bobquasit: (Default)
There's been a conversation going on over on a GoodReads discussion group about The Lord of the Rings:

For the record, I loathe the movies. That was the whole point of post #3. It's my hope and belief that the LOTR books will still be read and loved long after those idiotic movies are forgotten. The movies stood many of Tolkien's themes on their heads, and replaced some of his most memorable and beautiful dialog with ersatz idiocy. They represent a profound disrespect of Tolkien, although I believe that Peter Jackson was too self-important (and possibly too stupid) to realize that he was crapping all over a work that he wasn't qualified to read, much less film.

The Eagle was Gwaihir the Windlord. He was sent to Orthanc by Radagast the Brown, one of the Five Wizards and a particular friend of animals, at Gandalf's request - to bring news. Radagast had been misled by Saruman, but was not a traitor. Gandalf had certainly had dealings with the Eagles before, most notably in The Hobbit. Gandalf did not control Gwaihir, ever - the eagle helped him out of friendship. As far as I know, the only living things that Gandalf ever controlled were Grima Wormtongue and Saruman - and in both cases, only for a few moments at most.
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
There's been a conversation going on over on a GoodReads discussion group about The Lord of the Rings:

For the record, I loathe the movies. That was the whole point of post #3. It's my hope and belief that the LOTR books will still be read and loved long after those idiotic movies are forgotten. The movies stood many of Tolkien's themes on their heads, and replaced some of his most memorable and beautiful dialog with ersatz idiocy. They represent a profound disrespect of Tolkien, although I believe that Peter Jackson was too self-important (and possibly too stupid) to realize that he was crapping all over a work that he wasn't qualified to read, much less film.

The Eagle was Gwaihir the Windlord. He was sent to Orthanc by Radagast the Brown, one of the Five Wizards and a particular friend of animals, at Gandalf's request - to bring news. Radagast had been misled by Saruman, but was not a traitor. Gandalf had certainly had dealings with the Eagles before, most notably in The Hobbit. Gandalf did not control Gwaihir, ever - the eagle helped him out of friendship. As far as I know, the only living things that Gandalf ever controlled were Grima Wormtongue and Saruman - and in both cases, only for a few moments at most.
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
I'm sorry, I realize that I must be boring the pants off of most of the non-Armenians on my flist (that's most of you; come to think of it, one of the very few Armenians on my flist dumped me without warning or explanation last year).

I'm going to be obsessed with this topic for a while, as I will be every year at this time in particular.

I pre-asked this question for Gene Robinson at the Washington Post. I don't expect that he'll respond.


Hi, Gene, I enjoy your column.

Since President Obama seems to be backing away from recognizing the Armenian Genocide (mustn't offend the Turks), I was wondering what else he might find convenient to deny. Germany would love to have the Holocaust removed from the history books, wouldn't they? And it was a long time ago...people should just get over it.

Heck, the American South would LOVE to have the whole history of slavery wiped off the records! And it's not like anyone is still alive who was actually enslaved back then. Shouldn't we just leave it all up to the historians? Let's look forward, not back!

Sorry to sound so bitter, but I'm the descendent of Genocide survivors. We lost many family members in what the Turks claim was a million or so unfortunate accidents. The last few survivors are dying now, with the US government still cooperating with the deniers.

I'm finding it particularly hard to take this from President Obama, given his previous clear statements on the topic. Any thoughts?
bobquasit: (Default)
I'm sorry, I realize that I must be boring the pants off of most of the non-Armenians on my flist (that's most of you; come to think of it, one of the very few Armenians on my flist dumped me without warning or explanation last year).

I'm going to be obsessed with this topic for a while, as I will be every year at this time in particular.

I pre-asked this question for Gene Robinson at the Washington Post. I don't expect that he'll respond.


Hi, Gene, I enjoy your column.

Since President Obama seems to be backing away from recognizing the Armenian Genocide (mustn't offend the Turks), I was wondering what else he might find convenient to deny. Germany would love to have the Holocaust removed from the history books, wouldn't they? And it was a long time ago...people should just get over it.

Heck, the American South would LOVE to have the whole history of slavery wiped off the records! And it's not like anyone is still alive who was actually enslaved back then. Shouldn't we just leave it all up to the historians? Let's look forward, not back!

Sorry to sound so bitter, but I'm the descendent of Genocide survivors. We lost many family members in what the Turks claim was a million or so unfortunate accidents. The last few survivors are dying now, with the US government still cooperating with the deniers.

