Archive for the ‘ Travel ’ Category

A Bus Station in St. Louis (TheByteWeek Issue 19)

Catching a greyhound might not have been the smartest idea I’ve ever had

The cast couldn’t have been more diverse if they were arranged by the most liberal of Hollywood agents. The setting couldn’t have been more cliche if it was choreographed by a jaded screenwriter. The plot couldn’t have been more bare-bones if it was concocted from the mind of a blockbuster director itching for his first short at the coveted drama genre that so fuels the minds of critics and film buffs alike.

Granted, any critic would have seen through the film’s attempt at being progressive, if only because a bus station in St. Louis doesn’t necessarily lend itself to what is typically considered high-brow literature. A more cynical reader might even suggest that the film allows itself to revel in stereotypes simply to serve the diverse cast of characters that it features.

In this bus station in St. Louis, on a dreary, dark, dismal, and wet Saturday afternoon, we find ourselves in the presence of the usual suspects. An older black grandmother from Chicago. A middle-aged, wannabe politico itching for his chance at the big leagues. A woman caught in a sordid love affair with a man across the border. A backpacker. A daughter. A woman suffering from an undisclosed mental illness. A recent university graduate heading home after a vacation. Oh, and the ex-con 11 days out of prison – if his angry ramblings are to be believed.

The setting: a departure terminal separated from a main concourse by the invisible barrier created by an open doorway. On one side, friends and family wave goodbye. On the other, friends and family board and disembark, looking ahead to the possibilities, but looking back at the lives they leave behind.

The conflict: A bus that’s two hours late. Correction – a bus that’s four hours late. And then, a bus that never shows up, and an alternate route on an unreliable charter through four different cities, two countries, and at least five chances for everything to fall to ruin.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that this was the scene of a drama.

On Saturday, May 7, 2016, I tried to catch a Greyhound bus from St. Louis to Chicago to Detroit to Toronto. Contrary to what the route might suggest, the trip was divided between two separate buses. One bus from St. Louis to Chicago, and one bus from Chicago to Toronto.

The St. Louis-Chicago bus was scheduled to leave at 2 p.m. local time. After six hours on the road, the bus would promptly reach the Windy City at 8 p.m. Following three-and-a-half hours of layover, the Chicago-Detroit-Toronto bus would depart at 11:30 p.m. All in all, the trip would take approximately 22 hours, and I’d be back in Toronto on Sunday, May 8, 2016, at approximately 11:30 a.m.

Except the bus to Chicago didn’t show up on time.

Which wasn’t a problem for me, the woman caught in the love affair, the daughter, and the older black woman native to Chicago. For the daughter, Sarah, and the woman, Shawna, a late bus meant arriving home in Chicago later than planned. Certainly, this would be an inconvenience, but nothing that couldn’t be rectified with some well-earned sleep.

For the lover, Emma, and the recent graduate, me, a late bus to Chicago meant less time spent waiting in a concourse late at night. In fact, when I was told that my bus was two-hours-late, I smiled, because I knew that I wouldn’t have to wait as long for my bus to leave to Toronto.

Dear reader, know that it is not the man who sells his flock that is smart, but the man who waits to count his profits after the transaction.

At 4 p.m., our group was told that the bus hadn’t yet left for St. Louis. Understandably, our smattering of souls grew anxious. The ex-con in particular decided to remind the audience that he’d only recently been released after serving a three-year sentence. When it finally got to be time for him to complain to Greyhound’s customer service personnel, he adjusted his story and suggested that he was actually in for five years. Suffice it to say, no one challenged the man for fear that his tales might not be bloated boasting after all.

At 4:15 p.m., the group slowly moved towards a counter staffed by a man who can be no older than 25. The 25-year-old is young, but his face was weary. He carried himself with the worldliness of a leathery hippo who was clearly too old for this s**t.

The line grew in length as everyone settled into a state of active dissociation. As it turned out, the bus to Chicago wasn’t the only vehicle with a minor problem. The bus to Indianapolis, for example, did arrive, but it left without four of its payed passengers. In comparison, the bus to New York also decided to endorse a different candidate for the nomination.

Don’t even get me started on the bus to Little Rock.

When I finally made my way to the front of the line, Trevor – the 25-year-old leathery hippo – listened to my concerns.

“Listen, man, I need to get to Toronto by tomorrow,” I explained, calmly.

“Oh, yeah, I don’t think I can do that,” he began, alerting himself to the despair growing in my heart. “But let me see what I can do to get you back.”

Eventually, he presented me with my options:

“I can get you from here to Columbus, to Cleveland, to Buffalo, to Toronto,” Trevor said. “And you need to make up your mind fast.”

Four cities, four layovers, four different buses, one hour layover in each city.

At the time, I wasn’t entirely sure how precisely screwed I’d have been had I taken the ticket, but I’m certain now, and I was certain then, that Greyhound – in their infinite wisdom – would have been unable to efficiently get me back home within the promised 25-hour time-frame that Trevor outlined.

Call me cynical, but if they had managed to bungle something as simple as St. Louis to Chicago, I didn’t trust them to be able to safely get me to Toronto via Columbus, Cleveland, and Buffalo.

There was nothing else that Trevor could do for me, so I took the adjusted ticket. As I walked past Emma, and Shawna, and Sarah, and the ex-con – who is named Gilbert, of all things – they told me the stories that they hadn’t shared when we were just fellow passengers.

Emma’s from California. She was going to a small-town in Ontario to see her boyfriend who she lives with for six months of the year. She’s got two adult kids from a different relationship. She’s happy with her boyfriend. Emma had been travelling from California for the past week, because Greyhound had managed to offend Emma in no less than five cities in the past seven days. She was forced to wait 24 hours for a new ticket once; St. Louis ended up being the second time that she’d spent the night in an unfamiliar bus terminal.

Stanley, the wannabe politico, didn’t tell me where he was from, but I could smell that he hadn’t showered in three days. He’d been subsisting off a diet of terminal junk food and the scant Internet that he’d been able to scrounge off of the terminals that gave him their Wi-Fi passwords. Unsurprisingly, his 11-inch MacBook Air carried a full charge.

Shawna didn’t have much of a story. She’s a nurse. She’s got grandchildren. She’s got children in Alabama who she visited. Now it was time for her to get back home – time for her to get back to work. Granted, she liked Alabama, though Alabama hadn’t seemed to like her very much.

