Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Clone Wars -- "Tipping Points" (Ep. 5.04)

-- Disobedience is a demand for change.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]
[Well, actually, considering that we're into season five, now, probably no one new is going to sign up, BUT! Hop over to The Armchair Squid for his take on the current episode.]

The episode begins with a debate over the -- I want to say morality, but they're not really debating the morality of it. -- effectiveness of carrying attacks against the droids within the populated areas of the city. You know, on the one hand: It's war. On the other hand: Innocent civilians could be killed. This, then, is the debate over whether they are, in fact, a terrorist group as the illegitimate king has labeled the rebel band. I wish they had given this debate more than a few lines but at least they had it, right?

We also get more of the debate over how much involvement the Republic can officially have in the conflict on Onderon. To some extent, this reminds me of the doctors who would go to duels a couple hundred or more years ago but would turn their backs so that they could say they didn't see anything happen. It's ridiculous, but it's a thing that actually used to happen and things like this continue to happen, so I can't exactly say that the political game that the Jedi are playing here isn't really realistic. Maybe that's why it's infuriating: because it is realistic.

But we get an appearance by Hondo out of it, so how can I complain?

We also are introduced to some devastating new droid gunships. And, for some reason, a nod to Battlestar Galactica. Maybe that has happened before; I can't remember.

This episode, more than any of the others in this arc, gives us what is probably the most defining moment for Saw Gerrera. I'd say more, but it would spoil the ending. I will say that not only Saw regrets what happens, though. Pretty much the entire creative team was regretful of this one decision, especially considering Saw's transition into the live action world of Star Wars.

Monday, February 27, 2017

All Children

All children believe in feeding the hungry.

All children believe in taking care of the sick.

All children believe in clothing the poor.

All children believe in providing homes for the homeless.

All children believe in protecting the Earth.

All children want to save the animals. Especially the cute, furry ones. (Okay, maybe not all children want to save all the bugs, but, still...)

All children believe in the concept of sharing (especially when it means that someone else is going to share with them, but they also believe that they should share even when they don't want to).

I guess this means that all children are liberals.

Matthew 18:3 "Truly, I tell you," he said, "unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

Friday, February 24, 2017

My Apolitical Life

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you guys out there think I'm "political." As things stand at the moment, I could certainly understand that perception; after all, I've been writing some pretty politically charged posts, lately. However, the idea of me being "political" is one of the most outrageous thoughts anyone could have, which is why I never have that thought.

Probably what killed politics for me -- maybe I should say "who" -- was Thomas Jefferson. Seriously, what an ass.

Oh, yeah, a lot of you, probably most of you, are saying right now, "But he was a great man!"

And I just want to say to that: Not so much.
In fact, he was so much not a great man and so ashamed of himself over how he handled his presidency that he didn't want to be remembered for it. At all.

And you're all saying, "But! But! Declaration of Independence!"

Okay, sure, the man could write, but, really, he did his best work when he wrote the Declaration and it was all downhill from there.

Actually, the Declaration is the root of the problem. See, I believed it. As a kid, I mean. Well, I still do. "All men are created equal." ALL humankind are created equal.

I was a really patriotic kid. It was a thing my teachers would comment on to my mom, even, about how much I knew about the Revolutionary time period and the people involved. Yeah, the Revolution was one of those things I got into sometime after dinosaurs. Dinosaurs at four. Astronomy at five (which started out being related to dinosaurs). The Revolution at six. Because, hey, it was 1976, so I started reading books and books and books -- lots of biographies -- about the Revolutionary War and the founding fathers.

So, we have this document, see, that says "all men are created equal," and we fought a war over it to gain independence from a government that treated us unfairly and, then, after winning that war, we doubled down on slavery because of "politics." And I get it. I mean, I understand why Washington and a few of the others decided that the new nation was too fragile at the time to deal with that issue and felt the need to put it off till later, but... BUT!

Thomas Jefferson, the man who WROTE "all men are created equal" would not defend that. Didn't even believe that. He kept his own children as slaves and refused to free his slaves even on his deathbed, while many, if not most, of the other founding fathers had done at least as much as that, but Jefferson refused. He adamantly refused to free his slaves even upon his death despite the urging of many of closest friends and allies. Basically, Jefferson's life and lifestyle didn't match his rhetoric, and the whole thing really soured "politics" for me. I mean, if you couldn't trust Jefferson... Well, who could you trust, right?

