Second Life Scrapbook: Discovering Innsmouth(once more).

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Innsmouth needs saving.
That is what I gather from the save Innsmouth tip-jars in Second  Life.
Innsmouth is a place in Second Life that is named after the place of the same name from the novella ‘The shadow over Innsmouth’ by H. P. Lovecraft,  and it promotes the works of Lovecraft and offers a place for people who like to role-play in the world of Lovecraft. This world of Lovecraft is maybe better known as the world of the Cthulhu mythos. I specifically mention this because this world includes more writers than Lovecraft such as Clark Ashton Smith(one of my favorites)  You could say that Lovecraft was the one who laid the foundation and because he corresponded with a lot of other writers he influenced others and others of course influenced him. One such writer is the writer of Conan the barbarian, Robert E. Howard.  Another such writer was August Deleth who founded the publishing house Arkham House, a publisher specializing in printing works of weird fiction, such as that from Lovecraft.Lovecraft’s world actually inspired a lot of other people who made movies(The Dunwhich horror, Dagon, the call of Cthulhu), board games(Arkham Horror, Elder Sign), video games(Alone in the dark and lots more) and even art( through the iconic Necronomicon: see Giger’s Necronomicon. Which in itself influenced the movie Alien. Can it be said that Lovecraft indirectly influenced the movie Alien? Perhaps it can :P).

I thought to make a few pictures there as kind of exercise but perhaps also as a kind of memorial.

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Story-telling: Jurassic Park part 2/3 : The T-rex, the raptors and the naked monkeys.

Welcome to part second part of the movie Jurassic Park in which I am trying to analyse the story-telling.

In a previous post I discussed the first fifty minutes of the movie including the introduction of the central characters. In this part I am going discuss the remaining two hours of the movie which might conceivably make for a very long post were it not for the fact that most of the movie is a lot of the same stuff: the humans trying to deal with the predatory dinosaurs and the dinosaurs trying to deal with the humans(by eating them).

We left part two with the picture of the dinosaur with the name I have a hard time typing properly: the triceratops,  a kind of heavily armored rhinoceros(I am probably offending some dinosaur experts for this triceratops probably has got nothing to do with the rhinoceros.) The poor animal is ill and therefore lies prone on the ground. Which is handy for patting it.

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Poor trike.

This  scene had me puzzled: why is there no fence between the cartrail and this particular dinosaur? I thought there were fences on both sides of the trail, but I was wrong apparently. The fence was meant to keep the meat eating dinosaurs inside I guess. But if so, why do Grant and the two kids climb a fence to get at the other side to escape an approaching T-rex(i think, for we don’t see it  but only hear it) just to discover that there is a T-rex at the side they escaped to. Also this scene seems to add little to the story.. unless the illness of this triceratops and the illness of the brachiosaurus later in the movie are connected(which I though it was) and would point to a kind of War of the Worlds development in which the dinosaurs would all be killed by a disease. But nothing of the sort happens. This leaves me to believe this scene is just meant to show a dinosaur upclose. By the way, in the extra features there is a storyboard for a scene with a baby triceratops toppling Lex in a funny scene. It didn’t make it into the movie.

Part 3: The shit and the fan

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We are now past the fifty minutes mark. In the previous part the scene is set and the characters are introduced. The domino pieces have all been put in their place. Time to make them fall. So it is time for action and we start with a rain storm. Storms are very neat devices in movies for the rain and the wind add to the confusion, help make communication harder thus adding to the isolation, make things more difficult to see and have then storm break things.. like power lines.

While the storm hits in full force..

 

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and the devil takes a swig(while telling Grant he loves kids)
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and Arnold lights yet another one(where is the ashtray?)..
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..Nedry sabotages everything by computer, enters the place where the embryos are held and steals them. Nedry has a picture of a scanty clad girl in his computer cause nerds can only gape at things they never get.(Actually: it’s Nedry’s third wife.)
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And while Nedry looses his way because he knocks over the roadsign that should have told him where to go…
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..the largest land predator known to have existed on earth decides to put in an appearance(that is why you have plastic cups filled with water in cars, so the water shakes when the six ton heavy monster approaches)..
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..to the perplexed anguish of some,
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..and gobbles down a goat..
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,,which was introduced earlier but escaped it’s fate.. until now( I wonder about the horns).
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The moment for a first time experience: eating canned peltless omnivores.
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Things you might reconsider doing: using a powerful lightbeam to entice and annoy the huge carnivore next to the car.

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Grant pissing of the T-Rex by cheating her(it’s a female) out of a meal by tossing a flare into a bush. Flares are part of the standard equipment of the automated tour cars, next to night goggles, portable search lights, plastic cups with water and rocket-launchers with T-Rex seeking missiles (which they missed in the rush to play fetch-the-flare with the T-Rex).

And after this climatic series of images the story actually settles down and is the same for the rest of the movie as Raptors and a T-rex make live difficult for the human cast and eventually kill four of them. There are a few more developments:

Grant’s character develops as he takes care of the kids, thus overcoming his unease with children.

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Grant showing the claw of a raptor. Cool! And odd considering that they are on the prowl(but then Grant doesn’t know they are). Someone has a sardonic streak in him.

