Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Where are the Christians?

This is probably as good a time as any to comment on what appears to be a new Christmas tradition in the making. I'm referring to the renewed fighting in the 'war on Christmas' that I've noticed in recent years flaring up around this time. Someone notices a public display of a Christmas message, complains, and controversy ensues. This year, I saw it erupt in the news story of complaints over a Christmas message on the Saskatoon bus service in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The following is not an untypical reaction: "Buddy, I am about as atheist as they come. There is not even a hint in my mind that a god may exist. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!"

Atheists, and just about everyone else embracing Christmas. Conspicuous by their absence, however are the Christians who don't appear to have anything to say about the matter. I'm surprised to see nobody identifying themselves as Christian denouncing the public Christmas displays or defending the complainants.

I see no Christians complaining about the public displays of febrile consumerism. No complaints over public displays of elves, flying reindeer or gifts under trees. I suggest these are doing more harm to the Christian spirit of Christmas than these Saskatoon complainants ever could. I can't understand how Christians who take their faith seriously are happy with state sponsored celebrations of Christmas that muddy the message of universal love in the gospels and pollute the sanctity of their holidays with pagan symbols.

The liberal values of our society separate the church and state. It's to prevent clerical power from gaining undue influence over our lives. I think though it works both ways; the separation also protects religion from encroachment by the state. Consequently, these days we see that the more true Christian meaning is drained of Christmas, the more non Christians will speak up in defense against the (almost always) heretical public displays. When atheists defend Christmas, Christians should begin to worry.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Movie of the Year: Clint, a Chair and Petition

The most gripping drama I saw this year was Clint Eastwood's performance of an actor addressing the audience of a political convention in the late summer of this year. Eastwood's role is as an old actor who takes to the television airwaves for an embarrassing eleven minutes as he remonstrates with an empty chair, where supposedly sits the president of the United States. The actor Eastwood plays hasn't prepared his lines, and is distracted and unfocused. When he does say something, it's inappropriately belligerent and at odds with the setting. As the seconds tick by, the tension mounts as all who watch know that this moment - the climax of the convention - has cost millions and was planned month in advance, suddenly lurches into a crazy off script turn that could spoil the career of a presidential hopeful.
Well, that's not really a movie, and the next one, I only managed to watch this year. But it's real, very real. It was made over a period of 12 years and completed in 2009, and released in the United States in 2011. The movie's name is Petition and the director Zhao Liang shot the movie on digital video, much of it from hidden cameras. It is a documentary about a group of petitioners, Chinese people who have been subject to some injustice and after being thwarted at the local level, have come to Beijing where they mingle with other similar cases from all across the country.
The petitioners are fearless and determined, but lead utterly marginal lives, subsisting on found food and sleeping in improvised shelters. They show us how much people are willing to endure when they believe their (admittedly hopeless) cause is just. There's a teacher who was fired for exposing corruption in his school's administration. Another, a young man who was arbitrarily beaten and hospitalized by thuggish policeman. And a woman who's husband died mysteriously while being given a workplace medical exam and then summarily cremated. They don't sound like much, but if it's inspiration you seek, set aside your Amazing Spiderman comics and DVD and watch Petition. These are real heroes. Such people will be the kernel of any movement that arises in China to challenge the current regime. Most reviews I've seen speak only of the Kafkaesque justice system in China. They are missing the remarkable dignity of those who are fighting it.

I've uploaded this movie in a file just under one gigabyte to The Pirate Bay. It's in Mandarin with English and French subtitles. I will be seeding this over the next little while as long as interest holds. Click here to get the torrent file.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Vegan Dog Biscuit Recipe

Meet my dogs. There's a photo of them on the right. Gitajanli is 8 years old. She's a terrier mix, weighs 6 kilos and has always had a retiring and nervous disposition. I attribute this to her family background. She was bought as a puppy from the owner of a dog meat restaurant in the countryside in South Korea. Finnegan is 3 years old and weighs 4 kilos. Her father is probably a full blooded Maltese terrier whose owners abandoned in the countryside, and her mother is a local mixed terrier. She has a high spirited, adventurous character. She loves to cuddle and she loves to roll in carrion. I attribute her disposition to her being born in a roadside drainage pipe where she was found one cold winter morning, only weeks old, alone and at death's doorstep. Were they to speak, "yes" is the word you'd most likely hear from Finnegan, while Gita would say, "no, thank you."

