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Ip Man, and Other Chinese Propaganda Movies

7 Feb

I don’t like hearing or talking about politics that much. Reflexively, I don’t trust a word anyone gunning for a position of power says. If I had my way, this guy would be in office:

But sometimes, bullshit starts pouring in from weird places, and it feels like I’m the only one who recognizes the odor. So, not that it makes a big difference to say it on this blog, but China is clearly trying to gain enough public sympathy to cover up it’s arms building.

For those of you who’ve just fazed out, I totally understand. But for anyone still interested, there’s no reason for China to have an cold war-sized army other than to bully other countries around. Their economy is killing. Everyone wants to give them money. They have no enemies. The only reason they think they need to arm themselves is because they are run by a government of insecure, tyrannical dictators. They are the villain in this movie. And I think they know it.

That’s why we’re getting a whole slew- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5– of emotional, cool, violent movies about things Japan did to them. (Sorry, but some are cool. Check this clip out: Ip Man Fight Scene ) It’s a PR move to become the victim so that any future violence becomes justified. Just like the Palestinians. The problem they should have is that, unlike the Palestinians, there are no Israelis there. It’s impossible for them to show any footage of the other side’s Zionist capitalist aggression.

Surprise! Some smart PR guy in China realized that it’s not necessary. Just keep making movies about the noble Chinese standing up to the Japanese invaders, and the issue becomes real. Never mind that Japan lost, made reparations, and is no longer a threat. It’s enough to build a case for victim-hood. Because facts change with the delivery system.

I think that there’s a very important point here. What Japan did is unforgivable, no matter how much they pay or say they’re sorry. But people aren’t their parents, and certainly not their grandparents. There has been no violence for 65 years. The people who did it are dead, as is their way of life. China is the aggressor here for reanimating this issue that should be dead or dying.

This is a clip interviewing the 84 year old Ip Chun, son of martial arts hero Ip Man, a little after the release of the movie about his famous father: (Jump to 2:02)

And that guy lived through the war. If people like that ran for President, I might not write in “Vermin Supreme” at election time.

(If someone said all this already, I apologize. The only news I get is whatever seeps into imdb, frumsatire, or the comments on youtube.)


The Republican Debate And Other Inconsequential Things

13 Sep

So I’m staying at a motel in Pittsburgh now for work and the other guy in the room turned on the Republican debate on CNN. First off, why are we going through the motions? Does anyone think they can beat Obama? In case you haven’t realized, he’s Barack Obama, and you’re a generic white man from who the fuck knows where. I can’t stand all you bastards, but jeez, the blue team is clearly going to win.

That said, the debate was pretty lively, almost interesting, to watch. All the douchebags were arguing with each other, the crowd was cheering and booing randomly, even Wolf Blitzer appeared close to having an emotion. The best part, though, was an interview with Michelle Bachman, the tea party candidate, after the debates were finished. The reporter asked her about an HPV vaccine that another candidate put on his state’s regimen of standard children’s vaccines.

Mrs. Bachman: This is an outrage! Irreparable damage has been done to thousands of young girl’s bodies without parents knowing about it. The government is invading 12 year old girl’s bodies. This is outrageous, unprecedented! It should be an opt-in program, not an opt-out. It’s not enough that the governor went back and changed the policy on this, he should have known, no, he should have had the moral certainty to have known from the beginning what to do.

Wow. That was certainly a mouthful. She kept coming back to “invading 12 year girl’s bodies”, like 3 or 4 times. I was getting a little horny. (Joke! Joke!) But really, what a crock of shit. Why can’t she just say what she means? But no. No candidate can get away with mentioning the “C” word in a debate, so she concocts this silly scare tactic about vaccines. Just say it, “I’m a… Christian.” That’s right, a Christian. That’s why I don’t like vaccines that help kids have sex with people they aren’t married to. Of course I don’t have a problem with vaccines, there are tons of vaccines that all kids have to get unless they “opt-out”. It’s a values issue.

Really. Was that so hard, you fork-tongued politician?

Lessons I Learned From 9/11

11 Sep

Google this book.

In case you haven’t turned on the news, today is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. People always say the same thing to you, right? Do you remember where you were? I do, of course. (I was in my Yeshiva in New York, which wouldn’t let us leave to go see what’s happening on TV.)

But the thing I remember the most was how unsurprised I was. I felt bad about that, like I should be all shook up, just like the newscasters were saying they were. I just wasn’t.

