Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Bible Summarized by a Smartass, Part Eight: Joshua

Chapter One
With Moses dead, God starts shuckin’ and jivin’ Joshua about the whole standard Land of Milk and Honey/nations, descendents, etc package. This time, apparently, God intends to deliver, so Josh and the Israelites prepare to cross the Jordan and begin their brutal conquest.

Chapter Two
Josh sends two spies to Jericho, and the first person they meet up with is Rahab, a prostitute. Oh, you Israelites. Rahab protects the spies and helps them escape, so they promise to spare her when the slaughter starts.

Chapter Three
God parts the Jordan with the Ark of the Covenant and the Israelites cross the river.

Chapter Four
Josh has some kind of ritual to commemorate the crossing with stones or something. Those Israelites can’t do anything without feeling the weight and import of future history and intoning the importance of it. Not to imply that this was written way after the fact. That makes Bible fans uncomfortable.

Chapter Five
Josh circumcises the Israelites to feed God’s bizarre foreskin fetish. The manna the Israelites are so sick of finally stops, and they raid the Canaanite crops.

Chapter Six
After a weeklong show of force, the Israelites save Rahab and her family, then utterly destroy Jericho, killing everyone there and stealing their valuables before burning it to the ground.

Chapter Seven
Uh-oh. Turns out some dude called Achan kept some of “God’s” valuables, and now God’s pissed about it. Spies misjudge the military force of Ai, so some Israelites are killed in a battle (a whopping 36, so quit whining). Josh prays in despair, but God gets disgusted and tells him to man up, then orders Josh to burn Achan, his family, and all his belongings.

Chapter Eight
God, Josh, and the Israelites destroy Ai and kill everyone there.

Chapter Nine
The kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites band together against Israel. The people of Gibeon make a treaty with Josh, and even though they trick him into it, he honors it.

Chapter Ten
The five Amorite kings attack Gibeon, but Josh and the Israelites ride to the rescue. God even rains stones on the Amorite army, and stops the sun so that Josh can carry out his slaughter in a single, very long day (which is rather showy and pointless). Josh personally kills the five kings, hanging their bodies from a tree as a message. Josh conquers a whole bunch of towns; same drill: kill everyone, burn their homes, take the money.

Chapter Eleven
More conquering and killing.

Chapter Twelve
A list of all the lands Israel conquered, and the territorial boundaries, a.k.a. the source of all the problems we have on the Gaza Strip right now.

Chapter Thirteen
Josh, now very old, divides up the land between the tribes. God reminds him that there’s still a lot of killing left to do, but that this will be Josh’s last task.

Chapter Fourteen
As above. I’m sure this all has nothing to do with anyone creating false historical precedence long after the fact.

Chapter Fifteen
The same, only more boring—er, detailed.

Chapter Sixteen
Oh, man. Do you realize there are 705 pages left in the Old Testament alone?

Chapter Seventeen
Fuck, and there’s 251 pages of New Testament. Why did I commit to doing this? I’m only on book six, for God’s sake!

Chapter Eighteen
You know what’s interesting? The plural of octopus is octopodes not octopi, but my spell check doesn’t recognize the word octopodes. It’s the correct plural; octopi comes from a misconception that octopus is a Latin word. It’s Greek.

Chapter Nineteen
And my eyes glaze over with the indifferently blank look of a thousand retards.

Chapter Twenty
And the cities of refuge are appointed. Exciting.

Chapter Twenty-One
Oh, God, will it just end already? How many damn tribes and towns can there be?

Chapter Twenty-Two
Fuck, it’s still going on!

Chapter Twenty-Three
Josh announces his intention to die, but warns Israel to keep the laws of God so that he doesn’t flip out and kill everyone. Does anyone else find it disheartening that so far the Bible’s been nothing but people tiptoeing around and doing whatever God tells them to because they’re afraid he’ll kill them otherwise? It’s like the Israelites are hostages.

Chapter Twenty-Four
Josh speaks with the judges and elders and priests and Eleazar the High Priest, and again warns them to do God’s bidding (which they’ve already been doing), then cacks it at age 110. He’s buried and Israel mourns. Eleazar dies and they bury him, too. The bones of Joseph, carried from Egypt, are buried in the same place as Jacob, Sarah, and Abraham.

And so ends another book of Biblical fun. Next week: The Book of Judges. More slaughter, more laws (I'm guessing), and the search for Israel's Next Top Jew.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Throwdown 11/17

15 random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.

1. Look, Google, I know you’re thrilled with yourself for acquiring Blogger, but I’ve been leaving a lot of comments lately, so could you do something for me? Please reach a goddamn consensus on what constitutes a V and what constitutes a U on word verification!

