Humans Kill for Oil

Energy Sources

Aliens might be surprised to learn that in a cosmos with limitless starlight, humans kill for energy sources buried in the sand.

Movie Review: The Room

The Room

My rating system only goes down to zero. This movie should be a minus four. It is absolutely the worst movie I have ever seen. It’s one hour and 25 minutes long, and the acting is as bad as that in porn. However, in porn it lasts for about a minute, before the Chi-Chi-Bow-Bow music comes and the action starts. Here it goes on for an interminable hour and a half.

The only reason I was able to watch the whole thing is because my son made it the featured entertainment for us after Thanksgiving dinner. We had to hand in our smartphones, and we were not allowed to leave, until the movie was over. The Room is a cult classic in San Francisco, he said, because it is so bad.

The guy in the picture above is Tommy Wiseau, the producer, writer, director and lead actor. He is obviously full of himself. Nobody quite knows where he got the six million dollars he spent on his vanity project The Room.

The movie has no plot to speak of (I could tell you in about 20 seconds what’s going on). The story is full of holes. Much of the action makes no sense. Playing football has never been this bizarre before. The acting is horrible – did I say that already?

There are a few sex scenes, where Johnny (the main character) sleeps with Lisa (his fiancée). The scenes are actually quite graphic and take place in the first half hour of the movie. That made me think it might just keep going like that, in good soft-porn style. But no. The second sex scene used the same footage as the first. He must have thought that the audience wouldn’t notice.

Why it is called The Room I cannot fathom. It could as well have been called The Goof or Inept.

Now you actually must rent this movie and watch it all the way through, just so you know what the worst movie ever is like!

And the sentence Why are you doing that??? will never be the same again.

Rating - Zero Stars

Movie Review: Trash


Life in the slums of Rio de Janero in Brazil is very different from everything we know. At the city landfill, as the trucks pull up and dump their loads of garbage, armies of mostly children clamber around mountains of filth coming down on them for salvageable goods.

One day, a 14-year-old boy finds a wallet, with some money, and a few other objects that don’t look that important. He shares the loot with two of his friends. Within a day, police inspectors start swarming the slum trying to find “a wallet.”

The boys don’t realize that they have evidence in hand to bring down some very powerful people. A dangerous cat and mouse game ensues.

Trash is about police and government corruption in Brazil. When I think of Rio, I think of white beaches, grandiose scenery, beautiful women, and tourists. This film paints a very different picture of the city. We never see the pretty side. We are surrounded only by sewer, slums, trash and the endless struggle of people just to survive, just to eat the next day.

Martin Sheen is the biggest star in this film, but his role is actually fairly minor. He plays a priest who has joined the desperate fight of the underclass against the oppression of the rich and powerful.

I have never been to Brazil myself. As I watched this eye-opening and thought-provoking film, I thought of my many Brazilian friends and I wondered what their commentary would be.

Trash is certainly a worthwhile movie to watch. It gets the thinking juices flowing.

Rating - Three Stars

[English Subtitles]


I am getting a kick out of this campaign to demonize the icons of American consumerism. These stores are not opening because they are evil. They are opening because the masses stand in line on a holiday just to get in. If we were really serious about spending holidays with families, there would be a very simple solution:

Just don’t go shopping on holidays!


Until a few days ago, I had never heard of Hobo Nickels before. Here are a few examples:








You can google them and find thousands. Here is a description of the tradition:

There is actually an interesting story behind this tradition.

Coin engraving gained a strong following in the United States after the introduction of the buffalo nickel in 1913. This new nickel had a thick profile which allowed greater detail when carving the coins. The emergent popularity of this new art-form combined with an industrializing west coast created a unique art market that hadn’t been seen before in the United States. With California rapidly becoming an industrial center in the western US, there was a large amount of wealth being generated. Additionally, there was very little in the way of luxury goods out west for much of the early 20th century. The booming Californian economy combined with a severe lack of luxury goods created a demand for some unorthodox forms of art.

The most prominent new art form in the western US was the hobo-nickle. Largely worthless before the 1920’s, the hobo-nickel quickly became a fashionable collector’s item that the wealthy fawned over. Demand skyrocketed seemingly over night, and by 1924 an in demand hobo-nickel commanded as much as $1000.00 dollars at auction. This led to a booming cottage industry where people would buy, sell, trade, and appraise these previously worthless pieces of currency. Demand became so great that one famous artist, John Buckley, went from homelessness to fabulous wealth, solely from the sale of hobo-nickles.

The fervor for hobo-nickles intensified, and eventually wealthy collectors began chartering trains to bring the homeless from the Midwest in order to carve nickles full time. Art houses dedicated to hobo-nickles became commonplace, and by 1927 hobo-nickles comprised roughly half of the Los Angeles fine art market.

