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The innocents

 What a creepy little black and white horror film. Based on Henry Jame's Turn of the Screw, two children are being influenced by the ghosts of a groom and governess as their new governess tries to help them. Very atmospheric ghost story, with some unsettling performances. You never are sure whether or not the governess is imagining all of it.

Farenheit 451

 Just got done watching Farenheit 451, by Francois Truffault. It's the first time in ten years I think. Wal-mart of all people was selling it, go figure.

It's an odd little film. It doesn't follow the book well at all. He skips entirely the whole looming atomic war, as well as the destruction of the city by an atomic bomb after he escapes. There is no mechanical hound to chase montag, and the captain is much different. There is no Faber to guide Montag. It does keep the rest of the events pretty well though.

But even for that it is striking. The ending is what gets me, truffault ends with a scene of everyone walking through the village of the book people, reciting to themselves the book they have learned. The whole book people town is almost like a dream, just people surrounding an old railway car. It's so odd. 

It's hard to describe it without seeing it. Montag lives in in a very mod house, and goes to work on an elevated tram. It just has such an alien quality to it. Very much a product of the french new wave, despite it being his first american film.


The journal is locked till further notice.

Moto GP 07

Christ, I know this series has a reputation for being demanding, sim-like, and unforgiving, but when you have to replay the tutorial mode multiple times just to get a hang of the bike's control, it gets annoying. They model the bike too well, because you get the feeling its too much bike for a novice rider. It's too easy to wheelie the bike from the initial acceleration, and the tutorial gives no tips on how to actually drive a pocket rocket that can go 200+ miles an hout.

I'm stuck on the slaloms mostly because its hard to figure out a good racing line for them. A bike is much different than a car; it has far less stability and greater acceleration, so even the act of managing a standard turn is much harder than in a comparable car game. I'll keep plinking at it, but i can see why it dropped to 17.99.

The mist.

I don't usually watch horror movies, but the local EB had diary of the dead and the mist for 1.99, so I snapped them up. Capsule review ftw.

The mist is based on the stephen king short story of the same name. It's about what happens when an eerie mist comes in and blankets  a small new england strip mall, trapping the people inside. It quickly becomes evident that there are creatures outside in it, but it's a race for the main character and his son to survive against them, and the increasingly spooked patrons of the supermarket he is trapped in.

Well, I've never really been moved to call a film nasty before, but this one is it. The director did a good job of adapting the source material overall, casting and set design were uniformly excellent, and I can't really find flaws in the technical aspects. The tone of the story and screenplay though is what sets me off.

Essentially, there is no silver lining. People die in gruesome ways from the various cgi beasties, and increasingly act more barbaric towards each other as the tension and fear rise, culminating in the sacrifice of one of the locals, and a mad dash to freedom. It's fairly gory and grotesque, but without much tension, because the director doesn't spend much time building mood. Instead its a connect-the-dots from one attack to the next. Only a few characters are portrayed positively, and they tend to die in just as graphic ways as the rest. There's no real morality aspect to make it tolerable, like in many horror films, because of the worst choice: the ending.

SPOILER. I'm say it mostly because I don't reccommend seing the film. In the original story, it ends where the hero, his son, and some of the patrons are in his land rover, looking up as a huge beast passes over them in the mist. They render this very well in the story,and if it ended there it would have been fitting. But instead, the gas runs out, and the main character shoots all four of the passengers including his own son, to spare them from being eaten. He runs out to sacrifice himself (no more ammo) only to see the us army come to save the day. Five minutes more, and they'd all have been rescued.

This totally wrecks the film, because the whole point of them leaving the supermarket was to take the chance of the beasts they dont know against the human beasts they do. The story ends with uncertainity: you don't know what will happen, and its a very eerie and unsettling image to imagine a land rover on a lonely road full of mist. This ending is pure exploitation. It also destroys the moral message of the story, because if they had stayed in the supermarket they would have been alive.

