29 September 2011

60 Things I've Learned from the Movie "Megafault"

1. Earthquake killed ten miners instantly but took its time to chase the foreman, even waiting for him to get in his truck
2. An earthquake movie is sponsored by Quaker Oatmeal
3. Earthquake in Kentucky knocked over the Washington Monument but none of the windows in Washington shattered and nothing in the hundreds of miles between the two places were damaged
4. Earthquakes don't "move" and they don't have "paths"
5. When the foreman is rescued from his truck five hours later he can still run faster than anyone else even though he hasn't moved that whole time
6. After the foreman is rescued the earthquake comes back and chases him some more
7. Earthquake tries to suck a helicopter from the sky
8. Only buildings in the "path" of the earthquake get destroyed, all surrounding buildings are spared
9. Earthquake can toss a car like a toy in a wind tunnel but can't even shake the people trying to outrun it on foot
10. Buildings break into large jagged pieces like in children's drawings
11. When planes lose contact with the control tower they immediately crash because they're "flying blind" even on perfectly cloudless days
12. The earthquake is very slowly moving across the United States and will split it in half
13. Earthquakes do not work that way
14. When planes lose contact with the control tower the "transponder" causes the engines to explode, even though they're not connected and a transponder is just a radio transmitter and you can turn it off with no ill effects to the plane
15. A satellite from 1989 has a beam that can instantly freeze the water table of an area, causing an earthquake, somehow
16. "Megafault" is the least accurate movie ever
17. "Megafault" is the most cornball movie ever
18. Earthquakes can chase things with fireballs
19. "Stop the truck!" "I can't there's an earthquake on our tail!"
20. Government building is built on a "gyroscope" so earthquakes can't get in
21. The people who made "Megafault" (The Asylum) don't know what words mean or how anything works
22. "Megafault" is less accurate than the movie where an electric demon brought a black hole to earth ("The Black Hole" 2006)
23. There's only one seismologist in the world and she's the main character
24. The only things that can stop an earthquake are another earthquake or the Grand Canyon because it's already a hole in the ground so it absorbs earthquakes
25. A helicopter can outrun a laser
26. Earthquakes are only as fast as whoever they chase
27. When a laser shuts off the beam sucks back in
28. Thermodynamics means nothing in the world of "Megafault"
29. "P-waves have dissipated to 40" doesn't mean anything
30. Earthquakes can be frozen
31. A geologist said "mantle, what mantle" even though he's 60 years old and should know the earth has a mantle by now
32. Destabilizing the mantle with an ice laser causes people to spontaneously combust, leaving all their clothes unsinged.
33. An ice laser can set off a volcano
34. SyFy movies are even much worse than SciFi movies
35. "Why can't we move the Grand Canyon?"
36. One miner created an entire series of interconnected coal mines in Wyoming
37. Coal mines do not work that way
38. It is possible for one team, given only two hours, to fill 35 mines with a few crates of explosives and create a canyon
39. Earthquakes like to follow certain people and kill others who just appear in one scene instantly
40. "You can't outrun these explosives" but he can outrun five earthquakes in one day
41. 20 million tons of TNT
42. 20 million tons of TNT looks like a few small crates
43. Earthquakes really hate certain people
44. "Megafault" ends with a satellite image of a hundred mile deep split in the country
45. In movies redemption = death
46. In "Megafault" redemption = death
47. To make up for his crappy life the foreman had to die to save the world
48. The Asylum made "Megafault"
49. The Asylum made "Megafault" so that explains but in no way excuses it
50. "Birdemic"
51. "Birdemic" is a zero-budget 2009 ripoff of "The Birds"
52. "Birdemic" is even worse than "Megafault"
53. The miner foreman is appropriately named Boomer
54. "Megafault" is a mockbuster of a made for TV movie "10.5"
55. Even though "the President" is mentioned throughout the first half of "Megafault" he never makes an apperance in the movie
56. The whole meeting "the President" theme of the first half hour of "Megafault" is mysteriously dropped and never mentioned again
57. The Asylum had to contact NASA to calculate how bad "Megafault" is
58. "Megafault" has more stupid things than "Paycheck"
59. Good actors are willing to perform in crap movies

25 September 2011

The Return of Harmony Part 2 (of 3)

Not really, but it should have been. As a five part series finale this could have been the most awesome thing ever, but as a two part season premier, not so much. One hour of material was crammed into 22 minutes of show and with predictable results. The most powerful villain in the world was defeated in a deus ex machina way and turned back into stone as if that were the default setting of the Elements of Harmony.

Luna didn't appear (although Derpy was in the crowd at Canterlot). She was banished for 1000 years, but that wasn't punishment enough, so she was banished for the rest of Season One and the start of Season Two - the most siginficant event in the history of Equestria. Some ponies can't catch a break. She and Celestia just sat by and did nothing while Discord was on the loose? They could have at least helped (in a way other than returning Twi's letters).

