Uncommon Sense

August 26, 2021

e-motion 2.0—a Documentary Review

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment,Reason,Science — Steve Ruis @ 11:14 am
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Jumping the Tracks and the Shark at the Same Time

I took two running starts at this documentary but neither time could I make it even one quarter of the way through. I was washed out on a wave of woo each time.

The film begins easily enough by making a few claims, through quotes, such as “The subconscious mind determines everything about us.” Well, no it doesn’t, but it is very close.

They then went on to state that “emotions control the subconscious mind” and again, no they don’t but they do impact it substantially.

Next they made the completely wild claim that “at the root of every illness is suppressed emotion.” So, their thinking is starting to be exposed: emotions control the subconscious mind combined with the subconscious mind determines everything about us (my emphasis), and they create a direct link between emotions and everything about us, including illnesses. Now, there are some truths involved here but they are extrapolated so far as to make them disconnected.

I am, for example, convinced that imagination is our super power; it is what makes us distinct from every other species. And it is not that other species do not imagine (I don’t know but suspect that some do), but we took that sucker and ran with it. And one thing we can do is imagine a stressful situation so vividly that we can get a bodily stress reaction from it. And that, if repeated a great deal, will lead to an illness. So, memories and emotion can lead to illness.

In the sport I coach, archery, we claim that our subconscious mind cannot distinguish between reality and a vivid imagining. (This is based in science. It seems that instead of interacting with “reality,” whatever that is, directly we create a simulacrum of reality in our mind and interact with that. So, imagination and reality are not at all distinct in our minds.) Where this comes into play in archery is that archers are taught to vividly imagine a perfect shot from their personal viewpoint, just before raising their bows to make each shot. I am of the opinion that this “visualization” is a set of instructions to our subconscious mind, which controls all of our physical movements, to “make it so.” All motion of our bodies, not just archery shots, is controlled subconsciously. You know this from whenever you had no training in some physical activity and had to do it consciously: driving a car, riding a bike, tying your shoes, etc. How’d that go? Clumsy, eh? We all are. We have to train our subconscious minds and then we can turn it over to them to do it effortlessly.

So, our subconscious minds control a great deal of our lives, but “everything”? (Otherwise, how do we train our subconscious minds to do things like tie our shoes?) That’s quite a stretch at best. And we still don’t know what a “mind” is, but most psychologists think we have a stack: we have our conscious minds, then our subconscious minds, then our unconscious minds, and at the bottom, our autonomic processes (heartbeat, gland secretions, etc.). Each “layer” is intermixed with the one’s next to it. Some think that the “subconscious mind” is really just an expanded mode of conscious mixed with unconscious mental activities and it is not really a separate thing. 9In archery discussions I use subconscious and unconscious interchangeably because the finer points are not needed for archery.) The mixing of “minds” (No, Spock, not now!) is evident from experiments in which the subjects exhibited mental control over things like their heart rate, blood pressure, and other “autonomic” things.

So, we don’t know exactly what a mind is, and there seem to be multiple minds with somewhat separate functions or abilities. For example, archers are taught to moderate their emotions because they do affect our subconscious behavior and archery shots are largely subconscious events. Get overly emotional and your shooting becomes erratic.

But, going from “some diseases” are caused by subconscious emotions to “all diseases” are caused by emotions, requires a bridge too far. We became much more proficient in fighting diseases when we discovered the germ theory of disease, that there are microorganisms, including viruses, that cause disease. (In the Age of COVID, does anyone argue against this any more?) So, are disease organisms manifestations of repressed memories?

Also, they jumped to “suppressed emotions” from “emotions.” They claimed that “good emotions” are expressed while “bad emotions” are suppressed. And the bad emotions build up over time and . . . disease. WTF? We obviously have memories of emotional events. Evolution has decided that there is something to learn from emotional events (like to avoid being eaten by the tiger, I don’t have to outrun it, just out run the others in my group) and those memories last longer than mundane memories.

And, we are just now starting to learn how memories are stored. If you thought little video stories are storied in this or that place in your brain, well, you guessed wrong. Memories are dissected. The visual parts are stored in the visual cortex, the audio parts, are stored elsewhere, as are the tactile parts, etc. The locations in the brain that possess the ability to process specific kinds of information are where those kinds of information are stored. When a memory is triggered, all the parts get reassembled (well, usually all of the parts do, but not always) lickety-split. The more often a memory is triggered, the easier it is to recall. So people who chew on events of the past find it oh so easy to pull up the memories of the things they cannot resist. Those who do not dwell on the past find it harder and harder to come up with those recalls.

