sociology

Your language speaks volumes

Ever wondered why there’s so much logic-perverted action in/from the USA?
It’s probably worth a scientific paper why so many people tend to make a mixup mistake in both directions, i.e. always getting it wrong – a comma where none belongs and then omitting it where one should be. Stuff like that.
But there are many other issues with language and they reflect what I often say: “Language shapes thought and thought shapes language. Your speech speaks volumes.
I cringe every time I hear stuff like “three times less” (which would be -300%).
In the same way people also mistake “three times more” for “three times as much”. (Three times more is four times as much, since the “more” describes an increase by units of the base amount. Otherwise “one time more” would be the same as the base amount you’re referring to.)
Cynically speaking, is it any surprise in such a situation that people even manage to confuse “war” and “peace”? (Also: War on/of Terror, anyone?)
Don’t get me started on the thing with medicine “for” an illness instead of “against”. Explains the drug pushers’ symptom treatment focus. And this kind of language (= thinking) spawns all kinds of less common and even more puzzling cases.
So, newsflash: We don’t need a prescription for war, but for peace or against war.

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The Orville and Star Trek Discovery – Comparative review / meta commentary

I will give a virtually no-spoiler review of each one and then a comparative conclusion, based on my current view and understanding and in contemporary context of the shows emerging; what role they play, what influence they might have. So it’s highly colored by sociology; very meta, if you want to use that term. I will also look at The Orville in light of the obvious Trek knockoff it tries to be. The reviews might jump around key points a bit since I wrote these from plenty of notes I took during my watching of four episodes of The Orville first and then three episodes of Star Trek Discovery.

The Orville
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The overall story writing is OK and relatively enjoyable. That’s like a crucial basis that one needs to get right or everything else suffers from it. The problem is, it suffers a lot from the details as well as its agenda. This show knows exactly what it’s doing and it is showing.

The humor is relatively natural and doesn’t go too much into tryhard territory, although it can be borderline at times. It’s just the characters being their slightly quirky way, although the show tries a dissonant mix of wanting to be serious and believable but then throwing that out the window. Characters are basically not at all different from people of our time. This can be seen as a strength but also as a weakness, because it means that the sci-fi setting is nothing but window dressing. This could work just as well in any other setting. There is no inspirational factor that has something to do with the future, and some references (usually attempted humorous) to our times in fact test the suspension of disbelief of the show happening any time in the future, and that’s not the only factor in that. Sometimes the show pretends that there is a professional qualification to serving on board a starship and that it is still embedded in a military context, but then again all too often the Orville seems more like a privateer ship with a family sitcom going.

One detail that I had to facepalm about – one of those things – was when a fly-by of the Orville featured dirt specks on the screen, as if it was being filmed by a camera. This stuff bothers me all the time.

There is a lot of standard-recipe at work. It’s a show like many others. If The Orville wasn’t sci-fi, it would need more quality to make up for that space-filler. Watching it feels like someone thought: “Hey, let’s make a show that looks like Trek, but with low-brow humor and hitting home our progressive message in a way that everybody gets what we’re trying to tell them, but while at the same time making it not too obvious; throw some seeming self-reflective tendencies in there for intellectual self-congratulation, but make sure the outcome is right.”
A show absolutely emerged from our times.

In detail the show’s entertainment value suffers a little to a lot from not well thought-through events (gross logical flaws, seeming continuity errors, just not explaining HOW some outlandish things are supposed to work or why people do the weird things they do, generally dissing the actually potentially intelligent part) and bad action scene choreography and such. Too often I find myself thinking that something really doesn’t make sense, regardless of the sci-fi setting, but that I am witnessing lazy writing. This is like what Star Trek TOS would sometimes have, too, but in Orville it doesn’t quite work as an homage thing. TOS was a bit cheesy, another age of sci-fi TV, and had some really good things going for it to compensate, while The Orville features an abundance of such writing while at the same time trying to give it a STTNG paint job.
Why make a sci-fi show when it’s not backed by interest in actually exploring science? The script just says something magically works and that’s it? Makes me assume the writers would even have difficulty explaining the stuff we can do today. It’s not entirely comparable to Abrams Trek (because the storytelling is not ridiculous), but they do pull some Red Matter maneuvers in The Orville.

