Tuesday, July 1, 2014

10 (R)evolutionary Notes to Start My “Month of (R)evolucion”

•It’s the start of a “Month of (R)evolucion" -- Mo(R)e for short -- on this blog, a time of both seismic and incremental changes.

•Among other things, I’ll blog about three books that concern humans themselves being transformed: Matt Ruff’s Sewer, Gas & Electric, Nicholas Wade’s controversial A Troublesome Inheritance, and Ken MacLeod’s The Cassini Division.

•Plus this month brings the revolutionary tales Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Lucy, as discussed in my recent YouTube chat with Gerard Perry (about those films, Edge of Tomorrow, and Transformers 4). For next month, we’ll have thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy and Sin City -- and for September Atlas Shrugged -- so stay tuned.

•Unlike Ayn Rand, Rand Paul does not create superhumans, but thanks to him the blind will see in Guatemala. That’s just how heartless laissez-faire capitalists roll.

•Of course, given the historic breakdown of the U.S.’s southern border, many Latin Americans will be coming to U.S. doctors soon, saving doctors the trouble of having to travel down south. The current confusion is unfortunate, but the Southwest belonged to Latin Americans in the first place, so I cannot be too pained about things reverting to normal there -- or about people moving where they choose.

•The chaos in the Middle East is more troubling, but whether it’s beheadings by ISIS or Hamas condoning-or-committing the murder of teenagers, it’s not clear greater U.S. involvement would make things better. One can understand the Russians feeling as if the U.S. bombs jihadists one day and supports them the next (if on the second day it appears they can be directed against Russian proxies), which has been our incoherent pattern for about thirty-five years now.

It’s enough to make one more ambivalent about whether to oppose Russian efforts in Ukraine as well. It also makes the usual right/left debate among pundits, about whether to blame Bush et al or Obama et al for the current state of Iraq, even more depressing and futile: The fingerprints come from both the right and left hands.

•I would likewise not blame a sane person for feeling that recent healthcare, tax bias, economic data, recess appointments, union membership, NSA, and culture-war craziness was all either too bipartisan in origin or too complex to be worth most people arguing about, so I’ll skip sniping on all those fronts.

•In fact, nudged by the (unextraordinary) news about Facebook tweaking users’ feeds as a psych experiment, I’ve given up for now on Facebook updates (really: check the past several days) and will make this my last month of steady blogging in order to focus more on writing books, which -- contrary to all apparent trends in the Twitter era -- may be more necessary than ever, in part to combat all the pointless one-liners, wisecracks, and amens that persuade no one.

Science and stats are good things and algorithms greatly enhance efficiency, but we all know that if we are increasingly consuming tiny, shallow snippets fed to us by algorithms, Nietzsche would want us at some point to “kick over the law-tables” that make us predictable.

•The current National Review cover story by Adam Bellow from LibertyIslandMag.com is also pro-books, more specifically novels, arguing that they not only have more influence than op-eds but in the long run still have more influence even than films.

•Still, I admit I’m pleased the top films of the year so far (gauged by worldwide box office per Box Office Mojo, as reported by DarkHorizons) suggest audiences love tales of super-scientific or supernatural physical transformation (and indeed the new Transformers, though awful, will likely join this list soon, not to mention the new Apes, a certain Raccoon and his pals, and one last Hobbit movie by year’s end, possibly making 2014 the biggest ever for sci-fi/fantasy-type films):

1. X-Men: Days Of Future Past ($712.7 million)
2. Captain America: The Winter Solider ($711.2 million)
3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($703.7 million)
4. Maleficent ($585.6 million)
5. Godzilla ($488.1 million)
6. Rio 2 ($470.2 million)
7. The LEGO Movie ($467.2 million)
8. Noah ($359.2 million)
9. 300: Rise of an Empire ($331.1 million)
10. Edge of Tomorrow ($318.7 million)

But this week, a very different, more political sort of movie opens in New York City and elsewhere, so a note on that next time.

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