None of these things were discussed, at least in as far as I got. The second try I stopped at the comment “Ninety percent of our energy is used to suppress energies from our past.” WTF?

I did get past the obligatory mention of vibrational energies and how they are linked to various parts of the body. Vibrational energies were the vogue in the woo-woo crowd of 100 years ago as the wave nature of light and whatnot were in open discussion because of all of the excitement surrounding Einstein and his posse of physicists. No mention of how these vibrational energies operate other than through resonance and the kind of energy is never mentioned, just “energy.”

So, as I said, a tidal wave of woo washed me out.

If anyone gets to the end I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on this . . . whatever it is.

Oh, btw, we do not yet know what an emotion is. One of the most promising theories is that these things are learned!

August 9, 2021

UFO’s Really?

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 9:26 am

UFOs are real . . . surprise, surprise. The problem is and has been all along is in their interpretations.

Basically odd flying objects have been observed, for millennia if the historical record can be trusted. Also, scriptural references abount with UFOs.

Why was there ever any doubt. There was doubt because it was felt that the causes of many of these observations included interpretations that were outlandish. That a UFO could be a weather balloon, or on optical or radar artifact are all reasonable interpretations, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of such observations that can’t be explained away through “the usual suspects.”

Could this be viewed as a documentary in the future?

It didn’t help that the US government waged several disinformation campaigns on its own citizens.

So, what about the core issue here: that so many people believe UFOs are evidence for alien spaceships.

Some claim there is concrete evidence locked up in government facilities of these ships.

Whatever, the well is being poisoned by people looking to profit off of the situation. Being interested in UFOs and aliens (at least as to how authors can use them to portray different ways to think and act) I watch a fair number of “documentaries” about UFOs. These programs are poisoning the well of their own arguments by the simple expedient of weaving simulations in with actual video recordings. Many of these simulations were created to appear as if they were actual videos: the “camera” moves as if hand held, the focus isn’t sharp, etc. If these folks wanted to be honest each of these “video presentations” should have a prominent label “Simulation” or some such. The same goes for re-enactments of alien encounters. Since actual recordings of those encounters are available, often simulations are created, or re-enactments are made, sometimes even using clips from commercial movies. All of these things are wrapped in a delivery package called a documentary” for which we have an understanding of an attempt to portray the truth about some situation.

I guess I am becoming sensitive to the quality and veracity of the information being provided to us. The tendency to blend in re-enactments into newscast without them being prominantly labeled is alarming.

We will paralyze ourselves politically if we cannot clean up our sources of information.

June 24, 2021

The Infinity War—Much Ado About Nothing

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment — Steve Ruis @ 1:01 pm
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In the Marvel blockbuster series culminating in the move Avengers: Infinity War, an evil alien by the name of Thanos was collecting a set of magic stones that would allow him to kill half of the population of the universe with a snap of his fingers. The Marvel people mine mythologies to acquire names for their characters and Thanos is a shorter version of Thanatos, who was a Greek god of death who brought gentle deaths to people. Thanos also brought gentle deaths . . . to half the people in the fricking universe!

So, half of all of the aliens and humans dissolve away peacefully, including half of the Marvel characters who were fighting Thanos.

The final movie involves time travel and trying to thwart the effort of Thanos that way.

But that is not the flaw in this whole scheme.

Thanos, once his labors are complete, retires to a little tropical hut as if he has accomplished his life’s work. But all through the series Thanos rails about how overpopulation was destroying the universe. All of the ills of poverty, war, etc. could be addressed if there weren’t so many people clamoring for food, shelter, and resources.

Sounds good enough for a fantasy, except . . . do you know how many years it took for the last doubling of the population of our planet, Earth? I won’t make you look it up; it was 49 years. So, assuming that other species would be reproducing at around the same rate, fifty years after Thanos’s mass murder, the population would be right back where it was. or, if not in 50 years, then 100.

Thanos, at best, created a very short duration respite from population pressure. More specifically, he also created an immense mass of misery in those who remember their lost loved ones.

For the amount of power possessed in the infinity stones (the magical bits), a better solution could have been come up with. How about a lower birth rate across the board? How about a change of mind regarding what we owe others as well as ourselves? But, the creative team was American, so “kill them all” is a dependable solution for any problem encountered in an action-adventure movies. Which makes me wonder why “kill half of them” was so attractive.