They're living in Mexico now, in the small city of San Cristobal de las Casas. There is dog food available in the shops, but no vegan dog food. I've been making it myself for them since May this year and they've been eating little else. They are both in fine health, and I figure it's time to share my recipe. Here it is:


1 cup of beans
1 large potato
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 heaping cup of mixed rice, lentils, oatmeal, bran, soy protein
1 teaspoon of salt
cooking oil
wheat or corn flour

Take the beans and lentils and soak them in water a day or so. Boil them in water until they soften. As they are boiling, add the potato, cut into small pieces so that it will be ready when the beans are done. Let them cool and drain thoroughly. Cook the rice and when it is almost ready, put in the oatmeal, bran and soy meal. Add the salt and a splash or two of cooking oil. Use water sparingly. The drier the mixture the better. Grind the pumpkin seeds as they are. There's no need to cook them.

Go back to the beans, lentils and potato mixture and mash it thoroughly in a large bowl. Once done, add the rice, oatmeal, bran and soy meal and mix together. Then add the ground pumpkin seeds, and while mixing, add a cup or two of flour until the mixture has a non- sticky consistency. Let it sit over night to dry further.

Next day, take small fistfuls of the mixture and form patties, and put them in a very lightly oiled frying pan and roast both sides, until the biscuits are rather hard but not burnt. Repeat until the mixture is finished. The dogs especially enjoy eating the biscuits while they are still warm from the frying pan.

Substitutions are possible. Instead of a potato, a chayote can be used. Some red beet can be added for colour. The patties can probably be baked in an oven more easily than roasted in a frying pan although not having an oven in the kitchen, I haven't tried this. Using an oven would probably save time and effort. The recipe makes enough to feed the two dogs for ten days to two weeks, depending on the dog's appetite which varies with the seasons. The recipe can easily be doubled.

Buen provecho! Enjoy, and don't be afraid to nibble on a biscuit yourself. Humans find them tasty too!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Education? My Business!

I remember hearing something on the radio. The details escape me now but it was an interview with, I think, a producer at the BBC. He was recalling his career and he spoke of how he got the job. He sat at the desk opposite the interviewer who sat in front of a large bookshelf. The interviewer gestured to the books behind him and asked the applicant if he'd read any. The applicant said yes, I've read that one and that one and that one. The interviewer chose a book and asked the applicant to talk about it. He was able to impress the interviewer enough to get the job. I was impressed by the anecdote and it led me, in a roundabout and not entirely serious way to offer the following proposal.

The proposal is simply that job interviewers should be forbidden from asking candidates about their educational background: how much schooling, where, when, and what was studied. All such questions should be off the table.

Before fleshing out the argument, it will be helpful to look at some of the questions that job interviewers already are currently forbidden from pursuing. This is admittedly a little United States-centric but most wealthy countries have there own, albeit shorter list of such questions:

     Where were you born?
    What is your native language?
    Are you a lesbian? Are you married?
    Do you have children?
    Do you plan to get pregnant?
    How old are you?
    Do you observe Ramadan or Yom Kippur?
    Do you have a disability or chronic illness?
    Are you in the National Guard?
    Do you smoke or use alcohol?

Please notice two things. One, the list is designed to protect privacy and prevent discrimination. Two, there is no effort to extend this protection to a candidate's education background.

It's arguable that discrimination against candidates for going to the 'wrong' school is not a big problem in our society. I will set this aside and proceed to my main point. The ban on questions concerning education would not so much benefit the candidates as it would our work places, educational institutions, and society in general.

I want to consider this illustrative example. In South Korea candidates for jobs as counter persons at department stores are expected to have a degree from a university. Not to dismiss too lightly the skills necessary to perform such a job, but a high school education plus a few weeks of on the job training should suffice. I don't think the requirement for a degree is about knowledge or expertise in a job related field. It's about docility. Those who have been able to graduate have demonstrated a desirable degree of docility - attending class, following teacher's instructions, and performing as expected. That's what's behind the requirement for a university degree for a counter person in a department store. A certificate of docility. Of course department stores have their reasons to seek out a docile labour force, but I argue that it's not the proper function of our educational institutions to help them here, and to the extent they do, the quality of education suffers.

