like-minded individuals all armed themselves to carry off his plan. Hell with a big enough circle lunatic friends he may even have a pilot friend or two.

Still though, Jesse's statement was so bleeding stupid I have heard five-year old kids who still believe in Santa say things more rational. After my initial discover I looked Jesse up on Twitter. It's almost like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingram made the nasty and the child they created was exponentially more crazy than them both.

Enough of the stupid, lets now explore the incomprehension. Jesse here is proposing that he would marshal all his God-given American manhood and using his AR-15 force his way to Italy so his child could be saved by socialized medicine. Yes, good folks whether Jesse know it or not Italy, along with all other Western nations, has some form of evil, communistic, socialized medicine. While the United States is still mired to privatized medical system where insurance companies decided whether or not your family will go bankrupt due to a sick family member. Remember Sarah Palin and the evil of rationed health care she talked about during her bizarre time as the Republican vice president nominee?

Rationed health care has existed for as long as insurance companies and many times they have allowed darling grandmothers to die because of some cost/benefit analysis.

So this begs the question, instead of attempting an improbable hijacking wouldn't it be better to just work together and bring some form of socialized medicine here to this country? 

 Unrelated to Jesse, here's some more stupid. This good American is praying to Donald Trump to save him from the police. This country is doomed, get out if you can!


Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Paradox of the McMansion Versus the Tiny House


Few things signify the gross excess and outright waste of our current society like the modern suburban home. There are entire industries catering to the American middle class desire to own the biggest house possible along with a yard that usually must look like a miniature copy of an aristocratic English estate. The only purpose for this waste of resources and abuse of the land is for a shallow pursuit of status among equally superficial individuals.

The term “McMansion” was in fact coined to signify a house considered ostentatious and lacking in architectural integrity. The lack of architectural integrity coming from the addition of secondary spaces that are essentially empty voids, internal areas of the house that serve no purpose other that an attempt at decoration. The best example off the top of my head would be a house I saw once with a foyer that had twelve foot ceilings. Right next the ceiling were three windows that had absolutely no useful purpose. Yes, they let in extra sunlight but with the ceilings in the rest of the house the normal distance from the floor the “grand foyer” as the homeowner described that space was utterly ridiculous to me.

The same goes for another McMansion I visited once during a pool party my family had been invited. The party had already started by the time I arrived with my wife talking to the hostess and my son playing in the pool with other kids. The husband of the hostess came over and greeted me and for some reason ushered me up to the master bathroom so I could change. Yeah, everything about that house screamed useless space designed to give the impression of a grand palace from the outside and inflate the importance of the owners inside. But it was the master bathroom that defied normal standards. The total square-footage of the bathroom was easily greater that my living room. Now it did have and oversized bathtub and a extra-large shower stall, and of course a toilet but the overall floor space was ridiculous.

It has been my observations that these McMansions tend to breed a contempt in their occupants towards anyone else not perceived to be of equal status. My recent post about the utter panic that erupted in local McMansion dwellers around me about the proposal to build affordable Section Eight housing in the general area shows how much humanity has to be surrendered just to protect things like a “grand foyer” and a master bathroom larger than living room.

It's a given that one of the worst problems we have here in the United States is the lack of affordable housing. Billions of dollars are spent annually to build these suburban McMansions and other houses that sit just under this definition. But actual homes that the poor can afford, allowing them to break the cycle of poverty, are exceedingly rare jewels. Such people are supposed to hide away in Sections Eight apartments deep inside the darker corners of cities whose only real purpose to allow rich developers to get even richer off government subsidies.

Even when something like Sections Eight housing is available, there are still legions of homeless men, women, and families floating around our streets like human flotsam in a vast ocean of apathy.

Here's where my bewilderment at our stunted society reaches critical mass. A type of residence that has become popular among some people are called “Tiny Homes.” These structures have an internal space ranging from one-hundred square feet to around four-hundred. But they can still provide the comforts of larger homes like full or even queen-size beds, a bathroom, along with a kitchen and living room.

While houses greater than four-hundred square feet don't technically fit the description as a tiny home, going up to eight-hundred square feet to accommodate families don't break the spirit of the idea.

Here's part of the problem as to why we're not solving the affordable housing problem by building whole villages of these tiny homes.

First is the obvious zoning issues, especially when upper scale neighborhoods just happen to be relatively nearby. The right-wing, self-righteous zealots in my area lost their tiny minds at the idea of affordable housing in the form of apartments being built. I can only imagine what they would think if a subdivision or two made up of Tiny Houses were proposed.

More than likely since Tiny Houses are required to be mounted on wheels, like trailers, they would be equally upset saying such residences draw crime, drops in property values, and overburden already crowded schools. Now it would be great if Tiny Houses could be built on permanent foundations but there are scores of vague regulations that prevent the creation of such villages. I'm sure some of these regulations stifling Tiny House creation have solid, legitimate reasons but I can't help to think some of them exist because typical homes owners fear their property values being hurt. And from my experience absolutely nothing defines the perspective of the vast majority of middle class Americans than how something or someone might hurt the property values of their houses.

