Posted by: Valentin Berceanu | January 13, 2018

20180113 Star Wars – The Last Jedi – Review In About 10000 Words

Ok, I’ve wanted to take the longest time I could to mull this over and to protect myself as much as possible from putting something out there that would be a knee-jerk reaction. Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

(This ought to be needless to say but: “there will be spoilers!”. Here’s the non-spoiler version of this review: “The Last Jedi is probably what it feels for a woman to be subjected to a two-and-a-half-hours sexual encounter without ever achieving an orgasm”. Make of that what you will, but know it’s STILL the most positive thing I can say about the movie, at this point. This also qualifies as TL;DR, no quitters from this point on)


I don’t intend to rag on the movie just for the sake of ragging on it, I don’t intend to list or single out the good bits vs the bad bits and I don’t intend on offering up an alternative as to how I would have made things better (except for two points which will be included below). I am by no means a Star Wars fanatic, I have not watched (and not for the lack of trying) anything outside of the main movies( Episodes I-current + Rogue One) and I have not read any of the books from the now-defunct expanded universe. I don’t have a dog in the Lucas SW vs Disney SW battle. I’m just a guy who enjoyed the movies as a kid, who cut school to watch the Special Edition reissues when they came to the theatres in my town back in 1997, who moderately enjoyed the prequels when they came out and who was enthralled when Episode VII came out, ending up seeing it three times in theatres.

Before the release of The Last Jedi, my ranking of Star Wars movies was:

1. The Empire Strikes Back

2. A New Hope

3. The Force Awakens

4. Return of The Jedi (there is a great half movie in there, on its merits alone I would have ranked this at number 2, but as soon as the fucking ewoks show up, I’m out)

5. The Phantom Menace

6. Revenge of The Sith

7. Rogue One

8. Attack of the Clones

Where does the new movie fit into that ranking? Allow me the courtesy of first making my point before revealing my ranking.

Ask yourself this question, please: what is “The Last Jedi” about? I, personally, find that a very difficult question to answer. I have found an answer, in the end, (to be perfectly honest it occurred to me on the walk home from the theatre and, in spite of my attempts at perhaps finding a more accurate one, it remained the answer I settled on), but the answer I came up with, not only does it not make enough sense for something called “episode eight”, but I find it not meaningful enough even as a standalone. Before I explore it, let me go down a few roads about what the previous Star Wars movies meant, both to me as well as in a larger context. This will help setting the frame.

The first thing that you need to understand was that, the original Star Wars movie, back in 1977, was not meant to be a trilogy.

I don’t care what George Lucas retconned about it in trying to boost up his writing cred when it was suddenly convenient for him to do so; from a story perspective everything in A New Hope ties up and it makes it a good stand-alone movie. It was a good movie, that had an organic success and then generated two sequels.

Episodes five and six were a story arc. The prequels were a story arc. Rogue one was a self-contained wedged episode 3.5 in between the prequels and A New Hope.

Episode seven was an open loop with plenty of open threads that served as a re-establishing shot into the universe and it could have been pretty easy to connect it to a couple of new movies to link up a trilogy. Hell, the fans have been doing that on the internet over the past two years, so how hard could it have been?

So, with the stories nicely delineated, what were they and why were they good/bad?

A New Hope is a classical heroes journey, the mythical Arthur gaining a sword that shaped his destiny, hooking up with an old sage for guidance, going off into the world on a life-defining quest, saving the princess and slaying the dragon with a well placed shot to the heart, finding good friends along the way, and getting a medal for it at the end.

Wrapped-up into new (at the time) award winning special effects (by the way, I totally recommend watching the despecialized editions of the original trilogy, especially A New Hope, look them up online), fun dialogue and overall likeable characters, and you have the giant hit that launched this movie into a franchise.

Empire and Return of the Jedi, is a much more complex story. On a surface level, it’s a story about family, about intergenerational conflict that ultimately gets resolved by the revelation of the tyrannical nature of the elders to themselves and their ultimate redemption through self-sacrifice in siding with the new generation and toppling the tyrannical system.

It about making one’s parents see the light and values of one’s own generation and accept that their gained wisdom is just as valid, if not more, due to the fact that it’s more recent.

Wrapped into that narrative we have a few more sub-plots that spice up the movie and bring it value: a love story, a story about loyalty to your friends, a story about the value of proper preparation and ultimately a couple of stories about the fact that one’s actions have consequences.

The prequels are a world building effort, at best. They are somewhat restricted by the fact that they need to arrive at a set conclusion and are trying to retro-build the character of Anakin Skywalker.

Sprinkled in there is some exploration of the mechanics by which a democratic political system can succumb to corruption and tyranny (spoiler alert, it’s a preference for safety over freedom that does it in), there is some interesting exploration of the consequences of unheeded advice of one’s elders, and ultimately and most amusingly it’s a very heavy handed metaphor over the dangers of single motherhood.

Wether or not the writers of the stories, had the intention to write all those stories out as they have with all the implications that they had is irrelevant, because these stories that I laid out above tap into several meta-stories and meta-archetypes that end up writing themselves to fruition whenever they’re used. Regardless of where they are used.

For instance in A New Hope, Luke is the archetype of the explorer, of the knight on the quest for the holy grail, of the novice that hones his skills through practice and study.

In Empire and Return, Darth Vader and Luke are playing the archetypes of the Tyrant-Father and the Redeeming-Son. Luke’s going up against him in Empire resulting in a crushing defeat is the tale that you cannot defeat tyranny at its game, but only through reform (you don’t attack a more powerful enemy head on, you flank it).

Luke’s doing that in Return, he’s hell bent on bringing his father back from the dark side, which is the archetypal story of rescuing the blind father from the underworld, and this story comes to fruition when Vader finally SEES (I mean he literally sees it in front of him all of a sudden) that his system (personified by the Emperor) will kill his own son in front of him and he succumbs to that ever-old archetypal story of the motivation for parents to sacrifice themselves for their children.

These inclusions of larger archetypes in particular stories are what lend the stories strength, they are the reason why people resonate with them, and I think there’s no surprise that most people who are fans of Star Wars place Empire and Return as their best two movies (and I swear I would have done the same if not for the fucking Ewoks). Lawrence Kasdan has probably included the best archetypal stories into this two movie story arc.

It’s almost a direct connection: archetypal stories are archetypal because they appeal to the largest crowd, so if you don’t horribly botch the execution, then the bigger success is guaranteed.

Kasdan also wrote Episode VII and to a certain extent he also worked along the same archetypes, but into a polar opposition. The intergenerational conflict is present again, but with a very interesting twist: the nurturing good parents (that we imagine Han and Leia to have been, because they are established as good characters who will live on to the happy end in episode six) have spawned the new villain.

It’s essentially the same story but told from the opposite perspective, and I think it was done this way because it was aimed primarily at the generation that was brought up with Han, Luke an Leia in the 80s and they believe about themselves that they are fundamentally good, that they haven’t switched sides, and further more this generation has (of itself) another positive story to tell, that of parental sacrifice for their children.

This is the biggest archetypal story that inhabits The Force Awakens, Han is making the ultimate sacrifice for his child even though he has no guarantee that his sacrifice will change anything, but that’s what a good parent does and irrespective of the parental faults of Han (leaving Leia is implied, not being a good role model is implied) he embodies the good parent in that moment.

Then there’s the archetypal story of loyal comrades: Chewie to Han, Finn to Poe and vice-versa and even to Rey to some extent (even though that sinks into the romantic conflict).

There’s a rehashing of slaying the dragon, this time it’s a team effort and it’s dispatched with quickly, in part, because we have visited that story already in this franchise. There’s a new quest for the holy grail, which is begun by Poe and then taken over by Rey and the movie ends with this quest of the holy grail reaching it’s conclusion. In a way, in The Force Awakens we have a variant of the descent into the underworld in search of the spirit of the father (this time embodied by Luke) who is also wilfully blind (just like Vader was) and it ends just as the eye (Rey with the sword) has reached him.

Kylo Ren is a good character study of an aimless, searching, young hero in training. The talented hero, looking for guidance. He finds it in Snoke, but ultimately, he is not pure evil, Kylo/Ben, needs his own biological father’s assistance and guidance to progress down the path he chose, no matter how evil or destructive that might be.

Rogue One is not particularly relevant here, but it may be worth noting that  it plays with another set of archetypes: the duality of man caught between his positive side in his family and his destructive side in his working environment, the coming together of separate players into a team purpose, the archetype of the unwilling leader emerging naturally rather than through selection, and the willingness of individuals for ultimate self-sacrifice in the service of what they believe will lead to the salvation of others regardless of the fact that, probably for the first time in the Star Wars movie universe, the leaders of the Rebel Alliance are pictured to be of doubtful morals.

The reason why Rogue One might have had a negative impact was that people tended to be somewhat irritated by seeing each of the team players go through their own moment of self-sacrifice, but that was only because we knew the set ending. We knew it would take more sacrifice from other people down the road. This isn’t meant to imply that their self-sacrifice in Rogue One was useless, but in terms of the story, it didn’t pay off within the same narration episode, therefore, the positive side of it was not directly apparent.

Conspiracy alert: what if Disney retro-tested Rogue One to figure out why people were lukewarm on it and got back the answer: “I didn’t like the pointless deaths” and then Frankenstein translated that into what we saw in Episode VIII?

One last point about archetypes before we move on to the movie itself (I swear it’s relevant).

On the masculine side, we have the positive “The Encouraging Father” (Han and Obi-Wan to an extent, even Qui-Gon) and the negative “The Tyrannical Father (Vader).

On the feminine side we have the positive “Mother Nature” (nurturing Shmi Skywalker, Anakin’s mom) and “The Source Of Chaos” (conspicuously missing not only from Star Wars, but from most movies post 1970, with the only manifestation that we get of it being the trope of the neurotic love interest).

The archetype of the exploring hero or of the redeeming hero are not necessarily connected to a sexual denomination, however, I can argue that these archetypes are inherently masculine.

I will base that statement on the fact that men relate to these types of characters more than women, even if a woman is embodying the character. Wonder Woman was the female equivalent of Superman, yet mostly men watched the Tv Show and bought the comics. Xena was the equivalent of Hercules or Connan for women, a female embodiment of the Noble Warrior Hero archetype, yet mostly men watched the show.

So I will preface everything with saying that it is possible, that women need different archetypes to identify with and different meta-stories than we are accustomed to in order for them to bond with a narrative and there is no shortage of evidence that Disney is re-orienting its franchise to cater to women (Kathleen Kennedy, the person who’s in charge of everything Star Wars, was walking around in a t-shirt that said “The Force is Female”).


This isn’t meant to say that they’re wrong in doing so, ultimately the marketplace will decide that, but considering that we don’t really have access to women-centric meta-narratives and archetypes, we can’t really evaluate wether we’re dealing with a good or a bad execution of the concept.

If you ever read literature done by women, for women, or watched movies written and directed by women (excepting the porn substitute of  50 Shades and Twilight, where the male archetypes are clearly identifiable) they will seem almost alien.

They understand the world differently than men, I don’t think that there’s a feminist out there that will rebuke this claim, so it then makes sense that, to a man, women’s way of looking at the world might seem alien.

Unfortunately, and this is where I’m gonna go to with my analogy, exposure to an alien culture (as in foreign and fundamentally different to the western culture that was born out of the meta-stories and archetypes that I mentioned up to now) also feels alien and a certain man (here’s looking at you Rian), trying to “write for women” might misidentify one for the other.

From this perspective, The Last Jedi, is ultimately a female story, in the sense that it’s an allegory of the birthing process. It is a prolonged constant struggle, peppered with meaningless suffering, where reason and purpose (Leia) fades in and out, where the man can only provide moral support and nothing more (Luke).

It’s a process that leads to a total draining of energy and resources (the entire resistance fits on the Millennium Falcon by the end of the movie), passes through a climactic painful crux (called the crowning – did you catch a moment of total silence in the movie? that was it), and ending with an uncertain potential coming from the next generation.

That’s neither good nor bad in the overall scheme of things, it’s a valid story, I just think it’s the wrong story to have as the main story of something called “episode eight” and ultimately not really something I might be interested in seeing as a standalone (as I’ve said before).

But just imagine what most people experienced going into the eight episode of a saga so peppered with familiar and familial archetypal stories and being exposed to this. If you want an answer for how this movie ended up so low on it’s Rotten Tomatoes audience score, there it is.

And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, Rotten Tomatoes audience score rated The Last Jedi as of the time of this review at 49% which is the lowest (by far) of any Star Wars movie. Over at IMDB, The Last Jedi boasts a rating of 7.5 out of 10 which is enough to net it a position of third from the bottom in the Star Wars list of films with only episodes one and two achieving a lower score (much lower in this case).

Having said all of that, come join me on this rollercoaster ride called The Last Jedi.

I kept away from the hype, from the fan theories, even from the trailers to some extent. I walked into the movie as blank as I possibly could with the only two “spoilers” that I had allowed myself being someone retweeting their already two year old tweet that said “You will beg for George Lucas before the end” and a meme of Luke Skywalker saying Mario dies at the end of Super Mario Kart 8. I didn’t believe the first and I was sort of expecting the latter so not much was spoiled.

As I was in the theatre, that feeling of giddiness for getting to see a new Star Wars movie was taking me over. To be honest, it’s been a pretty crappy 2017 for me, and this particular moment in time gave me some hope that it was about to get a little bit better. Then, the movie started…

I blame Red Letter Media, for breaking down the formula for starting a Star Wars movie (it was A New Hope, to be perfectly honest) and putting it out on YouTube during their review of The Phantom Menace, but goddamn it, after seeing The Force Awakens starting with this formula, after seeing Rogue One start off with a variation of this formula, when I saw the Last Jedi pan from the crawl (which worked as intended for me, I had no qualms with it) to a shot in space with a couple of star destroyers entering the picture, I started to grumble.

The dialogue and the “yo’ mama jokes” between Poe and Hux, I didn’t mind at all, quite the contrary, I enjoyed it. I don’t watch Marvel movies, so I suppose I’m not burnt out on it like most other people.

But, damn, did I start to get pissed when “the bombers” came into play. Fuck physics, fuck gravity, fuck everything… You know what would be cool? If we use our naval bombers to take out this giant dreadnought… Only somebody forgot to tell the idiots writing the script that we’re not in the Atlantic in world war two anymore, we’re in fucking outer space, in a galaxy far far away.