2. John Lasseter removed Alan Menken as composer on the upcoming Disney film The Frog Princess. This is Disney’s big return to traditional animation, and even though John Musker and Ron Clements have worked with Menken on three films and are comfortable with him, Lasseter doesn’t want the film to be too reminiscent of earlier Disney movies and an over-familiar formula. Which makes sense. Except that he replaced Menken with Randy Newman, who composed the score for all but two of the seven Pixar movies. The more things change…

3. I guess I had assumed that this horrible Dunkin’ Donuts campaign with the horrible They Might Be Giants half-formed songish-like ideas would be over by summer’s end. And still it goes on. And now They Might Be Giants have moved from a band I’m indifferent towards but like a couple of their very similar songs to a couple of guys that I’d like to beat the living shit out of. See those two? I want to punch them in the throat. I’ll do it. I’ll laugh about it, too. “Where be thy clamorous, annoying ditties now?” I will taunt. And then I’ll take pictures of them crying and send them to their mothers for a Christmas card.

4. Fergie sez: “I may not have the type of voice you like, but I can sing. You can’t take that away from me, ‘cause singing is a gift from God, and when people say I can’t sing it’s kind of like insulting God.” Wow, for someone who claims she doesn’t care what people think, she sure does get all worked up when people say something negative about her. Oh, and by the way: God? Yeah, you there? Good, I want you to hear this: fuck you, Fergie can’t sing.

5. Am I the only person who thinks that Matthew McConaughey turned down a threesome with two sisters because he didn’t want Lance to get jealous? Man, even if it was Paris and Nicky Hilton, I still wouldn’t turn that threesome down.

6. Actually, maybe I would. Now that I notice it, not only does Paris have this creepy lazy eye, but I’ve never noticed her gargantuan man hands before. Sexy, sexy Tina Fey was on Howard Stern and pointed out that Paris Hilton’s “giant man hands” were as long as her forearm. Ew! She also said that when Paris was guest-hosting Saturday Night Live, she left “nasty wads of Barbie hair on the floor” from her “cheap weave," that Paris takes herself seriously (duh, unfortunately) and “embraces her stupidity,” and that—big shocker—she’s wrapped up in herself. Tina, I beg you: write a book someday. I will be the first one to read it.

7. Good reason not to throw things because you’re angry: Denise Richards, pissed off at some photographer committing the grand sin of taking a famous person’s picture, threw her laptop off a balcony and instead of making her intended target, hit an 80 year-old woman in a wheelchair. Hilarious! You know what? For the millionth goddamn time, if you don’t want the hassle of being famous, don’t try to get famous! Heh, listen to me. Denise Richards famous. But Pamela Anderson is defending her! Man, this story gets dumber and dumber.

8. Some woman is saying that Rachael Ray’s husband paid her to perform kinky sexy acts. I honestly wasn’t surprised. I mean, just the sound of Rachael Ray’s voice would drive me up the frigging wall.

9. Could somebody please get a message to Ray Manzarek and tell him to shut the hell up? I know he feels he hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves for creating the Doors (we all know), but this “40 Years of the Doors” celebration is really excessive, especially for a band that hasn’t recorded an album of new material since 1972. And especially since they were just the Doors.

10. So, y’all might know that I really, really hate Faith Hill, for daring to be nobody special and yet putting herself on a pedestal of greatness. She and her husband act like they are the most important people in the history of country music, then she tries to make a bid for pop music and, when that failed, did her “Mississippi Girl” garbage where she claimed that even though she was an international star (huh?) she was still a normal, simple girl. And apparently her fans didn’t find that insulting at all (“See, I’m dumber’n a pig in shit, just like y’alls!”). Faith Hill has a bigger ego than Shania “I don’t know of anyone who works harder than I do” Twain ever did, and then she has the nerve to get pissed off at the Country Music Awards because Carrie Underwood beat her for an award? But wait, it gets better. Even with Faith Hill playing it off as a joke, LeAnn Rimes comes in and says that she was bugged about it because “Carrie has not paid her dues long enough to fully deserve that award.” Um, Vocalist of the Year? Now, I don’t pay attention to anything as irrelevant as awards for country music, but the name of the award seems to imply that you really only have to pay your dues for, like, a year. And didn’t LeAnn Rimes start winning these things when she was, like, 14 or something? Look, joke or not, the fact is that Faith Hill took the focus away from the actual award winner (Carrie Underwood) and put it on herself, and that alone makes her an enormous bitch.

