Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mind Controlled Robots

Just when you thought the cautionary ending of Battlestar Galactica was too hokey comes word from japan scientists have developed a device that can translate simple thoughts into instructions for a robot:
Opening a car trunk or controlling a home air conditioner could become just a wish away with Honda's new technology that connects thoughts inside a brain with robotics.

Honda Motor Co. has developed a way to read patterns of electric currents on a person's scalp as well as changes in cerebral blood flow when a person thinks about four simple movements—moving the right hand, moving the left hand, running and eating.

Honda succeeded in analyzing such thought patterns, and then relaying them as wireless commands for Asimo, its human-shaped robot.
All right, so it is a long way from a slave race of robots developing self-determination and a sense of social justice over time, but do consider what such technology could eventually lead to. how much do you trust a warped mind controlling a robot? The military applications alone, which I imagine many would find appealing at first glance because of the lack of our boys getting killed, are chilling.

Yes, I know. I always see things through cynical lenses. These robots could help the handicapped, rescue people from hard to reach environments, etc. Remember how many tragedies have been excused with a, "It sounded like a good idea at the time."
The Federal Guide to Depression

In a ca its continuing effort to serve the needs of the people, the government has offered up a list of indications the economy just might be causing you anxiety or depression. Here is what the feds came up with:
1.Persistent Sadness/Crying

2. Excessive Anxiety

3. Lack of Sleep/Constant Fatigue

4. Excessive Irritability/Anger

5. Increased drinking

6. Illicit drug use, including misuse of medications

7. Difficulty paying attention or staying focused

8. Apathy - not caring about things that are usually important to you.

9. Not being able to function as well at work, school or home.
While I cannot generally think of anything the government does I wish it would do more of, I have to say this was a great service. But it merely points out the problem. To be a true government service, it should also point out ineffective and excessively expensive solutions to those problems guided by a 3,000 page manual and at least three times as many bureaucrats.

As a small government, free market conservative, I believe private citizens ought to come up with their own solutions in order to resist government intervention. With that in mind, I offer up my own solutions on how to assuage your anxiety about the economic downturn.

1. Think of Barack Obama as Jackie Robinson.--Everyone feels so good about Robinson breaking the color barrier they forget he was he was a mediocre baseball player at best. Like they say, ignorance is bliss.

2. Dream about Christmas.--it is less than nine months away and since you probably will not have a job, you will not have to worry about angering Jesus by exchanging expensive presents on the day that is actually a pagan holiday of Winter Solstice.

3. Count the number of investors jumping off the roof.--For added fun, guess which will hit blue cars and which will hit red. or foreign and domestic, if you are feeling patriotic.

4. Sing “Mr. President (Take Pity and the Working Man)”--Repeatedly.

5. Get a Hobby--Preferably a cheap one, like tracking the spending habits of speculators who made off like bandits before the market collapsed.
I hope these suggestions help brighten your dreary day.
Every Light in the House is On

In spite of claims to the contrary, time stamped photos of climate change guru Al Gore's mansion show his lights where on during Saturday night's Earth Hour.

I guess we are not all going to die in an apocalyptic global warming catastrophe after all. that is what you get for listening to people who think sitting in the dark is a sign of enlightenment.

Remember the general rule of thumb: take the opposite position of whatever Al Gore stands for and you can sleep soundly at night assured you have done the right thing.
Michelle Rodriguez Loses It in Mexico

I am one of the few people who liked Michelle Rodriguez as Ana-Lucia on Lost. Critics disliked her snarling, ball busting ways, claiming she plays that sort of character in every single role. I have often wondering why they neither acknowledge she is good on playing those kinds of roles because that is the kind of person she actually is.

Case in point:
Actress Michelle Rodriguez says she's human and does "animalistic" things when people push her buttons.That's her explanation after blowing up at a reporter in Mexico City.Rodriguez was in Mexico for the premiere of the latest version of the movie "Fast and Furious." Television footage showed her arriving at the airport Thursday in a wheelchair and dark glasses.When a reporter approached her, she jumped up, shouted that she was sick and had to be held back as she lashed out at the crew.At a news conference Friday, Rodriguez did not apologize or explain why she arrived in a wheelchair.
See what I mean?

Monday, March 30, 2009

WBC: God Hates Britney Spears

Westboro Baptist Church, the embarrassment to Christianity which has organized 40,000 “God Hates F*gs” protests since 1991, plans to branch out and protest the April 2nd Britney spears concert in Kansas City Missouri. According to their press release, the church believes Spears seeks regain custody of her children in order to eat them. One assumes that is a symbolic warning, but with these fevered minds, who the heck knows?

Westboro Baptist Church’s homophobic paranoia has lead them to claim various national tragedies such as the loss of the space shuttle Columbia and Hurricane Katrina were the result of the united states tolerance of homosexuality.

The claims have not attracted suitable attention, so the church began picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming their deaths were the result of the armed servicemen defending an apostate nation. Inexplicably, the church also targeted the funerals of Heath Ledger and Natasha Richardson.

The most peculiar part of the entire sordid affair is the church lists spears’ latest hit single "Womanizer” as a motivation for the picketing, not because she has publicly smooched Madonna or is a gay icon. They seem unaware the latest Spears single is actually “If U Seek Amy,” a play on the "F" word. It would not stop them from looking like fools had they used that song as an example instead, but still. Their research department is obviously not on the ball.

Here is a photo of a bikini clad Britney Spears celebrating her children being placed on a rotisserie off camera.
Cat Fondles Boobs

Just to break up the heady subjects of religion and politics that have been dealt with here lately.
Predictable Politics as Usual

If you think it is odd I have very little to say about political developments as of late, understand my mindset. From January 2008 until the day of the election, I constantly posted every shred of evidence I could conjure up proving Barack Obama’s political inexperience naïve liberalism would make a potential Obama Administration a disaster right out the gate. So the only thing I can honestly say is, “I told you so.”

I loathe to do that, if for no other reason than I would rather not have others rubbing it in when the shoe inevitably goes on the other foot. Such respect is not always forthcoming, but the moral high ground is mine. That has to be worth something.

The good news is America is bigger than any one person, even an egomaniac like Obama. There are already rumblings from former supporters expressing concern over Obama’s amateur policy ideas. Obama has never been one to take criticism well, so either he is really going to blow it and become an empty suit due to lack of support or his party is going to jerk him back. Either way, conservatives win. We either get a neutered Obama or the intellectual bankruptcy of the Pelosi/Reid Congress laid bare for all to see.

If so, that means a good 2010 and 2012. There is not much Obama’s supporters can do about 2010. When it comes right down to it, a Congressional landslide means an army of anonymous novices from the opposing party win. How can you swat that many unknown flies this early in the game? But the 2012 swat down is on. Already, there have been attacks on the potential GOP frontrunners Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal. Some have taken pot shots at Mark Sanford out of the blue just in case. There has even been some reverse psychology, such as praise for Mike Huckabee’s show on FOX in hopes he will stay there rather than go on the campaign trail.

All that static is to be expected, although it is surprising to be occurring this early. I take it as assign Obama may suffer a party challenger for 2012 the way pat Buchanan hounded Bush 41 or Ted Kennedy went after Jimmy Carter for the nomination in 1980. Fitting, considering Obama is neck and neck with Carter for most incompetent president of the last half century.

The bottom line is covering all these happenings is coma inducingly boring at the moment. I knew it was going to happen and cannot see why I should go through the motions of pointing out the inevitable results.

UPDATE: Democratic strategists: Sarah Palin is the new Rush Limbaugh.

UPDATE II: Mark Sanford does not care about poor children--especially if they are black. (From a Jamaican newspaper, no less.)
Family Guy Tackles Born Again Christianity

I tuned into Family guy tonight because the plot of Stewie kidnapping the cast of Star Trek: the Next Generation was hyped to the gills all week long. The cast’s appearance turned out to be a subplot with predictable jokes. I never even cracked a smile at even the geekiest attempts at tickling my tuckus.