Sliding slightly into the metaphysical but McMansions to me violate basic decency and shows an almost malevolent disregard for other human beings and the environment. The amount of resources in lumber and wiring and plumbing used to build such monstrosities could have gone to several much smaller houses. And as for the beautifully green lawns the chemicals used to create and maintain them have severe environmental problems that literally flow all the way down to the ocean.

I love how conservative suburbanites lament about “the good old days” were so much better all the while forgetting that their grandparents homes had a square-footage running around fourteen-hundred square feet at best. Full disclosure here, my current house (money pit) is a hair or two under twenty-one hundred square feet and I pretty much despise it.

Going full metaphysical, along with bleeding heart, high spending liberal. But with millions of folks in America going homeless, I can't help but think that with Tiny Houses we are looking at one facet of a solution for huge chunk of our society's problems. I actually believe we should build entire villages of Tiny Homes and give them away to homeless families, at first, and eventually down to single individuals. Payment for these homes would require troubled individuals to be part of anything and everything from mental health counseling, job training, substance abuse treatment, and basic upkeep of their homes. That failure to actively participate in treatment and training and upkeep would mean eviction.

The problem with my proposal is twofold. First being the mindless conservative reaction at the idea of their precious tax dollars being wasted on some liberal program. These God fearing, gun-toting real Americans have priorities and helping those less fortunate is just socialism.

The second being the mindless liberal reaction that the poor are just victims and shouldn't be expected to focus on their recovery and development. There's a great documentary on YouTube about Seattle's response o the homeless crisis is how it is actually hurting the people they are supposed to be trying to help.

I simply do not believe the conservative conceit that poor folks are lazy, useless parasites looking to suck the life blood out of hardworking folks. Yes, I'm sure on an individual basis such people exist but there isn't any perfect answer when it comes to humans and the institutions they create to help govern society. Personally I'm sick of our society both ignoring our problems and refusing to do anything constructive to help fix things.

One of the reasons I question the very nature of whether or not humans are an intelligent species is our inability, or even desire in many cases, to solve the problems of poverty that has been plaguing us since our ancestors decided to give up the hunter-gathering life.

Poverty breeds suffering for which all the other corrosive agents spring forth to eat away at a functioning society. For me more importantly, Americans disregard for fellow Americans makes everything we say we believe not just a lie, but a dangerous delusion. For if whole poorer segments of our population can be written off as lost causes, there is nothing stopping the rich elites from abandoning the middle class folks if they become inconvenient.

That may have been a little too abstract for some folks so to make it clear, Jeff Bezos and other billionaires don't give a fuck for you suburbanites living in your McMansions. Bezos wants to build space colonies off Earth and every other billionaire and multimillionaire I've ever heard of has a Doomsday plan that at a minimum gets them out of the country should it collapse.

You McMansion folks keep ignoring the growing poverty here in America and one day the angry mobs could be all over your green lawns with torches looking to cook you and your family. All the while Bezos will be in orbit and the other rich folks will be in their luxurious underground bunkers sipping champagne.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Things Never Seem to Change


Usually I have a strong opinion whenever the subject deals with the military or politics. Combine the two and if someone asks me a question on them I can easily give a fairly accurate history lesson on how we got there and how the situation reached its current point.

My one caveat on saying I can give a “fairly accurate history lesson” is that in a country filled with experts on sports statistics and what Hollywood celebrity is sleeping with whom, I excel at knowing the past. I admit that's not hard given the idiocy running rampant among the fat, distracted masses. But by all appearances as common layman go, I'm pretty good if not respectable at understanding just how stupid and self destructive our species can be.

That being said, I'm pretty much at a loss in trying to give an opinion on the final result of the United States involvement in Afghanistan. Was the “war” worth the cost in national cash and lives? Should we have withdrawn earlier say during the last years of the Second Bush Administration or Obama's? And finally, the big question is was President Biden correct in withdrawing troops now?

If the objective of invading Afghanistan in 2001 was weeding out terrorists, then I would say yes. The leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden was being allowed refuge in the country by is Taliban buddies. After the invasion, The Taliban went running for the hills and Al Qaeda was ran out of the country. The fact that Osama slipped out of the country and spent years living in plain sight in Pakistan is a whole other issue.

But as for occupying Afghanistan and spending several trillion dollars on building its military and infrastructure, our involvement was such a catastrophic failure I'm sure it will take decades if not a century to understand its scope.

Here in the United States during all those years on involvement many called for a national health care system, A massive infrastructure project to fix...well everything that has been ignored for decades. It literally pains me to think of the Americans that money could have lifted out of poverty and put on a path to self-sufficiency.