11. Speaking of country, um, music: Rascal Flatts. I don’t get them. Why do people like them? You know what they are for me? Proof that country music fans no longer demand even the barest shred of quality. As if Garth Brooks didn’t prove that to me earlier…

12. Here’s some interesting news. Abstinence advocates are crowing about the decline in the number of teen pregnancies. What I like to point out is that teens are having more oral sex, which they don’t consider sex. Yes, teen abstinence is up by more than 15 percent since 1990, but that’s only because teenagers don’t consider a blowjob to be real sex. And yes, use of the pill is down a fifth and use of condoms is up a third, but that’s because teens need to get off and they don’t want to get pregnant or get an STD. Who says that kids aren’t smart?

13. Boy, how would you like to be one of Kevin Federline’s first two children? He’s going to make a big point out of trying to get his second two away from Britney. Well, if he loves his children so much, why didn’t he fight for the first two? Why didn’t he demand custody of them from Shar Jackson? You know, the two kids that he paid child support for? Oh, no, I mean, the two kids that Britney paid child support for? I hate to be this crass (yeah, right), but is he just fighting for these kids because he knows he can get more child support off Britney that way? Either way, look out, ladles.

14. Alright, so here’s a gathering of pure class. The Fox Network is going to air a special with O.J. Simpson called (pause for disgust) If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened. And if that isn’t horrible enough, he’s going to be interviewed on this special by editor/opportunistic whore Judith Regan, who is putting out O.J.’s book If I Did It later this month. Yes, not only is it truly abhorrent, it’s also an ad for yet another O.J. book. I wonder which Biblical character he compares himself to in this one. This is just awful. We’ve had to endure O.J. getting away with murder, then joking about it, and now going on TV and admitting to it. Um, but not really, right? Asshole. Fucking stupid motherfucking cocksucking wife-murdering shithead piece of garbage filth dumbshit asshole.

15. Oh, and if you’re planning on having fun with Playstation 3, guess what? Most Playstation and Playstation 2 games don’t work on it. Yeah, isn’t that great? Not only is Sony losing out on Blu-ray DVD and a recall of laptop batteries, but they’re about to weather a shitstorm from angry gamers. Hilarious! If Casino Royale fails, that would just make my day. I fucking hate Sony!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Meet the Robinsons

Here's the teaser trailer for the next Disney feature. It's called Meet the Robinsons, and is based on the William Joyce novel A Day with Wilbur Robinson (a better title, but what are you gonna do? I'm just sick of being told to meet people over and over again by movies).

Okay, I can't wait to see this one. In fact, I want to see this one as much as I didn't want to see Chicken Little. Not only does it seem to have the character and humor that was missing from Disney's so-called "first" foray into digital animation (is Dinosaur really so forgotten?), but the animation just looks better. It really looks good. Did you see the animation on Bowler Hat Guy as he was slinking along? That's wonderful character animation.

Here's a look at the characters in the film:















FRANKIE THE FROG (and goons)

I'm glad to see that, even with the apparent failures of Treasure Planet and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Disney hasn't given up on science fiction. This movie looks really good. Here's the long version of the trailer.

Meet the Robinsons is directed by Stephen J. Anderson and features the voices of Angela Bassett, Tom Selleck, Laurie Metcalf, Tom Kenny, Kelly Ripa, and Adam West. Hey, and it has music by Danny Elfman! It opens on 30 March 2007. And for the first time in roughly five years, it's the first Disney (non-Pixar) movie I'm really, really looking forward to

Great Science Books

Discover magazine just released their list of the 25 Greatest Science Books Ever Written. Here they are.

1 and 2 (tie). The Voyage of the Beagle and The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
3. Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy by Isaac Newton
4. Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems by Galileo Galilei
5. On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres by Nicolaus Copernicus
6. Physics by Aristotle
7. On the Fabric of the Human Body by Andreas Vesalius
8. Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein
9. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
10. One Two Three...Infinity by George Garnow
11. The Double Helix by James D. Watson
12. What Is Life? by Erwin Schrodinger
13. The Cosmic Connection by Carl Sagan
14. The Insect Societies by Edward O. Wilson
15. The First Three Minutes by Steven Weinberg
16. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
17. The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould
18. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
19. The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
20. The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard P. Feynman
21. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred C. Kinsey et al.
22. Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey
23. Under a Lucky Star by Roy Chapman Andrews
24. Micrographia by Robert Hooks
25. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth by James Lovelock

I am, truly, a science dilletante. Of the above, I've only read the Darwin, Sagan, Weinberg, Gould, Sacks, Kinsey, and Fossey books. I'm glad that they put that particular Gould book, The Mismeasure of Man, on the list, since Gould's writing also heavily promotes skepticism, which is important. And I'm glad they went with Fossey over Jane Goodall, though I'm a little surprised they did. And I just want to say...not one book on paleontology? Not even The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert T. Bakker? Something by Hoyle or by Arthur C. Clarke would've made my list, too. And where is Isaac Asimov? Well, you can't win 'em all, and that's the fun of lists like this.