Education should focus on cultivating knowledge and creativity in students. Our universities should be more than a spring board to a career selling perfumes and cosmetics. The understanding that the credentials offered by study at university will be of no use in their seeking employment, will allow young people to put their time and money to better use in or out of school, and allow teachers to teach those motivated by intellectual curiosity rather than a desire to pad their resumes. Students will feel freer to pursue what they want, in areas where their talents lie, unconstrained by concerns of their future as job applicants.

My proposal would open up opportunities for a greater role for on the job training. Companies requiring specific skills would train their own workers in their own way, at their own expense. Vocational schools and apprenticeships which grant licenses to those who successfully complete the programmes should also enjoy greater importance. I'm not proposing that prospective pilots should not be asked to produce their pilot license.

There have been studies showing how in wealthy nations social mobility, the ability for one born of a less privileged family to rise in status,  has been declining. Societies have become more static, more feudal. These same studies show that education, ie a university degree, is the royal road to improving one's place in society. Perhaps opening up more space for apprenticeships and the like would open up new paths to greater social mobility. Letting a university degree remain the key to a higher social standing is not helping our social sclerosis. As I point out, social mobility is declining. The quality of education can only decline as well as long as the purpose of a university is seen as something other than a place to foster knowledge and creativity.

Before I close, I should go back to the anecdote I related at the start about the interview with the prospective BBC producer. It's probably true that the interviewer had a full accounting of the candidate's educational background on a piece of paper on his desk before him. And it's quite plausible that they spend a good deal of time discussing mutual acquaintances in their 'old boys' network. But finding the right person for the job needn't involve any of this. What makes a person suitable for a position is in their head and hands, not a university diploma.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Israel and Iran Sharing Holocaust Files

If I were to pinpoint the feature of the Internet that has the greatest potential to change human society and culture, I would nominate Bittorrent.  It's a very simple file sharing application that allows you to download files from other users, while these users download from you. Copying and sharing music, movies and books has never been easier or less costly. At any moment, according the Wikipedia, bittorrent accounts for more internet traffic than Facebook and Youtube combined. I've always thought that a part of the pleasure we get from a work of art comes from sharing it with people whose feelings we care about. This pleasure in sharing is something that all humans have - we should not give up our freedom to share lightly. Property rights exist, to be sure, but we should be very careful about letting them infringe on our right to share as we see fit.

Above is a screen capture taken from my computer on December 1st. I'm using a bittorrent client called Tixati and I'm downloading a bunch of files - mostly films made in Eastern Europe in the 1960's. One in particular is singled out. It's name in English is "Father," "Apa" in the original Hungarian. It was made in 1966 by the director Istvan Szabo, the only Hungarian film director to win an Oscar for the 1981 film Mephisto. Both these films are centred on the plight of Jews under Naziism.

What I want to focus on, however, is a small part of the bigger picture. I've blown it up here:

This tells us that there is a seeder, someone who has the entire file and letting others download, without receiving anything. The seeder is in Tel Aviv, as the Israeli flag at the top and a trace of the IP address indicates. There are three leechers, those, including me - the Mexican flag at the bottom - who haven't yet completed the download of "Father." The other two leechers are from Sheffield, England, and Teheran, Islamic Republic of Iran. Yes, the third flag is Iranian.

Our exposure to the relation between Israel and Iran, exemplified by a google search of the words "israel iran" is not positive. The links I get all point to stories of conflict, threats, defamation, and distrust. Page after page it continues. Yet, with this screen capture I have pretty strong evidence that someone in Teheran is downloading and will presumably watch this work of Jewish culture, and it's thanks mainly to the generosity of someone in Tel Aviv that this is possible. It's very likely that these people don't know they are sharing. Not all bittorrent clients feature the flags, and most users don't spend much time  'under the hood,' so to speak. But the sharing is happening, whether they know it or not, regardless of the overwhelming negativity that characterizes their relations. Our new media thrive on the negative, while with bittorrent, goodwill, trust, and cooperation are built into the system. This is probably getting close to why I have such a regard for file sharing.

This is my first post of December and Christmas is coming. Instead of putting your presents under a tree, why not share them on bittorrent? You just don't know who will appreciate your generosity.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I'm sure I'm not alone in getting most of my exposure to music from the movies. Pop music, I got from the radio and from peers, but any of the classics that mean anything to me came from films I've watched.

