“Top Gun: Maverick” – Tom Cruise sequel film hints at a dangerous possibility in international “politics”

flying east from San Francisco, 2018-9

With all my recent travels, I hadn’t seen a movie in a theater all month, so Memorial Day afternoon I got into the groove again and saw “Top Gun: Maverick” at the Angelika Mosaic in Fairfax/Merrifield VA (by the way, my favorite in his chain is the 3-levels on Mockingbird in Dallas).

Oops, “Top Gun”, not “Top Fun” is Paramount/Skydance’s trademark based on Jim Cash’s serializable characters (caught a typo).  I remember seeing the 1986 film “Top Gun” (directed by Tony Scott) with a younger Tom Cruise Mapother in the now removed Northpark in Dallas when I was living there. 

Top Gun 1986 film trailer

Now, Cruise (all of 67 inches) is 59, and has been ripening ever since climbing towers in Dubai.  The film (“Top Gun: Maverick“), however, may have real political significance this time around.

trailer for Top Gun: Maverick 2022

As the film (directed by Joseph Kosinski) starts, Naval Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell will be forced to retire.  In desperation, be goes out on a run and crashes a plane, parachuting to some remove Sierra Nevada village.  He is not in a zone of comfort, according to Harmon Circle screenplay theory (131 minutes).  Rear Admiral Chester Cain (“Hammer” – Ed Harris) is again about to tell him he is out, but suddenly the Pentagon wants him to teach a cadre of a dozen top guns to dive and dogfight into a secluded uranium enrichment or nuclear weapon facility overseas.  That becomes the opportunity and plot.  In a sense, what it “costs” him (in Harmon theory) is that he can’t fly himself.  Well, we’ll see.  Like will you pass the course after all.

Maverick’s main “adversary” (of sorts, at least in a matter of “suspicion”) is Bradley Benjamin, who is called “Rooster” (that is, “Chickenman”, in Fort Eustis/Rado S talk), played by Miles Teller.  You have to get used to this Miles if you got addicted to him in “Whiplash” (2014).  Can he be great again?  After all, Tom Cruise isn’t exactly JK Simmons. 

In fact, Rooster is an “antagonist” because Maverick had, at one time, denied Rooster’s ability to get into the Naval Academy.  Maverick now is only a captain (O6) himself so now they are about even.  Here, you get into the idea that the US Navy has its own air force.  US Air Force jets normally don’t have the tailhook gear enabling them to land on aircraft carriers.  So Navy jets are mainly an expansion of sea power, not space.  That matters. It’s likely that steep dives and dogfights are more critical in Naval missions.  For some teens considering a military career (especially post-DADT), this can really matter as to choice of service. (You can ask the same questions about why we have both an Army, and a Marine Corps belonging to the Navy – and a Coast Guard belonging to the Treasury.)

How the Navy’s ‘air force’ differs from the US Air Force

Maverick and Rooster will gradually have to learn to work together and bond for the mission to work.  The movie’s middle passes, until the mission arrives.  One might have expected the target to be in Iran, but the sequences in film’s sequence place the uranium facility in a mountain cave near an ocean. That practically means it has to be North Korea.  (The actual filming was done around Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada.)  This is a provocative assumption for a movie.  I understand that Trump considered prophylactic aggression against the DPRK to follow the Winter Olympics in early 2018 but was dissuaded, from an operation that could have started, well, WWIII (North Korea might well have been capable of an EMP strike against the continental US then – and imagine what could have happened to Seoul).  In any case, Kim Jung-un can assume he has been attacked at least in a fictitious movie.  Today, we live in a world where communism (China, North Korea), oligarchical neo-fascism (Russia), and radical Islam can all be existentially dangerous.  The biggest enemy keeps rotating.

The movie has a long epilogue.  In a replay almost of the Doolittle operation after Pearl Harbor, Maverick and Rooster get caught behind enemy lines (shot down). They steal an enemy F14 jet and fly it out to the aircraft carrier, succeeding in a dogfight.  Yes, they get along now.  

Amazon SiteStripe text for this film link. Imdb link.

(Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2022 at 10)

CNN’s Anderson Cooper presents “A Mother’s Diary of War”, and the reality of old-fashioned aggression

Plains, KS 2022-5

Sunday night May 29, CNN aired a one hour documentary “A Mother’s Diary of War” at 8 PM EDT as an episode of Anderson Cooper’s AC360 program.