I was also surprised that they didn't include A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Hawking's book made their list of runner-ups, but the editors at Discover seem to feel that Hawking's book is too advanced for dilletantes such as I. I wonder if they feel the same way about Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Aristotle, and Einstein?

Here are the other Honorable Mentions:
The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud
The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas
The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
The Structures of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

Again, nothing about paleontology... Man.

So many books I need to finally sit and read. There's even a list of the bestselling science books of the past 11 years, of which I've only read two: Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dunbar, which everyone really does need to read, and The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan, which I've read about four times now. Extremely good book about skepticism.

I can make a whole list of books I want to read just from this side bar. See?
When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy
Longitude by Dave Sobel
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out by Richard P. Feynman
The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking
The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester
A Short History of Everything by Bill Bryson

I also love David Ewing Duncan's Calendar, which no one here mentions.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Partner Equality/Individual Responsibility

There is an oral contraceptive for males that might, by a slim possibility, become commercially available within the next decade. There are a lot of columnists who might see this as a victory for the sexual equality that the Feminist movement used to claim they were after (that’s a whole other column there). Liz Stoever, in her 8 November Northern Star column headlined “New male birth control pill increases partner equality,” doesn’t disappoint. Typical of her writing, she presents another sunny, idealized, and incredibly na├»ve take on a genuine social issue.

She sees the development of a male oral contraceptive as some kind of grand victory for women. Stoever paints women as the saints of the entire birth control movement, chastising men for “lay[ing] back and let[ing] females deal with the side effects birth control may have.” It is our “turn” to handle birth control, and our “chance to lift the burden from the women.”

With that one turn of phrase, Liz Stoever effectively details what the Feminist movement has turned into. It’s our “turn”? Women are “burdened” by the oral contraceptive? I thought women were freed by it forty years ago? Has Stoever ever cracked a book on the history of the Feminist movement? Because the way I understood it, Feminism was about equality, not about what it’s turned into, which is the elevation of men over women. And it was also about personal responsibility, about women taking control of their bodies. Apparently Stoever wants women to be able to not have to deal with that control that was once seen as essential to a woman’s identity. Now she wants men to have to deal with birth control while women, in a sense, lay back and let men deal with it. But why does birth control have to be the responsibility of any one person in a relationship? If Liz Stoever had any idea of what partner equality was, she’d know that birth control was the responsibility of both partners.

Stoever goes on to ask an inflammatory non-question: “Isn’t it about time men receive the opportunity to better do their part in preventing pregnancy?” I don’t know, isn’t it about time that women who don’t think very deeply about Feminism stop asking questions that start with “isn’t it about time”? You know what? A lot of women I know who are on the pill went on it to better regulate their periods, anyway, not so they could have sex and not get pregnant. Stoever makes a huge mistake in addressing only the pregnancy issue and the equality non-issue. She says that “men should embrace this new discovery because it will allow them to be in control of their own contraceptives, instead of leaving it up to women.” Yeah, that’s all sunny and good, but it’s also incredibly stupid, especially with today’s generation of high school students, who in a recent poll overwhelmingly said that it should be illegal to publicly disagree with the president. Yeah, those guys seem like they’re really interested in social responsibility.

What I’m getting at here is that I think the development of a male oral contraceptive is a good thing. But Stoever acts as though this is going to free women from the apparent “burden” of having control over their own bodies and what they do with them. As though this somehow relieves them of the apparent “pressure” of looking after their own health. I don’t care if a man is taking an oral contraceptive. I don’t care if a woman is. Whoever you are, whatever sex you are, it is your responsibility. It isn’t your partner’s responsibility.

Stoever sums up her argument stupidly, reiterating her point about equality and saying “we may never have to hear ‘But she said she was on the pill!’ again.” Ms. Stoever, have you ever met a man in your life? It’s nice that you think every man is honest when it comes to sex, but what we’re going to hear a lot of is this: “But he said he was on the pill!” What science has really given men is a new excuse not to wear condoms. Because apparently you’re going to believe us if we say we’re on the pill.

And what did you forget to mention?

Now, most women I know are smart enough to understand that the pill should be in addition to the use of condoms. Men might have their own pill (or injection or patch or whatever) to stop the production of sperm, but they’re still going to have to wear condoms. Perhaps Liz Stoever has yet to hear of sexually transmitted diseases, but that is still an issue these days. In fact, numbers of AIDS cases are on the rise again, because you stupid kids weren’t around during the explosion of the 1980s. You didn’t see people dying from it. You dumb kids think that we’ve cured it, or that if you’re infected you’ll be able to “just take the treatment.” Hey, if you have the estimated $80,000 per year, why not, right? Assholes. I have to say there’s a real lack of social consciousness going on in a person’s mind when they look at a male oral contraceptive and see gender equality instead of another potential explosion of sexually transmitted diseases. With your freedom comes the responsibility of using it. And how many of you kids are going to be able to step up?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Four Walls Do Not a Prison Make

When trying to get to the heart of a societal issue, I try to refrain from this kind of general question, but the situation in DeKalb compels me: What the hell is going on?