If Twi could use her magic to undo Discord's negative effects on her friends why didn't she do so in the beginning? It would have been better if they had to overcome their changes with at least some struggle, if not two additional episodes worth. Part one seemed to be building up for something that never happened.

Now that the Mane 6 defeated Discord who would ever oppose them? They've only saved the very fabric of reality, they should be heaped with praise, their every whim delivered. You want everything for free for the rest of your life? No problem, you only saved reality. How could they possibly get repaid? I'm actually disappointed by this turn of events. Where do you possibly go from here?

The whole Cutie Mark Crusaders subplot was never resolved. It was just dropped like one of Discord's many non sequiturs. Were they there to demonstrait something? Were they there to serve as foreshadowing? Did their petty arguing actually free Discord? The world may never know.

This episode tried to be the greatest thing ever but was left wanting.

That's not to say this episode was bad, merely rushed. I would have to give this episode a comparatively low rating of 9.0 (out of 10.0). Not bad, like Over a Barrel, but not fantastic like Suited for Success or The Cutie Mark Chronicles.

Some very good parts of this episode include:

*Derpy was there, although she wasn't derping
*EVERYTHING about Discord
*Mean Fluttershy standing up to mean Pinkie Pie (at least somepony did it)
*Twi's balloon is back!
*When Discord fills the glass with chocolate milk he fills it from the top down, then drinks the glass and throws the glass-shaped milk away! And it blows up!
*The way Discord sits on his throne (see top picture)
*Twi handing out all the EoH necklaces and when she comes to her own she calls it a "big crown thing"
*Spike is the new Rainbow Dash
*Applejack eating apple cores and they get more complete with every bite
*When the Mane 6 originally attacked Discord with the EoH he puts a bullseye on his chest
*When they attack Discord the second time he says "friend me"
*Discord saying to Twi "Maybe the magic of friendship can help you."

22 September 2011

There Can Be NO Peace with Israel...

...Until the Palestinians stop rejecting it, as they have done habitually since the very beginning. The only solution to the Palestinian problem is for the Palestinians themselves to give up their asinine, historically false, and genocidal goal of gaining everything "from the river to the sea."

20 September 2011

Palestine to UN: "No Jews Allowed"

The South Syrians (Palestinians) are going to the UN, at the same time as Zero, whose very presence is closing down the city at the cost of millions, where they will be arguing for the existence of their state. Much like a child's club house the Palestinian state is posting a huge sign on their border: "NO JEWS ALLOWED".
Runs 11:13

19 September 2011

Marine Sergeant - A True Hero

On 15 September the President awarded Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 36 of his brothers in arms. He disobeyed orders and entered an Afghan kill zone five times to save the lives of 13 Americans and 23 Afghanis, as well as recover the bodies of 4 of his friends. This is truly moving. Words cannot do justice to his brave deeds.

17 September 2011

The Return of Harmony


Today was the long awaited premier of season two of FiM, and we got to meet the awesome villain Discord and learn that Equestria follows the same basic rules as most creation myths.

If we recall #69 on the list: Celestia needs the Elements of Harmony to defeat her sister, so even though she's older she's the weaker of the two.

From this we can know the following: (101.) Since both Celestia and Luna together needed the Elements of Harmony to defeat Discord, that makes Discord the de facto most powerful being ever introduced on the show. Not only did he precede the sisters as ruler of the world, he also held that position since deep antiquity and is possibly the oldest being yet introduced.

Next is the issue of the Elements of Harmony themselves. Who or what created them, or have they always existed?

The story presented in today's episode is one with a great deal of staying power. The world exists from an infinite past in chaos; out of the chaos are born the gods, the gods do battle with a great dragon, slay it, and then build the world from its remains. A lot of ancient myths follow this pattern with only slight variation (the Babylonian story of creation with Marduk fighting Tiamat follows it directly; the Greek Theogony details how the gods came from the premordial chaos: Kronos defeated his father Uranus, bringing about a golden age like when Celestia and Luna ruled together, then he overstepped his bounds and Zeus defeated him, like when Luna became Nightmare Moon and had to be defeated by her sister). This chaoskampf (conflict with chaos) appears throughout a very large number of the world's creation stories (including the Bible where, in Job, God tells Job how he fought Behemoth and Leviathan at the time of creation, trapped them, and how they will be destroyed in the eschaton, like how Discord was fought and trapped in stone, though we don't know if there was ever the intent on destroying him at the end of time), and plays out rather nicely in The Return of Harmony.

My only problem with this episode is that it is only a two-parter. I could stand to watch a separate episode dealing with how Discord affects each of the mane six. He is insanely powerful and insanely cool and I don't think two episodes do him much justice.