But no, the war hawks and leaders on the right screamed. Such projects here in the United States would be disastrously wasteful, it would be far better to cut taxes and let the poor bootstrap themselves out of poverty. As for the crumbling roads, collapsing bridges, schools that look like ancient ruins, not to mention out of date airports, the rickety electrical grid, and numerous other national embarrassments well, those on the right either want to ignore it or say it can wait.

I don't mean to beat George W. Bush again, but there was no way in Hell he would have pulled out of Afghanistan. That was his one confirmed “win” and with him calling “Mission Accomplished” way too early in Iraq, he wasn't about to screw himself over.

Poor President Obama, I've read enough to suggest he wanted to withdraw the troops but politically it would have been suicide. He was barely able to end our active involvement in Iraq but had to recommit when Isis formed and about took over that country.

So we were stuck in Afghanistan, at least it was a slow bleed. But while most of the American money went to training and arming the Afghan military, some did trickle down to the common folks. Schools were built, roads paved, and a population that was living in the Middle Ages got a glimpse of modern life. There was gross waste and extravagant corruption but I have to believe some Afghans were helped.

So after twenty years President Biden pulls the plug and in less than two weeks the entire country falls apart with the Taliban once again calling the shots. Dammit, I know it was almost a certainty that the Afghan government would fall but to collapse in two weeks is something from a bad international spy thriller.

So was the Afghanistan Conflict worth the money and effort? My gut feeling is no. We did accomplish the initial mission but with the Taliban now back in charge the coming months and years are going to be just as problematic as it was before 9/11.

We did help a lot of common folks but the endemic corruption of the government and large portion of the population eager to remain in the Middle Ages, we only put those who worked with us in mortal danger.

My little essay here isn't meant to be thorough, people smarter than me will be debating this clusterfuck for decades. From the moment Bush gave the order to invade Afghanistan, there were undoubtedly thousands of decisions made that set us on the path we find ourselves now. But given Afghanistan's past history with invaders the end result would have certainly been the same.

Here's some idle speculation, but given the level of untapped resources in Afghanistan and China essentially next door, it will be interesting to see if they can resist falling into that trap.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Section Eight Housing and the Incredible Absence of Integrity


Shock and near panic rippled through my section of Lexington County recently with the news of a Section Eight housing project being built in an area surrounded by upper middle class subdivisions. I learned of the news from the “Nextdoor” social media app, something akin to Facebook but emphasizing local neighborhoods. Two or three years ago my subdivision's Home Owners Association started pushing for all the residents to join so we could communicate faster. Prior to last Tuesday when the Section Eight panic began I strictly limited my participation to receiving email alerts in case something other than asinine bullshit was ever shared.

What I mean by asinine bullshit involved countless garage sale notices, inspirational writings of a religious nature, along with the expected hyper-patriotic posts involving shrill civilians all wanting everyone else to know how much they truly loved America. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing for the most part. You would be a fool to expect a duck not to quack and a cat not to go meow. It's what they do and comfy, fat American civilians who live in McMansions love their miniature English estates and get teary-eyed about a country the vast majority have never lifted a hand to serve in any capacity.

I was already at work Tuesday morning when I started checking my email and saw the fearful subject lines of the disaster that was going to befall on the perfect subdivisions near the purposed housing project. Crime, property devaluation, unruly elements that would make it unsafe for families to walk the streets at night were all common comments by the people up in arms that their area would be saddled with poor folks trying to find a decent place to live.

I'll give a few of the scared locals a little, backhanded credit. Some did couch their complaints in semi-reasonable areas such as the schools are already overcrowded and that local traffic is a damn nightmare. But the area schools have been overcrowded for literally decades with some already pushed beyond capacity the same years that start operation. The summer my daughter's middle school opened for the first time the tar on the roof wasn't even dry and the school district was already buying portable classroom trailers because they had too many students.

Describing the local traffic congestion would have me devolving into fits or rage best left untouched. Just understand it's bad and every addition of a new fast food joint, strip mall, or convenience store/gas station makes everything exponentially worse. Throw in an ambulance trying to save someone's life or a fire truck in route to an emergency and the already slow traffic can come to a confusing, messy stop.

But I'll be sickeningly honest, the majority of people against the section eight housing wrote their comments in such as way that it was painfully clear that they had particular worries about the future residents living in the housing project. I'm sure they had poor redneck white folks at least partially in mind as their fingers danced in fear over the their keyboards. But it was obvious that there was some racial and ethnic fears being stoked by those opposing the project.

Just to make things that more ridiculous, a few even began bringing up conspiracy theories involving the usual suspects on the left. One person wrote about how this was an attempt to change the voting population of the county. That person's point being that the area is so deeply politically red that some nefarious group or individual was trying to throw political blue into the area mix. Another spoke openly of another conspiracy that someone was purposely trying to damage the property values.

Just understand, the sharing of possible conspiracies got deep as the comments began to pile up in number. Not that it surprised me, for a couple of years I had a certain local lawn irrigation company help me with my troublesome sprinkler system, that is until the owner in a offhanded manner back in 2008 said he knew for a fact that Barrack Obama was a Muslim. I may live among the crazy, but I don't have to do business with them.

