Why the first Godfather was better than the second

This is going to be a short post, but I will explain to you why the first Godfather was better than the second Godfather II.  Now the obvious explanation is that the second is too long and it is really two movies in one – that is, the story of Michael Corleone and Heiman Roth and the back story of Don Corleone.  NO, that is not the reason although it is two movies and it would have been better if the director had split it into a sequel and a prequel.

The real reason is that Michael Corleone is in no way LIKABLE.  Everything about Michael is horrible.  Maybe it is because Brando was a better actor than Pacino, but you could always sympathize with Don Corleone (Brando).  Michael Corleone is a sociopath and perhaps Pacino is a worse actor, but nothing about Michael is redeemable.  He is an awful human being and it is not possible for part 2 to ever measure up to the first because of this.

Take away – if you prefer Part II…you are a flawed human being.  If you prefer the original…keep doing what you are doing.

Good night and God bless.

Exercises in Cognitive Dissonance 1

Cognitive Dissonance is the name for the discomfort a person feels when a person holds two or more contradictory beliefs at the same time.

It seems like every day some famous or powerful man somewhere is being fired for some form of sexual misconduct that the media is happily lumping into the #metoo movement.  I say lumping into the movement because it is not clear that these men would have been fired but for a tweet by a former Who’s the Boss child actress turned adult actress in such films as Embrace of the Vampire, Alyssa Milano.  She did not create the movement, but she made it very famous.

This is a post about cognitive dissonance and the dissonance I reference is the state of sexuality in the U.S. that is clearly visible in the career arc of Alyssa Milano.  One side of the arc is Who’s the Boss.  A family friendly sitcom that ran from 1984 to 1992 that addressed both gender roles and blended families.  The housekeeper was a man and the breadwinner was a woman.   And two single parents shared a home and raised their children together with the occasional help of a grandmother.  There was no sex between the two grownups who put their own needs on hold to support their family.  In fact the sitcom was so family friendly that in the first season episode where Milano’s father, Tony Danza, had to buy her a bra because she was “growing up” the t.v. sensors would only allow them to say “bra” once.  The opposite arc of Alyssa Milano’s career was the 1995 film Embrace of the Vampire, one of her first adult roles after leaving Who’s the Boss (other’s include a made for t.v. movie about Amy Fisher the Long Island Lolita, Confessions of a  Sorority Girl,etc.) that is unique because it was her first role that required her to be nude in a number of explicitly sexual scenes (sex with a vampire).

If Milano’s two works referenced above are the opposite arcs of her career what are the two arcs of U.S. sexuality exhibited in the #metoo movement that we hear about each day.  One end of the arc is symbolized by a person like Richard Lebow.  He is a college professor who recently made a stink online after being accused by a female colleague for making a sexually offensive joke on an elevator.  When he was asked “What floor?” he responded by saying “The lingerie department.”  His male colleagues all laughed at his joke where as his female colleagues on the elevator found it offensive.  One woman who was on the elevator with him filed a complaint with organizers of the academic conference the two were attending.  Lebow was asked to make an apology.  He responded by writing his accuser a lengthy e-mail where he made light of the situation and said that he was merely repeating an old 1950’s joke.  The other end of the arc is symbolized by Harvey Weinstein who currently faces rape charges and accusations from dozens of women that range from groping to rape itself.  His response has been one of categorical denial, and I read that he has even gone so far as to hire ex-Mossad agents to intimidate his accusers.

Media pundits are happy to present us with these two arcs as points of discussion.  This then becomes a catalyst where everyone gets to unload a set of grievances that have little or nothing to do with the real problem.  The media LOVES to draw lines and create false dichotomies.  On one side we are painted a picture where feminists are ruining America and creating an environment where if a man repeats an old Jackie Gleeson style joke to make his nerdy friends laugh he is treated the same as a rapist.  On the other side we are painted a picture where women are afraid and unable to live productive lives because they are constantly being harassed at work and in social situations.

So what is the cognitive dissonance about which I write.  It is quite simply that we are told that the world we experience is different from the world we experience.  We are told that we are at war with one another and as with any war there must be a just combatant and an unjust combatant or else we will see the frivolity of the action.  The arcs I described in Milano’s career above were devised by me as a point of discussion.  I said on the one hand we have the innocent Who’s the Boss but on the other hand we have the gratuitous Embrace of the Vampire.  The dichotomy is false, and it is a fallacy.  Yet we do this constantly whether consciously or subconsciously and we are sold it part and parcel on not a daily basis but a minute by minute basis these days.