However, like many unsustainable businesses, the foundation of the hobo-nickel market started to show cracks. In 1929 the supply of hobo-nickles began to far outpace demand. This, combined with the emergence of real artists starting to emigrate to the west coast, caused demand to plummet. Within six months most of the hobo-nickles were so devalued that people began trying to deposit them in banks. Several stubborn collectors held onto their hobo-nickles waiting for the market to rebound; however, many wealthy families lost fortunes before they realized that hobo-nickles had no real value. The hobo-nickel bubble had finally burst.

— Jefferson, T. (1973) Art Oddities: A History of Art on the West Coast. Los Angeles, CA: Penguin Books.

And we thought fads are something new. Pet rocks, “Baby on Board” signs, hula hoops, cabbage patch kids anyone? Long before any of those, there were hobo nickels.

I would like one though. I’d probably pay good money for one.


Duck God

Cartoon by Paul Noth – in the New Yorker

There can be no peace until they renounce their Rabbit God and accept our Duck God!


It’s so convenient to buy books with one click. I have loved that feature for years.


But then, I just recently bought Napoleon: A Life and was in for a surprise: First, the Kindle edition was more expensive than the paperback version. Ok – I am used to that now.

But I didn’t realize it until I started reading: This book is HUGE.


Here is a copy I saw at the bookstore. [Yes, I go to the bookstore to browse but then buy on Amazon. I am a bookstore mooch, and a mooch, and a mooch, and a mooch].

This book is as huge as The Count of Monte Cristo, or The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, or Pillars of the Earth, or War and Peace (I haven’t finished this so I can’t show you a review).

This is the folly of the 1-click-buy: If I had realized that this is a book with almost a thousand pages of small print, or 24,000 Kindle locations, I would probably have passed on it. It’ll take me weeks to go through that.

And now back to reading. I am at 25% already….


A Saudi man was sentenced to death basically for being an atheist. The link below for The Guardian provides more detail.

The religious police first detained Fayadh in August 2013 after receiving a complaint that he was cursing against Allah and the prophet Muhammad, insulting Saudi Arabia and distributing a book of his poems that promoted atheism. Fayadh said the complaint arose from a personal dispute with another artist during a discussion about contemporary art in a cafe in Abha.


Here is a regime that is extremely rich due to the oil bonanza in the Middle East. The United States supports this repressive (almost medieval) regime. Here is the link to the Saudi embassy web site.

What kind of country must kill those that don’t subscribe to its official religion? Christian countries did this for centuries. Muslim countries have always done it and are still doing it now.

And we stand by and watch and sell them F-35 fighter planes.

Here is the first page, the two introductory paragraphs, of The End of Faith by Sam Harris.

THE young man boards the bus as it leaves the terminal. He wears an overcoat. Beneath his overcoat, he is wearing a bomb. His pockets are filled with nails, ball bearings, and rat poison. The bus is crowded and headed for the heart of the city. The young man takes his seat beside a middle-aged couple. He will wait for the bus to reach its next stop. The couple at his side appears to be shopping for a new refrigerator. The woman has decided on a model, but her husband worries that it will be too expensive. He indicates another one in a brochure that lies open on her lap. The next stop comes into view. The bus doors swing. The woman observes that the model her husband has selected will not fit in the space underneath their cabinets. New passengers have taken the last remaining seats and begun gathering in the aisle. The bus is now full. The young man smiles. With the press of a button he destroys himself, the couple at his side, and twenty others on the bus. The nails, ball bearings, and rat poison ensure further casualties on the street and in the surrounding cars. All has gone according to plan.

The young man’s parents soon learn of his fate. Although saddened to have lost a son, they feel tremendous pride at his accomplishment. They know that he has gone to heaven and prepared the way for them to follow. He has also sent his victims to hell for eternity. It is a double victory. The neighbors find the event a great cause for celebration and honor the young man’s parents by giving them gifts of food and money. These are the facts. This is all we know for certain about the young man. Is there anything else that we can infer about him on the basis of his behavior? Was he popular in school? Was he rich or was he poor? Was he of low or high intelligence? His actions leave no clue at all. Did he have a college education? Did he have a bright future as a mechanical engineer? His behavior is simply mute on questions of this sort, and hundreds like them. Why is it so easy, then, so trivially easy— you-could-almost-bet-your-life-on-it easy— to guess the young man’s religion?

— Harris, Sam. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason


Over six years ago I reviewed the book by Sam Harris titled The End of Faith.

More relevant today than ever, it is a searing indictment of all religions and how they counteract progress, science and the good and peace in our modern societies. The Muslim religion is lately singled out as one of the strongest culprits. It’s the one religion that somehow gets teenagers to put on suicide belts and blow  themselves up in public places. It’s the one religion that does pseudo-medieval reality shows showing YouTube videos of choreographed beheadings. It’s the one that’s associated with atrocities today.