I must mention that, before I met Shawna, she was carrying a polite conversation with a well-connected businessman. I say well-connected because his cellphone was charging through a power outlet, while his smart-watch charged through his tablet. I know the conversation between the businessman and Shawna was polite, because I was eavesdropping. At one point, the businessman had even asked Shawna how she felt about her church.

“Quite satisfied with my religious service provider, thank you kindly” Shawna replied.

An hour after I’d met Shawna – an hour into the delay – she told a 17-year-old to pull his pants up, or else she’d “whoop his ass so hard he wouldn’t need to pull them up.”

The 17-year-old smiled politely, and promptly pulled his pants up. Clearly, he didn’t want to find out how Shawna planned on fulfilling her end of the bargain either.

I digress.

I got my ticket, my new friends told me their stories, and I promptly called my mother for help. 15-minutes-later, I’d been booked on a flight from St. Louis to Minneapolis Toronto for 9 a.m. the next morning. Because we booked the flight almost half-a-day before departure, the ticket only cost $200. My Greyhound ticket cost $120.

The next morning, I woke up early, got to the airport at 6 a.m., checked in, checked in my bag, got breakfast, waited at the gate for an hour-and-a-half, and took off on time. I reached Minneapolis for the layover, waited three hours for the flight to Toronto, and took off again, on time. I reached Toronto – tired, of course – at 5 p.m. that day. All in all, the ticket was well worth the $200.

You truly must believe me when I say that I love buses. Buses make sense to me. They’re extended limousines, piled high on big, powerful wheels that carry rectangular prisms filled with people of the world, all over the world.

Buses are efficient – they go where cars don’t and they go where planes often won’t. With effort, time, and a driver’s license, almost anyone can travel almost anywhere in a car. But with money, time, and patience, anyone can truly travel anywhere in a bus.

You must understand my point: In the almost 200,000 years that humans have managed to survive on this blue marble we call home, the idea of a mechanized mode of transportation capable of efficiently carrying 10 to 50 people from place to place remains, to me, one of the most incredible inventions ever conceived.

I, however, am no blind devotee to busing and buses. I recognize, as well we all should, that buses have a tendency to fail. They break down. They’re routinely late. Obviously, without a trained driver, a bus is nothing more than a home for the patient and the willing. Granted, a bus makes a cozy place to take a long nap, but there’s no force on Earth that would rationally suggest that a bus makes a comfortable place to live.

I digress.

I love buses, and I love busing. In fact, I’d be so bold as to suggest that I love all public transportation as a whole. Personalized forms of travel are largely elitist. Even ignoring the environmental reasons to avoid a car in favour of a bicycle, the bicycle itself is still emblematic of the great divide between those who have and those who have not – between those who can and those who simply can’t. Case in point: I rode in a train, plane, and bus well before I learned how to ride my bike – reductio ad absurdum, notwithstanding.

I can afford to travel on my high horse, however, because I have choice. I have agency. I chose to take a Greyhound bus because it was cheaper and because I like driving through America. When the bus failed me – and when circumstances seemed like they were going to fail me again – I made a single phonecall and did what I should have done from the start. For me, the choice to take a bus wasn’t based off of a need to save money – a circumstantial obligation to decide between travel and dinner. Instead, it was based off of a desire to have things my way. The moment that circumstances changed, I was able to pivot and successfully find my bearings.

In short, I had a choice.

Emma, Stanley, Rachel, Shawna, and definitely Gilbert did not have that choice. They were forced into their circumstances because their circumstances presented unavoidable options that were ultimately found to be lacking.

My “friends” at the bus station couldn’t take a plane to where they needed to go. They couldn’t call their friends or family, exhausted and on the verge of tears, to bail them out. Quite the contrary, the bus was the only way that they were able to travel from their places-of-origin to their respective destinations. The bus, quite simply, was their only choice.

The dramatic part of me believes that they’re still in St. Louis to this day – waiting for a bus that will never come. The pragmatic part of me recognizes that they no doubt navigated through their other options. Megabus, for example, is a carrier that travels through St. Louis. In fact, the Megabus from St. Louis to Chicago – a ticket that only cost $24, instead of the $84 that Shawna had paid – not only arrived on-time, but it departed on-time too.

The moral to this story is obviously one of choice and privilege. Be grateful for what you have, and never forget those who find themselves in circumstances more arduous than your own.

It’s either that, or never take a Greyhound when you can take a Megabus instead.

The Hobbit (TheByteScene Review)

Date: January 12th, 2014

TheByteDaily

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

3 Vast-Improvements-Over-The-Original out of 4

Peter Jackson’s first foray with The Hobbitwas an awkward mess of a film. From a purely technical point of view, the movie was fantastic, but it was spectacularly boring with much of the main plot dragging on for far too long. Ironically, the film suffered specifically because of Jackson’s refusal to veer away from J.R.R. Tolkien’s original story. Even some of the most mindless and inane details that were present in Tolkien’s novel managed to find themselves in Jackson’s film, and the production was weaker for it.

Ironically, a feature that so closely followed its source material was the exact argument against perfect book-to-movie adaptations. Jackson proved that a film that follows its source material’s story to the last letter will not only run for an unnecessary amount of time, it will also be boring enough that it’s nearly three hour run time will feel like far more.

Thankfully, viewers and critics alike will be happy to know that The Desolation of Smaug is a fun production and a great movie. The visuals are beautiful, the action is plentiful and well choreographed, the acting is a mix between scene-chewingly absurd and succinctly minimalistic, and Andrew Lesnie’s cinematography yet again brings a fantastic Tolkien feel to New Zealand.

Jackson and his cast of artists let their world speak for itself, succeeding in carrying on the tradition of excellence that the original Lord of the Ringsfilms helped pioneer. Simply put, The Desolation of Smaugis the movie that An Unexpected Journeycould have been if much of the fat was trimmed off.

Picking up a short time after the conclusion of its predecessor, the hobbit Bilbo, the wizard Gandalf, and Thorin Okenshield and his team of dwarves are attempting to outrun the vengeful Azog the Orc, who served as the first film’s primary antagonist. Continuing their journey to reclaim The Lonely Mountain, the heroes split up into two groups, with Gandalf leaving to search for a reemerging evil in Middle Earth.

As with many long-existing franchises with a consistent track record of success, The Hobbitfilms are no longer exercises in film-making. Instead, they represent a shift to a wider universe with more characters, more locations, and new stories to entertain diehard fans and newcomers alike.

I suppose at this point, it’s unsurprising that Peter Jackson is going to make a great movie based on Tolkien’s work.