What actually depressed me though, was the total lack of empathy the vast majority of people writing comments had for anyone they perceived as outside their suburban socioeconomic level. From their point of view, everyone who would be living in the section eight housing would be a drag on the upper middle class area. Now about four or five brave individuals challenged the majority in the comments essentially saying, “poor folks have to live somewhere too.”

That's when the accusations of being a liberal/”libtard”, Marxist, socialists troublemaker began flying. This might make a few people reading this angry but you can't throw a rock in my area without it coming close to numerous upscale churches that in my opinion act more like country clubs and whose parking lots overflow with luxury cars. I scanned pretty hard but failed to find any individual oppose the majority and agree with the section eight housing project on the grounds of the teachings of Jesus Christ. You know, the love thy neighbor angle that was drilled into my head during Sunday School.

The few individuals standing up for the poor were strictly social justice warriors on the secular end of the political spectrum.

The only conclusion I can take away from this disgusting situation is that we have degenerated into tribalism. America and Americans don't really exist in this day and age of paranoia and extreme gaps between the rich and poor. We've long since successfully balkanized the country between the elite rich and those living in abject poverty. But the fractures have spread to the middle class with those living in comfort already turning on those who can't purchase their way into McMansions.

Hey, I don't agree with it but I can understand billionaires or multimillionaires acting like old English aristocrats consisting of dukes, earls, and barons. But it seems clear to me even a lot of middle class folks have an irrational animosity towards poor people.

Affordable low-income housing is difficult to find in the best of times. And while there would be issues with the construction of section eight housing what are poor folks supposed to do? Conveniently retreat deep enough into the shadows of society till they can't be seen by the easily disturbed middle class?

I didn't want to bring myself into this rant but I didn't spend twenty-one years in the army and National Guard to be a part of some bullshit experiment in social Darwinism. I'm no saint, but I have enough of a conscious that I can't ignore those less unfortunate than me. I just there was an easy way for me to flee this chicken shit county. 


 Here's an edited screen shot of one small segment of the comments

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir--A NO SPOILER REVIEW

It goes without saying the movie version of The Martian was a brilliant piece of hard science fiction. I was literally in awe of the actors performance, the real science involved in the story, along with the basic concept of a lone individual marooned on a planet. Because I enjoyed the movie so much I naturally bought the Andy Weir novel which I found surpassed the movie. It was true “hard science fiction” in the sense that there was no magic gadgets that defy known physics used to save the day. Everything in the movie and novel is technologically possible.

Even growing potatoes in martian soil, the only show stopper being the weird type of salt in the martian regolith that Mr. Weir didn't know about when he was writing the book. Called perchlorates, this type of salt would make growing plants in Martian soil difficult, to say the least. But this doesn't derail the use of martian soil as material for growing Earth plants. Such salts could easily be washed out of the soil as it's put into greenhouses.

So when I learned of the basic plot of his latest novel, Project Hail Mary, I was like a kid waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. I ordered the book off Amazon and had a fit when the United States Postal Service failed to deliver it in the required two days. But it did arrive and I have to go ahead and say Project Hail Mary is one of the best science fiction books I have read in my life. Now, understand it's the best science fiction books I've read, but it's not HARD science fiction.

The book opens in more or less in the present day with a probe being sent to Venus and discovering an alien single-cell lifeform reproducing uncontrollably around the sun. Yes, its definitely growing around the sun and causing significant dimming that will plunge the entire Earth into an ice age in thirty years.

This of course sends all rational countries into terror because while the sun will not be extinguished the percentage of dimming will cause massive crop failures resulting in billions dying around the world. Needless to say an ecological collapse will also result in a mass extinction event as well for most plants and animals. So it's the end of the world and no amount of climate denial and anti-science rhetoric will stop the advanced rational nations from a crazy project to try and save it.

Enter the main character Ryland Grace PhD, a humble junior-high school biology teacher who was forced to leave advanced molecular biology research because he wrote a controversial paper proposing that life could exist without using water.

The almighty overlord of project Hail Mary, Eva Stratt picks Grace to study the samples of the lifeform being brought back to Earth. Mainly because everyone was assuming that since the organism was growing on the sun that it couldn't possibly contain water. But also because of the fact that Stratt wanted a competent, but highly replaceable, scientist to look at the organism first. In other words if the organism killed Grace while he was poking it with a stick there was essentially no loss to humanity.

Well Ryland Grace makes significant breakthroughs in classifying the organism he names “Astrophage.” It uses the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of Venus to reproduce then emits huge quantities of light energy to get back to the sun to hang out. Astrophage's ability to emit light as a form of propulsion is discovered by other scientists and they begin figuring out a way to build a sub-light starship using it as fuel.

