What are we forgetting?

In the hullabaloo about the issues we seem to be fighting about far too often, we should make a greater effort to remember what has been best about our culture in the US. Yes, we’ve made bad decisions and even horrible ones, but we’ve also done some great things.  We are obsessing about the wrongs, which never fixes anything. Too many cheer about the edgy non-heroes, cheer about the heroes who fall, and go on rampages because the older heroes have warts.

Broken Incandescent Bulb

Broken Lightbulb by Kevin Galens — Used under Creative Commons

Heroes are not cardboard or two dimensional. At their best they transcend the current situation and lead in a better direction. And some make deliberate actions that ruin any legacy.  It’s not just of fair to judge them too harshly from another era, as people in future eras will judge you as harshly for your inhumanity. No one likes Carrie Nation, even if she accomplished things.

We all need to list what works about the Great American Experiment, which is having a terrible self induced turbulence. Everyone’s list will differ, but I’d like to see other’s lists.  Mine are today: Enthusiastic, boisterous, not hide-bound, Trying new philosophies, new religions, new traditions even if they sometimes get rejected.  Land of opportunity that even a newly retired Kentucky Colonel can start a new business and finally find success. A land where every minority has equal rights with other groups, A place where empathy for a pig may run amuck and harshest criticism may fall on cowardice in a crisis. A place that looks to a cooperative future, but still gets far too caught up in mob hysteria and riots forgetting old lessons.

Remember. Most of these crises happened before. How did we forget?

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Some Tropes should be banned…

Banned for five, maybe ten years. The weepy, helpless, female who waves her arms around, getting in the way.   Damsels in distress have gotten worse in some recent stories.  I’m reaching the point I want them to just do ONE thing to preserve their own lives instead of passive cringing.  OR, I want to help the villain in such a way there is no man-angst for failure… *scream*

KRACK attack flack

I saw on a newsletter about a hack that goes through WP2 routers, and that was unsettling. Originally found some time ago, I was hoping there was a firmware update to my router. So, as soon as I had time after dinner I logged in to my wireless router to check.

I was really relieved to see there was an update for my router!

Yay! (yes, my interjections can be really retro) I can do the upgrade and get back to my reading or NaNo prep!

So I select the options to download the firmware upgrade. The download took a bit longer than expected, But I read an already open web article while waiting. The install finished without a chirp.

That should have been the first hint that there was a problem.
After installation finished, a new router login screen appeared. My user name and password for the router failed to work. I tried the default. I tried adding the https to the router address like my browser complained about. I tried the name of my network. Note I repeated all these steps several times with whatever variants I could come up with.

Finally after finding a bunch of pages that told me all the things I already knew, one, ONE, ONE! page on firmware updates mentioned that I might have to reset the router to factory. Note that I could not even log in to get any old customized settings written down or archived to make the full reset more palatable.

Setting up a new router with my ISP is a pain. I remember that stress, and last time I sucked it up to pay someone to get it working after dead air.

The good thing is that I have internet access, but I cannot change anything in my wifi. The bad thing is that there’s a high chance that if I reset, I will lose internet access. Which would you choose?

And old lesson: Save all your settings before upgrades if it’s important.

Discovery?

Federation Symbol – Star Trek

I’ve been a fan of Gene Roddenberry’s universe for a long time. I’m especially fond of IDIC and finding other solutions instead of clinging to the no-win ones. It was occasionally preachy, but especially the original series knew when it was time to fight and when to have a laugh. One of the lead principals during the Great Bird of the Galaxy’s lifespan, was that violence should not be the first reaction* and understanding is better than bombs. The later and later the series, and the more they tend to get caught up in the biggest issue of the day in heavy-handed ways and bigger explosions and lens flares. One feature said a work-life balance is good, but you don’t have families on a flag ship that will encounter combat. Each show has had at least one flaw, though I think the later casts should have been a little smaller to allow time for development and still tell good plots.

But now CBS/CBS Access is doing a new series, only ten years before the original series. So we could run into the Enterprise under Captains April or Pike. Spock is a young science officer and Kirk a junior officer on the Farragut. *One of the interesting things in the story was whether the Federation can shoot first? Can Han Solo shoot first? Do to follow traditional Federation/western culture of your own culture or adapt the the alien culture? Of course, the teaser tonight didn’t give the old answer.

I don’t know the result, and may not until I might use christmas giftings. Paid subscriptions to get only a fraction of the field, just can’t fit my budget. No Defenders, no Westworld, no Star Trek. I can afford a little more than basic cable, but I already spend too much on video content. I have a senior mother and midway home repairs and I think I speak for many when I say enough to all these companies who want me to subscribe to their corner of the pool.

Tonight the first half of the pilot was on open TV. Seeing the second part depends on getting that subscription. I like some of the characters, and one in particular reminds me of Chamberlin. Some characters already look strong and the near season big bad looks good. I do have two things that seem minor, but were very distracting and annoying. 1)The opening sucked. Schematics against a so-so score were not engaging, did not engage the imagination, or sweep us away. The show is supposed to be about exploration and discovery, and we see blueprints for a phaser. Where’s the spacescapes? Where’s the captain’s voiceover that states the purpose and theme of the show, the goal for the crew of the USS Shenzhou or Discovery. The opening shows a lack of focus and so many SF shows wander off and lose what starts as good. The opening reminds the viewers and the makers of the purpose of the ship. This one looks as much like an opening for How It’s Made…

Another annoyance was that the subtitles for the klingons had many lines in a short time. The subtitles were white on an often bright/torches background and ran faster than we could read. Surely it isn’t that hard to put a shadow behind the text so there is a contrast. Or anytime an alien tongue takes more than 5 minutes if airtime and long dialogues, switch to english. Few people have learned conversational klingon. Those scenes went on way, way too long and the captioning was inadequate for people with visions issues. Even someone with okay vision could not read it fast enough for someone who could not. It takes much longer to piece it out when there is little contrast.

