Monthly Archives: October 2015

Rocky and Mutual Male Touching

I remember watching the Rocky movies countless times when I was younger, and I never thought the semi-iconic scene in Rocky III where Rocky finally out-sprints Apollo Creed was implicitly homosexual. Watching it now, one has to wonder how much attitudes have changed, such that the filmmakers back then (1982) never thought twice that this could be taken as sexual. This scene couldn’t be made today without automatically communicating that undercurrent, an undercurrent that flows in many places. Even the title of this post comes off as rather “gay,” doesn’t it?

I’m sure people much more insightful than I could go into the details, but such a shift in view can probably be contributed to homophobia*, with some indirect help from x-wave feminism, and a good few decades of resocialization. Homosexuals could be anyone with something to hide, and that this “hiddenness” is coded communication between gays that sometimes leak out in public, is theme in media. Homosexuality has to be back-read into past texts, even religious ones. Ever hear of the gay saints or David and Jonathan or Jesus and John? Homophobia leaves no middle ground on mutual, non-sexual touch between men.

Another video, too, below, from Rocky IV, were Paulie kisses Rocky. I did think this one was unusual, not because of the kiss, but because it was so out of character for Paulie to act like that, which I think is the point of the scene. But again, that wouldn’t have made it into a final cut today without the gay or “no homo” context.

*I mean “homophobia” here as the more clinical “an irrational fear of homosexuality or homosexuals” term. 95% of what is labeled homophobic today isn’t anything more than failing to recognize homosexuals as another side is Marx’s critical theory battle. Those of us who think Marx was full of sh*t set ourselves up to reject the idea of homosexual liberation as it is known today, though that’s not a necessary deduction. I can think of one or two good reasons rather quickly. Regardless, I’ll leave it your own faculties and your favorite search engine to explore the idea that one could be rationally unsupportive, not “fearful”, of homosexuality.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Ending Prediction

Luke Skywalker invokes the Vulcan mind meld on R2-D2. Ripley and a Xenomorph are off-screen.

Luke Skywalker invokes the Vulcan mind meld on R2-D2. Ripley and a Xenomorph are off-screen.

This has probably already been said somewhere, but given what we know from the trailers, other sources, and basic cinematic tropes, I can predict one of the crucial plot element at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We know Luke Skywalker is in exile for some reason. He’s in the second trailer (see screenshot above), with R2-D2, in front of a bonfire. He may be in exile because he’s being hunted, or maybe he reasons becoming an active Jedi will elicit a Sith Jedi to emerge, in order to maintain balance. I don’t know the universe mechanics too well right now to be sure.

There’s the revived Empire and the new rebellion, the Resistance. Given the subtitle of the movie, too, I’m going to say Luke is convinced that he needs to take up the Jedi mantle again, in some form or degree, to meet the growing power of Rylo Ken and the Empire. A final scene will show Skywalker taking up his lightsaber once again (Leia has it…see link above) to set things in motion.

Not a giant leap of a prediction, since Star Wars is riddled with reluctant heroes, like many sci-fi media. Just some food for thought.

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Quick Bible Study: John’s Nathanael Narrative

In the last part of John 1, Jesus recruits Philip, who then goes to tell Nathanael about Him. Nathanael is skeptical but does an about-face when he asks Jesus how He knew him. It’s implied that there is some divine foreknowledge on Jesus’ part when He said “I saw you” under the fig tree; presumably, Jesus wasn’t physically there when Philip approached Nathanael and saw him, in the perceptual/visual sense, as described in verse 47. I doubt much that John (or any Biblical writer) set the scene up as he did with wasted words. The narrative is such a way for a reason.

While I’m on the concept of wasted words, the mention of the “fig tree” comes to mind. Those of us not acculturated with 1st century Judaism wouldn’t make much of it, but there is significance. Fig trees were utilized as places of prayer, and prayer, at that time of political unrest, almost always concerned itself with the coming Messiah. At the risk of reading context into the words, it seems Jesus found Nathanael’s impetuous change of mind a little silly, since Jesus could easily be lying about his foreknowledge. It was a simple parlor trick compared to what would come later. Nathanel’s interest is stoked, and that seemed to be enough for the time being.

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you,[k] you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

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How to Play Xbox Games on an XBox 360

Consider this a public service announcement post, since I had some issues with getting my copy of Halo 2 to work, even after doing research online. I have an Xbox 360 E, and they require an internal drive to make original Xbox games compatible. However, the internal drive must be an official Microsoft hard drive, not an off brand.

I had bought a generic one which worked well for storage purposes, but the 360 had an issue with using it as memory for actually running Halo 2. I had bought a hard drive since I had assumed the brand didn’t matter. I kept getting a “you should try to download this game again” error message, even though the game was a disc. The off-brand internal drives look exactly like the Microsoft versions, except the Microsoft version have an “Xbox 360” imprint on one of the sides, like this one. The memory amount didn’t seem to be relevant. Here’s a side by side comparison.