Actually, in high school, I became a great admirer of Alexander Hamilton. Not that that was enough to make me like politics.

It's not really politics that are the problem; it's the politicians.

All of that to say: None of this is about "politics." It's not about Republicans and Democrats. It's not about the Right and the Left. It's not even about Conservatives and Liberals. It's about what's right and what's wrong.

And I don't mean what's right and wrong as defined by some (usually false) sense of Christian moralism. I mean what's right as defined by the ideals we (theoretically) ascribe to by being American (which I will define narrowly as someone who is a citizen of the United States of America), the highest of which is, "All men are created equal."

Honestly, we weren't ready for that idea when Jefferson tossed it out there. Obviously, Jefferson wasn't ready for it, either. But he did toss it out there, and we've been fighting to reach that ideal ever since. Fighting for the innate right that each person should get to choose how to live his or her own life without someone else coming along and saying, "No, you can't do that," for no reason other than that that person doesn't choose to live that way.

Look, the USA is NOT a Christian nation. It never was, and it was never intended to be. If you believe that, then you believe a lie. In fact, the whole idea was that this would very definitively NOT BE a Christian nation. That's how the Constitution was set up: to allow people to live and believe as they want to live and believe. It is the fundamental principle that our nation was founded on.

I find it egregious that people like Trump and Bannon want to eradicate decades worth of work toward actually achieving that goal, not a goal of freedom (though it is that, too) but a goal of equality. I find it even more egregious that "Christians" have embraced their philosophy of hate and discrimination.

So, no, this is not about "politics" for me. It's about standing up for what is right and good. It is right and good that all men and women should be treated as if they were created equally, because that is what we say we believe. To my mind, the ones opposing equality (the racists, the misogynists, xenophobes), they're the ones who are unAmerican. Trump doesn't know or believe in American ideals and he wants to take away and kill the one thing that really has made America great. It's up to those of us whole believe in what "America" stands for to oppose him. It's not about politics.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Clone Wars -- "The Soft War" (Ep. 5.3)

-- Struggles often begin and end with the truth.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

Political statements aside, there are times when the logic used for the story, just to make a point, is a little, shall we say, spotty. That being said, this is a good episode, and this is a good arc. If nothing else, it's a solid background for Saw Gerrera and who he becomes.

And, based on his behavior in this episode, it's possible to see how he ended being who he is in Rogue One, that being a man largely made up of machine parts.

The interesting part of this episode for me, right now, and probably not the real thrust of the episode, but, still, is that not choosing is in itself a choice. So... How about some background?

King Dendup needs to make a choice between the Republic and the Separatists, and he knows he needs to make a decision. The problem is that he really just wants to be left alone and doesn't want to take sides. So... he does nothing. To put it another way, he doesn't go vote. Because he chooses to not vote, the Separatists, because they don't respect other people and how those people choose to live, invade his planet, depose him, and put a pretender on his throne. Because, you see, not choosing is actually a choice and, when enough people don't go vote, it most often happens the greatest of evils prevails.

Separatists, Trump, Hitler. It's all the same thing. At least Dendup had the courage to own up to his mistake and say, "This was my fault."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Acting vs Reacting

I'm not sure that this post is going to have a point. Not the kind of point I would like it to have, at any rate. Mostly, this is just going to be me talking out some thoughts.

It's pretty clear that most people don't like Trump, or, as one of my friends calls him, 45. I kind of like that, but I haven't talked myself into using it, yet. It's true that 45 does have some very staunch supporters, but they are very much the minority, and it's a minority that's getting smaller as the less staunch continue to fall away. He's a horrible person and, as I have said before, in a couple or few years, you're going to have a hard time finding anyone who is willing to admit that they voted for him. It's a good thing we have social media and blogs where people have recorded for all time their ill-conceived support of a horror.

There's a strong movement against Trump. He may have sparked the greatest protest movement against an individual person ever. May have. I don't have the data for that, but that's how it looks. Yeah, I could do the research, but I don't think it's that important. That there is such a protest movement against him is sufficient, whether it's the largest one or not.