I'd like to share Pavane, a piece by Gabriel Fauré written about 130 years ago. The movie is Il Divo, a biopic from Italy made in 2008 about the notoriously corrupt prime minister Giulio Andreotti. I suspect watching this sequence of the film was the first time I'd heard it, and it immediately embedded itself inside me. In the 'popular culture' section of the wikipedia entry on the music, Il Divo is the first and foremost reference. There are a couple of other references, but nothing familiar to me. How can such a beautiful piece of music go ignored by film makers for so long? Perhaps Pavane is only now gaining popular recognition. Anyhow, it's hard to believe that I've never heard Pavane before watching Il Divo; it's possible that only the vision of the film maker, Paolo Sorrentino, managed to capture the music's mood and the un-despairing, stoic loneliness of Andreotti's character. Rather odd in music that originated in a dance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Disproportionate Gaza

With the commentary over the fighting in Israel and Gaza over the past few days, I noticed a repeat of something weird from the last round four years ago: the systematic mis-construing of the concept of proportionality in warfare. It's actually a fairly simple concept. Here I quote from the Wikipedia article on Just War Theory:
Just war conduct should be governed by the principle of proportionality. An attack cannot be launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality).
In a military operation to seize a bridge, for example, one civilian casualty can be excused, but the deaths of a million in the seizing of the same bridge would be seen as a war crime. I've read about proportionality for some years now, and I don't think I recall ever having any trouble understanding it. Of course in applying it, things can be difficult. Just where is the line between proportionate losses and disproportionate losses? It's never clear, but the principle itself is not beyond the understanding of children.

Here is Walter Russel Mead, an American pundit, a 'centrist' I figure, giving his definition of proportionality:

One of the criteria for jus in bello (fighting nice as opposed to jus ad bellum which is about whether it is just ) is proportionality. If the other guy comes at you with a stick, you can’t pull a knife. If he’s got a knife, you can’t pull a gun. If he burned your barn, you can’t nuke his capital. Your use of force must be proportionate to the cause and to the danger.
 Where this comes from, I have no idea. But it's not new. I saw other pundits making the exact same claim during the 2008 fighting. Proportionality has nothing to do with limiting the response to equal the provocation. It's about limiting the damage to non-combatants.

Walter Russel Mead goes on to make some dubious remarks about why Americans aren't swayed by arguments for his own version of proportionality in warfare. For whatever reason, he ignores the fairly scrupulous policies of the US Army when it came to bombing Germany. In the fire bombing of Dresden, for example, the British launched indiscriminate night raids, while the Americans tried to limit damage to German civilians by targeting industrial assets in more dangerous daylight raids. In other words, the Americans showed an intention to practice proportionality. I should note, this only applies to the European theatre, and once the action shifted to Asia, the Army abandoned proportionality, and carried on as the British. Mead actually raises the possibility of racism, and does so very weirdly:

Commentators around the world grasp at straws in seeking to explain what’s going on. Islamophobia and racism, say some. Americans just don’t care about Arab deaths and they are so blinded by their fear of Islam that they can’t see the simple realities of the conflict on the ground. Others allege that a sinister Jewish lobby controls the media and the political system through vast power of Jewish money; the poor ignorant Americans are the helpless pawns of clever Jews. Still others suggest that it is fanatical fundamentalists with their carry on flight bags packed for the Rapture who are behind American blindness to Israel’s crimes.
I have to confess I don't see much of an argument there. There's a lot of muddle and dis-ingenuousness that characterizes  much of the discussion on the conflict. Why Americans are appalled at the killing of children by primitive weapons in the hands of Gazans is never addressed. Anyhow, none of this is new, and it's all more or less a repeat of what came before.

What's new here is the perverse twist Mead gives to this line of reasoning. Again I quote:

the television pictures that drive much of the world away from Israel often have the effect of strengthening the bonds between Americans and the Jewish state
American TV viewers seeing the torn bodies of children killed by Israel actually has the effect of strengthening the ties between their country and Israel. This is perverse, as I've said. But let's say it's true. I don't see how this advances Israel's cause in any meaningful way. Sure, Israel has leave to kill a few more children the next day without fear of being blamed. However, impunity with American TV viewers in killing children is not going to win any war for Israel. Thinking otherwise is just more evidence of Israel's moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving and Taking

Thanksgiving is a time of abundance, a festival of consumption held at harvest time when food is never more plentiful and better eaten even in extravagance than allowed to spoil and go to waste. Feasts like Thanksgiving are held all over the world and are a joyful occasion.

