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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 30

Scott Van Pelt Fired Back At ESPN Haters
No cable and reading books all the time? Sounds like heaven to me.

Sean Parker unloads on Facebook “exploiting” human weakness
It’s not called Faceborg without a good reason.

Vegetarian Men Are More Depressed – Are Steaks A Treatment?
It might not be a bad idea, but I’m sure there’s more involved.

The New York Times and the “Lost Cause” of Bolshevism
Just about every macroeconomic system is doomed to failure, because of the calculation problem and because humans are perpetually imperfect creatures, but the history of Bolshevism in all its forms is one of the worst legacies of elitist materialism. No need to “look back” on it. Let it die. Related:

How Zero Population Growth Works
One of the most useless beliefs I’ve come across. No one can stop people from having babies, ever.

A couple’s fight in the middle of an airport just went viral and we have a new hero.
The whole story sounds fishy, almost as bad as the one Julia Price made up.

The Radix Fidem Forum is Live

Happy New Year.

I started the Radix Fidem forum with some help from Ed. It’s more or less an online church community; a very long-term project set at a simmering temperature for now.

It’s an oddball concept, for sure, but a church that “exists” online can’t be the weirdest thing you could find on the Internet.

#MeepToo

Hollywood and celebrity culture are Satanic dumpster fires in dire need of wiping off the face of the earth, despite producing a few good movies here and there. I have doubts that all of the #MeToo claims of harassment are all true (thought plenty of them aren’t necessarily related to celebrities but upper-level executive-types), especially considering how bad the predatory lawyer and litigation culture has become.

But let’s assume that all, or even most, of the claims are true. What does this mean? One thing is that men are incurably horny and are good at abusing power. That’s something most of us know already, historically. Another implication is that a lot of women are terrible judges of character and social situations—as in, epidemically, atrociously, terrible.

If both of these statements are true, there are large-scale, much needed, and very obvious and very uncomfortable social implications that we are actively ignoring. I’ll leave it to the reader to assess what they are.

Two Reasons the Film “9” Was Good, One Way It Could’ve Been Better.

2 and 1 from the film “9.” Get it? Because in this post there are two reasons I like the movie, plus one suggestion that would’ve made it…nevermind.

Spoilers, etc.

“9” came out on 9/9/2009 (heh), and was somewhat overlooked because the director, Shane Acker, was a no-name nerd, and although Tim Burton was a producer, his name wasn’t prominent enough in the pre-prod. The film does come off as Burton-esque, and part of its unappeal to some audiences was that it couldn’t decide if it was for kids or adults. It’s got animated dolls (Stitchpunks) and action, but it is about the end of humanity, and a lot of the action is violent, and the way the dolls get their lifeforce sucked out is the stuff of nightmares.

1. The protagonist characters that die, stay dead. Their bodies remain intact, mostly, but most writers would have the living Stitchpunks try to find a way to reinsert the lifeforce back into the bodies, which would be the Scientist’s actual solution. Instead, they are dead for good, though their souls are still intact, per the Scientist’s design.

2. 1 isn’t killed by the rest of the Stitchpunks but “redeems” himself. 1 comes off at the antagonist in the group, but he sacrifices himself for 9 in accordance with his life philosophy. I put “redeems” in quotes because he didn’t require redemption since he’s actually the main protagonist in 9. We’re groomed to think 9 is the good guy because we’re introduced to him first and he has a generally likable innocent personality, while 1 is has those narrow, unforgiving eyes and dresses like a Catholic Bishop. Based on this alone, who would you root for? Yet, 9 starts off by getting 2 killed, then arrives at the sanctuary and continues putting everyone in destructive situations—something even 9 himself admits. 1 is trying to keep everyone alive and safe, and now he has to put up with an over-curious interloper who puts everyone in danger. Wouldn’t you be something of a dick like 1 is?

3. 9 should have stayed a mute. When 9 wakes up in the Scientist’s apartment, his voice box mechanism isn’t set correctly, which was fixed soon by 2. Having him designed to be silent would’ve been a part of a great plot element, where all of the Stitchpunks hold a different part of the Scientist’s (therefore, future humanity’s) soul. They already are very different, personality- and ability-wise, so the effort to massage that into the story be so hard.