Hammond and Sattler have an emotional moment.  While Hammond in an emotional moment shows he has not learned anything and vows to do better next time, Sattler goes even more emotional on him and tells him that people are dying for crying out loud cause he fucked up.. How about some yoghurt?

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Hammond and Sattler in an emotional moment. Hammond: we can make it better!(Hurrah for mindless optimism!) Sattler: people are dying right now!(Spoilsport.)
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After an emotional moment you have to eat.

After some tos and fros the surving cast ends up in the central building and Hammond calls for a helicopter to pick them up after Sattler reactivates the system. The group  then heads for the helicopter pad while being chased by raptors. These manage to corner Grant, Ellie and the kids in the central hall, but they can escape when a T-Rex attacks the raptors.

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Surprisingly it is Lex, the teen girl who knows her way around computers and flight simulators.
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So she flies into the software program(it is UNIX) and locks the doors so the raptors can’t enter. Until they break down the door of course. Cause these raptors are smart (and have had Swat training.)
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There is some intense hide and seek being done in a kitchen, with the raptors losing that round.
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But they win the next one by trapping Grant, Sattler and Lex in the central hall(See that raptor grin: haha, caught you!)
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Only to lose the game when they are rudely interrupted by a sneak ambush from this twelve feet tall T-Rex which nobody noticed approaching as nobody had plastic cups with water to warn them.
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A moment of emotion when Hammond stares off screen into the direction of the park. Nothing is said.

Part 4: the end

So it’s time to finish the story and this is actually done in one of the better scenes in the story(in my humble opinion) which  summarizes and then wraps up the storyline.

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Hammond stares sadly at his walking stick that contains the amber with a mosquito. This is a recurring item in the movie. His dream is shattered.
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Grant with the kids. He looks at Sattler. He has learned to live with kids…
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so it might be time to settle down with the only available woman in the helicopter. Sattler let her hair down..so she is available.
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One of the final shots: birds(Pelicans?) flying over the sea. The birds are considered descendants from the dinosaurs. Something that is told earlier in the movie. These aren’t large meat eating lizards so there is nothing to fear.
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Off into the sunset we fly.. While this ends the movie, there is just enough of an open end to make a possible followup: the dinosaurs can mate and thus create offspring and the park is uncontrolled. Time for the colonial marines to intervene!

So this ends part 2 and we even have a part 3 to wrap up and make some overall observations.

Storytelling: Jurassic Park(part 1/3): god, the devil and lunch!

 

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I write reviews, but not because I want to criticize things. Actually I like to learn how to write and tell stories, so that is why I write them. On one level to learn to write the reviews themselves and on another level to analyse the storytelling of that which I am writing about. Also I like to look at pictures as part of storytelling. And I like to make pictures.
In this post I want to take a look at Jurassic Park, the movie made by Steven Spielberg based on a script written by Michael Crichton, which was an adaption of the book written by Michael Crichton himself. I will focus on the movie and not discuss the book or compare it to the book as I never read the book. It is also not important to me as I want to write about storytelling in the movie Jurassic Park.
I picked Jurassic Park simply because I just saw it together with my daughters and I think it is a good example of storytelling. It might surprise people that I never have seen the movie before, but there is a simple explanation for it: I live under a rock. Yup, a lot of things escape my notice.
Jurassic Park is  a good tale and probably would have been an exceptional tale if it wasn’t for some (very) weak parts. I will try and address those weak parts as we go along so we can consider them and perhaps learn from it. Note that what follows are spoilers as this post is meant to analyse the story and thus will reveal the story and that means: spoilers ahead.

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Spoilers ahead! Welcome to Jurassic Park. Somehow this reminds me of an adventure movie like Conan the barbarian. It must be the torches.

Summary of the movie

Very short

A group of people made up out of scientists, a laywer and two kids, inspecting a theme park filled with living dinosaurs before it opens become the target of ravening dinosaurs when a disgruntled employee sabotages the security systems to steal dinosaur embryos. After a few encounters and deaths the group and the park owner escape by helicopter.

Longer

The story of Jurassic Park is about a rich old man named John Hammond who is the head of a bio-engineering firm and who made a theme park filled with living dinosaurs on an Island belonging to Costa Rica. Before the park opens he invites a group of three scientists to inspect the park; the paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, the paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler and  the mathematician Ian Malcolm. The scientists are joined by a lawyer representing some otherwise unnamed investors who are concerned about their investments after an employee has been attacked by a dinosaur. In addition they are joined by Hammond’s grandchildren Lex and Tim Murphy.
The group gets a tour of the park during which they run into problems as the electrical touring cars fail. These problems become serious when Dennis Nedry,  a disgruntled employee of Hammond, sabotages the security programs to steal dinosaur embryos and deactivates the electrical fencing that help keep the dinosaurs inside the park.  In addition a storm approaches the theme park to make matters worse.
The group is attacked by a T-Rex that eats the lawyer and the group splits in two. Grant and the two kids flee further into the park, while Sattler calls in the help of the head warden of the park, Robert Muldoon to help the now wounded Malcom. The three then reach the main building where Hammond and his chief engineer Ray Arnold are frantically trying to get security systems and fencing back online.  They discover that the computer running the software that controls the park is made inaccessible by Nedry, who is nowhere to be found as he tried to escape the park with the embryos, but got killed by a dinosaur.
Hammond and Arnold decide that to restart all the systems to get them working again and gain access. So they shutdown all systems, but to start them they have to throw some switches in a nearby underground bunker. Arnold leaves for the bunker but disappears, so Dr. Sattle and  Muldoon, leave for the bunker as well. When they reach the bunker raptors appear. Muldoon fights them and is subsequently killed, gaining time for Sattler to enter the bunker to restart the systems. Sattler succeeds in doing so and then discovers that Arnold has been killed by a raptor that is inside the bunker. She manages to escape the bunker and returns to the main building.
In the meantime Grant and the two children, Lex and Tim arrive at the main building after a stay in a tree and a trip through the park.  Lex then uses the computer system to activate the parks systems and this allows them to call for help. In the meantime a raptor appears in the main building and the group decides to make their way to the helicopter pad.  Chased by raptors part of the group gets cornered by them in the central reception area, but they escape when a T-Rex attacks and eats the raptors.
Everyone then leaves the island by helicopter.

