Thursday, July 28, 2016

18190--No, Bill O'Reilly Doesn't Owe Any Apologies

Fresh on the heels of Michelle Obama expressing her amazement over living in a prestigious national symbol (the White House) built by slaves, the Fox News pontificator felt compelled to downplay the slavery reference by offering that said slaves were well-fed and decently housed.  This is America, so he has the right to do so, of course.

Now, to many of us, the very notion of slavery is sufficiently chafing, but Mr. O'Reilly finds it to be of a higher priority to step to the defense of American slavery rather than focus on the political aspect of what Mrs. Obama was actually talking about.  I'm sure that his theft of focus to make a point of his own has drawn the ire of many.  Despite its wildly successful history (it utterly crushed indentured servitude in its time), slavery continues to carry a tremendously unpopular stigma.

Rather than spend time and energy on directing anger toward Mr. O'Reilly (you knew who he was already and that's not about to change), I would instead offer a challenge to Fox News and its management that is trying to refurbish the organization's image.  Try this: before Mr. O'Reilly starts trying to suggest that the Third Reich offered Jews efficient mass transit and free housing, reassign him to a special field project.  Bear with me.  This would not be a punishment, rather an opportunity for Mr. O'Reilly to prove his point.  Under the scrutiny of Fox News cameras, Mr. O'Reilly will be given "decent" housing and food commensurate with the status of a menial laborer.  Over the course of a television season, he could live in someone's shed, for example, and perform yard work, field work, and other chores during the day.  Perhaps, following the construction theme, he could build with Habitat for Humanity.  I'm sure the management at Fox will know how to make it interesting.

Most importantly, Mr. O'Reilly would be able to show everyone how happy he can be on minimal wages (slavery is still illegal, after all), subsistence nutrition, and "decent" housing so long as his days are filled with the reward of purposeful labor.  Then, he'd have nothing but solid footing from which to stand tall and never ever apologize for any thoughtlessly diminishing comment he might ever choose to make.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

18169--You Think You're So Smart?

Ruling the planet for over a hundred million years just wasn't enough.

Evolving from savage violence, growing into civilization and philosophy...
There's more religious iconography at this site than the last.  Huge multi-ton stones are surrounded by sculptures of creatures no one alive has ever seen.  Still, they were never really able to find contentment.

The engraved tableau we uncovered earlier this week says they modified the genetic code of their mammal food source to increase the meat yield.  No one foresaw the drastic side effects that would come from that.

One step too far?  I suppose.  It backfired on them, after all.  Their whole civilization seems to have imploded on itself after that.

So many achievements over so many centuries spent taming their world and now we still haven't found more than a couple of their cities and random fossil remains.

"Hey, Dave!  You done with lunch?  We want to get back to the dig while there's still daylight."

"Sure.  Just making some notes."

"What about?"

"Thoughts about the dinosaurs, what else?  We've got a lot to learn from them."

"Whatever you want to learn from the past better come from all the pictures you take.  Bulldozers come through in three days, remember?"

"Right.  Can't stop progress, after all."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

17902--Is A Sequel Worth Destroying the World?

Spoiler alert: the "groundbreaking" Watchmen limited comic series (1986-1987) was already beyond relevance when finally adapted to film (2009).

Now, that's not to say the grim, gritty superhero intrigue isn't fun to watch and re-watch, man (sorry), but deconstructing comic book icons is even less striking in a post-antihero age than positing the notions of revised geopolitics and a multi-term Nixon administration.  Hell, in 2007, a fairly bright college student was asking me to explain the significance of "this Ayatollah Khomeni" she had never heard of outside her history class.

Beyond all that, including even Alan Moore's disowning of Zack Snyder's product, I guess I still have a lingering problem with the implications of the rewritten ending.  In the original, Adrian Veidt's machinations culminated in the psychic death scream of a genetically engineered octopus mutation fooling humanity into believing Earth was at risk from interdimensional invaders when the one-off creature exploded onto Times Square (a result of being on the business end of Veidt's technological approximation of Dr. Manhattan's powers).  The result of the mastermind's brilliant hoax, as he expected, was the world uniting to survive, albeit at the price of paranoia-fueled PTSD and a few deaths.  He didn't consider it a perfect solution, but one preferable to watching billions die in thermonuclear immolation.

In the movie, Adrian Veidt's altered plan completely sidesteps the genetic engineering aspects of the original and instead of using the research into Manhattan's powers to craft an unstable teleporter weaponizes the tech to create discrete intrinsic field subtraction effects in eighteen cities.  The destructive energy attacks kill millions and do tremendous damage around the world, rallying Earth against what they believe is a Dr. Manhattan who has turned against them.  When the immortal chooses to leave Earth behind, he also leaves the powerful technology with Veidt and the weight of what he has done to save the world from its political madness.

What doesn't appear to have been considered, though, is that it originally took Dr. Manhattan about a year to learn to control his energetic form and recreate a cohesive body for himself after being disintegrated.  Now, Veidt has recreated that original disintegration with millions of subjects.  Should even one or two of those torn apart as collateral damage find the focus to re-embody their consciousness, a real clash of superhumans could result.  What about dozens or hundreds or thousands of Manhattan-like superbeings bumping shoulders?  Even if they learned only a fraction of his mastery in their youth (remember, we saw Manhattan develop over decades from a man who started as a physicist to one who could reform his disintegrated body almost instantly), the potential impact theses newly empowered beings would easily have tremendous impact on a very tense world.

As of this month, there's been an announcement that a potential TV series set in the Watchmen world is being considered.  I guess we'll have to wait and see how they'll choose to burn it down.