June 7, 2021

Duh . . .

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment — Steve Ruis @ 9:59 am
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Bob Odenkirk recently lamented that: “Soon people won’t remember Breaking Bad.” Odenkirk played slimeball lawyer Saul in that TV series, which was a smash hit, certainly amongst working and retired chemistry teachers (the main protagonist was a high school chemistry teacher facing a fatal disease and looking for a way to care for his family after he dies and finds it in making crystal meth).

I am a bit surprised at Odenkirk’s lament however in that television shows have as a primary objective to make you forget the previous show you just watched. They want your full attention focused on what you are watching now and not mulling over things you watched in the previous show. Then it is “lather, rinse, repeat” and soon all is forgotten.

This is why I argued that TV was a poor medium to base school lessons upon. All teachers are taught that after a “film” (remember films?) or video is played that there be a discussion of various topics associated with what was viewed. Many providers of such “educational materials” supplied guidelines for such discussions, even in accompanying pamphlets/books. Do you remember ever having one of those Q&A sessions after such a “showing”? What I remember coming after those movies was a bell signally it was time to move to the next class.

And, yes, I am somewhat of a curmudgeon when it comes to education but this is not a “we shouldn’t be using these new fangled technologies” lament. It is, rather, we should be using them correctly. Video should only be used for educational purposes when viewing what is going on is very important and, yes, discussion is needed. Just as a reading assignment given to students that is not mentioned again or discussed in class will rapidly be forgotten as being “unimportant.”

June 3, 2021

W.C. Fields, a Great Comedian/Philosopher

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment,Philosophy,Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 9:20 am
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I was reading a blurb for a book featuring some of W.C. Fields great lines. Fields created a persona of being a lush, which would not fly now (but did in my youth, thank you Foster Brooks). The blurb writer did not include my favorite Fields quote, which was his take on “spirituality.” I believe it went “Everybody ought to believe something. I believe I’ll have another drink.”

I think comedians are modern day court jesters, and since we govern ourselves, they send their barbs toward all of us. I miss George Carlin. There was none better at that role.

April 25, 2021

Netflix, Please Give the Atmospheric Scores a Day Off

I tuned in to watch a new Netflix movie, Without Remorse, with Michael B Jordan, an actor I like to watch. I had to turn it off several minutes later because of one of Netflix’s bad habits. It funds many movies and most of them have very “atmospheric” soundtracks, that is the music is almost continuous and mood setting. It also makes the movies hard on those of us who are a bit hard of hearing.

After struggling to hear and then make sense of the dialogue, I get frustrated and just turn the show off. And it is not that I haven’t tried other things. I watch a fair number of foreign generated shows, which use subtitles for those who don’t speak Korean, or Japanese, or Spanish. I do not mind this but it has certain limitations. When an English language show is on, I can go to the bathroom or the kitchen and still follow what is happening. If I am dependent upon subtitles, if I lose sight of them all I hear is words I do not understand. I either have to pause the show or rewind it when I get back (sometimes the bathroom calls strongly).

I do understand what a good movie soundtrack does, but I am learning what a bad movie soundtrack does now. Are any of you experiencing the same issue?

February 19, 2021

Ding Dong the Rush is Dead

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment,Politics,Race — Steve Ruis @ 9:49 am
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The not so sad news came yesterday that Rush Limbaugh had died. Many people were asking today whether it is appropriate to celebrate that event.

I was actually a fan of his radio show quite some time ago, until a particular story came up. It involved a mountain lion attack on a hiker in the California wilderness. Mr. Limbaugh couched this story as another liberal tree hugger getting her just desserts. I then read a story in the newspaper that the forest ranger who found the body stated that Mr. Limbaugh got the story quite wrong. The ranger even called the show and spoke to a Limbaugh flunky to explain how wrong he had got the story. Mr. Limbaugh continued to spin the story his way for many days thereafter, after learning from someone who was there that he had got it wrong. He never “corrected” his story.

At that point I concluded that anyone having such a disregard for the truth could not be trusted and so stopped listening. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Limbaugh became a full-time shill for the Republican Party. (Remember the “America Held Hostage, Day XYZ” campaign?)

At that point it was clear that Mr. Limbaugh was not taking an ideological stance, but a financial stance. In politics, one must follow the money, but also the access. Mr. Limbaugh sucked up to the rich and the powerful conservatives and got paid really well and he got to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom. GOP pols sucked up to him obsequiously.