I have the version of Xbox 360 with the corner slot for an internal drive. There’s another version where it kind of attaches to the top of the console. There are Microsoft and generic versions of this kind as well, so I assume you’ll have issues playing Xbox games on the the 360 with these as well.

Not sure why Microsoft/Bungie didn’t release a solid remake of Halo 2 for the 360, and not just Xbox One. They redid the original Halo for the 360, so it makes sense to do the follow up. I’m sure there’s a good reason to be discovered if I did some research.

Anyways, just for eye candy, here’s two videos comparing original vs. remastered gameplay and cinematic cutscenes for Halo 2. I remember getting Halo 2 when it first came out (I even did the “midnight line at Gamestop” thing), and I thought it was the most advanced thing ever. It was, for the time, but the visual difference is pretty astounding.

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Mozilla’s Manifesto Is Eh

After upgrading to Windows 10, I saw that the Mozilla Manifesto was directly linked from the Firefox’s default “new tab” screen (for the record, I’m a Chrome guy). With Mozilla’s recent dalliances with progressive politics, I wanted to see if it infected their official statement of purpose. It mostly didn’t, thankfully, but it is rather open-ended and is poised to cause confusion.

To wit, here are the ten principals of their manifesto:

1. The Internet is an integral part of modern life—a key component in education, communication, collaboration, business, entertainment and society as a whole.

Not really a principle, per se, but a proposition—a generally true one. I think of manifestos as very specific “we’re doing x to achieve y goal” documents.

2. The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.

Generally agreeable, but redundant. The Internet is essentially made for information access and sharing. Calling for it to be open is like advising shoes to be used for feet. The purpose is already built in. But why do they get to decide how “open and accessible” it should be? I’d reserve that right to the individual actors to decide, but again…people don’t interact with the Internet in order to be closed off.

This is also the first mention of 5 “public” adjectives. I’ll get to that later.

3. The Internet must enrich the lives of individual human beings.

Another redundancy, albeit very subjective. “Enrich” to me is different from “enrich” to Steve or Shelley. People don’t really need to be directed to enrich themselves. We do it automatically, and there’s endless of sources of enrichment on the Internet. Kind of a no-brainer.

4. Individuals’ security and privacy on the Internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional.

Nothing bad here, just a little redundant, as security and privacy are self-evident goods that fall in various slots in indivduals’ hierarchy of preferences. They seem to be implying security and privacy are at risk without a user’s knowledge of consent, which is true.

5. Individuals must have the ability to shape the Internet and their own experiences on the Internet.

Also agreeable. There’s lots of different ways one can customize Internet information. Plus, there’s the whole “I go to the URLs I want to, and ones I don’t want to” aspect. It’s a free for all, already. Go get it!

6. The effectiveness of the Internet as a public resource depends upon interoperability (protocols, data formats, content), innovation and decentralized participation worldwide.

7. Free and open source software promotes the development of the Internet as a public resource.

8. Transparent community-based processes promote participation, accountability and trust.

More propositions, not principles. Mostly true ones, and two more “public” mentions.

9. Commercial involvement in the development of the Internet brings many benefits; a balance between commercial profit and public benefit is critical.

Here’s the big one. I could go into a lot of detail about this, but the summary is just basic economics. They perceive a discrepancy between demand vs. what is being delivered, and that corporations (I’m sure they have telecom industries in mind here) should be forced to give in to demand. That’s all agreeable, but corporations firms in a free to free-ish market must give in to consumer demand. There’s no other way they would survive. Though telecom is one of the least directly regulated industries, corporations still enjoy some state monopoly powers; they can get away with avoiding demand or raising prices without an attendant increase in service, since they can buy immunity from legislative power, which then falls on those not able to buy those “get out of jail” cards., i.e., smaller companies. #9 would be irrelevant if there was no market interference.

10. Magnifying the public benefit aspects of the Internet is an important goal, worthy of time, attention and commitment.

Again, all well and good. And again, there would be little need to stress public (consumer) benefit sans market interference, since corporations firms would already be slave to the dollar holders and not legislators.

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Orson Scott Card’s Myth-Language

The quote below is from Children of the Mind (free pdf here), the last book in the The Ender Quartet series, Chapter 7, page 101. This is part of a chapter of the book that stuck with me, since it describes a material and technological phenomenon in mythical language. “Myth” has been transformed into a word that describes what pre-modern man (“pre-modern” being synonomous with “ignorant”) conjured up to explain things not scientifically understood, but it’s really just a certain form of language, like a “manner of speaking.”

Everything Grace translates from Malu here are actual things in the Ender universe, from the sub-atomic philotes to the AI construct, Jane. That he isn’t using technical, nor even popular technical language, is not an indicator of falsehood. He is simply using the linguistic tools of his mystical Samoan culture. The only difference is that he arrived at the knowledge in a different manner, through revelation, and not through standard epistemological means.

Grace translated: “Today the clouds flew across the sky with the sun chasing them, and yet no rain has fallen. Today my boat flew across the sea with the sun leading it, and yet there was no fire when we touched the shore. So it was on the first day of all days, when God touched a cloud in the sky and spun it so fast that it turned to fire and became the sun, and then all the other clouds began to spin and turn in circles around the sun.”

