Archive for June, 2009

The changes in Iran are changes in the world

I pray for as little suffering as possible in Iran as great changes unfold there.

The energy coming out of that country is truly amazing. In the United States, owing to the lens of the MSM through which we have seen the country for the past several decades, we have grown used to images of crowds chanting in favor of the regime and against the US and the West. Now, however, connected to the people there by Twitter, cell phone cameras, and other technologies, we see that the people there not only look like us and act like us, they are us. We are one people in the world, and nowhere can we tolerate injustice and violence.

I don’t feel the government there can last another two months. Put another way, I feel that something good and positive and as magnitudinous as the fall of the Berlin Wall is about to happen. It has started in Iran, but it will not end there. The changes in Iran are changes in the world.

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Movie review: Star Trek–bad science makes for a stupid watch


Star Trek on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.

Matt Rouge’s score: 2.0/5.0

I get the appeal of this movie yet don’t get it at the same time. Old characters come to life anew with a few decent performances (Bones was funny, Scottie less so). Some sweet eye candy. But, dammit Jim! this movie is full of bad science and other really stupid stuff. I am a skilled disbelief suspender, I really am, but this movie had too much for me to suspend. To wit:

“Red matter”
The Romulans have a big ol’ glob of “red matter” in a small space ship. A drop of red matter is enough to turn the plant Vulcan into a black hole (like Brylcreem, I guess “A Little Dab’ll Do Ya”). It is hard to understand how this matter can be prevented from destroying its container, the ship, etc.

Although a little dab destroys Vulcan, later on the whole big glob fails to destroy the Romulan ship, which requires some extra phaser pumelling from the Enterprise to be deep-sixed.

Why is it necessary to drill down into Vulcan’s core to use the red matter against it? Wouldn’t just dropping it on the surface have the same effect?

Space drill
How is the big bad drill able to jam transporter signals and cause other plot-friendly mischief? Later on, the characters are able to “beam up” from a planet to a distant starship traveling at warp speed, but the fire-spitting drill prevents them from beaming up to a nearby spaceship?

It’s hard to see how the fire-breathing drill is a good way to drill down into the planet’s core. If Vulcan is like Earth, there will be some magma ‘n’ hot stuff down there. How is the fire going to drill through that? If there is no magma, then wouldn’t it just be melting rock and creating magma?

Don’t the Vulcans (and later the humans) have any air defenses? The drilling platform has no shields and minimal defenses. Spock is able to destroy it with fire from his spaceship. Why are the Vulcans waiting for the Federation to come and knock this rather wimpy piece of equipment out of the sky? Why doesn’t the Enterprise just fire on the drill?

When the team “space jumps” toward Vulcan to take out the drill, they apparently don’t have a problem with the heat that would result from entering the atmosphere.

Spock is going to use the red matter to destroy a supernova and thereby save the planet Romulus. But, during his mission, “the unthinkable happens”: the Supernova gets Romulus anyway! Huh? Either Spock is going to eliminate the star (black-hole it!) before it goes nova, or he isn’t. After the explosion, its energy would travel outward at the speed of light and would presumably be unstoppable. There really is no “Whoops! Our plan didn’t quite work” that makes sense here.

The gravitational pull of the destroyed-Romulan-ship black hole causes the “windshield” of the Enterprise to crack–but they are able to pull away! This struck me as a small child’s interpretation of how such forces might affect a huge spaceship. A crack in the window? A crack in the ceiling? In order for that to happen, the gravity would have to be accelerating the different parts of the ship at different rates; and, if that were the case, there would no escape by dropping bombs behind the ship to push it away from the big bad black hole!

The Romulans and Spock travel through time because of destroyed-Vulcan black hole. Didn’t the Romulans have a plan that included not getting sucked into the black hole they knew would result? Also, why was Spock so near them, anyway? He was supposed to be taking care of the supernova, which, one may presume, was several light years distant. I will also add that plots involving time travel are really lame.

Even though Spock’s mother is in the process of being transported–we see the swirly lines swirling around her–Chekov says, “I’m losing her!” and she dies. What is this, some type of video game? The technology is indeed visually portrayed as requiring a person to match up one jittery icon with another jittery icon. Couldn’t a computer just match up those two jittery icons and complete the process?

