Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everybody! I'm on Easter vacation, so I'm going to make you do all the work!

Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to make sense of this picture, in direct opposition to its assertion:

I always did like this one... I wonder why?

I look forward to hearing what you have to say in the comments. Look for my thoughts next Monday!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

So, I enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In fact, I think it is probably my favorite installment of the Marvel-Avenger-movie-cross-over-thingy that is ongoing. But, just as the previous sentence’s hyphenated monstrosity indicates a certain inability to classify this series of movies, I wonder how to classify this movie itself. Not in the sense that I don’t know which heading to put it under at the movie store; I’d put it under “Action,” unless they've just thrown up their hands and made a “Marvel-Avenger-movie-cross-over-thingy” section.

The difficulty is in determining whether the movie is allegorical, metaphorical, fantastical, or realistic (though I flatter myself that I can identify a few elements that don’t fit that last description). And we want to do such a thing because we want to figure out what good this story does.

It is possible for a story to throw new light on something because, given a skilled and
Black Widow teaches us that one KGB
agent can keep up with chemically enhanced
super-soldiers and the Norse god of thunder.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Green Day's "Longview"

There is poetry in vulgarity, at least when it’s used poetically. What I mean is that there is metaphorical depth and nuance of meaning in the phrases and words we’ve come up with to insult each other, and that it is lack of attention on the part of the hearer, or lack of care on the part of the speaker, that is the real shame.

Green Day’s “Longview” is an excellent song, and it can be thought of as an exposition of the moniker “jerk off” -- as in, “That guy is such a jerk off.” Vulgar, yes, but a scathing indictment of character, and what that indictment means has hardly been put better than by Green Day.
Whether they're average and screwed up enough
to write a song that will last forever remains to be seen.[1]

Monday, March 31, 2014

Time-Travel and Freedom

Mankind is in a remarkable position. We live in a universe of physical and metaphysical laws, a place of harmonious arrangements of multitudes of diverse creatures. But, the remarkable thing I mean is that we humans take a look around and say: “Well, this is certainly a harmonious arrangement of multitudes of diverse creatures we have here,” like we’d just arrived, and it was new and different.

Sometimes people will comment on the fact that baby animals can walk almost immediately, whereas human children take almost a year to figure it out. I don’t think this is a sign of human weakness. I think the baby is approaching gravity on more equal terms than the foal. The foal walks because that’s how it is. The baby, however, requires time to consider this new and interesting proposal. And the same goes for time.

Wait! if I figure a way out of this,
I could just come back and tell myself what to do.
But I haven't, so I must not figure it out! 
No, I just haven't gone forward and come back yet. Wait...
Time-travel (a literary

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Surviving" The Zombie-Apocalypse

So, what is the deal with zombies, anyway? What fascinates people so? Well, people are strange and mysterious, but a few things do occur to me.

Anyone who has ever gone to the mall, or been to a club, or driven on the highway in traffic, probably looks with a degree of recognition at the image of people turned soulless, incognizant monsters who want to overwhelm and consume them.

Then, there’s the appeal of hitting the societal reset button, Tyler Durden style; cut through all the accretions of hundreds of years and fight for your own in a world returned to its primal senses. Although, zombies are just one device for conveying that kind of story. Nuclear war works well too.
They are also super-gross -- so I went back to
the original, low-budget, Night of the Living Dead
for a suitable picture.

And, of course, people are

Monday, March 17, 2014

Let’s Consider: Computers

There is much more that can be said and discussed about these amazing machines than I can cover here, but let’s get a taste.

The thing, the physical stuff sitting in front of you – emitting various wavelengths of light, spinning magnetic platters, generating heat as electrons flow in time to the vibrating of crystals – is not what you’re looking at. You’re looking at what I've written – probably imagining waves and spinning, heat and vibrations, crystals and little pin-points of light (that’s how I imagine electrons). The physical thing in front of you, if measured and considered as a physical thing, is basically a water-slide for electricity; the electrons spin around and around inside a box, and then that energy becomes heat, or light, or just goes around some more until you stop the ride (that is, turn off the machine).

They're in the computer?
But, obviously, that isn't what your computer is. Your computer is essentially metaphysical. A computer takes a lot of a

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dualism: The Sequel

Last week we talked about the tendency of popular story-telling to engender dualistic thinking either directly, within the story, or indirectly, by making it look like nothing cool happens without evil people around mixing it up.

But, dualism isn't true, and its effect (whether it’s in a story, or in the mind of the reader) is to make stories about good and evil much less awesome. To illustrate this, let’s talk about Darth Vader.

Shooting lightning and getting pissed-off are strictly forbidden by The Force...
or, half of it anyway. 
We have a perfect example of dualism in The Force. A long time ago, a galaxy far, far away was held together by an invisible,