Monthly Archives: December 2015

Make 2016 A Heavy Metal Year

Below is a postcard I designed for Seth at Skulltoaster. I think it printed well, but in retrospect I should have made the blue colorized Seth in the background a little brighter, and emphasized his “2016” glasses a little more.

Photography by Molly Hudelson.


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Addendum to Previous Star Was Post

See the original post. As if I need to add even more online commentary about this movie…

I rewatched it the other night, and I paid special attention to the lightsaber fight between Kylo Ren and Rae, and I probably should revise my original thoughts. When they start out, it’s basically Rae trying to get away from Kylo Ren, occasionally fending off one of his attacks or making a clumsy attempt of her own. This is accurate to their characters and situation. Remember that Kylo Ren is injured, and she has no lightsaber or heavy battle training, plus she knows the planet, or at least the general area, may be going to go up in flames very soon.

She starts to rally after Ren corners her and makes a padawan offer, and she refuses. She then starts to really connect with her fighting. Ren gets injured further, but not critically. That last part is something of an unlikely situation, but so was Luke’s. What good is a story where something unusual doesn’t happen? The movie might be subtitled “The Force Awakens” for a good reason.

The only thing I take issue with his Rae’s use of the Force. She stumbles along with it, but for a mature adult with no training at all to suddenly know how to use it like she did it is suspect. She resisted Ren’s mind reading and used mind tricks on the Stormtrooper guarding her. She would have to be astronomically (heh) intuitive with the Force to be able to use it like that, which, again, is unusual, but not impossible. There may be more to her lineage that what’s been revealed so far.

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Random Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I don’t need to mention that there are spoilers aplenty inside this post, do I?

1. Let’s get the politics out of the way first: director J.J. Abrams made openly racist comments about white people, within the context of casting—and that’s okay. He’s free to cast anyone he wishes for any reason. He’s only beholden to Disney Studios. But don’t be surprised there’s a bit of blowback, even exaggerated, when you openly state your desire for a lessened presence of a certain race.

2. Related to the above, in the context of the Star Wars universe, more diversity is very contextually fitting. There are literally “countless” species in the Star Wars galaxy, and some non-human species have races within them. Abrams’ decision, however antagonizing, is artistically and thematically sound.

3. Rey, though a very likable character, is a borderline complete Mary Sue—but this was expected thematically (see #5 below). Though most of her character dev is believable, she falls into “badass girl warrior” trope so hard it blew out the THX sound system in the theater when I witnessed it. Disney pushes this paradigm everywhere, so no surprise on my end.

4. Related to #3, her lightsaber duel with Kylo Ren was more or less believable. Assuming the actors’ heights are also their characters’: Daisy Ridley as Rae is 5’7″, Adam Driver‘s Kylo Ren is nearly 6’3″. They are both physically formidable, but Ren by nature would probably have more upper body strength. The height and upper body differences would favor Ren heavily, but there were huge mitigating factors. Ren is very impetuous and emotion-driven, especially since he had just killed his father semi-willingly just before the duel. And, not to mention he had taken a direct hit to his ribs from a blaster. Rae is more flexible by nature, which gives her a slight advantage in saber-fighting, and her physical condition was primed by a good few decades of climbing and crawling all day in spartan living conditions. At the time of their duel, she had a bit of a confidence boost from finding out she’s a Force wielder, and because the Resistance had their mission just about wrapped up. So it seems they were fairly evenly matched. It ended in more or less a draw, but I think Ren would have won if geology didn’t disrupt things. That Ren beat Finn was expected.

5. Rey will find out she is Luke Skywalker’s daughter. He had abandoned her on Jakku because he wanted to revive the Jedi order, and having an illegitimate daughter would have discredited him. Her illegitimacy was a further reason Luke exiled himself, besides his failure to train Kylo Ren properly. Luke left a piece of the map to his whereabouts, to Lor San Tekka on Jakku, in the hopes that it might fall into the hands of Rae eventually, if she came into the Force. In this sense, Episode VIII is almost a reboot of Episode IV: Rae is the new Luke, who was the Marty Stu of the original trilogy.

Stefan Molyneux has some interesting observations. The Huffington Post points out a bunch of plotholes. Only maybe 2 or 3 items listed might be plotholes. The rest are just unexplained expository elements. Unexplained things aren’t plotholes.

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 10

Buon Natale!

You Barely Make a Difference and It’s a Good Thing – Stop trying to fix the world
Also, you are not advancing the kingdom – “There is no social agenda that has any relationship with the Kingdom of God.”

The Metalhead Kids Are All Right

How Progressives Stole Christian History – Progressivism is an apex-Enlightenment philosophy, and the Enlightenment has nothing to do with God.

The Truth About The Crusades

Winter cycling: good idea or flat-out insane? – Just do it.

