Inclusiveness and creativity....

There's a meme going around that lauds the new gender bending Ghost Buster's movie as something for little girls to look up to (for heroic inspiration) and that is not for white guys, because apparently they've had the original and 2 subsequent sequels. The takeaway is that little girls can't look at the original characters and find them something to look up to because they're men.

Seeing it, I asked if we were only allowed heroes that looked like ourselves. What I got was what I should have expected, a pointed observation that it was nice to have 'new' characters who were inspiring to people who weren't straight white men.

I find this whole pandering to race/gender/orientation thing odd, because I can think to a number of characters who I found interesting, inspiring and heroic as a child in the 70s and a teen in the 80s who were NOT like me at all. Their merits were because they were heroic characters and their similarity to or difference from me didn't enter into the reason why they were heroic at all. It was their actions as a character that made them so.

Simply flipping the bits (male/female, black/white/red/yellow, straight/gay) doesn't make for creation, at best it's marketing. At worst it's pandering.

To look to one of my all time favorite movies, the Seven Samurai, I can go on for hours about how I like that movie. I have always liked several of the main characters, but Kambei Shimada is and has always been my favorite. probably one of my all time favorites. Takashi Shimura's role as Kambei turned me onto his other films and he's still one of my all time favorite actors for those roles.

I'll admit, the Seven Samurai is long at 4 hours. It's an Akira Kurosawa film with directing, camera work, acting which is all first rate and a plot that is simple and yet elegant. You don't easily predict how things will go because it's really a quite unique film. Kurosawa's camera work and editing style has been studied and copied by numerous directors ( of high and low renown in the subsequent years ). As films go, film students all see it. Directors love it. It's a 10 out of 10 movie.

But, as I have to admit, it's a challenging film, best in Japanese with English subtitles and just not ideal for typical US audiences. Hence why we have the Magnificent Seven and other remakes. To date there have been 2 direct remakes of the Seven Samurai (with many more analogs and spin-offs). The Magnificent Seven (1960), which is decent as westerns go, but not top ten by any means. Given it's a remake of an extant film and does little to be any better and doesn't hold a candle to the original, is, not what I would call an example of creativity. It was, at best, marketing to US audiences. There's not much original about it. Taking something, sticking cowboy hats on it and putting some tall buttes in the background doesn't make it new.

Then there's this new version coming out as of this year, 2016. It's the same plot as before, with new actors, more action, more fancy gun fire, etc. And, I suspect, more marketing for the audiences that want action packed movies with nothing new to the table. I suppose one could comment on the mixed race of the cast, but then that seems to be going down the pandering line, but absent seeing the movie, I can't imagine how they work in the film. We'll see, I'm not hopeful though. Ultimately though, it's not an example I expect that will be that creative. Another cheap copy. Nothing new.

To look at another, Nausicaä, from Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. This is one of those films that's stood out as immensely entrancing to me as a child and still quite good to me as an adult. Miayazaki and his staff of artist at Studio Ghibli are I think, probably better than Disney at what they do. Far less material, but it's so much more interesting and original in concept. And, as I will note, the main character is a girl and a princess, both of which I never was. To me, as a kid, that didn't matter, she was a heroic character. Her actions in the movie were what to be inspired by.

Another that I know I still like is Natasha Yar from Star Trek the Next Generation. Smart, aggressive, precise, redoubtable, all very good military characteristics. She dies early on. She's a hero. Right up there with the Christopher Pike and Peter Prestons. The Tasha Yar Security Chief post, was, I believe a new construct for the Star Trek franchise. They cast the role properly because in an advanced society, brute strength doesn't make for that effective a space navy security officer. It's about weapons, planning and skill with your systems. She's a strong modern female character. Nothing unique in what I find interesting. (1).

All of these characters were original, not re-casts of an extant character. One need not flip bits to make a gender appropriate character. More so, I didn't need a remake with the same character cast as an boy, or as a man, or a US remake(s) of the Seven Samurai with the main characters re-cast as a westerners to find the characters heroic. They are heroic because of their actions, NOT because they did or did not look like me.

I would submit that one may find plenty of original heros in extant fiction, with out pandering to flipped bits on gender or what not.

More over, one can look at real history, real people and find inspiring examples. Just today, I learned about a facet of Martha Raye, a US entertainer. She spent a good deal of time in working for the USO in WWII, Korea and Vietnam entertaining troops. In Vietnam, she worked as nurse spending time taking care of soldiers, all as a volunteer. She's buried in the Fort Bragg Cemetery in Fayetteville, NC. She was never officially in the US armed forces but the her heroism as a civilian was more than sufficient to find her a special place in the cemetery where she was buried with military honors.

Big. Damn. Hero.

Just looking at Martha Raye, why do we need heroes that look like ourselves again, especially as kids? I just don't get that.

(1) Interestingly, I know from conversations with an author friend, John Ringo, that Denise Crosby is a fan of his. John (who is a fan of hers), interestingly, writes books that frequently have strong, heroic female characters. I'll bet that's because John, like myself probably didn't see race or gender as a factor for why you admire someone.


Shamus, a cat given to me by my sister after our mother died was taken by a Coyote saturday night/sunday morning. Taken as in killed and partially eaten in the front yard. I found his mangled corpse when I was about to head to the hospital to visit a friend.

He was alway an outdoor cat, he liked to come inside but didn't believe in litter boxes. This made things difficult. He had a good long run. Almost 20 years old. Christine acquired him when she was in college at Oxford I guess.