The story in parts

Stories are cut in parts that have a certain purpose. These parts follow each other in chronological order in which time usually follows a natural order.  In Jurassic Park the story develops along a natural and predictable way. There are no jumps or flash back for instance. and time is not garbled up with things that occur later in the movie actually occuring earlier in the story.

The first part

First there is a part in which the  stage is set and we get introduced to the characters and some background. In Jurassic Park, this part is actually pretty long as it takes a whopping 35 minutes. To keep us interested we get a few cliffhangers along the way.
But first let’s first meet the main characters: Dr. Ellie Sattler and Dr. Alan Grant. We meet some other people along the way, including two kids, but in the movie the camera will follow these two. With an exception being made for the two kids at some moments. Grant will head out with the two kids and Sattler will team up with Malcom and other secondary characters.  My eldest daughter said Ellie is the blond haired girl  that is only good for getting into danger so she can be saved by men. I said she can’t be as she is a doctor and main character.  It turned out that my daughter got it right.
If you want to strip the story  down to essentials then it’s Grant who is the main character as he is the only one who has a story arc of sorts in the movie and he actually develops(he is learns to deal with kids!) Non of the other characters have any kind of arc and some are just in the movie to get eaten.

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Dr. Ellie Sattler and Dr. Alan Grant in a rare shot: they are dirty. Alan and Ellie have a platonic relationship. Not surprising as he is drinking champagne from an oversized beerglass. I wonder what the tools on the wand behind Ellie are for. Guess they must be part of the standard equipment for Paleontologists.

The other two important characters in the movie are god and the devil. It’s Hammond vs Malcolm as Malcolm, dressed appropriately in black, directs criticism against the creator of life Hammond(dressed in white) for meddling with nature and predicts he will be unable to  control of his creation. It’s humans playing for god. It is science vs nature. And most of all: it’s a storytelling device to set the mood for what is about to happen. It will go wrong.. I tell ya! It will!
Beyond these roles they don’t  have much more to add to the story. Hammond is the creator who witnesses his creation going wrong and we get a kind of wrap up into the end of the movie where he and Ellie discuss the failure.  Malcolm flirts with Ellie Sattler for short period in the movie but then is out of the story because he is wounded. Yeah, he doesn’t get eaten.

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The creator and his critic. God vs the devil. Science vs the nature. Capitalism vs nature. Doom! Doom!

And then there are kids who are there to  get threatened so an Grant can save them and bond with them as a surrogate father.

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Grant bonding with the kids. Up you go, Laddie. And by the way: that fence is dangerous, that is why they put up a sign. So you know: it’s dangerous.
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More bonding. Kids aren’t so bad after all as compared to a ravening bloodcrazed T-Rex.

And then there are the people who are meant to be eaten. The lawyer with dubious morals, the thieving nerd, the chain smoking black guy and the courageous but ineffectual park warden. They even got names in Jurassic park, but no personality. They are just lunch. And of course to give us the feeling that there is danger. For without someone getting killed or eaten we wouldn’t think the main characters are in any danger.

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Lunch!

The story itself 

The very first thing we see is the attack on the employee. This establishes various things. It alerts us to the danger involved: some dinosaurs are dangerous animals you know. It immediately grabs our attention. It gives a reason for the lawyer to be there and it is one of the reasons for the main characters to be there: Grant is invited partly to condone the park.

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The movie starts with things going wrong. An employee gets attacked by a dinosaur. You get this symbolic shot of a hand slipping away from someone’s grasp because this is a PG movie. The blood and violence is kept to the minimum, so even I can watch it.

The second cliffhanger is about fifteen minutes into the movie. Here we witness Nedry making a deal with an representative of a competing firm to steal some embryos from Hammond. Nedry will be instrumental to the chaos of the latter part of the movie. His is a computer nerd and he is heavy build because computer nerds live in  attics eating junk food and drinking coke. An unhealthy mind creates an unhealthy body. Or is it the other way around? We get to the characters somewhat later.

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Making the deal. The heavy set bloke is the computer nerd who is going to steal some dinosaur embryos for the guy on the left. Dirty deals are made in bars(preferably shady ones).We are about 15 minutes into the movie.