Why build a starship when Earth is about to become a global icebox? Because every astronomer in the world is looking for the origin of Astrophage and they discover all the local stars in our stellar neighborhood are dimming the same way. The conclusion, Astrophage has infected them all except one, Tau Ceti, a star a little under twelve lightyears away.

Project Hail Mary is an attempt to build a Astrophage-powered starship to reach Tau Ceti and hopefully find out why the single-cell assholes aren't causing it to dim. Dr. Ryland Grace end up on the three person crew of the Hail Mary, who are put into a medically-induced coma for the four-year journey to Ta Ceti. Four year journey, when you said Tau Ceti is twelve lightyears away????

Relativity my friends, old Albert Einstein isn't a character in the book but his ideas about traveling close to the speed of light means our intrepid crew will only experience four years of travel time. Why put them in a medically-induced coma? Because the Hail Mary isn't the spacious Starship Enterprise, the three-person crew would go insane living in such a small container. Plus it saves on the use of food and life support during the voyage. Of course while the crew will only “experience” four years, time dilation means those left on Earth will experience more and with only a total of thirty years left before Earth goes full dead block of ice the possibility of success is remote.

Oh yeah, the crew on the Hail Mary are all on a suicide mission. To save Earth they have to reach Tau Ceti discover why that star isn't dimming. If they find a solution they will launch four small probes back to Earth that will carry the information on how to solve the problem. After that all three have ways to painlessly end their own lives.

It simply wasn't practical to build a starship with enough fuel for a return voyage to Earth.

Needless to say like any battle plan going to shit when opposing forces make actual contact, lots of crazy, scary, unplanned events happen to those aboard the Hail Mary. Small spoiler here but the star 40 Eridani, another in the local neighborhood that is also dimming plays a part in the novel.

Project Hail Mary isn't hard science fiction, but it an excellent novel in its own right. “Astrophage” naturally doesn't exist and along with a few other created elements prevents this novel from being hard science fiction.

Another curious thing about this is book is the seemingly lack of direct American involvement with the Hail Mary Project. That why I said all 'advanced rational nations' at the start of my review. Of course Ryland Grace is American but during the construction of the Hail Mary every major spacefaring nation including the multinational European Space Agency (ESA) seem to have far more involvement than NASA. One example, after the Hail Mary is built and in orbit around the Earth, it is astronauts of the ESA that crew the ship during during testing. The reason why Andy Weir wrote the story that way is unclear.

Personally, the first thought that came to my mind is that I could easily see the antiscience dumbasses here in the United States denying that any problem with Astrophage and the sun existed. I could easily see dozens of right-wing religious extremists and libertarians saying Astrophage was all an evil globalist plot to undermine the United States. Those same individuals say the same thing about climate change, pollution, and numerous other real issues the world and our nation faces.

During the book I began to feel for the character of Ryland Grace and his situation as he attempts to save Earth. His situation gets extremely dire several times with only luck and pure intelligence saving the day. Grace is a true hero but he's no Captain Kirk nor Picard by any means. He has a serious flaws and they are exposed during the course of the novel. But I also felt his excitement as he made numerous discoveries trying to get to the ultimate goal. The fictional Ryland Grace is a twenty-first century man who truly got to voyage, “where no one has gone before.”

I highly recommend Project Hail Mary.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Plundering Around in my Subconscious


Probably best to start this rambling mess of words with a friendly disclaimer.

Just like one of the characters in the movie Inception stated, dreams, at least for me, have no real beginning. The way I remember my dreams is like waking up in the middle of a movie that has been going on for some significant period. I know something in the form of a plot is going on but I have no idea what caused the “characters” to behave the way they do.

Secondly, I absolutely do not believe dreams are supernatural in origin. That means I do not believe dreams are windows to alternate universes nor glimpses of the past or future. And I absolutely do not believe metaphysical beings contact us through dreams.

Dreams are just the unconscious human mind sorting through the bits and pieces of conscious reality and stringing them together. If someone has a dream about their Aunt Sally winning the lotto and that actually happens at some point in the future that was pure chance. For me, deja vu could well just be random pieces of memory that dropped into a dream with that individual experiencing it accidentally repeating those actions in a similar location.

I do believe dreams are elements of a person's psyche and can be related to their fears, hopes, and how they view themselves. Which in my case could mean I'm losing what little piece of my mind that works

With all that out of the way, I had a wild dream recently that I want to relate because it was so weird.

It began with me among an unknown group that I couldn't see nor really hear. All I knew was that they were pissed at me for some reason. I have no idea why they were upset but I understood, at least I think I do, that it involved me personally.

Typical dream stuff that didn't have any real basis in how others see me. Over the next several days, I began to theorize it was just my subconscious playing with my deepest fears. Nothing too awful weird, and given the times we live with economic uncertainty a normal component of life, probably typical.

It was the final segment of the dream that was really different. Don't ask me how I knew the following but I after left behind the unknown group I “bumped” into God.

