Book II: The Subtle Knife

Nooooo! The cowboy died! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!


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(that was a spoiler)

A Three Hour Tour Gone Horribly Wrong

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Lies

As a general rule I don’t believe in the benevolent lie. I believe it’s possible to tell the truth judiciously, which is to say tactfully, but I don’t believe in lying for the sake of good, not to people who aren’t your sworn enemies anyway. I remember one day when my two middle kids put me on the spot, asking me if there was a Santa Clause. Knowing their mother may have lied to them about this, and unwilling as I was to start a needless scandal, I replied “I don’t believe in Santa Clause.” It was a tactful statement that was 100% true.

A short while after that I remember my kids saying something about not wanting to go to church (their mother’s destination of choice). My sister, an avowed atheist, but of a feeler ilk, replied that church was good and would teach them right from wrong. Now be be perfectly fair my sister might actually believe this, as some atheists believe that the steaming masses are incapable of refraining from killing and raping each other without the belief in the heavenly Eye in the Sky and a host of angels keeping a list of who is Naughty and Nice. I, however, am not (and have never been) in favor of deceiving people I love in the name of a greater good. I challenged my sister on this point, in the presence of my children, and asked her how she could say that church was good. She did not respond as I think she was afraid of speaking her true thoughts in the presence of children. I challenged her again, asking if she believed in God. My sister responded like the consummate politician: “My beliefs are a private matter.” How very weaselly.

The idea that Truth is only accessible or desirable for a small percentage is an elitist proposition that has no place in an ethical world view. I don’t believe in benevolent lies any more than I believe in sacrificing a few innocent people for the common good or that there is an acceptable level of arsenic for a tuna fish sandwich. If the Truth is sometimes rough it’s because Reality is often that way. It is neither desirable nor useful to compound those problems by falsifying reality (an exception, as Ayn Rand pointed out, being medical situations where a patient might be aided by the placebo effect). Situations like that aside, I can’t think of a valid reason for lying to people for their own good.

“Grandma’s sleeping.”

No, the bitch is dead. And if you don’t own up to that your kids are going to have nightmares and perhaps sleeping disorders and the fault is going to lie (pun intended) 100% with you.

Son (age about 8): Have you ever been to jail?
Me: Yes, and if you ever do anything to get arrested don’t fight the cops or try to run. They’re going to win and if you fight back things are going to turn out bad.

Wife: Do I look like I’ve gained some weight?
Me: Ask me again when you’re on the other side of bulletproof glass.

Sometimes a non answer is in order. A lie is still not necessary.

Rights

There is a a post over at UNLV’S Super Sexy Message Board regarding universal health care. It’s well written and I agree with the post in its entirety. I would like to go off on a tangent and talk about the supposed “right” to health care.

Many people have a complete misunderstanding of rights in a free society. If you have a right to life, that means I do not have the right to take your life away from you without just cause. It doesn’t mean I have to provide you with life or that you can sue me for not giving you my kidney if we are a match. If you have a right to liberty that means I do not have the right to imprison you or otherwise hold you against your will. It does NOT mean that I have the duty to don a cape and search peoples basements on the off-chance someone is being shackled and enslaved by some madman. If you have the right to the pursuit of happiness, it does not mean that I have the responsibility to provide that happiness for you. And your right to health care means that I cannot stop you from getting insurance or seeing the doctor. It does not mean that I have to provide these things for you. And there is my position on Universal Health Coverage.

As an aside some idiot on World of Warcraft tried to beg money off me yesterday. I was on unfamiliar territory and told him I needed to find a griffin. I offered him a silver piece and he said “More. Gold!” I called him a bum and told him to get a job. Unbelievable.

Jews

When I was a kid I didn’t know any Jews. To rephrase, I’m sure I knew people who were Jewish, I just didn’t know that they were. It was really a non-issue in my childhood. It wasn’t until I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X in my teenage years that I was aware that anti-Semitism still existed in the post World War II era. At that time the only acquaintance I had who I knew was Jewish was my classmate Eden Schaeffer. She was a flute player in our marching band and she seemed harmless enough but The Autobiography made me suspect that Jews were running underground presses and burying gold around every corner.