Family Guy has been on the decline for a while now. I imagine overextension of the creative team is partly to blame. They have been pumping up the unfunny American Dad concurrently with FG while prepping a new fall offering, The Cleveland Show. but that is not the only problem. The show has fallen into self-parody. Tonight, Stewie and Patrick Stewart got into the old joke about pronouncing a hard “H” in Wil Wheton’s name. last week, Lois fell and injured her leg. She clutched it and groaned in pain much longer than a scene would reasonably go on. That was an homage to a peter joke dating back to 1999 or 2000. I forget exactly which.

As if the recycled jokes were not bad enough, tonight’s episode fell into preachy mode over religion yet again. I will confess it sneaked up on my. I thought the Stewie kidnap plot was going to be the whole show. I am curious if the advertising campaign was designed to give that impression. At the point when it becomes clear Meg is going to be the central character, Peter breaks the fourth wall and apologetically assure viewers no one will blame them for changing the channel. It is more likely the running joke about Meg being unloved, but considering the main plot, who knows.

Meg contracts the mumps because Peter and Lois never cared enough to have her immunized. She is stuck in bed for a week with only one television channel to watch. She becomes hooked on Kirk Cameron’s Way of the Master series. If you have not had the (dis)pleasure, Cameron and New Zealand evangelist Ray Comfort discuss topics like how the perfect shape of a banana for holding in your hand is proof of intelligent design. Unfortunately, that is about as good as the show gets. Meg becomes hooked on it nonetheless.

Family Guy has tackled conservative Catholicism on numerous occasions and has made general jokes on Christianity itself, but I believe this is the first overt of born again theology. Interestingly, the family is open to Meg’s newfound beliefs even though they are never supportive of Meg in anything. The family even turns on Brian who reveals he is an atheist. Meg targets Brian for conversion, eventually turning the whole town against him by revealing his lack of belief.

Brian pretends to relent when he is banned from the liquor store, but reveals his true colors to Meg when he refuses to take part in a book burning. He convinces her to give up her beliefs, too, by questioning whet her a benevolent God would make her so awkward, ugly, and unloved. Meg finally decides he must be right.

I am a conservative Christian, but still very difficult to offend. I have to be attacked personally by an authority I respect before I get upset. So I do not particularly care if some kid with a nose ring and an iron Maiden tee shirt says religion is stupid. I am not bothered by the intelligentsia attacks from the likes of Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. Nor am I bothered by the satirists somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. They all probably have a legitimate point or three in there somewhere. The trick is to separate the wheat from the chaff without having some kneejerk response.

Upon reflection, there was not much wheat here. I assume Way of the Master has its fans. I am not one of them. I find the ministry very simplistic and often dishonest. You cannot evangelize with a ‘turn or burn’ message, either. While I thought the book burning scene was extreme, it was meant to be satirical. Satire requires exaggerating a point to be funny. Many Christians of the fundamentalist persuasion chomp at the bit to torch The Origin of Species, The God Delusion, and Letter to a Christian Nation. I am not bothered by either of those critiques.

It was Brian’s argument to Meg that got me. It did not anger me, mind you. It was more a “good grief” moment. I am completely baffled why imperfections in the world are used as an argument against God by the same type of people who claim the perfection of heaven would make it boring. Somehow, these are taken together as both intellectual and non-contradictory at the same time. What is it supposed to convince people? That Earth is bad because it is not like heaven and heaven is bad because it is not like Earth. Oh, and there is no God because of this.

Family Guy is slipping on the satire, too, I guess. Its first two critiques about born again theology were much more spot on than its coup de grace. Atheists have been going around and round about this for centuries without much to show for it, so I guess I cannot be too surprised they fumbled the intellectual ball yet again.
Mila Kunis

I am about to rip into last night's episode of Family Guy. It was Meg centric, so I thought it would be nice to present the beauty behind the voice of Meg. I was not a big fan of That '70's Show, but Kunis was certainly a jewel on the occasional episode I did see.

I had no idea she was born in the Ukraine. You learn something new and completely useless everyday.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Christian v. Atheist YouTube Drama

While searching YouTube for apologetics material for my on going series of essays on why I am a Christian, I have discovered YouTube drama is, in fact, real. Video bloggers literally post responses to one another arguing over he said/she said high school level drama while their subscriber bases take sides. It is an anthropological curiosity if you know how to find. There might be a more pathetic soap era going on in some, but I have not bothered to look beyond the atheist v. theist crowd. You will not find any decent arguments among the bloggers, but it is entertaining nonetheless.

I may have just lucked out on my first shot. I discovered an atheist named Fakesagan was having a dispute with another atheist named Capn)Awsesome. Fakesagan challenged Capno to a boxing match. In response, Capno slept with Fakesagan’s fiancé, recorded it, and then distributed the sex tape online. I kid you not, the entire atheist community took sides and hashed the situation out on their blogs for everyone to see. Bear in mind all parties were in their mid to late twenties and supposedly enlightened intellectuals.

I am not going to link to any of this. You can find it easily by searching the above screen names if your morbid curiosity gets the better of you. You should only watch if you need confirmation civilization is truly crumbling around our feet.

But I am going to link to some other videos and I think you should watch some of these. Once I got bored of the sex scandal, it dawned on me if the atheists will battle themselves in such a manner, what must they do to the Christians? To my surprise, I found the entire atheist community centered all its ire on one apologist. His name is Venomfangx. Here is his channel”channel.

He only has 27 videos up right now. There used to be many more, but because of YouTube drama I will elaborate on in a minute, most of them have been taken down by Venomfangx himself. I am not recommending you watch any of his videos, either. You can if you want to see the quality of his thoughts, but I have to warn you he is a deeply disturbed kid.

I have watched several of his videos which caught my eye. In particular, I watched his “Why I Am a Christian” video for obvious reasons. Venom is ethnically Jewish, became an atheist at a relatively early age, and converted to Christianity when he noticed Jesus had fulfilled old Testament prophecies about the messiah. He then got into feverish apologetics on YouTube.

I use the term feverish deliberately. Venom claims to be 22, but he goes at apologetics with the immaturity of the sixteen year old he actually looks like. At first, I only noticed this from his channel. He is blatantly dishonest about many things that could best be described as sins of omission. For example, he defines Biblical slavery as indentured servitude and ignores the versus in which slavery of other races was permitted in Mosaic Law. I can give him the benefit of the doubt there. Perhaps he just does not know all he thinks he does.

I was troubled just watching Venom just being himself. I picked up some things from my experience with people like him at Regent University. He is a very sheltered kid. He shoots his videos at various points around his house. You can see he lives in opulent surroundings that he clearly does not leave often. I am not just talking about the fact he has watched over 70,0000 (?!) videos in the span of less than three years. It is his worldview. He has no empathy, no ability to connect with others, and views his “enemies” in absolute, often conspiratorial form.

Nothing is allowed to get through him, either. He does not allow star ratings, deletes all critical comments, and does not allow video responses. But—and this is part of his dishonesty I mentioned above—he has edited responses in the past and added them into his videos to form a debate. As you can imagine, his opponents have often accused him of creating, then tearing down straw man arguments from they originally said.

But I did not know all that until I started looking at some of his opponents’ videos and realized how many of his argument videos he ha deleted over time. This atheist named G0at is less acerbic than most in explaining why Venom’s lack of integrity has ended al possibility of further debate. Others were not so kind in giving him the kiss off.

But G0at is just the very beginning. Looking at other atheists’ channels, I discovered deleted Venom videos spliced into theirs which were grossly disturbing. Obviously, it is difficult to piece the whole situation in proper sequence, but at some point, Venom falsely filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act violation against another user who threatened to sue him for perjury under the Act unless he received a public apology. Venom made the apology and explained all his actions in this video. If you do not watch anything else I have linked, watch it. The apology is only four minutes and Venom is forced to lay himself bare in it.