The financial haul lasted a long time, until the Dump Rush campaign cut into his sponsorships a great deal. All in all, he was an embarrassment in American Radio broadcasting history.

So, “Ding, dong, the dick is dead, the wicked old dick, the dick is dead . . .” Celebrate away!

January 25, 2021

Bemoaning/Lauding the Obvious

Filed under: Culture,Entertainment — Steve Ruis @ 9:06 am
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I was reading an opinion piece in which the core point was “Social media has shaped contemporary fiction, even in novels that make scant mention of it.”

Imagine, wondering why novels (and by extension, movies, videos, etc.) don’t show people engaging with social media when that activity drives much of our lives now.

Hello? Really?

Did you ever see a James Bond movie in which he laundered his clothes or even took any to a dry cleaner? How about using a credit card or buying anything not work related? Gosh do you think that was because nothing was happening during those “scenes” that would further the plot?

When people engage in social media, or as the author of this piece put it “mindless scrolling through social media,” nothing is happening . . . absolutely nothing. Sometimes you will see a text message in a scene in a movie, which is just an inaudible form of telephone speech. Otherwise, you are not going to hear or read about social media exchanges in novels and movies because they are steps removed from the actors and the actions.

This is for the same reason why you would rather speak to a loved one face-to-face rather than by phone, or by text, or by email. A person’s words are only a small percentage of the content of a message. Even video chatting or teleconferencing diminishes the quality of communication by filtering out some of the affect employed by the speakers. (Remember My Cousin Vinny and “I killed her . . .” being quoted from a transcript by a bored stenographer, containing none of the sarcasm, outrage, and incredulity that was originally employed?)

So, social media will have an impact on novels and movies, mainly by reducing the length of time people will be willing to engage with such a thing. Then their fingers will be wiping the page of the book, or screen of their TV, wanting something different to engage with. They will not suffer any lulls because if they encounter one, they will be gone.

Yeah, social media will affect novels and movies, but only by turning social media addicts to ADD-addled, instant gratification zombies.

December 23, 2020

Conjunction Submunction, Part 2

In Part 1 of Conjunction Submunction I wrote: “I think the majority of the interest (in the conjunction) comes from people who still dabble in astrology. “OMG, Jupiter is in the house of Saturn? OMG!” (I know nothing about astrology, so that is clearly made up and if I offend any astrology people with my ignorance, well, you deserve it.)”

As things usually go, I received shortly thereafter what a “real” astrologer thinks it means, to wit:

“At 12:21 p.m. CT the Great Conjunction forms between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, showing us where innovation, community, and opportunity intersect. This is a rare occurrence as Jupiter and Saturn meet every 20 years and are doing so in air signs after over 200 years of being in earth signs. This conjunction is all about doing the work it takes to be free — individually, and collectively.

“Saturn is a harsh taskmaster, especially in a fixed sign like Aquarius. Aquarius energy can be full of peace, friendship, and humanity, but do not mistake the other end of the spectrum. Aquarius likes to connect, but exclusion is the flipside of inclusion and as our world begins to meld in ways that many don’t like, we may find many rebelling against the process of creating a humane, global community. This is where we learn the tough lessons of being human. Do what you say you will or stay silent. Rewards will not be given to lazy thinkers under these skies. If you’re dedicated to being silly, you’ll get goofy results. Edit and enhance your network with a discerning eye. Build friendships genuinely yet intelligently.”

So, now you know. (I always wanted to know where innovation, community, and opportunity intersected. I thought it was in Silicon Valley, but now I understand it is up in the sky . . . wtf?)

November 19, 2020

Kinda Sorta Worth Watching

Like many of you, during the pandemic I have watched more movies and documentaries than I ever have before . . . at least the first five minutes of that many, any way. I ran across a documentary on the Amazon Prime streaming service, if you have that, which may be worth your time to view. It is called “Christian Dilemmas” and subtitled “The Secret History of the Bible.” I tend to hate anything with the word “Secret” in the title because they never talk about secrets so much as ignorance. Just because a great many people are ignorant of a topic, doesn’t mean that there is some nefarious force keeping it secret.

In any case, the presentation of this documentary can be off-putting. Often the screen is showing cheesy religious movies made in the silent movie era, or even cheesier animations, and there were heading mis-spellings: the god Horus was spelled Horace, Resurrection was spelled with a missing “r,” and so on. (Once an editor, always an editor.) And they also seemed to confuse apostles with disciples. But if you can get past these there are some interesting tidbits.

