Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Chirstmas to all my readers everywhere!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Tangled


1 hr. 40 min.
Walt Disney Pictures
Written By: Jacob Grimm, 
Wilhelm Grimm, Dan Fogelman

Mandy Moore 
Zachary Levi 
(Flynn Rider) 
Donna Murphy 
(Mother Gothel)

Disney once again recognizes a mother load of marketing with yet another princess story. And yet, it’s one of the more effective ones they have ever done, so I suppose that princesses do have their place. Eh-hem. Like most of the better animated movies these days, there is a nice mix of action and romance that precludes the interest in any 3-D effects that, here in this installment, take a back seat and really do little more than cost you more to go to the movie theater. 

Taking huge liberties with the original story of Rapunzel, even to the point of naming the movie Tangled instead of Rapunzel for the marketing advantage, Rapunzel this time has science and psychology on her side. Both provide her with glowing, regenerative powered hair and also “Freudian” insight. Rapunzel is of course kidnapped by the evil old woman who wants to be young forever by using the magic of Rapunzel’s hair to maintain a “Dorian Gray” type existence of eternal youth by keeping the young girl trapped in their tower home. Rapunzel believes the old woman is her mother, and mom knows what is best for her, and of course since she is a good girl, she gives in to the direction of mom despite her own misgivings. Her misgivings are rightfully realized if you ask me. The old woman is concerned with keeping young forever despite the absence of any real reason to do so, and that is just one of the problems with the whole concept. Just ask yourself why Rapunzel herself gets any older at all, shouldn’t she always be an infant? At one point we are also shown how when Rapunzel’s hair gets cut off from the source (her head) that the hair turns brown, but the same thing happens later when  her whole head of hair turns brown after a bobbing. But hey, it’s just an old fairy tale turned into a cartoon right? Okay then.

Rapunzel has Freudian impulses that work on her subconscious and reveal themselves in the paintings she makes on the wall. She is strangely attracted to the lanterns that float towards the sky each year on her birthday, and she wishes on her 18th to go and see the lanterns in person. Later in the movie we are treated to a moment that would not have been seen in the original fairy tale in its own day, because of the social impact psychology has had on society, regardless of its true level of effectiveness on mankind. The scene is a sort of mental “domino effect” where random pieces of Rapunzel’s emotional memory all fall together and infuse her with a sort of confidence that only comes with epiphany moments. I liked the scene, and understood it experientially, but I don’t think movie goers would have seen this sort of thing if  movies were produced in the 1800’s. This is a totally modern paradigm.

With the help of “bad boy” Flynn, who while escaping the law stows away in the tower of Rapunzel’s captivity, she flees her ivory tower of protection, and then the psychology kicks in again as she goes bipolar with regret at being a bad daughter for disobeying mom and also feeling the elation of independent freedom. This is real enough I suppose, but its concentration is something more fit for modern audiences, and I do suppose they are indeed the movie going public now aren’t they? 

Flynn and Rapunzel prove mom was right about the dangers of the world as they meet some real threats out in the forest that lead to chases and “fun” conflict. Rapunzel gets to use her hair like Spider Man uses webs (and Rudolf the Reindeer uses his nose) and this helps in some very conducive ways to move along the entertaining plot. She is also pretty deft with a frying pan, and may have invented a new style of battle in contrast to the sword and shield bearing soldiers and thugs that are met along the way. Frying pans: who knew?

In many ways, both in writing, visual production and acting direction, a Disney movie can be tough to beat. Having seen this movie on the same weekend as the competition, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, it was blatantly obvious just what modern audiences are more attuned to in the sense of what makes a superior entertainment experience, and I have to say, Disney really is “plugged in” to its market. Tangled has so much more of an accessible cache for a movie going public, that it will of course make more profit that its competitor, and Disney knows this. They have the better judgement on what will and what will not make a boat load of cash, and not by pandering, but by excellence and connectivity to the market.   