It was after he humiliated himself by revealing all his wrongdoing that atheists began their pile on in earnest. This is also the time of his mass purging of videos and their resurfacing by his atheist detractors. I will give some credit where credit is due. Several atheists spliced in videos which consisted of literal emotional breakdowns on Venom’s part and genuine apologies for the brutal attacks over the years which had brought it on. Venom is clearly a damaged kid.

For me, the killing blow was this playlist Why Everyone Hates You, Venomfangx. it is the biggest compilation of clips from deleted Venom videos on YouTube mixed in with a psychoanalysis of questionable accuracy. You can judge its quality for yourself, but witness the troubling antics. Venom does often seem delusional. He makes callous claims of how people deserve God’s vengeance, but never His love. Watch how many times Venom dresses up as his favorite superheroes and villains in order to discuss topics relating to apologetics. He clearly has a personality disorder bordering on the sociopathic.

I am not sure why I decided to write about all this. I do not want to attack him. I think he is pitiful, in fact. His extreme beliefs and aggressive demeanor have certainly isolated him. I have to assume his parents are still Jewish, so there is probably a rift there, too. He has admitted loneliness in at least one of his emotional breakdown videos. Yet he lacks any ability whatsoever to connect with others.

It bothers me that he has become the poster boy for apologetics on YouTube. He is an easy target for all his weaknesses covered above. Other Christians are afraid to jump in the ring because he has damaged things so much. He does not know it and neither do many of the more fundamentalist types I have gone to school with over the years. I guess I am bringing this up to say, because of my apologetics past and surroundings, there but for the grace of God go I without better grounding.
Scientology Slavery of Katie Holmes

Here is a photo of Katie Holmes and her bodyguard out and about on Thursday. Looks like a happy camper, does she not? Scientology must be working wonders for her.

Evidently her appearance is being controlled by husband Tom Cruise and a Scientology advisor named David Miscavige to full publicity benefit of the church. I am not sure how she slipped out of the house with that beaten down look on her face, particularly when I am certain that bulldog guarding her is attached to Scientology himself.

A big part of her new image is rumored to be the dangerous Purification Rundown diet.. the diet was created by noted dietitian L. Ron Hubbard, so you know it is good, right?

Here is the kicker. Hubbard designed the diet to clear out toxins that inhibit conception. Cruise is putting his wife through the ordeal because he refuses to admit he is shooting blanks. Come on, you know he is. Suri does not look anything like him.

The worst part is Holmes has lost 22 pounds off her already thin frame. She was too weak to even attend the Oscars. Yet quackery rolls on unabated.

Here is a photo of Holmes in better times:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Reese Witherspoon's Monstrous Problem

Reese Witherspoon has lent her voice to the new DreamWorks movie, Monsters v. Aliens. Witherspoon joins the likes of Kiefer Sutherland and Seth Rogan to play stereotypical characters. Sutherland plays the tough as nails, Buck Turgidson military man, Rogan plays the slacker, stoner guy he is in every film, and Witherspoon dutifully plays the dutiful potential trophy wife who comes into her own in a bit of outdated feminism.

To be more specific, Witherspoon is a sheltered housewife and small town news reporter who gets flattened by a meteor on her wedding day. The accident turns her into an homage of Attack of the 50 Foot woman, a very early, ”I am woman, hear me roar’ offering of the science fiction genre. Susan wants nothing more than to return to her old life, but she is taught by her fellow monsters to appreciate what she has become.

The plot gets cooking when Susan comes into her own by defeating a giant robot bent on destroying San Francisco. She becomes a celebrity and quickly learns what a cad her husband is when he rejects her for being more appreciated than he. Prior to this, he assured her they were a team, but that was only true when he was in charge and she was In his shadow.

All right, I will grant you there is a retro feel to the movie. In addition to Susan as the 50 Foot Woman, the other aliens were icons of ‘50’s and ‘60’s science fiction films The Fly, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Mothra. But did they have to go all the way back to the ‘50’s for their equality argument, too? Women are not choosing between marriage and careers these days. Why do we have to convince kids watching this movie they are?

It is not really about feminism or girl power. The other monsters are constantly impressed with Susan because she does not, well…throw like a girl.

I am not surprised such a script would appeal to Witherspoon. she has spent her life in the public eye trying to hit just the right balance between what is expected of her and whatever the heck she has wanted to do herself. She has wound up being awfully hypocritical in the process, which is what happens when societal expectations are unnatural.

She has done nudity, but now refuses to and criticizes actresses for taking their clothes off much too willingly. She has blasted Jessica Simpson for promoting the dumb blonde routine after earning $ 20 playing one twice in the Legally Blonde series. It is not just about proper feminine roles, either. She buys her kids only one or two Christmas presents a year as a statement against commercialism. An odd for a woman demanding up to $ 30 million a movie, the latest of which is more about selling toys, apparel, and fast food premiums.

Here is the problem; men like nudity, women like to use sex, including the idea they are dumb and need protection, to manipulate men, and kids like getting lots of toys at Christmas. It is the natural order of things. No holier than thou attitude will change that. You will only wind up with egg on your face trying. Or, in this case, accepting a script for a meandering mess of a movie that cannot find a clear message to send.

The message, such that it is, of Monsters vs. Aliens it is still just as hypocritical as Witherspoon’s positions have always been. While Susan does eventually find acceptance with her family, the other monsters do not. They save humanity by defeating the aliens, but their actions are unappreciated by the rest of humanity. Any notion this is a film that teaches kids being different is okay flies out the window in a hurry.

So what have we learned, kids? Women are still stuck in the ‘50’s, being different is very, very bad even when you do the right thing, and Reese Witherspoon signed off on it all with her sanctimonious, hypocritical self. Presumably when some other actress does the same thing, she will finally offer up some rationale in her denouncement of the other actress’ actions.

I am still madly in love with her, mind you.

(NOTE: Part of The Other McCain's Ruke 5 Sunday.)
Earth Hour is a Misguided Concept

Tonight, from 8:30-9:30, the entire planet is urged to turn off all lights as a symbol of solidarity in the fight against global warming. Over 3,900 cities in 84 countries have pledged to participate, including landmarks like the Great Pyramid at Giza and the Eiffel Tower. Advocates of Earth Hour are even offers lists of suggestions for what you can do in the dark that hour. Interestingly enough, the most obvious was omitted. We will take a headcount in nine months and see if Earth Hour celebrants figured it out for themselves.

I am not big on global warming hysteria. It reminds me too much of past gloom and doom warnings about overpopulation, Cold War nuclear annihilation, and the global cooling predictions of the ‘70’s. I chalk the whole movement up to bad science, charlatans cashing in, and people desperate for a holy cause to believe in that does not require moral restrictions.

The last point is the one that gets me. Science is forever eliminating bad data and improving on its findings. Charlatans will always cash in and the wisest among us always see through them. Such things have been going on since the beginning of time. I suppose people devoting themselves to an empty idea has, too, but that has certainly been more destructive than the previous two.

Does it make sense that with every economic and social problem we face, and enemies both external and from within, there are people who prioritize battling nature over tackling any other issue? There are way more important things to be doing than fretting over the one degree fluctuation of the Earth’s average temperature over the decades.

How about instead of shutting off these marvelous technologies in some apology which will fall on Earth’s deaf ears, we celebrate how those technologies have improved the way of life for humanity? Are we too immersed in self-loathing over carbon footprints and other such nonsense to celebrate how far from barbarism we have come as a species? Heaven knows as barbaric as we still are, there is no reason to manufacture more sins for us to feel guilty about.
Donna Noble to Return Christmas?