Physics, is still physics and putting aside for a second the fact that gravity doesn’t exist in space (you know, the very thing that makes bombing and bombing runs possible), but Star Wars was one of the very few franchises who treated space battles as something three dimensional (as opposed to Star Trek where battles tend to be one or more ships squaring off in the same plane giving birth to something called the “navy” view of space battles). Well, the three dimensional part is still in there but the navy view is fully entrenched in Star Wars too, thanks to this movie…

So the bombing run is sorta successful when some unknown character gets to make some kind of self sacrifice (should I insert a joke about an asian looking girl pulling off a Kamikaze move?), after a talisman praising moment and the rebel fleet manages to escape to light-speed.

By the way, I have to point out that I was severely disengaged and couldn’t rub two fucks together for the whole self-sacrifice angle of this sequence. Not only was it characters I didn’t care about, I paused a few seconds on the face of the asian girl to evaluate wether I knew her or not and decided I didn’t, but I was constantly reminded by the action breaking the laws of physics that this was not happening.

I have to mention that one of the things that caught my attention was the gratuitous usage of the “punch it” expression by someone involved in the  evacuation of the planet. In fact, “punch it” seems to be something that everybody likes to say in the Resistance, which sort of retroactively minimises the cool factor of Han using it in the first place.

Jump cut to Leia “demoting” Poe for losing too many people during his attack, which I sort of bought at the time as the tragedy of the human cost of war.

In retrospect, however (I saw someone pointing this out in a video) Leia is showcasing poor judgement and poor leadership even in the context of the movie alone. Not only was she in charge and had the authority to break up the attack and order Poe to stand down, which she didn’t, but if Poe hadn’t destroyed the dreadnought, this movie would have ended with the First Order fleet (dreadnought in toe) popping out of light speed and wiping out the Resistance fleet within the first five minutes.

So it was not only the right call to take the tactical advantage of the moment that allowed the destruction of the dreadnought, but the actual losses incurred in the attack were smaller than the whole fleet.

I was in the movie, though, and I didn’t make this reasoning on the spot. At the time, I felt it was a little harsh, but maybe it provided Poe with some room to grow.

I don’t know for sure at what point Luke and Rey on the island story becomes interspersed with this (speaking of which, how was that not the first frame of the movie??????????? I mean, I understand how, after seeing the movie, but…still a poor choice in my opinion especially since what we got was the formulaic intro) but I’ll put the island aside for now and come back to it later.

Next was the meeting between Snoke and Kylo Ren, where the movie decides, we had enough fun with the mask and that emulating the viciousness of your evil grandfather is just stupid, so take it off and destroy it in a fit of rage. Plus now we can sell new Kylo figurines without the mask so that’s good.

I remember Snoke spoke for some time, but I didn’t take away anything from it so it must have been, by definition, forgettable.

Next, the Resistance fleet pops out of light speed, only to discover the First Order fleet popping out behind them and starting to pepper them with fire. Somewhere in the middle of all this, Ben (which is the name I’ll refer to him by from now on since Kylo was the mask) is flying his funky Tie-fighter and targeting the bridge of the Resistance flagship.

He wants to kill his mother, and Leia knows it’s happening, she can feel it and, in a way, I think we were meant to understand that they both were aware of the other feeling them. And we see Leia nod in acceptance, ready to make the same sacrifice for her son that Han had made in the previous movie…

But then we see Ben hesitate and pull his thumb back from the trigger, but it turns out that it doesn’t matter because some other fighter was targeting the same bridge at the same time and pulled their trigger, rendering any moment of internal reflection and growth that we might have had on Ben’s part useless (grab some pop-corn, it’s a theme).

So the bridge is blown up and we see Leia floating through the vacuum of space among debree and other dead bodies. And there’s a close-up shot of her face, with her eyes closed and looking so peaceful and serene.

And I didn’t know at the time that Carrie Fisher had filmed the entire movie before her death – I though it had come midway through the shooting (partly because I didn’t look it up and partly because her hear attack happened on a plane, and I thought she was flying back from London on a break from shooting). So, in my mind, at the time, I was even wondering if they had gone so far as to use a scan of her dead body to CGI this moment of floating in space in order to give Carrie Fisher a proper send off. This gave me chills for a brief moment.

Then, the unthinkable happened!

After floating through space for the better part of a minute… Leia moves her hand and force pulls herself back to the ship (I kid you not, the Mary Poppins memes are accurate about this), right to an escape hatch, which she knocks on and Poe and some other character just happen to be there and they open the escape hatch. Somehow they don’t get sucked out into space, because fuck physics (just like before), and the ship doesn’t depressurise because fuck physics (just like before), and instead they drag Leia back inside and she collapses into a coma.


At this point, I may have been already primed by some of the stuff going on in the island narrative, but I literally went from “Aw, they’re really doing the right thing, this is so touching” to “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!?! NO! NO! NO! NO!”

Since I mentioned the island, I guess I should point out, that the first scene on the island is Rey giving Luke back his sword, only to have him chuck it over his shoulder matter-of-factly and walk away from her.

That has got to be one of the poorest calculations ever made by a script writer anywhere that I know of: that is to trade the cliffhanger moment that people have been waiting for two whole years to see what happens and to get some meaning out of the story in Episode VII (the quest for the grail meta-story that I spoke of earlier) for a cheap meaningless joke rendering any and all emotional attachment that viewers might have carried over into this movie because of that plot line, useless.

Luke doesn’t want to train Rey, he doesn’t want her on the island and it takes Chewie blowing up Luke’s hut door to have Luke ask the question: “Where’s Han?”. But god forbid we pause on that and take a moment to explore the pain of losing one’s best friend, instead we need to cut away to…

Well, to be honest I don’t remember and can’t give a crap what the cut was exactly done for, all that I do remember is that we cut away from a chance to bond with Luke over his experiencing the news of losing his best friend, and I found that noticeable and frustrating at the time.

Back on the main cruiser of the Resistance fleet, Finn wakes up from his coma to find himself being demoted from main character candidate to the status of comic relief. Finn was a character that was naturally humorous in the previous film (which, to be fair, makes very little sense considering his history, but that’s a whole other category of nitpicking), which enabled us to “laugh with him”, rather than “at him”, but in this film the “at him” is certainly more apparent.

After listening to the most cringe-worthy speech possible from Vice-Admiral Purple Hair who’s not in uniform, but wearing a dress because reasons, Finn realises that if he’s ever going to get a chance to see Rey again, he needs to abandon the fleet because it looks like they’re heading down the road leading to a no-win scenario.

This leads us to the introduction of a new character, Rose, who is the sister of the Kamikaze girl from the beginning of the movie, who knocks Finn out in the middle of a recycled routine of “I am with the Resistance” and then is revealed to us that she has the technical knowledge required to retro-engineer how the First Order is tracking them and how to knock it out.

Smash cut to the gratuitous cameo of Maz Kanata and we can begin the unnecessary side-quest. Many-a-critics of this film tend to be of the opinion that this side-quest was included in the movie just so that Finn would have something to do and so we have an excuse to “develop” the character of Rose, and that the movie would have been better served if it was dropped altogether.

I certainly could have done without it, especially when considering the fact that it has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the movie, but then where would Rian Johnson get the chance to preach about the evil of capitalism and animal abuse, and how would he introduce Benicio Del Toro’s character (a very transparent Lando Calrissian callback, by the way)?

Look, putting the crappy characters aside for a minute, the linear non-imaginative writing, the fact that nothing on screen seemed to make any sense, the fact that this whole movie happens during a prolonged naval chase where the smaller lighter ships keep just outside of the effective artillery range but can’t pull away for some reason because we’ve already established that physics laws are irrelevant, therefore two objects travelling at different speeds will NOT move farther and farther apart, regardless of what reality might have taught you to expect…

Putting all of that aside for a moment, what probably pissed me off the most in this movie, as I was watching it, or the very least in the top two, was all the heavy handed preaching over current events.

As I’ve said before, the prequels contained something that could be perceived as a veiled attack of the Bush administration (especially Episode Two), but to be fair, there was a much larger theme at play in there: democracy does ALWAYS die with thunderous applause, regardless if it was Pericles, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Lenin, Hitler, George W. Bush, Hugo Chavez, Angela Merkel or Barrack Obama who killed it at the time, it was a theme much larger than the moment and it had that to fall back on, the universality of said theme.

At this point in time, we have something, in real life called “the resistance movement” or the “resist” movement, who think of themselves as standing up in the name of the oppressed everywhere and purple-haired Laura Dern utters what is probably the first ever inclusion of the words “the oppressed” in a Star Wars script, that’s pretty transparent.

When you get Rose “educating” Finn on how all the “beautiful” wealth at Canto Bight is actually bought with weapons money (because somehow making weapons is evil, because US democrats and EU globalist have decreed weapons to be evil rather than the very tools of the preservation of human civilisation).

And when she’s then “revealing” to him how it’s all supported by slavery, and how smashing other people’s property is not only liberating and cathartic but somehow justified (hello ANTIFA).

And let’s not forget that the wookie who is known for ripping limbs off of people who beat him at chess, is now a reformed vegetarian. Yes, Chewbacca is a vegetarian, because porgs are just so damned cute, right?

Thank you, Ryan Johnson and Disney, for bringing me a large serving of social-justice current political themes into my space fantasy, that’s just what I needed to escape my day-to-day… If there’s someone stupid enough not to get the sarcasm of my last statement, you can stop reading right now.

Benicio Del Toro’s character, who was so well established that I don’t remember his name at this point, was actually responsible for my single positive connection to this movie.

He’s fundamentally a libertarian, someone who works by a different moral system than all the other characters in the movie and when he tries to expose the hypocrisy of the thought system held by Rose and recently adhered to by Finn, it falls on deaf ears as it normally does in real life too.

Critically, I find it interesting that this character exists and does what he does. There are two ways to analyse his arc. One, just by going on what was left included in the theatrical release, because he betrays Finn and Rose and doesn’t get to redeem himself explicitly, he is meant to condemn those who sit on the sidelines of the fight refusing to buy into the morality that is motivating those involved in the fight.

The other, going by the history of Star Wars, and by the implications that it was him who helps them escape again, who helped BB8 take control of that AT-AT, it means that Benicio Del Toro is ultimately someone who prefers to stay on the sidelines, who prefers to maximise their own survivability, but who can still discern where the greater evil is and lend a helping hand to the better side as long as his own exposure is limited.

Either way, the character and his philosophy were a refreshing presence mostly due to the contrast it provided to the rest of the behaviours and motivations of the people in this movie.

While on the island, Rey develops a mental connection to Ben, which made me think that we are going to see the archetypal story of the purposeless male force channeled in the proper direction by female influence, or in plainer terms, the black knight being reformed by his love of the virtuous princess/maiden.

The story moves along these lines for a very long time, before it’s senselessly diverted for what feels to be a “just because we need a villain” moment, but it could also have been done in order to prevent this trilogy from becoming “Ben’s story”.

If you go back to the original trilogy and ask yourself who’s the main character, only one answer can win out: it’s Luke. In A New Hope, it’s clearly Luke. There is room for some debate on wether he is the main character of Empire, he ultimately is, even though Han is a much stronger main character in his own story-arc, but coupled with Return of the Jedi, Luke is definitely the main character of the two episode story.

Incidentally, this is the biggest draw-back of the prequels. There is no good answer when you ask who is the main character of the prequels. You’re tempted to say it’s Anakin, but that’s not correct as far as episode one is concerned.

Not only is he played by two different actors throughout the trilogy(which is very hard to pull off with a “main character”), but in the first movie, Anakin is nothing more than a tag-along. The next go-to answer is Obi-Wan, and yes, that is a good answer, but the story is not told from his perspective.

With episode seven, it’s Rey’s movie. All the other characters are in a supporting role, even though Han absolutely steals the show for the length of time that he’s on screen, but you could argue, had Ben managed to complete the story I outlined above and be “turned to the good side” by Rey in episode eight, it could have turned him into the main character of this trilogy. Sadly, the movie, be it for political reasons or others, decides to pull one of its many “fake-outs” at the time.

Luke is one of the worst handled characters in this movie and it’s no surprise that Mark Hamill is on record as having disagreed with every character choice that Rian Johnson made, but I would have been fine with all of it, if only one thing was changed.

I already mentioned what was one of the two things that I would have changed (having Leia die for real when she was blown out into space), it’s with Luke that I would have done the other.

Luke’s portrayed as a disillusioned, bitter and angry old man, scared of his own limitations, stuck in place, in a sense he could be the wilfully blind father archetype that I mentioned before, but his story arc doesn’t follow that narrative.

He’s “talked” into training Rey by a recycled “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope”, reluctantly announces that he’ll be giving her three lessons (one of them ends up on the cutting room floor) and then explaining to her why he thinks the Jedi must end.

This part is the superimposition that I referred to earlier of the buddhist “alien” culture, which even with my limited means of understanding it, I think it’s misinterpreted in this particular usage of it, and mistakenly believing that it’s what makes a movie “for women”, the alien aspect.

There’s a heavy-handed play on the theme of balance which, in true inconsistent fashion, is only used when convenient (Rey becomes more powerful with the force because Ben becomes more powerful with the force, but Snoke, who’s more powerful than the both of them, is not balanced by anybody, because Luke has cut himself off from the force…).

tumblr_mh1ehkgLbU1s14aeuo1_500Meditation seems to be the new go to mechanism which is quite a departure from Luke’s one-handed hand-stand with legs shot straight up and supporting Yoda, back on Dagobah while of course “lifting rocks” of all things, and in the end there’s even a superficial approach to ascension and “integration into the Nirvana”, not to mention “astral projections”.

Luke’s argument, as far as I can tell, is that the force is in balance on its own and trying to manipulate it, even if for the good, because of the balanced nature of it, will end up generating the balancing evil manipulations and, implicitly the evil manipulators.

It’s the ascetic’s way of heeding the old warning of “here be dragons” which is ultimately an over-simplified one-dimensional distillation of the essence of buddhism which preaches the re-integration of the self into the universe, through renouncing the material condition of being.

It is, in essence a constant withdrawal into the self, and a strategy that is fundamentally pursuing the same desired outcome – a reduction of suffering – as the western philosophy based in the judaeo-christian religions, which themselves are based in Egyptian, Babylonian and ancient Mesopotamian religions, but going about it in a most different way than what we, in the western world, are used to.

Instead of placing the most value in the archetypal figure of the explorer, the revealer of truth, the mapmaker who has the capacity to push back chaos and carve out a known territory in the here and now where happiness is an option (especially valid after the protestant reformation of the church, but the themes are valid and present throughout the older incarnations of said religions, going back all the way to Marduk), instead of that, buddhism teaches one to live in the absence of known territory and teaches one not to get attached to any territory because the chaos which is greater than any man’s will and intentions, will wipe out any territory given enough time.

It’s not necessarily a bad approach although it seems unproductive to me, at least if you care about living and “the living”, but that’s ultimately a subjective evaluation.