When I was in the brig I was friends with this Jewish guy named Tom Heyward. He didn’t do anything dastardly or particularly take-over-the-world Jewishy. He was quite the normal friend and I was forced to admit that Malcolm X (who I admired then and still do in many respects) was perhaps wrong on the Jewish question. The early 1990s ushered in a new era with old carryovers, such as Ice Cube’s lyrics from “No Vaseline” where he chastises the other members of NWA with “Cuz you let a Jew break up my crew.” Unfortunately being a member of a group that has been discriminated against does not inoculate someone from discriminating against other groups themselves. You would think suffering injustice would make one more cognizant of these things but it doesn’t.

And where am I at on this today? Southpark’s Matt Stone and my favourite philosopher Ayn Rand are both of Jewish lineage (Stone is agnostic and Rand was an atheist). My favorite cognitive scientist Steven Pinker is also of a Jewish background and I have read like three and a half of his books. Please note that if I say Jewish descent or lineage, it’s because many people, upon leaving the Jewish faith, still regard themselves as Jews. But that’s a whole ‘nother issue that is too complex to address here. I also admire and have read books written by the esteemed attorney Alan Dershowitz. I don’t go out of my way to seek out Jewish thinkers, it’s just that they’re all so deliciously crafty. 😀

What I’m getting at, my esteemed homies, is that I don’t agree with demonizing groups of people based on their faith or ethnicity. Now today I read about some cowardice like this. That stuff is so lame. If you really hate somebody don’t write it on their house, have the balls to tell them so in a letter. Put your real name and return address too if you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. I suspect most of this racist stuff is done in secret because deep down inside the perpetrators know they are wrong. And while you’re at it, your swastika is supposed to be at an angle (to imply forward motion) and green was never the color of the National Socialists. Stupid anti-semitic n00bs.

Lyra

From Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass”:

The intercessor was a plump, elderly man known as Father Heyst. It was his job to lead all the College services, to preach and pray and hear confessions. When Lyra was younger, he had taken an interest in her spiritual welfare, only to be confounded by her sly indifference and insincere repentances. She was not spiritually promising, he had decided.

/laugh

Plausible Deniability

When you’re gonna disappear for a while, to “do dirt”, or whatever it is you do, it’s never a good idea to claim to have been kidnapped. As much as you might think this gives you carte blanche to just do anything without having to account for your time away, it’s ultimately way too much hassle because the police (and sometimes the feds) are sure to get involved. When you’re going to disappear for a while and you need to make up a story, try to keep it within reason.

I’ve mentioned this before in the comments but I’m going to give a fuller story now. I once knew this dude named Charles who was a 30-something year old dude who was working at Hot-n-Now (if that’s any indicator of his mental prowess). This guy disappeared on his wife Linda for a weekend. She could not locate him anywhere and she was worried sick. When he resurfaced on Monday her fear gave way to anger. Charles claimed to have been arrested and jailed in another jurisdiction (Linda had already called Lansing Police Department and Ingham County Jail with no results).

This mythical other jurisdiction was a bizzaro fantasy county where they did not allow criminal defendants the one proverbial phone call and furthermore they did not maintain any records of arrests or even bother charging Charles with anything. They kept him detained for the exact same amount of time it would have taken for him to spend a weekend having a torrid affair. It was a terrible story but you must give Charles credit because he never wavered from it, although the tale was too fanciful to have ever been believed. Heh. Now my Jenny Jones appearance where I disappeared on Carol having claimed to be going to the store to buy a box of cereal doesn’t sound so far-fetched does it? 😀

At this point I would like to elaborate and say that I am fully aware that my going to the store to buy a box of cereal story was not and never was intended to be sufficient to account why I left on a Friday and didn’t turn up until Monday morning (kind of like Jesus). It was enough that my story sufficed to get me OUT of the house of Friday and that was good enough. It was devised to serve a utilitarian purpose as well as with an eye to being able to retell the story for posterity.

No, my dear homies. If you’re going to take some time out to do dirt, don’t get all elaborate in weaving a tangled web. Remember the old adage about keeping it simple and things are sure to go a lot smoother. Either that or you can claim to have gotten amnesia kind of like Victor Newman on Young and the Restless. Shut up, my ex used to tape those and watch them every night so I ended up knowing the storylines entirely against my will.