The 3-D effects are nice, but as I have said before, not really needed or reflective of the need  for a higher price. It is the performances and the writing, plus the lush animation that make Tangled a real value for the money. Donna Murphy is a real stand out in her performance as the evil “mother” and there should be some sort of performance award for her in the future from her fine work here. I was a bit let down by the secondary characters in the story, Viking thugs in a forest tavern being the biggest letdown. There really hasn’t been anything like secondary characters from classics like The Jungle Book” in quite some time, and that’s a pity. (well, maybe Shrek) But they do serve their purpose, even though the movie uses them in some obviously comic ways. Is Rapunzel’s chameleon pet some type of reflection of Rapunzel’s state of mind, her future existence? Or is he a toy for girls to buy? Who knows? He does serve his Shakespearean dynamic by being the character Rapunzel can talk to and reveal her thoughts to the audience. So there.

This is great stuff, and should be seen with daughters of a certain age, but they may need to be straightened out on a few things about fantasy and reality being a bit too mixed. For their own good. Disney scores once again, and although it is not “The Lion King”, Tangled sure is close.

4/5 Stars 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia: 
The Voyage of the 
Dawn Treader

cast & credits
Edmund Skandar Keynes
Lucy Georgie Henley
Eustace Will Poulter
Caspian Ben Barnes
White Witch Tilda Swinton
Reepicheep (voice) Simon Pegg
Aslan (voice) Liam Neeson

20th Century-Fox presents a film directed by Michael Apted. Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni, based on books by C.S. Lewis. Running time: 115 minutes. Rated PG (for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action )

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is an old fashioned type of journey that probably would have benefitted from some of the old Ray Harryhousen charm. Audiences are more weaned these days to accept a certain amount of commonality between the use of new tech effects and a certain kind of entertainment. Not that I mind this kind of “Andy Griffith Show” level of conflict and motivation, quaint as it is.... and also comfortingly safe, but if a movie is going to be “out of time” then it should give the feeling of being classical, in a sense. At least that is my opinion.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” third of the films inspired by the C. S. Lewis tales, once again requires the services of English children to rescue an alternate universe. The how and the why’s of the journey of the principles is a bit lost among the train of events that literally drags them from everyday life and into a painting that contains another parallel universe. These charmingly 1940’s British children are heroic beyond their years, and really only useful for teaching certain character traits to the youth group present in the theater. And mighty good lessons they are, too. Lessons of self sacrifice, self acceptance as a special, unique person, finishing a job one has set out to do, and so forth.    

The main principles, Lucy and her brother Edmond, are kids on one world but Kings and Queens in Narnia. They at first find their existence in our world to be tedious and unfulfilling, and they are overjoyed to be thrust as they are back into Narnia’s universe. With real kids of their age, I envision a bit more brattiness and fumbling around on their own two feet. But not these two, nor do the others of the crew who lead and attend the ship  “The Dawn Treader” show any real youth that I am accustomed to seeing, small fry in the theater will buy it hook, line and sinker I am certain.

Once we are given a rather long introduction to the main story line, one which had me wondering if the movie was really three hours long, or perhaps the ending wraps up in about three minutes, we’re told that Narnia is threatened by a mysterious island of evil that the people are sacrificing their citizens to in the hopes of appeasing the evil that lives there. It’s all very amorphous and doesn’t provide us with someone or something to connect with and dislike, but we are a bit drawn in by the plight of one little girl who stows away on the ship because her mother is given to the evil island by the bad guys in a boat full of captured citizens that disappears into the green mist.

Our heroes must find seven swords of the seven lords  and return them to a dinner table of the “big kahuna”, Aslan (the talking lion) in order to break the spell. What happens next is something between Scooby Doo and Indiana Jones, but without any of the bounce those two bring to the table. The story is basically a quest movie, a la “Lord of the Rings” or even “Star Wars: A New Hope.” The events are one thing then another and then another. But the tension and danger of each episode is so brief and so low level that only someone under 9 years old would not notice the banality of the proceedings.  

