Mass debate

The Internet is aghast at the news that during the US Presidential debates the moderator will not be allowed to fact-check the candidates in real time.

Given the power, scope, breadth, whatever, of the resources available to today’s media, surely its not beyond the programme makers to create some flashy graphics to indicate the truthfulness of each speaker’s assertions? In real time.

Facing facts, if they know it’s going to happen, it’ll keep the speakers honest, that’s honest in a very real sense.

But would it be POPULAR television; will viewers tune in expecting a gladiatorial contest of epic proportions - or a showman muzzled by a need to stick to just the facts?

What would YOU rather watch?

There’s a more important issue at stake here than flashy, exciting TV: if the debates are to be held at all, allowing the participants to say whatever they like, without any form of independent scrutiny, I have to ask what’s the point?

Yes I do believe Donald Trump is an arse, a serial repeater of things so ridiculous that would ordinarily be laughed down, but which in this instance will be allowed to stand.

History will judge these things, but it’s a shame they’ll be allowed to shape it.

Boobies

We’ve all done it; had that momentary lapse of judgment with the inherent possibility of instant doom.

Mine, yesterday, was easy.

Presented, I was, with a chance conversation, within it a single word, and well, sat in front of a computer connected to the Internet the opportunity seemed too good to be true.

So I typed a word into the search engine. The only picture I SAW in the initial results page was a rather odd-looking bird. It’s what I EXPECTED to see, see?

Clicking ‘Images’ brought home to me the inherently unpredictable nature of The Internet. Or maybe my naivete. Not a single feathered bird photo appeared. Not one.

A page of boobies. Luckily my work PC has only a 24 inch monitor. I can’t imagine the effect were it to be splashed across, oh, say a 34 inch wide-screen curved thing of beauty. Thankfully no-one who saw it was offended. And it was off my screen in a flash, and the browser history manually edited. Maybe insufficient for my psychological well-being but it’s done. In my past.

But now I know there’s a log file somewhere with the search result. Maybe 3 ‘somewheres’; maybe Google, maybe my company’s ISP, maybe my company’s data centre. Maybe the NSA, GCHQ too are interested in a part-time idiot’s browsing habits.

Don’t Panic BAZ!

Redshift

I’ve not had anything to say for weeks now, nothing at least that isn’t either political or ultimately objectionable, so I’ve kept quiet awaiting the reawakening of my muse. And here we are…

After the discreditation (too strong?) of the Steady State Theory it is now is generally accepted that our universe is in a state of expansion following The Big Bang. No matter where scientists look in space things are moving away from us; everything in space is moving away from everything else. This bit I understand.

The bit I do not understand is simply voiced: there is no point within our universe that can be identified as a centre. Look, I understand how everything can be moving away from everything else, but there’s something fundamental I’m missing out on.

Space is big. No, bigger than that. Bigger by orders of magnitude too vast for my simple brain to comprehend. I’m used to thinking about the journey to work, to the shops, even the distances between my home and the seaside. The size of space though, it defeats me. And I have no problem with that, none whatsoever; some things are indeed meant to just be.

Despite the size of space, knowing that space is expanding and everything is moving away from everything else, my personal grasp of basic physics infers that somewhere in our sky there must be bodies adopting a course approximately parallel to our planet or solar system. No, our galaxy.

Our galaxy is massive and we are an almost-insignificant almost-nothingness at a near-meaningless point within it, of that I’ve absolutely no doubt. But science must be able to find an edge, a boundary, beyond which other large conglomerations of stars, dust, black holes and star stuff are moving en-masse, in a direction measurable relative to ours.

I find it unreasonable to suppose, yet at the same time completely plausible to think, that our tiny mote of a world is indeed at the centre of our universe. Leaving aside broad philosophical arguments centred around the nature of self and being, if there’s nothing keeping pace with us it flies in the face of everything I know about probabilities, chance, randomness.

But no, that last bit is wrong. Flip a coin. It is either the side you chose or it isn’t; I’m being capricious to prove a point.

If everything on the Internet was subject to review, to critique and ultimately approval after ‘publication’ we might advance towards a multitude of enlightenments as a collection of individual groups but generally as global society. But who can we trust to review the myriad of words written daily, even in our mother tongues? Partisanship, religion, simple spite, an inability to differentiate between humour, satire, sarcastic commentary - the need to preserve the intent of those who would make our lives more interesting - all count against what would quickly become censorship.