English is not normal

C. S. Lewis, H. P. Lovecraft, and the Problem of Alien Worlds

Research Points To Mental Health Risks Associated With Meatless Diet – Eat meat.
Also, eat fish. It’s Christmastime!

Socialism Is Dead. Mises Was Right

The Cult of the Toto Toilet – You’re not a bourgeois sissy unless you call the modern toilet “uncivilized.”

4 Simple Responses to Science-Based Atheism – via Mike Duran,

Study: Elite scientists can hold back science
Also, the death of science.

Random Bonus Thought: No matter how noble or malicious your intent, propaganda does have its place. Many lies have bullhorns, and we all know how truth is received.

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Eat More Fat

An interesting excerpt from an article last year, from the Daily Beast: “The Heart Association’s Junk Science Diet“:

In fact, most people who have heart attacks don’t have elevations in bad cholesterol. They are much more likely to have metabolic syndrome—a condition that puts you at high risk for diabetes and heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is defined when you have three of the following: high triglycerides (blood fats), high blood sugar, high blood pressure, low “good” cholesterol (HDL-C), and a large abdomen measurement (abdominal obesity).

Interestingly enough, blood triglycerides do not go up with eating fat—they go up if you eat a diet high in processed grains, starches, and sugar. Unfortunately for the proponents of high-carbohydrate diets, high blood triglycerides are a major risk factor for heart disease. In addition, low fat/high carb diets lower protective “good” cholesterol and raise insulin. These diets are implicated in the development of diabetes, which is a potent risk factor for developing heart disease.

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Who Would Jesus Shoot? AKA, Stop Putting Jesus in a Clown Suit

Well, to provide a tl;dr answer to the question posed in the blog title, He might shoot a lot of B.C. Egyptians, particularly first born sons. He’d also maybe shoot Canaanites—all of them.

Lots of the contextual “What would Jesus do in x situation? Let’s find out,” hypotheticals end up being an ad absurdum argument, because the image of be-robed and be-sandaled Anglo Jesus doesn’t square away with the firearm violence. It’s too incongruous and image to be truthful, so of course we conclude, very nearly on reflex, and most often before we really think about, that He wouldn’t kill (shoot, stab, bomb, etc.) anyone. You can substitute “kill” with any other unsavory or even silly things the modern mind can come up with, and with some careful planning, carve out your very own Jesus idol that strangely resembles a late 20th century centrist American voter. There just no way Jesus could’ve thought or acted differently than me, my friends, or anyone I admire. God isn’t in the business of dashing out expectations, is He?

To give this imagery some…more imagery, it’s like putting our Viking, sandy-coiffed Jesus in a clown suit and presenting it as our argument. Ecce stultus! But sons of gods don’t wear clown suits. I, for one, prefer not to reduce Jesus to situational ethics, which is why I’m wary of the moderate rigor of translating Jesus’ actions into modern contexts.

While it’s probably true He literally didn’t kill anyone, that doesn’t necessarily rule out, if we know anything about God has acted in the world in the past, that He could have killed someone. The Bible is filled with people doing lots of strange things under God’s command, like cooking with poop and marrying prostitutes, wearing camelhair robes and eating bugs, and killing—lots and lots of killing. Is it really so untoward, given the history presented in the Old Testament, that Jesus could have killed someone? This “not killing” thing may be a clue: just as some (most?) things don’t fall to us, as our mission, killing wasn’t part of His particular mission.

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Commas Are Still Useful

Make me a sandwich, bitch,” is a semi-literal phrase used less as a command and more as a denigration, for obvious reasons. I came across a screenshot of someone on Twitter tweeting it, so I did some searches on the phrase, both with and without the comma. Nearly all usages I’ve seen online do no include the comma, which I partially expected. The people using this phrase aren’t likely ones to be concerned about the grammatical implications of not using a comma, especially in this case.

If you’re asking someone to “make me a sandwich bitch,” you’re asking them to create—or, less literally, “find”—someone (maybe a female, but really just a being of any sex employed in a subservient role), who has “making sandwiches” as a primary directive. To better understand, the phrase, “Yeah, she’s my sandwich bitch. I don’t loan her out.” has the same usage of this accidental “sandwich bitch” designation.

This term, if you think about it, is a lot more useful for those of us with long time preferences than asking the bitch in question to make a sandwich as a one-off mission, as is the implied case when using the comma. Now we just have to wait for technology to catch up with our demand for dedicated sandwich bitches.