It's nasty in other ways too. The evil human is a bipolar bible thumper, and pure caricature. The deaths are mostly pure gruesomeness, which isn't needed, because the mist itself is terrifying. The story's power was in suggestion and imagination, which the movie lacks. Too much reliance on cgi is evident, because it makes the monsters more unreal and less terrifying.

If I had to rate it, it would be 4/5 stars solely as a movie, because despite this, it is an engaging film, but just a rather nasty one.

P.D. James

I've been reading here Inspector Daigliesh novels, which is odd for me. While I do read mystery, I never really was a fan except for Carver and Hammett, but these are well written albeit bleak. I don't usually care for the puzzle elements of mystery fiction, but she really does well with characterization.


writing is hard. I'm so out of practice with it, that I barely got a page done. Hopefully it will flow easier the more I do it.

Chesterton and Steyn

I've been reading pretty heavily since I've not been on FFXI. Two books recently, "Eugenics and other evils" by G.K. Chesterton, and "America Alone," by Mark Steyn.

Steyn first. He's a noted conservative author, born in Canada and residing in New Hampshire. He's a bit glib, sort of similar to P J O'Rourke but with less of a libertarian/rock star bent. His book suffers from that, but the message is interesting; that demographic decline will enable Islam to reshape western countries, if they don't outright collapse first. It's chilling to comprehend, because the decline does exist. What's worse, he argues, is that eventually the nations that enable moribund nations to stave this off through immigration are also slowly being affected by westernization and the declining birthrate problem also. So the "safe" immigrants will also decline, leaving only radical, fundamentalist Islam.

What he misses, I think, is that it's not just societal forces on a government scale that cause this, but also on a personal one. His solution is ironically the liberal one in reverse, if government gets out of the way, people will have kids. But it's not just that, sadly enough, a growing number of young women don't want them at all, and the reasons are more bound in the ideas of freedom and liberation than in government policy.  It may not have a solution. Already governments offer cash incentives for people to have children, and a free society can't compel its citizens to act against their own best interest.

I see three solutions though.

1. The technological. Low birth rates? No problem, we can use in vitro fertilization to create a quota of kids to make up for the lack. The parents enjoy freedom, and the society can continue. But at what cost? We have just converted children into tools, or slaves. They cannot say they are made in love, or by people, any people, that love them. At best, they are draft horses, bred to pull the broken-down cart we call society. Would it be any wonder if they then turned and kicked it to bits?

2. The compulsory. It would be a supreme irony if the pro-choice movement became so successful that governments instead turned to forced breeding and requiring people to have one or more children, or pay a fine/higher taxes/be in jail. I can see this happening in places without a strong rule of law, like china or india. If the problem is dire enough, some form of negative sanctions will be imposed.

3. The religious. Skeptic that I am, I honestly can't think of any secular argument for people to have kids that is persuasive. I can point out flaws in reasoning, but there are still good reasons people may choose to hold not to have kids. It's an incredible irony, because a lot of the people who don't have kids value them in the abstract, and may even defend them, but they don't have them, and all the words are brought low.

I think only an upsurge in religious belief will fix this, because it is more a mindset that needs to be converted than any external programs or forces. The child free aren't having them because they can't afford them, but most instead are the kind of people who could very well do so. Unless somehow some stream of secular philosophy is born that validates children, we'll just see more and more of a decline.

Chesterton's book was so-so. The editor made it much more confusing than it should be, as he likes to interpose quotes of eugenicists of the period in between breaks in thought. The argument itself is sound, but is very subtle. But it's biting. here's a quote.

"Most Eugenicists are Euphemists. I mean merely that short words startle them, while long words soothe them. And they are utterly incapable of translating the one into the other, how ever obviously they mean the same thing. Say to them 'The persuasive and even coercive powers of the citizen should enable him to make sure that the burden of longevity does not become disproportionate and intolerable, especially to the females,'say this to them, and they will sway slightly to and fro like babies sent to sleep in cradles. Say to them "Murder your mother,' and they sit up quite suddenly.Yet the two sentences, in cold logic, are exactly the same."