Movie Review: The Golden Compass

Imagine a world where people’s “souls” are external animal tagalong creatures called demons, and that these creatures manifest the characteristics of the person they belong to. Further imagine that a person with a fierce demeanor would have a demon which was an aggressive monkey and that a cunning person would be have a demon snake as his companion. Such is the world of The Golden Compass which is the story of a young girl’s fight against the ecclesiastical powers that be, although in the movie they are are not called The Church but their Catholic costumes are a dead giveaway. The external demons seem to symbolize person’s innate character, without which people would not be fully human. In the story people have demons whereas animals do not.

Much has been made about the author (Phillip Pullman)’s atheism and the story’s supposed anti-theist message. For what it’s worth, however, the underlying message could just as well be seen as an argument against autocratic dogmatism. The movie begins, in fact, with the narrator discussing all existence as a multiverse, although it doesn’t actually use that word, it plainly speaks of other dimensions and parallel coexisting universes that mimic and rival each other. None of this, of course, technically refutes or demands the non-existence of a Creator god so angry theists should just STFU and stop noobing it up. Anyway.

The world of The Golden Compass is under the heel of the Catholic Church the Magisterium, which is putting forth all its efforts to suppress the golden compasses which are Truth Telling Devices that only the very elite can use. The spooky British kid protagonist Lyra (Dakota Richards) has that ability so the church Magisterium dispatches the evil witch Nicole Kidman (cast as herself) in order to bludgeon the girl into submission. It was Kidman’s second time being cast in such a role (she was also the authoritarian dogmatic Christian mother portrayed in “The Others”) and the job she did was convincing and served to place the audience’s sympathies with Lyra. Lyra manages to escape Nicole Kidman’s evil clutches and along the way she manages to win over the help of one of the polar bears from that Coca-Cola commercial and some random Gypsies (who, in in this other dimension parallel world, are referred to as Gyptians, ooh, how paralelly!)

There are also flying, bow-slinging witches in this movie, although they aren’t very well explained which means now I’ll have to read the book. Also the old leathery-faced cowboy from The Big Lebowski appears and reprises his role as (what else?) an old leathery-faced cowboy. The story also does a good job of interspersing old fashioned contraptions with new fangled technology so that this story does not seem to be set in the past or the future but, as it should be, in another reality entirely. They even stole the blimp from Southpark’s Imagination Land or (amazingly) it was thought up by two different sets of writers at the same time. The only unsettling thing about this world was that the minority problem was apparently solved by not having any. What kind of cuisine would that leave? I might be wrong about that, I’ll have to scan the townspeople when I go watch the movie again.

I liked this movie, but I’m not sure if it’s because it proves yet again that British kids are smarter than Nicole Kidman or if it’s because of the climactic fight between two rival polar bears. It might have even been because of the story itself. The only thing that sux is that, since it’s a trilogy, I don’t know how the story ends. Thanks a lot Phillip Pullman, now I have to go buy the books.

Hillary Clinton

I wish people would stop anthropomorphizing Hillary Clinton. I’ve heard people speculate about how rough it must have been for her when Slick Willie was caught busting a nut on Monica Lewinski. Pu-fucking-shaw! That’s not a normal marriage and it hasn’t been for decades. Bill/Hillary Inc. has been a political entity in the guise of an amorous human relationship and it stuns me that the public still buys it. George Stephanopoulos wrote a book about Bill’s first term where he detailed how both Bill and Hillary had their own political machines/entourages and how Bill cut a wide swath around Hillary. He also described how Hillary’s anger with Bill’s dalliances had to do with the fact that he was hurting them politically. It never was a question of the betrayal of marital vows.

If Hillary ever wanted to cut his balls off at the time it was because his affairs were endangering their plans for forming the Galactic Empire. Now in her candidacy for President Hillary as been coached in how to appear human, she’s been told to smile and to laugh. It’s all really sickening that people are buying into this. It’s a machine people, it’s not a real person. People who believe that relationship is real are the same people who think that pro wrestling is real and that Barry Bonds is performance enhancing substance free.

Grushenkaa

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