That The Desolation of Smaugfeatures strong performances by Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Evangeline Lily, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s low baritone (who voices the eponymous fire-breathing dragon Smaug) is just icing on the cake. Additional praise should be given to Stephen Fry who cameos as the Master of Laketown – a fat landlord who rules his city with a tyrannical and well-fed fist. Stephen Fry’s talent should never be called into question, and watching him saunter on screen to act out anything is always a treat.

The much touted 48 frames-per-second visual quality is yet again on display, and the movie is a stunning piece of art to behold. Colours are bolder, and scenes look like paintings, with CG characters and backgrounds almost seamlessly blending in with the rest of the production. Again, it should come as no surprise that special effects created by Weta Digital under the supervision of Jackson and his crew are beautiful.

The truth is that Peter Jackson is clearly a talented filmmaker with a keen eye for fixing his mistakes in order to strengthen his work. My largest concern with An Unexpected Journeywas its monotonously slow pacing, and The Desolation of Smaugliterally fixes this problem with the opening credits. Gone is a long, heavily narrated opening sequence that serves to recap the previous film’s events. Instead, Jackson presents a short cold open, flashes the film’s title, and continues with the story.

Ultimately, all that matters with universe building is the story. As long as the story is interesting and well-paced, everything else simply falls into place. The Desolation of Smaugfulfils this criteria with an effortlessly unfolding story that does away with any concern for plodding exposition. Audiences are treated to an entertaining production that benefits from a strong script, and a cast of artists who care.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-SC(EK)

Sociology is Serious Business; Never Doubt That What You Do Makes A Difference

Date: November 1st, 2013

TheByteDaily

Sociology is Serious Business; Never Doubt That What You Do Makes A Difference

Hey man, I need help on a sociology paper. I have to write about four current issues in Canada and I can’t think of anything. Canada’s too perfect!”

You, sir, are in luck. Your country’s a mess and your government is in shambles; your world isn’t fairing much better, but we’re going to start small and see where we end up.

Three people you call senators are under investigation for monetary fraud while one of them is trying to systematically bring down your Prime Minister in what can only be called a revenge-fuelled blaze of glory. Your Prime Minister is denying being involved in any way, shape, or form, even though there seems to be several metric tons of paper trails that lead to him, his office, and the staff staffing his office. On top of all of this he’s got a racist foreign minister and enough people in his hand-picked senate that are unreliable, untrustworthy, or both.

Wonder about the official opposition and realize that your country has five parties to elect as its primary governing body. The party most of your fellows consider as their country’s natural governing body had – in the last federal election – its worst showing in history. For the first time, since the inception of your country, the “Natural Governing Party” has dipped below second place. What’s impressive is that the official majority’s leader is losing global battles regarding intolerance, war, hatred, prejudice, and inequality, while the Liberal Leader is busy trying to figure out whether to legalize or decriminalize pot.

I still genuinely can’t figure out what the official opposition is trying to accomplish – other than the downfall and eventual obliteration of the official majority.

Your country sits on the biggest untapped oil reserve in the world, and is involved in an oil pipeline project that your people have been actively protesting since its ideological inception. Worse yet is that your democratically elected environmental leaders are caught between increasing GDP and decreasing the mindless destruction of an entire ecosystem. Your fellows say no to the pipeline, but yes to the jobs because of an economic recession that they’ve barely overcome – and your politicians are caught in the middle trying to figure out what to do.

There’s a planned mining development in the James Bay Lowlands that will prove absolutely catastrophic to both the surrounding environment and the Aboriginal populations that have done nothing but suffer since the inception of this country’s initial foundations. People will suffer if this idea ever comes to fruition; living things, of all shapes and sizes will have their futures irrevocably altered for a scarce commodity that only guarantees short term profit at the risk of long term devastation.

Regardless of what a corporation might say, it’s in the business game; it’s nothing personal, I promise, but that’s tough to explain to the creatures who will receive no further answer than “Tough.”

You see, your country, just like every democracy, suffers due to the divisive dichotomy between profit and morality.

Sadly, when it comes to a large corporation like a country, it becomes almost impossible to produce an end result that satisfies both the consumer and the ethicist, so we settle for an end result that satisfies neither. The consumer feels the profits are too low, and the ethicist feels the complacency is too high. The environmentalist suffers as the Arctic melts while the oil baron is aghast as to why there aren’t more rigs in the Atlantic. This dichotomy divides both sides of the house, and splits the nation’s attitudes down the middle.

Every aspect of the democratic process is riddled with the bullet holes of profit and the stab wounds of morality. Since democracy is the only mode of government that seems to be equally unfair for everyone, instead of unequally fair for a few, every aspect of a democratic nation is dually torn between Righteousness and Money.

On top of all of this, there’s a heavy-set man overfilling the chair of leader of the biggest city in the country, and the press can’t help but make fun of his numerous public and political failures. The man’s only crime is having a troubled and public private life and being almost entirely ineffectual as a leader, and it seems that the newspapers are intent on asking for both his resignation and utter condemnation.

You, however, are a student getting an education and trying to do the best you possibly can. You’re trying to enjoy the numerous advantages youth provides while simultaneously taking advantage of the glories that adulthood offers in a way that doesn’t result in your dire annihilation.

So where do you fit into all of this?

You’re the future of this country, along with everyone who thinks making fun of Rob Ford is cool, and you’re almost convinced that the problems this country faces are out of your reach and well beyond your limitations.

Don’t let that pressure get to you. Never underestimate the power of a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens; never doubt that what you do makes a difference.

And read a newspaper every now and then man. It’ll do your sense of civic duty some good.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-SC(EK)

A Temporally Impossible Space in Canada; Thanksgiving at the Farm (TheByteWeek Issue 17)

Date: October 25th, 2013

 

TheByteDaily

 

A Temporally Impossible Space in Canada; Thanksgiving at the Farm (TheByteWeek Issue 17)

 

It’s 8:00 in the morning and I’m awake. As I remember that it’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I realize that I’ve spent the majority of my weekend alternating between studying physics and playing Pokemon. I smile to myself, wondering which avenue was better spent pursuing, before the gravity of time pushes down on me. I shower, and get myself ready for the day, keeping in mind that I need to be done by 9:00; if I’m late I’ll never hear the end of it. I fell asleep on a long drive before – once – and I’ve learned the importance of an awake, if not alert, front-seat passenger.

 

Clean, and barely awake, I eat my breakfast.