One discussion I found interesting was a discussion of what “the Kingdom” meant to Jesus and his crew. It is very clear what “the kingdom” meant to Jews of that period (and earlier). It referred to a resurrected kingdom of Israel, a theocracy of the highest order with Yahweh at the peak of the org chart. This kingdom would be re-established if only the Israelites, Jews, Hebrews, etc. would just follow Yahweh’s orders. (Repent!). The new, improved Israel would be out from under Rome’s heel, and in fact would dominate the region. (Each of Jesus’s disciples was promised a country to rule over as a king.) It was substantially later that “the Kingdom” was elevated to a reward in Heaven and as some mystical, magical heavenly construct on Earth by those shaping and reshaping the new religion.

Another tidbit I found interesting, partly because of another book I have read that Ill be reporting upon later, involved the Eucharist. This Last Supper ritual was performed at a Passover supper but had nothing whatsoever to do with Passover. In it, Jesus, a practicing Jew, offers wine to his acolytes, who are also practicing Jews, and tells them to drink the wine as it symbolizes his blood. Any self-respecting Jew at this point would barf up his dinner in revulsion. He would rather eat roast baby than drink blood. Jewish dietary laws are very, very clear and very, very strict about not eating or drinking any animal blood and certainly not human blood.

So what is this ritual about then? It has nothing to do with Passover, so what? It is a common trope in mystery religions, which had identical rituals involving eating gods as part of their repertoire of empowerments. In fact, Christianity, under the influence of the Romans, incorporated many, many elements of the other religions (aka pagan religions) then prevalent in the empire. The empire wanted a single state religion that would function across the breadth of the empire, reinforcing Roman state power. And the Romans were quite accomplished at folding other religions into theirs. (The Mother of God, the saints, the angels, etc. are nothing if not demigods, some of which left over from Hebrew polytheism.)

As a consequence, all of the hard work the Jews had made to eliminate sun worship and Great Mother-type worship (Sophia, Isis, Asherah, etc.) was made null and void as Christianity put them back in.

A smaller point is that both Jewish and Christian scriptures do not speak against suicide, but apparently it was a problem. The documentary claimed that the downtrodden amongst the Christians were committing suicide at a great rate. They had been told that Heaven was such a great place and their life was intolerable, so. . . . Around 400 CE Augustine declared that suicide was “mortal sin” which will keep you out of heaven. Since there was no scriptural support for this position, just possibly suicide was a problem as indicated. Interestingly, suicide is considered illegal in most US states, assuming Biblical support for that position, an assumption which has no basis in fact. And, even though suicide was declared anathema, it was not so by that era’s “suicide by cop,” martyrdom. Martyrs were lauded to the skies. So, you can’t off yourself, but if you can get someone else to do it for you, that was just peachy.

Other tidbits were that abortion was acceptable, under conditions, in the Catholic Church until 1917 and Catholic priests were allowed to marry until 1139 CE. There is little to no support for celibacy in scripture. (Being pro-celibacy yet anti-birth control and abortion seems to require a great deal of cognitive dissonance control, but then they are experts at this from long practice.)

They pointed out that the gospel depictions of Jesus on the cross all have Jesus saying something different, something that turns out to be a quotation from Psalms or another place in the OT, which kind of undermines the argument that the gospels are based upon eyewitness testimony. If they were, why did the eyewitnesses hear something different in each case and why were those utterances borrowings from the OT? Almost sounds like they were made up, no?

And the capper for me was Moses, coming down from the mountain, with the stone tablets, only to find his people worshiping idols. In his rage, Moses breaks the tablets and orders his soldiers to kill 3000 of their brethren. I guess he had to break the tablets first because one of those commandments, engraved by his god mind you, was “Thou shalt not commit murder.” I can completely understand Yahweh’s attitude toward the Hebrews.

Try watching this documentary and see if you are as desperate as I was in finding some amusement.

Addendum I got a real education trying to find this movie the next day. I searched the entire site for the keyword “Bible.” I found what I was looking for, by holy moly, what else is available on that site is, well … disturbing. Many of the “documentaries” are of the Ancient Aliens type (It’s all true!) There is four parter on how the Great Flood actually happened. Numerous docs on all of the evidence for their god’s existence. But the shocking part is the vast number of animated cartoon Bible-based movies. Can you spell in-doc-tri-na-tion, boys and girls. <shudder>

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