The problem that I have pertaining to the movie is with the abrupt re-framing of the entire philosophy of what the force is, what you can do and what you should do with it and especially with the reasons behind this giant paradigm shift being a “misunderstanding” in essence of Luke’s intentions with regards to Ben and the spiralling out-of-control consequences of that.

I did like the perspective shift of telling the same moment from the eyes of Ben and Luke, but regardless of which perspective you can understand and empathise with, and I can do so with both, by the way, there are a few facts in that story that are absolutely disturbing regardless of perspective and completely clashing with the character of Luke Skywalker that had already been established in the original trilogy.

I’m not gonna spend too much time on the “Luke would have never considered killing his nephew and drawn the sword” because it’s pretty much been a drum that’s been beaten to death by the critics of this movie, but NO HE WOULDN’T FUCKING HAVE, but additionally, I find it very hard to believe that Luke would have mentally probed an unconscious/asleep Ben in order to divine his intentions.

It’s an act that not only lacks any concept of consent, that not only implies the complete and utter absence of a person’s freedom of choice (a fundamental concept in the western tradition/not so much in the predestined view of the universe of the eastern tradition), but the act can only exist in the imagination of someone (and I’m talking about the writer/director here, not about Luke) who sees no problem with the concept that I can know what you think better than you. Now if that brings to your mind a certain faction of society that would normally make me sick to my stomach, you’re not alone in that.

Now, I don’t have a problem with the fact that Rey’s parents turned out to be nobodies, I kinda like that idea on its own, to be honest, but it’s not something that episode seven set up, and considering the fact that even this movie spends a long amount of time pondering this question (hello the temporal string of Reys), the way it was dismissed was just another fake-out.

The idea just occurred to me that the purpose of this movie is to make you not invest yourself into anything, because there is absolutely no set-up that this movie made, or that was given to it by the previous movie, that wasn’t wasted on a fake-out.

Literally nothing paid off, everything was useless. If that was the purpose of the movie, then fine, it was a great success in conveying that, but I very much doubt that Disney would sanction such a message.

So, anyway, Rey leaves Luke on the island convinced that she can reclaim Ben from the dark side because she telepathically talked to him long enough to humanise him in her own mind.

It’s pretty hilarious though, from a pop-corn popper’s perspective, that his humanisation process began with a shirtless scene, but whatever the reason, it’s normal that Ben and Rey would flow together because they are the only two similar characters in this story. Their paths are similar and they’re the only ones who can adeptly empathise with the other.

But, it turns out that Snoke was in control of it all leading into a throne-room show down with Snoke and Rey where he mind-rapes Rey to extract the location of the planet where Luke’s hiding is, setting up another conflict and potential storyline just to have it crumble within a couple of minutes.

In this scene Snoke is more powerful than anyone can imagine, Ben and Rey are just no match for his power, even put together. So at this point, in spite of all the bad taste I had in my mouth from the useless heavy handed preaching from Canto Bight and from seeing Luke’s pathetic quitter, bitter, nihilist condition, I was slowly getting pulled back into the movie.

“Oh my God”, was the chain of thought, “this bastard is soooo powerful, how are they gonna take him down? Did they just supercharge their villain too much?”. And then, the mental sleight of hand of a five year old is what does him in…

“I see his mind as he’s preparing to draw the sword and strike down his true enemy…”

By this point, my head was in my hands, because the lightsaber next to him had already been shown to be moving… I was still holding out hope, though. I mean, only a few seconds before, we had seen Snoke being in so much control that he redirected the lightsaber that Rey force pulled, to hit her in the back of the head before harmlessly coming back to him, so SURELY he could feel the damned saber force moving next to him…

But no. Rian Johnson decided that the most mysterious figure in the Star Wars universe next to Darth Plagus, would have a fitting ending at the hands of the old Scooby switcheroo…

And then the situation “explodes” into Ben and Rey fighting the red guards together. Every fan boy and their grandmother salivated over this fight in their reviews… but I was just waiting to get it over with. What did you think was gonna happen?


They just killed the most powerful character in the universe, do you think some eunuch ninjas with red pyjamas are actually posing any danger to them? Come on… I was more invested ordering my pop-corn menu, than during that scene, it was just something they had to get done (for the “fans” and the producers) before they could have their heart to heart of “where do we go from here?”.

But writer’s inconsistency strikes again. I was actually willing to buy Ben as the redeeming fallen angel archetype, as the black knight that ends up reforming himself for the love of a virtuous maiden and slaying the tyrant king, but god forbid we ever let an arc reach completion.

Let’s put ourselves in Ben’s boots for a moment: he killed his own father, watched his mother die in front of him (there no reason to believe Ben knows Leia survived), then killed his mentor because he was threatening the woman he’d fallen in love with because she was the only one that showed him some empathy, and when this woman asks him to stop the killing of her friends, he goes: “Naaaah, let it all burn… I know I just sacrificed my entire universe because you treated me with some humanity, but let me kill your friends off and then we can live happily/orderly ever after”.

There is no point in the saga where Ben is depicted as a psychopath, and it makes zero sense that he would be one, so I’ll just chuck this one up to Rian Johnson saying: “I’ve written myself into a corner, I can’t let Ben redeem himself, I need him to be the villain, so… NO”.

I’ll just skim over Poe’s mutiny and vice-admiral Purple-Hair in saying that: either purple-hair can’t tell Poe the plan because the audience isn’t allowed to know the plan at that point in the story, or she won’t tell Poe the plan because he’s a hothead man and she’s in charge he needs to learn to “respect her authoritae”…

So it’s either shitty writing, or she’s a by the book idiot who doesn’t understand the difference between theory and practice… Considering the fact that she’s later presented as the old and trusted friend of Leia, I’m more inclined to go with the first explanation of shitty writing. On the other hand the feminist tropes are a little on the nose and deliberate and damn if they don’t fit with the rest of the SJW preachy vibe I’ve gotten from this movie.

So with the movie limping away to the final showdown, wasting a great effect with everything going to complete silence on the breaking of another “in universe law” with vice-admiral purple hair kamikaze-ing her cruiser into the large destroyer at light speed (which begs the question, why not develop light-speed torpedoes, or why not use this light speed kamikaze strategy to take out the original Death Star), we go back to the island for the final moralising lesson.

We see Yoda, who for some unknown reason is acting all crazy like he did on Dagobah before revealing who he really was to Luke, something he only did at the time to force Luke to challenge his own pre-conceptions. And Yoda endorses the idea of burning down the anchors of tradition (which not only it couldn’t be more alien to a redemption story, being part of the purge mythology rather than the redemption mythology, in other words it has no connection with any story arc that Luke is suggested to be a part of, but it’s the very thing that Ben suggests doing only for some reason it’s bad when Ben’s suggesting it, but it’s laudable when Yoda’s suggesting it). Also, all the fanboys panties got wet when Yoda proclaims: “failure, the greatest teacher is”.

Seriously? That’s meant to be the revelation? That’s the moral message and moral takeaway from all this? Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because you learn the most from them?

While that’s true to some extent, I can’t take you seriously, movie, when you say that in the same breath in which you say, we need to purge out all of our tradition and accumulated wisdom…

In any case, was there really anybody who watched the tree going up in flames, corroborated with the x-wing sunk in the bay, who didn’t think Luke was going back at that point?

Detour for a second to talk about Captain Phasma. Can we just agree that it was absolutely ridiculous to bring her back (she was allegedly in a trash compactor, on Star Killer base, the planet that blew up) as a “nemesis” for Finn? A nemesis that he dispatches as quickly as she came back, but taking the time to remind us that white people in positions of authority are racist. Why do you think the visor is smashed just enough on her helmet so you can see Gwendolyn’s blue eye and a bit of her face as she says: “you are and always will be scum”?


Okay, so here we are on the salt planet, (absolutely GORGEOUS visuals, by the way, 10 out of 10, no joke) reenacting the battle of Hoth with newer characters and different goals and despair is setting in as it’s becoming more and more apparent that no allies answered the call for help.

Regardless, the rag-tag crew of pilots that are left, go out in ass-old speeders and try to defend their base. And it looks like Finn is going to do the whole self-sacrifice thing and drive his speeder into the big gun in order to stop the First Order from breaking down the gate of the base.

And I was sitting there already pretty frustrated at some of the stuff that had been going on, but I was being lured back in… I mean, here was Finn, one of the major characters, that I was attached to, putting it all up to save his friends, a full story arc for the man who was three times presented to us as a deserter.

The scene is set, the music swells up, chills go up the spine, hairs start standing on end, all the fix’uns,  and then…

BANG! Rose slams her speeder into Finn’s and knocks him over to the side….

Wha’? Wha’? Wha’? Brace yourselves, boys, here’s the big payoff: “you don’t win by fighting what you hate, you win by protecting what you love…” followed by a kindergarten kiss coming completely out of left field.

ab96df1b58fdc96b1b3b237242649d45That line is delivered with all the depth of an overnight fabricated K-POP teen idol and if it was accompanied by a: “hi-hi…” and peace sign, there would have been no difference from the way it just fell flat in the movie.



At this point in time, I, along with at least half the audience, we were going WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!? The movie was just literally done presenting in a hugely positive light the self-sacrifice of Rose’s own sister, and vice-admiral Purple Hair… Not to mention the idiotic break-down in logic, because most times you fight what you hate in order to protect what you love, I mean, for fuck’s sake, that’s what Finn was doing there, he was going to protect his friends from the “dreaded ram-cannon”…

But no, I guess he was wrong for whatever reason… Reason? No, it has nothing to do with reason… Reason is not in Rian Johnson’s vocabulary, that’s just not his word.

So here we go… the resistance is completely helpless and about to get wiped out by the First Order, when from somewhere in the back of the cave Luke Skywalker appears. And you can instantly see that there’s something different about him. He looks and feels like old Luke from Return of the Jedi, walking into Jabba’s place, self-assured and confident, calm and collected and totally in control. His beard looks different and his hair is neatly trimmed, but his entire attitude is different.

At this point I was thinking: “Luke’s back! LUKE IS BACK!” and I was back in it. And he walks out, a single man in front of the inferno, and all the weapons focus fire at him and he should have been vaporised, but you know he’s fine, and he walks out and ostentatiously dusts himself off. IT IS ON!!!!

“What do you expect me to do, walk out there with a laser sword in front of the whole First Order?”

YES! YES! YES, GODDAMMIT! That’s exactly what we expected you to do. I was giddy in my seat at this point. The movie fucked around with us for so long, but here it is, we’re going to get it! Luke, the greatest Jedi of all time, a single man standing up into the face of evil, planting his foot down and making his stand, giving his friends a chance to escape. Pop-corn ready, lights, camera, action, let’s do this epic lightsaber battle that we’ve been all saving ourselves for!

Swing one, and a miss.

Swing two, and a miss.

Okay, he’s teasing us, it’s okay, it’s coming. We can’t possible get hung up on the fact that Luke won’t raise his sword against his nephew…Surely he can fight defensively, he just managed to deflect all the firepower from all the damned AT-ATs, I mean, surely!

Nope, fake-out!


“You think this is the real Quaid?”…

<<shaking my head in disappointment>>

Turns out Luke’s back on his island in Ireland meditating…

The comfort he offered Leia, fake. The reunion of the characters on screen that people had longed for for FOURTY YEARS, fake. The awesome display of power from two minutes before, fake. The peril about Luke’s life being in danger, fake… Well… Wink, wink. Because it turns out, he fucking dies anyway from meditating too hard.

In the meantime Rey, (I have no idea how she got back on the Millennium Falcon, but I hear it’s in a scene that was cut for time, didn’t bother me at the time though, so it was probably the right call) finds the back entrance to the rebel base, uses the force to “lift some rocks” and allow the rebels to escape to the Millennium Falcon and get off planet.

Cut to Canto Bight and one of the children holding Rose’s rebellion pin and telling stories to the other children that seemed to be about the battle we had just seen. I know it doesn’t make any sense, but then again neither does the narration which basically says, well, we’re all fucked now, we’ve done our bit, it’s up to the next generation to take the torch. Seriously, the only way this comes together into any semblance of a narrative continuum is if you look at this whole movie as an allegory of birth. But, the movie even defeats itself on this point as well. You employ an allegory when you have something that is not fully understood and you want to flesh out the details, when you want to present a new or different explanation for something. The allegory, whatever it is, contains in itself a message. There’s none of that, in this movie. Ok, if you were extremely lenient, you could say the message is: there’s a lot of pain involved in giving birth… Whoa, somebody hold the damned presses! No, actually, we can let them roll, because we KNOW that already. In fact, it’s why we invented painkillers, Sherlock!

I said before that I would have changed two things. The first one was Leia’s death, I would have made that permanent. The second one, I would have had Luke show up in person, using the same imagery of the confident Jedi Knight (not of “Jake Skywalker” the crabby hermit), and duel it out with Ben in the most awesome lightsaber duel you can imagine, all the while using force powers to crash all the AT-ATs into one another and maybe even pull one of the destroyers down from orbit causing the First Order to run away deserting Ben which would anger Ben even more, cause him to rage out and kill Luke (Obi-Wan-Kenobi on the Death Star style) and then be left alone on the salt planet, crying (preferably).

Here’s the problem with this movie overall, I left the theatre wondering if this is it for Star Wars for me. Not only did I have no desire to see this movie again, but it made me wonder if I want to see the next Star Wars movie and I’m not talking about the Han Solo movie, I’m talking about episode nine.

I was so despondent, so yanked around, so disheartened by the state in which the characters were left, that I didn’t care anymore. And it’s not that I’m thinking that the resistance can’t win or anything like that, it’s that Han died for nothing, Luke really died for nothing and they turned him into a fucking coward while they were at it and Leia will either die off screen or there’ll be a horrible CGI death scene… The legacy, is gone… It’s floating in outer space with Admiral Ackbar’s cold corpse.

As of putting together this review, almost a month has passed since I saw the movie and I can certainly say that the passage of time doesn’t do anything in this case. Star Wars Episode 8 – The Last Jedi was the movie that killed Star Wars for me. I’d like to rank it below number nine, I’d like to rank it below number infinity and have it never having happened. I don’t think that there’s anything that can fix this, I mean short of JJ saying, man, how about them blue milk induced hallucinations, eh and try and Dallas the whole Episode into a weird dream and basically re-do the episode starting from Leia’s death and release that as Episode 9. Short of that, I don’t see a new hope appearing from anywhere.

I have a tradition of rating movies by setting up what I think the fair price would be for yourself in order to buy a copy. In this case the price is ZERO. I can’t recommend spending money for this movie, I just can’t. There’s only one question that still holds my interest at this point in regard to Star Wars (absent the miracle scenario I outlined above for Dallasing Episode 9) and that is: will we beg for George Lucas before the end?