The third moment is not a cliffhanger, but more to shake us up a bit. A cow gets lifted into the park and is eaten by a dinosaur. Since the movie is PG  we are spared the bloody bits and we see just some plants shake and hear shrieks. It’s not very scary. They also no doubt wanted to delay showing the monster. Not showing monsters is a very good practice. Only I felt a bit sorry for the cow. We learn from this part that Spielberg has a sadistic streak in him. Or do meat-eating dinosaurs only feed on live animals? Tsh. Choosy buggers.

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A cow meets its doom. Death to cows! We are 30 minutes into the movie.

To keep us interested also during this part of the movie we are enticed with the possibility to see some dinosaurs. Surprisingly the first dinosaurs appear about twenty minutes into the movie and they are the only ones we see in the first part.

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The first dinosaurs you see in the movie appear at 20 minutes into the movie. And that’s it for dinosaurs in the whole of the first part.

Well… not quite.. we see some dinosaurs being born in this scene that reminds me of Alien somehow. No face hugger jumps out of that egg though. It’s a bird that hatches from an egg.. Eh.. a baby raptor.

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And some dinosaurs are being born about 25 minutes into the movie. The first thing you see in you live is the face of an bearded old man dressed in white. It is god!

We have some other things occur in this part.

There is nice sequence about 20 minutes into the movie that explains how they created the dinosaurs. This  bit is actually introduced quite smartly as it’s introduced in the story to the main characters as what is going to be presented to the visitors of the park, but it’s also meant for the watchers of the movie to understand a bit of the science behind the movie.
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At 32 minutes into the movie there is the discussion between god and the devil  which I mentioned earlier which is part of a bigger discussion about using science to create these dinosaurs. Grant and Sattler: you don’t know what might happen. Malcom(the devil): it will go wrong.  The lawyer: if there is a profit in it then do it. I found this attitude for a lawyer a bit strange as it seems to me that a lawyer is more concerned with lawerlike things and that profits are more the concern of business types. In fact a lawyer might as well be against it because of the judicial complexity this causes.

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Should humans meddle with that which god/nature destroyed?

The second part
The second part  starts about 35 minutes into the movie and last for about fifteen minutes.  This is where the tour starts that will expose the the main characters to danger.  Incidentally this is also the part where the children are introduced. If you were to cut of the whole first part from the movie you might still be able to follow the movie. This part is therefore a lead up to danger: the start of the movie. In other words a second setup.

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The party gathers. With hobbits, a wizard and a warrior.. wait, this isn’t Lord of the Rings so they are just normal people. Incidentally the cars are electrical and run along the track on the ground. Why? Because a horror gives you one thing, then takes it away. It is transportation that goes nowhere and certainly not to safety.

This part is mostly for setting up some interaction between the various characters as until now we have just been introduced to them and  we have been enticed with the non show of dinosaurs. Time for some action. The pace of the story picks up as various things start to happen. Malcom flirts with Sattler. Hammond and Nedry get into an argument. Malcom makes some snide remarks in the camera that Hammond reacts to. And Grant leaves the car, dragging the rest along. For some strange reason Sattler steps out of the car at the wrong side. I guess this might have something to do with the camera.

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Things get moving along faster now. Ian flirting with Sattler. Nedry and Hammond have an argument. If you didn’t know it yet: Nedry is the nerd who lives on coke. Do you see the coke in his hand? If you didn’t we can always throw in a closeup. Hammond(in white) is annoyed at Malcom’s(in black) remarks. It’s not for the first time. And Sattle leaves the car to follow Grant by exciting at the opposite end. Curious.

The party gets out so we get to see the first dinosaur upclose . It’s a triceratops. Hurrah! But it is ill! It is also the last time we get to see a dinosaur that close, except for a meeting with a brachiosaurus. And of course when people get eaten or attacked.

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A triceratops upclose. It’s the first time they get this close with a dinosaur in the movie and the last time except one incident with a brachiosaurus. Not counting when someone gets attacked or eaten of course. Then they are too close.

It’s about 50 minutes into the movie and it’s time that things start to happen before people start to leave the theater.. Hence things happen: the nerd makes his move, the rain hits the park and the electrical fences and cars start to fail.
Continued in the next post (as this post is  long enough).
To be continued…

