Friday, August 22, 2008

Chemical Warfare

I’ve been doing battle with ants for the past few weeks.

The heat drives them in. The recon men travel the endless landscapes of counters and tile and linoleum, searching for the colony’s next meal. Over night, one or two stragglers turn into a swarm on the kibble dish.

I have a basic policy in regards to various lifeforms in my home: as long as long as they are not threatening my survival, they can stay.

I’ve escorted more than a few of my multi-legged brethren out to the lands beyond my doorway. I de-skeeve myself to spiders by picking them up with clumps of toilet paper and tossing the whole thing out. By the time I come to throw the paper in the trash the next morning, they’ve usually gotten the hint and skittered off.

Disease-carriers and grocery-eaters fall directly into the Survival Threatening category. I have been in this apartment for over one year, and I have seen three cockroaches, all of which I caught and burned in effigy as a warning to the rest.

The ants, however, just keep coming back, so I’ve resorted to chemical warfare. The filthy chemical reak of Raid permeates the kitchen and bathroom. For now I’m letting the bodies linger, like a battlefield.

Of course, if I ever want to shower again, I’ll have to rinse that nasty Death Chem off my tub. I would sooner step barefoot into a pile of shit (which I’ve done) than touch my twinkly toes to that toxic shite.

New Arrival on the Mothership

Attention-span deprived as they are, the kids in the park are my favorite of all the students I’ve taught so far.

Rewind: recently, I have had the opportunity to teach a children’s martial arts class at a park in Historic Filipinotown. I’m proud to be carrying on the tradition of park lessons in an ethnically diverse neighborhood. I did a lot of my learning at Garvey Ranch Park in Monterey Park. Also, one of my instructors used to do a class at the park in Chinatown (I studied with him in classes given at my university). I never got the chance to go to the Chinatown class—back then, I was terrified of venturing out of my small, school world. Which is a shame really, because every time I did, it was a rewarding experience.

The kids have energy and spirit to spare, and they love the exercises I give them. We have yet to throw a punch or a kick, and I can already tell that a few of them are on board for the long haul.

I ride the Metro train out there, which is another new experience for me. I’d only been on the Metro train once before, a few years back when Malik took me to the first May Day protest in downtown (thankfully we missed the stormtrooping LAPD incident, which came the following year). It takes me about an hour and a half to get to the park from my place, but it beats the hell out of sitting in traffic. My favorite is the blue line, because the fences and walls along it are laced with glyphs.

During class this past Tuesday, a baby girl kitten showed up, with no mommy in sight. Her right eye was swollen shut and gunky with dirt and puss, and she was covered from head to toe in fleas. However, she wanted to live, so the Hollywood Jedi and I rescued her. I brought her home, and I’ve been bottle feeding her for three days now.

Took her to the vet. I got a bag full of medicines and vitamins and everything else, along with a fat bill. She got a bath.

Lord Byron wasn’t too pleased at first. He arched his fuzzy white back and hissed at the mewling pet carrier rather enthusiastically. But eventually he came around, and has even begun grooming her. The bonding will have to wait though—she is under quarantine until: 1) the antibiotics have done their work, and 2) she learns to use the litter box. I have yet to see evidence of her even going potty, which I’m thinking about getting worried about, but either way I don’t want her learning on my clothes/rug/journals/comics.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Android Boss

The Terminator is not a cyborg.

That's what they call it in the movie, of course. But they fucked up. It's not a cyborg.

See, a cyborg—cybernetic organism—is an integration of living systems with non-living systems, part organic, part machine. An example of a cyborg would be the Six-Million Dollar Man, who was mainly human but enhanced. Another example is the Borg race from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Terminator doesn’t have integrated living systems. All it is, is a “metal endoskeleton” with a layer of flesh over it. The flesh is only a mask. The Terminator appears to be human, and masquerades as human, but is not. The Terminator would be more accurately classified as an android.

This is an important distinction. If you had an artificial heart, you'd be cyborg. But if you had an artificial soul, you'd be an android.

It so happens that a good friend of mine works for an android.

You wouldn't know it was an android right away. It's a very good one. It is programmed with Non-Threatening Effeminate Male: Social Interaction Code 2.0, (upgraded from the first models to incorporate sports knowledge, and therefore appear less "gay"). I can hear its artificial "Hi, how are ya?" in my head as I write this.

There were several clues that led my friend and I to determine that his boss was an android. Follow the trail:

*First of all, the thing is a manager unit in a large corporate entity. Corporate entities, as we know, are systems of artificial intelligence--machine gods, etherial robots. Any manager unit, due to its close association of "self" goals and policies with "company" goals and policies, should be immediately suspected of being a dirty andy.