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 17.47.31

Posted by: Valentin Berceanu | January 6, 2017

20170106 – For Some, A White Christmas


Around Christmas Eve last year a piece of “news” popped into my Facebook feed from about the north pole being subjected to temperatures that were 30 degrees Celsius higher than normal for the period (sorry Americans, Fahrenheit is way to erratic of a scale to run comparisons on, apparently). The link to the story is here: . I opened it, read the piece, looked at the photos, went “ahm” and settled myself in for the heavy winter that was about to come our way…

Say what now? Heavy winter? Are you nuts? Wasn’t the news about undeniable global warming effects?

Well the answer is yes and no, but I’ll explain that a little later. First I think it would really serve us all better to take a look at BBC’s reporting of the issue in question which can be found here: because it was when this piece hit my Facebook feed the following day, I knew I’d have something to write about.

What is the story behind the story?

The visual image selected by the BBC to illustrate their article says it all. It is this one:

Picture 1

Picture 1

A zoomed in, cropped capture of a big red blob that provided zero context. Since it cites the University of Maine and since we have the very same U of Maine cited as a source in the other article, I’d like to post the two relevant photos from the other article for comparison:

Picture 2

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 3

Okay, so what do these two GIFs bring extra to the party? First let me draw your attention to Picture 2. In the frame with the big red blob (just push it to activate it if it doesn’t cycle automatically), where we see the temperature differences related to the “normals” for the period, if we could look away from the red blob for a few seconds, we might notice that there are significant temperature changes elsewhere on the globe, such as: about 30 degrees LOWER than normal in Siberia, about 20-30 degrees lower than normal in Greenland, about 20 degrees lower in Northern Labrador, about 10-20 degrees lower on the Northern US West Coast going inland as far as Wyoming, the entirety of Europe is at least 5 to 10 degrees lower than normal with most of Central and Eastern Europe falling in the 10 category, and there’s even places in South America where pockets of temperature that’s 5-10 degrees lower than normal can be seen. In Picture 3 (also push to activate) we can see an overlay of the isobaric pressure regions on the temperature pockets and it all becomes too clear. A low pressure pocket made its way up to the pole and is heating up the area. This is broken up by neighbouring high pressure areas over time cooling it down and taking the water vapours down south for the onslaught of precipitation. It’s basic meteorology and not the subject of sensational news, but in this day and age I suppose it’ll do, right? Now take a look at Picture 1 again. No context, no science, just agenda pushing and one red menacing blob in the middle of everything. And the sad part is, that if you take the time a do a simple internet search, you’ll find out that this EXACT craze happened at the end of December 2015 and the beginning of January 2016, almost like it’s a seasonal thing….

So why, then, is the BBC doing this? I mean, it’s not like we haven’t already been woken up to the reality of the media pushing an agenda this past year, right? Have you ever wondered how much money is being tied up in the “green” agenda? Green energy companies, insane amounts of government funding, carbon tax credits trading (we’d always say the one thing they have yet to tax was air… think again), lobby money, fundraising events for millions of tax free charity foundations, and an awesome amount of political power. Ever wonder why the only solution that green activists will advocate for is more government power? Seriously. Think about it on a basic level. Is there anything that placates their demands other than governmental regulations? Who’s the naive in this particular situation? To think you have a political cause that is nigh uncontested by the general public, that is being pushed through all the regular propaganda channels, that is entangled with financial interests of sizes beyond belief and it’s all on the up and up? There’s no corruption here? There’s no authority overreach? No one controlling the narrative? Come on!

The bottom line is that we look at the mainstream media and are only getting one side of the story. Their side of the story. And because it’s all framed neatly and wrapped in a bow, we don’t even ask the basic questions anymore. Look out the damned window, once in a while, people!

I’ve compiled a playlist of YouTube videos (it’s about five hours long) that can be found here: that at least asks a few questions we never hear being asked in the mainstream media… Proceed with caution.

(Versiunea în română la:

All the sources are included below for reference.

I am not going to dispute any claims about the anthropological aspect of global warming or climate change. I’m going to play the game by their rules and and use their numbers and try and provide an accurate analysis of the impact a Tesla car has over an average gasoline vehicle. The reason why I’m doing this is because there is a lot of sleight of hand done with the statistics by most studies looking to promote the car as being “green” and green energy as being the way of the future. Make no mistake about it, our society, ever since it first climbed out of the caves became a society dependant on energy generation. From slave powered pumps and mills to electric turbines society has always required energy to function. Today there seems to be some sort of equivalency between energy and electricity (most likely has to do with conservation of energy and this being the most efficient form of transport for energy) and if we are to find our path into future horizons, we will require a cost-effective, environmentally friendly way of generating electricity. But in this need of ours, we must remain skeptical and look at the data over the propaganda. Why? Because the entire weight of the propaganda apparatchik of the USSR couldn’t feed even one starving citizen and the whole show came crumbling down because of it. Tesla hails itself as either more cost-effective, either more environmentally friendly than the average cars so it’s warranted to take a deeper look at what the numbers actually say.

First a look at the claims (from [1]):

Figure 1

Figure 1

The most fuel efficient, non-hybrid car of 2016 (a comparable sedan class vehicle) versus the best Tesla Model S in terms of fuel efficiency. Look at those numbers, 101 vs 32… You’d say the battle is over before it even began, but this is what I was talking about with the statistical sleight of hand. We’re interested in looking at the overall environmental impact and the truth is that the Tesla Model S has a much larger environmental footprint up front than a regular gasoline car. This is because of the different components that go into the production of the battery and the power conversion systems. Luckily there’s a very favourable study that came out in 2015 from the Union of Concerned Scientists that is looking to address this point [2]. The study findings are that there is a 53% reduction of emissions over the lifetime of a Tesla (BEV) when compared to a regular full-size car over its lifetime even after accounting for the increased emissions during the manufacturing process.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Case closed, right? Well, wrong. Because there is some more sleight of hand done even in this study because they get to define the lifetime and operating parameters of both vehicles over that lifetime and this directly affects the length of the grey bar. But this study is an excellent starting point because it brings enough raw data to the party to get us started. The essential of which are the difference in emissions which can be found on page 21:


Now they are also pointing us to which state in the US is the most favourable for Tesla due to the mixture of energy sources and that is California (page 23).


This gives us the challenge to figure out the emissions generated in the production of the energy needed to power the Tesla battery. In order to do that we need to find the breakup of sources for energy generation in California and the corresponding emission quantities which we then combine according to the power mix ratio and we have the average emission per kWh of energy. Below is the calculation snapshot and underneath will follow the sources for those emission numbers:

Figure 3

Figure 3

The sources for percentages are taken from Wikipedia [3].

Table 1

Table 1

The emissions for carbon are converted into grams from pounds [4] by selecting the cleanest type of coal. The same applies for natural gas.

Table 2

Table 2

The emissions for biomass are taken after processing the numbers in the slideshow of the presentation done in 2010 at UC Berkely [5] about biomass energy generation in California.


Table 3

Table 3

Ton to grammes and MegaWatt to kiloWatt transformations are applied to get the number from above.

For the unspecified others, this is untraceable energy, most likely imported from Mexico. Since it’s impossible to determine emissions for this type of energy, I have decided to arbitrarily assign an emissions percentage somewhere in between the cleanest fossil fuel (natural gas) and the second cleanest (coal) at 700 grams per kWh. If this energy is really coming from Mexico then, in all likelihood, this energy is much dirtier to generate, but we’ll live with this figure. If we look back to Figure 1 we’re going to discover that the Tesla is expending 33 kWh/100 miles therefore we can calculate the equivalent emissions in California for the power expenditure at 14226.92898 grams of carbon from CO2 emissions per 100 miles.

Let’s find out the corresponding emissions for the same distance of the Mazda. In order to do that we look up the emissions guidelines from the EPA [6].


This means the Mazda emissions for 100 miles traveled at a fuel efficiency rating of 3.1 gallons per 100 miles (Figure 1) is 27549.7 grams of carbon from CO2. Now let’s take this a little further and include in the analysis “the average 2016 gasoline sedan” which has a fuel efficiency of 4 gallons per 100 miles (also Figure 1, 25MPG ). This type of vehicle would emit emissions of 35548 grams of carbon from CO2. In continuing this analysis we will pit the Tesla against this generic car model in order to better account for the distribution of purchasing (nobody’s forced to buy a Mazda 6, right?). The difference in emissions is a simple calculation which we will normalise to KG/100 miles for ease of reference. This difference is 21.321 KGs of carbon per 100 miles. This means that the Tesla will break even after (accounting for the difference “at birth” of 6 tons – 6000 KGs) after 281.412 100 miles cycles. For an easier reference this translates linearly into 45279.151 kms. Look at that number again. It’s not huge, but it is significant. It’s also never brought up in any discussion about the Tesla. But the question becomes, after this break even point, just how much pollution are you “sparing” the earth by driving a Tesla over the average 2016 car? We already answered that, in Kgs/100 miles, but let’s normalise it for 1000 Kms. The answer is that a Tesla will be responsible for 132.511 (one hundred and thirty two point five-one-one) Kgs of carbon less per 1000 Kms traveled than the average 2016 model.

That seems like something really significant, until we put a price on it. For that we’ll just pick up the info from New Zealand emissions trading scheme and their unit prices [7] and being generous we’ll pick up a price of 20 New Zealand Dollars for a ton of carbon.


I’d have taken the unit price from the US but I just couldn’t find it so instead I converted the 20 NZD to 16.62 USD. This results in an value of the economy Tesla generates per 1000 Kms of 2 dollars and 20 cents. And this only happens after you drove it for over 45000 kilometres to achieve parity with gasoline burning cars. Whoopdy doooooo….

Sadly, this isn’t the end of it. Because after looking at the Tesla site I realised that there’s another dimension to all of this. We ran the numbers for the consumed power that a Tesla expends over the course of 100 miles, but the truth is that there is a difference in efficiency between the power that is dispensed by a rechargeable battery and the power that is expended to attain that charge. Let me put it in simpler terms, the power the Tesla charger consumes to generate a battery charge of 33kWh is larger than 33kWh. How much larger, depends on the power source, as evidenced on the Tesla site [8] – these numbers are given helpfully in miles generated per hour of charge:


Now, in order to calculate the amount of kWh necessary for a charge that would sustain 100 miles we do some simple arithmetics and come up with the following highlighted results:


Upon plugging these new kiloWattHour consumptions per 100 miles the numbers determined above change as follows:


And continued over the calculations from above:


This means that if you charge your Tesla from an RV camper charger it’ll take you over 46000 kilometres to offset the initial extra pollution and then your carbon offset will be valued at 2.14 USD per 1000 kilometres. If you charge your Tesla from a newer style wall socket it’ll take you over 59000 kilometres to offset the initial extra pollution and then your carbon offset will be valued at 1.67 USD per 1000 kilometres. And ultimately, if you charge your tesla from the current standard power outlet in the USA the numbers will be over 62000 kilometres and 1.59 USD per 1000 kilometres. And this is for California, the cleanest energy generating state in the entire USA. These numbers are raw numbers, they are not dependant on a certain amount of miles per car lifetime, but rather calculated from the start. The assumptions that have been made were in favour of the Tesla (no battery ageing and loss of efficiency upon charging, the cleanest coal and the cleanest biofuel taken into generating the electricity, a median – between coal and natural gas – assignation of emissions to the unspecified component, one of the highest unit prices for coal emissions trading of the past 6 years, comparison of best Tesla model against average gas model), but the result is showing that there’s a lot of hype and very little substance when it comes to the actual reduction of carbon footprint and the value saved in the emission reduction trading schemes implemented under the Kyoto accord.

But this is the US. Their energy system is a dinosaur. The technology is antiquated, surely, in Europe the emissions situation is better. Take a country like Denmark, for instance, a media darling in recent times for their usage of renewable energy. Surely, the numbers for Tesla would look different in a country like Denmark!

So, we go hunting for the energy generation sources for Denmark and we find them at Mecometer
based on data collected by the Worldbank: World Development Indicators [9]


What’s missing from here is biomass which is included in renewables, but after a search on Wikipedia [10] we find out that


which translated with the algorithm determined above for converting Biomass to energy and taken out of the total amount of energy generated (shown by Mercom [9] to be ) we find the proportion of 6.9% generated from biomass. We use the best oil in terms of emissions from Table 2 and the breakdown for Denmark energy looks like this:


If you think that there’s a problem because the result for California was 432 grams, yes, you’re right. Turns out energy generation in pristine Denmark is “dirtier” than in California. But, let’s do the numbers anyway and check the damage.


The good news is that the European standard outlet power is as effective at charging as the US RV camper chargers, but because the power is dirtier it takes 53760 Kilometres for the Tesla to break even against the same average 25MPG sedan model from above and the money saved after that in Carbon Emissions per 1000 Kilometres are 1.86 USD.

So what’s the conclusion? Is the Tesla easier on the environment than the average gas guzzler produced in 2016? Only after a significant amount of kilometres of driving it around, and even then only by a marginal amount. Tesla is riding a popularity wave of “green energy” and “green technology” and even though they’re not making any unsupported claims themselves about the carbon emissions impact of their cars, there are plenty of “scientists” and statisticians out there that fudge the numbers to present Tesla in a much more favourable light that it should be. All this is done in the name of fighting “climate change”. Is it really a good thing that we’re lying to ourselves with regards to the effectiveness with which we ARE actually fighting? I wonder…

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Posted by: Valentin Berceanu | November 14, 2016

20161114 – Romania needs feminism…

First of all why Romania? Because I come from that god forsaken country in Eastern Europe, that’s why.

(versiunea în română la adresa: )

I’ve recently been in some “online disputes” with some people recently over certain themes regarding feminism from a Romanian perspective, but I was quite surprised when the following “sponsored” article appeared in my Facebook feed:

But I’ve read it. And boy, did I laugh at it! Let’s be clear, when the article is talking about the difference in “gross hourly salary”, they’re talking about that gender wage gap that has all the USA feminists up in arms, you know the one I mean, the 77 cents on the dollar one (meaning 23%). So, they ran the numbers up at Eurostat and they discovered that the “gender wage gap” in Romania is 4.5% – the smallest in the entire EU (whose average is hanging around 16.7%). This finding doesn’t surprise me one bit because there isn’t another country in the EU that had implemented communism as ardently and fervently as Romania. I remember, and I even mentioned this in some of my online disputes, how, back in 1992 (only 3 years after the downfall of communism in Romania), it came out that the mother of the girl I shared a desk with at school was a housewife. A HOUSEWIFE! You can’t really imagine the amount of shock this discovery caused and how the frame of every conversation pertaining my deskmate and her family became altered by this issue. Being a housewife in communism (and obviously in post-communism) was a cardinal sin. Why is this thing relevant to the wage gap? Because in plenty of freer countries around the world being a housewife or working part-time isn’t as tabu as the general culture in Romania. Ok, but how is it relevant? It’s relevant because the gender wage gap is a life. Ok we’re not really talking about the gender wage gap here but the hourly wage gap between men and women but the methodology for calculating that is the same everywhere around the world. In the US, this hourly wage gap is 84 cents on the dollar (16% – pretty close to the EU average) but most of the US public discourse is around the 77 cents and that’s regardless of the fact that the “77 cents” indicator is more dishonest.