There are, of course, plenty of visuals to delight the young at heart and also some amazingly rendered talking animals, a rat, a bull, and the huge lion, that tell the viewer just who the movie is really aimed at, and that makes all the quaint, old fashioned storytelling completely forgivable. You’ll have NO problems bringing even the littlest of kids to this movie, and if you haven’t done that in a while, you might consider it just for the outing. 

When you see the Dawn Treader ship yourself, you’ll smile knowingly, but don’t let on to the kids that nothing like that could survive in any other place than in an amusement park. The bad guys are very kid friendly also, the pirates and slave traders being squeaky clean and purposefully inoffensive. If you remember the old “Voyages of Sin Bad” type film, this goes directly in line with that sort of movie making.

The last scene is a bit of an intense ride, as the villain at this time is huge and seemingly more powerful than any of the heroes, as is usually the case for heroic triumph, and the tech rendering is truly, truly amazing. But how all the events that happen in the movie fit into the actual running time, I will never know. I suppose the lack of tension development is the key as we flit from one low level moment to the next. Yes, that must be it.    

One thing is for sure, without all the usual blood and horrific violence, you’ll be left to enjoy the “Richie Cunningham” type performances of the kids in the cast. Especially the young Lucy, who’s face is all “Strawberry Shortcake” and her demeanor may suggest a regressed puberty. But she and her brother, though babies really, are true heroes who can do sword battles with the most experienced adults who mean to do them harm, and the kids succeed. :-) 

Take your young family, or your grand kids, you won’t need to cover their ears or their eyes one time.

3.5/5 Stars

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Entropy Rules

If Entropy Had a Face

Entropy Rules

When we think about entropy, do we really know just what it is? Do you even care? Well, you might, it just might help to understand what entropy is and what it is not in relation to our very existence.

The word entropy is all about a certain mathematical quantity that is important when considering the origins of our very existence and the beginnings of the universe itself. In order to understand changes in our world it is important to be clear and accurate as to the definition and reality of entropy in our lives. 

Entropy is basically the mathematical quantity that allows scientists to measure the way physical systems change. No matter what they subject, everything in physical existence experiences the changes brought about by entropy. In the “First Law”, mass and energy are conserved. In the “Second Law” the entropy of any physical system increases with the passage of time. Think of it as a cosmic bell curve, when something is begun, it has a slow rate of decline, but as time passes, the rate of decline increases proportionately. This applies to every physical system. 

Entropy was coined by scientist Rudolf Clausius when he sought to describe an unusual mathematical quantity that he had discovered. This was a differential whose integral vanished around a closed path. (?) In 1896 Ludwig Boltzman recognized a close relationship this quantity and the way gas molecules move at differing speeds. He showed that molecular velocity distribution  had all the observable properties of “entropy”.  This discovery in the early days of its study lead to the idea of entropy being all about heat exchange.

Entropy is simply the name of a mathematical expression that measures the degree to which energy becomes less available for proper work to be performed over time. Entropy always increases  due to time passing and the energy that is available to do “useful” work is lost to a form that is not useful for work.

As an example, air in a balloon can be pressurized to effect an outside physical construct. Air just spread out in a room can do nothing, as there is equal pressure from all sides and a null state is achieved. 

Early in the twentieth century, it was believed that nature moved in one direction, from order to disorder. But this was a mistake of observation. When water turns into steam, it only appears to have become disordered. But why does nature move in this seemingly one way direction?

Scientists believe that everything is made from atoms. There are 92 useful kinds, and “building blocks” or molecules are the result of different combinations of atoms. Water is made from hydrogen and oxygen atoms and the more the water is heated, the more violent actions there are among molecules crashing into each other, creating greater disarray among them. Ice tea, for instance, has a greater amount of molecular order than hot coffee.