Speaking of Subverting Things, Periphery’s “The Way the News Goes” Subverts Metal Videos

I posted a link to this video in one of my Links of Possible Relevance before, but watching it again recently, it struck me how non-rock-or-metal-live-show-as-video it is. Consider how most of these types of videos go:

  1. There are multiple cameras, usually far back near the house’s soundboard, side stage, or in the photo pit
  2. Quick edits—shots normally do no linger long and tend to be jerky
  3. The lighting is brighter than in normal performances, with less shadows and color
  4. The fourth wall is rarely broken
  5. Sometimes tour footage or backstage is included
  6. Very few special effects

Each of these conventions are ignored in this video, especially #4 at the very end. Drummer Matt Halpern’s wave and smile is decidedly very non-metal, too.

Your Natural Physical Limits

I’m not a bodybuilding expert but this comment left on a subbreddit called “Natty or not?” sums up the state of commercial and professional bodybuilding and fitness. Look after the quote for some defined words that may be unfamiliar to you.

Everyone you will see online selling you a workout supplement or program (both of which are nearly useless), or is a pro athlete, especially if they are vegan, is probably on some drug or another. Committee testing for drugs is mostly a show for legal reasons; there are many ways they can be effectively passed while still being on loads of drugs:

Being short doesn’t mean you can be bigger and still be natural. Also, “I work out for 20 years so of course these massive canonball delts at sub 7% bodyfat are natty, along with my 200 + lbs. at 5’10” frame” is also bullshit. These are just justifications for the fake natties. No “routine” is going to make you “huge” in 10 years. You probably believe that BetaDestiny YouTuber who claims to have 10 inch wrists and is “lean as fuck” at 176 while being the same height as a sack of potatoes. LOL

You’re going to get as big as you’re going to get — that’s it basically. Working out a “special” way is bullshit. Just workout and keep at it and you’ll reach a limit whether or not some bullshitting guy on juice sells you his “secrets on how to break plateaus and get huge as fuck while being ~5% bodyfat and natty” or whether you just work hard. Don’t be the guy that regrets making that decision. There’s no “secret” to getting “huge” or “big” while staying lean — it’s just called drugs/PEDs/whatever you call it/etc.

There’s no special routine — no secrets — no magical training regimen. The reason why all lifters buy in to this bullshit is because they’re natural and don’t know any better. They think that they will unravel some “insider info” and grow. They aren’t too big because they’re natural — and nothing but drugs will make big improvements like they want/think they can get.

Short or tall, the same rules — for the most part — apply to almost everybody because there are just unfortunate limits to how big you’ll get regardless. Only an idiot thinks being “short” means you can excuse guys who are big and lean and discredit them as potential fake natties/liars/etc.

As for the guy in question: typical starter kit/noob/test boy/etc. He’s basically done/does some stuff. He doesn’t look too big because he’s only 16 and not blasting or running anything too heavy. He could even be using high dose SARMs, which you can get results on for less than $100 a month.

juice – usually any kind of steroid or muscle-building chemical
fake natty – someone who claims to be natty but obviously isn’t
natty – a non-steroid user
PED – performance enhancing drug
plateau – when a lifter reaches a limit of muscle-building or strength
SARMs – selective androgen receptor modulator
test – testosterone or steroid test (depending on context)

Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Subverts the Star Wars Universe, Makes Me Use Two Colons in This Post Title

Spoilers ahoy!

A lot can happen in a fictional universe in two and half hours, and director Rian Johnson took the opportunity to subvert a lot of the established narrative rules of the Star Wars franchise. Monumental things happen in interpersonal relationships, while large-scale events are drawn out with explicit detail. Granted, this happened in previous Star Wars installments before—the three-way between Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine, while the Endor shield generator and Death Star II space battles raged on in Return of the Jedi comes to mind—The Last Jedi turned the idea into a best practice. Scenes where solemnity is expected, Johnson hands you flippancy; where you expect easy answers to questions raised by The Force Awakens, Johnson generates another question while mostly dodging the original. Whether this is a desirable turn of events is in the eye of the viewer, but it’s clear that Johnson steered the franchise’s narrative style in a different direction.

