Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Diversion into Country Noir

"Country noir carves out a space for the small, the local, the defiant and the defeated. That losing side of the American mythology that walks out of the shining city on a hill spitting and reaching for a flask."

The age of the example works referenced in this essay by Court Merrigan as foundational to the "country noir" style remind us that as long as there has been an American Dream, there has been those the dream fails. And that, for all our technological progress, the prevailing social patterns of humans haven't really changed much over the last couple hundred years. The ragged fringes appear to be growing these days. Political and corporate power ever consolidating. But when has it not been that way? Our increased communications have exposed the best of us and enabled the worst of us, but we are a long way from the Dark Ages. Though sometimes is does seem we are headed in that direction again.

A current-day, real-life echo can be found in this Radio Lab summary of a series of On the Media podcasts about America's poverty myths.

These pair nicely with a previously referenced post pondering cyber-dystopia.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Watching the Watchers: Wars vs. Trek, the Getting Too Real Edition

Manu Saadia writing for "The New Yorker" gives some thought to the implications of Peter Thiel's choice in the Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate. Given the primacy of the entrepreneur in certain areas of business and society, it makes for an interesting illustration of values.

Thiel's full quote on the matter from the "New York Times" is, "I like “Star Wars” way better. I’m a capitalist. “Star Wars” is the capitalist show. “Star Trek” is the communist one. There is no money in “Star Trek” because you just have the transporter machine that can make anything you need. The whole plot of “Star Wars” starts with Han Solo having this debt that he owes and so the plot in “Star Wars” is driven by money."

As a final aside, I'll head off a nerdy dismissal by anyone who says he doesn't know what he's talking about because he confused the replicator and the transporter with the even more nerdy note that the replicator was based on transporter technology.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Today's lesson in the internet and computer programming: I was perusing garfield minus garfield (a thing to see if you haven't), and had a lark to see what the original corresponding strip was. So I go to the garfield web site. It want's me to verify my age. To read blinking garfield. So naturally, I selected 1/1 and the year at the bottom of the drop down list, which was 1908. The site comes back with "the year must be at least 1917". Ctrl-F4

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The U.S. of Death Race 2050

The red band trailer (nsfw) for the new Rodger Corman movie Death Race 2050 has some wonderfully over the top hints at the state of the U.S. in it's twisted timeline. For starters, it's now known as the United Corporations of America and the stars on the flag have been replaced with dollar signs. The east coast is Onepercentia, the south Pharmatopia, the rust belt Upper Carcinogena, the southern border is Gasarcana and El Avion, The upper midwest is the Call Center Territories and Caucasia, the desert is the AmaZone. And the west coast is split into the Digital Zone and Guugleplex. Smaller annotations on the map (cities?) include Zukerville, Data Mines, General Utilities, Merchandiseland, Deadtroit, and New Jerusalem.

It's a nice reminder that not every dystopia in entertainment is a dark and serious thing, they have a long history of being campy too. And the most ironic apocalypses are the ones we make for ourselves.