That was not always true. Christianity had its share of killing, genocide, persecution and corruption on a gargantuan scale over the centuries. Fortunately Christians stopped committing atrocities on a large scale around the 1600s or so (for the most part).

Muslims never stopped, and they continue to commit them now, with the help of social media, automatic weapons, and shipments of oil. So, yes, the “good Muslims” are not happy with this, and I understand them. Yet, without a doubt, the fundamental tenets of Islam foment the insanity we are witnessing today.

I invite you to read The End of Faith to educate yourself about all the adverse effects of religion in general and Islam in particular.

The Pale Blue Dot

Norbert Haupt:

It’s time, once again, to think about the pale blue dot and particularly contemplate Sagan’s “rivers of blood” thought. We humans are killing each other for ideology. What an immense waste of life, and time, and energy. All while we’re floating there, on a tiny mote of dust, a speck of paradise, surrounded by the vast emptiness of the universe.

Originally posted on 101 Books:

This is possibly my favorite quote from any book–fiction or otherwise.

Let me give a little context if you’re not familiar with it, though. On February 4, 1990, when Voyager 1 was exiting the Solar System and entering interstellar space, NASA commanded Voyager to turn its camera around and take one last photo of Earth. The photo was taken from 3. 7 billion miles away. Earth, about the size of a pixel, appears as a “pale blue dot.”

Four years later, Carl Sagan wrote about that pale blue dot in his book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. In light of everything going on in the world today, I believe this quote is as relevant as ever. So I’ll stop writing now and let Carl Sagan take it from here.

View original

Norbert Haupt:

First they came for the socialists….

I posted this about two years ago, and it is more relevant today than ever.

First they came for the Muslims….

Originally posted on Norbert Haupt:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

— Martin Niemöller

Niemöller was a prominent Protestant pastor who opposed the Nazi regime. He spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

I found his quote on the Holocaust Memorial in Des Moines, Iowa, this week:


I did not know this memorial was there. It was just erected this year down the hill from the Iowa State Capitol.


The memorial consists of a set of engraved steel plates bolted to concrete foundations. There were quotes from…

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Trump said: There should be systems to track Muslims. He is suggesting that we issue ID cards to Muslims.

When WW II broke out, we imprisoned innocent Japanese people in the United States. Our leadership and our media are all frothing at the mouth because Muslim extremists have killed hundreds of people in France.

That is tragic. Out-of-control terrorism is tragic. But for our nation to get all worked up about one religious minority and lump them all in with terrorists is outrageous.

Hitler did just that in 1933. The German people were suffering economically. Hitler, pretty much on his own, decided that it was the fault of the Jews (a religious minority) and then he systematically started persecuting this minority.

Eventually they had to carry IDs (a yellow star on their clothing), just like Trump is now suggesting we do with Muslims (carry an ID). If I were a Muslim, I would be deeply, deeply offended, that a clown like Trump can accuse me on national TV of being suspicious of terrorism and introduce measures where I have to publicly identify myself as part of a religious or ethnic group.

Forming special badges or IDs for a religious group does not end well.

We call it Holocaust.

A few years ago I posted about Kinder Eggs and how they are banned in the United States. I guess our government doesn’t trust American children not to eat the toys. But as it turns out, you can buy them at the local Hispanic Market, where they are just brought in from Mexico.


Donald Trump, we really need to build your wall! Our border is broken. Dangerous Kinder Eggs (Sorpresa Huevos – con leche, no less) are making it across the border unfettered.

They are trying to kill our children!


For those of you that really wanted to know the inner secrets of Kinder Sorpresa Huevos:


When you first break the chocolate open, there is a container that is pretty much childproof. We could hardly twist it open. In old times, the toy rattled loose inside the egg.


Once the inner egg is open, there is a little fairy tale girl.

Ok, I ate the egg, threw away the wrapper, the inner egg and the instruction sheet. Now all that’s left is the fairy tale girl sitting in front of my monitor.

If you have traveled in Europe and stayed in a hotel, you might have noticed that they are usually very efficient with their room electricity. When you enter the room, right by the door, there is a slot for the magnetic room key card. You have to insert the card for the power in the room to work. All the outlets and lights are off without this switch. There is no way to bypass it. It’s also not possible to leave the room and leave all the power on.

Recently we stayed at a Hilton hotel in Sacramento. It had such a slot that controlled the power in the room. It was the first time I had seen one of those in the U.S.

However, the slot already had a key card in it. When we asked the attendant, she said that the rooms get hot with the air conditioning off, so they insert the keys so the power works and the air conditioning can be on.

So why did they install the system in the first place, if they were not willing to use it the way it was intended to be used – to save power when the room is not occupied?

That’s why the United States has less than 5% of the world’s population but uses 25% of the world’s energy.


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