 

The drive from the city to the country is a commentary on the state of developed nations. Every piece of road is divided between modern design sensibilities and rustic throwbacks to a bygone era. The highway is new but the forest is old; the trees are looked after by various municipalities but the ground has been here for countless generations, through impossible lifetimes, and infinitely changing histories echoing sentiments of the natural past.

 

Roadsigns are meant to better the road but the drivers remain as reckless as when Ford first introduced his Model-T. There’s something to be said about the consistency in which vehicles throttling at over 27.8 m/s (100 km/h) manage to avoid total disaster.

 

As we drive out of the city, I introspect on the subtle shifts in architecture. Office buildings that belong to large multinational corporations staking claim to foreign and local markets turn into large suburban homes filled with similarly happy and differently unhappy families turn into farmland and enough agriculture to feed the majority of the country. Fourth largest out of 13 doesn’t mean very much until I remember that the fourth largest province in the second largest country in the world is still significantly larger than many countries in total. Ontario is large – large enough that it’s distinctions are noticeable and land is able to retain its architecture without giving into modernity.

 

I’m going to the farm today.

 

It’s not just any farm, of course, and it’s not my farm. It’s belonged to a Canadian family for over 40 years and it’s a reflection on the nature of change and the nature of change in Canada. We perceive time as linear when it’s really more like a series of random shifts in particle movement that somehow collides into something coherent that we categorize as forward motion. Time doesn’t move at the farm; it’s always a sunny Sunday morning even if it’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon.

 

The farm shouldn’t technically be possible; it’s a perfect amalgamation of pre-World War 1 agricultural Canada and post-Information Revolution 2013.

 

It’s Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables if those two things had the same setting but took place in modern times. The farmhouse is old, and it creaks and gives way like every good childhood memory, but it’s strong and reinforced with a tensile strength found only in machined titanium. The sink is old, but the bathtub is new; there’s a modern washer and dryer powered through modern AC/DC electrical technology in a bathroom that’s decorated with larges splashes of pioneer dreams. The kitchen is filled with toys that once belonged to the now fully-grown children still doing the dishes after dinner; the kids aren’t just alright – they never left to begin with. They got an education, live their own lives, have their own families, but once they’re back home time ceases to exist for them too.

 

There were also actual pies and tarts cooling in a window sill next to an espresso machine out of Star Trek, which I thought was charmingly anachronistic.

 

We’re completely out of the city now. I’m awake – against my desire to not be – and the sun has decided to acquaint itself with the forest. It’s autumn, of course, and the natural cellular respiration cycles of any non-Boreal tree is coming to an end, and they do so love putting on a grand show. I imagine directors would enjoy working with trees if trees had the capacity to act out Shakespeare; trees have bit roles in a large planetary drama, yet they enter and exit each scene with such panache. On-stage, they only attempt to better the scene, never trying to take away from what any other actor does. Now it’s time to bow out, but they’re leaving in style, and we’re the ones who will clean up after them thank you very much.

 

Driving through another small town, there’s a nonsensical welcome sign – as we leave we’re told to “Please call again.” Paved road soon becomes gravel which quickly becomes dirt. Farms are on all sides. There’s a bridge overlooking a creek, and enough passing-by pick-up trucks to shoot a Jason Aldean music video. Things seem familiar even though I don’t entirely remember them, but that’s only because of how familiar everything always seems when you’re seeing it for one of the first times.

 

Finally, we get to the farm. At least, we get off the main road that leads to an inroad that leads to the farm. We get to the farm and it looks the same as I remember it, except this time it isn’t winter so there’s corn growing. I know how I’m going to spend Thanksgiving weekend. I’m going to do exactly what you’re supposed to do on the second Monday of every October. I’m going to be with family, and though I can’t possibly lay claim to any members of the families I’ll meet, I’m going to be treated like family. I’m reminded of Marc Cohn’s trip to Memphis as I step through the front door and greet the men who I’ll call uncles, the women who I’ll call aunts, the children who I’ll call nieces and nephews, and the elders who I’ll call grandparents.

 

The farm isn’t mine. Neither is the hammock in the backyard, nor the shed filled with supplies. The kitchen, dining room, bathrooms, living rooms, solarium, bedrooms, and piano will never be mine.

 

I’m not a Christian child either, but man I am tonight.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-SC(EK)

Tip Your Servers or: The Most Important People in Our Lives are the Ones We Pay the Least Attention to

Date: July 3rd, 2013

TheByteDaily

Tip Your Servers or: The Most Important People in Our Lives are the Ones We Pay the Least Attention to

Our universe consists of a series of indisputable rules, laws, and restrictions. This is a fact, and while many may disagree with science, religion, philosophy, and politics, the fact remains that universal laws are indisputable. Matter will never be created or destroyed, regardless of what belief system an individual adopts, and the universe will consistently move towards entropy until the inevitable heat death claims the life of the last particle in existence despite what anyone might say about anything. Universal laws serve as the building blocks of our own existences; despite attempts to prove otherwise, universal laws somehow always serve as the foundation of some philosophy, ethic, or principle. Large corporations are comprised of smaller individuals like big things are made up of little things like protons are comprised of smaller quarks.

It’s important to never confuse a universal law with a human aphorism or logical proof; while humans ideas are based off of larger cosmic philosophies, self evident paradigms that serve as pseudo intellectual aphorisms are very rarely so.

The reason why things are always in the last place we look is because one normally stops looking once one has found what one is searching for. Likewise, “Whatever can wrong will go wrong” is a simple idiom that emphasizes the importance of double-checking figures, and following up on work – making sure to not let overconfidence get in the way of a quality task. They’re idioms and anecdotes – helpful reminders to lighten up or take things more seriously, to be more careful or carefree, or to be a better more thoughtful person. It’s very rare for so-called “Self-evident” logical proofs to be either logical or self-evident, but languages cling to colloquialisms simply because they are simple and straightforward, and help teach a moral or a lesson.

That being said, I continue with no small grains of salt when I say that some of the most important people in our lives are the ones we barely notice, some of  the most important events are the ones we pay almost no attention to, some of the most important work is the one done on a daily basis, and some of the most important people are the ones who simply do their jobs. Yes, these are all so-called “Self-evident” logical fallacies that can be easily debated and disproven, but I’m going to try my hardest to prove a commonly ignored point.