CNN is not very good about having fixed-URL stories about upcoming or past episodes, so here is one on the Global Herald.

A young mother named Olena, with a newborn and two other kids, starts videos two days before the Russians invade, when all is calm. Then Anderson visits her several times, as she recovers somewhat from the partial damage in Kyiv, which gets better when the Russians are forced to retreat to the East.  The kids can even play outside again.

The coverage of the mom’s life is punctuated by coverage of other horrors, especially Mariupol.

Her husband, who had no previous military training, was conscripted to fight and she hears from him occasionally.

Zelenskyy, as an actor and content creator whom I might have personally befriended in peace (and he had appeared in a Ukrainian series called “Servant of the People”) was very emphatic at the outset about conscription, requiring all able-bodied men 18-60 to remain and fight, and many of them have been wounded or killed – sacrifice.  This sort of invasion which treats civilians as enemy conscripts (and leads to war crimes and often violates the Geneva Convention) used to be the stuff of history, when one ruler wanted the natural resources of another; now it could be construed as zero-sum-game “strategy” in a world facing climate change.

One of the points I stressed in my three DADT books was the idea that many societies (historically) believe they must depend on men to protect women and children and make themselves fungible in the process.  That’s an idea George Gilder had discussed in his 1986 book “Men and Marriage”.  That, I said in my books, was one reason why the original military ban on gays could reinforce discrimination against them in other areas.  What is happening is forced on the people by external events. Olena’s little boy asks “Mom, why do we now have to go to war?” and she answers “Because the enemy came to our land and they had a bad president.”  Necessity undercuts liberal desires in the area of gender identity and sexuality, sometimes.   I haven’t heard what happens with trans persons in Ukraine (in the United States, those born as male have to register for Selective Service – and the gay lobby never mentions this).  But I also haven’t heard about COVID, or whether refugees, when they arrive in Poland or other countries, are being vaccinated before they are housed by “strangers” (to borrow Max Reisinger’s use of the word). In Poland, in fact, practically all refugees are being housed in homes of families or persons, not in dorms; this seems expected of Polish citizens, who see this as 1939 again.

.As a bonus, I just want to share a math video today, March 31, 2022 by Andrew’s Campfire, “Möbius Strip and Klein Bottle: A MIND-BLOWING Paradox Unlike Any You’ve Seen Before”.

There is an interesting paradigm for overcoming the Grandfather’s paradox with time travel using a Mobius strip, which sort of comports with quantum theory and maybe metaverses. Maybe this translates up to higher dimensions with the Klein Bottle. But that sort of begs the dangerous notion that you can just undo a previous wrong. Remember that line in “Gone with the Wind” where Rhett tells Scarlet that saying “I’m sorry” sometimes doesn’t cut it (and that’s not the last line of the movie).

(Posted: Monday, May 30, 2022 [Memorial Day Holiday in the U.S.}m by John W. Boushka)

“Severance”: New Apple TV series stimulates interest in what makes you “you”

Morristown, NJ 2011-7

The Apple TV series “Severance”, created by Dan Erickson and the first episode (“Good News About Hell”, started Feb. 2022) does jumpstart a discussion about the nature of human consciousness and self-awareness. (Of course, we know the usual meaning of the word is what you get paid when you get laid off from a job.)

“Severance” trailer

The series (filmed in northern New Jersey near Bell Labs, where I once interviewed in 1970) proposes an intelligence company, with a sprawling low-rise gray campus on a winter landscape in Appalachian foothills, which requires associates to go through a brain surgical procedure which causes them to forget their personal lives when at work, and vice versa.  In a sense, it makes an employee a schizophrenic with two split personalities (although no crossover voices).  Or it may be more like re-entering and leaving the same dream (at work) every day.  One thinks of films like “Dreamscape” (which I will revisit some day) and “Inception”. 

In the Pilot, the apparent protagonist Mark (Adam Scott) is promoted to team leader and he attempts to give an orientation to new prole employee Helly (Britt Lower), whose only semantic memory is the name of a state (Biden’s ‘Delaware’).