Now get this, in the dream God was a short, fat white guy. Sort of like Danny Devito, Buddha, and the Boss Hog character from the Dukes of Hazard television show back in the early 1980s. And yes, he was smiling and giving off this feeling of love and warmth that was quite weird for a dream.

Now the really weird part begins, God was wearing a mustard gold Starfleet Command uniform from the original series complete with the flying delta symbol on the upper left of the blouse. My one distinct memory of the dream was being utterly surprised to see God wearing such a costume.

The dream ended right there, or at least that's all I remember. All things considered it was pretty cool and left me with a good feeling for most of that day. Now clearly understand this, I DID NOT have a personal one-on-one encounter with the Almighty. Technically, it's still best to classify me as an agnostic, although I freely say humans don't know as much about the universe nor reality as they think they do. It just takes real, verifiable evidence to prove things exist that would be classified as metaphysical.

Like one character in Star Trek: The Motion Picture stated near the end of the film: “We all create God in our image.” I guess my subconscious wanted to relieve the collected societal pressures in my head and constructed a God I could relate to in the best possible way. What's weird was that my subconscious put God in an Original Series uniform. I relate far more with Star Trek: The Next Generation and I could easily see Sir Patrick Stewart playing God in a movie.

But I can deal with a Danny Devito, Buddha, Boss Hog combination making up a friendly God. Yeah, all that stuff in my head is a mess. Speaking hypothetically, it would be beyond cool if God was a Trekkie.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Addendum for The Tomorrow War


 During my rush to express my general dislike of Chris Pratt I forgot to add some important information about time travel. While the initial sloppy premise of The Tomorrow War was for the world of 2051 to ask for help from our present day world the question of changing future events was always in the background.

Speaking strictly as a curious layman when it comes to the actual implications of traveling backwards in time I believe the scientific consensus is that it isn't possible. We are naturally traveling into the future one second per second and through various means like approaching the speed of light or sitting close to the edge of a black hole “faster” forward time travel is possible.

But every reasonable science article I have read or video I watch says traveling backwards in time is problematic. Without getting deep into the mathematical weeds, which I have no ability to comprehend, I think Einstein's theories say nothing prohibits backwards time travel as far as the universe is concerned but it would take God-like powers.

The key here is that nothing outright forbids backwards time travel so various real and respected scientists have speculated on what would happen if someone or groups began shuffling through the space-time continuum.

Of course the Grandfather Paradox is the favorite with some psychotic moron going back in time to kill his grandfather before his own father was conceived. So if the father was never born how could an insane kid go back and kill his grandfather?

Some have speculated that such actions would create a temporal loop. The kid is born as he is supposed to be, grows up and builds a time machine, then goes back in time shoots his teenage grandfather in the head. Granddaddy never has a son so the kid is never born. Because the kid is never born he never builds a time machine to go back and kill his grandfather. So events proceed as they occurred with the Grandfather having a son who goes one to have a kid of his own. So once again the kid grows up, hates his Grandfather, builds a time machine and travels back to shoot him in the head. This loop presumably would continue for eternity.

Is it just me or does this put a big dent into the idea of free will?

The alternative is that instead of a temporal loop, time has a way to protect itself. Instead of backwards time travel such a homicidal grand kid would instead travel to an alternate universe set in the years during his grandfather's childhood. Killing that person would prevent your counterpart from being born but leave your own universe/timeline untouched. 

Going for shits and giggles here by throwing a hypothetical timey-wimey wrench into the time-space continuum, but what would be really wild is if we could reverse time would be to look at events on a much wider perspective. Instead of focusing our attention just on an insane genius-level kid traveling to the past to murder his teenage grandfather, look at the mundane decisions normal people make during the course of their day during that same period. 

Insane kid keeps a record of what his friends, Tom, Dick, and Harry did the day before he pops back years in the past to kill his grandfather. Insane kid then goes forward in time to that day and secretly observes his friends to see if they make the same choices. These choices could be anything from what shirt they wear, the route they take to work, or what they decide to have for lunch.          

If there is the least little bit of deviation from what they originally did that would leave open the idea of free will, I guess.

This all feeds back into the ultimate conclusion of the movie. While sending troops to the future to fight a clearly lost war just doesn't make any sense. The world of 2051 could have just sent the same group to our present with tons of information on what will happen along with the bio-weapon to make a more plausible movie.

Personally, while I have my doubts on the degree of free will humans actually have, I think the far more likely reality of backwards time travel would be sliding over to an alternate universe. But then again I'm no scientist, but goofing with the flow of temporal events just doesn't ring true in an universe that seems so highly ordered.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Tomorrow War--A Movie Review


I watched this movie so you wouldn't have to.

 By the time 2021 arrived the world had seemed to turn the corner on the pandemic. Multiple lingering issues were still an embarrassing shitshow but with the vaccines out and the Orange Buffoon being shown the exit, despite unprecedented and scary attempts to stay in power, things were starting to look up. With the receding of the pandemic the various workings of civilization began to restart, one of them being movie studios who began tossing out previews to films that had been long delayed.

