Thursday, March 27, 2014


There are certain things that Forgein Affairs, as a publication, just does badly.  One of them is issues about technology.  The articles are either to basic, explaining concepts that I already understand, or just dull.  Just a couple of issues ago there was a coverstory about the rise of big data.  Big data is really boring.  This issue is devoted to technology articles and some were better than the average.  However, I've already read the whole thing and I still have a month to go so I had to shlep out of Barns and Noble to pick up another Journal so I'd have something to read during lunch.  The alternative is un-fucking-aceptable.  I decided on the Journal of International Affairs.  This quater's issue is about the gender issue which is a clever play on words cause this is an issue of a...yeah never mind.

I haven't read anything from it yet but all the other choices were about regions of the world I'm not particularly interested in.  Then again I am not particularly interested in the gender issue either.  The issue of gender is one of those things that is so needlessly over complex that I find myself baffled as to how we could of possibly of gotten this way.  I can already tell that the journal doesn't even attempt to integrate trans issues and that might be for the best.  I mean there are people out there who still believe it is their god given right to beat their wives.  There is just so much baggage wrapped up in women's issues and so much of it doesn't matter.

So lets keep this Amerocentric because that's where I am and I am going to talk about a few things.  In no particular order.

Man: Will you sleep with me?
Woman: No.
Man: You are a slut

Variations of this exchange keep happening and it is one of those things that deeply upsets me.  It isn't just because the exchange itself makes no god damned sense but it still happens.  However, it has less to do with actual gender and more to do with stupid pride.  To explain.  Since the guy just got turned down he's hurt and prolly more than a little embarassed especially if his friends are around.  So he says something hurtful.  He doesn't go full bore by saying cunt because that might make matters much worse for him.  Instead he opts for a middle of the road gender specific insult.  The fact that his insult doesn't make any sense is irrelevant.  All that matters is that he needs to snap back, maintain pride and walk away.

Does this make it any less hurtful?  No.  Does this excuse his behavior?  Actually it makes his behavior even worse.  To just offhandly snap back at someone who turns you down is the behavior of a poorly raised child.  Instead of exercising self control and conducting ones self with a little bit of dignity the man just says something offensive even if it is, linguisticly speaking, gibberish, it still has the intended effect of keeping himself feeling good at the expense of someone else.  The problem is that this response demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the woman to begin with.  It is the, "I am willing to be marginally nice to get what I want and then we are done".  The woman represents a potential for physical satisfaction and little else.   Which is why she is so easily discarded.

It is also hurtful because she is the one who is approached and then is essentially thrust into a no win situation.  She is provided with two options that she may or may not have been asking for.  She could of just been minding her own business which ends in unwanted attention.

Unwanted attention is actually the thing that made me realize that I could never ever properly be a feminist.  There are things that I take for granted.  Simple things that are regularly denied women.  Take sovereignty over one's physical space.  It is a simple matter for a guy to not deal with unwanted physical contact.  After all for the most part it simply doesn't happen.  When a man wants people to back off it generally happens. The most frequent argument I hear about not wanting to go to a gay club is, "I don't want some dude to hit on me".  Essentially they don't want to be treated the way they treat women and I mean I don't blame them.  Who would want that.  As I watched women receive unwanted attention time and time again I realize that if it we me I could just shout "fuck off" and it would work.  Most women aren't so lucky.  Most of the women I've talked to about this topic tend to just brush it off.  Just like I take my physical sovereignty for granted most of them believe that being pestered constantly is just the part of being in the world.   As a result I can be at most a male dissident.

When I first heard the term it pissed me off to no end.  He it still does.  Male Dissident makes me sound like a second class citizen in a movement about equality.  I mean how fucked up is that?  The truth is that it is fucked up.  However, part of making the world a better place is to recognize where the problems are and just not pretending that everything is fine.  No I can not nor will I ever truly be able to understand what it is like to be a woman.  At best I can make an educated guess and that guess is so narrow that it is all but useless.  Women are a gender.  The take up a little bit more than half of the population.  Any number of them will react in different ways to any number of things.  They all have different priorities, wants, needs, goals, problems, and their own versions of solutions.  Coor it is almost like they was people yeah?  See that's the problem with things like Women's Studies writing about gender, and discussing the topic in general.  The human mind's ability to reduce complex problems into manageable parts is astonishing.  However, this isn't always a good thing.  It is how we get conspiracy theories after all.  It is also how we loose a lot of detail.  The problem with women's issue is that the details are the most important part.  The more we reduce the worse our arguments get but we can't make arguments without reduction and around and around it goes.  Part of it an inherent flaw in the essay format.  Part of it is an inherent flaw in the way we think.