I don’t use Apple TV much.  On my Windows 10 setup, it took some tinkering to get the picture to show (after the sound played).  I had to go into my account, turn on and then turn back off account restrictions for browser playback.  The product seems to encourage watching on your HDEF TV or Apple products.  But their interests in content might overlap mu own books (given my recent pitchfest) so I ought to look into them.

 Live Stories of Old presents an analysis “Who You Are, Without Your Memories ‘ The Psychology of ‘Severance’”   (short title “Identity Without Memory“) tries to explain how you can have amnesia and be the same person.  Well, you remember how to speak and understand – that is your semantic memory.  But you have lost your “episodic” memory, which enables me to reconstruct mentally many precise moments in my childhood, like I could go back and remote-view them as if real.  The latter part of the video meanders a bit, but admits that sexual orientation and gender identity may be intrinsically part of who you are.

“Identity Without Memory”

That video mentions the 2016 documentary by Terrence Malick, “The Voyage of Time” (sometimes shown in Imax), narrated by Brad Pitt. The video seems to refer also to Malick’s “The Tree of Life” (2011).

“The Voyage of Time”

.I wanted to share one other item, “The Strange Science of Why We Dream”, from Be Smart, Dec. 2021.

Why we dream

Also, here is the trailer for the 1984 film “Dreamscape“, dir. Joseph Ruben, starring Dennis Quaid.

Dreamscape trailer

(Posted: Sunday, May 29, 2022 at 11 AM EDT)

Climate change, “replacement” theory, guns, and personal nihilism all intersect

Near Uvalde, TX, 1985, near the southern end of the Texas Hill Country

There has been a lot of anguish in the news again the past two weeks, with two different shooting rampages.

I wanted to present three videos that offer some interesting perspective.

First, Al Jazeera-plus offers Sama Saeed giving the analysis “Replacement Theory Is Everywhere: Here’s Why” (May 26, 2022).  She starts out by reviewing the history of claims about the threat of overpopulation that were popular in previous decades.  She moves into the subject of climate change, with a rather blunt assessment that people in the world’s richest countries today are, by their consumption patterns, driving the carbon dioxide (and other) emissions.   Along the way, she touches on the inevitable temptation for societies to slide into eugenics.

Of course, one of the dangers today is that a country (like Russia now, apparently) will decide that there is not enough room in the world for any but its own “superior” people.  Indeed Putin deserves to be called “Putler”.  That is one reason why the sovereignty Ukraine now, even though it was within the previous Soviet orbit and not part of NATO, can be so critical in preventive something like a pre-emptive nuclear or even EMP war now.  This is what we call fascism now, and actually is a collective system, where loyalty to one’s own blood and soil is the demanded behavior (including giving it children).

near Black Mesa, OK, 2022-5-21

So we come next the notion that replacement theory (even as Tucker Carlson presents it in terms of importing “obedient voters”) as an ideology itself is dangerous and driving mass shootings.  It’s true, that in some of them, like Pittsburgh, New Zealand, El Paso, and Buffalo (recently) and Charleston SC in 2015, perpetrators have cited it.  But in many other incidents, there were many other driving circumstances, essentially a personal nihilism, as with Uvalde, Parkland FL, Dayton (which was left-wing driven), Rodger (incel), and even Columbine.   In a few cases, perpetrators have left “manifestos” of their ideologies, which often deal with personal failures and grievances more than with a specific alt-right ideology.

Niagara Falls NY/ON, near Buffalo, 2019-7-29

That leads us back to the resistance in the United States for consistent standards for background check or for limiting the possession of military-style weapons by civilians.  Yet Trump tells his supporters, “The existence of evil is one reason to arm law abiding citizens.”  Should you learn to use firearms to be a teacher?

OKC memorial for 1995 event, 2006 -7 photo

Amy Goodman from Democracy Now interviews  Robin Lloyd from Giffords.org. I remember the Giffords incident in Arizona in January 2011, the Saturday morning after my own return from a business trip.  

The mere accumulation of weapons in the US makes the interstate problem almost uncontrollable.  Compare that to Australia, a country with a lower population, with started a confiscation in 1996 after a single incident.  Add to this the complication of 3-D printed or ghost guns, which often do not work reliably for long. On the other hand, I understand the desire of a citizen to defend themselves (incl. family), and there are rarer cases (like that of a pregnant mom in Florida shooting a home invader) where the strength of the weapon seemed necessary.

