This paper from the Cato Institute is worth the time it demands of readers. Regardless of how you feel about the Cato Institute, this lede is objectively gripping:
“U.S. arms sales policy is out of control. Since 2002, the United States has sold more than $197 billion worth of major conventional weapons and related military support to 167 countries. In just his first year in office, President Donald Trump inked arms deals at a record pace, generating hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of potential sales.”
Others Will Followis a well produced s.f. short film by Andrew Finch that is well worth nine minutes of your life. It is the inspirational sister short to a music video produced by one of our more talented members roughly one year ago.
Others Will Follow was inspired by this speech, written for Nixon to deliver if the men aboard Apollo 11 were stranded on the moon. Written by Bill Safire, the speech is dated July 18, 1969 and titled: IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER. We took an office poll, and we agree that Stanislaw Lem should have been consulted, but the speech does include helpful stage directions such as “PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT: The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.” (emphasis added). Safire also suggested that “[a] clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to ‘the deepest of the deep,’ concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.” Sounds deep huh?
Safire worked as a PR executive from 1955 to 1960, which reminds us of the line HST wrote while covering the ’72 election and particularly the McGovern campaign against Nixon: “The assholes who run politics in this country have become so mesmerized by the Madison Avenue school of campaigning that they actually believe, now, that all it takes to become a Congressman or a Senator–or even a President–is a nice set of teeth, a big wad of money, and a half-dozen Media Specialists.” Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 56-57 (Simon & Schuster 2012) (1973). Guess what Hunter? They do not even need nice teeth anymore. Others have followed.
Safire, we should note, later distinguished himself as an actual journalist, and wrote a column for the New York Times in an “exercise in restrained fury” upon learning that Nixon had authorized the FBI to wiretap “the home telephones of 17 men–four newsmen and 13 Government officials–to find out why classified information had appeared in the press and to prevent future leaks.” William Safire, The Suspicious 17, N.Y. Times, Aug. 9, 1973. If Safire wrote this essay in “restrained fury,” we would love to see his screenplays. Our favorite passage almost reads like HST:
For myself, I cannot go along with this fraternal silence of the suspicious 17. I did not knock myself loose for Mr. Nixon in 1959 and 1960, and then cast my lot with him through the long, arid comeback years of 1965 through 1968, to have him–or some lizard-lidded paranoid acting in his name without his approval–eavesdropping on my conversations.
Id. Both HST and Safire sound quaint in their scathing appraisals of Nixon’s standard operating procedure to modern readers who willingly or unknowingly give enormous amounts of personal data to profit driven companies every day.
Safire ended his column with a furious but restrained question aimed at Nixon: “Does the President realize that there are tapes and transcripts of his own conversations with aides now in the files of the F.B.I. out of his control, taken years before he began taping himself?” Id. Yes, he probably did, but he probably did not care. As Nixon told David Frost, “[w]hen the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” We have some attorneys on our membership rolls, and we have been advised that is not strictly accurate. It still took roughly fifty years for strong evidence to surface supporting the long suspected fact that Nixon fucking sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to end the conflict in Vietnamsolely to help Nixon’s campaign efforts. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of god, but some fall a little shorter than others.
As stated above, Others Will Follow is a hopeful version of what one of our members might have produced if she was not, well, one of us. Our member’s music video for Overlord’s track Mission to Mars tells the story of an astronaut purposefully taking a one-way trip to the red planet. It is inspirational in its own way.
The footage of Mars appearing in the music video below was, incredibly, shot without any special effects at a red rock quarry in Pennsylvania. Our comrade also, incredibly, got permission to film in a decommissioned naval facility housing a REAL HUMAN CENTRIFUGE. The track is great, and the video just won “Best of the Fest” at the Bucks Fever Film Festival. Look for Mission to Mars at film festivals across the country in the near future. After ranting about Nixon and reading the almost darling outrage of HST and Safire, I almost feel like I am the astronaut in Mission to Mars. How bad did Sam Rockwell have it in Moon?
“[T]rying to use 1984 as a map through the Trump presidency might pose just as many distortions as insights . . . because our efforts and attention might be drawn into an ineffectual resistance against an enemy unlikely to arrive, while the real villain slips in unnoticed in his place. What’s required, then, is a close reading of 1984 to see where it fits and diverges from what’s happened so far . . . .”
Searle’s close reading is something we should think about carefully. Please click on the link to his blog above and read his thoughts.
One of the benefits of being kind to librarians is the occasional advanced proof of a book that feels written just for you. Sometimes, as is the case with Elan Mastai’s wonderful All Our Wrong Todays, these advanced copies even include a short note beginning with “Dear Librarian,” which makes even the Dystopian Movie Society feel intellectual and savvy.
Mastai’s stunning first novel is a break from his day job, writing movies. No wonder we here at the DMS fell in love. The main character, whose name I shall not print here for reasons that will become apparent if and when you purchase and read this book, is kind of a dick. Naturally, we can all relate to him.
The utopia readers see at the start of the book, however, is a prelude to the time travel narrative in which our protagonist becomes the first time-traveler, accidentally creates our reality as a dystopian alternate timeline, discovers the concept of temporal drag, and maybe loses his mind. It is phenomenal. Of the many differences noted between the teased utopia and our own world, my favorite was Kurt Vonnegut.
As the main character tells it, “Vonnegut’s writing is different where I come from. Here, despite his wit and insight, you get the impression he felt a novelist could have no real effect on the world. He was compelled to write, but with little faith that writing might change anything. . . . [I]n my world Vonnegut was considered among the most significant philosophers of the late twentieth century. This was probably great for Vonnegut personally but less so for his novels, which became increasingly homiletic.”
Tilda Swinton! This film is a wonderful reimagining of the french graphic novels. Before or after watching the film, get some fish and read allthreevolumes. Also, is there anyone who is not heart breakingly attracted to Tilda Swinton? If you are indifferent, please watch Only Lovers Left Alive and then try to tell me you don’t want her to turn you. Tilda, if you are reading this, I pledge my devotion.