And the protests are good. They have an impact. Some. And there has been a lot of follow up and organization to make sure that the pressure stays on, and that is also good. And necessary.

But there's a problem with it:
Right now, everything being done, at least everything being done by the populace in general, is being done on a reactionary basis. One thing I know is that you can't win a war by only reacting to what your enemy (Maybe I should use the word opponent?) is doing. We can't win by only playing defense.

I mean, I get it. Reacting is easy, and 45 gives us SO MUCH to react to.

But I think it's time to figure out proactive actions we can take. Even if it's deciding that we're in a war of attrition like Washington decided during the American Revolution. Make the war too costly for England to maintain it. With Trump... With 45, maybe, that's just constantly expressing our dislike for him, our utter contempt. You know, since being liked is what he wants most.

Of course, what I think would be the maximum strategy is something known in psychology as extinction, which is when you ignore an attention-seeking behavior because, if the person doing it doesn't get the desired attention, he will quit doing that particular behavior. Of course, that's impractical on a gross scale, because it would require the entire nation to pretty much pretend that Trump wasn't in the White House at all. To just ignore him and everyone associated with him.

Man, that sounds pretty awesome!

But that's not a thing that can happen.

And, maybe, we're doing all we can do at the moment by putting constant pressure on congressmen so that they know we don't like them either. The more people who do that, the better. And it is an action.

Like I said, I don't really know where I'm going with this. I suppose it's more of an idea starter than anything else. All I know is that we can't grow complacent, even when things seem to calm down a little. Not that I expect THAT to happen. We just move from one crisis to the next with Tr... 45. From immigration bans to Russian sympathizers and facilitators to... well, it could be anything. And that's the problem.

So! Be prepared for the long haul.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Day Five

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

There’s no school today. Not now, anyway.

We were actually on the way to school when there were a bunch of explosions. I couldn’t tell where they were coming from at first, but then smoke clouds rose up in the direction of the air force base. There were sirens almost immediately and that loud air raid siren thing they always use in movies. I didn’t know that was a real thing. I stuck my head out of the window of the car so I could look for airplanes, but Mom yelled at me and started pulling on me and swerved all over the road. She didn’t like it when I yelled at her for trying to kill me.

Mom took me back home even though I didn’t want to go back home. Home is so boring, now, with no internet or TV that I WANTED to go to school! But it turned out that they closed school, anyway. Everyone thought we were under attack.

I think the radio is stupid. I mean the news on the radio is stupid. So, of course, Mom had to listen to the news all morning, not that she wasn’t already doing that, but she was more insistent about it because of the explosions and wouldn’t even let me talk. At all! She just kept shushing me!

But the radio is stupid because they just speculate all the time. It’s dumb! No one knew what had happened at the air force base, and it took a long time for anyone to find out. Hours. So they spent those hours talking about what might have happened. Were we being attacked? Should people go to bomb shelters? Was it the Chinese? If it was the Chinese, how did they get here?

Lots of people went to bomb shelters. The radio said they were all filling up. Mom wanted to go to a bomb shelter, but she wouldn’t go without Dad, and she couldn’t get through to Dad. All of the phones were jammed up with people using them. As it turned out, Dad was in a bomb shelter.

Mom was SO mad even though he didn’t have a choice. Everyone from Dad’s work was sent to the bomb shelter because everyone thought there was an attack. There was no way for him to call Mom about it, but she didn’t care. She was just mad at him and didn’t talk to him all night. Not after telling him that SHE COULD HAVE DIED while he was all safe and stuff and she was never going to wait for him again.

He said “good” and “fine” and, after a little while, once he figured out that she wasn’t going to talk to him anymore, he went off to… I don’t really know. I went to my room and stayed and am still here. Mom is still listening to the radio. I’ve been reading a little bit.

Oh, yeah, I got a book at school yesterday, Slaughterhouse-Five. I wanted Hunger Games, but she didn’t have any copies left, so I wanted Animal Farm, but she didn’t have any of those left, either. Slaughterhouse sounded like a cool title, though, and there wasn’t a lot to choose from, so I picked it.

I don’t understand it, though. I think it might be good, but I can’t figure out what it’s about. It’s the only book I have right now, though, since I couldn’t trade it for something different today. If I can’t figure out what it’s about by tomorrow, I’ll try to get a different book since reading is the only thing to do, right now. IF there’s even school tomorrow.