Fare well dear friend. I'm going to miss his warm and cold nature. Cold was leave me alone. Warm was a cat who could cuddle, curl up on your lap or beg for time with you on the bed. If he was inside and there was a fresh pile of laundry on the bed, he was on it in a flash.


Regarding the militarization of the police...

I've been thinking about this all day. The following has occurred to me.

It should probably be pointed out that the problem here is NOT that the police have automatic weapons, armored vehicles and other light infantry war fighting gear. I have 2 of those three sorts of things myself (Light infantry kit and armored vehicles), but I don't find myself struck by the need to drive around violating people's constitutional rights, arresting them without justification because I feel like it and generally assaulting people because I am more powerful than them.

The problem is that police in some instances, have failed to understand and properly follow established law and constitutional restrictions on their activities under the law. The arrest and light abuse of the two reporters is a perfect example. The armored vehicles and battle rifles didn't enter into the equation at all. It was the lack of lawfully supported Probable Cause and apparent disregard for basic precepts as the 1st amendment that led the officers to arrest the reporters, thinking that it would be a reasonable action.

Take away the armored vehicles and M-16s but do nothing to sort out the abuse and violations of rights under color of law, and you'll still have the same problems, just with less of a military look to them. They'll still be violations of rights, and they'll still be wrong under both the law and the constitution.

On open carry with rifles

With all of the Open Carry is BAD noise going on, let me relate an instance of where open carry of a rifle is in one way important and even useful or more specifically, responsible.

Several years ago, I was driving around in my then extant '01 Honda Insight. I suffered a tire problem which needed an expeditious replacement (side wall cut) and since I was near I-85 and a nearby NTB, I chose to drive there directly. I arranged for the tire replacement and as I was about to hand the keys over to the staffer, realized that I had a M1 Carbine in the car and in a location that was not entirely secure (certainly not to anyone in a reasonably well equipped auto repair shop at least).

I was faced with a conundrum, leave the firearm in the car where some "prohibited person" might gain access, drive home on an unsafe tire to secure the firearm, or remove, it sling it and treat it like a non issue (carefully so). Not being contrary to any laws of the State of Georgia, I opted for item 3.

So, I re-rigged the rifle inside the sleeve/sock it usually lives in but with the sling protruding through an expediently made slit and with just a bit of the butt-stock showing. Then I slung the carbine over my shoulder, went inside and handed off my keys to the NTB staffer to take my car around into their shop for the tire work. Upon inquiry, I discovered that my wait would be about 3 hours due to the work ahead of me (and the need to obtain tires from another location). So I sat down to wait with the carbine set behind my chair along side my every day carry computer bag.

An hour into watching insipid day time TV on the waiting room television, my resistance failed and I decided that a walk 3 doors down to the REI was in order. So, letting the NTB staff know to call if they finished my car sooner, I re-slung my somewhat concealed carbine (muzzle down) along with my computer bag and then walked down to the REI.

I entered the store without fanfare (no need for a tactical approach) and traveled towards the camping gear section. Upon being asked if I needed any assistance, I told the passing staffer that I was passing the time waiting on my car to get repaired at NTB and decided it would be best spent browsing their selection of fine gear. Nodding, the staffer wandered off to do what retail staffers do in such places in the middle of a slow week day.

I was there for about 15 minutes before I noticed one of the staffers was again near by, sort of hovering. I politely inquired as to if anything was the matter. He asked if what I was carrying was a rifle. I confirmed his suspicions and asked if it presented any issues. I did add that it was legal, further that I had a GA weapons carry license, not that that was required for rifles/carbines. I also did point out that since I had to get a tire issue fixed fast, and I didn't have any way to secure it in my car and thus figured this was the safest and most responsible thing to do. I further explained that if they desired that I leave, I would do so. He replied that he understood that I was waiting on my car to get fixed but was not sure if there was a problem or not insofar as corporate rules went. He said he'd have to go check. I agreed that if he wanted to do that then perhaps he should, I would abide by what ever they wished.

He departed to go check and in about 5 minutes returned and said that apparently there was not anything in the rules and that I was fine to stay. I thanked him for his time and courtesy. We chatted for a bit over some bits of gear and discussed water purifiers for a little while. I continued to browse for the next 45 more minutes until the cheerful call from the NTB folks related that my little Honda was once again roadworthy and with new "shoes". I departed the REI and went back to NTB to obtain my car and head about the business of my day.

No photos were posed for. Noone was threatened. No media was involved. No police were called. Everything was polite. No unhappy words were exchanged and I carried a slung rifle in store in an "administrative mode" that as far as I know, resulted in no hard feelings. And I suspect, based on the polite encounter that didn't seem at all an issue, gained a few points for responsible gun rights with the REI staff I encountered.

It's alive!!

So a polish fellow by the name of Slawomir Zubrzycki has built a working example of a concept that Leonardo Davinci conceptualized in his Codex Atlanticus. A stringed instrument, bowed with a set of foot cranked rosin wheels, not unlike a hurdy gurdy. But the strings are not engaged with the wheels until a key is struck (vs a Hurdy Gurdy where the strings are in contact with the wheel and the keys change which notes are played). This allows keyboard ranges of notes/octives BUT with stringed instrument sound/vibration. Quite interesting I think. Lovely to see such a thing created in wood and brass. 3 years and 5000 hours is quite a piece of work.

Behold, the Viola Organista.