But there is a dark side to the holiday, a side that seems to go hand in hand with all festivals of consumption - sacrifice. With Thanksgiving as its celebrated in North America the sacrifice is fairly benign. The president makes an appearance on television, metaphorical axe in hand, several days before the holiday and spares the life of a turkey. The little ceremony ends with those concerned gathered around the bird, petting and stroking it. Remarkably, it's the only routine presidential appearance I'm aware of where he exercises his power to grant mercy. Of course for every bird to receive a presidential pardon, millions more are sacrificed. And that brings me back to my point - plenty and punishment are two p's in a pod.

We live under a regime of consumption called capitalism. The imperative is to expand. This is well understood. One aspect that might need a little more attention is not expansion as embodied in economic growth, but expansion in time. Feasts of consumption like Thanksgiving and Eid last but a day. Oktoberfest lasts sixteen days. Capitalism however fills almost the entire calendar. Thanksgiving requires the sacrifice of a single bird. Capitalism requires a continuous flow of victims, many of them human.

The creation of excess these days takes many forms: it's not just limited to buying things and using them, and there's more to it than waste and unwanted by-products. It's also the creation of works of art and the construction of monuments. At its most basic, it's idleness; at its most malevolent, war.

This gets me to the point of my post here. It comes from something I've noticed in discussions of economic and social issues like pollution, global warming, and unemployment; issues that arise out of the excesses of capitalism. What I've noticed is how easily and unquestioningly sacrifice is accepted as though it is a part of the plan. Sacrifice is there in the denial of global warming or the dismissal of concerns over pollution or untested technologies. Sacrifice is there in the contempt for the poor. It's there wherever economic expediency trumps concerns over the welfare of living things.

Sacrifice has long been part of spiritual practice, a way to satisfy the gods' taste for burnt flesh. Maybe today it's the ever extending reach of the market's invisible hand we are placating. For me, these gods are too greedy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cambodian Controversy

Here's the opening paragraph in an article from the Asia Times a few days ago:

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC plans a new exhibition on Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, but it is uncertain if the American secret bombing of the country, which some analysts say helped the radical Maoists come to power, will be included in the presentation.
Some analysts say? I've read quite widely on that period of Cambodian history, and I'm pretty sure I've never come across a writer claiming that the bombing played anything but a helpful role to the Khmer Rouge. Julie Masis, the author of the article, returns to this question near the end and states again that there is some controversy over the bombing and even claims that it may have postponed the eventual victory of the Khmer Rouge. Significantly, no one who espouses this is quoted or even named, though Ben Kiernan, probably the foremost expert on Cambodia in the English speaking world, at least, is mentioned saying that the bombing drove Cambodians into joining the Khmer Rouge. From '65 to '73 there were some 2.7 million tons of bombs dropped over Cambodia by the USA. This is about as much as all the bombs dropped by the Allies during WWII. It's not quite clear whether Cambodia, Laos, or Vietnam can claim to be the single most bombed nation in history. One of them certainly can, and they are all in the top three. Even these days, about once or twice a week, someone in Cambodia is killed by UXO - unexploded ordnance - suddenly and lethally exploding.

So how does a massive bombing campaign help a ragtag bunch of communists sitting in the jungle?  The numbers of Khmer Rouge fighters grew under US bombing because it disrupted the lives Cambodian peasants who, unable to carry on as normal, entrusted their children to them. They fed, clothed, housed, and educated these children. They also turned them into an army, the same army that marched into Phnom Penh. Without the US bombing, the Khmer Rouge may well have remained an obscure collection of intellectuals exiled in the jungle.