This can’t have been the original legend of the Samoan people, thought Wang-mu. No way did they know the Copernican model of the solar system until westerners taught it to them. So Malu may know the ancient lore, but he’s also learned some new things and fit them in.

“Then the outer clouds turned into rain and poured in upon themselves until they were rained out, and all that was left was spinning balls of water. Inside that water swam a great fish of fire, which ate every impurity in the water and then defecated it all in great gouts of flame, which spouted up from the sea and fell back down as hot ash and poured back down as rivers of burning rock. From these turds of the firefish grew the islands of the sea, and out of the turds there crawled worms, which squirmed and slithered through the rock until the gods touched them and some became human beings and others became the other animals.

“Every one of the other animals was tied to the earth by strong vines that grew up to embrace them. No one saw these vines because they were godvines.”

Philotic theory, thought Wang-mu. He learned that all living things have twining philotes that bond downward, linking them to the center of the earth. Except human beings.

Sure enough, Grace translated the next strand of language: “Only humans were not tied to the earth. It was not vines that bound them down, it was a web of light woven by no god that connected them upward to the sun. So all the other animals bowed down before the humans, for the vines dragged them down, while the lightweb lifted up the human eyes and heart.

“Lifted up the human eyes but yet they saw little farther than the beasts with downcast eyes; lifted up the human heart yet the heart could only hope for it could only see up to the sky in the daytime, and at night when it could see the stars it grew blind to close things for a man can scarcely see his own wife in the shadow of his house even when he can see stars so distant their light travels for a hundred lifetimes before it kisses the eyes of the man.

“All these centuries and generations, these hoping men and women looked with their half-blind eyes, staring into the sun and sky, staring into the stars and shadows, knowing that there were invisible things beyond those walls but not guessing what they were.

“Then in a time of war and terror, when all hope seemed lost, weavers on a far distant world, who were not gods but who knew the gods and each one of the weavers was itself a web with hundreds of strands reaching out to their hands and feet, their eyes and mouths and ears, these weavers created a web so strong and large and fine and far-reaching that they meant to catch up all human beings in that web and hold them to be devoured. But instead the web caught a distant god, a god so powerful that no other god had dared to know her name, a god so quick that no other god had been able to see her face; this god was stuck to the web they caught. Only she was too quick to be held in one place to be devoured. She raced and danced up and down the strands, all the strands, any strands that twine from man to man, from man to star, from weaver to weaver, from light to light, she dances along the strands. She cannot escape but she does not want to, for now all gods see her and all gods know her name, and she knows all things that are known and hears all words that are spoken and reads all words that are written and by her breath she blows men and women beyond the reach of the light of any star, and then she sucks inward and the men and women come back, and when they come sometimes they bring new men and women with them who never lived before; and because she never holds still along the web, she blows them out at one place and then sucks them in at another, so that they cross the spaces between stars faster than any light can go, and that is why the messengers of this god were blown out from the house of Grace Drinker’s friend Aimaina Hikari and were sucked back down to this island to this shore to this roof where Malu can see the red tongue of the god where it touches the ear of her chosen one.”

Malu fell silent.

“We call her Jane,” said Peter.

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The Diversity Issue

After a some comments I made on one of Mike Duran’s post, “Does Christian Fiction Have a Race Problem?”, I was set to write a lot of about the politicized nature of the modern diversity concept. Stefan Molyneux beat me and saved me some writing time, so I’d advise you to watch the video below. Perpare to be exasperated by the pace of the conversation—the caller makes some pretty poor arguments and Molyneux has to clear the brush to really get at what the guy is trying to say. This is the nature of call-in shows, but it can reveal some interesting results.

To summarize my thoughts, not Molyneux’s: what’s known as “diversity” today is a preference for a trait (more accurately, diversity is a meta-trait) of a collection of people. But the way it is treated now, this trait of diversity is also comes with a moral imperative component, which is to say that groups should be diverse. There are varying reasons for this moral component, all based, as far as I can see, in politics, particularly in the social engineering aspect of political thought. In this sense diversity lies at one of the end points of western sociological thought. As of yet, I have not heard of a convincing argument that makes the moral component more categorical than other moral principles. For me, it’s still stuck at the preference level.

Diversity, though, like a lot of western progressive concepts, really means diversity of a certain kind, and in certain circumstances. Molyneux shines the light on this fairly well on its contextual scope, early on in the video. I have no moral issue with people prefering a certain degree or type of diversity, since we all have a preference that shifts with circumstances and are set at a sub-rational, lizard brain level, to a barely rational level. I’d even go so far as to say people can openly communicate their preference for diversity for a group, even one of which they are not a part…though any group has the moral right to reject the preference wholesale with no reason given. Again, the moral imperative component does not exist for diversity.

Bottom line: diversity is a preference; everyone has a subconcious preference for diversity; there is no moral component for one’s diversity preference; any use of force (political or otherwise) to set the diversity of a group is categorically immoral.

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