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Archive for Jul, 2012

“Blade Runner” (1982)

I now live in a time which I used to read and hear about in the early 1980s in science fiction and other futurist works. Going from memory here is how the period of 1968 to 1984 saw our times (2000 to 2020), some of it contradictory because there was no single vision:

“The Man” (1972)

More or less right:

  • Cars streamlined in appearance
  • Space stations
  • Mobile phones – even ones which can pinpoint where you are on a map
  • The first black American president
  • Twice as many people in the world
  • A worldwide, public computer network
  • Global warming
  • Female American soldiers are common
  • Space tourism and private space companies

“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

Not way off:

  • The top chess player in the world is a computer
  • Western Europe is one country with one kind of money
  • People can talk naturally to computers
  • Japan as the most advanced nation
  • Homophobia rare in rich countries
Fail:

“I, Robot” (1950)

  • Hovercars that drive themselves
  • Manned space flight at least as far as Saturn
  • Space colonies
  • Underground trains that can cross America in 23 minutes
  • Military forces in space
  • Video phones in common use – with real-time translation!
  • There will be twice as many people, meaning that most will be poor and hungry. Even rich countries will be falling apart as the Earth runs out of stuff like titanium and oil.
  • The air is nearly unbreathable – so much so that New York is under a dome.
  • Los Angeles levelled by the Big One
  • Sky-high oil prices while scientists belatedly work on creating the hydrogen car
  • Solar-powered everything
  • Computer-controlled houses
  • Computers have at least as much intelligence as humans
  • Androids: a race of manlike robots who live in society
  • Human clones
  • Communism and apartheid have not fallen
  • About 25 countries have nuclear weapons
  • Whales have died out
  • A new ice age coming
  • AT&T still uses its 1964 logo
  • Codpieces make a comeback
  • Picking out the children one will have by sex, IQ, height, eye colour, etc
  • Quebec is an independent nation. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are American states.
  • The death of fashion: People wear skintight, unisex, solid-coloured jumpsuits. They come in only one style.
  • No beards. Many if not most women are bald.
  • Tables, chairs, walls, etc, are smooth and featureless. No curtains. Rooms are lit with backlighting.
  • Humans can talk to dolphins
  • Weather control
  • Underwater cities
  • World government
  • Because of computers most people work at home and live wherever they want.
  • There are ten known planets.

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977)

Possible wild cards:

  • Nuclear holocaust
  • Alien visitation
  • The Second Coming

In short: Robots, space colonies, a Malthusian end of days and good telephone service.

“The Limits to Growth” (1972)

Some books and films I can remember reading or seeing back then about our times:

  • 1950: “I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov
  • 1962: “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess
  • 1968: “2001: A Space Odyssey”
  • 1968: “Stand on Zanzibar” by John Brunner
  • 1971: “The Population Bomb” by Paul R. Ehrlich
  • 1972: “The Limits to Growth” by Donella H. Meadows
  • 1975: “Tales of Known Space” by Larry Niven
  • 1978: “Colony” by Ben Bova
  • 1980: “Your Next Fifty Years” by Robert W. Prehoda
  • 1982: “Blade Runner”
  • 1982: “Megatrends” by John Naisbitt
  • 1984: “The Fifth Generation” by Edward A. Feigenbaum
  • 1984: “New Rules” by Daniel Yankelovich
  • 1984: “The Third Wave” by Alvin Toffler

See also:

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Jimi Hendrix: Foxy Lady

Remarks:

This went to #67 on the American pop charts in 1967. Jimi Hendrix never had so much as a top ten hit in America in his own lifetime. Instead bands like The Monkees were at the top of the charts.