Entropy, however, does not automatically transfer into a meaning of disorder. The mistake is that disorder and entropy are the same thing, and that as time goes by, disorder is created from order. 

Imagine an ice cube, slowly melting, as the heat rises and the ice absorbs the heat, the molecules become more and more active within the water. Is this disorder being created? What about the object that supplies the heat? If you are using a match to melt the ice, then as the heat goes out from the match, the match becomes more ordered, because the state that heat exists in, one of “disorder” is transferred to the ice. 

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that total entropy must increase. But this doesn’t require that disorder increase. So there you have in the example of the ice melting, and the match getting cooler, that the disorder of the heat condition is merely transferred, but the total amount of order and disorder on both counts increases and decreases respectively. There is NO lasting state of disorder. 

Entropy has nothing to do with disorder. Many people believe erroneously that indeed it does have everything to do with disorder. There is, of course, a correlation, but not an identification.  When it rains, you use an umbrella to counteract the falling rain. But if you stayed home when it rains, the umbrella does not get wet. Therefore, there is no direct correlation between rain and  your umbrella. 

The identification of disorder and entropy has led to a silly thing called negentropy. This is an assumption that negative entropy exists and balances things out in order to allow ordered life to be able to appear. Negentropy is flawed in many ways. Order and disorder are NOT automatically identified with entropy. It violates one sided conservation laws. There are also mathematical flaws, the function describing our intuitive notion of disorder is unique when positive. 

Despite all this, there are those who have tried to use negentropy as an explanation in describing how life was begun by natural processes. Life, however, is complex, not ordered. The conditions needed to create life by a natural process require a loss of complexity. Ice is ordered and not complex because it is made up of millions of tiny units that are identical to each other. If we describe one, we will describe them all. When ice turns into water, the information needed to describe ice is actually less than that of the water’s description, because the atoms now move in independent fashions not seen in the ice state.   Life is more like water, we need vast amounts of information to describe life because of its complexity, and therefore negentropy is just plain wrong.

The more ordered something is, the less complex it is. Living cells are highly complex structures. It requires vast amounts of information to describe a living cell. To explain life’s origins, we must explain the source of information contained within each cell. Whatever brought life into being did not lose information but created it. Entropy that  relates to the creation of life is concerned with the information inside of nucleotides along DNA strands, not the distribution of levels of energy. 

Life itself is not ordered, it is complex. An increase in the organization of a structure requires the systematic increase in information. Information is not produced by natural processes in the degree that is necessary to produce life. 

So let’s take a look at this in brief...

1) The Second Law of Thermodynamics require entropy to increase. 

2) Entropy is not disorder.

3) Negentropy cannot be identified with disorder.

4) Ordered molecules present less information.

5) Living cells are not ordered - they are complex.

With the passage of time, the world becomes less focused for the observer. This deterioration manifests in the act of having less available energy for useful work. Useful work requires directed motion in space. Over time, motion continues unobserved and thus less information is gathered for the description of whatever the object of focus used to be. I understand, that sounds like words  strung together for no reason, but this is because of wrong perceptions about the nature of our perceived reality. 

Basically, because of our limited states in reality, we will always lose information, never gain it. Therefore all measurements will yield incomplete information, uncertainty increases with the passage of time. Entropy is this uncertainty. 

Entropy is the way we measure the degree to which we observe the deterioration of energy into less useful forms over time. Decay corresponds to the progressive decline of an observer’s  ability to extract useful work from the system due to an increasing uncertainty as to objects from the past he once was certain of. Blah, blah, blah.

Entropy is the loss of information used to describe an object, and involved in its inception. It is NOT a move toward disorder and energy loss. Matter is transformed, energy is transferred. Disorder is actually an illusion of the limited perspective.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: TV or Not TV

TV or Not TV

A long time ago, in a place far, far away, people rose with the sun. They had a good meal in the morning and then headed out to the fields, or black smith shop, or whatever was the method of work used to bring in sustenance to their lives. A person worked for what they needed or wanted, and all too often, as was the case in the old west, they lived their lives on the edge just to get by, sometimes for a greater cause, like freedom, or for something more personal like love.