As a kid, I’d always wondered why there were no big terrorist attacks like they had in Israel and they showed in movies all the time. I figured we must just have better defenses. Secret ones, like automatic surface-to-air missile launchers or a few F-16’s hidden just out of sight. I thought our ports had automatic scanners with green lasers and our airports had retina scanning camera technology. After all, the threat was so obvious. It was so easy to attack.

When the planes hit the towers though, all these fantasies were shaken out of my head. Of course we had no secret weapons. Our security was crap just like it appeared to be. After all, our government worked on a break-fix model, and nobody had attacked us yet.

What 9/11 and the following months taught me was exactly how inept and bloated out government is. The only thing that made me feel a little better was George W. Bush. While the lawmakers made speech after speech about how they were going to change things, this guy actually did something. Thank God for crazy Texans. And thank God for the Executive branch. Everyone ripped him for it afterwards, but honestly, how good did it feel when good old George got up there and said he would “smoke ’em out of their caves”? Hells yeah, Mr. President.

And he did. He sent the Army into Afghanistan which eventually flushed out Bin Laden and his henchmen.

What did the bureaucracy do during that time? Publish a huge paper showing why our security sucks, pour tons of money into a monstrous break-fix security “system” that routinely fails every comprehensive test thrown at it, and get 50 different designs for the new ground zero.

Those green lasers don’t seem to be any closer.

Greying Pains

30 Jun

First, here’s a great interview with Israeli-born Gene Simmons of Kiss speaking his mind about Obama’s Israel policy. (Courtesy of Jackbenimble).  Ok, I hope you enjoyed that because I want to explain a fundamental point that he touched on.

We like to think of ourselves as having logical and coherent views on things, but the truth is that we’re mostly full of shit. And that’s ok. Our ideas were handed down to us as The-Way-It-Is by our parents, teachers and society and we accepted them as such. When you’re a kid, things are very simple, black and white. That’s because you have no experience with them the first time you hear them. They are your first and only impression. And they eventually sink to the level of emotions.

(That’s why they tell you not to talk about politics or religion at work. You’re going to end up having an emotional battle, not an intellectual conversation.)

As you get older, though, if you want to be able to see things from a truer perspective, you need to give up the security of holding onto these ideas. Why would you do this? Well, let’s hold off on the ‘Why’ for now and focus on the ‘How’, and the answer should become clear. The question is, if these ideas are on the level of emotion, how do you challenge them? Well, it’s actually not that hard. You can prove to yourself that many of the ideas and values you hold dear are contradictory to each other.

For example, you might feel guilty spending more money to be ‘green’. This is because you feel strongly about the values of social equality, and responsibility. If both values demand total obedience, you’re in a real bind.

Other people believe in Democracy very strongly, and yet still try to get a permanent ban on gay marriage passed before the majority decides it’s ok. That’s because they hold that both their religion and their form of government are a form of supreme truths that should be followed.

Others blame American schools for lowering kids’ intelligences in this country, while simultaneously pushing for less homework and pressure in schools. The two values working against each other here are the value of success versus the value of happiness.

If you don’t take the time to think these things through, and just accept everything in simplistic terms, you can push for one sort of change that will damage something else and you won’t even understand what went wrong at the end. The real truth is that most things in life demand a compromise on black and white values, and this isn’t a wrong or false way of living. Adapting your preconceptions to the reality of life is a true and natural way to live.

Now, I’m not saying there’s something wrong with trying to better your world. If you would like to see the world as a different place, and you think you can change it, go for it. But to push your way through when it’s clearly not working is not only stupid, but potentially very harmful to yourself and society. Just ask mother Russia.

Early Bloggers: Dasan and Aviram

29 Jun

It’s only been a few days and already I miss them. What can I say? Good ol’ D ‘n’ A are very likeable guys. In fact, the Medrash says that while Moshe and Aharon were chosen by God, Dasan and Aviram were chosen by the people.

First off, they’re the funniest people in the Torah. The humor really tanks after they go off-screen. Who can forget the classics like, “Were there no graves in Egypt, that you needed to bring us out to the desert to die?”* And after Moshe says, “Is it too small a thing that God has done for you, to do the service…that you also seek the priesthood?”, D&A answer, “Is it too small a thing that you have brought us out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us, that you want to lord yourself over us as well?” Ah, those were some good lines. A little dark, but still pretty good for ad-libbing ex-slaves from 3000 years ago.