The simple, unavoidable fact is this: there is a sharp rise in violent crime in DeKalb. There has always been crime here; this is, after all, a college town. There has always been mischief and petty theft and disruption. But earlier this year, for the first time in this town’s history, there was a gang shooting. This shocked everyone to their core. The image of DeKalb, especially on the part of the nearby, more populous counties (Rock, DuPage, Cook, Will), has been one of a peaceful little farm town. But the population in DeKalb County is growing steadily, and we are firmly in the grip of suburban sprawl. More and more of this place with the highest quality topsoil in the country is being lost to the concrete and asphalt conveniences of the suburbs. And crime is coming with it.

Over the summer, as fears of retribution violence seemed to calm, the memory of the gang shooting faded. Things went back to normal. Crime returned to its usual state, mostly drunk driving and cars being broken into for stray MP3 players. But when the students began to return in late August, things got bad again. The first week of classes, a student working as a delivery driver was robbed at knifepoint (and disturbingly close to my apartment complex at that). It turned out to be a harbinger of a growing wave of robberies and violence.

The biggest incident occurred over Homecoming weekend, nearly a month ago. Police presence on campus had been heightened considerably, but many accuse the city and the university of inept planning. Students living in the residence towers (again, disturbingly close to my apartment complex) were inconvenienced if any of them chose to eat during Homecoming. Because the student cafeterias close early on the weekends, most students are forced to order food; because of the regulations enforced on Homecoming weekend, students could not simply order their food and wait for it in the lobby. No, they had to go outside and away from the building to meet their delivery drivers.

Joseph M. Gnutek, Justin M. Pisellini, and a visiting friend of Pisellini’s had ordered from Domino’s, and were carrying their pizza back from the Grant North tower to their room at Grant South at 3 a.m. on 21 October when a car carrying four people pulled up next to them. Someone in the car asked for a piece of pizza; Pisellini’s friend responded with an annoyed “shut up.” Almost immediately, the men in the car were on top of them. According to Gnutek’s mother, the attackers surrounded and punched them, pushing them to the ground. Gnutek was kicked in the head repeatedly; the attackers were taking running starts. Ramon Castillo was awakened by the yelling; he saw Pisellini and his friends attempt to walk away from men who had surrounded them, and saw the attack break out; of Pisellini he said: “Once he hit the ground, the all started kicking him.”

Pisellini’s injuries have garnered the most attention. He was kicked so badly that, according to NBC, the imprint of his attacker’s heel was clearly visible on his forehead the next day. Knocked unconscious and left for dead, Pisellini suffered broken cheekbones and a broken eye socket. All three of the victims were taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital.

Two of the attackers were NIU students. They were all arrested soon after the attack, and two of them confessed. At least, that was supposed to be the case immediately after the attack. Reports now say that there are three attackers: Martell D. Hunter, an NIU student, and two men from Chicago, Christopher Jones and Gregory Daniels. Arrest warrants have been issued for them. Martell and his brother Danell turned themselves into police this week; their hearing is scheduled for Friday. Jones and Daniels have yet to be found.

The university has, naturally, come under intense criticism. Kelly Wesener, executive director of Housing and Dining, says that the rules were put in place to maintain “a safe and secure environment, particularly during times with many visitors on campus. Due to the increased number of guests on our campus for Homecoming, we want to be certain that those who are not residents or registered guests are unable to access our buildings.” Wesener has nothing to say about the attack or the inconvenience that contributed to it.

The most shocking aspect of this entire incident, however, is the outpouring of racial sentiments that have come with it. It began with a letter to the NIU paper, the Northern Star, from one Briana LaGrone, who seemed unable to understand the importance of an attack on students on her own campus. She lamented that the paper had not reported on the Homecoming king and queen, and then asked: “Is it because the Homecoming king and queen were black and the kid who was assaulted was white and the four young men who beat him up were black? Did you know that the white young man allegedly called them [racial slurs] before they assaulted him?” She also urged the Star to “get the facts straight.”