Take this news with a grain of salt, but the source is the Doctor Who forums, a place where a surprising percentage of the rumors to out to be true.

The production staff will be filming at the Noble's home on April 6-8. Neighbors have been asked to put up Christmas decorations in their windows as a favor to the production. It was well known the Christmas special was being filmed, but not known that Catherine Tate might reprise her role as Donna Noble.

There were some ambiguous hints she might return. Her arc ended on a tragic note as she returned to her humdrum life completely unaware of her time in the TARDIS. there was a gleam in the jewel of her ring as the Doctor departed which fans interpreted as a hint she still unknowingly possessed some connection to the Time Lords. still others believed she was the one who retrieved the master's ring from his funeral pyre, so she is in possession of his essence.

So the filming rumor could be wishful thinking on the part of somefans, a happier ending for Donna, a way for the Master to return, or something else entirely. That narrows down the possibilities, no?
Maggie Grace

Long legged Maggie Grace is gone from Lost, but not forgotten.
Caturday

Because Geico is finally phasing out that annoying gecko mascot of theirs.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Planet of the Dead Air Date Revealed

The Doctor Who Easter special Planet of the Dead will air April 11th. No time has been announced, but it has usually been 7 PM in the past. here is the synopsis from the BBC's press release:
When a London bus takes a detour to an alien world, the Doctor must join forces with the extraordinary Lady Christina, in this one-off seasonal special. But the mysterious planet holds terrifying secrets, hidden in the sand. And time is running out, as the deadly Swarm gets closer.

Planet Of The Dead features David Tennant as the Doctor, Michelle Ryan as Lady Christina and Lee Evans as Malcolm and is written by Russell T Davies and Gareth Roberts.
I am unenthusiastic, to tell the truth. Davies is one of my least favorite series writers and he is just phoning it in until Steven Moffat takes over next year. It is Moffat and Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith who have all the attention right now. davies would have to come up with something wild and fantastic to drum up enthusiasm. I do not believe he has.
Muslim Insecurity Prompts Anti-Defamation Resolution

The United Nations Human Rights Council today passed a resolution urging countries to pass laws protecting religion from criticism. To be fair, the resolution, like pretty much everything else the UN passes, has less authority than a student government bill, but it demonstrates clearly the mindset of the Council and much of the world.

The UNHRC has feverishly promoted anti-Israel and pro-Islam policies. This particular resolution is aimed specifically at protecting Islam from criticism. It was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of all Muslims. If you can get passed the irony of Pakistan serving on a human rights council in light of their human rights track record, you should still have a problem believing Muslims have a serious concern about religious tolerance for any religion besides their own. You know, with all that eventual slaughtering of the infidel and the Jew as dictated by Sura 2; 191.

I am a devout Christian who has no problem with anyone questioning or even bashing my religion. If you honestly believe your beliefs are the absolute truth, you ought not to be terrified for it to be attacked. It should be able to stand on its own merit. Demands that a certain religion or any belief for that matter be given special protection from scrutiny reveals an insecurity on the part of its followers and casts doubt on its truth.

The final question I have goes for anyone attempting to protect their beliefs in this manner: what are you so afraid of?
Jennifer Love Hewitt in a Bikini

Yesterday saw Scarlett Johansson go from preaching comfort with with voluptuous curves in 2006 to twig thin in 2009. now have a look at Jennifer Love Hewitt, even more famous for urging young girls to appreciate their alleged imperfections showing off her skinny bikini body shortly after touting a new diet plan in a recent magazine cover article.

The two starlets either shared an epiphany resulting in personal growth or regression mixed with a liberal dose of hypocrisy. You should decide which to believe on your own.

The photo can be greatly enlarged if you wish to examine it further. Solely to help you decide the previous question, of course.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism

This may seem like an out of the blue post, but as I have just randomly discovered new information I am embarrassed I do not know previously before ranting numerous times on the subject, it bears mention. I have incorrectly attributed social Darwinism to Charles Darwin himself, but i have been incorrect. It is a common error, but an error nonetheless. All errors need to be corrected with all due speed.

Edward Spencer was a Victorian biologist and early social philosopher. He was a rival of Darwin's. His theory of evolution preceded Darwin's own, but was soon overshadowed because of the absence of an effective theory of natural selection - although it was Spencer, and not Darwin, who popularized the term "evolution" itself and coined the now-ubiquitous phrase, "survival of the fittest". Although no longer influential in biology, his extension of his theory of evolution to psychology and sociology remains important.

Here is the difference. Darwin’s theory of evolution states that organisms will pass on genes and traits that will aid in the survival of the species. In other words, a species will progressively improve to adapt to its environment. Spencer unfortunately took that a step further and applied it to social policy. He urged the government of England to not aid the poor and disabled as those two groups wre unfit to live and holding back the advancement of the human race.

When you hear anyone like national socialists, eugenicists or murderers like the Columbine gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, use social Darwinism or survival of the fittest as a justification for their actions, you have Spencer to blame, not Darwin.
Was It Luck or Guile?

A Japanese man has become the first to be declared a survivor of both atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
A 93-year-old Japanese man has become the first person certified as a survivor of both U.S. atomic bombings at the end of World War II, officials said Tuesday.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi had already been a certified "hibakusha," or radiation survivor, of the Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bombing in Nagasaki, but has now been confirmed as surviving the attack on Hiroshima three days earlier as well, city officials said.

Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip on Aug. 6, 1945, when a U.S. B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He suffered serious burns to his upper body and spent the night in the city. He then returned to his hometown of Nagasaki just in time for the second attack, city officials said.
Talk about tough. You can never trade sob stories with this glow in the dark fellow, either.
ACLU 1 Disabled Children 0

It is nice to know somethings never change. the ACLU is right where it usually is--the wrong side:
The American Civil Liberties Union won its fight against disabled children Wednesday when the Arizona Supreme Court struck down a state program that allowed special needs kids to use vouchers at private schools so that they could receive the best educational opportunities. ADF attorneys joined attorneys from the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe last year in submitting a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a Christian school in defense of the voucher program, which was upheld by the Arizona Court of Appeals.

“The ACLU, People for the American Way, and the teachers’ unions have denied disabled children the educational opportunities they deserve. They are the ones hurt by this,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Special needs students who attend Christian schools shouldn’t be penalized for their beliefs.”

“Any tuition that goes to a religious school is through the choice of the parent and for the benefit of the child. It is not ‘state support’ of that school,” explained Orrick attorney Raymond Mullady, who co-wrote the friend-of-the-court brief. “We truly disagree with the high court’s decision and are saddened by its consequences for Arizona’s special needs children.”

John and Dina Phipps and Brendan and Susan Fay, founders of Father’s Heart Christian School for the disabled, removed their developmentally and physically challenged children from the Arizona public school system because of the inadequate education they received there. Two of the children suffer from autism and the other from learning and physical challenges.

Upon receiving the customized instruction they needed at Father’s Heart, their behavior and participation improved remarkably and their academic performance rose several grade levels in just one year after leaving the government school system. The children receive vouchers through the Arizona Scholarships for Pupils with Disabilities program to attend Father’s Heart, but Wednesday’s decision from the Arizona Supreme Court effectively kills the program.

Cave Creek Unified School District board member Virgel Cain, the ACLU, People for the American Way, a number of teachers’ unions, and others filed suit against Arizona State Superintendant of Public Instruction Tom Horne to challenge the constitutionality of the voucher program.
Meanwhile, CAIR is teaching public school kids about Islam with nary a word spoken from the ACLU. But a handicapped child needing a boost for a better education? It cannot be tolerated!
New Global Currency Proposal

I do not have much to say about it other than I imagine the Premillennialists have probably been feverishly updating their Potential Antichrists list over the last few days.

Come to think of it, the New World Order true believer folks probably have their panties in a wad, too. You would be surprised how much there is overlap within the two groups. They should not fret much. Every Freemason I have met did nothing but drink beer and talk about college football. There is no way these guys are running the world.