I speak of the minimum wage warriors slogging through demeaning jobs on a daily basis so the rest of the world has easy access to packaged processed goods instead of having to grow it themselves, spending months harvesting crops and livestock. I refer to the workers who help serve as the foundation and backbone of large corporations simply by driving a bus that helps millions get to work. I refer to the individuals working two or three thankless dead-end jobs to satisfy their own needs who are never given enough gratitude for doing something that no one else wants to. I refer to the bus drivers, dishwashers, porters, housekeepers, trash collectors, waiters, meatpackers, amusement park workers, janitors, non-celebrity cooks, cubicle drones, and so-called office slaves who make life easier for all the people lucky enough to not have to.

Dead-end jobs are, by definition, jobs that allow for little opportunity or upward mobility for those forced to work them. They’re not jobs people generally want to do, and the people who are unlucky enough to do them most likely do it because they have no other choice.

Before I continue: Despite the loud cries of those lucky enough to be in a position to be heard, there are countless reasons why people have no other choice than to work thankless, mind-numbing minimum wage professions that barely qualify as occupations above slave labour.

I digress however: Dead-end jobs are professions at the bottom of the proverbial totem pole.

As long as people desire easy lives, someone’s going to have to work at a waste treatment plant to insure the water coming into the toilet is as clean as the water coming out of the sink, and that the water coming out of the sink is safer to drink than water coming in a prepackaged bottle. Salaries are not determined based on desirability – which would create a paradoxical and ironic problem – and these individuals understand this truth on a continuous basis. These individuals are people working some of the most thankless and undesirable jobs, all while effectively maintaining the existence of an at-least-desirable planet.

That these are also the people we rarely recognize, or even acknowledge, only adds to that difficulty; that the world is mostly run by people doing their jobs is an understatement. I argue that some of the most important people in our lives are the ones we pay the least attention to because this doesn’t seem to be a self-evident logical proof; it’s not even a logical fallacy. It’s a concept of neglect that serves as a slippery slope argument that leads into justifying aggression or misbehaviour towards people in jobs that we feel we don’t have to do, towards people in jobs we feel we should never have to do, towards people in jobs we know no one should ever have to do.

The idea that waitstaff don’t deserve tips simply because they choose employment as waitstaff is absurd and ludicrously shameful. The idea that it’s acceptable to verbally assault a porter simply because he serves as the face of a company is actually more than a little terrifying. The idea that service people deserve to be harassed simply because, by definition, they require the money of those they service is disgusting.

I recognize the importance of competency in public professions, and I realize that incompetence is often horrifically mind-boggling for some, but I argue that the incompetent make up a bleak minority of the population and that even the incompetent deserve respect for attempting to gain credibility competency. A person who’s bad at their job doesn’t give anyone a right to harass them. A person who’s bad at their job doesn’t deserve ridicule, they deserve encouragement for a speedy and efficient learning curve.

Ultimately, the issue lies with the population that fails to understand the universal law of respect: Working a low-end job is no excuse for the arrogance and presumption of power over such a person.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

Star Trek Into Darkness (TheByteScene Review)

Date: May 17th, 2013

TheByteDaily

Star Trek Into Darkness

3.5 Ignored-Federation-Directives out of 4

 

The last time J.J. Abrams had his name attached to a Star Trek movie, he managed to reboot the entire film franchise while finding a way to introduce new viewers to the original series that captivated and entertained audiences for years. He was able to craft a well-written movie that focused on its characters and their relationships to each other, while insuring that cinematography, special effects, sound direction, and editing were all treated with respect and admiration. Utilizing the original series as a framework, Abrams insured that the rebooted film would have its roots planted firmly in the original franchise, meaning that though the film would be exist in its own universe, it still treated its source material with respect, admiration, and honour.

 

This time, with the ironically named Star Trek Into Darkness, he managed to do all of that again, recreating what was amazing about the original series in a fresh, interesting way tying characters, plot, and the original mythos into a single comprehensible and incredibly comprehensive beast of a movie.

 

With Klingons too!

 

The Enterprise crew is tasked with finding and eliminating John Harrison, a man at the heart of a terror attack on a Federation records facility in London who ends up killing Kirk’s mentor and the man who encouraged him to join Starfleet. The plot concerns itself with revenge, and thanks to the presence of Spock, Kirk, and McCoy, there’s quite a bit of discussion regarding the moral and ethical virtues of revenge.

 

What made the original Star Trek series so amazing was the way each character fulfilled a role on the Enterprise, all while existing beyond their titles. Each character received fair treatment, and their characterization did not begin and end with their positions onboard the travelling vessel. The importance of the entire crew of both the Enterprise and the actors starring in the show tied the show’s plot together with the overarching themes of exploration, adventure, and science.

 

In order to insure the new franchise succeeds, Abrams expertly tackles the disjointed unity the crew shares in their infancy by having them constantly bicker, banter, and crack jokes with one another in a realistic and human way. Kirk is Captain of the Federation vessel, but he is still young and naive despite his experiences. Spock, the analytical, logical Vulcan mind shows his humanity with his friendship with Kirk, romance with the ship’s communications officer Uhura, and the relationship he shares with the rest of the crew. The loss of even a single central character marks the loss of a family member in the mind of both the remaining crew, and the audience. This familial importance is central to the second Abrams helmed Star Trek film, with the movie actually beginning in media res with Kirk almost losing Spock at the risk of violating the Federation’s infernal Prime Directive.

 

This mention of the Prime Directive marks the beginning of an onslaught of nods, references, hat tips, homages, and callbacks to the original series and the original films. Which is to say nothing of Leonard Nimoy’s brief cameo as Spock Prime.

 

A common criticism of the original Abrams Star Trek movie was that the film spent too much time stopping mid action to quote the original series in a self-referential way. As a way to insure the audience realizes it’s watching a Star Trek movie, many believed the script was interrupted to bring back a kind of nostalgia. The detractors who felt the first film’s script was weaker because of the Original Series nods will not enjoy this Star Trek movie. The only critical solace I can provide for those detractors is insisting that Abrams does a masterful job of uniting new and old in a single interesting package.

 

I realize that my defence may fall on deaf ears.

 

Star Trek Into Darkness features remarkable performances from each member of its crew, and Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as the rogue Federation officer turned terrorist John Harrison is brutal, terrifying, and, quite simply, fascinating. He plays a character at odds with the Federation (just like literally every Star Trek villain ever) who embodies everything Starfleet stands against. His horrific brutality is fascinating because it invokes a performance that is both the antithesis and a parallel to that of Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk.