Ok, for the purpose of being 100% truthful, we’re not talking about a lie per se: that particular statistical indicator does exist and I assume it was correctly calculated out of data that had been accurately reported. But the indicator is irrelevant to the purpose with which it’s being used and to cover up this lack of relevance, it is usually qualified by lies regarding its actual meaning. Two such examples of lies (translated) from the article quoted above:
European employers must stop sending the message that women deserve two paycheques less than men each year…
The same pay for the same activity on the same job not only is a fundamental European value but…

These are quotes from two european commissioners with regards to “Equal Pay Day” on November 3rd. We’ll return to this invented holiday, but for now I have made an assertion and I should back it up.

The problem with this indicator comes from the realm of statistics and the misusage of this indicator when taking into account how it’s calculated. Let’s assume we have 3 women, one’s a dishwasher, one’s a pharmacy manager and the other is a consultant for Bearing Point. The gross hourly wage of each of these three women has entered into the calculation of the Romanian Women’s Gross Hourly Wage (same goes for any other country). What’s the problem? This indicator thus obtained is compared with the indicator that is similarly obtained for men and the difference between the two is CONSTANTLY misused to represent the inequality of wages between men and women “for the same activity on the same job”. It should be obvious from the calculation methodology that this is the one thing it can’t be used for.

Here’s a video in which we see Obama, yes! Obama, the current president of the USA, the most well informed man on planet Earth, lying (I can’t believe it’s just negligence) repeatedly that the “wage gap” refers to the same job (around timestamp 7:00): . Next in the video we’ll see the same explanations as above, and we’ll get to the “hourly wage gap” (84 cents – around timestamp 13:25) which is also shot down with the arguments used above. The following position that feminists love to stand on is institutional discrimination manifesting itself in keeping women away from high paying jobs. That is addressed at 18:26 and I’ll leave that story for another day. But the video is essential in that at timestamp 21:54 it hits on what this indicator is advertised as: the difference in pay for men and women doing the exact same job and we’ll learn that this indicator is about 4% in the USA. The video goes further and tries to explain the factors influencing this 4% and I recommend it in its entirety. The very small difference is also confirmed by this article where the adjusted wage-gap is 94.6 cents on the dollar meaning 5,4%.

And now I’d like to return for a moment to the indicator that Eurostat has put together for Romania. If the equivalent indicator is 16% and when we adjust for relevance we narrow it down to only 5,4%, what effect would the same kind of adjustments have on an indicator with a starting value of 4,5%? Isn’t it actually likely that applying the same kind of transformations for Romania, Luxemburg, Italy, Switzerland and Poland (all countries with values under 7,7%) we might shockingly find out that when we compare apples to apples, the women in these countries might actually be paid more than the men for the same job or at the very least the same? God forbid! Maybe in cases such as these we wouldn’t need feminism at all, eh? So how do we explain this wave of feminism that’s enveloping all of us in Romania’s online platforms? Could this be an ideological import? A movement interested only in gaining power, social influence and a little bit of political strength (yes, Canda, I’m looking at you)? Well, if it didn’t come about naturally, and at least according to the data and the reasoning above women are not oppressed in Romanian society (quite the opposite), then the only explanation for feminism even existing in the Romanian space must be an ideological import that targeted at either the political or at social control.

And for those that will keep on claiming that these indicators (77 and 84 cents) are still relevant and they still express an inequality in the way men and women are reimbursed, I would like you to explain to me how these indicators can be as relevant as you claim if the simple act of hiring an X number (easily determined from the data) of men paid at a minimum wage would make these indicator show no difference regardless of the fact that nothing had changed for any working woman at all?!

To wrap it all up, I said I’ll come back to that equal pay day of November 3rd. That’s the day when calculating in accordance with that 16.7% gap at the EU level, all men can go on unpaid leave and they’d still make the same amount of money women make till December 31st. But by simply looking at the distribution they present we can easily notice that country to country that’s just not the case. In fact, in none of the countries this “equal pay day” would fall on November 3rd, because The Netherlands (16.1%) should have it later and Latvia (17.3%) should have it earlier. Romania would end up having this day sometime in December, same for the countries I mentioned two paragraphs ago, while countries like The Czech Republic, Estonia, Austria and Germany should have it at the end of September of in the beginning of October. But I’d say that there might be a more appropriate day we should “observe” in Romania defined by the same considerations as the above: “Equal Pay Day with Iceland”. When taking the net average wage ( ) we’re going to see that Romania has a net average wage of 462 EUR per month leading to a net average yearly income of 5556 EUR, while Iceland has a net average wage of 2830 EUR per month. This day would (indulgently) fall on March 1st unless we want to be really strict with the numbers, in which case this “observance” would be sometime at the end of February.

I made a claim with the title and now, after laying out the arguments, I can go on with my statement: Romania needs feminism about as much as a healthy organism needs a cancer and it will have the same effects if is is imported along ideological lines. There are way more stringent situations in Romania than the need for feminism. And if you think this post just came out of left field and you’ve never felt any sort of feminism creeping into your online experiences, then I consider you lucky. By my estimates we’re about 2 or 3 years behind the west in this respect and if you want to inform yourselves about Romanian feminism, I’ll urge you to get your shots first and then take a look at . Watch out for potential over-dosing. It isn’t in the least surprising that two or three of the contributors are romanian women living abroad, that the proportion of single moms is significant. For the maximum experience I recommend Corina Băcanu ( ) . I’ve also noticed the emergence of a group/organisation that can be found at and despite it being very clear what they are and what they stand for, I can see all the ingredients for the same imported toxic feminism as described above.

Posted by: Valentin Berceanu | November 12, 2016

20161112 – Looking back at the numbers…

This past summer, right after the Democratic convention I had planned an article intended to prepare the faint of heart for the likelihood of a Trump presidency and to illustrate that it might not be that far fetched. My reasoning wasn’t at all political or based on polling, but on some simple maths with some common sense mixed in (I thought). Before actually crafting the article I was discouraged by the echo chamber I would have to launch it in. No one seemed to even entertain the possibility that Trump might actually become president. No one!

Here’s the short run of that reasoning. I started from the 2012 electoral college outcome which was this:


And noticed that all Trump had to do was to flip Florida (was a marginal win for Obama in 2012, and as recently as 2004 had voted republican), then flip New Jersey (I thought since the Governor of New Jersey was one of the first people who jumped on the Trump Train this wouldn’t be impossible), flip Ohio (republican governor, running late in the primaries, heightened interest, I was also banking on Kasich endorsing Trump ultimately, which never ended up happening) and that would put Trump’s total at 267. All he would need is to flip 3 more EC votes his way and he’d be president. And after looking long and hard at Rhode Island, at New Hampshire, at Iowa and at Nevada I settled on Nevada. That would have made the EC map look like this:


Turns out Trump had a larger plan in mind, but I was half right about the above. He did flip Florida and Ohio, he didn’t flip New Jersey ( lost by over 12 points) and he didn’t manage to flip Nevada (but it was close, lost by 2.73 points). We all know by now what states Trump won and how he got to the 306 EC votes he’s standing on, but what’s the real story behind this election? Did Trump really win or did Hillary blow it?

I’ve seen a lot of media spin and propaganda with regards to the demographic split of the vote: white racism, men, old people, low information voters are all supposedly to blame for Trump’s win. You know who’s conspicuously missing from that list? Hillary. I’ll get back to that point, but first I need to refute one of the 4 categories outright. You don’t get to complain about “low information voters” voting for the other guy when the entire Mass Media has colluded with the DNC to help Hillary as much as possible. If you got your info from the mainstream media alone, this election season, you WERE a low information voter.

What really happened in this election? To answer that question I decided to compare VOTE for VOTE, Trump vs Romney and Clinton vs Obama. To do that I collected the demographic data available at the wiki pages for the 2012 and 2016 elections and converted them into rounded (integer) people. Some interesting conclusions present themselves.


With regards to Ideology, Clinton actually won more liberals than Obama in 2012 but both candidates lost a shitload of moderates (over 1 million people for Trump and over 3.39 million people for Clinton). In fact, Trump has bled voters in all categories from Romney’s voters, but Clinton simply lost more (get ready, this will be a theme from here on out).


The cross party lines voting was almost a trade-off. Clinton won about half a million republicans more than Obama while Trump won over about 850,000 democrats more than Romney. But the thing to look at is the number of their party people both candidates lost. Trump lost about 75,000 of Romney’s republicans, while Clinton lost over 2.57 million of Obama democrats. One thing I’d like to point out (before anyone starts calling for Gary Johnson’s head) is that the third party candidates in 2012 were: Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. This is another proof of Clinton simply losing democrat votes, votes that went to Obama in 2012. I’m not suggesting that she was the lone factor in losing these votes, surely the failed Obamacare, the DNC machinations and the media bias all had something to do with it.


This is one of the important tables because it directly contradicts the narrative that traditionalist backward America voted Trump in. Or that sexist men voted Trump in. Or that married women who are “under their husband’s foot” voted Trump in. Look at the numbers. Trump gained 1.2 million votes over Romney from men. Hillary lost 1.3 million women votes from Obama. Trump lost 1.86 million women votes and Hillary lost 1.87 million votes (this last one is a trade-off). It would seem from this that men voted Trump into power, and while I’m sure that this is correct, you can’t at least stop and think for a second that Hillary lost votes (compared to Obama) from both sexes. The feminist candidate took 1.3 million women votes less than Obama in 2012. She made it about gender, failed to capitalise on it with the women vote, and then complained that men flocked to the other candidate. Even when I normalised the sample to account for the less voters in this election compared to 2012 Clinton still underperformed Obama by more than 716.000 women votes. Face it, people, the feminist candidate was a hard sell to women. Another thing to note when breaking down by sex and marital status is that Trump posted big losses vs Romney with married people (traditionalists) his boon coming from the unmarried men and women with which he scored better, while Hillary bled votes in all categories EXCEPT for married women where she got over half a million votes more than Obama. Take that narrative and stick it in the paper shredder.


Second narrative that gets shattered is: Trump won on the back of the white vote. Look at the numbers again. Trump lost over 2.38 million white votes that Romney won, but he outperformed Romney with every other racial/ethnic group. Clinton on the other hand (and this was also remarked on by Obama, when they got the early voting returns) LOST 1.94 million black votes. Mind you, these didn’t go to Trump (he only gained 228,249 votes from Romney’s total black votes). Blacks didn’t want to vote for Hillary in the same numbers as for Obama in 2012 and that is a significant reason why Hillary lost the presidency.


Third narrative that gets shattered is: Trump won on the back of retirees. Historically younger people vote democrat and then it begins to even out after 30 while the last 2-3 age brackets are predominantly republican. But retired 65+ saw Trumps biggest loss of Romney voters (1.2 million). It’s those who are looking at retirement that Trump seems to have convinced, up 1.6 million from Romney’s total. But the things to focus in this bracked is Clinton’s loss of support in the 40-49 bracket (1.09 million), the overall loss of new (young) voters (18-24 bracket) – Trump down more than 580,000 votes, Clinton down more than 1.26 million votes. Also we see Trump connecting more with the 25-29 voter base, up more than 595,000 votes and while it does appear Clinton underperformed a little with this bracket, when normalised for 2012 participation she actually outperformed Obama by a small margin.


But here is perhaps the most significant reason why Hillary lost the elections. First of all let’s dismiss the idea that Trump somehow won because of the rich vote. All the top categories show Hillary outperforming Obama by significantly larger numbers than Trump outperforming Romney. If anything there was a swing in favour of the democrats among the “privileged rich”. One thing to keep in mind when reading the above is that it’s looking at family income. The average wage in the US was in 2015 a little over 48k annually ( so a two income family where both people are on the average wage would fall into the 50k-99k interval. Hillary Clinton lost over 2.89 million votes from the 30k-49k bracket and over 4.55 million votes from the under 30k bracket. Eight years of Democratic policy combined with Hillary Clinton as a democratic nominee have convinced over 7 million democrat voters who voted for Obama in 2012 to not vote. They didn’t flock in mass to Trump (enticed by his populist speech), Trump posted losses over Romney in these brackets as well. There’s your explanation: Clinton lost because the poor vote that traditionally lines up democrat decided to stay home or go third party and since the third party candidates were the same in 2012, we can pin this movement squarely and entirely on the democrat party, their policy and their candidate.

Posted by: Valentin Berceanu | March 13, 2016

20160313 – I Want Donald Trump to Win the Presidency And Here’s Why

No, I am not crazy. No, I have not changed my values in any way. Thanks to political compass’ online test I can point to something that should show that I endorse free market economics and I oppose authoritarianism. I don’t know how accurate that test is because it also puts Obama in the free market camp and quite in my own vicinity, while the man instituted socialised medicine, but it does enough to confirm what I also believe of my own characterisation. In the past, I have not been so anti-authoritarian (I hesitate to use the word libertarian because of its political connotations), but in the past few years as I have come to understand the non-aggression principle or the voluntarism principle and have come to apply it more consistently I have renounced some of my authoritarian views on certain subjects. So, if I have changed at all in the past couple of years, it has been a movement away from where Trump is depicted. Where is Trump depicted? Well, he’s Hitler, right? So he’s like the Godfather of authoritarianism (while Stalin is the God). And, despite all that, I want Donald Trump to win the presidency of the United States. I want this to happen because of many reasons, twelve of which I will take the painstakingly task to explain below, so if you will award me the respect to read through, thank you.

Some of these will be reasons, some of these will be hypothetical scenarios that are accepted in the mainstream but not really thought through. The one point they do have in common is that they show why I think the Donald winning the presidency is actually a good thing. (Try not to get “triggered”).

First: win/win. Everyone is concerned with the scenario of Trump winning the presidency and being a lousy president. Well, if that happens, then I think everyone should agree that the system is broken. That democracy has given us the worst possible president and as a result the system has failed. (I could easily make that argument just by looking at Obama, but hey, if the leftists need to see the end of the world before they concede an argument, I’m down with that too.) So if Trump wins and he sucks, then we have undeniable proof that democracy has failed. And that’s perfectly fine, because at least then, we’ll all be on the same page about looking for a better system, instead of pretending that nothing’s wrong.