Whatever may have been the types of lives people lived in the past, entertainment was reserved for the yearly festival, the barn dance or the travelling show when it came to town. Going even further back, when modern convenience wasn’t the focus that it is today, most of the world lived like many third world countries of our own day. Something like electronic media was reserved for the King and his family, and it was the hallmark of what made them separate from the throng. For the common man and woman, sleep, eat and work was life, and they spent most of their waking hours involved in those activities.

Living well has often been advised as the pursuit of excellence, or balance. Either you have something that is personal to you that you do well, and you forge that thing into a usable piece of equipment, for gaining better living standards, or even for bettering mankind, or else you broaden your personal life with a multitude of interests. If you don’t have a talent or an ability to sharpen, then you become a boon to your fellow man, your society or even eventually mankind itself. You raise good kids for the future, you give help to the needy, you make your imprint known to others. 

Blowing four to five hours of your evening after work watching television is more tragic than you might realize. For you will never get those hours back. You will never return to that amount of time you had for yourself, or your fellow man while sitting in front of a television watching other people do their jobs. PBS is one thing, but mindless sitcoms and non-ancillary dramas are quite another. Spending time with imaginary character friends neither improves you as a person or cares for the  people out there who could benefit from your involvement in their lives. You have quit. You have dropped out, for about a third of your daily existence. Considering that you sleep half your life away, this leaves very little time for you to develop the you that you could be, that you should be. It leaves you with a life spent being less than optimal and memories that have more to do with events that never really happened than any authentic reality you could have.

I challenge you to even try for a week to ignore your media involvement. And I mean all of it. TV is but a small cog in the machine now, even though it used to be the BMOC. TV may have some excellent choices for those who are diligent, but the majority of the dumbed down American public doesn’t enjoy excellence, it enjoys pandering, sophmorisms and plain trash. When the trash gets a little old, the public doesn’t go away forever, they just replace it with other media. It’s surprising how poisonous our culture has become, as the common man or woman heads blindly for the cliff’s edge, all the while perceiving great things about the whole exercise. 

A Downward trend

Social epidemiologists have found a disturbing trend, an explosion of depression in the American public. Depression is not only happening on a wider scale, but also at younger and younger ages. Each generation since World War II, and there is about four of them now, have experienced more and more depression as the years have gone by.  In the Archives of General Psychiatry, it has been observed that during the years from 1970 to 1992, depression in American women had more than doubled. The head of the American Psychological Association has come straight out and admitted that America is in the grip of an epidemic of clinical depression. 

How is this happening? Are we victims of some unknown virus? Are microwave ovens altering the atomic structure of our foods and making them unnatural for our bodies? Does fluoride and chlorine in our water supply hold a danger we barely understand? Is life too fast and are modern requirements too demanding for out natural state of being? Are we too alone?

Brainwashed America 

It’s interesting to take a look at Mexican immigrants as they come to America from below the border and then attempt to assimilate themselves into the American culture. Studies have shown that when immigrants first arrive, they are better off psychologically than the Americans they become acquainted with. They had only about half of the usual dysfunction. However, as they Americanized, they became more and more unstable.  After about 15 years the rates of drug use, anxiety and depression doubled from 18 to 32 percent.  This rate is common among Americans, but not immigrants from other countries. 

Mexican men born in America were shown to have five times the depressive episodes than their Mexican born contemporaries. Mexican women have seven times the statistical use of illegal drugs than their Mexican born contemporaries. Education figures mirror this occurrence as a mapping  of children’s scholastic abilities from foreign countries drops significantly with each emerging generation. The smartest kids from Japan, for instance, can’t avoid having lower performing kids  who are born here in America, and so it drops a level with each family generation. The hard, irrefutable facts are these: Americanization makes you dumb and unstable.