In an interview with the Star, Pisellini says he “did not make one racial slur” and that he is angered that anyone would think he would. He posits that people are making this up to turn it into a racial issue, and I’m not sure he’s wrong. The letters page of the Star has been a battleground of racial issues ever since. Some seem to clearly take the side of the black attackers and regard the entire issue with a skepticism the students here never seem to exercise when it comes to actual learning. Despite the fact that the Star never even mentioned the races of the students involved, many (including some members of the NAACP) are attempting to spin this into a larger issue of racial injustice. They have alleged that the police presence over Homecoming weekend was selective in targeting black students on purpose. Are they alleging that the police created an atmosphere of racial tension that created this sudden outburst of violence?

Or are they actually irresponsible enough to suggest that, if a white man calls a black man a racial slur, then it is somehow appropriate to beat him half to death? That it somehow excuses the fact that, whatever their race, four men violently attacked and beat three others because they wouldn’t give someone a slice of pizza? Are they trying to suggest that the victims somehow deserved what happened to them?

Turning this into a racial issue has somehow pulled the student body away from the realities of a criminal act on their campus and got them debating a societal construct that does not enter into it at all. It has taken the focus off of the growing crime problem in DeKalb and the safety of students and the people that live here. It is a massive social irresponsibility. When are people going to be grown-up enough to stop talking about name-calling and start recognizing violence for what it is? Am I out of line to suggest that we punish violence? Or do hurt feelings justify a beating?

Hollaback Sonnet

In all the Classical statuary,
With all their marble so white and tawny,
All the goddesses stand ordinary
Without the beauty of Gwen Stefani.
The curves of thy body, thy winsome thighs,
Thy milky skin as snow, thy gaze intense;
The merest flick of thy violet eyes
Does thrill my ardor and my tumescence.
Gwen, O Gwen, by all of heaven’s fair grace,
May I spread my seed all over thy face?

14 November 2006

Monday, November 13, 2006

Language Notes

These are some notes that I've been preparing to use as part of the appendix to a novel I've been working on. Needless to say, I'm calling copyright 2006 Aaron R. Davis on this one.


Annoyance: An interruption reminding one of the existences of others.

Caste System: Foolish method by which a society shuts out the possibility of useful ideas from certain sectors of humanity, thereby cutting off progress and order.

Death: The only known cure to the disease of existence.

Deus ex Machina: The insertion of a gun into a film allowing uncreative filmmakers to let the 3rd act devolve into violence and action instead of creating a realistic conclusion.

Devil's Advocate: 1. A person who likes to hear themselves talk, even though they have nothing to say. 2. One who asks questions with no real answers. 3. A mental masturbator.

Dialect: 1. Regional pronunciation of a language. 2. Code term for the inability to speak well (visit the state of Louisiana for examples). 3. Proof that language will often stop evolving at a given point. 4. Mispronunciation given by people who are too lazy to speak clearly or even learn how to.

Discourse: The human ability (now considered lost) to converse, theorize, and analyze a problem or concept in a rational matter rather than exhibiting a blind reaction.

Doctor: A licensed drug dealer.

Dream: 1. The beautiful music of a profound, unremembered revelation, never to be heard again. 2. A height of perception which cannot be reached while awake; one of the saddest truths of human existence. Ref. "We live as we dream--alone." (Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness)

Emotionalism: Mode of thought for those who do not trust themselves to think clearly.

Ebonics: 18th Century sharecropper dialect that many blacks have decided to keep alive into modern times and wear as a badge of honor as some sort of revolution against the English language.

Euphemism: A lie.

Evolution: The natural process by which people become weaker and less able.

Facts: 1. Things which everyone knows, but no one knows why. 2. The hardest things to prove, usually because they can be proven.

Faith: The thin explanation of things not seen, preferably one that keeps certain people in power.

Fate: The name people give to a turn of rotten luck, ceding disappointment in the name of a "higher power" that controls their gratification.

Familiarity: The sin of interaction.

Free Will: 1. The innate control of one's own destiny that is born with each person, but hard to exercise in any society. 2. A Catholic loophole to explain the non-intervention of a supposedly all-seeing deity.

Gardener: One who plays God with non-sentient organisms.

"Happen to Be": A phrase used by Liberal PC apologists who are too "thoughtful" to just call a spade a spade. A way to lie through the use of language.

History: One writer's interpretation of that which can be observed.

Homage: 1. When one admits to pastiching or plagiarizing and expects to be forgiven because of his/her "respect" for the original. 2. An acknowledged rip-off. 3. Stealing and pretending not to.

Homosexuals: 1. Same sex lovers who threaten the sanctity of a pop star’s 55-hour marriage. 2. Courageous people who are willing to invite the scorn of society in order to be true to themselves and their own happiness.

Internship: Legal slavery disguised as a "learning experience."

Intellectualism: Mode of thought for those who do not trust their emotions, or find them distasteful.