Then again, considering how the entire planet is going down the toilet, maybe they are pulling the strings after all.
Scarlett Johansson as a Redhead

Scarlett Johansson is not as voluptuous as she used to be. In fact, she has gotten waif thin. has she, like Jennifer Love Hewitt, reversing her previous attitude on body image?:
“I try to stay fit and eat healthily, but I’m not anxious to starve myself and become unnaturally thin. I don’t find that look attractive on women and I don’t want to become part of that trend. It’s unhealthy and it puts too much pressure on women in general who are being fed this image of the ideal, which it is not.

“I think America has become obsessed with dieting rather than focusing on eating well, exercising and living a healthy life. I also think that being ultra-thin is not sexy at all. Women shouldn’t be forced to conform to unrealistic and unhealthy body images that the media promote. I don’t need to be skinny to be sexy.”
It happens to the best of them, no?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lost--"He's Our You"

It looks like we are going to get a bit of a nostalgia trip from the Oceanic Six members with flashbacks dealing mostly with their rationales for returning to the island. Tonight was Sayid’s turn. Before now, I never noticed the parallels between his life and Ben’s, but there was a big effort to reveal such tonight. What is interesting to me was the emotional manipulation regarding how I was supposed to feel about the two of them at various times.

We are still in 1977 on DHARMA Island, Sayid is still a prisoner under suspicion of being a Hostile, and Sawyer is still walking a fine line between preserving his new life and helping his friend. Ssyid is something of a new creature now. He is much more unsure of himself than ever before. His purpose in life has certainly been shattered, first by Nadia’s death and, as revealed in one of the flashbacks, Ben’s dumping unceremoniously him after he has assassinated everyone on this mysterious list of Widmore operatives.

Sayid apparently tries to fill that void—he is probably trying to redeem himself, as well, by joining a Peace Corps type organization. It is there in the Dominican Republic he encounters Ben again. Ben puts it in his head that being a killer is what he does. It is a part of him. He is certainly manipulating Sayid, but something in it definitely triggers response. Their conversation sets Sayid on the path to rescuing Hurley from the mental institution, but not to go back to the island. So we know Sayid was arrested for murder and wound up on flight 316 with an ax to grind about Ben. It pays off in a big way when the 1977 Ben turns out to be Sayid’s salvation.

At least we thought that way. The opening scene is a flashback to a young Sayid being forced to kill a chicken by his abusive father. Not too long after, we find young Ben being abused in front of Sayid’s cell by his father. It is interesting both Sayid and Ben were evidently gentle souls a children, but were turned hard, first by their fathers, then harsh twists of fate.

Here is the manipulation I mentioned. I was sympathetic to Ben when he was being pushed around by his father even though he is the villain of the story. At the same time, I found myself completely unsympathetic to Sayid as he was about to be interrogated by some DHARAMA witch doctor or some such. Not that I advocate torture, but I saw it as poetic justice considering Sayid’s past life. He really is in need of redemption.

He does escape with the help of Ben. He also finds his purpose in returning to the island by shooting the boy. He is clearly upset by the act, but he is ironically agreeing with the older Ben from their meeting in the Dominican Republic. I cannot say for sure whether Sayid thought he was changing the future for the better or sparing Ben the kind of dark life we all know he went down, but either way, Sayid seemed to think killing Ben was his destiny.

For the record, I suspect Faraday is correct about not being able to change the future. Ben will probably be healed by the island as Locke has been on multiple occasions. The healing might even be the catalyst for his eventual ascension to leadership. He and Locke always appeared to have a connection. Perhaps that is it.

Judging by next week’s preview, the rift between the Lostaways stuck in 1977 will be addressed, so I will wait for then to dive into that issue more fully. So far, I have been uneasy with the reunion. I have not liked Jack’s drug and alcohol problem evidently affecting him to the point his aptitude test relegates him to janitor. Why is Hurey still the odd man out? Even Juliet expresses fear he will blame about who they really are. To top it off, Sawyer’s manipulations, basically lording his new position over the others, is a step back for the character. In order for me to believe a woman like Juliet would fall for him, he would have to have grown some in three years. He has not. The situation has a bad vibe.

I cannot end with noting the DHARMA people mentioned calling Ann Arbor to decide what to do about Sayid once he revealed the entire truth under drugs. They were referring to the DeGroots, the founders of the DHARMA Initiative. They are apparently people willing to deal with problems harshly. so much for the DHARMA Initiative being all about utopia.

Rating: *** (out of 5)
Brown Adviser: "Cut UK Population by Half"

Jonathon Porritt, one of Gordon Brown’s primary advisors, has suggested the population of the United Kingdom must be reduced to thirty million in order to control the country’s carbon footprint. For perspective, realize the current population of the United Kingdom is sixty-one million and is expected to swell to seventy-one million by 2030. Its population has not clocked in at thirty million or less since Victorian times.

Porritt will make his call public this week at the annual meeting of the Optimum Population Trust, of which he is a patron, this week. The group has advocated rigid family, abortion rights, radical immigration reform, and the “stop at two” policy for British parents. A call to chop the United Kingdom’s population by more than half is a new, more radical step in their effort to balance the country’s population with some environmental ideal.

The OPT is similar to the famous Club of Rome, a group also concerned with the issue of overpopulation, in its gloom and doom predictions regarding the impact of population growth. In 1972, the Club of Rome published Limits to Growth, a low rent love song to Thomas Malthus. Economists and philosophers have criticized the book from the beginning for the insufficient evidence supporting its thesis. Since mankind did not plunge into cannibalism by the mid-‘80’s, one can only assume critics of The Limits of Growth were on to something.

Not that it stopped The Limits of Growth from being updated periodically with the same junk science. The latest edition was published in 2004 with no apologies for its failed predictions over the previous thirty-two years. No government taken the book or the CoR seriously, so I doubt the OPT will fare any better. I am curious to find out exactly how they plan to get rid of thirty-one million people. It would be impossible to do that through family planning alone. Some would have to be *ahem* disposed of.

I suspect the OPT will ultimately suffer the same fate and turn just as blind an eye to its perpetual failures. The OPT is as much flawed in its research methods, reasoning, and public policy initiatives as the CofR was nearly forty years ago. Hopefully, they will remain relegated to the realm of loopy academics and new World Order conspiracy theories were they belong.
Nigerian Scams and Barack Obama's Economic Policy

I never noticed the similarity between the famous e-mail scam and Barack Obama's economic policy until I read this "leaked" e-mail.

Heh.
Perception and Body Ideal

It is no secret magazines alter photographs of even the world’s most beautiful models and celebrities in order to create an “ideal” body type. I place ‘ideal” in quotes because of my different strokes for different folks philosophy. I am unable to define an ideal type within my own tastes and think everyone else should be less rigid, too, since we are killing ourselves trying to hit an imaginary mark we believe we are all supposed to be on.

I use the word imaginary deliberately. Most of these photo edits present an anatomically impossible presentation. But last night I ran across a comparison between a real photo of a model and the edited version actually used on the magazine cover. Take a look at the two side by side before reading any further and see if you draw the same conclusion I do:The real photo is more attractive. The changes in the edited version make no sense. They made her lips fuller, smoothed out the shadows around her cheek and jaw, removed the crease under her left arm, removed a barely noticeable mole off her upper arm, and gave her an arch in her back that looks painful. All for what?

Most of the changes were incredibly petty. If you vision of beauty can be destroyed by a random crease here or mole there, good luck have finding a happy, well adjusted relationship. The real danger here is the message her voluptuous body type is somehow bad. It has to be given a few unnatural curves in order to make up for the imperfection? I certainly do not agree and not because coat hanger thin models are a dime a dozen but because I do not want to encourage then to become a penny a dozen once every woman decides she needs to be just like them.