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Directing One’s Passions

If a man has to set his passions on a subject, let it be an inconsequential thing: sports, music, food. The worst thing, if his affections for the subject become too engaged and inflamed, is a barroom brawl, an insult hurled online at a different band’s fan, or food thrown across the restaurant table. Even let his passion be directed toward religion, the outward practice of it, apart from his personal, unspoken sentiments and commitments towards the divine. But for the well-being of everyone waiting to be affected, let his passions not fall into the area of politics, even at a negligible level. A passionate man, funneling his energy an apparatus existing as a pure agent of force, is much more destructive to innocents than anything else. It’s a mallet swinging in all directions as it plows its path. Such involved passions are insatiable and it can only become more deadly the more it’s indulged.

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Further Thoughts On Prometheus

With the news of Ridley Scott planning to direct a trilogy of films as Prometheus sequels, I intentionally fell into reading more explanations and speculations about Prometheus. I came up with two and a half more unexplained elements from the film that will hopefully be addressed.

1. This one is minor, so I’ll get it out of the way. There’s a scene where Captain Yanek—inside his ship, naturally—is communicating to Fifield and Millburn, who are on the cusp of a total freakout because of all the dead Engineer bodies they’ve discovered. After a few back and forths, Yanek pretends their channel is breaking up, then cuts off the signal completely. Why would he do this? He saw real time video of the Engineer bodies and knows Fifield and Millburn aren’t joking around. Yanek acts disinterested, though there is the possibility of real danger.

My theory is that he finds the entire project a bit silly and is only concerned with the safety of his ship and crew, though I don’t think this scenario is likely. After Yanek discovers the nature of the black goo and what it does, and finds out the surviving Last Engineer plans to head to earth with a motherlode of the stuff, he sacrifices his ship and crew (and himself) to take down the Last Engineer’s ship as it’s leaving. That he sacrifices so much, yet is unconcerned about Fifield and Millburn is a bit of misaligned characterization. Maybe at some point he sees his sacrifice as a point of redemption for his callousness, but that isn’t apparent, even in the deleted scene, as far as I can remember.

2. Related to #1, but more important. The birth of Shaw’s Trilobite could explain the origin of the Facehuggers in the later Alien-based. Since we know the black goo somehow interacts with the DNA it encounters, it chimerically bonded with Halloway’s semen and Shaw’s womb, where it “learned” some form of reproduction; that’s the environment it came into contact with. This is evidenced by the fact that it’s the first Facehugger that implants an egg inside the surviving Engineer, and the subsequent “birthing” scene of the Deacon after the film’s credits. This Xenomorph is most likely the Hive Queen that produces the Facehugger eggs seen in Alien and Aliens.

There’s an idea that the mutagenic black goo not only receives the DNA of the host it’s placed in, but also the “intent” of the host. From the r/movies subreddit, which attempts to explain Prometheus:

The black slime reacts to the nature and intent of the being that wields it, and the humans in the film didn’t even know that they WERE wielding it. That’s why it remained completely inert in David’s presence, and why he needed a human proxy in order to use the stuff to create anything. The black goo could read no emotion or intent from him, because he was an android.

The Alien wiki page for the black goo says it—the black goo is called “Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15″—was created by the Engineers to wipe out entire planets. I don’t know how official that idea is, but it contradicts the prologue of Prometheus that shows an Engineer willingly drink the goo to specifically create life on a planet. Maybe there was a Engineer civil war at some point, or did they eventually believe it a mistake to create so much life in the universe?

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Personal Fitness Note

I just started a membership at the local Planet Fitness. Nothing truly groundbreaking, but it’s a huge personal switch from me after exercising for years in the ol’ basement for many years. Since I’ve posted here before, though rarely, on fitness, I thought I’d share a few observations.

1. Working out in public requires a different psychology than working out in private, in obvious and subtle ways. I’m not going to detail it out here but sure the initial observations anyone might have on the difference are accurate.

2. Related to #1, working out in public with a partner also requires a difference mental approach. Most people don’t think about #1 and #2—we do what comes naturally.

3. People do a lot of weird exercise moves. I don’t quite understand the minute shruggings, dainty wrist or finger (?!) curls, or really uncomfortable contortionist-lite exercises. I come from the full-extention, broad range of motion, natural/practical body motion school. Seeing someone stand in front of the mirror repeating “I dunno!” with their shoulders seems a useless pursuit. Whatever works for people, though.

4. Doing 50 lbs bicep curls, for instance, on a machine is much different than curling 50 lbs using free weights. Related to this, the better workouts I’ve done are full-body workouts by default, even though you’re working out one general area as a concentration. Most kinds of pushups focus on upper body strength, but peripheral and stabilizing muscles are also engaged. Pounding out different kinds of curls standing up requires the same kind of non-curl muscle engagement. By sitting or laying down, or using a machine that provides very defined motion, you don’t get the same body participation.

5. “Muscle Milk” is an odd name for a supplement drink if you think about it too much, but I may try it.

EDIT: Regarding $4, here’s a good, short article about free weights versus machines.

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