Ignorance: The natural (often preferred) state of humanity, except in rare cases.

Irony: Narrative trick used for people who cannot think their way to an ethical solution.

Jazzturbation: An inconsequential hybrid knock-off of jazz and Muzak, with no inherent musical value, i.e. "Smooth Jazz."

Language: A concept of verbal communication created to make lying easier, sex more difficult, and generally complicate human existence.

Maturity: The point at which people become willing to give up what they want and accept what they have.

Memory: 1. The last remnant of a lost moment in time. Ref. "I wonder if a memory is something you have or something you've lost." (Woody Allen, Another Woman)

Method Acting: A way for those with no real talent or imagination to fake emotions.

Masturbation: 1. Sex without going to the trouble of talking to other people. 2. The most gratifying of sexual acts; one you can do alone. Ref. “Don’t knock masturbation, it’s sex with someone I love.” (Woody Allen, Sleeper)

Minority: Whomever the leaders want to keep in a lower class, regardless of actual size. (See RACE)

Nipple: 1. Something that makes three pounds of fat look sexy. 2. The most dangerous thing a child could ever see (religious interpretation).

Obscenity: Something that makes people think, which is always terrifying to them.

Peace of Mind: Not having to deal with the suffering of other people.

Prayer: 1. Admission of terror over the lack of control one has over tragic events. 2. What a person does during a tragedy or crisis because admitting one can do nothing would destroy them. 3. Arrogant action taken when one feels one knows better than another what the outcome of their lives should be.

Privilege: Something one has that another is jealous of (negative connotation). Often named in an attempt to instill guilt for one's own enjoyment; example: "Your social life is a privilege."

Progress: The natural direction of humanity; often fought against by humans.

Race: An unscientific concept put forward to explain one people's insecurity towards another.

Religion: 1. The worship of oneself and one's own causes. Example: a sportsman praying for victory while millions of Africans die. 2. An organization of superstitions.

Sarcasm: 1. Retort that intellectuals mistake for irony, betraying a complete lack of dialectic misunderstanding. 2. Unwieldy weapon whose use allows dumb people to pretend they have made an argument.

Serenity: The absence of others.

Servant: A person without whom the fabric of life would fray.

Sexuality: The entire purpose of and reason for being alive. Offensive to the religious and the socially inept, and yet the only thing everyone has in common.

Teasing: A way of insulting someone that allows the teaser to pretend they aren’t serious.

Thought: A mild inconvenience most have learned to ignore.

Troubling: Word used to describe a problem no one devotes time to thinking about.

Vegetarian: One who advocates genocide of agriculture.

Weed: An undesirable plant deemed not pleasing enough to live by advocates of botanical eugenics.

Wedding: 1. An occasion where one shows off one's love for the benefit of others. 2. A device to rub one's happiness in the face of everyone else. 3. A nervous, underplanned party that feeds on exorbitant sums of money.

APPENDIX: Phraseological Evolution

1. Odin's blood! = Od's blood! = Od's bodkins! = God's bodkins! = Gadzooks!

2. Odin's wounds! = Od's wounds! = God's wounds! = 'Swounds! = Zounds!

This is how a phrase devolves and distills over time, becoming a common phrase even though the origin of the phrase may not be remembered or understood by many.

In some case, too much language is added, which obscures a direct meaning and makes it easy to take things less seriously. Often, it can be used to lie.

3. Shell Shock = Battle Fatigue = Battle Stress Syndrome = Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Which one sounds the most serious? (Credit to George Carlin for this example.)

4. Mixed = Diverse = Ethnically Diverse = Multicultural

In this way, language is too often used to hide the simple truth evident from a direct phrasing. Multicultural, for example, is such a recent manifestation of white liberal guilt that it does not appear in Microsoft Office 2003's spell check. Language can be used to make a disease sound nicer, making it less real and less dire.

5. Deaf = hearing impaired

6. Blind = visually impaired

7. Retarded = mentally challenged

8. Crippled = handicapped

Perhaps if we don't call them retarded, they won't be retarded anymore. True, not all mentally challenged people are retarded. On the other hand, all retarded people are mentally challenged. Not all visually impaired people are blind, either. Some just need strong prescriptions.

This can also occur when races are involved. Besides being an invalid biological concept (all humans are of one race, merely different ethnic developments), race is also something one sees hidden in language.

9. Black = Negro = African-American

Are all blacks from Africa? No. If black is insulting, should we call whites Caucasian-Americans?Or European-Americans? And what politically correct watered down terms do they use in Britain? African-British?

10. Indian = Native American

The so-called Indians are natives to this continent, and not to America as a nation. They are a conquered people, and no amount of half-assed apologia through terminology will make us appear less guilty now.