The show features old themes with a new paint. Some people might claim this show is exactly what the world needs, but I would posit that its thinly veiled proselytizing is exactly not what the world needs, is not making any difference, because it is a mere reflection of the two-sides-of-the-same-coin issue that has gained traction over the years. This show provides zero enlightenment over what we had decades past. It is unimaginative in that there is no interest conveyed in envisioning anything new. It is purely designed for social commentary, with the most basic construct created to deliver a narrative, no love for making it work for an intelligent audience, and mixed with light comedic entertainment. It’s like someone didn’t quite understand the franchise they’re trying to so closely base the show on, or didn’t care to.
If you just keep doing the same formula for every new generation, at best you’re standing still, but more likely it’s like that saying: If you’re not making progress, you’re going backwards.

The Orville thinks it’s progressive, but it’s just totally trendfollowing the road to hell.

Trek was thought-provoking. In The Orville someone has already done the thinking for you and is now portraying the results.

Again, there is certainly some overlap with TOS if you consider that one in the context of its time, but then you also have to realize not just the similarities but also the difference of that time to now. In TOS and Trek in general the spirit behind it seemed a bit different, more tied into the idea of a naturally more advanced future society, more of the positivity that is lacking in The Orville. TOS dealt with the same kind of themes as The Orville, so I am quite sure I am not just imagining the crucial difference.
The Orville is pretty much a product emerging from our increasingly disturbed and polarized times, i.e. making it potentially less of an inspiration than TOS.
The thing I am sensing is that the show is reflecting the elaborate mind’s idea of heart, the best a mind can do in terms of an imitation, without actually containing its energy. And there is the great social divide. If you need an example of what I’m talking about: Firefly got what The Orville hasn’t. Hell, even My Little Pony with its relatively simplistic writing, plenty of plot holes and strong messaging that it shares with The Orville has it.
You just gotta consider that Joss Whedon is a feminist and then realize how that totally didn’t bother us in Firefly. And there you have that elusive but crucial difference I am pointing at. That which cannot be imitated, cannot be faked. You either got it or you don’t.

To use the show’s language and add my spin, The Orville is a self-content artificial ego system.

Star Trek Discovery
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Discovery throws some nostalgia references, some fit better than others, so it’s a mix. TOS bridge sounds effects fit surprisingly naturally into the new setting. They’re kinda timeless I guess, but also this show is situated in the early time of Starfleet. Bridge consoles explode with more energy than ever before. *sigh*

Otherwise the visual and sound effects remind me way too much of Abrams Trek. STD does the camera dirt thing, too, and disappointingly they almost dropped the phaser thing altogether, while hand guns look exactly like phasers. Action is shaky, noise, flickery, the lens flare crap is back, and because of said phaser issue everything is *bwip-bwip* now, including warp travel. This kind of design reminds me way too much of the crappiest of sci-fi.
In odd contrast to that, just like with the hand gun design, ship design is done well in terms of fitting into the timeline.

Some logical flaws in this show’s writing, too, but very few and not a big issue. Merely cosmetic, if you will, although there’s a hint of clumsy attempted nostalgia reference. It’s just all not in-your-face. Just your usual lazy writing here and there to push events in a certain way that is more the norm than the exception.

Putting the focus of the show on one character is a somewhat new approach, and it’s done moderately enough to not break with Trek style. It’s an interesting direction to explore, although this of course comes with some risks. The main character being female with a male name could be an agenda-driven thing at its core idea, but don’t get yourself trolled. I was just wondering that this wasn’t explained right-away considering the show’s otherwise eager exposition, but I guess at some point we will learn about the story behind that and it might not at all be what you expect.

I just settled for accepting you can’t expect too much continuity in the show. It seems they got an android on board.

As for the klingons and their design, well, at this point I look at the show more like a spin-off, and the execution of the storytelling is done well enough that I can live with it. Their portrayal is maybe a bit inconsistent in detail to make them a clichée, but it’s hard for me to have any strong view on these things.

Some segments of the show are a bit doo dark for my taste and there’s some disaster porn, too. To me some scenes seem too artifically set up for drama and don’t quite work. There’s no buildup to a climax. You are served whatever course you are supposed to swallow.

Conclusion:
In both shows the first episode was relatively pleasant to watch, probably since it’s new and I had to process all that first. But it soon became clear to me that if there is too much deliberation and agenda in a show’s design, it is pretty much an invitation for nitpicking, since there’s no heart to compensate for it, that could diminish the sterility a bit. And to me that is worse in Orville.