I'm finding it particularly hard to take this from President Obama, given his previous clear statements on the topic. Any thoughts?
bobquasit: (Default)
There's an interesting discussion going on over on Askville about religion. The asker's son is being indoctrinated by her fundamentalist mother-in-law, in violation of her stated wishes (and her husband's wishes, too).

"My inlaws are fundamentalist Christians and my husband and I are not."

One of the believers there brought up the old argument that atheists can't "know" that there is no God. My response:


Atheists (most atheists - some may differ) say "There is no god" in the same way that a Christian says "There is no Zeus" or "There is no flying spaghetti monster". If disbelief in any imaginable entity required concrete proof of the non-existence of that entity, Christians would have to spend all of their lives trying to disprove the existence of the countless gods and other supernatural beings which have been dreamed up by humans over millennia. Not to mention the innumerable deities that could be imagined by people living today!

To suggest that disbelief in god(s) requires special proof of non-existence is to insist that belief in that god(s) is the default position - effectively, it is an attempt to force the non-believer to justify their non-belief based on the assumption that God is real. In other words, it's a classic "heads I win, tails you lose" argument. But it's not valid, as Christians show daily through their failure to justify their non-belief in any other god but their own.
bobquasit: (Default)
There's an interesting discussion going on over on Askville about religion. The asker's son is being indoctrinated by her fundamentalist mother-in-law, in violation of her stated wishes (and her husband's wishes, too).

"My inlaws are fundamentalist Christians and my husband and I are not."

One of the believers there brought up the old argument that atheists can't "know" that there is no God. My response:


Atheists (most atheists - some may differ) say "There is no god" in the same way that a Christian says "There is no Zeus" or "There is no flying spaghetti monster". If disbelief in any imaginable entity required concrete proof of the non-existence of that entity, Christians would have to spend all of their lives trying to disprove the existence of the countless gods and other supernatural beings which have been dreamed up by humans over millennia. Not to mention the innumerable deities that could be imagined by people living today!

To suggest that disbelief in god(s) requires special proof of non-existence is to insist that belief in that god(s) is the default position - effectively, it is an attempt to force the non-believer to justify their non-belief based on the assumption that God is real. In other words, it's a classic "heads I win, tails you lose" argument. But it's not valid, as Christians show daily through their failure to justify their non-belief in any other god but their own.
bobquasit: (Default)
Someone posted a rather nice question asking about the meaning of Christmas for religious and non-religious people. I posted my answer in the discussion board, rather than risk the usual negative ratings from angry Christians. But I've received several compliments from Christians instead.


As an atheist, I celebrate Christmas from a secular mindset. The winter festival or holiday predates Christianity, of course, and many - most! - Christmas traditions actually date back to so-called "pagan" religious rituals, from a number of different religions. Of course, being an atheist I don't take those religions any more seriously than I do Christianity.
Read more... )
Come, Credit Department! Come, Personal Loan!
Come, Mortgage, Come Christmas Club, Come ---"

- From "Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus" by Fredric Pohl, available in The Best of Fredric Pohl



It's quite a nice thread; I hope it continues.


Update: I just extended it myself.


I imagine that when the time comes that my son realizes that there is no Santa Claus, I'll tell him in all honesty that he is Santa Claus - he'll be Santa for his kids, just as his mother and I were for him, and my father was for me.
bobquasit: (Default)
Someone posted a rather nice question asking about the meaning of Christmas for religious and non-religious people. I posted my answer in the discussion board, rather than risk the usual negative ratings from angry Christians. But I've received several compliments from Christians instead.


As an atheist, I celebrate Christmas from a secular mindset. The winter festival or holiday predates Christianity, of course, and many - most! - Christmas traditions actually date back to so-called "pagan" religious rituals, from a number of different religions. Of course, being an atheist I don't take those religions any more seriously than I do Christianity.
Read more... )
Come, Credit Department! Come, Personal Loan!
Come, Mortgage, Come Christmas Club, Come ---"

- From "Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus" by Fredric Pohl, available in The Best of Fredric Pohl



It's quite a nice thread; I hope it continues.


Update: I just extended it myself.


I imagine that when the time comes that my son realizes that there is no Santa Claus, I'll tell him in all honesty that he is Santa Claus - he'll be Santa for his kids, just as his mother and I were for him, and my father was for me.
bobquasit: (Default)
What IS it lately? Oh yeah, right. The election.

Some moron asked "Do you want America's next president to have attended flag burning ceremonies, to redesign our flag, and anthem?"

The details of the question included a bunch of ridiculously obvious lies about Obama proudly proclaiming on "Meet the Press" that he and Michelle have attended lots of flag-burning ceremonies.