The setting is an American school. Everyman walks the hall, along with his guardian angel, Nous. They come upon an English teacher, Mrs. Backpeddle.

Mrs. Backpeddle: Step right up, young man, step right up! Today's special is refried theory with half-baked execution! And only for the next few days, we've also got some undercooked ideas (still soft in the middle) and some succulent backchat only slightly chewed! Get them while they're underheated!

Everyman: Sounds good to me!

Nous: Not to me. What's the point of all these ideas if they come from somewhere else? They're not even completely cooked! Where did you get these?

Mrs. Backpeddle: It's simple, son! It's easy! Reading is easy, and just swallowing what you read is much better than having to pick it apart to see if you can digest it! They all come out of books written by the masters!

Nous: Wait; does that mean that you're selling ideas that can't even be digested? That's just all around terrible for the body!

Mrs. Backpeddle: How could you? I would never, ever sell indigestible ideas! This is a high school, sir: I'm giving them away!


Too often, people speak in quantitative terms, as though indefinable concepts such as good or evil could ever be absolute.

Accept other people's opinions or points of view, but ask people why they believe what they do. "Because I was raised that way" is not a valid argument. You will often find that people have not examined their own thoughts, feelings, and attitudes.

Most of what your parents say is garbage designed to make you exactly as unhappy as they are.

Situational ethics define one's life more clearly than moralism does. It is all well and good to say you believe something is wrong, but what will you do when the time comes to test that belief? What happens to the belief that murder is wrong when survival is thrown into the equation? A moral with conditions attached to it is no longer absolute, and is therefore no longer a moral. The most important aspect of this is a single word question: "Why?"

There is no evil; there are only choices that lead to lives filled with selfishness. "Only connect," as E.M. Forster advised. Beliefs and cultures must be transcended, objectivity must be maintained, and compassion must endure.

Absurdism is a form of rationalism; how much can a person really control, and how does he/she deal with it? Does all knowledge come from the admittance that one knows nothing? What is this bullshit about being able to do something if you just put your mind to it? How does having the right mindset influence knowledge from experience? And just what is the right mindset?

Animals do not have rights because animals do not understand the concept of rights and cannot extend the consideration to man. To animals, people are just other animals with a place in the food chain, and they are right. A tiger would not hesitate to kill me, so why should I not kill it? The solution is not to go out of your way to kill it: that would be murder.

Punk music is about politics, not personal problems. Politics are what allow you to deal with the personal problems. It could be argued that the entire process of Western civilization is a struggle for more free time so that the personal problems can be addressed creatively. Emo is music in which men in their thirties lament being dumped in high school. It is not punk, nor should it be called so.

In life it is not necessary to respect the religious superstitions of others. All religions preach the same level of oppression. The folly of respecting the beliefs of others leads to a world where difference is feared rather than understood.

Fear makes people stupid, but ignorance makes fear irrational. People must be more thoughtful.

Language barriers must be broken down. People must be free to admit who they are if they intend to ever be happy.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Basil Poledouris 1945-2006

Basil Poledouris is my favorite film music composer of all time. He died from cancer complications just four days ago at the age of 61. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, he was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church and would credit the sound of the choir with inspiring his interest in music. He went on to study film music as part of the famous “Movie Brat” generation at the University of Southern California. His music is best known for being powerful and epic, more in the style of earlier composers such as Miklos Rosza and Alex North, whose scores (as Poledouris’s) were intricately layered with complex themes and dissonant rumbles that called out emotional responses without being phony. Poledouris was perhaps the only composer left who knew how to use the heroic theme in a way that was both legendary and personal. His influence on my life is incalculable. He will be missed.

I don’t know any better way to tribute the man than to let the work speak for itself. To that end, here’s a 10 minute tribute that was put together by BSOSpirit.

I recommend the entirety of the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack. It is, quite simply, the greatest film score of all time. And like the truly great ones, you can listen to it away from the film (I often do) and it tells its own story. It lives as a sort of long symphonic poem. I had to restrain myself and just put up my favorite scene here.

Otherwise, here’s my list of Basil Poledouris essentials, which I recommend wholeheartedly.

The Blue Lagoon (1980)
Flesh & Blood (1985)
RoboCop (1987)
Lonesome Dove (1989)
Quigley Down Under (1990)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Wind (1992)
Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1994)
Starship Troopers (1997)

Basil Poledouris’s official website is here, and his obituary is here. Thank you, Basil, you will be missed. Your work lives.

Song of the Week: "Beeswing"

I tend to love anyone that was in Fairport Convention, but I especially love Richard Thompson. I think this is probably his most beautiful song, and it never fails to affect me when I hear it. It's especially nice in the fall, I think. It makes me feel very deeply.