An exhibition of the period in the Holocaust Memorial Museum, in America for Americans, which makes no mention of the bombing would be a travesty.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance of Bums Past

My memories of Remembrance Day go back to elementary school when classes were suspended and we were marched off to the gym and shown grainy film of WWI. We were also exhorted to 'remember' the sacrifice of soldiers who died decades before we were born. There was also a somber minute of silence at exactly eleven o'clock. My mania for counting can't compare to that of the Marquis de Sade, but reflecting now, my habit of taking pause to carefully note the passing of repeated numbers like May 5th, 5:55:55 PM may well date back to our observance of Remembrance Day, and is an idiosyncrasy I remain in thrall to still today.

Another memory from the same period is visiting the larger towns and cities in Southern Ontario. Compared to my home life in countryside, there were many differences of course and one that stood out was the presence of older men, dishevelled,  drunk, loitering in the streets and often panhandling for change. Bums and winos is what we called them. Years later, I came to realize there was another word for these men: 'veterans.' They undoubtedly had experienced the horrors of war, and had failed to overcome them once they returned to civilian life. Strange that we went to such trouble to remember, almost to the point of worship, men who sacrificed their lives in battle. It was all rather vague, like the graininess of old battle footage; even the dead were abstracted to the personage of the unknown soldier. All the while those who had sacrificed their sanity and their place as respected members of society went ignored, stigmatized and scorned.

With the war in Afghanistan continuing today, here's at least one venerable Canadian tradition the government seems determined to preserve.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Claiming the Mantle of Victimhood

After an election there are losers. Be on watch for those claiming the mantle of victimhood. It's never too far from the surface of things. Here's a short excerpt from a long novel of 1997, Don DeLillo's Underworld:

In the bronze tower we used the rhetoric of aggrieved minorities to prevent legislation that would hurt our business. Arthur Blessing believed, our CEO, that true feeling flows upward from the streets, fully accessible to corporate adaptation. We learned how to complain, how to appropriate the language of victimization. Arthur listened to gangsta rap on the car radio every morning. Songs about getting mad and getting laid and getting even, taking what's rightfully ours by violent means if necessary. He believed this was the only form of address that made an impact on Washington. Arthur recited lyrics to me once on the company plane and together we laughed his wacko laugh, those enunciated ha-has, clear and slow and well spaced, like laughing with words.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Universal Apocalypse

Halloween 2012 seems an auspicious date to inaugurate this blog. The Day of the Dead, after all, marks the opening of a door to another world. Something spooky and occult is called for. I don't intend to use video as a rule, but the following video is short enough and rich enough in meaning to make it a worthy exception.

It is of course the logo of Universal Studios, one of Hollywood's biggest outfits, owned by NBC which in turn is owned by GE. It's fair to say that anyone who watches movies will be familiar with the 21 second footage. It's the first thing shown as the feature begins, and, with its dramatic visuals and stirring fanfare, it's likely to have just as memorable an impact on the viewer as the feature itself.

The video opens with a "close-up" view of the eastern tip of Siberia from outer space, and over the length of its 21 seconds, more and more of Asia, Africa, and Europe is shown from further out in space. Finally, the western hemisphere is shown, the point of view stabilizes, and the video ends.

So far, there's not much spooky or occult happening here. But the surface of the eastern hemisphere bears a closer look. Raindrops of light, it seems, the size of cities, advance over half the globe. As the camera focuses over the western hemisphere, the effect stops, the raindrops disappear, and the surface of the American continents are left unmarred be any sort of disturbance.

Is this an apocalyptic scene of semi-global destruction? This was my interpretation, and apparently I'm alone in the way I'm viewing it. The comment section of YouTube, usually a home to all manner of kooks and contrarians, indicate nothing but the positive feelings of excitement and anticipation that the logo evokes. Wikipedia and other such corners of the internet were much the same, to my surprise.

Admittedly, a world enveloped in mushroom clouds would be a less equivocal depiction of the apocalypse, universally recognized for what it is. I have to counter though, that to recognize raindrops as mushroom clouds is not absurd, and that the shape of a splashing raindrop is akin to the shape of an upside-down mushroom cloud, and of course that in the unconscious mind, according to psychoanalysis, the two opposites are freely interchangeable.

That's my take on the matter, and though I'm a little perplexed that nobody I've found has commented on the fact that this entertainment giant sees fit to whet our movie-going appetites with a such a scene, my biggest concern is "Why?" Why would Universal Studios use this half-hidden depiction of destruction of at least half the world to introduce their movies? Is that not spooky?