He also attacks it in the opposite way you expect. He hammers the rockefeller style of capitalist, who views men as tools, and seeks to make them tools through eugenics. I really can't sum it up, but if you can find a copy, it's a strong read.

Funny how things are.

I'm actually quite the libertine, or once was. I never thought I'd be defending family so much, or that my main calling in life is to write children's books.  I guess what has happened is that I went through the edge of it, of alternative sexualities and families, and came back where people start. 

G.K. Chesterton for one has been a profound influence on me. It's also funny that it wasn't till I lost my faith that he has been, mostly because his sense of the human paradox is razor keen. He wrote of himself in orthodoxy as a man who set out to sea in hopes of discovering new lands. A storm battered him, and he landed on an island. He was full of excitement,  only to shortly discover that it was England, the place he had left. For him, this is a metaphor of his life. You rebel, and rebel, and think you discover the ultimate rebellion, but it's actually normalcy.

I think I have. You push the limits of sexual expression in the name of freedom, and suddenly realize its absurd, because you lost the intent. You become diminished, not enhanced. So many fetishes are easily destroyed by a laugh, so many obsessions fade away when you look at them in the light. So many ideals do as well. It is easy to love "the poor" yet an actual poor person you scowl at as you pass them on the sidewalk. It teaches you humillity real quick.

The understanding of paradox I think is what keeps you conservative in a general sense, not a political one. Chesterton again. He mentions in orthodoxy at how he was reading atheist atttacks on christianity, and was agreeing with them, about at how much it harmed women in general. Then he went and read another atheist mentioning at how feminine christianity was, and how much of a harm it was to the masculine ideal. He read similar about the poor, one attacker said christianity wasted too much money building churches and cathedrals, the other said it was bad because it considered the poor altogether, and didn't support a gradual darwinian elimination of them.

What he thought after reading again and again was that while it may have been a bad religion, it must be especially monstrous to be both too feminine, and too patriarchal, or too greedy and yet too beneficial. But then he realized another explanation: it wasn't the faith, but it's attackers. To a greedy man, the church was too beneficial. To a man too obsessed with ending poverty (these do exist) the church was too greedy. But the church actually was just normal, it highlighted the flaws in each person who came to it, because it was a baseline.

Conservatism also is like this, in a moral sense. It realizes that we always come back to baselines in human existence, and those are what matter. It's really humbling, because we all build plans on top of those baseline, and only to see them tip over if their weight gets too heavy. Without them in sight, we make things that are worse than what we build from.

Can of worms.

Man Mozyr, I'm sorry that discussion ballooned to that size on your journal. I feel really strongly about issues like this, and when a friend thinks oppositely I have to respond. I really do worry about things like this, because all it takes is a little change or innovation to set off a cascade of societal changes. We still are recovering from no-fault divorce, for one.

It has surprised me that I am in the minority in such a margin. Not just here, I notice other places as well, like alla's oot forum. It does worry me, because despite people saying that changes wont affect them, it will. Your tax dollars will go to suport those unions, and society will have to deal with the fall out of a debased ideal of marriage, and the unpopularity of childbirth.  It makes me pensive about the next thirty years, and what will happen then.

It's only going to get worse. The more we weaken the biological/blood aspect of family and child birth, the more we will accept the idea that children can be bred, and are more of a product or commodity than a part of our natures. The next big hit will be in genetic pre-natal screening and enhancement, and with a lot of the discussion I see, it won't go very well. There's a good book called the genius factory which tells about the attempt to make a sperm bank of nobel prize winners, and how that went. Attitudes shape the future in ways we cant predict, and once reproductive technology starts to rise in sophistication, discussions like this may be simplistic. You and I may not even have a biological parent of the opposite gender at all, if same-cell somatic reproductive cloning becomes legal. 

Oh, if you want me to stop replying, I will. I don't think it's going to get much prettier, and I honestly cant keep up with the volume of posts with the short time I have to access the net currently.