They get a bad rap of course, but I think they’re just misunderstood. Sure Moshe is the hero of the Torah, and he’s pretty hard not to like, but I think Dasan and Aviram are easier to relate to. They’re not bad guys, they’re just totally distrustful of authority and have enough guts to say it. When God is helping them, they trust Him- they make it out of Egypt, after all. But they don’t want to put all their cards in anyone else’s basket. When Hashem tells Moshe to make them into bait to trap Pharaoh, they complain. When God says they should trust in Him to give them food every day, they balk and leave over food*. They don’t want to rely on other people’s (or God’s) goodwill.

Apparently they tapped into something that many people were feeling to some extent. They were “Kriai Eidah”, elect members of the congregation and, as such, they became folk heroes, unafraid to stand up for the people. I think that Moshe, “the most humble of all men”, didn’t take offense at their behavior because he understood where they were coming from.

What went wrong? I think that Korach was a good politician and made them believe him. Korach saw that he was being cut out of the privileged caste, and decided he would make his own. But he needed the people on his side to overthrow Moshe. And which better running mates to get than Dasan and Aviram? His platform suddenly became “We’re all equal”. Of course, D&A were interested in that socialist platform. Unfortunately, they got eaten up by something bigger than themselves. That should be a good lesson to all bloggers who support Narcissistic politicians like Al Gore, and the causes they chew up and spit out.

I guess that ruined the mood for some of you. I’m sorry. I’m cynical and mistrustful as well, and I can’t seem to keep my opinions to myself either.

*People blame them for it, so I’ll give them the credit.

Why Weiner Got Screwed

26 Jun

Anthony Weiner got thrown under the bus for something pretty innocuous according to politician standards. Everybody knows, there’s normal people values, and powerful people values. This article asks, why did the party go after Weiner, when they protected Clinton after doing much worse?

One answer is that Weiner was a huge dick. He made his career by stomping on people to make himself look good. Look at some of his videos on youtube. He’s a Class A douchebag. You want to do that? Fine, but you’re on your own. Like everything else, politics is made up of people. Your success will attract people to your side, but once you’re down, you’ve got no allies to back you up.

Reminds me of another New York Democrat…

(Update: I accidentally left out the hyper-links when I posted this an hour ago. Hopefully, this should clear things up.)

Thoughts on Weiner’s weiner

10 Jun

Hmm, what should the byline be? “The long and short of it.” “Not taking it lying down.” “Having trouble covering up.” “Weiner holding on for dear life.” “Pressure on Weiner starting to show.” The possibilities are endless with this goldmine. If you want more, Hulu has done a nice job of putting together a pretty hilarious “Late-night Anthony Weiner joke symposium”. (Make sure you watch Jimmy Fallon’s piece.) So, since the late night chevra has the comedy angle covered, I figured I’d philosophize about the current comedy feeding frenzy, and about the general state of TV comedy today.

Like I said in the Schwarzenegger/DSK post, politicians getting caught with their pants down is something everybody finds funny. Why though? I think the answer is simple. Comedy is a tool we can use to ‘count the whiskers on the beast’. To give an outlet to the feelings of oppression we feel from forces out of our control. It’s usually not funny to make jokes about people suffering. They aren’t oppressing us, so it’s wrong. However, when other people are pulling the strings that affect our lives, and corrupt career politicians are giving pompous speeches telling us what needs to change while secretly pursuing their own agenda, then when they make stupid mistakes that we can hold over them and cut them down to human size, we jump on it. Then, even Jon Stewart can make quality jokes without feeling the need to politicize it.

What do I have against Jon Stewart?! He’s a stupid, manipulative putz. He clearly has an agenda that he pushes while trying to pass himself off as a comedian. I’m sorry, but comedians can’t promote political parties. Your job is to be on my side against the authority. Promoting the Democratic party’s positions and candidates makes you the enemy. I’ll go for some real comedy, like South Park, or Malcolm In The Middle, or The Nanny.

And while we’re on the subject, The Office is not a comedy. It’s a soap opera with terrible jokes sprinkled in randomly. Conversely, Family Guy is a comedy, but it sucks. It has a bunch of random, bad jokes with a tiny bit of plot sprinkled in. The Simpsons passes because even though the plots are usually lame, and Lisa is preachy, the jokes are funny. After South Park, which is in it’s own league really, Community is the best comedy on TV.

Other good comedy shows over the years have been:

-That 70’s show

-Everybody loves Raymond

-The George Lopez Show

-The Jersey Shore

-The I.T. Crowd

-Malcolm In The Middle

-Fresh Prince of Bel Air

And of course the classics like:

-I love Lucy

-Monty Python

-All In The Family

-Are You Being Served?