A review of “Looper”

First of all, the movie begins with the statement that 30 years from the year 2044 (the year in which the protagonist lives) it will be impossible to dispose of a body and it is actually more convenient to use a space-time teleportation machine to send a victim back to a precise location at a precise time 30 years into the past and then have an assassin wait there, shoot the victim and dispose of the body. Well, excuse me all over the place if I think this is one of the most ridiculous plots I have ever come across in a movie. And the rest of the movie fares no better.

At some point during this movie, for example, we observe Bruce Willis sitting in a diner as he says the following to his younger-self, sitting across the table—“I don’t wanna talk about time-travel shit”. And that one sentence—I am absolutely positive—was included in the movie to resolve all the problems the audience might come up with regarding temporal paradoxes and inconsistencies in the storyline. Well, I’m sorry but that’s just lame.

Almost nothing redeems this movie. It is way too long because it includes a lot of scenes that should have been trashed in the editing room, the story is totally unbelievable, the setting of the movie sucks ass (a future where they have freakin’ hovering rocket motorcycles and the (rich) protagonist chooses to drives a crappy 1990’s mazda mx-3?—yeah right, very likely) and the acting is mediocre at best. The only thing this movie has going for it is a small surprising twist almost at the end of the movie. But I can assure you it’s only a minor twist and does not redeem the movie in the least.

I found watching this movie to be a waste of my time. Avoid it.

The history of personal computing, according to Microsoft

I was recently forced to install Microsoft’s Windows Media Player 11, because an online store required its presence before allowing me to listen to sound samples from a CD I was interested in buying.

So first I go to the appropriate download directory on the Microsoft website, and locate the file I need to download. Then much to my surprise and annoyance I am asked to first verify that my Windows license is valid. Microsoft calls this harassment of its customers ‘Genuine Advantage‘. I have no choice but to get this tiresome process over with. Thus I obsequiously follow the instructions and lose a few more minutes from my life, just so that Microsoft can increase profits, which I suppose must be the kind of ‘genuine advantage’ Microsoft is aiming for.

Then after I finally suffer the privilege of installing this bloated piece of software called “Mediaplayer 11” on my computer, the Microsoft website displays a page with the text that is shown in the following picture.

Now, I realize the text is in Dutch, but the relevant section (around which I have drawn a red box and appended a bold exclamation mark) basically states that if you have purchased your pc at a local computer store within the last 60 years, you may be eligible for some kind of special deal or some such. No doubt involving yet more ‘genuine advantages’.

But isn’t sixty years quite a long time ago? In fact, at what point did the personal computer arrive? Well, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t in 1952. The only ‘PC’ I am aware of arriving in that year appears to be some kind of mysterious Nigerian organization with a dubious logo, called ‘Pyrates Confraternity‘. After briefly consulting Wikipedia I then learn that the first mass marketed personal computer in fact arrived some 25 years later, in 1977. This pc was the Commodore PET, a system that predates the first Microsoft Windows operating system by almost 9 years.

So why stop at sixty years then? They might as well have asked whether you’ve ever bought a difference engine or analytical machine from Charles Babbage, or a Pascaline from Blaise Pascal. And how much faith can I put into a company that annoys its customers with such tedious drudgery as all this ‘genuine advantage’ nonsense imposes? A software company that apparently does not know the history of personal computing?

Perhaps something to consider, given that Windows 8 has just come out…

“Trust me, Dave.”

Apparently CERN recently organized some kind of gathering, wherein theologians and scientists discussed on the question of whether or not God and science are incommensurable entities in the equation of the universe. According to the BBC, one of the participants was Dr. John Lennox who is apparently a staunch proponent of the notion that mankind’s ability to do science comes from God.

He is said to have made the following statements at this meeting of CERN’s:

“If the atheists are right the mind that does science… is the end product of a mindless unguided process. Now, if you knew your computer was the product of a mindless unguided process, you wouldn’t trust it. So, to me atheism undermines the rationality I need to do science.”

Interesting. If I understand correctly, Dr. Lennox assumes no one would trust a computer if it was the product of a mindless unguided process. So then if it is the product of an intelligent guided process, you can trust it…right? So what about the year 2000 bug, that didn’t really happen then? Or the case of radiation therapy machines lethally over-exposing patients due to mistakes in the software? What about the failing computers on NASA’s Apollo space missions, airplane crashes, etc? Well, I’m afraid all those things actually did happen. Thanks to ‘intelligently’ designed computer systems. So as for trusting computers, I would advise against it. But then again, as the title suggest, perhaps I have seen Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” too many times.

But then surely you would trust the mind, right? Well, things get even worse here. People can be indoctrinated or tortured into believing anything, or they can be mentally ill and have a distorted sense of reality. A simple drug may cause an individual to hallucinate, to think he can fly and mistake dreams for reality. The human memory whilst impressive is also notoriously unreliable. For example, the problem of false memories in the testimony of witnesses during criminal trials is well documented.

Now, even when we set all these considerations aside, there remains one main problem with Lennox’s assertion: he states the process is unguided. Mindless I can accept, but unguided? Surely, it is now widely accepted amongst scholars that evolution is guided by the process of natural selection? And the mechanism of natural selection is non-random, therefore it is a guided process. Again I see no reason to invoke God here.

And finally, there is one other final problem with Lennox’s objection against atheism. And it seems to me a problem of logic. First, let us accept Lennox’s proposition that a mind cannot be the product of a mindless unguided process. Since Lennox believes that God created man, we are thus left with the inevitable conclusion that God is not mindless, for he could not create man otherwise. How then came God into being? Well, since man could not have been created by a mindless unguided process, then likewise whatever created man can also not be the product of a mindless unguided process. So \mbox{God_2} created \mbox{God_1}. And what about \mbox{God_2}? Well, extending this line of thinking he was created by \mbox{God_3}.

I see an infinite series emerging here, with every \mbox{God_n} being created by \mbox{God_{n+1}}, and it doesn’t lead to a satisfying solution. This line of thinking is also the problem with the theory that life on earth arrived via an asteroid. Because that also doesn’t answer anything, just raises another question: Where did that life then develop?

But maybe I’m mistaken, perhaps I made an error in my logic somewhere, or made an assumption that is not supported by the facts. So just in case, read this post for what it is; just an opinion. And whatever you do, don’t trust my reasoning too much. ;)