Henry and Kristel prepare for Doomsday

“There are fine lines between referencing something, borrowing from it and beyond that: by duplicating the original.” Kristl said.
“Hm? Where are you going with this?” Henry sort of woke up mid sentence..
“Take this line for instance, it consists of letters.. and these are hardly original..as we only got twenty six of them and virtually nobody adds any new ones to them. So you have seen these letters a trillion times and you will see them again a trillion times.”
“Yeah.. although…I understand some Asian languages have tons of them. Maybe even new ones?”
“For the sake of the argument I stick to the language I know..”
“Ah. Fair enough.”
“So we combine letters into words.. which are not really original in themselves as most are being reused again and again. But sometimes people make up new words, but that is rare.”
“Like fabbleak..” Henry said.
“Fabbleak?”
“Just thought of it.. it sort of expresses a state between being flabbergasted and feeling weak.I added an extra b just so you don’t make a mistake with fableak.. which sounds more like a word you use for a famous person who needs to go.. toiletside.. you know.” Henry made a vague gesture with his right hand.
“Right.. but unless fableak..”
“..fabbleak..”
“..fabbleak takes off as a new word used everywhere, we will not see it being used much. Unlike words as..”
“Much?”
“Much is a wordt that is used much”
“So words are combined into sentences and there you might even get something original. And then there is the next level… where sentences are combined into paragraphs and  the next where paragraphs are turned into stories and bigger stories have even things like chapters or sections or even books.”
“Right. So what?”
“Well.. the whole point is that reusing sentences from someone else does not make a new and original story and neither does the reusing of ideas from other movies make a new original movie unless you add something to it yourself or arrange them into some unique way.”
“Ah.. I see where we are going.”
“Doomsday explores the line between referencing something and just piling other peoples ideas onto each other and adding nothing to it. So this movie borrows from Resident Evil 2, then steals from escape from New York, then is inspired by Aliens then turns into Mad Max, then becomes some kind of knight movie and so on. Actually they even added in V for Vendetta with the government bad guy Canaris looking and acting like that Creedy from V for Vendetta.”
“I guess. It is just a movie to entertain. Not something that should make history..”
“Right.. but it does not even do that very well. You see, the major problem is that you then require some group of charismatic characters spouting one-liners. Maybe these are not people you like, but at least people that catch the attention.. but nobody seems to actually stand out.. I mean McDowell and Hoskins almost seem to reach that point, but the main lead certainly does not. It is as if they are deliberately held back.”
“Well Rhona Mitra stands out: she is attractive and muscled enough to make her fighting believable?”
“But her Eden character simply fails to stand out somehow.. she is not Alice from Resident Evil, nor Snake Plisken from Escape From New York, although they try hard to imply the link with her one eye. Nor does she stand out like Selene from Underworld.. even though her dark complexion and English accent sort of seem to point that way. “
“Well.. I think it was entertaining in some way, but nothing to write home about. Kinda strange that they kill of that weird looking chick that is on the front of the advertisement so soon. I think she was only in it for like five minutes.”
“That perhaps that illustrates the point. When they have something that stands out, they kill it off…just to avoid having something that might raise your interest.”
“I was a bit befuddled about that whole knight scene. Suddenly we were in the middle-ages.. it just needed some grey bearded wizard and a little fellow to turn it into lord of the rings…”
“Yes.. well.. if they had added them, it might have even amounted to something..” Kristl said.
“Also strange that the people turned to cannibalism while the group runs into a enormous herd of cows and well. You can eat cows… ”
“And while they have no gun they do have cars as if getting or making fuel is easier than making gunpowder. Let alone keeping a car operational..”
‘Well, perhaps it is time to stop trying to see reason in this one and just say: another hot chick flick that is pointless…YAY..” Henry said and he laughed at his silly joke.
“Pointless chick flicks!  Let’s hope there won’t be a sequel or at least not one made in the same fashion.” Kristl said, “Pointless chick flicks.. very funny.”
Henry ducked into the corridor to head over to the kitchen to make some coffee. This way he avoided a confrontation over his joke.. for the moment.

Movie review: 2 Nekos went Ultraviolet(but remained logical)

“I like to learn from movies,” Jenney folded her hands just after correcting her glasses.
“And?” Krisp smiled. She had already stood up, being unable to sit still for long times.
“What?”
“Did you learn anything from Ultraviolet?”
“That swords make excellent torches.”
“I knew that!”
“It is new to me,” Jenney said.
“Everyone knows.” Krisp gestured wildly with her hands, “You know… like everyone. At least I think they do…”
“Except for me…”
“Uhmmm…Except for you.”
“Like everyone has coffee breaks in the middle of fights?”
“Yes. Priorities. We all need priorities. Ice cream is one, coffee breaks is another. Except that I don’t drink coffee.. but it is the thought that counts!”
“Talking about breaks… is it me or did you find the in between fight bits also rather.. How would I say that politely….”
“Confusing?”
“Good word that. I think someone must have said at some point while they were doing the cool fight scenes: ‘Guys, we need something to tie these scenes together so people know what is going on. Guys, we need a plot. So someone get busy and write one’.”
“What is a plot?” Krisp asked.
“Uhmmm. Let me think..A plot is what makes the movie make sense. You know. So you go like… ‘Oh, now I get it’!”
“I see.”
“So someone wrote one. A plot, that is. During a coffee break,” Jenney said and shifted her glasses a bit.
“That is helpful!”
“And then they fitted the fights scenes to the plot. And then someone said: ‘look these don’t match up. It doesn’t make sense.'”
“Does it have to?”
“That is exactly what the writer of the plot said. And the director agreed. We have a plot and we got some really cool fight scenes. The movie is done!”
“I bet they were glad.”
“Of course they were. For a movie with a plot is always better than without one.”
“Great!” Krisp said.
“But I think they sort of felt uneasy anyway. So they decided to spice the fights and in between bits with CGI.”
“CGI????”
“That is graphics.. it is what you use to make scenery or creatures that don’t exist or are hard to film. Like Gollem, or dragons or science fiction cities. It is like painting, but with a computer.”
“Ah. Fake pictures.”
“Which is okay, until they get noticeable. Then you feel like someone is whispering in your ear: fake.. fake..not real.”
“I thought I ignore that voice. Spoil sport voice!”
“And then they blurred Ultraviolet’s face.”
Krisp nodded.
“Cause, you know.. Ultraviolet is ugly.”
“Is she? Poor Ultraviolet.”
“But you can’t tell, cause they blurred her face.”
“But I don’t think she is ugly,” Krisp shook her head.
“Why not. How can you tell?”
“Because of logic.”
“Logic?”
“She is pretty because the ugly people were not blurred.”
“Oh….”
“Logic!” Krisp held up two fingers close together.
“Yus…Logic.” Jenney said a bit uncertain.