Finally, Dr. Todd Grande examines “Dangers of Cowardice” and the partial inaction of the Uvalde police, which held back at first. Grande describes cowardice as the “shameful inability to control fear with retreat from danger”.  He says it is reasonable to expect less from police than military soldiers.  But think about conscription (male-only, as with Selective Service registration now, 30 days after 18th birthday – so is 18 too young to own guns as a civilian?), and what is demanded of men (biological males) in Ukraine right now, over an idea of national and ethnic identity.

(Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2022 at 4 PM by John W Boushka)

Jazz music composer Adam Neely takes an “AP Music Theory Exam” online with Avid Sibelius

Raton Pass, NM-CO, 2022-5-21

Adam Neely, well known jazz composer in NYC, offers an interesting video, “Can I Pass an AP Music Theory Exam?”

Adam Neely takes an AP Music Theory Exam online

I never knew there was such a thing, but I suppose conservatories give them.

The video plays some tunes and expects the applicant to score the theme in Avid Sibelius, so that is an ear training test.  Then the applicant must note the appropriate chord symbols, according to late 18th Century rules.  In the last exercises the applicant must fully harmonize a melody.

From my own years of piano, I don’t really know the chord symbols, but the ear portion I could do.

Neely notes that the accepted practice is different in jazz and wonders about putting everyone through the harmony rules of, say, Mozart’s Requiem.

There is a case for saying music education ought to present the structures, rhythmic and harmonic practices of other cultures.  Is the “Germanic” version of western music “racist” or judgmental in specifying rules as to how dissonance should resolve (and which French impressionism broke before expressionism did).

Adam Neely “Music Theory and White Supremacy”

Neely has previously discussed microtones, as well as the controversies over “equal temperament” vs. “just intonation”.  Philip Clark has a 2013 Grammophone article on the controversy, “The tuning wars: ‘Equal temperament destroys everything”..  Some older organs in Europe have extra half-keys for other intonations (for “justice”) which will certainly preserve key personalities.

Earlier posts from Blogger about these matters are no longer available, but I’ll try to provide more coverage of artistic issues like this in due course (as well as “polarization” in our society and politics).

(Posted: Friday, May 27, 2022 at 2 PM EDT by John W Boushka)

“The Invisible Men”: documentary about grave danger for gay men on the West Bank, ironically partly due to Israel’s policies

Round-Up Saloon in Dallas TX

The Invisible Men”, 66 min, directed by Yaris Mozer, from Journeyman Films, Mozer, and Lev films, with the subtitles “Gay and Palestinian In Israel: Living Under The Radar”, appears on the Real Pride YT channel (April 2022), and it presents a little covered problem.  Gay men are often targets for religious-based persecution, even familial execution (“honor killings”), in some communities in Israel’s Occupied Territories on its West Bank, and cannot legally enter Israel. 

“The Invisible Men” film

Despite a relatively liberal policy on LGBT rights in Israel, the situation on the West Bank, underscored by Islam, is usually very hostile.  And Israel appears, according to the film, to have no policy of asylum for LGBT persons from the West Bank, simply because of its embed into larger security concerns over any Palestinians on the West Bank (as possible “trojans”), aggravated probably by Israeli West Bank settlements, which have been morally controversial for years.

It’s interesting that Israel, with its compulsory military service for both sexes, has accepted open gays in the military since the 1990s, long before the US was able to abandon its “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in 2011.

The film traces the lives of three gay Palestinian men, Louie, Abdu, and Fares.  Most of the attention is given to Louie, 33.  He does odd jobs off the books to survive illegally in Tel Aviv, but has to stay out of sight of police. He spends some time in the Jaffa area.  At one point he goes to a hidden disco party, barely visible to filmmakers.

Louie (and then the others) apply for asylum.  After some setbacks, at the end Louie finally gets asylum in a northern European country (probably Sweden) and starts a new life.

Here is a 2015 video, 5 min, from CNN Business, “Gay 24-year-old: I’ll be deported, then killed”.  Living in Edmonton. Alberta, Canada wanted to deport him because before coming to Canada he had literally been a member of Hamas as part of his family.  According to comments, he was eventually resettled in America.