Over the years I've solved most of my moral/ethical quandaries by putting the people first.  If I have a friend in front of me who needs help with something then I am going to help my friend before I spit my beliefs in their face.  The individual is more important than a series of abstract ideals.  Let's take trans folk because they always get left out of gender conversations because as I said earlier there is a fanatical need to reduce the complexity of ideas.  I meet a guy they prefer to be refered to as she...well why the fuck not?  I mean it costs me literally nothing to change their gender pronoun and it makes them happy and more comfortable to be themselves.  There is no reason not to do it other than, "It is weird..." however, does that mean that you should prioritize your discomfort over their's?    To me the answer is overwhelmingly no.  I am not religious.  But I do know that I was not put here on this earth to make it a worse place for other people.  With that as a core belief I move forwards and I let it dictate my actions.  When it counts I am kind, even to those who don't deserve it.  And if I need to do something simple like change a pronoun to make someone happy then I am more than willing to do it.

I want to touch on the pay gap really quick before eating frosted flakes and watching star trek.  The pay gap is a hold over from our bosses screwing us over.  At work, at any work talking about pay is a firerable offense and rightly so.  After all then the corporate structure doesn't have to fess up to the massivily shitty way they treat their employees.  This is something that crosses gender lines however, the gender pay gap is what brought the issue to light.  I know that there are people who have been hired years after me who make as much or more than I do.  However, I can't call my bosses on it because if I did then it would demonstrate that I've been discussing pay which is a firable offense.  See how that works?  It gets much nastier on the lower end of the scale like retail jobs where raises are mostly just cost of living adjustments and nothing more.  Taking down our bosses is a discussion for another time though.  I think I am finally hungry.  Fuck body get an eating schedule.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Holy Ghost People

I still have the aborted topic of Christianity's culture war to deal with but I think I am going to let that simmer for just one more day before I dive back into it.  Part of the problem is that I wanted to do two things at the same time.  Talk about Holy Ghost people as a movie and talk about Christianity's culture war.  One can lead into the other and ultimately this is going to be part one and the culture war post is going to be part two.  Or something like that.  Anyway for those looking for a review go see Holy Ghost people it is pretty fucking fantastic.

Holy Ghost people takes place in an economically depressed area and up on the hill there is a group of people who make their own laws and it is a place were there police don't go.  It is a set up we've seen before in Winter's Bone and Out of the Furnace.  To a lesser degree Gummo shares the same setting but none of the same themes.  These are movies are examine the developing 3rd world that is happening in our nation and that we are doing fuck all to stop it.  These are people that are being relentlessly left behind.  Some turn to lives of crime and others to religion.  It is an interesting setting.  These movies all feature the desperate and fucked.  Holy Ghost People does so in particular.  The main character explains that the easiest way to find help is to find someone worse off than you are.  It didn't seem like she had to look that hard.

What's interesting is that the Church was a place of joy, laugture, and well it was an island of hope in a sea of utter disrepair.  Down in the city everything was falling apart.  The whole world looked like it was crubling but up on sugar mountain it looked more charmingly rustic than ruined.  These people made a life for themselves.  It is a weird life that involves them handing poisonous snakes every evening while singing hymns but a life nonetheless.  Taking a page from "Tod Browning's Freaks" notebook right up until the end of the movie the church was actually a really cool place.  The gentleman she brought with her for help got converted and not in a stupid fake way either.  His conversion was gradual and it felt right.  More than that though is that when the shit comes to light and hits the fan his anger is the anger of being betrayed.  He is a man who wanted to believe and  is instead let down...but not out.

The ending is interesting.  There is a mild firefight.  The preacher's muscle is killed.  The preacher kills himself.  The man takes the young girl who dragged him up to this damn church and another girl who is his blossiming love interest, puts them in a car and sends them away.  He could of easily of gotten into the car with them but he stayed with the other church folk.  I'm not sure what to do with this information really, no man is the center of the church and I imagine that a snake handling church has a relatively high turnover rate for preachers so maybe he'll be able to stay and live happily ever after.  Or not.  Characterization is one of the movie's great strengths and I can't help but care about the people who I spent the last 88 minutes with.

