papal facepalm

A Sane, Sensible Discussion of Laudato Si, the Pope’s Environmental Encycical.

Over at Ace of Spades.

To summarize:

  1. The Pope is not infallible on matters of science. Anyone, even Catholics, are free to disagree with his assessment of scientific knowledge. The Holy Spirit does not assist with that.
  2. The Pope’s theology in this encyclical is solid. Ultimately, we cannot damage the earth without damaging ourselves, and our relationship with God. We are of the earth: “Dust thou art, and to dust thous shalt return.” That remains true even if everything an AGW skeptic says is true.
  3. The Pope is Catholic. In the encyclical, the Pope points out that “abortion, “coercive means of population control, experimentation on embryos, and other offenses against the sanctity of life are part of the very same callous stance towards the natural world that the environmentalists deplore.” So everyone who got themselves excited about the Environmentalist Pope should take these words seriously, and not just relegate them to a paragraph that starts with “The document isn’t perfect….”, right?

Best part of this post:

This is really the basic point about this faith — you can’t pick and choose what bits of it you like to believe. Catholicism is a faith that generally takes the middle path. This is why the sophomoric “What would Jesus do?” rejoinder to any political argument is laughable. Jesus wasn’t a politician. Jesus would forgive sin…then he would tell you to go forth and sin no more. See? The touchy-feely Jesus co-exists with the judgmental Jesus. It’s not like Highlander. People are quite fond of confirmation bias when it comes to Jesus Christ.

Everyone loves the Sermon on the Mount. Everyone ignores the parts about cutting off your left hand to avoid sin and coming not to bring peace but the sword.

hypetrain

Game of Thrones Just Did That Thing It Does.

Killing the charactes we like, making us like the characters we hate.

{Warning: Contains spoilers. Also Swearing.}

At this point, we’ve been down this road so many times that some of us are starting to feel numb to it. This season has left a bad taste in many fans’ mouth, because the usual collection of horrible things had no balance with anything good happening. Storylines seemed condensed, rushed, or just pointless. Everything that happened in Dorne felt tired and very lazy, and contrived to build up to a entirely predictable shock ending.

Shock endings are what the showrunners have been accused of primarily trading in, to the exclusion of proper character arcs. I’ve heard this since at least the Red Wedding. At it’s getting hard to deny.

{More Spoilers below SERIOUS YOU GUYS DON’T READ}

Jon Snow’s death in the books comes after a last straw. He receives a threatening, cryptic letter from Ramsay Bolton, and decides to go off and fight him. This represents the total betrayal of what the Night’s Watch is, and could even threaten it’s continued existence (if say, the Boltons or Lannisters decided they were an enemy). So a group of guys who’v’e been mostly loyal to him, if uncomfortable with letting the wildlings through the wall, turn on him “for the Watch”. It actually makes sense.

On the show, it’s done because Ser Alliser Thorne and other grumpy bigots just have to hate on them wildlings (in the books, Thorne is away ranging when Jon is killed and has nothing to do with it), and it’s done via a goofy pretext about Benjen Stark that was designed to do nothing but trick the show audience via the “previously on” that appears before the episode. All misdirection and shock, no character growth or even continuity.

What does this mean going forward? More of the same. People will die, on minimal, flimsy pretexts, and we will be shocked by this. The people we hate now will get theirs, too, just as soon as we’ve lost any possibility of being satisfied by it (remember how much we hated the Lannisters? those were simpler times).

And at some point, one character or other will get the whole picture, and will have the means and the will to stop the White Walkers. I don’t know who that is yet, but in the meantime, anyone getting in the way of them is going to have to fall in line or be pruned.

GoT

bbking

B.B. King, Zero 7 and Jupiter One: Music Links for the Weekend.

A Study has confirmed what we already know to be true: We stop caring about popular music sometime in our thirties. Men drop out faster than women do, apparently.
Which means the last band I got into will probably be the Black Keys. I’m okay with that.

B.B. King, RIP. His first recording was in 1949:

Looks like I’ll be listening to Live at the Regal sometime this weekend.

They let you make any old stuff on the YooToobz. I was farting around with Google+ yesterday, because Facebook is getting increasingly on my nerves. That led to farting around on my YouTube channel, and in the space of about an hour, I made two videos. The first was done with my laptop’s MovieMaker, using any old images I happened to have on hand, with a Zero 7 tune from my iTunes as audio:

The second I made entirely on YouTube, using b-roll footage and music that was under their Creative Commons License. I slapped some filters on it, timed the transitions to shifts in the music, and Voila:

The band is called Jupiter One. It has a nice feel to it. I don’t know why it’s called “Riot”, but it is. Enjoy.

Why Aging Tommen doesn’t Bother Me: A Game of Thrones Pondering

There’s a nice fat Tumblr post here serving up all the dudgeon about the fact that the show version of Tommen Baratheon has been aged-up sufficiently to consummate his marriage with Margarey Tyrell (in the books, Tommen is only eight at the time of his succession, and so Margarey manipulates him in other ways). The gist:

So we’ve got a thirteen-year-old and an adult in her mid-twenties, having sex. Having sex as a means for the adult to coerce and manipulate the child.

This is abusive.

I’m not going to waste my time arguing about statutory rape, or plain old rape, or sexual abuse, or the difference between those terms or their applicability to this situation, because it really doesn’t matter. No matter what you call it, this situation is CLEARLY not an healthy expression of sexuality and it’s CLEARLY a case of a character, a child character, being exploited.