CNN Business reports on asylum seeker from West Bank in Canada

I looked into the possibility of hosting an (LGBT) asylum seeker(s) (working with DC Center Global) starting in the summer of 2016 when I was still living in an inherited house in Arlington VA.  This possibility remained active until the spring of 2017 (after Trump took office) but it turned out I downsized and sold out in the fall of 2017.  Things have changed since then (the pandemic for starters) but later on I’ll give more details on exactly why I have handled certain things the way I have.

Generally, religious or tribal subcultures with a history of difficulties of survival themselves tend to be more likely to be vitriolic with homophobia, which, however masked by religious dogma, represents a concern that the tribe will not be able to continue reproducing itself. 

Now UkraineTakeShelter, started by two students at Harvard, would match perspective hosts to refugees from Ukraine, and there are some coming to the United States.  It is unlikely that a smaller one-bedroom condo would be suitable in most cases.  With refugees (as opposed to asylum seekers) social service organizations and congregations usually try to raise money to place families in new apartment complexes. (As of May 26 the site reports an “issue with Google”, not sure what that is about.)

(Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2022 at 12 noon EDT by John W. Boushka)

Catch up with news: Monkeypox, Covid19/21 improving public immunity, social impasse on schools and gender/sexuality/identity issues

Capulin extinct volcano, NE New Mexico 2022-5-21

OK, coming back home from an unusual vacation in remote areas in the SW, I’ve got some news to cover or opine on.

The news about monkeypox was promulgating the day I arrived in Dallas and then set out into the countryside.  It wasn’t as easy to keep up as usual.

I think the best presentation so far is NYC’s lung doctor Mike Hansen, so well known for his videos of Covid, May 24, 2022.  He says he has not seen interpersonal spread like this before.

Dr. Mike Hansen on monkeypox

Medcram (Roger Seheult) has a video May 23.

Medcram on Monkeypox

NBCNews offers an AP story discussing two gay male fetish raves in Spain and in Belgium.  There is even a quarantine of some people in Belgium.  Dylan Housman had penned a provocative story for Daily Caller May 20.

UK Pink News has some explainers (by Patrick Kelleher), referring to information from Grindr.

When I was hearing the story break, my first reaction was to connect the dots with the recent scuffle in the Supreme Court, and the leak of Alito’s opinion (focused on abortion) undermining the idea of (not) finding modern “fundamental rights” to bodily privacy in the US Constitution.  The reports on monkeypox at gay events might underline the notion, advanced in the 1980s, that the “chain letter” aspect of gay male sex could eventually prove dangerous to society as a whole (through increasing immunosuppression allowing other diseases to incubate – and that idea has been mentioned with Covid) or the speculative idea that the disease could mutate to become more contagious.  The religious right tried (unsuccessfully) to pass a draconian extension of the Texas sodomy law back in 1983 (before the HIV virus was identified), when I was living in Dallas and could follow the news from my apartment in Harvey’s Racquet (at the time).  Possibly, one could argue, states could start passing sodomy laws again and then force a new challenge to Lawrence v. Texas (2003) in SCOTUS (although Alito warns near the end of the leaked draft, don’t count on it). 

The raves would have presented the opportunity for skin-skin contact, not necessarily sexual or genital.  The same sort of thing could have well happened in heterosexual parties.  So I would now think that the incidence in gay men may be circumstantial, and may not hold up over time.  Similar observations (in general) might have applied to Zika virus (but that is an arbovirus) a few years ago, where the most noticeable tragic result applied to serious birth defects in children from mothers who acquired it in pregnancy.

The issue of the smallpox vaccine is significant. CDC has an information page last updated in 2019.  I would check back here as it will probably be reupdated soon.  Routine vaccination for smallpox stopped in 1972.  I have a very small smallpox scar myself.

COVID19 has an epidemiology that is almost opposite from AIDS.  While at first we were hyperscared of surfaces and hand hygiene issues, the biggest problem seems to be aerosols with more prolonged exposure. Practical observations suggest that people living in congregate households are much more vulnerable to serious disease (in any age) than people living alone.  It seemed to go “against family values”.  Omicron, which arrived mysteriously (maybe from one immunocompromised person, or maybe from another animal reverse crossover) is almost another virus COVID21. 

My own hunch is that those fully vaccinated and boosted who then get a “mild” infection with Omicron probably do have pretty good practical immunity and can be out in public without much risk, as long as they have intact immune systems.  Covid is turning into an “opportunistic infection”.  I tend to agree with Chris Martenson and others that properly run trials of Ivermectin have not really been done, and this could still turn out to become a reliable treatment if allowed to. 