One of the youtube comments I read for the trailed expressed disappointment that there is yet another movie where Christians are the bad guys.  Yet I don't think it's so easy to make that distinction with Holy Ghost People.  Alright it is easy to write the preacher off as a villainous cult leader and the people of the church as a bunch of psychopaths.  It is super easy the last thing we see them do is tie a young woman to a post and they are about to stone her to death.  We know she isn't the first one, or the second.  However, as the camera pans over the crowd there is a lot of indecision as to what they are doing and if it is correct.  To break this moment down into bad guys and good guys is a gross oversimplification that may be convenient but it doesn't particularly capture what's going on.  The people going to this church aren't evil.  This isn't the Kill List.  Oh god that movie fucked me up for days.  However, well, guess there is no dancing around it but lets face it group think will fuck people up and religion can cause normal people who have all sorts of common sense to believe the stupidest things.  If anything the movie is a warning about letting your priest run away with the congregation and less about the condemnation of Christianity as a whole.  Heck the movie wasn't even interested in larger Christian themes it's just that the snake handling sect of Christianity makes for a sexy topic for a movie.

I'd even go so far as to say that the Preacher wasn't evil either, but he was lost.  Shortly before he tried to have the girl stoned to death he married her.  It is revealed that the same thing happened to her sister in the same order.  The marriage didn't seem like the end result was consummation (SEX) but rather it was a direct seguway into her stoning.  Previously when the preacher mentions his wife and her death he does so with sadness, and a bit of wistfulness.  Yes he lies but he lies just enough to keep things going and he only lied to the outsiders.  There is a great scene where the preacher gets called out for being a small man who is caught up on a power trip and his response is so down to earth and well adjusted that I'm still sold on it.  Even after I've found out that he had several girls tied to a stake and stoned to death.  The man they got to play the preacher has some powerful god damned charisma to him.  I'll give him that.  However, the movie also gives his character space and time to develop.  He's a complex man with a past that we don't get to learn in its entirety.  He could of been a great man and a true leader to those people and instead he lead them to ruin, simply because he didn't know any better.  His story is a majestically tragic one.

Why?  Religion makes people do some zany shit.  Religion has both its good sides and its bad but lets face it, it makes people do some strange things.  Things that they consider normal.  Things that become normal but when we get to the outside world they aren't normal at all.  They are horrible.  Imma stop here because I am staring to get into the culture war which is good!  But I want that to thoroughly be its own post.  DONE!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ramblings of the Day!

I should by trying again on the blog post I wrote last night but I don't feel like it.  I am feeling pretty groovy and I am in no mood to visit the past.  So onwards and upwards.  The problem is that I am having a hard time coming up with a subject for a long post.  So I think I'll just write a bunch of little things until I am happy.

     I realized at some point today that my disapointment with the movie Bag Man stemmed from my own desire to watch another David Lynch movie or show rather than any actual problem with the movie itself.  The movie starts weird and it has the potential to get weirder.  I wanted it to go all out and to show that the world we know is just a scab over an infected wound and when we pick at it just a bit all sorts of crazy shit starts to happen.  The whole set up doesn't make sense.  Cussack has a bag and he has to go to the hotel to protect said bag.  Then for whatever reason it seems like everyone and their mother know all about the fucking bag and they are trying to take it from him.  Everyone from the creepy hotel owner, to the tall black man and his Russian midget friend, to some fake FBI agents, to the local insane cops.  Everything from the way the movie is shot, to its bizzarre lighting, to the case showcases a situation that defies any sort of sense whatsoever.  Best of all Cussack's character realizes this and he's facted with the constant question of what the fuck is going on.  Interspersed will all this is his menacing boss slowly but surely making his way towards the hotel.  To what end?  Who knows?
    However, as the movie goes on everything gets explained, and not in some stupid hand wavey fashion either but actually explained.  Best of all is that they don't hand hold you through the explanation.  For awhile I couldn't figure out the motivation of the girl.  The girl, like David's Prometheus, had all the information as to what was going on but didn't want to share it.  Then right as I was about to go home I figgured out her endgame.  It is a damn clever movie that will only be seen by like 10 people and appreciated by maybe 4.  It isn't quite at the level of Way of the Gun but it is pretty close.

     I still want a new David Lynch movie or at least someone trying to rip off his style.  Fuck.

     I like to kick around board game design sometimes.  It never really goes anywhere but it is a type of creativity I don't get to use very often and it is a fun and interesting challange.  I like to write out a list of goals and then institute designs in order to meet them.  Currently I am kicking around a post apocalyptic base building game.  It is worker placement but closer to the style of Eclipse or Twilight Imperium than say Agricola.  Each player will have a base and some nearby reasources that they can gather.  However, in order to progress they are going to have to venture out into the wilderness where they can discover lost technology, better sources of goods, specialists to help them build things, and whathave you.  I want the whole thing to be card based because it is easy to break cards out and it is easy to make components for card games.