But what if Trump wins and he’s a good president? Then we’ve all kind of put our asses in the frying pan over nothing, eh? If Trump wins and he’s a good president he just proved that the worst thing about the current political system is the political mafia (which I also happen to think is true), because let’s not forget how all the career politicians are railing against him now. To take a guy who’s not a politician, who spent just a fraction of what others have spent, to win outright and to do a great job? That’s the end of the world for the political establishment right there. Politicians today, most over the entire world as well as in the US, are career politicians and the whole “barrier to entry” that has been set up for the outsiders is that you need a career in politics to succeed in politics. Well, if Trump wins, and if he’s a good president, then all of that perception goes straight to hell, doesn’t it? Furthermore, I’d absolutely have to send my stance on democracy straight to hell too, and I would be very happy to do so, in that case.

Second: the nuclear fallout case. One of the other things we hear are going to happen (and it’s such a negative thing that it’s often given as an argument onto itself as to why we should prevent Trump from winning) is that, if Trump wins, World War III will be inevitable, people will be deported, racism will come back and the Star Spangled Banner will be renamed Trump Stars & Stripes or worse, it’ll be replaced with the Second Confederate Navy Jack (or as some people call it nowadays, the Confederate Flag). I know that you people have been accustomed to Obama’s “I’m gonna do what I want, say what I want and ain’t nobody got the power to stop me” style of presidency, but there’s small things like the constitution, like congress, like the power to impeach and depose a president that act as checks and balances to a despot (that is when he can’t play the race card).

Tangent: do you realise the amount of times Republicans had reasons to impeach Obama and had to bite their tongues because of the inevitable racial accusations? Also having the first black president in history impeached? It’s a historical disaster.

Coming back to the point though, Trump is already proving that he’s better at playing this political game than the career politicians. I think it’s safe to assume he’s not going to get himself thrown out of office after three weeks (unless that’s really his plan, in which case, what are we worried about, again?).

Third: Trump’s supporters don’t think. Well, maybe they do and maybe they don’t, but the “beauty” of democracy (at least going by your definition, not mine) is that everyone gets a vote and the majority decides. So if Trump’s supporters don’t think, you can do your best to educate them into thinking (your way), but you absolutely can not and should not deny them the fair democratic process. Trump supporters don’t think is not an argument against him and democracy is about one man – one vote, not about one man – one informed voter. If you think that should change, then we are in complete agreement, my friend, welcome to my side. We need Trump to win and we need Trump to fail resoundingly in his role as president for that conversation to happen.

Fourth: look at the left (supporters & media) saying Trump should not be allowed to run/be president. That’s all fine and good. You have the right to an opinion, but my opinion about that, to which I also have the right, is that you’re dead wrong – structurally flawed in reasoning, if you will. If Trump is the wrong republican candidate and you’re a democrat, you should be supporting Trump hand over fist to get the nomination. Why? Because a bad republican candidate will give the White House to your guy/gal! So if you think that Trump is crazy and insane then you absolutely want him to run against Hillary or against Bernie, because it’ll be easy to point out that he’s insane and the American people will reject him. But you have to wonder at this point, and I’m looking at you John Oliver, and at you, Trevor Horn, is it possible that you also know, that if Trump runs he will end up pulverising any candidate the democrats can throw at him? And the pot from which to pick such a candidate is pretty small to begin with. It’s not like Bill Clinton’s gonna walk through that door.

Fifth: look at the right (republican supporters & media) saying Trump should not be allowed to run for president. Your only hope right now is to get to a brokered convention. This means that Trump should not be allowed to clinch the simple majority of delegates needed to secure the nomination, which is actually why Rubio and Kasich are still running because they know that as soon as they drop out their voters are not going to go to Cruz in droves but rather they’ll be more likely to vote for Trump. Ben Carson was once a frontrunner in this campaign. Where did his votes go (before he retired and before he endorsed Trump)? They went mostly to Trump. The Donald literally swallowed up Carson’s constituency. Cruz is always going on about how Trump has a ceiling of 35-40% of the potential republican voters and it’s so funny because there really aren’t any people who are on the fence about Trump, his voters are his voters, he’d probably get most of them if he ran as an independent. What Cruz doesn’t realise is that he’s actually putting forward the best argument as to why, if Trump leads the field going into the GOP convention, they should absolutely give him the nomination flat out. The fact is that Cruz & Rubio & Kasich do not split the other 60%. Their numbers have never added up to that, because if they had, all Rubio would have to do is endorse Ted Cruz, get on his ticket as VP and Cruz would be winning the rest of the primaries throughout (Kasich is a ghost who has some presence around Ohio, but doesn’t exist in the south or in the west). So how wise is it to go into the convention, to have guy with a leading score of delegates and to make some kind of swindle and come out with a different candidate? You would literally just kiss 30% of your electorate good bye! And who knows if not more? Because Cruz and Rubio are fringe party candidates. Which leads us to…

Six: the establishment agenda. Trump running and having such a good shot at the presidency is the most significant thing to have happen in recent american history. Read that statement again, I kid you not. In order for me to prove to you that, you need to answer the following question: who was/is the republican establishment candidate (the usual front runner) in these primaries? Is it Cruz? Is it Rubio? Absolutely not! These guys are fringe candidates, coming from deep conservatism and tea party origins. The republican establishment candidate has always won the primaries for the party as far back as I can remember. George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, just a few examples, but these guys had always been the establishment candidates during their own primaries which meant they won Super Tuesday and had gone on to win the nomination. Who was that candidate this year? I’ll tell you who it was: it was Jeb Bush. You know where Jeb Bush is in the polls? He’s not running anymore, that’s how bad he was doing. He dropped out of the race before Ben Carson did! I’m not 100% sure, but he might have dropped out even before Rand Paul!And Rand Paul never had more than a snowball’s chance in hell. There was some controversy at some point about campaign funds, and this was a while back so I’m sure the numbers have changed by now, but Trump’s campaign had spent about 22-25 million dollars. At that point in time, Jeb Bush had already retired from the race after sinking a whopping 150 million dollars. Read that again! Jeb Bush spent a whopping 150 million dollars on his campaign (all of it coming from corporate donations) and the highest he could place was fourth. Fourth! Why? Because the traditional establishment voters, were too busy voting for Trump. People who have voted for the establishment in the past, rejected him outright. Why? Well if you were to listen to their statements it would be that the average republican voter has gotten tired of the establishment. How is that not something that we want to have happen? The only reason why Cruz is hanging in there still with Trump, is that the establishment has gotten behind Ted after the failure to launch Jeb. In fact, traditional corporate republican donors have even come out and said that if Trump wins the republican nomination they would be forced to explore going over party lines and putting money into the campaign of whomever the democrats’ candidate might be. Can you fucking believe how scared these corporate people are of Donald Trump, that they’d be willing to fund Bernie Sanders??? And that’s the whole point: the establishment doesn’t want Trump, the corporations don’t want Trump, and the american people, a large part of them want Trump. How large? We won’t really know unless Trump is allowed to run for the White House but Ted Cruz estimates that as much as 40% of republicans. So what’s better for America? What’s better for democracy? A president that has the support of the corporations or a president that has the support of the people? I’ll let you think that one over.

Seven: the underdog story. Ever since the first republican debate the mainstream media has not paused a day from attacking Trump. This is across the political spectrum. Trump’s been getting media hits from both the left and the right. We’ve already shown that the establishment is against him. He’s been called every derogatory name in the book, but he’s still coming. He’s had candidates self detonate themselves (in terms of their campaigns, settle down Osama!) trying to take Trump down. Mitt Romney came out of retirement to take a swipe at Trump. They’ve hit the Donald with everything but the kitchen sink and he’s still running and he’s still winning. Isn’t this the ultimate underdog story? Isn’t this really what politics should be all about? An ideal, a slogan that mobilises the people regardless of all the smut and all the spin and all of the crap that gets thrown across the pulpit during the political debating season? Shouldn’t we want the underdog to win? Look at those numbers again: 25 million and counting versus 150 million thrown down the drain! If anything, Trump is the underdog, the upstart, against a political juggernaut that has controlled the destinies of americans for the past seven decades.

Eight: there is one politician who is really afraid of Trump. And that is Hillary Clinton. She is the only politician in the race for the White House that has not attacked Donald Trump. Why could that possibly be? Bernie Sanders goes after him at almost every rally. Bill Clinton went after him. Mitt Romney we covered already. George W. Bush went after Trump. The one person that stayed away from directly attacking or addressing Trump is Hillary. Because if she starts attacking Trump then he can respond with full force and the american people would get a preview of the ass whooping Hillary has in store. The democrats have really shot themselves in the foot this year. They have the weakest crop of candidates since Walter Mondale won the nomination (and if you don’t remember president Mondale, there’s a good reason for that, look it up). The democrat establishment highjacked Hillary’s presidency in 2008 (I supported her completely back then, by the way) because the democrats got greedy and instead of voting in the first woman president (who at the time was the best prepared democratic candidate) the took the fringe (more than three quarters of Obama’s White House staff after his inauguration was Hillary’s campaign staff) black guy and decided: why not push empty rhetoric if it can give us the first black president? So to make up for it, they cleared the field for Hillary in 2016 (zero viable candidates, not even Joe Biden who ran in every democratic primary I can remember) and the end result is that, if she didn’t have the super delegates (giving her a 500 delegate lead from the very beginning) it’d be a very close race between her and a crazy socialist whose platform can be summed up by: tax the hell out of the rich and give free shit to everyone. This is who Hillary is having a hard time beating among her own constituency. How do you think she will fare in a general election against an animal like Donald Trump? Seriously.

Nine: stuff people say on the campaign trail. This has been a long running topic and a cause for inflammation amongst everyone who has had a bone to pick with Trump. Every day I would hear: Trump said this, Trump said that, how can Trump say such a thing, is Trump stupid that he can say this… And so on. A never ending mantra, usually coming from left leaning, responsible people, that would get offended at something that Trump would say and projecting that on Trump’s eventual presidency. I am only 33 years old, but I have to confess, it’s gone past the point where this shit is ridiculous. How old do you need to be before you understand that there is almost no correlation between what a candidate says on the campaign trail and what his presidency is like? And that goes double, if you’re not even in his core constituency. Because that’s all that’s going on now, Trump is talking to his voters and he’s telling them what they need to hear in order to vote for him and that is all. We never go back and examine a president’s record against his campaign trail speeches, but you’d have a seizure if you did that to Obama and Bush. Trump is playing the game, so he’s saying the things that he needs to say in order to get the votes to get the nomination. As soon as he’ll be expanding his target (if he does end up being the republican candidate), he’ll start saying shit more palatable to the democrats. It’ll be just as worthless as what he’s saying now, but you won’t shit your panties as much when you’ll hear it then.
You know what Trump said on his campaign trail? He said: we were lied into a war, we were lied into going to war with Iraq. That’s something that democrats have been saying ever since we first found out that the weapons of mass destruction were not to be found anywhere. You’d think a statement like that would cost him some serious points from the republicans, wouldn’t you? In fact, it ended up bringing him points and bitchslapping Jeb Bush and George W. Bush out of the race.
But if you really have trouble sleeping because of what Trump says while he’s campaigning, go back and read point two.

Ten: Trump is stupid, he’s an ignorant redneck fascist. That’s just not true. I’m not sure you’d be right to characterise his demographic as that either (parts of it, maybe, but I don’t know how large those parts really are). Trump is anything but stupid. He may be stubborn sometimes, like every successful business man might be from time to time, but he is not stupid. You can’t make that much money over that much amount of time and have the IQ of a turnip. You just can’t be that lucky. More than that, Trump is running for president for the first time in his life. He hasn’t been involved in politics at all. At all! And he’s the front runner in the race. He has somehow figured out the game the very first time he sat down at the controls and you want to call that “stupid”? Are you fucking kidding me? Oh, also, he’s doing it while spending less than a fifth of what a traditional campaign would be spending. That is not stupid, my friend, that is fucking unadulterated genius. This guy wrote The Art Of the Deal. I’m not saying he typed it out with his sausage little fingers, but he wrote it, he created it, I’d go as far to say that he embodied it and that was in 1989 back when Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio most likely were still battling acne. To write a bestseller, to create a multi-million or multi-billion dollar empire, you can’t do that if you’re “stupid”. You can disagree with Trump on any and every political statement he makes, that’s absolutely your right, but calling a man like this “stupid” and dismissing him out of hand only proves your own ignorance.

Eleven: the violence. This is basically the reason why I’m getting involved and putting this out there. What’s been happening at the Trump rallies recently is the lowest of all lows. “Protesters” show up, in increasing large numbers, looking to provoke conflicts which then degenerate into violence (which the darling media just can’t stop spinning into the back yards of Trump supporters). This kind of provocation is an absolute insult to the right of free speech, it denies everything that is American, it denies everything that is freedom, it denies everything that is just. It puts these “protesters” in the same class with nazis, with KKK members and with communists. These “protesters” self-identify as “democrats”, some are even seen carrying Bernie Sanders signs (into a Trump rally, mind you) and they do nothing if not a disservice to the very idea of democracy. You do not go into your opponent’s house, shit on his rug, call his wife and daughter all kinds of names, jack off all over the family portraits, break all of his good china, and his tv, pocket his silverware, his stereo and his playstation and expect to walk out like nothing happened. The incidents… No, that’s the wrong word. The vile, sub-human provocation that took place in Chicago and the violence and abuse that followed are the lowest of the low of any campaign trail that I have ever seen. After this, the guns will come out and from what I saw on twitter it’s the black lives matter activists that have already pulled them out. And they went home (the “protesters”) chanting “we shut down Trump”. If you don’t understand just how tragic that is, then you don’t deserve to enjoy the comforts of civilisation and I would urge all the democrats that have any kind of balls and any kind of integrity to disassociate themselves from this immediately and to condemn it sternly. If you don’t do this, if, instead you encourage this kind of behaviour, the blood, and I assure you there will be blood, will be on your hands as well. And to have come to that when faced with the task of selecting a presidential candidate, is the saddest thing we have seen in connection with US internal politics since the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. That is how low you have sunk, you self-identified democrats. It is almost an act of moral reparation that Trump be allowed to run.