Bloomberg sums it up in a May 15 article by Naomi Kresge “How Omicron Infection Turbo-Charges Vaccinated People’s Immunity”,  link (paywall).  This News/Medical Sciences paper seems significant.

Do we know for sure about how people with fleeting breakthrough Omicron will fare over time?  Not with absolute certainty.  Maybe long Covid will still be a problem with those with a tendency toward other autoimmune disease.  Can repeated mild infections cause immune suppression?  Is there “original antigenic sin?”  We are not completely sure yet. But we are not seeing people with past Covid develop the secondary opportunistic infections (like PCP) that happened three decades ago with AIDS.

As a whole, Covid has refocuses some moral thinking, about the idea of “carrying” a virus that will not seriously hurt the infected person but which can jeopardize others more vulnerable (the original “Typhoid Mary” problem — she got locked up for years because of her danger to “contaminate” others, almost the thinking we see in China today with its Zero Covid).  Here’s a related perspective by Matthew Crawford on a UK “conservative” site called the UnHerd: “Covid was libearlism’s endgame”.

“Typhoid Mary: Most Harmless and Yet the Most Dangerous Woman in America”

I wanted to take a “non position” on the furor of school boards and “don’t say gay” bills. 

First, I tend to look at both sexual orientation and gender dysphoria as a set of inclinations, desires, and sometimes “chosen” behaviors.  I don’t think of myself or as others in my cohort as a group or pseudo-enthnicity. That is true even when these “traits” may have genetic or epigenetic explanations in many people.  Gender dysphoria in small children does happen but is quite rare (like one in several hundred) and I can’t believe it is appropriate to belong in lower grade school curricula, especially in conjunction with “indoctrination” as part of Social and Emotional Learning. But I also don’t think states should pass laws against it.  School boards and active parents should work this out.  Parents need to run for school boards.  

In my own childhood, I developed dyspraxia, which is thought (in boys) to be associated with Asperger’s or “mild” autism.  I was “teased” for my inability to compete like a normal male physically.  That came to a head when I was assigned to Special Training Company for a few weeks during Army Basic in the spring of 1968 at Fort Jackson SC.  Possibly measles in 1950 before my seventh birthday contributed to this.  But I don’t think this makes me into a separate intersectional group of “people”.

I do like the idea of using new singular pronouns for persons or animals when non-binary or, more commonly, gender is unknown (that is, instead of “he or she”).  I think the Left does not like singular pronouns for non-binary persons because the singularity reinforces individual “failure” to conform.  Nevertheless, there is no reason why individual non-binary persons will not be “good at things” (like changing their own tires or oil, for example) in prepper-like situations.

Indeed, much of the cultural debate over gender identity (which is overrunning – like rain on top of snow —  the previous historical controversies about sexual orientation [that is, over not having one’s own kids and maybe over public health] has to do with the idea that non-binary persons often don’t satisfy the yearning of others to see sexual attractiveness (of either gender) in a conventional way. 

(Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 1 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

“Double Life, Double Murder”: ABC 2020 episode looks at a possible wrongful conviction associated with homophobia

Cedar Springs area, Dallas 2022-5

On Friday, May 20, 2022, ABC 2020 presented a two hour mystery “Double Life Double Murder”. The viewing link (may require cable subscription) is this, and ABC main article is this. ABC affiliate WFAA has a detailed article. I actually watched it in a motel in Amarillo TX ( 8 PM Central) on a road trip.

Helium atom, Amarillo TX, NW of downtown off US 66, business 40

This is the case of a middle-aged couple, Dennis and Norma Woodruff, shot and stabbed late on a Sunday evening Oct. 16, 2005.  The couple had been downsizing by moving from a home in Heath, near Lake Ray Hubbard in the eastern suburbs of Dallas (which tend to be more conservative than the rest of the area – I lived in Dallas 1979-1988) to Royse City, farther into Collin and Hunt counties along I-30. 

Their 18 year old son Brandon apparently had dinner in their new place with them early Sunday evening and then says he was in a gay bar before returning to college at Abilene Christina University.  Other friends tried to call them and they did not answer. Their bodies were found on Tuesday.