So each player will have a starting hand of cards that has stuff that is specific to their faction.  There will also be other decks of basic cards that everyone can build such as warehouses, farms, houses, that sort of thing.  However, if they want to get their economy going they are going to have to explore the wasteland which will be in the form of a deck in the center.  The center deck will have things like, NPCs that you can trade with, permentate resource gathering spots, special artifacts or technology, skilled workers, essentially a mix of permenate wasteland features and temporary ones.  It will take fuel to get to the wasteland and to get home again.  Making trips to the wasteland will be the main source of victory points for the players.

However, there will be overlapping victory conditions because I want combat to be a thing.  The way I want combat to work is first the player needs to move a raiding force into the wastelands.  Since most wastelands cards will have some sort of combat involved this isn't in of itself suspicious everyone will have to do it.  However, then once the raiding force is in the wastelands it can then target another player.  It will take one turn to get to the wasteland and another turn to get to the other player's base and the target of the raid has to be announced a turn ahead of time.  This will give the defending player one turn to prepare.  This represents the defending player's scouts and whatnot.

The thing is that I am having a hard time deciding what sort of combat I want.  Initially I was just going to go with attack total +modifiers vs defense total +modifers= number of d6's rolled 5's and 6's are successes and whomever wins gets stuff.

However towards the end of my lunch break I was thinking that maybe instead I might wanna make combat a bit of an event.  Something that involves a hand of lets say 3 rock paper scissor like cards and three special cards unique to every faction.   I am thinking I like this better because I want every faction to play radically differently from each other and having more stuff that the other guy doesn't have will help this out.

The basic design goals of the game were to allow the players to feel like they are building a little settlement.  To have it seat anywhere from 2-6 players.  To be asymmetrical.  The be expandable in all sorts of different and exciting ways.

Currently it is at the minimum on the heavier side of things and it is staring to resemble more Clash of Cultures, Merchants and Mauraders, Eclipse in terms of game play style.  Considering that the original concept was a deck building game we've made quite a drastic shift.  Like I said I want to keep it wholely card based because they are easier to transport.  I am still in the vauge concept phase now but I think I'm going to start hammering out fine details.  If I get to that point I'll ask for help.

Alright I am satisfied with the amount I've written time for Minecraft!

The Culture War and Christianity

Recently, I watched this movie called Holy Ghost people which is a fantastic little low budget indie film that manages to pack a hell of a lot into its 88 minute run time.  When I went to go post a link to the trailer on my facebook wall so that my friends would look it up and possibly watch it my eyes unwillingly flicked to the comment section where I saw things like:

"just another movie to make Christian people look bad and blaspheme God. What a shame!" -chazbo34
"Oh, Christians are the bad guys again while satanism promoted by Gaga, Katy Perry, Jay Z, Marilyn Manson is good..." ImmortalCataphract

"Making vampires, demons, ghosts look fun & cool. Also, making churches, religion look bad and anti social, that's the weird, evil, satanic hollywood's plan now, too obvious." -~ Bright Romeo ~  (this one is my favorite)

Here is the trailer for those to lazy to look it up themselves:

Normally I laugh off the contents of the youtube comment area but this struck me.  Holy Ghost people is a low budget independent movie that you would only hear of if you follow an indie movie news feed like twitch or something like that.  How these people, who have no interest in the movie, heard of it I will never know.  I am curious though.  Anyway though out my work day it stuck with me.  Since I wanted to write more here in this blog I figure this would be a good time.  

So lets begin shall we?  This movie isn't unique in putting Christianity in a bad light.  There is Red State which is a direct slam against the Westero god hates fags assholes, Jesus Camp, But I'm a Cheerleader, the last season of Big Love, and all that's just off the top of my head.  Christians like to talk about persecution.  I think it is mostly because they are afraid of actually experiencing it rather than experiencing it proper but what do I know.

As an outsider looking in, yes there is indeed a conflict of culture going on.  It is also one that Christians aren't doing to well in.  The problem is that it is mostly their fault and they don't like to hear that but come on it is really easy.  Setting aside Westero Baptist, the fact that christianity has been stolen by the tea party, the kkk, and any other group of nuts that want to justify whatever fucked up thing they are up to.  Heck we can even set aside the occasional abortion clinic bombing or its really fucked up history in America.  Taking all that and setting it aside we are left with two culturally problematic pieces of resistance.

1) They have little to no interest in policing themselves as a religion as a whole.

2) Is that a large number of Christians are dead set on everyone else following their code of morality no matter if they like it or not.