16 September 2011

Asymmetric Warfare, Afghans, and Aliens

People say the Soviet Union and United States lost in Afghanistan and Vietnam, respectively, because of asymmetric warfare. This is not true in either circumstance.

Russia succeeded in its goals in Afghanistan and left the country because they had more pressing concerns elsewhere. The pro-Soviet Afghan government faired very well for several years after the Soviet withdrawl in 1989, the Mujahideen had largely been crushed by 1986 when the Soviets began to leave, allowing the Mujahideen to return from Pakistan, and the Soviets learned valuable lessons from testing new field tactics. 1 million Afghans were killed, 2 million internally displaced, and 5 million fled to Pakistan and Persia, and all at the cost of 15,000 Soviet troops.

The United States never set out to win the war in Vietnam in the traditional sense. US goals involved defending the South from communist invasion. US forces could have invaded Hanoi, destroyed the DVR and left the VC to wither away after having the support kicked from under them, but Washington saw the risk of escalation with China as too great and decided to play small ball and eventually pull out, never having been defeated on the field.

The lessons learned from the Soviet-Afghan War and the Vietnam War can be applied to an hypothetical alien invasion of the earth to understand why asymmetrical warfare against extaterrestrials is doomed to fail.

Runs 12:30

13 September 2011

Exploring the Near Death Experience

Someone called TheSurvivalIndex has put out a 15 minute video detailing the cultural phenomena associated with the NDE. He says three main groups of people form the bulk of the popular presentation on the NDE:
1. Fundamentalist Christians,
2. New Age Haberdashers, and
3. Fundamaterialist Skep-Dicks.
Group 1 latches on to the pro-Fundamentalist Christian NDEs as proof of their beliefs and ignores or even denigrates NDEs that are favourable to other religions or to no religions at all (like atheists who have NDEs that tell them part of their life's mission is to be an atheist). Group 2 extrapolates from the NDE to believe all sorts of stuff that most likely is untrue (Loch Ness Monster, Fairies, Vampires, etc.*) and often tries to profit large offering spurious services to unknowledgable people. Group 3 likes to come up with bullshit just-so stories to explain away the NDE because they are committed to materialism, even when those stories blatantly ignore real facts, are based on illogic, and other fundamaterialists disagree and tear apart opposing stories. All three groups are able to thrive because the general populous doesn't actually read the primary material - actual NDE accounts and the reports of NDE investigators. Even though all three groups are contradicted by the evidence that doesn't bother them because as long as the vast majority of people are ignorant of that evidence they can still come off looking like authority figures.

*I'm not necessarily saying things like the Loch Ness Monster and fairies are not real - they may be - but I have looked into the topics and can't really find any good evidence for them. Loch Ness almost certainly can't support a single large creature, let alone a breeding population. There were biosonar signals detected in Lake Champlain though, indicating that, while not a "monster" there has to be a freshwater equivalent of a cetacean, something that has never before been seen. Things like fairies, gnomes, and other little people stretch my credulity a might, but they may have something to do with some spiritual force, I don't know and am open to the possibility. Vampires, either corpses reanimated by evil spirits (as the original vampires were), people infected with a virus that compells them to drink blood, or these psychic vampires who are real people who claim to drain people's energy in some way they never quite explain, are probably one of the least likely of these "paranormal" phenomena. If vampires reproduce like zombies there should have been a "vampire" apocalypse by now. The vampires in the Blade movies kept changing to suit the story and the Underworld vampires were never really explained very well, so I don't know how they stayed in hiding all these centuries. Psychic vampirism appears to be a lifestyle choice, like hippies or bikers other such groups, and probably aren't vampires at all, although they get happiness from playing a role. There are people who are difficult or depressed or assaholic and drain your energy that way, but there's nothing "paranormal" about that.

11 September 2011

9/11: Ten Years Later

9/11 remains one of the four most significant days in my life (and the only one that didn't happen in a short period between 2005-6). I remember exactly where I was ten years ago. I remember the innocence of the age and the girl at school I paid more attention to than the lessons. I remember the palpable dread that hung over everything. I remember the conversations, the denial, the grim disbelief. I remember having to learn to draw a new New York skyline. I remember how everyone was drawn into patriotism and brotherhood then quickly sunk back into the tick-tock of everyday life. I remember all the freedom I've had to give up. I remember the conversations with "truthers" and all their dreck, listening to people balancing between green and red reproach Capital Bush with the obsession of an alcoholic, ruining even what should have been their own dining experiences (I did attend university once). I remember the scenes of people jumping from buildings, now forever burned into my memory. I remember anger, confusion, sadness, government ineptitude at finding a single man, who was eventually caught and killed and dumped at sea with no proof given to the people who waited a decade for that day and to the country's enemies to serve as a warning.
What a decade.