I do not know who establishes what we are all to think is officially sexy, but I want them to knock it off.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Scary Thought

Considering the priorities of the American public, is the real reason Barack Obama's approval ratings are dropping is because he keeps preempting American Idol?
Here's Waldo!

It is not too often I get to participate in the so called blogging community since I rarely link to other bloggers. I am much more of a news junkie and a recluse to boot. But I appreciate every link I get, even if I am often flypaper for lunatics.

Occasionally, a blogger goes above and beyond the call of duty and unfortunately, because I rarely check any statistics beyond Sitemeter or Google, their dedication may go unnoticed for months. My conscience is duly tormented by this sad fact when I do get around to periodically playing with Technorati only to discover a months long extravaganza of linkage I never noticed before. Such dedication cannot go unrewarded.

Hence, I present Waldo Lyndecker’s Journal. Waldo does not like Christians, cannot understand why I post provocative female celebrity photos instead of being down with "teh ghey," is upset with the speed of my Doctor Who news, believes 5,000 years of jurisprudence is completely irrelevant, has never heard of random esoteric discussions and wishes I would hug Mother Earth in proper environmentalist fashion.

I do enjoy getting under someone's skin in the way I have old Waldo's here. After all that, the least I can do is offer enough links to his blog in return for all the attention.
The Plan Trailer

If you watched the Battlestar Galactica finale Friday night, you have already seen this trailer for the Cylon-centric television movie, The Plan, but here it is anyway for the sake of completion.

There appears to be some dispute as to whether the movie takes place prior to the miniseries or prior to the series, which means it probably covers multiple time periods the way the previous television movie, Razor, did.

Regardless of the time frame, the plot revolves around the major Cylon characters and how they deal with the human survivors in the wake of the destruction of the Twelve Colonies. Evidently, survivors were not part of The Plan.

Edward James Olmos, who directs from a script by Jane Esperson, has said the movie will cast the series in a different light. Fans will want to rewatch the series afterwards to see how the Plan fits in. We will have to wait at least until June to find out if the claim is hype or true. The DVD will be released then. It will not air on television until November.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why I Am a Christian I

What I Believe

The best place to start is always the end, no? Before I start to explain why I am a Christian, I need to tell you what makes me one. The following will be mostly narrative, spilling it all out there, with no argument yet. If you finish reading it and are chomping at the bit to challenge me on something, hold off. I will get to an argument defending it at some point in the near future. Then you will be frothing at the mouth to do so. Both of us will have a better time at that point.

I believe in salvation by grace through Jesus Christ. I do not believe it is a complicated process, nor do I find any need to be ceremonial about it. In order to gain salvation, you have to admit you need, accept that Christ paid the price for your salvation, and accept him as your Savior. If you were sincere, you cannot lose your salvation. I have doubts anyone is beyond redemption.

There is the concept of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as an unpardonable sin, but that means continued unbelief of someone who never accepted Christ at any point. It is unpardonable in the sense that it is too late once you are dead to receive grace. See John 3:36 for what the unpardonable sin means today versus what it meant while Christ walked the Earth in Matthew 12:23-32.

The reason I went ahead and mentioned the unpardonable sin is because I do not like to get into petty doctrinal arguments which result in one Christian branding another a heretic. The accuser may be right based on circumstance, but I am skeptical there are many doctrinal differences beyond rejected salvation by the Son of God that would prevent salvation. One might face stiff judgment when it is all said and done, but that is not up to me.

I say all that to note that I am not going to list any further doctrinal issues I believe. My belief in the Trinity or thoughts on the Rapture are not within the scope of why I am a Christian, but issues that came up afterwards. Just accept for now nothing I have ever encountered in studying Christian theology ever caused me to lose faith. Relevant examples will come up later where appropriate

On a personal level, I received Christ when I was five. My minister came to my house one day read John 3:16 to me and asked if I believed it. I said I did, we prayed, and I was saved. I suspect it is as simple as that, but growing up around a more conservative branch of Christianity, there was a Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God vibe constantly guilting believers into multiple altar calls out of fear your salvation did not quite stick.

I resisted the urge to participate anytime a minister or guest speaker asked, ‘If you died right now, are you certain you would not go to hell?” because I had always believed in the simplicity of receiving salvation. It was a part of my spiritual growth to learn over time very few denominations were so aggressive with parishioners. But before that could happen, I pulled aside a particularly good speaker at a school chapel in 1993.

I was sixteen and certainly much wiser than I was a five. It seemed like a good idea to make certain I was saved since I understood what being a Christian meant much better eleven years after “becoming’ one. Whether I needed to renew my vows, so to speak, is a debatable point of my maturity the first time around. This renewal, necessary or not, involved what has been called the Romans Road rather than just John 3:16 as when I wasa child.

The Romans Road was encapsulated in my first sentence, but for the sake of completion, but for the sake of completion, Romans 10:9-10: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Nothing more, nothing less.

Christianity is a way of life, too. There is a certain moral code one ought to follow. Man has a sinful nature he will never get rid of in this life, so a Christian will forever stumble. Black sliding is a bad thing, but I believe always forgivable. Sin is a touchy issue and one I do not want to touch on a whole lot right now. Believe me, I will talk about morality in subsequent posts to the point you will be sick of the idea. Just take for now that while immoral behavior by Christians be punished in some way or another, I do not blame the behavior on Christianity itself. Later on, I will discuss Christian interaction with the world. This last point will be much clearer then.

For now, in the broadest sense, this is what you need to know to see where I am coming from.

(All previous posts are here.)
Why I Am a Christian

Introduction

About twelve years ago, I developed an interest in Christian apologetics. My interest was spurred on by the arrival of the internet in my life. For years, growing up in a small town in the Bible Belt South, there was not much opportunity to meet people who had opposing viewpoints or even many who could explain their own with any degree of accuracy, for that matter. My first real introduction to diversity of thought was entering college at the University of South Carolina in 1995. Even then it took a while to stop being closed off to other ideas.

You cannot blame me. I had not only spent my life exclusively in a small town, but I was educated from elementary through high school in a Christian school heavily burdened with the theological leanings of Bob Jones University. It is not much of an exaggeration to claim the beginning, middle, and end of the theology I learned was all about Bob Jones himself. There were mentions of other theologians, like Martin Luther, but big details were kept out, such as Luther’s rabid anti-Semitism. But I did not know that at the time.

The most dangerous person around is the one who knows just enough to get in trouble. Mine started when I first logged onto the internet in 1996. Back then, the World Wide Web was the wild frontier, full of message boards and chat rooms populated by hordes of people with opposing viewpoints, hardly any of which I had ever heard straight from the horse’s mouth, battling away with each other. The people who fascinated me the most were the atheists. I knew I had a calling to convert these poor heathens.

I made an obnoxious jackass out of myself for months. For one, I was overly aggressive. After all, atheists were the scourge of the world because they secretly worshipped the devil, drank the blood of Christian babies. Or something likes that. Why be anything less than contemptuous, right? You have probably already figured out the second point—I had no clue what I was talking about. I did not even know my own religion, much less what anyone else thought about it. So I started digging into Christian thought. I admit, I was reluctant to do so. My old school had ingrained in me paranoia about false teachings destroying my faith.

The details of that journey are important right this moment. Suffice to say, for four years, I kept apologetics up as a devoted hobby. I never lost my faith or had it even particularly challenged. Truth be told, I began to feel cheated by my decade long BJU indoctrination. Very quickly, I began to cast off fundamentalism for a more spiritual grasp of Christianity. The thought would have terrified me five years previously.

In the middle of all this, I read Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian. The book had been touted as a classic in the converting Christians into atheists. I was unimpressed. The book turned out to be a collection of essays Russell had written explaining his objections to Christianity. There was no cohesion between them. He did not really build an argument so much as critique some moral standing here and praise Thomas Paine for writing the The Age of Reason. The only way one could cast off Christianity after reading the book would be to be predisposed to convert to atheism to begin with.