Trek or not, I can accept Discovery as an interesting and thought-provoking series. Orville I cannot quite enjoy because it is a mess of thrown together concepts and ideas of things instead of those things themselves. Doesn’t take itself fully serious but wants to be taken serious. Tries to look like an homage, but pays homage to the wrong things and merely tries to imitate others. I tried taking it for what it is without seeing any Trek in it but that didn’t make it any more entertaining.

I will have to see how the shows evolve further, but, in peculiar contrast to so many voices, I definitely see more of the core spirit of Trek in Discovery than in Orville. Discovery might have less of its familiar form, but more of its core, and Orville is the opposite, and that’s how its humor can even work in that frame; It cannot do any damage. Orville is a clumsy hybrid of comedy skit and fanfic. For different reasons neither show fills me with particular optimism. Orville doesn’t because it’s exactly a reflection of the mindset of our times and Discovery because it’s dark and full of war.

Maybe all this explains why I also like Rogue One better than The Force Awakens. Or maybe that totally confuses you now, haha.

UPDATE: More commentary and discussion on some further episodes of the shows here:
https://robertsspaceindustries.com/spectrum/community/SC/forum/50182/thread/the-orville-and-star-trek-discovery-comparative-re

De-Individualization (“the customer” vs. “the customers”)

You often hear it when businesspeople speak. “The customer” instead of “the customers” even when talking about the totality of them. That totality is treated like a single entity, as a type.
That is convenient, because it helps to generalize and to deny the individual interests and thus potentially causes thought patterns of dehumanization to creep into the mind.
It is a common thought pattern in the business world, because ideally the whole customer base is conformant, homogenous. That helps with maximization of efficiency and thus profit. Deviants are inconvenient for that, as is proven again and again not just in the business world, but anywhere where fear reigns, often fueled by big money.

Think about where else you usually find this rhetorical tool for mind (self-)conditioning:
“The Jew”
“The Negro”
“The foreigner”

Note the quite crucial, intentionally left out word “average”. (Which comes with its own set of problems somewhat related to this topic, but is not as severe as when left out altogether.)

Not a coincidence. Same thought pattern. If you saw a group of people as individuals, you’d have to accept the mental effort and practical inconvenience of allowing each individual their relevance.

Marketing has learned a lot from Hitler and such, and Hitler learned a lot from people before his time.

As I often point out: Thought shapes language and language shapes thought.
(That’s the whole point of applied rhetorics.)

Krav Maga – Breeding the world’s most deadly cowards

These notes are semi-refined. A bit of flow-of-thought style, as I like to do. Obviously this will offend some people, but that’s an issue in the offended, and that’s part of the theme of what I write about. Unlike the people and behaviors I examine in the following, I am not acting based on fear. Fear is the mind-killer. It weakens the character.

I watched a documentary about martial arts and now an episode about Krav Maga and hearing about its rules and basics, it sounded like a political guide book. Which makes perfect sense if you consider that it is the Israeli fighting style.
It immediately was an obvious stark polarity to previous episodes about Asian martial arts and mostly any other style.

– Developed originally as defense for the meek and helpless against an oppressive regime and with this idea further developed and practiced by a powerful military force.
– Focuses on things considered forbidden in other martial arts (groin kicks, throat punches, eye pokes), for the sake of effectiveness and defeating your enemy as quickly as possible.
– Always defend and attack at the same time.
– Is also a mentality, and the key word is aggression. (according to a trainer)

It’s what the Israeli military learns.
Just like Eastern martial arts, it has its ‘philosophical’ side. Just that it’s a very different one.

Krav Maga sounds like Grave Maggot. I came up with this pun before realizing how applicable it is, hah.

Krav Maga is designed to turn average people into the world’s most deadly cowards.

I guess it’s something you can be proud of if you fully focus on the deadly part. Which should be no problem at all. To most people, it comes naturally.

The style is adapted to being the lone one being crowded, facing multiple opponents, implying that you are the good guy. But if you have an assault rifle and your opponents are tormented and hungry and united in their resistance and spirit, then you are trained for being a bully, for acting like a victim when you’re not. For acting like a soldier invading a market to hunt down and punish people and believing you are an innocent civilian who just wanted to buy some fruit and gets assaulted by a mob.