The stupid hurts. So once again I was forced to drag my tired ass out to defend a candidate that I don't respect or support:

No, I'd rather our next President torture people, spy on Americans (including personal calls made by our soldiers to their families), allow his cronies on Wall Street to run amok without regulation thereby crashing the stock market and the financial sector, abolish the centuries-old right of habeas corpus, and set up secret prisons where people - many of whom are innocent, and some of whom are teenagers - can be sent without trial to rot forever. All while running up a national debt so big that the Chinese will OWN us, and even our great-grandchildren will still be paying it off.

Oh, and please have him ignore the climate crisis too (although you probably think that it's a hoax, don't you?).

That sort of President would be SO MUCH BETTER than one who has had some obvious lies written about him by right-wing nutjobs. Thanks for opening my eyes!

/limes



The "limes" thing is a meme that people have been using lately on Askville to mock political questions - or at least, the recent spate of over-the-top "push-poll" type political questions that Republicans have been posting in the last few weeks.
bobquasit: (Default)
What IS it lately? Oh yeah, right. The election.

Some moron asked "Do you want America's next president to have attended flag burning ceremonies, to redesign our flag, and anthem?"

The details of the question included a bunch of ridiculously obvious lies about Obama proudly proclaiming on "Meet the Press" that he and Michelle have attended lots of flag-burning ceremonies.

The stupid hurts. So once again I was forced to drag my tired ass out to defend a candidate that I don't respect or support:

No, I'd rather our next President torture people, spy on Americans (including personal calls made by our soldiers to their families), allow his cronies on Wall Street to run amok without regulation thereby crashing the stock market and the financial sector, abolish the centuries-old right of habeas corpus, and set up secret prisons where people - many of whom are innocent, and some of whom are teenagers - can be sent without trial to rot forever. All while running up a national debt so big that the Chinese will OWN us, and even our great-grandchildren will still be paying it off.

Oh, and please have him ignore the climate crisis too (although you probably think that it's a hoax, don't you?).

That sort of President would be SO MUCH BETTER than one who has had some obvious lies written about him by right-wing nutjobs. Thanks for opening my eyes!

/limes



The "limes" thing is a meme that people have been using lately on Askville to mock political questions - or at least, the recent spate of over-the-top "push-poll" type political questions that Republicans have been posting in the last few weeks.
bobquasit: (Default)
I lost most of my interest in Askville a couple of months ago. I'm still not 100% sure why. I continued to peek in now and again to adjudicate appeals, but it was mostly out of a sense of duty more than anything else. I didn't enjoy it much.

Then recently, Askville went through a radical change of policy. 16 people had their account suspended for actions they'd taken long before. Many of these people were on my friends list there, or were people I was aware of; they were, mostly, good advice-writers.

A lot of them ended up at another advice site called Fluther for the duration of their banishment. So I went over there too, to take a look.

It's not bad. Smaller and more friendly than Askville, for one thing. And it's not affiliated with some corporate behemoth (Askville is owned by Amazon.com, and you get gold coins for endorsing their products). So I just made the following post in an Askville forum. I know, I'm just asking for trouble:
Read more... )
I really should just go back and do some more work on that Dan Grabauskas poem. It's much more fun.
bobquasit: (Default)
I lost most of my interest in Askville a couple of months ago. I'm still not 100% sure why. I continued to peek in now and again to adjudicate appeals, but it was mostly out of a sense of duty more than anything else. I didn't enjoy it much.

Then recently, Askville went through a radical change of policy. 16 people had their account suspended for actions they'd taken long before. Many of these people were on my friends list there, or were people I was aware of; they were, mostly, good advice-writers.

A lot of them ended up at another advice site called Fluther for the duration of their banishment. So I went over there too, to take a look.

It's not bad. Smaller and more friendly than Askville, for one thing. And it's not affiliated with some corporate behemoth (Askville is owned by Amazon.com, and you get gold coins for endorsing their products). So I just made the following post in an Askville forum. I know, I'm just asking for trouble:
Read more... )
I really should just go back and do some more work on that Dan Grabauskas poem. It's much more fun.
bobquasit: (Default)
My comment on an article over on the Washington Post about Colbert vs Stewart:


The Daily Show has funnier sketches and supporting players (not surprising, since Colbert's on-camera supporting team is much smaller). But Steven Colbert is a far more incisive and effective interviewer than Jon Stewart, who has a tendency to take it easy on his guests.

All in all, The Daily Show is marginally funnier, but Colbert is more biting and newsworthy. But both shows are funny and great.

If I had to vote for one of the two for President? Colbert. His in-your-face speech at the 2006 White House Correspondence Dinner was one of the most impressive acts of political courage that I've seen in the past twenty years.