What You Put Into A Computer Is What Comes Out Of A Computer

But, again, why is this happening? Is it lack of community, junk food, media brainwashing, the blunting of emotions that comes from a violent and sexualized media environment? A study of the American Medical Association laid some of the blame on the deleterious effects of television and mass communications. Accordingly, they say, we have lost real touch with humanity and replaced it with imaginary experiences which do nothing for our body, mind and spirit. Media has led us to become a nation of spectators of life, not livers of life, and all for the chance to get us to spend our money for corporate benefit, while we merely sit by and consume until the next moment when we can consume again. We watch nature shows instead of hiking with a buddy, or laugh at jokes on TV instead of developing a socially responsible sense of humor, or we watch sex, instead of holding someone close ourselves.

The internet is no better for us. If we spend all night sending emails or posting on facebook, and then go to bed, we have only virtually engaged other people, we haven’t held anyone’s hand, met anyone’s eyes, or perceived anyone’s sorrow. We’ve become insensitive to the automatic things that make people react with people because people in the TV and picture icons on Facebook can’t have any give and take with us. They are only there to fill the time between meals and work and sleep. Your soul knows this. An online community is much too removed to be of the correct benefit to us, and whether or not we realize this consciously, we still perceive it, and it is like eating without having flavor in our food.

In a book called: When Corporations Rule the World, the blame is squarely put upon the rat race we live in. We are all caught in a downward spiral of alienation. The capitalist grab for money and more of it, widens the expanse between ourselves and our family and friends. This creates an inner emptiness that is hard to understand, especially since advertisers would have us believe that their products will solve our problems, if only we will send our money to them. Unfortunately, while they live in big houses and drive Lexus’ cars, we get poorer and poorer and less satisfied with our lives, and so we turn on the TV until we go to bed, to listen to more advertisers. Well, you get the idea. 

It’s interesting how TV seems to know this sort of thing is true. They have made a cottage industry out of the boorish, loudmouthed and clueless character. In 1999, a team of Harvard researchers studied the effects of chronic TV watching. They found that too much TV resulted in an increase in the lack of public involvement, sociability, and an increase in casual rudeness. In fact, they also found that it increased the regularities of “flipping people off”. TV seems to know that if it has a hand in creating a rude public, then they had better create imaginary buddies for that public  that are as reprehensible and unmitigatedly loutish as the public at large is, or at least those who go for the trash in TV.

Just think about the common man of today as compared with the slower, more sane lives people led only three hundred years ago. Today we are steeped in electronic media. Always on the go, never a moment to ourselves to focus on the reality of our own day to day lives. Persistent low level anxiety, frustration, despair, major mood swings and a palpable need for attention in the media circus. But still we believe that happiness is right around the corner, just get that raise, that vacation, that Soloflex®. Revolution is on its way, folks. Just add a disgruntled public to the economic woes of today and the monarchy will soon be losing it’s heads.

TV was once great. The problem is that, like our education system, corporate greed hijacked the best that TV could offer. Better to keep the masses poor and on the couch every night, so we can have all the things of empowerment that they can only wish for. 

Parents need to start the revolution by undoing the “Bewitched” attitude of television, where it is the focal point of the living room, and this goes for mister computer too, or anything that is going to take you away from living your own lives, or your kids own lives for that matter. We as a people need to lessen our dependence on those things which are not human, and which focus on imaginary, usually detrimental ideas which only create dissatisfaction within us. We need to only buy small TVs and have them on a shelf in the closet, while we spend more time with each other in real life. It’s our lives that matter, not some pretend drama or wish fulfillment comedy which only steals our time, and our lives. Considering, of course, that the majority of those who stood in line outside of retail establishments for black Friday and then left with wide screen TV’s , its easy to see that the sale has been made, the public mesmerized. 

We’ll be right back after these messages....

If indeed, we were ever truly here at all.

Escape The Hezbollah