Cinematically, Johnson’s style and design vocabulary is top notch and his camera shots were impeccable, and he really shined at expressing the impact of large-scale scenes (the hyperspace destruction of the pursuing First Order fleet was an awe-striking tableau). In congruence with the meta-theme of subversion, there’s lots of unorthodox angular shots and upside-down or reverse-lateral perspectives—techniques not found easily in standard issue sci-fi/fantasy films. I found it a smidge more preferable to J.J. Abrams’ lens flares and trucks-and-pans. The action moves too fast for some of these techniques to be admired, so while Johnson’s aesthetic could be on the level of Denis Villeneuve’s, we’re not allotted much time to breathe it in.

Much could be said, and probably is being said, about the shoehorning of women leaders into the franchise. Johnson’s view of the role of women in power is rather narrow, and though it’s not nearly on the scale of George Lucas’ blatant sexism against men in using millions and millions of male clones specifically as obedient cannon fodder for the Clone Wars story arc, it’s still just as egregious. The two Resistance female protagonists in power, Princess/General Leia and Vice Admiral Holdo, both come off as annoyed mothers-in-law than effective leaders. Leia slaps Poe Dameron for disobeying orders, in front of the entire crew, instead of something less humiliating like a one-on-one chastisement in private. Granted, Dameron was open and unapologetic in his rebellion, but the impetus is on Leia, as his superior, to handle the situation properly. Holdo is so terrible as a substitute captain, both professionally and in her personality, that she inspires a successful mutiny against her and her commanding officers—though she more than redeems herself later on. Rose Tico, though just a mechanic and not a commanding officer, henpecks and finger-wags Finn, and is at the helm of a goody two-shoes, baffling “rich people are mean and hurt animals” narrative subplot that consumes about 20 minutes of screen time. The message is implied but rather clear: women, especially women in power, are tactless bitches*.

J.J. Abrams was listed as a producer in The Last Jedi‘s credits, and is slated to direct the next Star Wars episode, number 9. It remains to be seen how Abrams will tie together Johnson’s unraveling threads of the Star Wars franchise.

* Perhaps ironically, the best woman leader in the most recent two Star Wars films is Captain Phasma. Though she had to uphold some pretty nasty First Order protocols, she never did anything reckless or inappropriate to her position. Her dealing with Finn’s disobedience was more in line with effective leadership that what was seen in the Resistance leaders.

Recipe: Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes

I’m posting this here for my own benefit, because I make these a lot and can never remember the recipe. But more importantly, since the original site that holds this recipe, like most cooking sites, is stuffed to the gills with browser-crippling ads. I’m a stickler for giving online credit when it’s warranted, but I’m not even going to pay that site the respect of a link back. #bahhumbug

1/2 cup sweet potato
2 eggs*
1 tbsp coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon**
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp vanilla
coconut oil

  1. Microwave/bake/boil potato(s) until mashable. You can cut them into quarters and stick them in the fridge to speed up the process. I like to microwave them with the skins on. I have a good blender so it doesn’t need overcooking to get it to mix.
  2. Let potato(s) cool before mixing so the eggs don’t cook.
  3. Mix together all ingredients (except coconut oil), and beat just until a batter forms.
  4. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  5. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter out and cook until bubbles start to form. Flip the pancake and cook for about another minute or two until fully cooked.

* You can substitute a large banana for 2 of the eggs here.
** For Pete’s sake, bakers. You do not need this much cinnamon in anything. This is probably the ceiling amount for this recipe, but it’s probably better to use less.

Steel City Comic Con 2017 Photos (December)

Warning: tons of photos! Click here for the photos from the comic con earlier in the year.