Which is, I'll admit, a sad commentary on the state of American politics: that a truth-to-power speech by a comedian to a criminal President and criminally negligent Washington press corps ranks as a major act of courage. Nonetheless, it does.
bobquasit: (Default)
My comment on an article over on the Washington Post about Colbert vs Stewart:


The Daily Show has funnier sketches and supporting players (not surprising, since Colbert's on-camera supporting team is much smaller). But Steven Colbert is a far more incisive and effective interviewer than Jon Stewart, who has a tendency to take it easy on his guests.

All in all, The Daily Show is marginally funnier, but Colbert is more biting and newsworthy. But both shows are funny and great.

If I had to vote for one of the two for President? Colbert. His in-your-face speech at the 2006 White House Correspondence Dinner was one of the most impressive acts of political courage that I've seen in the past twenty years.

Which is, I'll admit, a sad commentary on the state of American politics: that a truth-to-power speech by a comedian to a criminal President and criminally negligent Washington press corps ranks as a major act of courage. Nonetheless, it does.

Bullying

Jan. 27th, 2008 10:12 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Here's a comment I made on a discussion board over on Askville about bullying - both in the real world, and online.


Bullying online and bullying in the real world are not comparable. Online, most people are subject to something like "road rage"; they'll say things that they'd never say face-to-face. On the other hand, real-world bulling often includes physical violence, which is a lot harder to ignore than harsh words!

As someone who experienced more real-world bullying than most in school (I was beaten up at *least* once a day), I can say with some authority that ignoring it doesn't work. Fighting back does work, but only if you're at least half-way competent at fighting back; unfortunately, I wasn't. I did manage to learn a judo trick and throw one bully several times, after which I got respect for about a week...until the other bullies figured out that I hadn't learned anything else.

I also got some respect for a few days after I threw a boy across a room. Again, it didn't last.

*Ignoring* them just encouraged them, however. And telling the teachers made it worse, too - the bullies would always get revenge, and the teachers were helpless to enforce discipline (and there were a few who were actually on the bullies' *side*!).

I can't speak for anyone else, but what finally worked for me was simply not being willing to play the role of the terrified victim any more. I remember being approached by one bully, one of the crazier ones, and defiantly telling him that sure, he could beat me up, but I didn't give a damn and wasn't going to cower. I'd gone a little crazy, to be honest; being beaten up every day for years can do that to you.

He was a little taken aback. I wasn't giving off the right signals. And as I recall, I was never beaten up again.

As for online bullying...if you're at all bright, it's usually easy to fight back. It helps to think and develop insight into the motivations of the bullies. I remember not long ago one *astonishingly* offensive person here on Askville; he was so rude and over the top that I was literally stunned, and quite upset for a little while.

Then I asked myself "Why is he doing this?" And it occurred to me that this was the only way he had to avoid responding to my arguments. So I simply posted "X is trying SO hard to make this personal. I wonder why?", and he disappeared from the thread.

I found that very satisfying.

Bullying

Jan. 27th, 2008 10:12 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Here's a comment I made on a discussion board over on Askville about bullying - both in the real world, and online.


Bullying online and bullying in the real world are not comparable. Online, most people are subject to something like "road rage"; they'll say things that they'd never say face-to-face. On the other hand, real-world bulling often includes physical violence, which is a lot harder to ignore than harsh words!

As someone who experienced more real-world bullying than most in school (I was beaten up at *least* once a day), I can say with some authority that ignoring it doesn't work. Fighting back does work, but only if you're at least half-way competent at fighting back; unfortunately, I wasn't. I did manage to learn a judo trick and throw one bully several times, after which I got respect for about a week...until the other bullies figured out that I hadn't learned anything else.

I also got some respect for a few days after I threw a boy across a room. Again, it didn't last.

*Ignoring* them just encouraged them, however. And telling the teachers made it worse, too - the bullies would always get revenge, and the teachers were helpless to enforce discipline (and there were a few who were actually on the bullies' *side*!).

I can't speak for anyone else, but what finally worked for me was simply not being willing to play the role of the terrified victim any more. I remember being approached by one bully, one of the crazier ones, and defiantly telling him that sure, he could beat me up, but I didn't give a damn and wasn't going to cower. I'd gone a little crazy, to be honest; being beaten up every day for years can do that to you.

He was a little taken aback. I wasn't giving off the right signals. And as I recall, I was never beaten up again.

As for online bullying...if you're at all bright, it's usually easy to fight back. It helps to think and develop insight into the motivations of the bullies. I remember not long ago one *astonishingly* offensive person here on Askville; he was so rude and over the top that I was literally stunned, and quite upset for a little while.

