A good take on Jordan Peterson’s rehab

I liked this angle on the story: going into rehab was the right thing for Peterson to do, and he is to be commended for reaching out for help. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of those tedious self-help gurus, a conservative version of Oprah, who is always telling people that their attitude is the problem, that they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, when there are systemic problems that require social cooperation to accomplish real change.

Needs more murderous space monkeys

See this photo? That’s the whole movie.

The movie playing in Morris this week is Ad Astra, so I went to see it. No, really, the reason I see a lot of bad movies is because we have one movie theater, it gets one new movie a week, and so I’ll go no matter what it is, and sometimes I’m trapped in some tepid piece of crap for a few hours, and sometimes I’m surprised with something unexpectedly enjoyable. That’s life, a throw of the dice.

This week, it was snake eyes. Ad Astra is part of this peculiar genre that has taken over “realistic” space movies: the poorly written plot that is covered over by focusing, sometimes blurrily, on a solitary sad-eyed handsome astronaut against a background of blinking lights and switches. See also First Man. See also Interstellar. This one features Brad Pitt, so if you like his looks, you will get to linger over them for long, long stretches of time while he’s acting stoic and emotionless. The camera violates his personal space nearly constantly so you can see how he doesn’t react to anything intensely.

If you don’t like staring at Brad Pitt (what’s wrong with you? He’s a very good looking man), you can stare at intricate space technology. The opening scene is of Pitt working as an astronaut, which seems to be the role of maintenance engineer, on the gigantic space antenna — it’s a huge gadget with a base on the ground and a skyward stalk stretching out into space, bristling with spiky things and girders and solar panels and semi-random girders, and Pitt is climbing down a ladder, as are many other brightly-colored space suits, to fix something or other. Then, explosions. Bodies blown out of a habitat to plummet from space to the earth. Astronauts flailing frantically in their suits as they fall. But Brad Pitt remains totally calm as he tumbles to Earth, informing Mission Control that he’s going to get his spin under control, and he does so, opening a parachute when the atmosphere is thick enough to land safely.

He then goes blank-faced into a psych eval, which he does often in the movie, talking at a computer and self-reporting that he’s fine. We learn that his heart rate never exceeds 85 beats per minute. He is the perfect space robot.

The movie then destroys itself with backstory and explanation. The giant space antenna is a colossal project dedicated to … searching for extraterrestrial intelligence? It’s a kind of techno-cult object assembled to communicate with aliens who have not been detected, but hey, cool, let’s build this immense Tower of Babel. We learn that Brad Pitt’s dad was also an astronaut who was lost decades before on a mission to Neptune, the object of which was … you guessed it, to aim telescopes and antennae outwards to search for aliens. There’s a weird obsession underlying this whole movie project.

Further, we learn that the explosion on the space antenna was caused by inexplicable “power surges” that are causing all kinds of explosions and disasters on Earth, killing tens of thousands of people, and threatening the stability of the entire solar system!!!. These mysterious space zaps are emanating from Emperor Ming the Merciless — wait, no, this isn’t Flash Gordon. It doesn’t have enough enthusiasm to be Flash. No, they come from — duh duh dunnnn — Neptune. Pitt’s dad is alive, and he is somehow using his space ship’s antimatter fuel to destabilize the solar system and fling energy surges at Earth. Why, we don’t know, and mild spoiler here — we never find out. His dad is obsessed with communicating with aliens, and how this translates into zapping Earth is never explained.

So now the plot is set up. The Space Bureaucracy is going to send unflappable Brad to Neptune to tell his dad to stop farting antimatter at the Earth, and if he won’t, to blow him up with a backpack nuke, because he’s so calm and emotionless, I guess. Off he goes on what the writers imagine would be sci-fi wet dream, lots of spaceships and zooming off to other planets. Except they’ve also got to make it “realistic”, which means “boring”, which means they’ve got to spice it up with “action”, which demolishes most of the movie’s credibility.