 

Suffice it to say, Cumberbatch’s soft spoken terror is played to great effect, and he is a worthy adversary to Kirk, the Enterprise’s crew, and the entire Federation as a whole.

 

Fascinatingly, the latest Star Trek film is everything that a good episode of Star Trek should be. It focuses on the characters, the villain, the Federation, and on the USS Enterprise’s evolving nature as both a peacekeeping vessel and the unifying force that brings together the assortment of personalities that form its crew. Abrams has crafted a sequel that is equal to its original film and the franchise from which it deviates. There’s a kind of consistency that isn’t always afforded to sequels – which many feel should bigger and bolder than the originals. Abrams takes this notion and spins it on its head, creating a sequel that is neither bigger nor bolder, but is, instead, simply amazing Star Trek.

 

As far as Star Trek movies go, that’s an accomplishment all unto itself. As far as movies go, that’s a compliment of the highest magnitude.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK

 

Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (TheByteScene Review)

Date: May 16th, 2013

TheByteDaily

The Great Gatsby

3.0 Pink-suits-and-yellow-cars out of 4

 

Let it never be said that Baz Luhrmann’s directing lacks in style, or subtlety. Certainly, a few odd choices, and perhaps a few unnecessary slips and tumbles, but let it never be said that Baz Luhrmann cannot produce an entertaining, enthralling, and enchanting film that captivates and connects with its audience on an intrinsically emotional level.

 

For all the modern film techniques that Luhrmann utilizes to great effect, for all the modern, edited, remastered, and remixed tracks that make up the bulk of the film’s soundtrack and score, and for all the special effects and CGI the film splashes on screen, the heart of the F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic burns on with a passion that only rivals Gatsby’s. Surrounded by no small amounts of pomp and pageantry, the film’s core characters exist in a vivaciously raucous stage that stands to parallel everything Fitzgerald intended to stand for in his criticisms of the decade, its decadence, and its people.

 

For those unfamiliar with the story of the eponymous Great Gatsby: kind, trustworthy, and considerate Yale graduate Nick Carraway realizes that there’s money to be had in bonds and Wall Street, throws away his aspirations to be a writer, moves into a home in Nouveau-Riche West Egg, befriends the mysterious bachelor Jay Gatsby, and finds himself being the confidant of a parade of characters each subsequently more wealthy and extravagant. All over the course of a single summer.

 

Written into an almost soap-operatic love story, Gatsby is hopefully in love with Nick’s cousin, old money Daisy Buchanan, who is married to old money Yale graduate – and former polo player – Tom Buchanan. Nick finds himself involved in their lives through a series of hushed whispers and quiet voices, eventually becoming a part of a magnificent tapestry of lies, deceit, and infidelity. All over the course of a single summer.

 

For those unfamiliar with the story, Baz Luhrmann’s bombastic rendition serves as a perfect entry point to understand the plot’s underlying themes, and to enjoy the characters in a slightly more abridged version than would be expected. For those familiar with the story, the latest revisioning of the classic plot is a reminder of why the book is so highly regarded, and before I continue, praise must be paid to Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Joel Edgerton for their respective portrayals of Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, and Tom Buchanan. Each actor, through some subtle and some not-so-subtle reveals, portrays minute details of their character in an almost spiritual way. Suffice it to say, DiCaprio is the Great Gatsby, as much he is a great choice for the role of Gatsby.

 

The film’s special effects, CGI, and cinematography must be equally lauded for producing a genuine portrayal of the parties that Gatsby throws. Onscreen, the parties are a regal mess, muddy and chaotic in a calm, serene, and methodical fashion. Music, lighting, fashion, people, and effects create a blissfully tormenting view of the parties that are described as being wildly extravagant and sublimely gauche. It’s impossible to view the chaos on screen with anything less than a yearning desire to be a part of the rambunctious display of excess that make up the mystery surrounding Gatsby.

 

Remarkable that the windows are intact, let alone the house not caving in on itself after the first hour.

 

Despite the ceremony and fanfare awarded to the party sequences, The Great Gatsby was in no need of the post 3D conversion. While quite pretty to look at in the added dimension, this is not a film that demands to be viewed with the depth spectacles. It’s evident that certain sequences were edited specifically so someone would have an excuse to demand the conversion (and the added price tag that goes along with it), but viewing the film in the original 2 dimensional format is more than satisfactory to enjoy the entire experience. In summation: This time, 3D literally adds nothing to the experience.

 

The soundtrack, an eclectic combination and remastering of current hip hop, rock, jazz, and R&B tracks, edited and produced by Baz Luhrmann, Anton Monsted, and Jay-Z add a modern twist to the film’s Roaring Twenties backdrop. It’s fascinating watching characters do the Charleston to a will.i.am produced and performed beat, if only to realize that music is timeless. All it really takes is the careful application of imagination for the arts to work harmoniously coalesce, and it’s unnecessary to say that the soundtrack is the perfect anachronistic juxtaposition for the film’s 1920’s framework. Some will leave dissatisfied with the musical selections, others will marvel at the fusion jazz that infuses the film with charm.

 

Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is a film that doesn’t lack charm, panache, flamboyance, or subtlety and is made better for it. The acting, directing, cinematography, editing, plot, effects, and parties are all a reminder of what talent can produce. They’re also a steady reminder of what achievement can be found if just the right amount of hard work mixes with talent.

 

Gatsby would be proud.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK

 

The Student’s Dilemma; A Discussion of Intellectual Understimulation, Workaholism, and Boredom

Date: May 14th, 2013

TheByteDaily

The Student’s Dilemma; A Discussion of Intellectual Understimulation, Workaholism, and Boredom

 

The average undergraduate school year in the province of Ontario lasts eight months, with the remaining four months dedicated specifically towards “Summer holidays.” Two semesters divided between eight months, produce four grueling months of education, filled to the brim with tests, assignments, projects, papers, and lectures. Understandably, the summer months come as a quiet respite, though students will find themselves either continuing their educations by taking summer courses, or finding some form of work or internship to occupy their time by beginning a career and entering the workforce. Finally, how a school determines their credit count is arbitrary and irrelevant, with schools requiring varying amounts of “Credits” to graduate a degree program.

 

The provincial government determines a single university school year as containing 10 classes; engineering, and certain other programs require more classes, but the consensus is that no degree program requires less than 5 courses between two semesters.