Before I go further I'd like to say that most Christians are nice, mentally balanced, well rounded people, who have a mix of wisdom and compassion.  When I say most I fucking mean it.  I don't mean most of my friends so in case one of them read it they know I am not talking about them because they should know that already.  I mean MOST OF THEM in America as a whole are pretty decent god damn people.  However, that doesn't matter because of point 1.  See a lot of people have a superficial view of Christianity and lets face it for a religion that talks so much about flocks and shepherds they don't do dick when it comes to policing each other.  Let's set aside the Westboro fuckwads and focus on the local scene.  Churches form a community within the church themselves but most churches are isolated from each other.  I've been a to a fuckton of churches over the years and I haven't seen very much in interchurch events, churches banding together in times of crisis to help the needy, churches working as a team to tackle social issues.  No for the most part churches are in of themselves insular.  As a result some churches end up weird.  Really weird I went to an honest to god cult meeting once dressed up like it was a normal run of the mill 1st Baptist Church.  There are some large Christian organizations but they aren't doing enough to undo the damage that some of their lost flock members are off causing.  As a result their overall perception suffers.  For those local to Pensacola Father Nathan Monk is a bit of a local hero and rightly so.  He's a good guy and if more people stood up like him against the tyranny of the terrible flock members then Christianity could get some serious legs under it again.  Unfortunately to many Christians just give the extremists a pass.

I don't know or really care how this is supposed to come to pass.  I am not a Christian nor do I plan to become one.  However, if Christianity is everything it is supposed to be then it is the most important thing those people are going to do on this earth and they can't really get some good going if they are going to allow the behavior of their extremists to continue unchecked.

Part of the problem that comes with checking the extremists is the conflict of, "Well they are right...we just don't agree with their methods".  Harking back to Westboro, "Does god hate?" yeah well sure and since a lot of Christians don't agree with the homosexual lifestyle then what do you do?  Tell them to please not be so mean about it?  To have some tact?  How do you tell someone to shut up when you agree with them?  It is a tough question to answer but then again I don't have a problem with homosexuality so it is a lot easier for me.

This brings me neatly to point two.  For the first point I focused heavily on Westboro but they aren't the real problem.  They are a problem.  But it is something that could be easily solved is the Christian community got together and told those people to shut the fuck up or at least if the Christian community banned together to say we condemn these people and pray that they come back to the light.  There should be a constant prayer circle in front of their church trying to help them.  However, they are, at most, a side show.  A cartoon that this there for the amusement of the news and nothing else.  All they do is ruin the days of the people whoes lives they affect.  The bigger problem is that Christianity demands that everyone needs to believe what they believe.  Gay marriage needs to remain illegal because the bible says so.  Not because of any demonstrable danger to society and not to protect individuals from hurting themselves or others.  Nope just because they believe, with no actual evidence to back it up.

Abortion is even worse.  If they wanted less abortions.  I mean REALLY wanted less abortions then they would set up an interchurch foster care system, they would pay women to bring their children to term and they would take care of them.  They would offer women who bring their children to term support and a home.  They would go out of their way to give women as many alternatives to abortion as possible.  Instead we have the call for laws and protests.  The laws are a particular brand of fucked up because they don't actually stop the abortions they just make sure that women get punished. We've all heard this shit before moving on.

Then there is the evolution debacle.  Holy shit when Christians wanna get weird about something they go all out.  These people are actually building a fucking ark.  Millions of dollars have gone into this completely useless testament that Noah's Ark happened and that evolution is shit.  Over 30 million dollars have been raised to build this stupid thing.  Imagine all the good these people could of done instead of spending 30 million on a boat?

As an outsider I see all these things and I see a drive to force non Christians to conform to Christian law if we like it or not and that's messed up.  As an outsider I don't like it.  No one likes it really except the Christians who are to wrapped up in themselves to see reality.  So on the one hand we have Christians complaining about the lack of faith in the millennial generation and how the country is slipping further away from Christian beleifs.  Then on the other hand we have, God hates fags, giant boats, abortion clinic protests, and  Christians who feel the need to walk up and pester you while you are reading. I called it a culture war in my title not because it is the rest of the world versus the Christians though it may feel like that from time to time.

The worst enemy of Christianity is Christianity.  For every 100 amazing Christians there is one lunatic.  The problem is that the lunatic is 100 times louder than all the good Christians and that's what we see.  We see a group of people who want to pass ineffective laws so they can feel smug in their own morality, and who want to push their beliefs on us and it doesn't work.  I don't hate the religion any more than I hate its practitioners.  I recognize that it is a vast religion with people from all walks of life.  But when they let the lunatics stand at the forefront then it becomes much easier to see why people don't like them very much.  Failure to deal with the internal problems will rip the religion apart.  Oh well.