*Second of all, it is from Texas, yet possesses no identifiable regional accent. If you've ever known anyone from Texas, you know the accent, and you know that they're damn proud of having it. No born and Bred Texan would shed that accent. The accent is, as organic accents always are, an indicator of genuine humanity. Instead of a Texan accent, the android boss sounds exactly like the generic Television male voice we're all so familiar with from commercials, sitcoms, newscasts, etc.

*It has been quoted as saying, "everyone is replaceable," revealing his association of a workforce of unique, individual human beings with "parts." This is robot thinking. The robot does not value "humaness" because it is not human.

*It experiences "short circuits" of understanding when rules and policies are not followed. I've seen it scrunch up its face when being told that someone was leaving work early. It clearly did not compute.

*It solves all problems with the creation of more paperwork. Paperwork is a mechanism, for the machine to communicate with itself. Robots reproduce by assembling more of themselves. The android boss has shit out dozens of new Paperwork robot bastards in the couple of years that he's been in charge.

*An anecdote: The android boss had declared that no vacations, for anyone, were to be taken during a certain period of months, because that period was the business's high season. An employee petitioned for time off--with plenty of people available to cover his shifts--to go out of the country to visit his sick mother after her cancer surgery. Upon hearing about the employee's mother, the android boss's reply was: "Well, she should have scheduled her surgery for our down season."

It all adds up folks. When the machine's values are your own, your soul has died and been replaced with programming. Your human body is a mask over synthetic values. You are an android.

This world has made thousands of them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Real Dark Knight

The Dark Knight did not portray Batman.


Every scene with the caped crusader was clearly lit with Two-Million-Gigawatt floodlights, so we all could be blessed with a vision of the costume designers' hard work. This is completely and utterly wrong, unacceptable. Batman does not jump into a fluorescently lit parking garage and commence to kung-fuing guys who seem to line up for their beatings.

Clearly, whoever is responsible for this depiction of Batman does not understand the character. The need for clarity on this matter is dire. Allow me.

This is Batman:

It's a Gotham city parking garage at night. It's dingy and smells like piss and there's trash everywhere, including inside of 3-piece suits & mercedes benzes. This latter group of refuse is toting automatic weapons and making a drug deal with a lunatic in a canvas mask named Scarecrow. They start arguing about the money, get distracted.

Pretenders in Batman masks show up with shotguns and get to blasting. Two or three guys go down for good, everybody else holes up for a showdown. Bullets and curses lace the air, metal clangs and windows explode. It's urban warfare with no air support.

Then the lights go out.

The shooting stops. Adrenaline fueled thugs gasp for air, terrified. A panicked voice stumbles out, Batman! It's Batman!

From one side of the darkness comes a rumble of crunching bones and thudding bodies. A shot goes off. Everyone dissolves into panic: thugs are either running, shooting blindly, standing frozen with wet pants, or laying sprawled out on the concrete. Scarecrow shoves a thug filled with vigilante buckshot out of the driver's side of his van and starts the ignition.

All around, smoke fills the air, along with more crunching and thudding and shooting and screaming. The van starts and swerves and collides and finally takes off. As he speeds toward the exit of the garage, the last of the thugs are hitting the cement, unconscious.

A bat-shaped monster silhouette flies out of the smoke, into the clear dark, and falls through the air.

It lands on top of the escaping van.

It's Batman.

Then the lights go out. That is the fucking key. Batman is not Superman, he does not descend under the glow of the Neon Sun. Batman is a ninja, he appears under cover of DARK. Hence DARK Knight.

It is impossible--to the point of crushing any suspension of disbelief--that one dude in some armor could walk into a situation like that and leave as anything other than hamburger.

And, more important, it simply is not what Batman would do. He's too smart.
Batman's game works because he causes panic and terror. The majority of criminals will fold if they even think Batman might show up. When Batman does show up, you don't see him. He sees you. And while you're freaking out, he takes apart the scene like a science.

There is nothing…


There is NOTHING scary about a dude, armor or none, that you can see as clearly as the Volvo next to him and the cigarette-chewing punk next to you.

If that was Batman, every pistol kid in Gotham would be well capable of putting a bullet in him, and wouldn't respect him enough not to.

And P.S., Christian Bale's growling in the mask is the worst. Get that dude a valium.

Batman does not growl. He speaks low and clear and straight to the point, without passion. That's what so terrifying about the Joker, is that Joker's madness drives even Batman to temper tantrums—the coolest dude there is loses his cool.

And Batman certainly does not stand around with his mouth open like a simpleton. Costume designers, fix it up for next time, eh?