Ceci n’est pas un prohète

https://flic.kr/p/pMo2zQ

Ceci n’est pas un prohète
It is hard not to say something…

One cannot stay silent in a world where silence is demanded by thugs with delude minds and possibly a well founded grudge against the world they lived in.

Islam plays undeniably a part in the Charlie Hebdo atrocities, but at the same time the marginalization, the disenfranchising of youth of alien descent seems to be something we all should be aware of.

Veleda Lorakeet.

BURN2 2014 Santalarity: What’s in the Box?

 

 

Jedda-Zenovka
Jedda Zenovka

A few days ago Santalarity closed. Santalarity is a spin-off from Burn 2, the burning man art festival in Second Life. Tau hitched a ride on the small train that went around the site and then got sidetracked in a forest. Since I liked this forest with it strange trees, I decided to take some pictures and while I was at it, I took some of the other builds. Unfortunately I did not get all the builds, nor did I get the names of all the artists as some of the builds had already been removed and some were removed after I took a break so that I did have a picture of them, but not the artist who made it. If you know the artist or the name of the art(most did not have a name) then by all means place a comment or mail to meritcoba@gmail.com.

 

Miko Kuramoto
Miko Kuramoto

This forest was owned by Miko Kuramoto although it listed someone else as the creator. I just list it under the owner. I find the mesh trees very intriguing sorry so I made a lot of pictures, especially because the forest was on the edge of the sim and it gave the idea that beyond the wood was a vast tundra stretching out. I also took the opportunity to tweak the pictures by using various settings of poster edges and blending layers. The above picture uses poster edged for the trees, but I did not apply it to Tau. I will intersperse pictures with that of the rest of the builds.

Burn 2
Burn 2
Miko-Kuramoto-tau7
On the edge

This is a view of the center of the sim. It is the central gathering place where sometimes parties are held. Tau never goes to parties as she is too shy. I seldom go because I got other things to go to.

 

ee-tau1
Empathic Eccentricia

The above picture is from the Empathic Eccentricia build which is made by Veleda Lorakeet, Ohmy Shalala and Tau. The monkey is made by Tau, below is a close up to show the rat sitting in the bowl the monkey hold. The rat hold a camera  has an animation for posing.

ee-tau2
Empathic Eccentricia
ee-tau4
Empathic Eccentricia

This a far off shot of EE. The snowman disappeared when touched.

ee-tau3
Empathic Eccentricia

 

Miko-Kuramoto-tau1
Edge of the forest.
Huntress Catteneo
Huntress Catteneo
iSkye Silverweb
iSkye Silverweb
The far horizon
The far horizon

 

Daark Gothly
Daark Gothly

 

Daark Gothly
Daark Gothly
Unknown

 

 

Stefan Molyneux! Because paying taxes sucks!

freeloaders3

Philosophy is like lighting a room with cigarettes: not very practical and possibly unhealthy(and it makes you smell bad).  It is a bit of a forced statement, but it reflects how I feel after having seen some philosophical discussions. These discussions tend to become quoting contests in which the one who can quote the best or the most wins the contest. And I suck at remembering quotes, that is why I prefer to make them up myself.

I guess that philosophy might have it’s uses, but it can be used to reason the non-existent into existence and that is why it sucks as well. The apologist William Lane Craig gives a showcase example of reasoning a fictitious being into existence.  It his god of course, not yours(because only his god can be reasoned into existence). A philosopher isn’t required to give proof, he is just required to string words into sentences that sound okay. It is why religion likes to don the cloak of philosophy, because in philosophy, like in religion, anything can be said and nothing needs to make sense because nobody can agree on what sense is..

Another example is the ‘philosopher’ Stefan Molyneux. He is styled as an anarcho-capitalist or styles himself that way. Molyneux strikes me as a spokesman for the disgruntled members of the lower middle class and those teens who think Ayn Rand’s writings are pearls of wisdom. While the teens might eventually grow out of their fantasies, the disgruntled ones are condemned  to perpetual wailing because they have to pay taxes each and every year and everyone knows: paying taxes sucks..

In anarcho-capitalism the state is evil because it amasses wealth and power and gives that to a selected group of people who use it for their own selfish goals. These people are called politicians and they are as dangerous as the Illuminati are and probably in league with them! Therefore the state should be abolished. Those who hold to Ayn Rand’s writings will readily agree because Rand sees the state as parasite limiting progress.. And of course a lot of tax payers agree as well, because they don’t want to pay taxes and without a state you don’t need to pay no taxes. Cause you know: paying taxes sucks!