One of those films is called the The Tomorrow War staring Chris Pratt, a military science fiction film about the usual unstoppable invading aliens. Despite my liberal bleeding heart, tree hugging leanings I am a sucker for such movies and watched Tomorrow War the day it dropped on Amazon Prime. In truth, my eagerness to see the movie was in part due to my desire for new content, any entertainment that wasn't a leftover from happier, pre-pandemic times.

For example, over that extremely long nightmare year of 2020, I had rewatched The Lord of The Rings movies so many times I was starting to lose real life hope no matter the multiple times Gandalf and Aragorn assured me it still existed. Yes, I am a voracious reader but there are times everyone needs fresh visual and audio input that only the boob tube can provide.

As for The Tomorrow War right off the bat I had to dump a bushel of demerits for the basic premise. Chris Pratt, not one of my favorite actors to begin with, plays Dan Forester, a former Green Beret who is now a high school biology teacher who deep down knows he's meant for greater things in life. But in the first couple of scenes we find out that he has been turned down for a position at a “prestigious research facility.”

Danny Boy gets all mopey, and even a little bit whiny with his loving wife and daughter doing their best to comfort him during a World Cup Soccer viewing party at his house. See during the middle of this televised to the world game a wormhole opens up with soldiers from the year 2051 literally dropping in to tell everyone that humanity is losing a war against invading aliens and on the brink of extinction.

These aliens, which are called whitespikes, will suddenly appear in the year 2048 and overrun the world in three short years. These representatives from the future have interrupted the bloody World Cup match to ask the nations of present to send soldiers to the future to help with the war.

Of course as with these types of movies, the nations of the world almost immediately start sending troops to the future without any apparent questioning of the future people, or assessment of the tactical situation. More to the point, nothing in the movie suggests that people here in the presents take a moment and ask the future people detail questions of where these aliens first set foot on Earth. All we're told is that the first recorded encounters with the whitespikes were in eastern Siberia.

A huge area to be sure, but with thirty-some odd years to wait it seems commonsense to be me to maybe load up a couple of divisions of troops from different nations and recon the area. Yes, we're talking Russia here but I wouldn't be opposed to some vodka-soaked Russian general being put in charge as humanity does a grid by grid search to short circuit our extinction. Dear Lord, real life murderer, and petty dictator Putin would love calling himself the freaking savior of humanity.

In fairness to the movie, one of the future soldiers does say that that when the whitespikes began appearing the nations of the world looked back on the records and no telescopes nor radar saw anything drop down from space. Okay, I'm no George Patton nor Alexander the Great but that suggests to me that maybe they were already on Earth. And some forensic study on the first few whitespikes killed in the war might narrow down the area where they first appeared. Hint...Hint.

But no, present day troops are rushed through the wormhole to 2051 for seven-day deployments with fewer than thirty-percent surviving. Seven day deployments you ask? It's all part of the movie's time travel gizmo and is just a useful plot device.

With trained troops coming back as hamburger, if they return at all, the nations of the world resort to drafting civilians. No, these civilians have no prolonged period of basic training. They are literally given weapons, some basic gear, and then get sucked up into the wormhole for a seven day visit to Hell.

Even worse for this movie many of these civilians are not in the best of health. Many are clearly not physically fit for serving as a REMF in present day armies much less engaging in intense combat with murderous aliens.

Low and behold former Green Beret, Dan Forester's number comes up for the draft. Forester's wife and daughter plead with him to contact his estranged, troubled Vietnam Vet, genius-level mechanical engineer father to dodge the draft. See, Danny Boy's dad has figured out a way help draftees circumvent the tracking device the government installed on those going to the future. We then get a scene with Danny Boy and his dad where they promptly engage in a father/son pissing contest. Danny Boy gets disgusted with his dad and says fuck it, he reports to the base where the pathetic civilians are dispatched to the future.

Right from the get-go the trip to 2051 is a cluster fuck with Danny Boy's group dropping from the wormhole not five-feet above the ground but at least fifteen-stories above apocalyptic Miami Beach. Luckily for Danny and the important secondary characters they fall into a roof top pool that strangely still has enough water to cushion their fall.

From there the survivors regroup and get a mission to rescue an important group of scientists working in the city. Now understand, whitespikes have infested the city and a dozen or so pizza delivery-type guys and retail working ladies have to fight their way to the building where the eggheads were doing their thing. Remember no training, no months long physical conditioning, just John Wayne movie determination and Danny Boy and another former army type who has already served three previous seven-day tours to 2051. That guy has terminal cancer and is a walking death wish. But he does carry a souvenir, a claw from one of the first whitespikes killed in the war.

