Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Aliens, Atrocities, and Comets

Greetings, Gentle Readers,

My wife and I have just returned from a very relaxing weekend back in the old stomping grounds, and I would like to share some musings with you.

Firstly, we saw The War of the Worlds last night, and despite my lack of understanding of what is so great about Tom Cruise(although he at least played a character in this film), it was a really good movie. While the eggs Spielberg lays aren't always golden, (three words: The Lost World :-p ) this one hit the mark beautifully. I am a big fan of both the H.G. Wells novel, and the 1953 movie, and this version is a worthy addition. He tweaked, and updated the story a little bit, but the basic premise; aliens have come to wipe the Earth clean and set up housekeeping is terrifyingly presented in all its CGI glory. My recommendation is to see it at a good theatre, with state-of-the-art sound. The audio aspect of the tripods was never really captured in the first movie, but if you thought the T-Rex roar from Jurassic Park was bone-rattling, you ain't heard nothing yet. I don't think the academy will be all over this one, but I'm predicting at least a nomination for sound effects and sound editing. At first the addition of Dakota Fanning seemed a needless pandering to demographics, but I have to go back to Carrie Henn as "Newt" in Aliens to find as good a performance by a young girl in such a film. I only hope that Dakota has a good therapist.

Secondly, the impending G8 summit. I heard a bit of a report on the attempt to get most, if not all of Africa's debts forgiven. The reasoning was that most of the debts were incurred by corrupt governments who used foreign aid to further their own fortunes rather than help their people. Now, I am by no means an economist, and I truly feel for the victims of this political avarice, but two things come to mind. 1. If the debt of every nation on the African continent were erased in one fell swoop, what would that do to the economies of the nations owed? 2. At what point is the population of a country responsible for the misdeed of its leaders?

I don't know the answer to the first question, and I earnestly invite commentary. On the second point, however, I have a strong opinion, and one that is fitting given the date. 239 years ago a group of men decided that the ruling body for their country was no longer suiting their needs, so they made a decision, wrote a declaration, and fought back. Now I'm not pretending it was easy, or that the revolutionaries worked alone; the American Revoulution could be viewed as the real first world war (yes, I know that most of the other countries helping us were working as mercenaries or consultants, but they were involved.) Nor am I ignoring how bloody the war got. What I am saying is that there comes a time when a nation must take responsibility for its leaders. I know that modern despots have technological ways to stay in power, but they can also be overthrown, like Causcescu. Most peoples cower and snivel and wait for the UN to unleash the Sword of American Justice upon their unjust and evil rulers. Unfortunately we've now tried that a couple of times, and we have learned what many cops have. When you step into a domestic disturbance, people who ignored the initial fight get instantly polarized against the invading bringer of order, and things get very messy, very quickly, and it isn't long before someone gets a tazer to the sack.

I used this argument before we invaded Iraq, and I stand by it. If a nation asks for our help, or more specifically the UN's help (although it sort of ends up being mostly us anyway) then by all means let us join the fight against tyrrany. But, as in Iraq, if the people are oppressed, but complacent, why does it become our job to fight their war? And to bring this full circle, why do we only pick places to 'liberate' in the Middle East? There are regimes in Africa that make Saddam's atrocities seem like schoolyard bullying, but we aren't flattening Rwanda or Angola in the name of freedom. When the Hutu were trying to carve the Tutsi tribe off the face of the Earth in 1994 there was lots of news coverage, but no push to invade and 'liberate' the Tutsis, and the world was begging us to do something. {note that this is a blanket criticism of our government in general. Clinton was pres. during the Rwandan genocide.} I know that the current regime...excuse me...administration gets all huffy when they hear the phrase 'no blood for oil', but it becomes increasingly clear that the US government is only interested in conflicts where there is something to gain. Now listen closesly here: I don't have a problem with that. If Bush had said that we were going into Iraq to liberate the natural resources from a madman who's policies are keeping them from the rest of the world I'd have been stunned, but I'd have been unable to argue. To couch the reasons behind bogus philanthropy is hypocrisy at its highest, and an insult to all who have died unjustly in countries with no valuable resources.

My final point is a hat's off to NASA. The Deep Impact probe performed perfectly. Yesterday an 800 lb. probe smashed into comet Tempel 1 sending out a spectacular plume of gas and debris. The photos are amazing: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/deepimpact/main/index.html?skipIntro=1

It is our first close encounter with a comet, and will hopefully answer some long-held questions about the origins of the Solar system.

Ok, folks. I've given you a lot to think about. Do your own work, no cheating. Put down your pencils and raise your hand when you are done. ;-)



Anonymous said...

Marius you fool! This probe was nothing more than an attempt by NASA to discredit Baptists. If you want to learn about creation, read Genesis. If you want to learn about your future, read Revelations. If you want your family to go to Heaven, Tithe to your local church!

Marius said...

Ah, of course. How silly of me. I forget that NASA is a left-wing, satanist group. I need to say 200 "Hail Joe"s and send my entire next paycheck to Billy Graham. ;-)

toomanyopinionsformyowngood said...

Foreign aid to developing countries usually goes towards buying infrastructure-building sevices from companies based in rich countries, like ours. So basically, the US gov pays Haliburton (et al) to build stuff in Africa which the rich elite in Africa then take possession of by way of debt. So the economic health of the working folk in America is taken care of, and what ends up happening is that the gov inflates the money supply and jiggles some numbers around to cover up their fiscal irresponsibility. Of course, they have to do this in order to placate the growth-at-all-times mentality that our current economic system requires.

We could forgive Africa's debt entirely, but all that would really do is move up the economic karma timetable. The behaviour of the gov is still leading us towards Disasterous Consequences, it's just a question of when. Thankfully, on a long enough timeline, we're all dead. (except for us zombies)

Also, Hussein wasn't so much keeping Iraq's resources from the rest of the world as he was offering them up to everyone on a fair market basis, which of course is simply not good enough for America. Hussein's moves to price Iraq's oil in Euros and to build energy partnerships with China threatened America's status as sole world superpower. Because our lavish lifestyle is predicated upon financial control of oil. Basically. So we're really there to ensure that we stay on top.

As for NASA, well it looks like no one is safe anymore: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050705/ap_on_fe_st/russia_comet_case

Marius said...

I must admit I never considered the dire astrological consequences of altering a comet's trajectory by .0001 millimeters per second. Why in approximately 317 years it will be almost an ENTIRE KILOMETER off course. What were they thinking?!

Steve said...

Marius, my friend... You, of all people should not mock .0001 millimeters... ;p And haven't you ever heard of the Butterfly Effect? (And I'm not referring to that dreck of a movie starring that horrid Kutcher freak). I refer, of course, to the theory that small variations in the initial conditions of a dynamic system produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system. Who knows what effects may occur? What wrath may be wrought? Why, we may, gasp, learn something?