I don’t want to make light of child abuse, but I feel a strong need to explain why few of us are bothered by this, at least, not in the way this writer is. Yes, on every level, Margarey and Tommen’s relationship is unequal. And negative consequences will proceed therefrom. But here’s why I’m not worked up over it:

  1. This is exactly what happend to Danaerys. Dany was a child-ish bride, too; married off at her brother’s order to a man of an alien culture who cared very little about her at the time of their wedding. It was a relationship of unequals, and it was physically much rougher than Margarey and Tommen. In other words, the show established early on that in this world, this sort of thing simply happens (as it did in the medieval world it’s based on, when royal children were considered old enough much earlier). It’s hard to start making Strong Principled Objections at this point.
  2. Tommen gets manipulated either way. I know it seems infintely worse to manipulate an adolescent with coitus than to manipulate a boy with kittens, but in either case, Tommen is a child-king stuck between two queens, both of him want to keep him under their thumb so they can rule in his name. In either case, a minor is having his feelings used to to exploit him. Sure, one is sexual and one is not. The difference is not small, making the question “But why switch from giving a child kittens to sleeping with a young teen?” a legitimate one. But here’s some insight into that…
  3. Tommen Baratheon is DOOMED.  “Gold shall be their crowns, and gold their shrouds…” There’s more than enough evidence in the books to suggest that Tommen will not live to see manhood, that he will die horribly (my money’s on being devoured by Viserion. Why Viserion? Seems right somehow), probably in his mother’s presence. There have been very few bright spots in Tommen’s life. He lost his “father” at a young age, was abused by his brother, watched that same brother die at his own wedding, and is now a King in name only, being pushed about by his elders, and he’s regarded as either an abomination or a usurper by his remaining rivals through no fault of his own. He had thus far displayed no capacity for even understanding his political situation, let alone dealing with it.

Consequently, when I saw the marriage-consummation scene, my thought was, “well, at least he gets to have this.” One moment of happiness, one moment of enjoying being king, before all the forces arrayed against him slowly, and then quickly, tear him to pieces.

Horror Movies: A Mood, or a Series of Tropes?

Since Scream, there’s been an expectation of a certain level of meta-horror film, a film that turns the tropes upside down. Parodies of the genre have become almost old hat.

Films like Cabin in the Woods and Funny Games are of a piece with this idea, that the “genre is dead” and that deconstruction is necessary and possible, that we can talk our way out of this.

Nope. The essential message of Cabin in the Woods is that we enjoy visiting false visions of terror onto ourselves, in order to stave off the real thing. And while it’s useful to ruminate on why that happens, ultimately it defies explanation.

For example, I recently put Wolfcop into my Netflix list. I don’t remember doing that, and when I spotted it there when flipping through the list with my wife one evening when the kids were in bed. We both vigorously denied having put it in the list before deciding to watch it.

It was precisely what we expected: a rather silly, but competently shot B-movie. We both enjoyed it. And while the script had a couple of MST3K-level moments (wife: “Apparently everything happens in the local honky-tonk at 10:30 in the morning.”), we were more impressed with the visual mood the film created when it was moving from plot point to plot point. What it lacked in script it made up in cinematography and mood.

A sense of doom and foreboding is not something civilization loses. Horror is a means of dealing with it. It will always have an audience, no matter how earnestly nerds intone otherwise.

Nigeria Army Rescues 200 Girls and 93 women from Boko Haram

Andrew:

Unexpected good news is the best kind….

Originally posted on American Infidels:

By Ben Ariel
Soldiers from multinational force fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria
Soldiers from multinational force fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria

Nigeria’s army has rescued 200 girls and 93 women during a military operation to wrest back the Sambisa Forest from the Boko Haram Islamist terrorist group, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

“Troops this afternoon rescued 200 girls and 93 women from Sambisa Forest. We cannot confirm if the Chibok girls are in this group,” the army said on Tuesday, adding Nigerian troops had also destroyed three camps run by the terrorists there.

Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls near the northern village of Chibok in April 2014, causing an international outcry.

Diplomats and intelligence officials say they believed at least some of the girls were being held in the forest about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Chibok, although U.S. reconnaissance drones failed to find them.

Nigerian forces backed by warplanes invaded the vast former colonial…

View original 137 more words

The Game of Thrones Celebration Post de Jeur

It’s such fun as a cord-cutter, having HBONow, watching GoT like a real show, instead of bingeing it a year later.

It’s also sort of fun as a book-reader, now that small divergences are leading to major divergences. Pretty much all of Brienne and Podrick’s current arc did not happen in the books, and this is largely due to a certain character no longer being present. Jaime and Bronn’s current show arc didn’t happen in the books. Sansa and Littlefinger’s arc may bear some rough estimate to what happens in TWOW, but I’ll have to wait until next year to know. I’ve stopped minding this and decided to enjoy the surprise of it.

So we’ve got stuff from the fourth book and stuff from the fifth book, which are supposed to run concurrently, getting possibly overtaken by stuff from the sixth book, which isn’t published yet.

allrightythen

It’s also fun to completely nerd out with deep, New Criticism-level readings of the existing books. If you’re the sort of person who’s ever thought the words “Game of Thrones? You Mean ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’?” then you should definitely check out A Winterfell Huis Clos, which analyzes the Winterfell scenes from A Dance With Dragons.  Just be prepared to hand in your nerd card, because this guy has out-nerded us all. The layers of meaning and the significance of minor characters we don’t even recall will Keanu your mind.