There seems to be very little physical evidence.  Some time later a knife would be found with Dennis’s blood on it, maybe from a previous cut.

Nevertheless Brandon would become the main person of interest and then suspect, mainly from circumstantial evidence, although there seems to be serious questions whether the proposed timeline could have happened.

There is a paperback book by Phillip Crawford, “Railroaded: The Homophobic Prosecution of Brandon Woodruff for His Parents’ Murders”, Amazon Create Space, 2018, 161 pages, Site stripe link.

The Dallas Voice, article by David Taffett, reviews the episode with details of the case here. The Innocence Project is looking into this. Brandon’s grandmother supports his claims of innocence and has funded appeal attempts. The 2020 episode features a detailed interview of a near middle aged Brandon by ABC journalist John Quionenes where Brandon insists he did nothing. The episode included interviews with a female juror who insisted there was no homophobia in the deliberations although several jurors tended to see homosexuality per se as a (religious) sin.

I was just on a brief trip to Dallas and then several surrounding places (actually three other states). The Cedar Springs area close to downtown has rainbow paint on the main intersection (at Throckmorton St) and has some of the largest gay bars in the nation (Station4 disco [previously the Village Station] and Roundup, the latter a country-western place that is busy even on weeknights). Reasonably secure lot parking is available for $5 weekend nights. I did not have time to visit Royse City but it appears from Google Maps to be an upscale bedroom community like many in north Texas. Here is a Wikipedia picture of main street. Here is a picture of the Jacob’s Dream statue at Abilene Christian University.

The Crossroads plaque at Cedar Springs and Throckmorton 2022-5

I also did not have time to revisit Ranger, TX on I-20 (where the highway “climbs” on top of the Palo Pinto “Mountains”) which had serious fire damage last March (local Fox video). I did see grass fire damage on NM 406 (near the Oklahoma Panhandle Black Mesa) but there was no place to stop and film it. More details about the trip will be forthcoming.

(Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 8 PM EDT)

“Scenes from the Glittering World” (film review), and a video on string theory dimensions

SE New Mexico 2012-5

On Monday, May 16, 2022, PBS Independent Lens presented the documentary by Jared Jakins, “Scenes from the Glittering World”, about life in a public school on a Utah Navaho reservation, one of the most remote schools in the US, for three indigenous teenagers: Noah Begay, Llii Neang, and Granite Sloan.  There are two other filmmakers: Roni Jo Draper, and Scott Christopherson. The original film (available for rental on Amazon for $5.99 (Stripes text), original distributor Soro Films) was reduced from 76 minutes to 56 minutes by PBS Independent Lens.  I wish PBS wouldn’t condense and manipulate the opening of movies it shows (link).  The film was shot with a wide aspect ratio.

pbs trailer scenes from a glittering world

There is a white older male teacher who tries to impress on the students that future generations depend on what they do.  Sometimes the kids are absorbed by modern “glittering” gadgetry (like computer games like Fortnite) living in shacks.  There is a moment where the controversy over introducing LGBTQ identities is mentioned.   The communities have faced dire danger from Covid because of the particular lack of immunity in some indigenous tribes as well as diabetes from American diets.

interview from Glittering World

The scenery is often breathtaking.  In one scene, the very distant San Francisco Peaks in Arizona apparently loom in the far distance.  The rocky formations in the scenery look almost like alien cities.

scenes from glittering wolrd

I also wanted to share the summer 2021 video from Engineering Made Easy, “11 Dimensions Explained” (23 minutes). 

11 dimensions and powers

The video hints at the “powers” that a conscious agent living with access to more (string theory) dimensions would have.  I included it because it just might be, at least in some science fiction scenarios, a key to “greater than c” space travel by jumping in and out of other metaverses.  I may need this idea later for my novel “Angel’s Brother” which is undergoing some restructuring because of current events.

(Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2022 at 11 AM by John W Boushka)

“Cold Civil War” by Jim Belcher (book review)

From pro-abortion protesters after SCOTUS leak, 2022-5-16, pretty graphic language on some posters, particularly about the prospect of another Trump presidency term

Review of book “The Cold Civil War: Overcoming Polarization, Discovering Unity and Healing the Nation”. (Amazon Sitestripes link).

Author: Jim Belcher, formerly president of Providence Christian College in Pasadena CA and founding lead pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach CA. Ph.D from Georgetown University.