I followed the path to The Age of Reason and soon figured out most other people who read Why I Am Not a Christian had, too. Thomas Paine’s objections to Christianity are clearly laid out. You do not have to read it, either. Just do a Google search for atheism and you will see the standard line regurgitated over and over again. For a bunch of self-described freethinkers, they do love towing a party line.

The interesting part of all this is, while there are mountains of apologetics books responding to The Age of Reason, I never found a published argument for why someone was a Christian. There are plenty of testimonials out, yes, but they all speak on a spiritual level. What I mean by that is they generally follow a pattern of how the author came to faith, usually after something tragic happened, and rarely delves into anything beyond a Sunday school level of theology. Considering my criticism of Russell’s effort as an unconvincing collection of personal opinion, I guess they were similar in style.

At that point, I started gathering together material for a web page attempting to combine apologetics and personal experience into one narrative like I had wished to see myself. Life got in the way and I had to scuttle the project for eye surgery, a long recovery, and three years of law school. It was law school that nearly killed the idea completely and not because of time constraints.

I have grinded my axe about Regent University enough that I do not have to spell out specifics here. Suffice to say I thought if the desire to become a lawyer was burned into a Christian’s mind, he would have a certain intelligence, maturity, and edginess. I was wrong. With very few exceptions, I discovered sheltered, immature, children who had no clue what the real world was all about at best and ignorant, judgmental bigots at worst. Again, it was not everyone, but it was enough to cause me to reexamine my religious beliefs.

I had and still have little to no desire to engage in apologetics with atheists any longer What I developed wasa need to look internally. I was no longer the guy who blindly accepted BJU theology like I did in high school. Now I discovered there were Christians whom I did not like because of their beliefs even though I felt comfortable with the spirituality of other Christians. In other words, I needed to figure out where I stood. For me, rubberstamping something Christian is no longer automatically acceptable. You have to prove to me you are right, mostly because I just might have a difficult time imagining the afterlife as heaven with you in it.

With that in mind, my original vision is reborn. There are caveats, of course. I am neither a theologian, nor a prophet. While I will quote sources and link to them when available online, this is just me talking. I am not trying to change your attitude if you are a Christian who disagrees with me. I am not trying to convert anyone who is not a Christian, though if I help facilitate a change for the better in anyone, yay me. If you want to comment on, question, or criticize anything, feel free. But, as I said above, I am not looking for debate. I am reallyjust throwing my thoughts out for public consumption.

Here area few housekeeping notes. I have mapped this out like a cross country road trip. I know I am going to start in Los Angeles and end up in New York. Along the way, I want to stop in Chicago. But other than that, it is going to be a let us see what happens adventure. I am not going to post these on any set schedule because I want each segment to be done as thoroughly as possible without any time constraints.

Fret not, I suspect the Spirit—literally—will move an a fairly regular basis. I am also going to link all subsequent segments to this page so that if someone comes in late and is interested, he will not have to dig through tons of posts to find the rest.

What I Believe
Arguments for the Existence of God
Man Arrested for Feeding the Homeless

I rarely find myself on the same side as the ACLU, so it is an event worth noting when it occurs.

a man was arrested over the weekend for violating an Orlando city ordinance which forbidsfeeding the homeless in groups larger than twenty-five. This good Samaritan fed thirty. While the city has agreed to not enforce the ordinance until the suit to determine its Constitutionality, brought by the ACLU, has been settled, police arrested the man on a trumped up charge of concealing his identity.

Forget that. They were enforcing the ordinance with plausible denial. But that is only a minor worry in the grand scheme of things. The big deal is Orlando has outlawed human compassion, probably for some stupid reason like preventing the homeless from loitering or some such. we are doomed as a civilization if many people think that is a good idea.
Kaley Cuoco

Just because.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jade Goody (1981-2009)

I critiqued OK Magazine earlier this week for announcing reality star jade goody's death before she actually passed away from terminal cancer. She quietly passedaway in her sleep over the weekend.

It was still tacky to tack on a death date of 2009 before she succumbed, however.
First Look: Tritovore

The BBC has released new promotional photographs for the Doctor who Easter special, "Planet of the Dead." Most are unremarkable photos of David Tennant and Michelle Ryan, but there was one photo of the new alien villains, the Tritovore, which I have posted above.

Some fans have already claimed the Tritovore are an homage to the Metaluna from This Island Earth:If it is a homage to anything, it would have to be Vincent Price as The Fly:I have my doubts it is an homage to anything. Rather it is just a weird alien to entice kids to watch the show.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Battlestar Galactica--"Daybreak, Part II"

It has been a heck of a four years for me following Battlestar Galactic. I imagine within a day or two, I will write more about how various plotlines have engaged me and situations that occurred in my life at the time, but that will be for later. Right now, I have to praise the fine ending of what may be my favorite science fiction show. At the very least, it is right up there with Deep Space Nine, a show also guided by Ronald D. Moore.

I like shows that carry a story arc through the entire series. But I am often concerned how all the threads will be resolved in the end. There is such a great temptation to wait and tie up everything in the final episode. Watching such a finale is almost like sitting in front of your television, marking off closure as you see. Russell T. Davies final episode of Doctor Who suffered from that. He had four seasons worth of storylines to wrap up and characters to dispose of. Some of those characters showed up for the first time in two years, said a few lines, and rode off into the sunset. Too trite for my tastes.

I did not have that fear with BSG. Lingering questions had been answered steadily over the last ten episodes and while many remained, they were answered at a satisfying pace within the series finale. Admittedly, there were some moments which could have been corny if handled by a lesser writer, but Moore pulled it. I even got choked up a few times.

As an overall observation, I thought there was a good mix of dark cynicism and a bittersweet, but overall happy ending. Last week’s episode was the culmination of the fatalistic dread that hung over the survivors sense discovering the earth they were looking for had been destroyed by a nuclear war two thousand years prior. If the human race was reaching its end, they wanted to die for something: rescuing Hera. Salvation eventually comes both for the little girl and humanity.

As far as rescuing Hera, that was pure science fiction geek nirvana. They went all out on the CGI for the dogfights, but I was particularly impressed by the Cylon Centurions. Watching the original versions from the ‘70’s series battle the updated rebel factions allied with theColonials was a hoot. It was a nifty homage the original series.

I will confess part of the rescue mission was one of things I thought could have been corny if done by a lesser writer. Baltar decided at the last minute to join the mission after feeling like a coward for refusing to go last episode. It was even stranger for him to agree to be a foot soldier. To top it off, he is the one ultimately saves Hera. But by the end of the finale, I realized it was all right because the show was largely about him. He was responsible for handing over the defense plans of Caprica which enable the genocide in the first place. By the end, he had redeemed himself and come full circle by becoming the farmer he resisted being in his youth.

I do not want to get ahead of myself here. Once Hera was rescued, there was a sense the refrain, ‘All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again” nearly came trueas the Final Five offered Cavil resurrection technology in exchange for an armistice like in the First Cylon War.. The plan went awry when Tory’s murder of Tyrol’s wife came to light and it all ended in a firefight in which Cavil and his troops were defeated. Galactica warps free thanks to jump coordinates that match the notes to “All Along the Watchtower.” It sends humanity straight to our Earth.

On another geek note, that means this BSG paralleled the original more closely than previously thought. In the original series, they encounter a planet they believed to be Earth, saved it from a nuclear war, then discovered it was not the real Earth. Here, they discover the real Earth has been destroyed by a nuclear conflict, then discover our Earth. Or at least, they dub it Earth in honor of the home they were originally looking for.

So there is the key point of BSG. Humans from the Twelve Colonies arrived on our planet 150,000 ago, decided to spread out in homes of not repeating the same mistakes of the past, and gave it the name earth. A lot of fans guessed that might happen along the way. it worked , even if it was predictable.