Of course, someone must have asked at one moment: “but who is going to take care of all the stuff that the state does?”
“Like what?” (insert condescending tone).
“Like education, research, exploration of the universe(nasa), firefighting, policing, health care, the furtherance of the common good, protecting the weak, feeding the poor, disaster relief, providing justice, maintaining the infrastructure, settling disputes, sponsoring art, protecting the environment, protecting historical sites, making sure that the coin in your hand is worth something tomorrow and..”
“Capitalism!”
And there is the solution. The free market will arrange everything through the never failing system of supply and demand all perfectly organized and overseen by companies who are, of course, pinnacles of talent promotion and efficiency. And so the people don’t have to pay taxes anymore because the free market will take care of everything that you paid taxes for. So you don’t need to pay taxes anymore cause: paying taxes sucks!

But even the likes of a Molyneux realize that unbridled capitalism might not solve everything and so they start reasoning things into existence. First they come up with voluntary organisations that will regulate the market based on voluntary participation and arbitration.  Next they give limitless self healing properties to the free market in which the consumer, well informed through the internet, will punish those companies that  fail to meet standards by no longer buying from them. Companies will deliver these services off course against cut-throat prices thanks to the power of the internet and all will be well, so we don’t need to pay taxes. Cause you know: paying taxes sucks!

Happiness becomes a commodity and profits and margins become the main principles for making decisions. And if you  fall by the wayside because you happen to be too poor to pay for education, too ill to work for your money, too crazy  to make sense or just someone who can’t keep up with the rat race: though luck, live is a bitch. I don’t  care as long as I don’t have to pay taxes! Cause paying taxes sucks!

“But uh…, what happens if  that someone then is going to get a gun and rob you or goes on a killing spree? To get the things through violence?  Who is going to prevent him or her from doing so?”
And now Molyneux turns into an advocate of the  extreme interpretation of 2nd amendment: everyone gets to have a gun. And he sees firms and organisations of armed people protecting each other, protecting of course, not robbing or blackmailing or racketeering.  Not like those gangs do, but benevolent voluntary organisations of the kind that you have never seen in the course of history.  Thus society becomes an armed society in which anyone can be shot by anyone, especially when they suck or nobody is watching or they are outgunned a hundred to one. Is that the wild west? Yes.. But who cares… as long as I don’t have to pay taxes. Cause paying taxes sucks!

“But what happens when a foreign country makes use of the now largely disorganized organisation of this country?”
“Army!”
“What?”
“We have an army of volunteers to protect us against foreign aggression.”
“Just like they had at the start of the American Revolution?”
“Yes!”
“Like that army made up of local militias that was unable to defeat the English until it was reformed into the continental army?”
“Yes!”
“So why would that work now?”
“Because of the internet.”
“Say what?”
“Because the internet makes everything different.”
“I see.”
Of course anarcho-capitalists will play the internet card again and again.
“Who will prevent those abuses that unbridled capitalism caused in the 19th century such as working days of 14 hours or more?”
“The internet!”
“What about the abuses that now occur in some countries where some people and even children are treated as no better than slaves?”
“The internet!”
“What if a company pollutes a place and pays off people or just moves elsewhere rather than cleaning up or changing their production methods?”
“The internet!”
“What if companies form a monopoly?”
“The internet!”
Monopolies are a cause for reasoning things into existence. Both Molyneux and Ayn Rand follow two tracks:  they attack government and babble. Rand goes on a tangent arguing that it is governments that cause monopolies and she finds ample proof in history.  Of course she does. History is full of bad behaving governments(and companies). When however she has to argue how this not will happen  with a truly free market economy she has only on thing to offer: trust me on my word.  And so does Molyneux. You see, as much as Rand and Molyneux give examples of how monopolies were caused by states or the law,  they can not give you any proof that a free market prevents them, because there has never been a free market economy such as they want: one without state interference, and therefore they have no proof to offer. And if they can argue a perfect system into existence based on zero proof then any system, including those that did exist and failed(communism, absolutism and fascism) can be declared to be perfect by downplaying the parts that are not.  So just take their word for it because when you do you no longer need to pay taxes. Cause you know….Yeah, you know the drill.

It is funny that the internet actually started out as a government project. Would a company have been able to do it? Let’s have that answered by Neil deGrasse Tyson when he is talking about space exploration.  He is asked in his reading about his book on the video: The History and Future of NASA and Space Travel: Neil deGrasse Tyson – Space Chronicles (2012) whether private enterprise could have done it and he answers that private enterprise requires investors who want to see a return of investment that can be quantified. And the frontier of (space) exploration poses unquantifiable dangers to investment and therefore will scare away investors.  Exploration has always been something  that governments have done and  companies come in after to reap the benefits.  Nothing wrong with that, but that is the way it has worked and not the other way around. Be sure that anarcho-capitalism will not be a way to the stars: there is no profit in it. But who cares about the stars anyway.. as long as you don’t have to pay taxes.
Would the internet have come about without the state? It might have, but it also very likely it wouldn’t.

There is no perfect system because every system can be abused, twisted and corrupted because every system is a system made by fallible humans, but people want to find this self-healing perfect system(so they don’t have to pay taxes) and the likes of Molyneux  cater to that desire by dreaming up perfect systems out of thin air. It is perfect, because it hasn’t existed and thus has not been tarnished by reality. And it will never exist. It is a philosopher’s stone.  That is the power of philosophy. It creates things that do not exist: gods or stateless non coercive societies based on market capitalism.  And history be damned! For history sucks. Just like paying taxes does.