Twelve: why is he running. I left the one unexplained thing for last. I know without a doubt why everyone in this race was running, except Donald Trump. Politicians make money from politics and the further up they get on the ladder the more money they rake in. If you don’t buy that, just look at Rubio’s personal finances. Hillary says that the Clintons were nearly broke when they left the White House. Even if I were to believe that, Bill Clinton is making in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per speaking engagement as a “former US president” so spending 8 years at the top has definitely skyrocketed his earning potential. With all of that in mind, I can’t understand why Trump is running. Is it particularly because he just want to win? Is it to test for himself some crazy theory about politics? Is it to get more power? Is there really anything you can’t buy when you have billions of dollars? Is it because it’s the only way to get into a sauna with Putin? The truth is that I don’t know and I can’t know, but regardless of wether I agree with Donald Trump or not, regardless wether I like him or not, the fact that he is running is of significant importance and the way he is succeeding is equally significant. And I trust the man enough to think he’s got a good reason for doing it.

Let me sum it all up. I am not a statist, I absolutely hate the state, I hate what it’s doing to the economy, I hate what it’s doing to the world at large and I hate what it’s doing to humanity. Not just the US, any state. The very concept of the state as it is defined in the world right now, is a moral violation. You will have a hard time finding someone that’s more vehemently opposed to a fascist/nazi/communist/or any other brand of totalitarianism on the internet, but I have twelve solid reasons why I want Donald Trump to win the presidency. Think about it. Just think about it.

Posted by: Valentin Berceanu | October 19, 2015

Terminator Genisys Review

For an alternate voice from BYReviews go here.

Having missed it during its run in theaters, I long awaited the proper release of Terminator Genisys on digital so that I could finally see it. Having watched it, I find myself of two minds about it. First, it really isn’t as bad as the 26% Rotten Tomato meter would seem to indicate. As usual critics are full of shit proving once again, that they will tear anything that’s even in the same vicinity with the borderline to pieces especially if there are some big names involved just to further their own profiles. I mean, for chrissakes, this is the same site that had Transformers:Dark of the Moon pegged at 35% and god forbid we mention Magic Mike XXL pegged at 62% and there is no way in hell you can call yourself a movie critic if you’re going to score those two movies above Genisys. As usual, the mainstream public, goes the other way and gives this film a 6.7 rating on IMDB which is insanely close to my own personal rating of it because, second, the movie doesn’t really live up to its own potential.

First up let me start with the good. Terminator Genisys is the true sequel to James Cameron’s first two films of the franchise. While Rise of the Machines was marginally entertaining despite a very poor performance from the actor who played John Connor, and Salvation was an absolutely disastrous movie despite the casting of Christian Bale as John Connor, we could, for all intensive purposes, pretend that those two movies never happened and just tack Genisys on as the official sequel. The movie pays excellent homage to the first two movies and Arnold is excellent in this incarnation (way better than in 2003). In fact, I’m gonna go ahead and say that the first hour of the film is excellent and on par with any of the first two movies. I would have given it a 9 at the time had it maintained the same kind of excellence throughout the final 40 minutes. Unfortunately there were two scenes, two action sequences in fact, that made my rating drop. The reason for that was something that has truly been the plague of Hollywood for this past decade: the action sequences are not LIVE ACTION but they are computer generated instead… and I don’t care how well it’s done (these particular CGI scenes are done well) it still doesn’t look real. Not only that but, the added benefit to actually having done stunts for real instead of just moving a goddamned computer model around, is that you might realise where, in your action sequence, you brutally violate the laws of physics (yes, I am aware that time travelling is extensively used throughout the entire franchise, BUT STILL!!!).

The casting choices were pretty good. Emilia Clarke does a very good job of Sarah Connors, Jason Clarke is a decent John Connor (some might have preferred Bale, personally I’d have been curious to see what might have happened with this script and Bale, some, including myself, might have even preferred Ed Furlong to have another go at the role), Byung-hun Lee is an absolutely excellent T-1000, Arnold, as I’ve mentioned before is a much improved version over his 2003 performance, not quite on par with his 1992 but pretty close, however Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese just doesn’t work. It’s not that he’s a bad actor, the jury’s still out on that one (personally I thought he did a good job in Jack Reacher, but I hear his other performances aren’t that fabulous), it’s just that this is an iconic role that, for many Terminator fans, is forever associated with Michael Biehn, so I think they should’ve shopped around a little more for someone in the same vein. Courtney’s presence doesn’t necessarily take anything away from the film overall, but it fails to add anything as well.

The plot is contorted, but ultimately believable (in this universe), there’s still a minor unsolved loophole and room for a sequel and the action sequences, while they are great in the first hour of the film, they do become over reliant on CGI and a little repetitive towards the end. I personally feel that some great cameo opportunities were missed and had they been included it would not only have meant a huge tip of the hat to the original movie, but may have even swayed the hearts of some of the on-the-fence critics. First one would be having Bill Paxton reprise his blue haired punk role that first brought him to the screen back in 1984 and one can’t help but feel that Reese’s dad, when he does show up on screen, should’ve been played by Michael Biehn. Also, on a personal note, I would’ve loved to see Robert Patrick at some point in the movie, even if it was just for a second.

In the end, i recommend watching this movie for every fan of the Terminator franchise (1 and 2 especially) and the appropriate ticket price would be 10$, so if you can get yourself a copy for 15$, it’s more than worth it. On an estimated budget of 155 million USD and with a worldwide gross of over 440 million USD, it didn’t break the bank, but, at least, it finished well off in the black and the digital sales have only just begun.

Stop reading here if you haven’t seen the movie, otherwise on to the spoilers and nitpicking!

Like I said above the first part of the movie is breathtaking for any Terminator fan. The fight scenes from the future is what we’ve always salivated about and something the special effects of 1984 were woefully unprepared for. This time around, the machines are gorgeous, the Hunter Killers especially. The script does seem to suffer from an overuse of exposition through dialogue to the point where it makes one wonder if Kevin J. Anderson wasn’t involved. It’s also funny how the soldiers from this future where they had been fighting Skynet for the better part of the past 32 years, didn’t know what a waiter was, but had no problem using analogy to a microwave oven and tin foil when explaining the principles behind the time travel machine. Still, these are all minor things where we chuckle and move on because Reese travels back to 1984 and the first plot twist arises when we see John under attack while the time travel machine is engaged.


The leap back into 1984 is absolutely fabulous! The digitized young Scwarzenegger is almost spot on. Some serious strides have been made since Tron and the digitized Jeff Bridges and one wonders how far away we are from a S1MONE moment, where we get a movie starring Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Alain Delon and Clint Eastwood, all digital versions of themselves. The major plot twist is revealed with a typical Arnie line “I’ve been waiting for you!” that almost pulled a loud cheer from me when it happened. That is the perfect beginning of a rollercoaster ride through the first two movies with enormous tribute scenes and revisiting old, but great scenes. The thumbs up, the defacing of the young Arnold moment with the red cyborg eye glowing, the T-1000 as a cop, the “come with me if you want to live” moment in all of its inverted glory, the liquid T-1000 coming out of the background (this time a mirror), the headshot in the eye the T-1000 recovers from (God was I ever waiting for the finger wag there!), the blades on the floor to slow down the T-1000’s slide, the short but memory evoking foot chase the T-1000 gives to the van, the T-1000 sliding through the window of a vehicle, the T-800 emerging from the flames, the electrocution of the T-800, the T-1000 mimicking one of the main characters while the character is present in the same scene (again with an awesome twist), a little nod to James Cameron’s Aliens, a cool way for the good Arnold terminator to remain without the flesh of one hand (this time, the right hand), and a play on words of the old line this time in the form of “I’ll be there”. And the roller coaster ride jumps us forward to 2017.

Nothing to complain about so far, except the goddamned PG-13 rating, which most certainly robbed us of an undoubtably memorable nude scene from Emilia Clarke (and in the year Esquire named her the hottest woman on Earth, no less!!!) and the sometimes non-Reese screen presence of Jai Courtney which breaks the magic in some moments here and there (mostly when his clothes are off).

The roller coaster of action and callbacks to the past, fittingly slows down in 2017 in order to catch us up to the present plot. Genisys, some kind of software assistant (a version of Siri, or Cortana, or Google Now – why the hell do I feel this one’s the closest rendition? , or Facebook’s M) that will be launched in October 2017. John Connor shows up, and he’s got a story and he means to convince us that he’s for real, but (I don’t know if I had seen the spoiler trailer or not) I knew the twist was coming. Jay Courtney really almost kills the scene with his wooden acting when he finds out Reese is John Connor’s father, but luckily an aged Arnold and a huge teddy bear cut it short and get the roller coaster rolling again. Complete with crashing through walls, a very cool new model of a terminator (or something else altogether if you wanna be nitpicking this detail), a decaying T-800 that has to bang itself to get unstuck, a cool MRI machine scene are just new flavours to an already packed action movie. However, about 85 minutes in, everything goes to hell, in the first action sequence that takes place outside, the one that focuses on the school bus. The flaming terminator is a nice touch, even though the people in the background of that scene need some serious acting lessons if they think that’s how normal people react when they witness a robocop-like thing walking out of an inferno, flames still blazing on it, like it’s nothing. Also, my heart tinges that we don’t even get two seconds of the Harley chasing the bus. What we do get is a totally unrealistic bus crash that Reese could not have possibly survived followed by another crazily concocted action sequence with Reese picking up the bag of explosives while the bus is falling down around him. I mean, come on! Did they really write this stuff down on paper, or just come up with it directly in post-production?

Another nice little callback to the police precinct assault in the first movie, precedes the most damaging scene to the entire movie’s watchability. The helicopter chase/fight scene. I wish to God and back that they had done this with less spectacle but with real helicopters, because, as much as this movie is aimed at teenagers, I don’t think even their innocent minds can suspend belief for long enough in the laws of physics to accommodate for all that’s happening. It’s also a shame that the biggest callback (I’ll be back!) is wasted during this scene.

The end showdown takes place in the caverns beneath the Cyberdyne Systems campus, where we get a little too much of pushing terminators through walls. The situation seems desperate then it gets turned around eventually, but there is no real sense of urgency in these scenes. I just laid back and waited for the conclusion. Arnold sacrifices himself to save the day. Everything blows up and, somehow, the good T-800 gets a “predictable” upgrade to a T-1000 style body. After that, we’re all off into the hills. Unlike the end of the original Terminator movie though, Sarah isn’t alone, but accompanied by Reese and Pops and there isn’t any storm coming. Or so we’re led to believe until the first batch of credits roll and then the movie starts again for the predictable scene that leaves the door open to a sequel. Cut to black and roll credits.

I would’ve loved this movie if not for the two action sequences in the end that kind of destroyed it for me. Also, had there been a slightly different casting choice for Kyle Reese, I would have even gone so far as to put it on par with Judgement Day. However, as things stand, it’s a good addition to the series that can definitely wipe the slate clean of the disaster that was Salvation and the awkwardness that was Rise of the Machines.

7 out of 10.

PS: I am way too old to call the end credits’ song anything but rabble and meaningless noise.

Posted by: bayarali | October 19, 2015

Terminator Genisys (BYReviews)

I started watching Terminator Google, sorry I mean to say Terminator Genisys, a bit reluctant. We are all familiar with the prequel/sequel wave of movies that hurt the industry like a virus, but the fact that I realised that I cannot pinpoint whether this movie is a prequel or a sequel made it more intriguing to me. And the truth is, once you start to ask yourself this kind of questions, is when you also start to not enjoy the movie.

Yes, enjoying the movie is the key thing you need to keep in mind. I started off by trying to figure out who was from what timeline,  or what the impact is on the previous movies (i.e. T1 and T2 – the rest are irrelevant), I started to analyse the easter eggs cleverly placed especially in Arnold’s performance, but then again, all of these things are only important if you are a continuity die hard fan like me. Otherwise, just focus on the role play, the action scenes and on Arnold.

Take the Marvel Cinematic Universe for example. What they are pulling off is a very consistent – first of its kind – continuity plan over at least 3 Phases on the big screens and on TV, that started in 2008 and so far lasts until 2019. The Terminator franchise was a mess compared to this. Terminator 3 and Terminator Salvation screwed up big time, not in destroying the aforementioned continuity, but rather in not being pleasurably tied into it. The writers seemed visibly afraid of touching the established lore. Arnold’s CG cameo in Salvation was at least totally uncalled for, done with the sole purpose of cashing in on his traditional fans (and done so whilst Arnold was Governor).

Terminator Genisys has the balls to fuck with ALL of the Terminator history. I was hurt and disappointed that everything I knew was no longer valid. Actually, Genisys is bullying all of us, by going to the other extreme compared to T3 and TS. “How dare they?” I asked myself. Terminator Genisys was not done so that anyone can watch it. If you have not (recently) seen T1 and T2, then you lost a lot of the meaning of the movie. It makes it altogether that difficult to review the movie without spoilers. But in the spirit of what I do on my Facebook page, BYReviews, I will only disclose the spoilers that are not critical to the plot and that are meant to make the readers more curious to see the movie if they wish so (what I call “positive spoilers”).

What bothered me, for example, was that Terminator 2 was not only changed, but disregarded in its entirety. They actually discuss visiting the T2 timeline but then just pass on it. A T1000 is inserted into the movie, when it was completely unnecessary to do so as he did not play an important role in the plot, not to mention that its presence is not explained. We are also deprived of knowing how and why the grandpa Terminator was sent to Sarah Connor when she was a kid. To me, that is a huge plot hole, because that is the single actual fact that led to all the changes from the original movies. All in all, the timeline is very complicated, with some things that are left unexplained because it would mostly hurt the movie if they did explain them.

But the movie is a lot of fun. Arnold steps back wonderfully into the role that made him one of the biggest superstars in Hollywood, the one role that was perfectly created for him and him alone. At some point you can see his real age when he walks, but we the viewers assume that the machine just needs some oiling.  We have a lot of action scenes similar to those that we loved in the original movies, though we also have some new ideas that kinda ruined the whole experience for me, like the helicopter chase and the bus crash. I actually prefer the T3 crane chase to these two. Digital Arnold is well done, but I give credit to the fact that he was naked (the physics of clothes are much more difficult to render). Emilia Clarke did a good job, considering she was stepping in for a bad ass Linda Hamilton (doing push-ups in the mental hospital cell had been awesome!) and I love that she has taken on such a diverse role compared to her Game of Thrones one.

Yes, it does hurt that they change everything we knew. I still think this movie was not necessary. Some franchises are better left alone. On the other hand, I cannot help but focus on the impermanence of time, on the relativity of the past. I somehow drift to spiritual thoughts that we should live in the present, which is something I cannot say about Kyle Reese. Then, I decide to take Terminator as a buddhist sand mandala that you build over years (in this case decades) and then destroy in in 2 hours just to remind yourself that everything is temporary and that we all just the same are born and turn into dust. I’m not sure that the producers counted on such a reaction from their audience, though.