Jyn Erso, in the Scarif disguise:

Dr. Doom:

Daughter DiNitto on the left, as Keith from Voltron, with Pidge:

A blurry photo of yours truly with R2-D2. See way at the end of the post for a video I took of him (it?):

Bob and Linda Belcher from Bob’s Burgers:

Kylo Ren and Rey. I can tell their costumes were homemade but they were pretty accurate:

Loki with the Tesseract, someone I forget, and Thor:

A queen from something?:

Kylo Ren in disguise as Matt (Matilda, in this case), the radar technician:

They are Neegan from The Walking Dead:

Someone from something and a Deadpool:

Aquaman and Boba Fett without his helmet:

Jyn Erso in her standard outfit:

Deadpool. Her costume was impeccable:

A Dr. Who:

Wonder Woman and Green Arrow. Two more great costumes:

Cruella DeVille:

Wonder Woman and Snake from Escape from New York/LA:

Kira from Death Note, third from left, and people from things:

Jabba the Hutt with slave Leia:

Inuyasha. The sword was even bigger in person:

Master Splinter and Shredder:

Robin:

Festive Shoretroopers (I think):

Deadpool. He had the boombox on every time I saw him:

Batman and a Star Trek person:

The Green Ranger:

A bowless Green Arrow:

Captain America:

A Mandalorean (Star Wars) soldier:

A Ghostbuster:

Two Sith Lords:

Silent Bob:

The Flash:

Princess Mononoke:

Captain Jack Sparrow. Dude was always in character…i.e., tipsy and rakish:

Harley Quinn:

Logan and Deadpool, best friends:

Darth Vader. One of the best costumes:

Princess Zelda and Link:

Mario, Luigi, and Koopa Troopa girlfriends:

A Sith Lord:

Jason Voorhees:

Barf from Spaceballs. She was going to put the Pepsi’s down but I told her to hold them, since the drinks are fairly in character:

A battle-worn Goku:

A Sailor Moon and Wonder Woman:

Finn, Spiderman, and a guy from a thing:

Ed from Good Burger, another guy who was always in character:

Something from Star Wars:

A nurse from Silent Hill:

Leia in the Hoth base uniform:

A Voltron mini-convention:

People from Stranger Things:

Freddy Krueger/Santa Claus:

People from things I don’t know:

A video of the functional R2-D2:

Gay Jesus Cake

One of the beating hearts of material philosophy is the strain to derive universals from particulars: i.e., what could we derive about phenomena, a posteriori from experiencing instances of observed phenomena? This goal might be a good fit for science but in ethical philosophy its application can get dicey. “How ought we to live?” is a question that presumes there’s a universal answer waiting to be discovered.

What if the answer isn’t so certain? It feels wrong to reduce Jesus to mere situational ethics, but it helps to consider we might be asking the wrong question—or rather, we may be thinking of the question incorrectly. There’s ample material to show that Jesus’ response to rather precise questions were answered in kind, with equal precision, tailored to the man posing the question; literally ad hominem. To Him, context isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. His answers, when He gave them (is silence an answer?), were dangerous Machiavellian dodges. “Dangerous” because people from a wide range of pedigrees were posing these questions to Him, and many of them were people in power waiting for Him to say the wrong thing. Sparking confusion in the minds of those who wanted to entrap Him may have led to His demise more so than charges of blasphemy.

Would Jesus be down with baking a gay cake? The only answer I can give is the maddening return question of: “Who’s asking for it?”

Thought experiment time. Here’s how it might go down if He slung flour instead of fir*.

The gay couple they came to Him, requesting a cake to be made for their wedding. He agreed to it and took their order.

When the day came to pick up the cake, the couple found Him at the bakery’s counter, eating leftover scraps of their cake.

“Is that our cake?” they asked Him. “Have you eaten it all?”

He put down his fork and spoke. “Why are you surprised? Just I am eating these rejected scraps of cake, and have thrown your actual cake away in the garbage, so my Father selects from the most humble and repentant among us, and condemns the self-righteous from His presence. Here, you may have the scraps.”

* As in, the tree. There probably weren’t fir trees in 1st (“fir”st?) century Galilee, but despite being the son of a 20th century woodworker, no other carpentry “f” terms come to me.