Did I tell you I was an historian?


molyneux

Black Peter(Zwarte Piet): Intolerance and popular politics

opa
SantaMonkey and….

On  the evening of  the fifth of December Saint Nicolas and his helper Black Peter(Zwarte Piet) bring sweets and presents to children(small and large!).  Of late this ‘tradition’ has received criticism because of the depiction of Zwarte Piet.  Some people feel that his blackness combined with his servile role towards the white skinned Saint Nicholas creates a negative image of black skinned people. In addition Black Peter is often portrayed as a bit silly and sometimes even dumb character. This criticism has eventual resulted into a court hearing and the following verdict: Zwarte Piet is, indeed, offensive due to the character’s continued role in perpetuating negative stereotypes of black people(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zwarte_Piet).

When I heard about the criticism of the role of Zwarte Piet I wanted to see if it was possible to argue both sides of the argument. So asked a few people their viewpoints and  proposed that I would make a case against Black Peter and we would look at arguments for Black Peter.To my amazement it was fairly hard to discuss this argument in a reasonable way.

One argument for Zwarte Piet is that is an old tradition. I was curious if that was actually true and therefore I looked it up in the wikipedia.  As you can read for yourself: the tradition of probably started with a book in 1850 and in fact it took a while before it became the fest it now is. I. It might even be less older than that, because the way the celebration is portrayed nowadays(sage old kind man brings gifts from Spain by boat helped by a score of Zwarte Pieten) might be even less than 50 years old.  Perhaps you don’t agree but this hardly seems like an old tradition to me..
But is tradition  an argument in itself? If something wrong has been done for a long time, should we therefore keep on doing it merely because it is an old tradition?

Another argument is that other things are worse or equalyl bad, but we don’t do anything about those things. One example that I was given is that there is slavery in India and China.  This kind of argument I saw recently being discussed in a youtube movie by DarkAntics in reference to the ice bucket  challenge  to collect money for ALS.  People argue that there is a more worthy cause to pursue. In other words: first make the rest of the world perfect before dealing with our imperfections. It is hardly an argument, as DarkAntics showed in his movie(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDGu33F-mCY&list=UUTERzzbGZopw5SXJJr0tPyQ).

Another argument is that it will cause the celebration to be abolished. As far as I know few want to abolish the whole fest, but some want  to change  the role of the Zwarte Peter character. Changing something is not the same as abolishing it. Can things be changed?  Well, festivities and celebrations pop up, change and disappear over time. Take Valentine’s day for instance: “The rise of Internet popularity at the turn of the millennium is creating new traditions. Millions of people use, every year, digital means of creating and sending Valentine’s Day greeting messages such as e-cards, love coupons or printable greeting cards. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day).

Another argument is that the fest is not meant to discriminate. Unfortunately the court verdict says otherwise. It therefore is no longer a good defense.

Arguments against Zwarte Piet are that the character basically makes silly funny person of a black man who is also a servant of a white man. It might not have meant to depict this relation, but it seems to do so and some people feel offended by this.  And here is the human side of the equation. Let’s assume that a small fringe group feels insulted.. a very minor group. Should we keep on maintaining a partly fabricated tradition just because they are a fringe group? As said before.. culture changes all the time.. Carnival, for instance, was mostly a south Netherlands fest, which has spread towards the north. Things change and we could change things ourselves if we want too. We could change Zwarte Piet and still keep the celebrations.

download

What I found annoying was that some parties immediately used this discussion in the recently held municipal elections. One of the examples is the OPA party.OPA is also the Dutch word for granddad(NOTE: this is the local party, not the national organisation for older people called OPA). The OPA party is a local party in town of Alkmaar, that produced the poster above. The text says: Zwarte Piet is allowed to stay.  The poster is a wrong statement because a local party has hardly anything to say over such things, unless it is during the hiring of the people by the municipality to play out the characters. It is also a minor point for an election that is going to determine the political power structure of municipality of Alkmaar for the next four years and it would be really sad that people vote for a party partly because of  such a trivial point. In addition the party has maneuvered itself in an awkward position considering the court verdict. The key word in the text is ‘mag’ which translates as: is allowed to or can.  In other words this party tries to make politics by making a vague statement which promises nothing. And in fact they can’t hold their promise as the court has ruled otherwise. It all becomes even more silly considering that a simple background check would have told them that the issue was up in court just prior to the elections.  It sounds like this party made a on the spur of the moment decision to jump on  a popular bandwagon by making an ill-considered statement.  Not only is the whole decision ill-considered but the sole argument they supply in their election statement is that it is an old tradition that should be maintained. As another simple background check would have told them: it is at best a dubious claim.
The last straw that actually makes this argument shameful is the implicit bad joke,  which might be intended or not(and if it is the latter it is certainly a bad one)  Zwarte Piet, a black man coming from another country is allowed to stay, instead of those  that come from other countries and who have to leave(because they are not wanted). That is morality at the bottom of the barrel: brings us gifts.. and you can stay. It is sad that some people can stoop this low.

It seems however that it didn’t prevent OPA from becoming the largest party.

The picture that head the post show my Vel’s colorful Pete(I think Pete sounds better than Peter) and my SantaMonkey.