Zebra Days


I am in the midst of what I call Zebra Days.  Have you ever watched the television nature programs where a lion chases a herd of zebras? The lion eventually catches one and has a tasty dinner.  The zebra herd does not look back.  They keep running.  Adrenaline racing through their system.  After a while they slow down and graze in peace.  Anxiety, even in Zebras, takes a break.

We live in constant Zebra days.  A state of fear of impending environmental, economic, medical, social and political catastrophes is hovering over our heads. Daily streams of information populate our minds.  We wake up to droughts, famines, floods, poverty, addiction, crime, earthquakes, illness, death streaming through our news sources.

It’s not even the cataclysmic disasters that are keeping us in this Zebra state.  The cumulative impact of all the  austerity measures on the poor, the elderly, the disabled is enough to keep you in a state of pure zebra fear.  The disregard for the children, their education and welfare in the guise of austerity and reform makes me tremble.  The young people entering the work world with low wages and a complete disregard for the welfare of workers.   Worse of all, is the feeling that there is no glimmer of hope around the corner.  Our systems are failing.  Power is in the hands of a few without a clear commitment to a just society.  A commitment to a shared outcome.  We have been blown asunder into millions of individual entities struggling for survival.  Like the Zebras, we run.  We know some will get caught by the lion.  The problem is that the lion does not let up in our situation.

No wonder  May 21st, the Rapture Prophecy captivated our imagination.  What a relief if it would be if all the catastrophes we fear just happened tomorrow?  We can then go on and get off that high anxiety mode our constant zebra days. Harold Camping guy is really offering us a release, a nice distraction of collective glee.  We can dramatize all the dooms in a nice package and have a laugh.  The dooms and catastrophes have always been with us.  But we had time to not think about them.

We just need a glimmer.  A light.  We cannot live like zebras.  Actually, zebras, get a momentary respit from the chase.  We do not get such gifts.  The prophecy of the Rapture is the only relief we have, at least until tomorrow.  Wait, the Mayan calendar doom, December 21, 2011 is up next.   We can prepare for another fun distraction.

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Hollywood: Culprit in the Anti Science War


I don’t usually buy the excuse, “the movies made them bad”,” the music made them kill”.   I do make one exception for Hollywood.   Hollywood has put America on a steady diet of fantasy, monsters, super heroes and crypto religion so that they can sell the super duper special effects.  In the end, we get subtle and not so subtle messages that are a steady anti-science stream.

Look, I am no spoil sport, I love to play and imagine, but take for example the movie I watched yesterday while ironing.  Yes, I iron.  Knowing, with big star Nicholas Cage.  A movie where even Roger Ebert, called the best “science fiction he has seen”.

This is the set-up: 1950’s school puts a time capsule to be opened fifty years later.  All the children are to write notes to the future, one strange little girl, the nerdy child, does some strange numerical gibberish writing.  Jump to the future, Nicholas Cage, recently widowed, MIT astrophysicist, raising his so clever nerdy son.  At the opening of the capsule, the son gets the note.  Cage, after the son is asleep, figures out what the numbers mean.  They are a prediction of all the major global disasters.

Yes, you guessed it, 9/11 was the key clue.  Cage as a physicist, doubts the whole notion of intent, heaven etc, but pretends for his son’s sake.  To make a short story long, in time he realizes that this note predicts the end of the world.  But you see, there are these “creatures” aka “angels” who are talking to the children who were open to the prophecy.  Cages’s father is a minister.  In the end, the angels save the children, the two white children and two white bunnies, to recreate the world after it is burned to a crisp.

Movie after movie, the scientist proves to be a fool.  The religious fantasy is really the truth. The prophecy  attributed to the child in the fifties is straight Book of Revelations stuff, from Ezekiel in the Old Testament.   Mr. Ebert, with all due respect,  this is no science fiction, this is religious messaging.

The title “Knowing”, of course, the only ones who know are the ones who believe.  Then we wonder why Americans doubt science and scientist.  Their politicians and their loved art forms always portray them as fools.  Fools who don’t have faith in the super natural.  Fools who are wrong.  The ones who are always right in the movies who sell us loud sounds and phantasmic imagery, are the “believers”.

Subliminal messaging of the rapture for profit is reprehensible.  Yes, there is a Rapture industry of movies and books, but when it seeps into our culture and even critics like Roger Ebert do not call it what it is, no wonder they dominate the culture wars.  Who said Hollywood is their enemy?  Hollywood, if there is money to be made, will sell you and me anything.

In the end, Cage the scientist, like Ezekiel, goes back to the bosom of his father, the preacher.  Together they wait for the rapture, knowing his seed has gone off into a spaceship, with a little girl, running through a field towards a tree.  A tree reminiscent once again of the root of original sin.  They showed various spaceships leaving Earth, but they only focused on the two white children.

So, when the American voter doubts climate change, evolution and other scientific findings, it’s because he has a steady diet of scientists, for Pete’s sake, even MIT astrophysicists, who are proven wrong in these story lines.  Time after time, Hollywood tells us, the winners are those who believe in pixie dust, angels, monsters, vampires, gnomes, devils, gods and demigods, salvation, damnation, you name it.

Science fiction is a genre that I used to enjoy.  Religious narrative invades our popular culture and science is sidetracked.  Scientists are fools because they don’t believe.