They go to the moon. For some reason, the they then have to drive moon buggies a long ways across the lunar surface to their next step, and they are set upon by Moon Pirates in their own moon buggies. It makes no sense, but OK.

The next step is to fly to Mars. They get in another fancy new spaceship with the usual ESS esthetic, lots of tunnel tubes and messy panels and cables and plumbing hanging out, and set course for Mars, a 17 day journey, which tells me they’re going pretty darned fast. Except there’s a mayday halfway there! They just stop to call on a mysterious derelict space ship (there is zero awareness of the problems of navigation, or fuel), and climb aboard. Murderous space monkeys! I was relieved. Finally, they had some actors who were expressing some genuine emotion, even if it was bitey clawing rage.

I think I was empathizing with the space monkeys at that point.

They get to Mars, where Brad sits in a booth to send a scripted message to his Dad on Neptune. Again, why he had to be on Mars to do that, I don’t understand. He goes off-script and gets a tiny bit emotional while sending a live message to Neptune, which pisses off the Space Bureaucracy so they tell him he’s going home and doesn’t get to go to Neptune.

So he does something perfectly normal: he drives across Mars to the launch site, swims through a huge underground Martian lake, climbs up into the rocket as it’s taking off, gets into a fight with the crew, and kills everyone. Emotionlessly. Accidentally. He didn’t mean to. They shouldn’t have come after him. I guess Brad Pitt is playing a robotic space psychopath here.

The journey to Neptune is about 6 months of Brad Pitt moping and floating in an empty spaceship growing a stubble. It’s played in real time. He finally meets his suicidally stupid dad who, like his son, had murdered the crew of his spaceship, and stupid things happen. I’ll just tell you one: to escape Dad’s ship, Brad rips off a surface panel and uses it as a shield as he jumps up through the flying rocks of Neptune’s rings, which smash into his shield and splatter, doing no damage to him or his trajectory.

God, this movie was awful, scientifically illiterate, and unforgivably tedious. And yet, it’s got so many glowing reviews! I really don’t understand that, unless maybe all the other reviewers were mesmerized by Pitt’s stony face and were so enthralled by his masculine hunkiness that all their higher brain functions were paralyzed.

Poor Jordan Peterson

I guess it’s a good thing that Jordan Peterson never professed happiness as a goal in life.

“It’s all very well to think the meaning of life is happiness, but what happens when you’re unhappy? Happiness is a great side effect. When it comes, accept it gratefully. But it’s fleeting and unpredictable. It’s not something to aim at – because it’s not an aim. And if happiness is the purpose of life, what happens when you’re unhappy? Then you’re a failure. And perhaps a suicidal failure. Happiness is like cotton candy. It’s just not going to do the job.”

I hate having to agree with Peterson, but I do on this one point, despite having a mostly happy life myself. Misery is always going to intrude, whether by chance or the actions of others or your own failings, so don’t judge your worth by whether there’s a smile on your face.

So, sad to say, Mr Peterson is rather miserable right now.

She [Jordan Peterson’s daughter] says that her mother’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgical complication created an unbearable amount of stress for the family, and particularly her father. A doctor prescribed clonazepam, or Klonopin, to help him cope with the anxiety it caused. Clonazepam is an anti-seizure medication that is also prescribed to treat panic disorder.

After her mother went into remission, Peterson attempted to get off the drug on his own. This caused terrible withdrawals, his daughter says. “The reason we’re in New York is because dad’s in rehab using other medications to try and get off this clonazepam.”

All sympathy to the man. His daughter says he’s going to use this experience in his next book, because he really does need to improve his understanding of addiction and get away from his previous simplistic prescriptions.

Peterson’s YouTube videos routinely amass hundreds of thousands of views. In these videos, as with his writings, he lectures people on how to lead a successful, fulfilling life. In 2017, he advised people to cure addiction by replacing the substance or activity, such as smartphone use, with “something better.” The behavioral psychologist has provided advice that some may call over-simplifications about addiction on multiple occasions.

Maybe he’s not happy, but he has a learning opportunity here.