It was the final sequences of the survivors and Cylons going their own way that got me choked up. No scene was more touching than Adama taking the dying Roslin up so she can see the entire planet. She succumbed during the flight. Adama buried the woman he loved and sat alone on a hill gazing at his new home.

I want to take some remaining points in bullet bites. There are the longstanding questions that were finally settled.

One, the in head Six and Baltar were messengers from God, guiding humanity and the Cylons. In that sense, the monotheistic Cylons were correct were correct all along. God had been guiding events from the beginning. As a Calvinist, I applaud the idea. However, with the humans and Cylons spreading out to colonize Earth, all sorts of religions will pop up. I guess that means Moore as the attitude that all paths lead to the same God.

Two, the opera house dream shared by Roslin Sharon, and Six was prophetic, but not sinister as previously believed. Six was actually carrying Hera to safety, not kidnapping her as thedream turned into reality.

Three, Hara Thrace was an angel leading everyone to Earth. The prophecy she was the harbinger of doom referred to her old self who died back in the third season. Her corpse was discovered on the irradiated Earth. She disappeared. She disappeared while walking in a field with Lee. I took it as an allusion to Matthew 24;40: “ hen shall two be in the field, the one shall be taken, and the other left,’ a reference to the Rapture.

Four, I am unclear as to who the dying leader who would take them to earth was. Roslin, Kara Thrace, and Galactica itself all make sense. Maybe that was the point.

Finally, I was a bit perplexed by the in head Baltar and Six traveling to the modern day in order to speculate on whether we are going to make the same mistakes as before. Namely, are we going to build a slave race of robots who will eventually become sentient and rebel? The final sequence of the latest robotic technology being demonstrated hints we might. Gotta love that fatalism.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)
Caturday

Because this is probably the last time I can legitimately use a Battlestar Galactica themed Caturday.

*Sniff*

Friday, March 20, 2009

Public Affairs, Journalism Now Entertainment Venues

There has been a lot of gnashing of teeth over Barack Obama’s joke last night on The Tonight Show comparing his bowling skills to a Special Olympics event. It was a tasteless joke period, but more so for the president of the United States to utter in passing. This is not the first time he has inappropriately insulted someone in public—recall the Nancy Eagan talks to the dead joke—and it certainly will not be the last.

I am permanently disabled myself, but have few inhibitions when it comes to jokes, so I am personally not offended. My filly Sarah Palin, mother of a developmentally disabled child, fired what was probably the first shot in the 2012 presidential race by critiquing the president for his flippant joke. She has more credibility about this than I do, which is to say I have none, so I bow to her insight on the issue.

Obama’s appearance last night on a late night talk show brings up two other questions which I think are more important. One, does he not have better things to do and two, why is the president going on a show like that in the first place?

The first question is general to the point of being practically meaningless. The fact he has taken time out to appear with jay Leno just gives the appearance of Nero fiddling while Rome burns when it probably does not matter a whole lot in reality. But when you add up his incompetence in recent days, such as filling out an NCAA bracket, failing to vet his Cabinet choices, and losing track of stimulus money, he really does not need to be engaging in such a frivolous distraction on purpose.

That leads me to the second question and a sad realization about the answer. Said realization is more about the American public than the presidency. We have become so hooked on the necessity of everything being entertaining, including public affairs, the line between entertainment and serious business is blurred to the point of nonexistence.

I thought about this last week when the Jon Stewart versus Jim Cramer sparring match caught everyone’s attention. If you watched the heated exchange, you cannot have missed the irony of Stewart, on a fake news show, pounding Cramer for not digging enough into the root cause of the current financial downturn. The kicker is Stewart showed clips in which Cramer, off his show, was being much more academic in his financial advice than the wild persona he has on the air.

In other words, a fake journalist is being a real journalist by exposing a real journalist as a fake. The saddest part is the rest of journalism world marveled at Stewart without the slightest hint of irony that Cramer’s failures are also theirs. When was the last time you heard a journalist ask a really tough question? When was the last time journalists had enough credibility for people to pay any attention to? No wonder the public switches off the news and seeks out who just got voted off American idol instead.

It is also no wonder politicians have to visit entertainment venues to get anyone’s attention, then. It is still a sad commentary in all aspects of our culture. People are obsessed with being entertained, journalism is dead, and public affairs is reduced to the president gabbing with Jay Leno about his bowling score.
The Death of Tasha Yar Music Video

Here is the last of my character-centric music videos for Star Trek: the Next Generation, at least for now. I just cannot bring myself to make for Wesley. It would either be too corny or too cruel. Frankly, Wil Wheaton has suffered enough without me getting some jabs in. Do a search on YouTube for his character’s name sometime. You will see what I mean.

But this is about Tasha Yar. Denise Crosby only stayed on the show for twenty-two episodes. The official line is she was upset at her lack of screen time. I can buy that line, all things considered, but there was an awful lot of whitewashing of controversies going on throughout Trek production of trek, from Grace Lee Whitney’s sexual assault in the ‘60’s to personal conflicts between Kate Mulgrew and Robert Beltran on Voyager. Paramount ran such a tight ship on the franchise (pardon the pun), it is difficult to determine if what you hear is urban legend or the best possible way a bad situation can be spun.

I believe the Tasha Yar character was badly misused. For one, it made little sense she was the security chief as opposed to worf. That was a last minute change, as Crosby originally auditioned for Troi’s role, but impressed Gene Roddenberry so much, he wrote Tasha Yar for her to play. The counselor’s role would have made more sense for her. She was orphaned young, possibly sexually assaulted at a young age, and most certainly full of anger. If she had channeled that anger into a devotion to helping other deal with their emotional pain, it would have provided for a more complex character.

What we got instead was an angry woman who channeled her anger into violence. We were not thirty minutes into the pilot before she karate kicked one of the bailiffs at Q’s show trial apparently just for the sake of doing so. She was also supposed to be the sex kitten. I daresay she is most famous for her drunken sex with the android Data. The act would have been tasteless under normal circumstances, but consider her remark to Data afterwards that drunken sex does not count, her past history, and the fact their intimacy was used for emotional effect in ‘The Measure of a Man” and as a laugh line in First Contact, no one seems to realize what poor taste it was in.

Except Crosby. She does not strike me as one who had “gone Hollywood.” I doubt she really felt like she could be a bigger star if given more screen time. She left the show to star in a movie with John Ritter, for heaven’s sake. The “next big thing” would not make acareerchoice like that. I am certain she left because she was insulted by her character’s direction.

As proof, I would offer that her return in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” was as a tragically heroic character and her subsequent role as Sela was much more well done than Tasha Yar ever was. Sela never got a really good send off. She should have gotten a send off in the final season like Lore or at least appeared in Nemesis. Not that Nemesis did not have many, more glaring flaws. But that is an argument for another time.

Here is the music video edited from Tasha Yar’s final episode, “Skin of Evil.” Considering how I feel about the misuse of the character, it is difficult to muster much emotion about her death. Her random death solely to amuse an archetypical perfectly evil villain was supposed to emphasize space was an incredibly dangerous place, but it came across as absurd. She was neaninglessly killed by a talking oil slick. No heroic sacrifice whatsoever. Even the funeral scene rang hollow. You hardly knew shefelt so connected to the crew and even if she was, you wondered how that could happen since they had all been together only a few months at the time.

Just because I have little emotion for her death and funeral does not mean others feel the same. Therefore, I went for a somber, ethereal tone. I chose “Sanvean” by Lisa Gerard. She is more popular in Europe than in the United States, save for goth kids for some inexplicable reason. Gerard is what Enya could be if she knew how to write lyrics. Right now, that is an ironic statement, since “Sanvean” is a chant in a fictional language accompanied by music, but you get the idea.