Now those were my only objections to the teaser and I give it a cautious thumb’s up.


I’ve seen two episodes of the Orville, and it also gets a cautious thumb’s up. I like the humor, SF is often too grim. The second episode actually reminded me of “the Menagerie.” The characters are being established at a good rate, with a better slope to the threat level. It goes a little too sophomoric but it’s not only on open channels, but also rerun on an FX cable channel. That gives it a bigger audience that Trek deserves too. There are a few serious moments too, and it avoids the too PC like the avoidant Lt. Saru in Trek. People make mistakes and they learn. Trek leans to epic, Orville is an homage to much of Trek like Galaxy Quest did so well. Both shows have heroes, but there is only Number one who is interesting on Trek.

The Orville did not make the mistake to spend more time on the season’s big bad in the pilot than introducing the main cast. “A Vulcan Hello” isn’t “Encounter at Farpoint” or “Where No Man Has Gone Before…” or “the Cage.” BTW, this show should hae an effort to resemble the footage of the Cage as they should be contemporanaous. The tech can be better, but there was no effort to make the costumes and material culture align. I just wanted an effort, like not dressing Gueen Victoria is spandex just because someone ants to make a mark. Some things should not be changed,

A Lady Said It First

There’s a relevant quote that seems to have been forgotten as the wheel turns. Evelyn Beatrice Hall, a biographer steeped in Voltaire, wrote in her Friends of Voltaire:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

This summarized Voltaire’s beliefs, but he didn’t actually say it. Evelyn Hall was an active author and coauthor for about thirty years, but her work related to Voltaire and free speech seem to be her most influential. So much that her quote is attributed to him.

I don’t like what a lot of people say, but it’s not just the loathed neonazis who push their hatred onto others, but also those who think their good intentions make up for their virulent hate for those who don’t agree, like vaxxers and global warming.

It doesn’t.

The wheel keeps turning, never forget that. I regret all the damage and lives ruined because they forgot how to play well with others. If your ideas are that convincing, you don’t need to be spiteful. The wheel turns and those the old guard will change or pass. By being mean and petty, they are the bastards, the ends do not justify the means.
[inspired by Ethics Alarm report of crude counter protest

We Need Other Kinds of Heroes

A Harder Heroism

Somewhere in the last half-century, hero became a dirty word in popular culture. People enjoy hearing about the failings of those marked as heroes, whether dirty secrets or opinions that don’t abide by the current standard or memes Maybe even worse, heroes are looked at in some kind of contempt. And the word is further cheapened by being used for anyone famous or sucessful as if wealth is a measure of value or worth. We say that riches aren’t the most important thing, but act like getting rich is a virtue.

What you do with it is the virtue. And I’m not talking about the vanity charities started by actors, politicians, or athletes. Those are PR, something the make them look better or get a tax benefit. Does the famous sponsor stay involved in a real way? Do they put any time in the trenches for that cause? And does this vanity charity actually accomplish anything useful? I have seem many foundations and charities falter when the sponsor moves on to other things. Charity watchdog organizations, like Charity Navigator are both useful and disheartening, as the money and resources that people give in good faith get wasted.

Heroes do the right things, the hard things, without the cameras. Encouraging others to support a cause or charity, makes you a good example and someone to be admired. But a hero does something when it can and does cost them. Playing a helicopter pilot hero in a movie doesn’t make you a hero, flying an injured hiker out of the wilderness and unstable conditions does. Firewomen, policemen, and soldiers routinely risk injury and death to help others. And they will go back the next day to do it over again. It is the risk and cost of their actions than changes that helicopter flight from stuntwork to heroism.

Now heroism isn’t all about the burning building or knocking back an assassin, the more subtle kinds of heroism require a moral fortitude to face down people who don’t want to do the right thing, or who use their position or majority to force their beliefs on others. The hero may lose the battle to make a camp for kids or land a faltering plane safely but they don’t roll over. (The hard thing sometimes is in choosing the right thing. Bullying and abuse is easy to oppose, but free speech and anti-censorship is not as easy to support when a speaker is a mean jackass.)

People have been saying that freedom isn’t free, but costs cuts both ways. If you want freedom from offense by people who have different beliefs, you must grant the same to others for your beliefs. ‘Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’ Disagreement on political and social issues is rarely evil and it’s petty childishness to demonize your opponents over opinions.  Too many have no empathy or the ability to walk in another’s shoes. Are people that self-centered or getting off on leading the howling mobs? Great leaders and heroes do more than destroy by feeding the riot’s flames, they make the compromises where everyone feels it’s an improvement. Grinding those who disagree with you into paste by riots or social media pile-ons, isn’t peace, it’s abusive.

I think that may be why we are foundering lately, we don’t have enough heroes who compromise and defuse the situations, we get leaders who want it to burn.