The good guys gain the ability to beam onto a spacewhip traveling at warp speed by simply putting a new “equation” into the transporter. No new hardware is required–just changing the computer program does it?

That’s the major stuff I saw. There is plenty else I didn’t like about the movie, however, that doesn’t fall into the “bad science” category:

I was not a fan of the new Kirk or Chris Pine’s performance. Yeah, young and rebellious, I get it, but he simply didn’t have gravitas. I don’t think Pine is a bad actor, but this was not the right part for him. Regardless of the strength of Pine’s performance, Kirk simply did not feel like enough of a hero by the end of the movie; the plot did not produce that emotional payoff, and the medal ceremony rang false (whereas the ceremony at the end of Star Wars rings true). Indeed, the movie seems much more about Spock than Kirk (Spock even has the movie’s main romance!).

The actions of the Romulans and their motivations also did not ring true. The movie did not bring out what was interesting about the Romulans in the orignal series. These guys are just angry monsters looking and acting not much different than Pinhead and his crew in the Hellraiser series.

General dumbth
I’m no Trekkie, but I like the original series well enough. One thing that bugged me, however, about the original series and now this new movie is that, in a spaceship that looks as big as a city, all the action happens on the bridge.

Fighting with swords and axes?

Kirk is able to assume command after causing the acting captain to freak out?

The old complaint about ray guns shooting visible “bullets” of light.

And so on.

This was a movie that seemed dumb as I was watching it and really dumb right after it was over. I’m surprised that its reviews have been so positive.

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Walking in Broad Ripple

Photo by Matt Rouge: Squashed mulberry pattern on the street in Broad Ripple

Click on the photo for a larger image.

Broad Ripple is an area of Indianapolis less than 10 minutes from my house. One of my meditations these days is walking there, and for this purpose it is a most interesting environment. In a fairly condensed area, I receive the following:

  • The Indianapolis Art Center. A big part of my ritual, something I’ve done since 2006, is to walk up the Monon, visit the garden of the Center with all its sculptures, and then look at the White River from one of the two platforms that lie on the grounds. Often I also walk through the Center and see what art is on display. I really ought to take some sort of art class there soon.
  • The Monon Trail, full of walkers, bicyclists, roller bladers, etc. Life, people, happiness!
  • The woods and paths that lie off the Monon Trail.
  • The quaint shops that cater to the hippies, as well as Bohemians like myself (health food, coffee, etc.).
  • The quaint restaurants that cater to, well, the hippies and the Bohemians.
  • The bar scene. One of the biggest bar scenes in the city. Life, drunks, happiness! This is not my scene at all (except for the Broad Ripple Brew Pub on occasion), but many of the bars have outdoor seating or are open to the street, so one may enjoy the verve of drunken youth without partaking.
  • Starbucks. The people there are nice and friendly, and I often go there for my free Starbucks coffee (but I do leave a dollar tip, m’kay?). Then I do some more walking around with the coffee.
  • Streets. Bridges. Houses. Little offices. I have posted here a photo of squashed mulberries, which formed a pattern on the street.

There is a lot to take in there. I walked around there a bit tonight, around 8:30. On Sunday night the bars are quieter; there is a different feeling in the air that allows for a different form of meditation.

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Matt Rouge's Ultra-Positive Thought for June 13, 2009


The glass isn’t half-empty. It’s completely full!

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Sick baby update for June 11, 2009

In my last post about the sick baby with biliary atresia, I felt that things were getting better. And the good news is that, since then, things for our little friend have only continued to improve.

I last saw (and interpreted in the hospital for) the family on May 15, at which time the news from the doctors was more or less positive. There was an extensive discussion of the genetic disorder that the child may have, as well as its nature and cause (there are no definite answers yet). But his bilirubin was lower, indicating improved liver function.

The family returned to Japan at the end of May, and they’ve stayed in contact with me. The little one’s bilirubin has dropped even further, and photos of him show him smiling just as brightly as when I last saw him in person. My intuition tells me that things will continue to go well!

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