Foreword by John D. Wilsey.

Details: 2022, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. 340 pages hardcover, 274 of main text, with three parts, thirteen chapters, and a conclusion.  Endnotes.

Interview of author Belcher

The author tackles the “cold civil war” between animus-bearing portions of US society, and certainly would agree that democracy as we know it is in danger.  His conclusion (spoiler) is that religion, both as an interfaith effort and in his purview a Christian priority, needs to stand with the political order in bringing about reforms.  However, he does not go into the legal details of the reforms (such as how to shore up election integrity and the loopholes and imbalances in our democracy, which seem to favor rural and smaller places).

Interview of author Belcher

He presents the core of his argument pictorially on p. 37 with a kind of Nolan chart (remember “the world’s smallest political quiz”).  It is bounded by a square with Left and Right, and with Order and Freedom as the other two edges. There are three concentric circles that pass through each quadrant.  3 is the most extreme, 2 is closer to the ruling establishment, and 1 is presented at the end as his proposed center, which will comprise four souls: Freedom Left becomes the constitutional soul, Order Left becomes the republican soul, Freedom Right becomes the middle class soul, and Order Right becomes the statesman soul.

Again, very graphic language on posters about women’s body integrity

 Chapter 12 is “Patriotic Citizenship” and Chapter 13 is called “Christianity: The Second Constitution”.  He argues that Christianity provides a “soft” but stable, appropriately flexible (and non-denominational but essentially western derivation from what Christianity added to Judaism in his view) set of moral principles to evolve constitutional principles as technology overwrites older ways of doing things.  That claim in interesting to me personally because Chapter 6 of my first DADT book had proposed specific constitutional amendments to add to the Bill of Rights, as a Bill of Rights 2.  Admittedly, since this dates to about 1997 (when my own mainframe I.T. career was in its full maturity according to the world then) some of the proposals are outrun by history.  And that’s the problem with my trying to make such specific prescriptions and why some sort of systemic approach is needed.  (Ironically I talked about the first amendment and about bodily privacy a lot, and even the beginnings of “freedom of reach”, but not about the second amendment).

Belcher is most graphic in describing extremism on all sides.  He winds up forcing to conclude that the far Left, with the doctrine of anti-racism interpreted as required indoctrination (and now it seems that “critical gender theory” has sometimes joined the indoctrination when SEL is implemented in some school systems), becomes as authoritarian as the far Right.  They have both evolved into anti-individualism and hyper tribalism.   In fact, I think we need a book, or at least an essay, on “individualism v. tribalism”.  Probably Dave Rubin would be a good starting point for that effort (book “Don’t Burn this Book” Thinking for Yourself in an Age of Unreason”, 2020, Sentinel, Amazon stripes link).  Belcher points out that the extreme Order Right is willing to use violent or illegal means to get what it wants (January 6, and all the “stop the steal” business) but doesn’t get into the specific weaknesses (like the Electoral Count Act of 1887 which definitely needs revision).  The far Left, however, is at least willing to disrupt individuals and small businesses with violence and vandalism in demands for tribute (well, Marxist revolution).

The moral common denominator seems to be how individuals see themselves, how they balance their own utility with greater common good.  As one of the videos below shows, this comes up with some social issues in rather obvious ways:  abortion, vaccination, and end-of-life (as in the Catholic video below), but in some other ways to.  Think about the loss of freedom and implicit sacrifice in the coronavirus lockdowns, and in conscription (just of men?).  Public health particularly pits individual autonomy against the good of the larger community as a whole (and this could have been said about the AIDS crisis in the 80s, which was very different from COVID). 

Authoritarian systems limit the individual by requiring “em” to personally identify with tribal priorities. Marxist systems pretend that everyone should start out equal and that belonging to a victimized class is a legitimate source of personal identity. Far right (“alt-right”) authoritarianism assumes that a ruling class comprises inherently “superior” people entitled to rule, and follows survival of the fittest (except inside the nuclear or extended family or inner tribe). However often a far-right “order” mentality appeals to the notion that its tribe had one time been abused.  This is certainly true in the Old Testament with the Israelites.

My Body My Choice, Very Flawed Logic

(Posted Monday, May 16, 2022 at 1 PM EDT by John W Boushka)