Lyrics:

Foxy
Foxy

You know you’re a cut little heartbreaker
Foxy
You know you’re a sweet little lovemaker
Foxy

I wanna take you home
I won’t do you no harm, no
You’ve got to be all mine, all mine
Ooh, foxy lady
I see you, heh, on down on the scene
Foxy
You make me wanna get up and scream
Foxy
Ah, baby listen now
I’ve made up my mind
I’m tired of wasting all my precious time
You’ve got to be all mine, all mine
Foxy lady
Here I come

I’m gonna take you home
I won’t do you no harm, no
You’ve got to be all mine, all mine

Here I come
I’m comin’ to get ya
Foxy lady
You look so good
Yeah, foxy
Yeah, give us some
Foxy
Yeah, get it, babe
You make me feel like
Feel like sayin’ foxy
Foxy
Foxy lady
Foxy lady

See also:

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Kekule

August Kekulé (1829-1896), a German professor of chemistry, had the most important dreams since the Bible: they led to scientific breakthroughs! They allowed him to work out how atoms go together to make different molecules – chemical structure. From that we know how to make chemicals, even stuff not found in nature, like plastic.

His family sent him to university to become an architect. But there he fell in love with chemistry instead. His parents were against it – there was no money in chemistry in those days – but he did not care.

Dream #1: The Dancing Atoms

One night in London on a late bus home Kekule fell asleep and dreamed of dancing atoms. At first they danced by themselves but then they joined hands and made pairs and then chains. The bigger atoms had more hands than smaller ones.

From this he got the idea that carbon atoms can bond with four other atoms and can form chains.

In the early 1800s scientists had worked out the chemical formulas for many substances. They found out, for example, that the alcohol in beer is made up of molecules that have two carbon atoms, six hydrogens and one oxygen:

C2H6O

But chemical formulas only told you how many atoms of each kind there were. It told you nothing about chemical structure, about how they went together.

The key was to know each chemical element’s valence: how many other atoms it could bond with.

As Kekule discovered, carbon had a valence of four. Oxygen had a valence of two and hydrogen, one.

Knowing that you can fit together the atoms of an alcohol molecule like so:

Or, in ball-and-stick form:

From structures like these it became clear how different chemicals could be put together – or taken apart – to form other chemicals.

These sort of structures worked well for most substances being studied at the time but not for benzene:

Dream #2: The Snake

Benzene has six atoms of carbon and six of hydrogen. According to Kekule’s ideas that was impossible. And yet benzene was real.

For years and years Kekule studied carbon-based chemistry (organic chemistry) but no luck. And then one night he fell asleep in front of his fireplace and had a dream.

He dreamed of snakes, long rows of them, moving and twisting. Then one of the snakes took hold of his tail to make a circle!

That was it: benzene was based not on a straight chain of carbon atoms but on a circle of six:

Notice the double bonds between some of the carbon atoms.

Because it is such a common chemical structure, it is now written like this for short:

Kekule did not live long enough to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, but his students won three of the first five: Jacobus van ‘t Hoff (1901), Hermann Fischer (1902) and Adolf von Baeyer (1905). Van ‘t Hoff added the idea of 3-D chemical structures. Von Baeyer used Kekule’s ideas to make indigo (the blue dye in blue jeans).

See also:

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The Monkees: Clockwise from the top: Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz

In the summer of 1967 the Jimi Hendrix Experience, on their first cross-country concert tour of America, opened for the Monkees. They played only eight of the 29 dates:

  • July 8th 1967: Jacksonville, Florida
  • July 9th, 10th 1967: Miami, Florida
  • July 11th, 12th 1967: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • July 14th, 15th, 16th 1967: Forest Hills, Queens, New York

The Monkees were a knock-off of the early Beatles made for American television. Despite their questionable talent millions of 11- to 15-year-old girls in America loved them, in particular Davy Jones, frontman and heart-throb. They were the best-selling band in America at the time.

Jimi Hendrix hated them:

Oh God, I hate them! Dishwater. I really hate somebody like that make it so big. You can’t knock anybody for making it, but people like the Monkees?

His manager had a different opinion: opening for the Monkees would put Hendrix in front of hundreds of thousands of American record-buyers. Despite three hit songs in Britain he was little known in America. He needed something to follow up his success in June at the Monterey Pop Festival in California.