Then I asked myself "Why is he doing this?" And it occurred to me that this was the only way he had to avoid responding to my arguments. So I simply posted "X is trying SO hard to make this personal. I wonder why?", and he disappeared from the thread.

I found that very satisfying.
bobquasit: (Default)
Over on an Askville discussion thread, a Christian just said that they viewed attempts by some to mix New Age practices with Christian theology to be the first steps towards the Ant-Christ.

That's Ant-Christ - yes, it was obviously a typo. But I couldn't resist making the following response, in part:
I don't quite see how New Age practices lead to the Ant-Christ. I'd have thought that it would be some sort of celestial picnic that would lead to Him, or rather, that would lead Him to us. But I tremble at the thought of His mighty antennae and exoskeleton. :D

I wonder if anyone will get the joke?
bobquasit: (Default)
Over on an Askville discussion thread, a Christian just said that they viewed attempts by some to mix New Age practices with Christian theology to be the first steps towards the Ant-Christ.

That's Ant-Christ - yes, it was obviously a typo. But I couldn't resist making the following response, in part:
I don't quite see how New Age practices lead to the Ant-Christ. I'd have thought that it would be some sort of celestial picnic that would lead to Him, or rather, that would lead Him to us. But I tremble at the thought of His mighty antennae and exoskeleton. :D

I wonder if anyone will get the joke?
bobquasit: (Default)
Couldn't help writing another response to a "liberal press" idiot recently:


[idiot] has presented an article of his (or her) faith:

The Press Is Leftist.

Of course, if you're not entirely disconnected from reality you're aware that this isn't true. The owners of the overwhelming majority of the mainstream press fall into one of two categories:

1. Arch-conservative Republican billionaires like Rupert Murdoch or close Bush family friend and cult-leader the "Reverend" Sun Myung Moon, or

2. Enormous multi-billion-dollar media corporations which are so closely intertwined with the US government as to be virtually a PART of the government.

Any sane person would not be able to keep a straight face while saying that either of these groups of media owners are wild-eyed socialists. They would know that these groups are interested in preserving their own profits first and foremost - the status quo. And that the best way to do that has traditionally been seen as supporting the Republican Party.

(Although ironically enough the collapse of the credit and housing bubbles, along with the damage caused by massive corruption in the financial world, has proved that responsible government regulation DOES have value in the marketplace.)

But to [idiot], all the words above are just the text equivalent of the voice of the teacher in a Charlie Brown special: "Bwaa bwaa, bwaa bwaa-bwaa bwaa". The facts don't matter. Reality doesn't matter. All that matters is that [idiot] has been told by right-wing talk show hosts and apparatchiks that The Press Is Liberal. And nothing and no one can tell [idiot] differently. S/he's simply too well indoctrinated.

Blind obedience and faith in the Party Line is the only thing imaginable to [idiot] now. Any attempt to convince her or him otherwise is simply a waste of time and effort. It's rather sad, if you think about it.
bobquasit: (Default)
Couldn't help writing another response to a "liberal press" idiot recently:


[idiot] has presented an article of his (or her) faith:

The Press Is Leftist.

Of course, if you're not entirely disconnected from reality you're aware that this isn't true. The owners of the overwhelming majority of the mainstream press fall into one of two categories:

1. Arch-conservative Republican billionaires like Rupert Murdoch or close Bush family friend and cult-leader the "Reverend" Sun Myung Moon, or

2. Enormous multi-billion-dollar media corporations which are so closely intertwined with the US government as to be virtually a PART of the government.

Any sane person would not be able to keep a straight face while saying that either of these groups of media owners are wild-eyed socialists. They would know that these groups are interested in preserving their own profits first and foremost - the status quo. And that the best way to do that has traditionally been seen as supporting the Republican Party.

(Although ironically enough the collapse of the credit and housing bubbles, along with the damage caused by massive corruption in the financial world, has proved that responsible government regulation DOES have value in the marketplace.)

But to [idiot], all the words above are just the text equivalent of the voice of the teacher in a Charlie Brown special: "Bwaa bwaa, bwaa bwaa-bwaa bwaa". The facts don't matter. Reality doesn't matter. All that matters is that [idiot] has been told by right-wing talk show hosts and apparatchiks that The Press Is Liberal. And nothing and no one can tell [idiot] differently. S/he's simply too well indoctrinated.

Blind obedience and faith in the Party Line is the only thing imaginable to [idiot] now. Any attempt to convince her or him otherwise is simply a waste of time and effort. It's rather sad, if you think about it.

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