Here’s some much-needed Eastern wisdom combined with social psychology:
Since Krav Maga was originally created as a way for Jews to defend against the Nazis, this means its conception was brought about by two influences: Krav Maga wouldn’t exist without the Jews, and Krav Maga wouldn’t exist without the Nazis. Half of Krav Maga keeps the role of the suffering victim alive, the other half the oppression. And when you keep acting like the Nazis are still around when they’re not, you need to find a replacement to make that idea work, to give your mentality purpose. It boils down to classical projection. You cultivate your preferred inner state (like not wanting to let go of pain and fear), and then you try to shape the outer world accordingly in order to create a comfort zone that allows you to live with your inner demons without being reminded of them.

And that’s in part why I tend to say that Hitler isn’t dead, but alive and well in Israel. He lives on in his victims; turned them into agents. It’s traditional; inherited fear.

In the documentary series, there was also a very insightful statement made about the differences of cultures and philosophies and how they affect martial arts and the other way round. A statement that pretty much sums up where the problem lies and points to the solution:

‘In typical Western MA, you try to impose your will onto other people. In typical Asian MA, you see your opponent lose balance and merely help them fall.’

Asian martial arts are closely connected to the culture’s philosophy, i.e. a mindset of strength through inner peace; of NOT acting like a victim. For building character. Krav Maga is like a caricature; the extreme imbalance – total physical survival mode. It’s like the guys from the dojo with the black clothes in Karate Kid, where they were used an a contrast, or metaphor for what’s wrong with Western mindset.

Krav Maga is the only martial ‘art’ I know that focuses on character weakening. All it has going for it is the idea of “Keep going!” which serves as a simple distraction from how it erodes pretty much the rest of your character. Perpetual “Keep going!” makes you forget to pause and reflect on what you are doing.

You know, to go back to the documentary material … it is telling when after a line of very respectful and awe-inspiring statements by the main participants, one of them said he thinks, based on his experiences in the army, that his instructor is “partially insane, not a stable human being”. Even if he didn’t mean it 100% serious, such choice of words always expresses sincerity, especially since no “just kidding” vibe could suffice to make you not pause and think when you hear that from a guest about a host.

The problems with US police seem related, of a similar mindset. You have people of weak character given power and authority. They use fear as justification. They go to an incident scene and then go into “They’re out to get me” self-defense mentality based on fear.

I’m quite sure a proper wu shu master could defeat a krav maga master easily and quickly, without causing lasting injury. The more balance there is in the practice, the easier it gets to exploit the opponent’s imbalance.
It’s relatively simple for anybody to master something that requires so little; such a narrow, focused skillset.

In sparring, you apologize when you hurt your sparring partner. In Krav Maga there are no rules, so there is no real sparring. They showed that in the documentary when his not-really sparring partners repeatedly went straight for his leg injury, making him scream in great pain. When I saw that, I wanted to tell him to play their game by their rules and kick the shit out of them. Then let’s see how that gang of bullies can handle suffering from their own game. Then again, he was probably too afraid that he would get killed then. As they exclaimed repeatedly, those guys are nuts. If they wanted to really get into the spirit of Krav Maga, they’d have to go nuts, too.
There was also as I remember no or almost no swearing in previous episodes, but in this one, there was plenty. It’s also the only episode where they tell their instructors what they want to hear without really meaning it. Their recap was that the past five days were more mental conditioning than actually growing technique-wise. Basically just about not giving up when doing pit fighting. Naked survival, training to become totally ruthless if necessary.

Last time I checked, US marine training wasn’t considered a martial art.

At one point the guy farewell-hugged his instructor and mentioned that he habitually wanted to go into defensive position. There you see how it affects the mind; what it cultivated towards. You get mistrust deeply ingrained, which can eventually lead to paranoia and psychosis, and that’s what you see a lot in that country.

At one point the instructor said: ‘You need to be alert, 24/7, every day, all the time’. There’s your unhealthy, obsessed imbalance again. Aiming for the impossible. Driving yourself crazy if you are serious. Again, Asia understands the importance in balance. If you push yourself all the time and don’t allow yourself phases of rest and depressurization, you’ll break down. You’ll ruin yourself. And if you keep being afraid of covert attacks from anywhere all the time, you’ll get adrenaline fatigue and your body is not allowed to heal. It will have to adapt to that, but this cannot go on forever. The imbalance will sink in deeper and deeper. I know from own experience that it can be hard to give it a rest when you are (impatiently) driven towards something, but pushing it further will always come at a cost that needs to be paid if not soon in soft currency, then later in hard cash.