The Monkees loved the idea. They were huge fans: “some of the best music I’ve ever heard in my life,” said Mike Nesmith. Mickey Dolenz said:

The Monkees was very theatrical in my eyes and so was the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It would make the perfect union.

It did not go well:

Dolenz:

Jimi would amble out onto the stage, fire up the amps, and break into “Purple Haze”, and the kids in the audience would instantly drown him out with “We want Daavy!” God, was it embarrassing.

When Hendrix tried to get 20,000 girls to sing along with “Foxy Lady” they would say “Davy!” instead of “Foxy”.

Rock music critic Lillian Roxon saw the show in Forest Hills, Queens. She said Hendrix’s love for his guitar was:

so passionate, so concentrated and so intense that anyone with halfway decent manners had to look away. And that was the way the act began, not ended. By the time it was over he had lapped and nuzzled his guitar with his lips and tongue, caressed it with his inner thighs, jabbed at it with a series of powerful pelvic thrusts.

As a joke she said the Daughters of the American Revolution got him fired for being “too erotic”. In fact on the eighth night Hendrix gave the audience the finger and stormed off stage. And that was it.

One woman who saw the show in Charlotte when she was 11 remembers it this way:

I have no recollections of anyone screaming for the Monkees to come on stage. All I remember is everyone screaming, standing on chairs, jumping up and down, waving their arms in the air, and being entranced by Jimi Hendrix on that stage. The music was like nothing I had ever heard and the crowd was in a fever when he was on stage. The last thing I remember about the evening was him setting his guitar on fire.

Sources: snopes.com, The Monkees Summer Tour of 1967, WNEW, “The Rough Guide to Jimi Hendrix” (2009) by Richie Unterberger.

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C.S. Lewis’s advice on writing

C.S. Lewis’s advice on writing (taken from his letters):

  1. Turn off the Radio. (Stephen King says to turn off the television while Zadie Smith says to turn off the Internet!)
  2. Read all the good books you can, and avoid nearly all magazines.
  3. Always write (and read) with the ear, not the eye. You should hear every sentence you write as if it was being read aloud or spoken. If it does not sound nice, try again.
  4. Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else. (Notice this means that if you are interested only in writing you will never be a writer, because you will have nothing to write about…)
  5. When you give up a bit of work don’t (unless it is hopelessly bad) throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later. Much of my best work, or what I think my best, is the rewriting of things begun and abandoned years earlier.
  6. Don’t use a typewriter. The noise will destroy your sense of rhythm, which still needs years of training. (This would not apply to computers.)
  7. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else. Take great pains to be clear. Remember that though you start by knowing what you mean, the reader doesn’t, and a single ill-chosen word may lead him to a total misunderstanding. In a story it is terribly easy just to forget that you have not told the reader something that he wants to know – the whole picture is so clear in your own mind that you forget that it isn’t the same in his.
  8. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
  9. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “more people died” don’t say “mortality rose.”
  10. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”: make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please will you do my job for me.”
  11. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”: otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
  12. Be sure you know the meaning (or meanings) of every word you use.

I love how clear his writing is and how he uses the right word almost every time. He rarely overwrites or writes to show off.

Both Orwell and Hemingway would go further than Lewis and say to avoid adjectives altogether as much as possible. So would Somerset Maugham and Jonathan Swift, given how they wrote.

See also:

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BWE writer Evia Moore with her man

Black Women’s Empowerment (c. 2007- ), or BWE for short, is a movement of black female writers and bloggers in North America and Britain that seeks to wake up black women from their narrow, unhappy and dead-end lives of service and loyalty to family, church and the black community and put themselves first for once. They are best known for pushing the idea that marrying white is a more promising road to happiness than marrying black.

The argument goes like this:

Black men often marry outside the race, so why in the world should black women limit themselves to just black men? Especially when in America there are only 70 single black men for every 100 single black women?