The #metoo movement is just one example of something the media is using to lie to us, to create false dichotomies, and tell us that we are at war with one another.  But what do I mean when I say that the world we experience is not the world we are told that we experience.  What is it that we want, really want?  The world is nothing but limitless possibility and we create this world yet we are told that we live in a world that is beyond our control and that we must rebel against it.  A good example of this is the use of pronouns that I will discuss in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

Russia and Reason

Can we stop pretending that we are at war with Russia or at least can we stop listening to the fools who tell us such things?  Granting even that everything President Trump says and or does is vilified by the media, a little reason can go a long way here.

This is not the first time we have been sold a boatload of lies regarding the Russians.  Following World War II when the military needed a new enemy we found it with the Red Scare.  Yet I ask you at what point was there a Red Dawn scenario where the Russians parachuted over your school and forced you into an egalitarian society.  It never happened or have I forgotten the Great Russian War.  There was a Korean War and a Vietnam War and nearly a Cuban War, but all these events seem like Civil Wars to me.  First, the Koreans…remember when North Korea invaded South Korea or rather when Korea invaded Korea?  Second…remember when North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam or rather when Vietnam invaded Vietnam?   It almost reminds me of when the North United States invaded the South United States.  However, let us examine the complaints against the Russians.

First, they may have meddled in our Presidential elections.  What does that even mean – “meddle”?  Is it like when the U.S. overthrew Allende and put Pinochet in power in Chile?  Is it like when the U.S. funded the Contras to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua?  Is it like when a Prime Minister of Israel speaks to Congress against the foreign policy actions of a sitting U.S. president?  Or is it something like buying ads on Facebook to promote “fake news” because people are too lazy to fact check incredulous claims?  The real issue here is that even if there was a smoking gun and a confession and an apology it is not possible for these events to conclude with the construction of a time machine that would allow us to do our election over again with the result that Hillary wins.

Second, look what Russia is doing in the Ukraine.  Since when has anyone in the West cared about the Ukraine except when they were trying to conquer it?  I am looking at you Germany and France and England.  Am I the only one who had to memorize passages from “The Charge of the Light Brigade” in school.  Seriously, I had to memorize British 19th Century war propaganda, albeit beautifully written propaganda, as a child.  Have we all been so brainwashed by “Cannons to the left of them and Cannons to the right of them” that we are ready to follow the British down yet another rabbit hole.

Third, what about our allies in NATO.  What?  How in the world does this have anything to do with anything?  And people are talking about Montenegro.  What?  NATO is nothing more than a giant gaping hole where we throw our money.  Troops in Germany and troops in Britain and troops in Italy.  Let us not forget the nominal deployments in Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Norway, Romania, Portugal, and Hungary.  Did you know that the U.S. spends about ten times as much on its military as the Russians.  Three times as much as the Chinese.  That the U.S. military budget is more than the next 9 countries combined.  That the military budget is approximately 55% of the total current U.S. budget.  And we are at peace.  Did you know that the at the height of World War II the U.S. military budget was only something like 40% of the total U.S. budget.  Think about that.  At the height of the greatest and costliest war the world has ever known the U.S. was spending less on its military in terms of total budget than we do now at a time when the world is at peace.  That is insane.

Fourth, we are not now nor are we going to war with the Russians.  We have, however, been at war at one time or another with England, France, Germany, and Japan our current allies and best good friends.  This brings me to my real point.  What is happening, really happening when people are angry about Russia.  They are not angry at Russia.  That is misdirection.  Some people are angry with the current administration because it is breaking the status quo, and these people are angry solely because they make a tremendous amount of money with the status quo.  I do not mean that the current president is a hero.  Far from it, and I have no feelings toward him good or bad.  But I have enough sense to see that I am not now nor have I ever been threatened by a Russian.

One more reason I don’t like England

On July 2, 2018, a team of actors from the Royal Shakespeare company faked their way into a win over Colombia.  I realize had Uribe not hit the crossbar during the penalty kicks the body of this post would change, but the title would not.  But I am compelled to comment on the conduct of the referees during the first half.  I am referencing especially the penalty kick taken by Kane.  Serisously…I have seen better acting from Nicolas Cage!