Bonus: The Skynet-person looks awfully german. I wonder if it’s on purpose.

Posted by: Valentin Berceanu | September 23, 2015

20150923 – At the Core of It All

At the very core of Aristotelian philosophy and one might even extend that to all the scientific universe that we have come to take for granted today are the three laws of thought as defined by Aristotle in his works on Metaphysics and that can be aptly summarised by the following three statements: A is A, Non-Contradiction, Either Or (to those that have read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, here’s lookin’ at you kid!). Boolean logic is founded on these three laws of thought and if there is any doubt in your mind about the veracity, importance or comprehension of these laws, then you need to stop reading right here and take a long walk through the internet and document yourself about these things and, when you feel you’ve fully accepted the three characteristics noted above in reference to these laws, then you’re welcome to come back. I say this because even though this article will go to the core of many things and will dabble in their respective deconstructions and reconstructions, I am not about to re-invent the wheel just for your personal benefit.

Every personal philosophy (the set of rules and guidelines that we all lead our lives by day in and day out) has at its very core, its foundation, if you will, a single brick that supports everything else. This brick is the relation that one has to their own mortality. What we believe will happen after we die is the most important basic concept that affects our personal philosophy. There are only two ways to approach this event. Either you believe that death is final and, once you expire, it’s all done and said, or you believe in an after-life. I deliberately chose to use the word believe in the first case because the fact remains that there is no way to scientifically prove that there is no after life. The problem comes from the construct of the concept, because under the guise of infinite space and time you cannot prove the absence of something in perpetuity. However, science, based on the three laws above, has provided us the tools for rationally proving a negative. These tools are assuming that the opposite is true, then following the implications of the opposite until we reach a contradiction of an already established truth, this method is called “reductio ad absurdum” and you can’t get past the most basic of geometry without having appropriated it. However, still submitting ourselves to the guise of infinite time and space, one might argue that the “reductio ad absurdum” can’t be fully executed. I don’t disagree with that, which is why, even though this has been established to a level of (let’s say) 99.99% probability, to make that extra 0.01% is to take a leap of faith and this means some form of belief is inferred. Naturally, the sure-fire way to prove/disprove once and for all the absence of an afterlife would be to kill everyone on the face of the Earth at which point, at least for the entire human race this issue is put to rest. Either there will be an afterlife in which we can all carry on debating other shit and pointing fingers while making fun of those who believed death would be final, or it wouldn’t really matter anymore since everyone’d be dead. Since one possible outcome of this method may lead to the total obliteration of everything, let’s deem this one too risky and see if we can’t rely on more classical reasoning.

To simplify the rest of this article I’m gonna refer to those believing there is no afterlife as deadheads and to those who believe in an after life as soulfuls.

The challenge is to prove the deadheads right which translates into proving the soulfuls wrong. The soulfuls, regardless of their denomination (christian, buddhist, muslim, hindu, jedi), believe that there is something capable of persisting after the death of the flesh. They believe that man is, in fact, a duality of flesh and something else and they choose to call this something else a soul/spirit/divine spark/whatever. No matter what the name of this 21 gram particle, they connect to it the human identity and some of them even go as far as to call this “what makes us human”. The deadheads would argue that what makes us human is the ability to work with abstract concepts and apply this to the concept of self-awareness as well, but that’s a debate for another day and ultimately calling the same thing by a different name. The human duality proposed by the soulfuls assumes that the soul exists within the vessel of the flesh and death is the moment of its release back into the spiritual realm. Their model attributes to the soul the concepts of identity, morality, knowledge, basically everything that doesn’t have a physical representation. And here comes the challenge to their model: it has been scientifically proven that by altering the chemical components in the human brain, we can affect behaviour to the point of altering the nature of a person. This is not an experimental science anymore, people are absolved from murder in the first degree if they are found to be suffering from adrenal secreting tumours, people can be prevented from committing suicide either by rebooting their brain courtesy of electro-shock therapy (discontinued for obvious reasons) or by chemically tinkering a little with the serotonin receptors in their brains, people who have suffered brain injuries affecting their prefrontal cortex will invariably become more violent and prone to hurting others, people with a strong testosterone imbalance will eventually sexually abuse someone, some have even gone so far as to argue that had Hitler been put on Ritalin as a child, we might have been spared the atrocity of World War Two, or at the very least would have faced it without his personal contributions. Absolutely all of the above are symptoms of the physical side that have nothing to do with the transcendent part of the model claimed by the soulfuls, yet absolutely all of them impact the moral qualities of the subject. Since morality is included within identity, it follows that the physical can influence the soul. This is not up for debate. No amount of training, conditioning or belief can compensate for a chemical imbalance of the brain. Should a priest or buddhist monk subject themselves to a pre-frontal cortex lobotomy they will invariably become violent unreasonable men. This should be contradiction enough for the model proposed by the soulfuls to negate it, but since I said before that we are working under the guise of infinite space and time, let’s add some more circumstantial corroborating evidence.

Most or all soulfuls are convinced that there’s another plane of existence that follows this one. Well, we have dated the first humans that appeared on Earth as far back as 50.000 BC and a few studies made on the demographics of the Earth have placed the total number of people that have ever lived somewhere between 100 and 115 billion people. Look at those numbers again. That’s roughly 2500 generations of people and out of all those souls, that have come and gone through this world, neither of them managed to come back or even send a message through from the other side that there would be something there. To pretend that such a message might come from our generation, it’d be stupid. And to claim that there have been messages from beyond delivered in these 50.000 years it’d be stupid too. The crucible of death is the most essential demon that has haunted humanity all this time, if there was a way to negate its power by communicating from the other side, wouldn’t everyone that got there send back a message to convince at least their loved ones? Furthermore, if such messages were coming through, would anyone in their right minds deny them? A is A and everything can be proven. The second I’m on the phone with my dead grandfather or my great grandfather, or not even on the phone, but in some sort of contact with them, I’ll know it to be true and spend the rest of my life spreading that truth. The fact that we have not all reached this common knowledge about the afterlife already, is because there are no messages coming from the great beyond.

The James Randi challenge has been around for almost 25 years, where this guy will give a million dollars to anyone exhibiting any kind of paranormal behaviour and getting a message from the dead counts just as such a thing. There are dozens if not hundreds of similar challenges for smaller prizes by organisations of skeptics around the world. None of these prizes have been claimed. NONE.

Absolutely the same logic applies to the concept of reincarnation. Should anyone really access their memories of a previous life, we’d all know by now that reincarnation is real. Reincarnation has an even more troublesome issue and that is the continual rising world population. Where the simple and linear theory of afterlife has an unlimited supply of souls that just pass through this world, reincarnation with its reuse/recycle approach claims that we’re all just taking turns going in and out. But since now there are about 7 billion people alive at the same time, it follows that there are at least 7 billion souls total in this reincarnation circle. Well, what happened back in the days of the Roman Empire, when the world population was only an estimate 300 million? Do some people have to wait centuries before getting another go? And since there is no upwards limit on the number of total people alive at the same time, what guarantees us that we can’t exhaust the number of “souls in waiting”? What will happen then? Nobody gets pregnant until one of us dies? I know people are combining the theory of reincarnation with some variant of the infinite soul pool that the non-reincarnating soulfuls believe in, but let’s face it, when it’s all said and done, if it were real, we’d all know it by now and not waste any time debating about it, because the bottom line is that none of the deadheads want to die on principle, we all want to live forever.

The point is that we can also use some retro-engineering of basically every religion on the face of the world and understand why this whole “what is” came to be. All religions have been invented along the following coordinates: first comes the promise of cheating/escaping death delivered in the form of some kind of afterlife or reincarnation or immortality (if we take the vampires into account) and, following closely, come a set of rules and regulations about the conduct the believer needs to follow in order to gain access to the afterlife. This is the pattern for EVERY kind of superstition as well (do this to avoid that bad thing from happening). The second phase of the religion comes with its becoming organised into churches and congregations, or preachers and followers. This phase may come after quite some time from the actual birth of the cult and might even be performed by someone completely different than the inventor of the belief. This organisation of the religion is nothing more that the enthronement of the masters over the slaves. The promise of deliverance from death becomes the incentive that compels the followers to subject themselves to the power of the preachers through dogma which is derived from the original religion’s precepts. Nothing more, nothing less.

The bottom line is that every religion is born out of the natural fear one has of their own death, and it becomes institutionalised by the natural need of humans to hold power over their peers. Absolutely all stories of an afterlife can be traced back to these two coordinates rendering them ultimately invalid.

We cannot say with absolute authority that there is no afterlife or that death is final, but all the opposite models to the finality of death are either leading to contradictions or, like the much maligned Ptolemaic model of the universe become increasingly convoluted and speculative when challenged. Not to mention that they can all be easily traced back to religious propaganda or to the place where their very origins come under question. Ultimately, precisely because of the importance of the subject and the passage of time and the amazing number of attempts at proving an afterlife that have failed (0 in 115 billion) we can safely say that it has become extremely unlikely that an afterlife exists to the point where we can accept that reductio ad absurdum has been fulfilled.

One of the few curses of the human condition is the realisation of one’s own mortality. This isn’t something that many people spend any time thinking about until the inevitable strikes them. We all go through life as kids and teenagers feeling immortal. As children we might not even be exposed to death unless we have the misfortune of a grandfather passing away. In our twenties, our own death is the farthest possible thing from our minds. Eventually, though, it will catch up to everyone, even to the people that have been bypassing the issue of death their entire lives clinging to some form of irrational belief. Being faced with one’s own mortality and finality is probably the most traumatic psychological even that one can go through. There is nothing that even comes remotely close and I know that most of you, reading these lines for the first time, have not undergone this trauma because you have’t really realised that you will die and that there’ll be nothing more. It takes an extremely well adjusted person to be able to deal with it and accept it for what it is and even then it’s a struggle beyond belief that most certainly takes a heavy toll on that person’s psyche. And this all happens today when we are at the historical peak of insight into the human mind, how do you think people could’ve dealt with this shock 50.000 years ago in a world ruled by thunder gods and mother winter?

All the stories about afterlife are nothing more than an immature mind’s way of dealing with a huge psychological issue. In 1969, Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross postulated the five stages of dying as observed from dispensing psychotherapy to terminal patients. These stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Soulfuls are trapped in either stage one or stage three, deadheads have made it all the way to stage five.

Why does it matter so much on which side of the coin you fall in this debate? Well, as I’ve stated in the very beginning, this is the brick of personal philosophy upon which all other bricks rest and using denial while building this particular brick will end up having a ripple effect (and I’m not theorising here, I am speaking from the billions of case studies that roam the world) throughout the entire personal philosophy of a person and throughout their entire personality. Since the whole world is an interconnected system, ultimately, the inclusion of denial within this brick is responsible for almost everything that is wrong with the world today.

EVERYTHING that is wrong with the world today can be traced back to believing a lie, the same lie over and over again for everyone and placing it at the foundation of your identity. This ends up colouring EVERY action or thought that a human being has. If I were to rank this for importance, it’d trump anything.

Posted by: Valentin Berceanu | September 13, 2015

20150913 – 47 Ronin (Review)


Ok, so it took me almost two years but I finally saw the movie. The reason I did put it off for so long and didn’t actually see it in the theatres during its commercial release was because the critics’ consensus was that this was a dud so big it’d have to be written in capitals to do it justice. Today it stands at a gruesome 15% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 4.1… IMDB, where the average fans get a word, has it marked at 6.3 so not exactly a heart warming recommendation. However, once you factor in the herding factor and the desperate need for publicity and relevance of the critics (whereas in, if it’s not a mind blowing movie like Mad Max Fury Road that will break all barriers of taste and appreciation, it’s better to trash it in the review, make a name for yourself) it all starts to make sense. In case you don’t yet perceive where this particular review is going, I liked the movie. It’s at least a solid 8, if not more. The story is based on a historical Japanese event, know as the Genroku Ako Incident, which has been given a solid Hollywood treatment (a little supernatural, a little romance, a little racism, the underdog element was already in the original) but it still somehow managed to stay away from the usual traps that befall such adaptations.

The pluses: the story moves along at a nice pace with only one or two slowdown moments, for a trailer that basically advertised Lord Of The Rings in Japan, the movie just dabbles a little in the supernatural and that’s a good thing (we don’t see an army of undead, we don’t get dwarves hopping on Super Mario Brother goats up the side of a mountain, we don’t get trolls, orcs, uruk-hai, goblins, none of the LOTR lore one might imagine), the fight scenes are good and believable managing not to get over the top (except of course the ones that do involve supernatural creatures, but you can count these on the fingers of one hand), and the emphasis that is given to Japanese customs and beliefs of the time is definitely adding some depth to the movie overall.

The minuses: a completely realistic and anticlimactic ending of “the giant bad guy samurai”, but with the movie’s firm stand on realism (I know it’s a funny term to use for a movie that has supernatural beings in it, but if you see the movie, you’ll get it) there was no other way to defeat him, a little underexposure of the Tengu people (who seemed by far the coolest feature of the movie, but see what I said about realism), reusing most of Akira Kurosawa’s imagery from Ran (but what movie about the Japanese Shogunate could avoid that?), Keanu’s wooden acting (which seemed oddly at home this time under the camouflage of the way people of that time behaved), at least one expendable teary eyed scene at the end between Keanu and Ko Shibasaki which should have ended on the cutting room floor was left in and that’s about it.

All in all, though, the movie tied up every loose end nicely (even the fact that there are only 46 ronin that were involved in the final act), it spoke about honour, it spoke about redemption, it showcased some very beautiful Japanese landscapes, and opened a window into a world long forgotten. If you liked The Last Samurai (2004, Tom Cruise) you will love this movie, one can’t help but draw a parallel to it. As far as I can tell, the movie’s only fault is that it came out against Lord Of The Rings’ Desolation of Smaug and didn’t pack enough special effects and over the top fight scenes to keep the popcorn popping bobbleheads happy. There are at least three goose-bump worthy moments throughout the film, but you have to be into it, to get them.

The budget of the movie was a whopping 175 million dollars estimated which is seen in the quality of the finished product. The special effects are awesome, and nothing is out of place with the image or the sound. It looks and feels like a blockbuster. The returns, however, were an underwhelming 150 million worldwide. I’m sure the movie has already made up the original cost and turned a profit on VOD by now, but still, it’s just one more example of critics beating a good movie into the ground and assuring us that we’ll get nothing more than Avengers 23 and X-Men Days of Future Past Reloaded: Origins coming out of Tinseltown in years to come.


To end the review I’ll say this: I’d pay 10$ for an admission ticked to this movie and have no regrets afterwards, so, if you can get yourself a copy of this for 15$, don’t think twice about it.

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