10 September 2011

Swami Kriyananda on the Economic Collapse

Recall earlier how I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Paramhansa Yogananda's disciple Kriyananda's world brotherhood colonies, dubbed "Ananda Villiages", were neither hippie nor communist. Everyone must be fiscially responsible and contribute financially to the community. Now Swami Kriyananda gives an hour talk on the global economic collapse. In summary:

*Using creative energy to help others is like a muscle - it gets stronger the more you use it - and not like a fixed quantity like gold that diminshes the more you use it

*A lot of people care only for money, not for people, and they often play the stock market

*Government is too damn big (though he doesn't say "damn")

*Welfare helps government orders of magnitude more than it helps the needy

*...And it's FDR's fault!

*Deficite spending doesn't work and is killing the world economy

*"Legalise pot and maybe hard drugs so criminals can't make profits off of it and addicts can be given help, not rectal exams

*(Interestingly) Rock music (especially metal) is the vibration of negative dimensions and can cause natural disasters!

*Kindness and generosity can shelter you from economic hardship, though not always immediately, and, consequently, if you apply for enough jobs you'll eventually get one

*The Dollar will collapse, leading to world-wide hyperinflation

*The Euro sucks (too)

*Gold coins are very good to survive the economic apocalypse, but good farm land is the best investment

*Starting small communities in the country with similar minded individuals is the key to saving humanity, because cities will explode with apocalyptic crime

05 September 2011

The Son I Should Have Had

The following is intended to become an episode of The Urban Mystic Show (episode 302):

Twenty-six minutes into the movie Gladiator, the emperor Marcus Aurelius asks his general, Maximus, to become emperor following his death; to fulfill the one thing that he was unable to do. Marcus Aurelius says: "I will empower you to one end alone: to give power back to the people of Rome, and end the corruption that has crippled it." This request is problematic for several reasons, least of all having to do with the structure of the Roman senate itself.

First of all, to get the pesky problem with the senate out of the way as quick as possible, it should be noted that the senate of Rome did not function the way it is portrayed by the filmmakers. Senators were never elected by the people at all, they were appointed, and one had to be fairly wealthy in order to even be considered eligible for appointment. The senators did not represent the people of Rome at all, but a very minute group of elites at he very pinnacle of Roman society. Aside from having to endure the foul smell and terrible racket of chariot wheels on cobblestone streets of the city itself, senators really had nothing in common with the people. Returning the empire of Rome to a republic would not end the corruption – senators were always corrupt and looked out for their own potential benefit from political dealings – and it would certainly not give power back to the people because power never rested in the hands of the people to begin with.

More importantly, the very idea of handing power over to the people of Rome would be a profoundly stupid idea with extraordinarily disastrous results. One would expect Marcus Aurelius, the great Stoic philosopher whose Meditations are still quoted today, would have realized this. Of course, one cannot fault the emperor for this error; Ridley Scott appears to be crafting a vision of "Rome" that will appeal to the great idea of American of a government of the people, by the people, for the people, instead of creating something accurate that would be completely alien to a modern audience.

Just who is to be included under the banner of "the people of Rome?" Are the people of Mauritania and Moesia to be given equal say in the governing of the empire as the Latins themselves? Or is it just the people inhabiting the city itself that will rule, as a great many-headed tyrant over the vast conquered masses of the empire? At the rate it took to travel the vast spans of the empire anything more than the confines of the city would be too great a territory to permit any governance within a reasonable time frame. Should the Parthians invade it would be suicide to wait for the inhabitants of Britannia to decide whether to go to war or seek diplomatic means of crisis resolution.

The average Roman was preoccupied with more important matters, like securing food, and could not possibly have been educated in the finer points of governance. The average Roman was cold, hungry, illiterate, fearful. They desperately held on to their customs and traditions, their rituals and routines just to carve out mere subsistence. For as bad as the emperors were, as corrupt the senators, it was the people of Rome who were perhaps the worst possible choice as for who should rule. While Marcus Aurelius' vision makes for a wonderful story, and a wonderful picture of 21st century America, for second century Rome the idea would be absolutely nonsensical, and would be the farthest thing from Marcus Aurelius' mind.

02 September 2011

The World Gone Mad: REDUX

Remember the map from The World Gone Mad that displayed countries around the world where various social, economic, political, and military turmoil was going on? Well, someone has now made an interactive version of the map here with story and explanation here. The world gone mad map and the world opinion on intervention in Libya map are both interactive and updated since the one posted on The Urban Mystic back in February.

Milton Friedman on Donahue - 1979

Economist Milton Friedman takes down Phil Donahue's appeal to emotion by pointing out that greed is not capitalism's fault but is a basic human condition plaguing all political and economic systems. 9:28

01 September 2011

George Gilder Talking Straight

George Gilder talks a whole lot of sense in this twenty minute Reason TV interview. This one is so good I'm actually going to watch it again tomorrow.