Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Dark Waters (movie review)

My technique on this one was to spontaneously accept an invitation from an old friend, as it's a holiday season and family is around. So I hadn't done a lot of homework beforehand.  That's not unusual for me.  Sometimes doing homework afterward is the better idea, and that's the case here as well.  Around movies, we have a lot of agreement that too much "knowing ahead of time" is a way of "spoiling" it.  That's a lesson we might apply outside "the movies".

The movie I'm talking about was Dark Waters, showing in the historic Hollywood along Sandy Boulevard. Those enrolled in my School of Tomorrow may have already encountered my place-based approach, which translates anywhere, as we're all in a place or base.  Dark Waters is about a place we've all lived in, if driving around, going to movies, enjoying city life with paved roads, suburbs, high rises.  We experience birth, death, stress, and other stuff, in between.

Into this karmic world (aberrational matrix) comes this priestly dressed-up group of older men and sharp clerks, other data scientists, that listen to company stories while drinking wine (or sake if we translate to Tokyo).  Swap casual for suits and maybe beer for wine, give them laptop computers at the speeches, and you have geeks at an OSCON almost (other behaviors might change -- we could express an accumulation of deltas, preferably with calculus).

Once you've poisoned the world with your chemistry (a few lights go on in the basement lab, as one or two technicians get it at first, that a meltdown is underway) you need to cover your tracks, postponing heat death, outliving the enemy (whatever wants to take you down a notch).

Admitting to any kind of crime or wrongdoing could be deadly and would go against the interests of investors, making such admissions seem like fireable offenses.  CEOs have to answer to a board, and are paid to stay answerable.

The story captures that side of things:  people thrive off of jobs with DuPont, including around the poisoned wells, the oasis, and having those ways of life disrupted by "change artists" (maybe "hacktivists" of some kind) is unwelcome, even if they see the writing on the wall.

The science will tell us our lifestyle is unsustainable, like that's news.  Tell that to people in a lifeboat.  You want us to do what again?  Advertise the alternatives.  Engineer our path away.

The deeper question is how do we let medical science help us keep healing from these self inflicted wounds?  We need to confess, as a science-minded culture, that we have indeed poisoned ourselves and our planet and all of us are dying a slow death (and not just from C8).  Since Eden.

We also have the capacity to treat ourselves (in the sense of "by means of medicines and therapies") and use our reason, other capacities (these are occidental terminologies), to improve our lot.  Work towards liberating ourselves from enslaving conditions is the vector of civilization according to Alfred North Whitehead.

Settling on some simple technologies that work and that we completely understand, is a goal of some sciences, having cultivated a feng shui.

The responsible engineers want to alleviate drudgery in the workplace, and the idea of a nonstick pan is not in itself anything evil.  Miracle chemicals come with a downside, is the lesson we keep learning.  If we find an ensemble of technologies that work well, including through recycling phases, we might want to stick with it and experiment more gingerly.

The Dymaxion House, on display in Dearborn, Michigan, where an auto industry had its own side effects, was meant to make housewives happier and better company for their children.  That sounds ridiculously stereotyping on purpose, a 1950s Norman Rockwell, but with that retro futurism vibe introduced by a metallic yurt on a pole, equipped with all the appliance amenities, these days HDTV and lots of bandwidth (not necessarily 5G).

The mass market mentality treats the end users as "receptors" as the bureaucrats had come up with. Those were us.  Engineering has this way of objectifying that's really offensive unless we're doing it ourselves to sustain our families.  The protagonist family in Dark Waters is not ostentatious and blends in with the rest of America, as wanting to have a life beyond slime.  A life other than some nightmare is what we all want.  How might we raise living standards on Ghetto Planet?  Even if you own a fancy yacht, if it's just more trash in the dumpster...

My homework so far has suggested what I think a lot of us already new:  the whole corporate personhood thing and surrounding game of incentives isn't working that well.  New engineering is needed, new circuit designs for motherboard earth.  The permutations for "social organization" are endless and we already have the priestly suits doing "social engineering" in the guise of law.  Add code.  That's us in the 21st Century going forward.

Speaking of "social engineering" etc., the movie is especially good at reviewing the decades and rolling us through time, vis-a-vis office technology.  We see a first search, on something other than Google, and a first boot up of Windows 2000.  The cars change.  The characters age and get sick.

The legal process drags on, and on. That's not fair though, as it's really science, and a huge epidemiological study, that's showing us once again: we have poisoned ourselves.  We need help.  But government belongs to "them" (the fictional zombies, the corporate persons, the gods the suits serve).

Today's Teflon, a brand, belongs to some corporate cutout, which assures us the C8 pans have all been replaced, though not at garage sales or in your old waffle iron.  You're going to continue to poison yourself, throughout the day, in a variety of ways.

I'm not saying you'll need reconstructive surgery.  The monster parts that develop might be psychological, and treatable in an asylum-sanctuary sense.