What did the English coach say to his players?  I suspect it was something like this.  “Each time you make contact with a Colombian player, lie down on the field and cry.  Tell the referee that you are injured, that your career is over, that you can no longer have children, that your parents didn’t love you enough, that what Guy Fawkes did still makes you sad, that you are five seconds away from dying on the field…but that I’ll feel all better if I can have a penalty kick.”

What did the referees say following the match?  I suspect it was something like this.  “I’d like to thank the Academy for taking a chance on a blind man like myself.  I’d like to thank the Queen for sending me that check.  And most of all I’d like to thank my parents for raising me without a conscience or any sense of shame and decency.”

But then…and here is the kicker…or the header…Mina scores and levels the playing field to 1-1.  Fast forward to the end and Uribe, Uribe, oh Uribe!  So close but once again Colombia snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.  And then those limey fruits won, but don’t feel bad Colombia remember the second reason I don’t like England.  I won’t rehash it here…just look what they did in India, in Africa, in the Caribbean, pretty much everywhere they colonized.  So…even though you’re named Uribe like that paramilitario ex-president you can rest easy at night by telling yourself “At least I’m not British.”

Reflections on my first fast

Yesterday, May 28, Memorial Day and a Full Moon I completed my first willing fast.  I say willing because there were times in the past that I was too sick to eat.  It was only a 24 hour fast as opposed to the 36 hour fast that I had originally planned, but I think it was a sufficient start.  I did this for several reasons.  First, everyone is talking about intermittent fasting and I was curious whether this was a legitimate thing or if it was instead a polite way of saying anorexia.  Second, Matthew 6:16 contains a verse in translation that begins “When you fast, do no look somber as the hypocrites do….”  In Greek it is transliterated as “H’otan de nesteuete…” that and I suppose you must take my word for it means the same as the NIV translation I cited above.  This is of course the famous “Amen I say unto you passage” that the priests recite on Lent as they yell at you for not coming to Mass all year and then using Lent as your pre-bikini-weather diet.  All this aside, many have pointed out that the passage is not a conditional.  Meaning not “if you fast” but “when you fast” as though it is something that Jesus assumed we would all do.

So, with these two things in mind, I embarked on my first fast.  I learned several things that surprised me a little that I consider worth investigating further in the future.  First, I was not hungry as I thought I would be hungry.  My stomach did not hurt and I did not think of food as I normally think of food as I wait for breakfast or lunch.  That is, I am usually impatient and think that I may die if the waiter or the toaster oven takes a moment longer.  No, in fact, after about 3 P.M. the idea of hunger did not even occur to me.  Second, what I did feel by 3 P.M. until I ate at 6 P.M. was uncomfortable.  I was aware of an unsatisfied desire within my body and it made me very anxious.  The best analogy I can make is if you have ever tried to quit some habit.  For me, drinking is the perfect analogy.  The desire I felt at not eating is like the desire I would feel at a certain moment of the day after I quit drinking that would tell me that I want to drink.  Cigarettes are another good analogy if you have ever been a smoker and then quit – that desire for a cigarette at a certain time (e.g. after a cup of coffee, after a glass of wine, etc.). You cannot isolate the desire to your stomach or your mouth because the desire is wholly physical – that is, your whole body wants it.  And for anyone who has battled with a desire, it is rather agonizing and a bit like a war within.

Third, food is not a need, it is a desire.  This is likely to be a controversial statement because someone will say that without food you will die but without alcohol you will live longer.  That is, one is essential to life but the other is not.  I disagree.  One is essential to prolonging life but with our without it one’s body ends up in the same place eventually – dead.  So, why do we eat?  Because it feels good.

Fourth, I note the desire is still there.  Still lurking within my body.  All our little desires are really parts of what is perhaps our greatest desire – this life.  They prop up our reality – call it Mara, call it the Matrix, it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day our physical reality is nothing more than the movement of electrons.  It seems to me without that desire for food or something else the illusion of life will fade and once the desires fade and all the accompanying evils associated with a loss of desire – fear, pain, etc. one will be left in a special place where all the rules around us that are limited by physics and the consequences of inhabiting a physical space – our bodies – will be taken away.  Or maybe I’m just tired from my fast.

 

NEWS

The Colonel Writes to Everyone is complete and available for purchase soon.  A new project is in the works tentatively titled The Adventures of Marcus and Maxwell.  It is a young adult novel that tells the story of how El Dorado was found by a boy named Marcus and his best friend, a rhinoceros named Maxwell.  In the telling you learn about the history of Colombia and the Spanish conquest… buried treasure, ghosts and the rediscovery of past lives.