 

Comparatively, the average high school year in the province of Ontario last ten months, with two months specifically dedicated towards “Summer holidays.” Depending on the school, and excluding the Catholic school boards (of which I have absolutely no knowledge), ten months are divided between two semesters, with a total of five months per semester dedicated to a yearly total of eight classes. One can immediately notice that the most obvious difference between University and High School isn’t just the length, but the two extra classes that University students are expected to take.

 

From a purely academic point-of-view, high school students are afforded more time to work on fewer classes, which is normally why the hardest transitional change for first-year university students is getting used to having less time to work on more subjects. “Normally,” because the hardest transition isn’t something that is tangibly there, but something that all but disappears into a narrow void.

 

Two months of schooling and education are eradicated in the transition between university and high school.

 

For many students these extra two months provide momentary peace and respite to prepare one’s self for the inevitable onslaught that a return to university entails. For many students, the total four months allow an individual time to relax and enjoy time as something more than a frail reminder of how much work is left, how little work has been done, and how much more work it’s going to take to finish.

 

For many students however, these four months serve as a form of intellectual understimulation, and for those unlucky to not have any plans, unlucky enough to be unable to find work, and unlucky enough to not have the advantage of travelling, these four months serve as an intellectual prison-sentence where boredom is one’s jailer, and apathetic complacency is one’s cellmate. I find that therein lies a paradoxical dilemma with being a full time student and having so long a break to relax in. Working – the mere act of doing something with an end result or an ultimate goal in mind – becomes the norm, and while I’m not arrogant enough to claim that the stress of activity becomes an addiction, even minor amounts of inactivity are agonizing.

 

A four month intellectual alienation is an all-consuming, harrowing, almost torturous test of sanity.

 

For a final comparison, the average Ontario work year provides approximately three to six weeks of paid vacation, with certain civic holidays providing additional time off. Certain Christian holy days also produce time off, with Christmas and Easter being two notable dates. Though the average work day is from 9-5 for full time wages, the Ontario government requires a mandatory 48 hours of work a week, with everything else being regarded as overtime. Those who work more than the government mandated 48 hours – for whatever reason – do so to accomplish certain goals and make sacrifices to achieve them.

 

Compared to the average student, even the least productive worker is an unabashed workaholic.

 

I suppose the truth is that the experience is universal, and it transcends all individuals who take pride in work, in action, and in doing. The mere act of not doing or not working, the mere notion of not accomplishing a task – regardless of how simple it may be – is daunting and, quite simply, mind numbing. The term workaholic is a colloquial concept and refers to someone who is enamored in their work; one’s life revolves around their work, and the term hints at the numerous personal sacrifices one has to make in order to accomplish their goals.

 

Perhaps it’s merely a colloquial paradigm, or perhaps it’s a human need to do better, to create more, to accomplish greater things. Perhaps the idea is something far more simple than the human need to advance; perhaps boredom and intellectual ennui are so harrowing, that the mere thought of inactivity is terrifying enough to elicit action. I can’t be so bold as to state that I know how people can stand to throw their time away by doing nothing and remaining complacent, but I do know that the urgency produced by complacency is often enough motivation for action.

 

The issue then becomes finding something to fill one’s time. In an understandable twist of events, I’ve noticed that it’s difficult to determine whether the colloquialism is meant to be an insult or a great compliment.

 

Though I’m lucky this summer; I actually have something to do.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK

 

The Man with the Iron Fists (TheByteScene Review)

Date: April 20th, 2013

 

TheByteDaily

 

The Man with the Iron Fists

 

3 Golden-Lions out of 4

 

I’m sure there’s a school-of-thought that believes that period pieces should be shot as homages to the past, highlighting how far society has advanced, and how much the overall human collective has achieved in the present, all while using the past as a pedestal for the future. As for Quentin Tarantino and company – the group of filmmakers who have studied under and worked with the cinematic trigger finger – it seems that the way to create an homage is by reducing an entire genre to the sum of its parts and mercilessly showcasing their love for it in a brutal display of cinematic sensationalism.

 

RZA purportedly spent 30 days taking notes and watching Tarantino work during the shooting of the latter’s Kill Bill films, and it’s evident that the Wu-Tang Clansmen has matured into master from pupil.

 

The Man with the Iron Fists is in no way an homage to the martial arts genre as much as it is  an ode to the micro-epics that served as the backbone for the Western definition of kung-fu. The film is bursting with ancient Eastern philosophy, wise mystics, remarkably choreographed fight-scenes, cheesy, baudy characters, and almost every cliche the genre is known for, barring the poorly dubbed voices. If it weren’t for the paper-thin story that doesn’t actually tackle the main plot until almost halfway through the film’s runtime, this would be the greatest ode to kung-fu action cinema ever, and would actually deserve to be considered one of the greatest kung-fu films of all time.

 

It’s clear from the film’s opening credits that those involved in the production’s creation show a deep respect, fondness, and affinity for the martial arts genre, and the kung-fu action cinema subgenre specifically. RZA’s directorial debut is outstanding, and while the writing is profoundly weak on near-spiritual levels, the film is a masterpiece in almost every other way. The editing is tight, the cinematography is crisp and gorgeous, the music is superb, and the fight-scenes are so beautifully choreographed that the extras might as well be credited as backup dancers.

 

RZA’s vision is that of Jungle Village, a shanty war-torn town ravaged by power-hungry clans. The execution of leader of the ruling Lion Clan, Gold Lion, by the conniving, yet oddly camp Silver Lion acts as the spark that sets off Jungle VIllage’s proverbial powder keg, forcing Gold Lion’s son Zen-Yi to leave his fiance, return to the village, and reclaim the lost honor of his family and his clan. Given the plot in context of the genre, it all makes perfect sense. Add some of the Emperor’s gold, Russel Crowe as a British consul, RZA as a talented Blacksmith, Lucy Liu as the head of the Pink Blossom brothel, and David Bautista as a mercenary named Brass Body into the mix, and the stage is set for an explosion of francium-based proportions.

 

Despite the wide-range of acting (and musical) talent on display, the film suffers from extremely slow moments of exposition that neither provide, nor take away, to the film in any significant way. Not to mention, the film’s arguable main character divulges a relatively weak story – never boring mind, but often weak. Hoping to escape the darkness of Jungle Village, the blacksmith is in love with a prostitute in the Pink Blossom. One would be excused for expecting a twist, a knife-in-the-back, or a betrayal, but sadly the romance never amounts to anything more than screentime for the two lovers.