The movie meanders to a conclusion with Danny Boy meeting his 2051 daughter, who just happens to be a colonel in what is left of the military force fighting the whitespikes. The 2051 people have pretty much realized they can't win, so why they were continuing to suck unprepared draftees from their past into their hopeless fight, I can't figure out.

What the 2051 people do have is research into a biological weapon that will kill the female whitespikes. Supposedly the females are extra hard to kill and like Star Trek's furry and cute tribbles are born pregnant. Hence how they were able to overrun the planet in three years.

Danny Boy and his adult daughter, who is also the chief scientist of the research project capture a female whitespike, take it back to humanity's last fortified base, and perfect the bio-weapon. See Dan's daughter wants him to go back to the present and use the weapon while there is still time.

Well now all sorts of crazy shit starts to happen. That last base is attacked and overrun with whitespikes out to rescue the female. Dan now fights to survive long enough for his timer to hit zero where the time travel gizmo will automatically send him, the nifty bio-weapon, and the surviving members of his group back to our present.

Returning to the present the world has gone to pieces. Realization that the 2051 war is hopeless and extinction imminent the geopolitical situation in the present has seen all nations turn inward with international alliances being abandoned. It's clearly mentioned even NATO has disbanded something I once thought ridiculous and even suicidal until the Orange Buffoon did his best to make it happen.

To me that is when the movie got extra super stupid, yes the 2051 war is lost but with thirty years to prepare the world of our present could pull together and somehow change the future. But then again the United States has in reality just seen over six-hundred thousand people die due to Covid-19 and there are motherfuckers who violently believe it was all some grand conspiracy. Then there are climate change deniers, another massive conspiracy, and Flat Earthers so maybe the writers do understand human nature better than me.

But never fear, Dan Forester will save the day. See in one of Dan's biology classes there is a student who is a volcano nerd. This kid loves volcanoes and knows everything about them. So after Dan and his terminal cancer combat buddy have his souvenir whitespike claw analyzed by a scientist and discover ancient volcanic ash embedded in it and get a general age of that substance. For reasons I either missed or the writers never stated, Dan get his volcano wizard student to tell them what part of the Earth the ash originated.

They surmise that the whitespikes arrive on Earth right before a certain Siberian volcano erupted and ended up buried and then frozen in ice. That during our time the ice melted enough to thaw out the planet-cleaning killing machines.

Great we have a location, eastern Siberia but we then learn Russia has locked its borders tight. And the United States government has no desire to contact them and say they have cool information to share that might save humanity in thirty years.

But wait, Dan's estranged father just happens to own a C-130 transport plane and can fly the beast under Russian radar. So Dan, his dad, the terminal cancer guy along with several others organize a mission to fly into Siberia to find and then destroy the whitespikes with the bio-weapon.

This motley crew locate the buried spaceship, blast their way in, and begin killing the whitespikes still sleeping in their hibernation sacks. That is until a couple of whitespikes begin screaming waking up the rest. The group then begins blasting away with weapons as the whitespikes start escaping until terminal cancer guy detonates the C-4 explosives they had placed throughout the ship.

Everyone inside the ship dies except Danny Boy and a couple of lucky whitespikes that are doing their best to run off into the icy wilderness. Dan and his estranged father, who was left outside to cover the exit, give chase and have a final confrontation with the two remaining aliens. Yeah, one of the surviving whitespikes is female and she's clearly pregnant.

Father and son kill the last two whitespikes and then have one of those redemption/reconciliation moments that has all the sweet sincerity of saccharin. They go home where they are greeted by the world as heroes.

Okay my biggest problem with the movie was the basic idea that 2051 world would come to our present asking for soldiers to fight a war that they had long since decided was lost. The better plan, in my ever humble opinion, would have them developed the bio-weapon first then drop into the World Cup game with it and a detailed report and get us in the present to locate the and kill the whitespikes.

The world could have still gotten all gung-ho with Dan Forester drafted into a global coalition to locate and eliminate the threat because of his prior military service. Dan could have seen a message from his adult daughter who still would have been the chief scientist on the 2051 bio-weapon and realized his path to glory would be to change the future for her.

But no, we get a chaotic mishmash of Terminator, Aliens, and Predator tropes so Chris Pratt can look good on screen. My problem with him is that he can't act. His character in the Parks and Recreation was a one-dimensional creature that honestly didn't seem to stray far from his real personality. The same goes for his character, Peter Quill, in the MCU. The first Guardians of Galaxy movie was great but the second not so much.

In short Chris Pratt strikes me as a pompous douchebag who isn't any different than a couple of thousand other underemployed actors living in Hollywood. His one difference is a couple of lucky breaks other, better performers never got.

If you haven't already figured out, The Tomorrow War is a wreck of a movie that I honestly can't recommend for interesting entertainment. Truthfully the best part of the movie were the whitespike aliens, which were pure CGI. Time travel films can be tricky things and when done well can be some of the best thought provoking entertainment around. My final stab at this movie would be for someone to go back in time and prevent Amazon from wasting money on this script.