Black women are taught to have loyalty to the black community and work to uplift it. But without the help of black men that is a waste of time. Besides, why should black women make sacrifices that black men are not making?

Wholesome-looking couple featured on Evia’s website

More: White men make better husbands than black men. The numbers show that they are way less likely to divorce you or beat you. They are more likely to be good fathers since more of them had good fathers on which to model themselves. And so on.

The less-than-wholesome Ike Turner with his wife Tina

Many if not most black men are Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR). No black woman can save them no matter how much of a chance they give them – they will forever be screwed up. Marrying them can only end in tears. Think Ike and Tina Turner or Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. If nothing else, the huge oversupply of black women allows black men to get away with unacceptable behaviour.

James Earl Jones and wife

Most successful black men pursue and marry women with white or light skin. Think Thurgood Marshall, Frantz Fanon, Montel Williams, Lionel Richie, James Earl Jones, Quincy Jones, Marvin Gaye, Frederick Douglass, Sidney Poitier, Prince, Russell Simmons, Billy Dee Williams, Dave Chappelle and on and on.

And it gets worse:

The biggest enemy of black women and their happiness is not white racism, as many suppose, but black men. It is black men who beat them, leave them, fail to protect them and defend them, who tear them down in public and in private with a strain of racist misogyny unseen in any other race of man. Think the Swedish racist cake.

Thus BWE.

My opinion:

  1. Very few white men marry black women – only one in 400 of those who are married. A quarter of 1%. Not all that promising.
  2. BWE is driven by internalized racism. Opening up to dating men outside your race is one thing, but if you have to put down men of your own race to do it, something is seriously wrong. I doubt many black women, for example, would feel comfortable dating any man who puts down the women of his own race. He would rightly be seen as someone with Issues who is best avoided. Likewise BWE women. It is Sergeant Willie Pete all over again.

See also:

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Madonna: True Blue

Remarks:

This went to #1 in Britain and #3 on the American pop charts in 1986. The song is about Sean Penn. “True blue” was an expression of his about love.

The song was written by Steve Bray, a friend of Madonna’s and one of her first drummers, songwriters and music producers. He wrote “Everybody” (1982), the song that got  her on (black) radio stations.

I remember when this video came out I mainly just looked at the black dancer. Now, through the magic of the Internet, I can find out who she was and even read her latest tweets. She is Erika Belle, a friend of Madonna’s in the early days in New York. You can see her dancing behind Madonna in “Everybody”, “Holiday” (1983), “Lucky Star” (1984) and she appears briefly in “Papa Don’t Preach” (1986) as one of Madonna’s friends. Belle also designed the clothes in “Like a Virgin” (1984) and some of the other early Madonna videos. She is still a fashion designer as well as an art curator.

Lyrics:

I’ve had other guys
I’ve looked into their eyes
But I never knew love before
‘Til you walked through my door
I’ve had other lips
I’ve sailed a thousand ships
But no matter where I go
You’re the one for me baby this I know, ’cause it’s

[Chorus:]

True love
You’re the one I’m dreaming of
Your heart fits me like a glove
And I’m gonna be true blue baby I love you

I’ve heard all the lines
I’ve cried oh so many times
Those tear drops they won’t fall again
I’m so excited ’cause you’re my best friend
So if you should ever doubt
Wonder what love is all about
Just think back and remember dear
Those words whispered in your ear, I said

[chorus twice]

[Intermediate:]

No more sadness, I kiss it good-bye
The sun is bursting right out of the sky
I searched the whole world for someone like you
Don’t you know, don’t you know that it’s

True love, oh baby, true love, oh baby
True love, oh baby, true love it’s
[repeat]

True, so if you should ever doubt
Wonder what love is all about
Just think back and remember dear
Those words whispered in your ear, I said

[intermediate]
[chorus]

‘Cause it’s

True love, oh baby, true love, oh baby
True love, oh baby, true love it’s
[repeat]

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