 

The film’s soundtrack serves as a strong highlight, and features an eclectic mix between traditional Eastern influence, Hip-Hop, and Ennio Morricone thrown in for good measure. The movie is directed by RZA after all. What’s interesting is how well the tracks are edited together and incorporated into the film’s main score; it was rare for the film to mindlessly throw in a track from the soundtrack and risk ruining RZA’s and Howard Dossin’s own score.

 

Writing yet again, is weak. Disappointingly so, especially since this is an otherwise strong film that is even more important because it serves as an example of an action-flick that is worth watching specifically for the action. The Man with the Iron Fists is a rare film whose action is art, and whose director understands the genre and chooses to embrace every aspect of it.

 

Watching The Man with the Iron Fists, I’ve come to believe that the only way to shoot an homage is by mercilessly brutalizing the genre into submission, showing off everything that made an audience fall in love with it, and everything that made critics lampoon and deride it into arbitrary defection. RZA has made more than a homage to the kung-fu action cinema subgenre, and has, instead, created a singularity designed to appeal to fans specifically, and everyone else who stayed past the hilariously cheesy opening credits. Under almost every circumstance, the film is a masterpiece.

 

Almost.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the slightly-Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK

 

The End of the World As We Know It; A Discussion of Nihilistic Complacency, and Universal Catharsis

There’s a scene in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World where Steve Carell’s character – Dodge Peterson – reunites with his father for the first time in 25 years. It’s revealed that the father (played skillfully by Martin Sheen) abandoned his family when Dodge was young, and the vacuum created by the end of the world acts as the appropriate motivation to force Dodge to seek out his absent parent in an attempt to bring their relationship to a cathartic resolution. At first I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief; after all, the movie’s plot involves a 70-mile-wide asteroid named Matilda approaching the planet, leaving Earth’s inhabitants with nothing but three weeks until the inevitable collision, and our inevitable end.

 

Despite the film’s insistence on maintaining a semblance of realism and reality – including several scenes showing anarchy spreading throughout the world in the forms of riots, and rolling blackouts and a lack of water being the result of the government’s nihilistic apathy – the scene where Dodge attempts to resolve his longstanding issues with his father (and actually succeeding) was the sole moment that I found unrealistic, and I was unable to accept the film’s premise. The resolution was too perfect, and the reconciliation completely disregarded any possibility of the father’s negative qualities. In a more realistic situation, it would have taken months and years for Dodge to fully trust his father once again; given the characters’ circumstances, however, I’m ashamed to admit that the scene’s potency only recently struck me.

 

Today is December 21st, 2012 – the supposed End of the World as predicted by the Mayans and Nostradamus after them. Obviously, the world didn’t end today, because the Mayan equivalent of December 21st, 2012 is nothing more than a reset of the entire calendar itself to insure continuity for at least another 5 quintillion years. At the same time, no astronomical anomaly capable of ending the planet has been charted, meaning that the human species – and every other species that we share the planet with – can continue existing until Earth is consumed by our sun 5 billion years from now, when the yellow star expands and sequences into a red giant, eventually consuming the solar system’s inner planets.

 

Interestingly, though the consumption aspect of the planet’s demise is debated, there appears to be little doubt that the heat radiating from the sun will leave the Earth as nothing more than a dead planet with a surface of molten rock in a matter of a few billions years after the sun sequences.

 

Despite this theorized end, today is December 21st, 2012, and contrary to many irrational prophecies, the world has not yet ended. Certainly, the human species will continue attempting to eradicate itself through war, poverty, famine, illness, and the slow ecological destruction of the planet, but for all intents and purposes, we haven’t quite yet succeeded.

 

What I’ve only now come to realize, through the help of the widespread exposure given to the recent trends in predicting apocalypses, is that the end of the world is cathartically, complacently romantic. The apocalypse, as most prophecies tend to describe it, isn’t the end of the universe nor is it even the end of our solar system; instead, it’s the total destruction of the planet Earth, and the absolute annihilation of the human race – so far, the only discovered intelligent lifeforms in any part of the universe.

 

To the universe, it’s merely the end of all life on Earth, and is the end of humanity, but to humans it serves as an undeniable sign of the pointlessness of our existence.

 

Imagine for a moment that a 70-mile-wide asteroid was actually graphed to crash into the planet in less than three weeks time. Yes, people would run around scratching items of their bucket-list, and some might even live to their heart’s content doing everything they wished they could do but never had the courage or the time to; families would reconcile, lovers would reunite, parents would spend more time with their children, unhappy cubicle slaves would quit, people would go skydiving, some would go rocky mountain climbing, and a few brave souls might even attempt to ride bulls named Fu Manchu for 2.7 or more seconds. No human on the planet would have an excuse to not live like they were dying, for the simple fact that in three weeks time, every single human being on the planet (and the planet itself) would no longer exist from a purely ontological perspective.

 

This isn’t to say that handfuls of survivors would be capable of perhaps resuscitating the planet; once the world ends, everything is gone including 5 billion years worth of ecological, geological, social, cultural, intellectual, educational, mathematical, scientific, literary, philosophical, religious, and psychological evolution and devolution. It’s daunting to know that generations worth of change would be eliminated in an instant (and that’s assuming a quick end like an asteroid), and it’s even more daunting to be faced with the knowledge that everything the human race has done will ultimately be reduced to ruin simply because the sun will undergo an inevitable astronomical change 5 billion years from now.

 

Therein lies the dual nature of human existence.

 

Our existence is ultimately meaningless because any given astronomical anomaly can destroy our planet, and that’s assuming we don’t get there first on our own. However, human existence is simply meaningless from a universal perspective; shifting the point-of-view to that of an actual human produces difficulty in validating one’s nihilism. The cliched way of thinking is that an individual is held accountable for their actions because their motivations have the ability of resonating with the entire planet. A single shift in worldview can mean the fruition or completion of any given person, organism, nation, or idea and though the universe couldn’t care any less, the rest of the planet certainly does.

 

In essence, my ultimate point is dual in nature: The End of the World is cathartic insofar as one remains complacent through their life, choosing to remain inactive and refusing to attempt to exercise any amount of control over the events that occur around them. Certainly, the belief that the entire human race’s existence is meaningless and inevitably pointless is a universal truth, but as far as humans are concerned, we stand to lose everything once our planet ends.

 

Sadly, as many “End of the World” plots tend to highlight, including a man’s quest to find the love of life before time runs out for the rest of the planet, we only seem to recognize the importance of our existence once our existence is brought into question.

 

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; today isn’t the end of the world, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

 

-EK