To make the assertion that something is a fact but without any supporting evidence is as easy as breathing. To provide the foundation on which a statement rests? Yeah, somewhat more complex. Ultimately the assertion will be received by the uncritical without incident, by the remainder with a sceptical eye. But even this fails to take into account all the nuances of humanity’s approach to our interactions when faced with external stimuli at or beyond our limits of comprehension, or past the point of our willingness to engage.

When I started composing this (a few weeks ago!) I’d just eaten my first quesadillas, bought from a supermarket. I’d asked The Internet with what I should eat them, and a man who knows about such things responded with a suggestion of beans or rice, dipping them in salsa. Sounds good. I ultimately chose my own path: an unseasoned (at least not additionally) beef ravioli accompanied my Mexican food. Tasty! I’ll be getting more, and definitely taking the advice given. And modifying it; a character flaw.

On the Saturday evening just gone I stayed home and watched a film from my ‘list’, a film with almost universally bad reviews, a film that makes more sense if one’s read and enjoyed the book. As I have, twice. AND some of the followup series!

IT’S a film older than both my daughters’ ages added together, so why HAVE I not watched it before the weekend past? But first, what is it?

‘Battlefield Earth’!

I reckon it’s L. Ron Hubbard’s master work (ignoring, that is, the other stuff he’s a little more famous for.) The book is.

The film? The film’s hero isn’t cast well, the acting is over the top in places, wooden as a spoon hewn from an immobile wooden thing rooted to an immobile earth in others, but as a hopeful, swords-and-sorcery epic it’ll do for me. Not that I, a dyed-in-the-wool sci-fi enthusiast, can get into the genre easily. Unless Arnie’s in it. Conan The Barbarian, oh yes.

But Arnie’s not in THIS one. John (occasional massive hits) Travolta is though, as is Forest (solid body of work) Whitaker. Not Mr Whitaker’s finest work, it must be said, nor is it Mr Travolta’s. It’s no Armageddon (Bruce Willis), that’s for sure.

But it’s mindless fun, everything’s nicely telegraphed well in advance. Undemanding.

But; yes, a but. I didn’t cry. I cry at everything I watch these days, especially kids movies at the cinema. It’s probably not a coincidence that I choose films designed to evoke something primal in kids and their slaves.

But does it get Baz’s Seal of Approval?

Yeah, why not‽

Does this mean I’ll watch ANYTHING with a Rottentomatoes.com score of 3% with a preceding book?

Hell no, and neither should you.

A question: I read the book of another film years ago and loved it, absolutely loved it. So should I watch ‘Hawk The Slayer’?

And will I take your advice if you give it? If there’s only me reading will I take even my own?

What’s the worst that’ll happen? Mass extinctions, the end of humanity? Heh, no! Time wasting? Not that either.

Mind expanding? Yeah, why not.


Incidentally, I still haven’t bought that bloody diet and exercise book either, another recommendation I’m, er… working on!

Bhagavad Gita

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Robert Oppenheimer, widely known as ‘the father of the atomic bomb’ said these words around 20 years after the 2 nuclear weapons detonated over Japan.

Ah, it’s a powerful, evocative phrase alright, but one holding within a small mistranslation of a small section of the Bhagavad Gita. Nevertheless I’m allowing it; the man did translate it himself. From the Sanskrit.*

This evening I feel bad, something of a pale shadow of the man. Clearing some long grass in the Turner Estate’s Lower Field (despite knowing it’ll adversely affect the drainage) I disturbed a small frog.

Now it must be said, I carried on clearing the growth and disturbed another small frog. Then another. Three unique frogs, with one thing in common…

Today a human, the same human who’d previously allowed their lives to flourish undisturbed, arrived with a big chopper and casually destroyed their habitat.


*The word is ‘shatterer’.

Cock

Behold! You know when a dog listens to you, listens so intently and with total focus that there is no doubt it understands you? And it cocks its head on one side as-if to underscore the extent of its devotion? Marvellous! Ruby dog often evokes that feeling of omnipotence, yes.

Oh I wish there was a drug I could have produced in large-enough quantities, and then have delivered to the human (and near-human) population of this island nation by a fleet of autonomous drones. A drug to at least mimic that response in others. Wouldn’t that be great‽

Yes, obviously. And then, the world!

Let’s face it though, I’m more likely to get that sort of response if I become a boy band or enter politics.

Everyone knows where those two paths lead, so I’d best not.