Friday Spider

Oh my. Oh my oh my. While I was out at our climate strike event, I had to, naturally enough, prowl around for spiders, and there she was, hanging out behind the door of the men’s restroom at Green River Park, a stunning beauty, a classic Steatoda borealis, her body all dark and gleaming in confident repose. She’s perfect.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o’er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek and o’er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,—
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

Where’s Brienne?

We go from the sublime to the hideous. When we were doing our routine check for egg sacs the other day, we discovered that Brienne had produced a nice one for us, deep in the elaborate network of webbing she had built in her box. It’s the pale oval on the lower left in this photo.

But…no Brienne. She had disappeared. Look below the egg sac above — there’s a tangled mess below it. I zoomed in on it. It’s an ogre’s nest, apparently.

Ick. Dead flies, bits of dead cricket carapace, all strung together with thick, ropey cables of webbing. Spiders make multiple kinds of web, you know, and these spiders will make cables of web silk that are remarkably tough and hard even for humans to break. I tugged at these with forceps, and nope, they aren’t going anywhere, shy of ripping out the whole structure and possibly injuring its occupant.

Yeah, Brienne is hiding deep inside, the dark shadow near the center of the nest.

These animals always surprise me. They’ve got a complex range of behaviors, and I have no idea what triggered this strange construction. The other spiders in the colony aren’t doing it. I’ve seen a few examples of spiders cobbling together debris into shelters, but it’s not universal, and usually they aren’t this thickly armored and enclosed.

Next they’re going to start assembling tools and weapons, and then you’d better look out.

The Pragerization of YouTube

I’ve been naughty and haven’t made any YouTube videos in a while (I have to change that, if only I had time), but would you believe I still get comments on stuff I made months ago? Here’s a recent comment made on my video about Jordan Peterson’s PragerU video on those darned liberal arts universities. It’s all racist talking points while accusing Democrats of being racist, but of course they wander all over the place with all kinds of random boogity-boos.

Why does school cost so much? Gov offers more loan money to students who have no business being in school. Then what does the wonderful university do? Yep you guessed it raise tuition. The whole alt right dog whistle thing is a low blow, so far from the truth. Why do some left Leaning universities like Berkeley try and ban Ben Shapiro? Does he have alt right dog whistles lol 😂. Mr. left professor how many genders are there? Another question do support or oppose the death penalty? Are you pro choice or pro life? Those two questions can tell a lot about someone. The left has done more harm to this country then good. Democrats and slavery, kkk, Jim Crow. Once the blacks switched parties in the thirties it’s been all down hill. The more black government officials at the county, city levels the more corruption. Teachers unions have ensured the black inner kids a horrendous education. That fucking pisses me off that unions and make no mistake they give more campaign money to democrats and it has caused inner city schools to be horrible. I’m sorry I don’t care as much about men and women transitioning into whatever they want to be called as much as Obama did. When Obama and his education secretary saw how bad things were they said they needed to act. Well still waiting President Obama! Let’s be perfectly honestly the Left doesn’t care about black kids if they did there would be vouchers and choice. The thing is everybody knows what needs to happen but it would cost the Democrats dearly at election time. I say once and for all stop oppressing black people.

So much incoherence and contradictions! I should whip up a video about how there are far more than two genders, to pick just one example of its nonsense.

My little video focused on just one collection of bogus claims by one cranky Canadian fart, but PragerU is a far more poisonous set of lies than that…and yet somehow they’ve avoided the mass demonetizations that afflict my liberal friends, or even the raving right wing nutcases. Money greases a lot of wheels at Google, I guess. Rather than wasting a lot of time on this one fool’s comment, I’ll just point you at this recent analysis of PragerU.

It’s not enough to just say that PragerU isn’t an actual university. It’s outright propaganda, and those appearing on the channel are propagandists.

As an institution, PragerU has proved to be toxic, and it should be best understood as — as its “About Us” page notes — a “digital marketing campaign.” If one of Prager University’s goals really is to “[make] the world a better place, five minutes at a time,” it deserves a failing grade for its current output.