At the final trial they again tried to seriously hurt his leg, and the way he fought he was still too polite to try and DEAL some serious injury. And that showed his real character. That he wouldn’t stoop to their level.
Finally they celebrated that they could welcome them into their ‘family’ in “true hell”. Must give them real comfort to know that another person accepted to share their misery and assume, even for a while, their unhealthy attitude.

Understand that a dojo full of physical pain doesn’t imply it can’t be a massive comfort zone for the mind. Because anything you can go through in a Krav Maga training is trivial compared to the suppressed pain that might make you seek out such training. Getting rid of some inner demons can mean you have to be willing to die; to give up your will to live. Which is the opposite to Krav Maga’s core message of never giving up. Wisdom means to know when to give up. Sometimes what you aim for will remain absolutely impossible to reach, maybe even move further away from you, as long as you keep pushing for it. You’d become an obsessed fanatic.

In the very end, one of them summed it up very well, jokingly, but it has to be asked in all seriousness: “Why train Krav Maga when I can just spend 40 bucks on a taser?”
Yeah. I could just pose as a Krav Maga master-instructor and beat the shit out of my students with a stick and tell them this is elemental core practice; just take it and keep going. There’s no way to tell a madman from a Krav Maga teacher. In previous episodes, with the ‘less Western’ styles, but generally with pretty much any other style, you just knew there was more to it. But of course, if you are a master of something so imbalanced, there is no depth, no contrast.
There’s a reason why there is no master title or martial arts label for running amok. Even associating the word “art” with Krav Maga is an insult to art of all kinds.
Hopefully the practice outside of Israel will at least not share the Israeli sickness and instead focus more on the technique set of defending against multiple attackers. But then, why still call it Krav Maga? If you want to know the core of an Israeli-rooted martial arts, of course Israeli masters would be the ones to consult. And that’s what the documentary showed. Pure and unadulterated Krav Maga.

UPDATE: In the last episode they showed Kajukenbo, and while it utilizes some similar techniques and is focused on merciless streetfighting, the whole spirit of those people was like the total opposite of what was shown in the Krav Maga episode. And that’s a crucial difference. The important thing is to look at what a practice does to a person.

UPDATE 2: I now learned that there’s virtually no alternative to a several years long compulsory military service in Israel. And Krav Mag is being taught to everybody during that time; naturally alongside the whole package of political agenda and implanting of fear-propaganda into people’s minds. With such a mass-indoctrination and -conditioning, it is no surprise that the situation just won’t find a resolution in the Middle East. Way too much energy is fed into the problem. There’s a very active desire on a grand scale to keep the conflict alive, and new radical fanatics (I mean Israelis now) are trained every day.

It is interesting though that there are Israelis bold enough to risk legal consequences by refusing to do military service, and according to Wikipedia information their numbers increase. Those are the actually courageous people, not the bullies in uniform.

Footnote: Funny thing in relation to this article and marketing automation: http://dowlphin.tumblr.com/post/126713670607/automated-twitter-fav-hilarity-this-is-the

Reasons behind the WoW pandaren critique

People complained about the pandaran race introduced in World of Warcraft’s Mists of Pandaria expansion. They still occasionally do.
One might wonder why, since the pandaran race has been canon since the pre-MMO Warcraft times, and so have certain other strange animal-like races.
I will tell you what the problem is. It is becoming quite obvious when you listen to the ‘reasoning’ behind the critique.

It is about male insecurities. People who are bothered by pandaren demand more blood, gore, violence and ugliness. This active rejection of beauty sounds very much like fanaticism. Behavior based on fear and suppression of the truth behind it. (World of) Warcraft has always had silly and cheesy elements. But pandaren are, at least in some aspects, more inclined towards peace, beauty and wisdom; attributes of a healthier society. One might argue they’re traits associated with femininity. So when a guy says: “This isn’t ugly and horrible enough!” it’s pretty clear that this is what’s going on. Masculine-ego boost. It’s the same reason why fans of My Little Pony get flamed. It challenges traditional role models and mass psychology induced by marketing/popculture. The resistance is the reactionary act of people afraid of loss of identity. So, basically, as said before: insecurities acting up.
Being fine with pandas roaming Azeroth is the mature approach.

Especially when they’re dual-wielding katanas and giving out free beer, haha.