There will probably be school tomorrow since we weren’t under attack. Maybe. The radio said the base was sabotaged. It said they were going to send out planes to bomb somewhere on some secret mission but, as soon as the planes started getting ready to take off, they all blew up.

It wasn’t just here, either. It happened at bases all over the US. All the planes that were going to go on this secret mission all blew up. Well, not all of them, but a lot of them. Or most of them. Hundreds of them. I don’t know. They don’t give a lot of details on the radio, just a lot of talking about nothing.

And then they had Trump on talking about nothing, too, because he said it was a great attack on the sovereignty of the US by horrible, terrible enemies and terrorists and about all of the brave brave men who had died except they had already said on the radio, at least at our base, that no one had died. The explosions just crippled the planes and made them no good, but the explosions hadn’t killed anyone.

Trump also said they had a glorious success on the mission. It was beautiful. But he didn’t say what the mission was, only that there was a mission and that it was a success.

I don’t believe him.

Dad said it sounded like Yemen and Jalalabad and Mosul, but he wouldn’t tell me what he meant. Probably because Mom was mad at him. Nothing good, though.

So I think there will be school tomorrow, because, so far, everyone is trying to pretend that everything is okay. Everything is normal. But everything is NOT normal. I wish it was normal and that there was still the internet and I wasn’t stuck reading a book I don’t understand.

A Note from the author:
I hope you are enjoying this piece of FREE! serialized fiction. At least so far as it is fiction. For the moment. Who's to say what could be happening a year from now considering where we are at this moment in time.
Speaking of FREE!, because this is FREE!, it would be great, if are enjoying this story, if you could support the author by purchasing one of his other stories. Look, there are links all of the page and many different types of stories available.

It's always great to feel supported.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Clone Wars -- "Front Runners" (Ep. 5.2)

-- To seek something is to believe in its possibility.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

What I'm finding myself wondering as I'm watching this story arc is whether Saw Gerrera, as we saw him in Rogue One, ever knew that Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker, one of the Jedi who trained him as a rebel. My understanding is that Saw goes on to be in Rebels, but I'm not that far into Rebels, yet, so I don't know.

The small force on Onderon has quickly become competent enough that the Jedi head back to Coruscant, leaving only Ahsoka to supervise the band of rebels fighting against the puppet government installed by Dooku and the Separatists. I'm sure the intention here is to mimic the way the CIA has helped to equip and train rebel groups over the last few decades. Ahsoka is there as an adviser, not as a participant. She can watch and defend, but she's not supposed to actively engage in the conflict.

This, of course, causes conflict for her because of her latent feelings for Lux.

All of that said, here's some outside info that you guys might find interesting (or some inside info, depending on how you look at it):
Saw and Steela were created by George Lucas, and this story line was his. It's considered one of the most important story arcs in the entire Clone Wars series, because it lays the foundation for the Rebellion and shows where and how it forms. This is where it all started. After digging up that bit of esoterica, I wonder even more about the question I started this post with. The whole thing becomes, well, rather ironic.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Day Three

Monday, January 22, 2018

I got up for school and the internet was still not working.

Except that it was and, now, I know why everyone kept saying the internet itself was fine because now the internet is gone. Trump took it away. I thought I hated Trump before, but I really hate him now.

When I got up, I turned on my laptop to check. I figured it had to come back sometime and, really, I’ve been checking all the time all weekend so, of course, I checked. My google homepage said this:

Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

This message brought to you by the free states of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey

Even New Jersey.

I wondered who wrote it. It’s really pretty. I want to go to California. Even Washington.

Anyway, that’s what the internet said. Everywhere I checked, netflix, facebook, youtube, everywhere. That was on every page. Obviously, the internet was working even if that’s all that was there.

Then I had to go to school.

School was weird. The teachers tried to act like everything was normal, but there kept being questions about China. And about the poem on the internet. That’s where I found out that it was from the Statue of Liberty. I hadn’t known the statue said anything. I wanted to know why. Why did it say that, but I hate raising my hand to ask questions.

But Olivia’s hand shot right up – she ALWAYS asks questions, everyone hates her for it, which is why I hate asking questions – and she asked it, but the teacher wouldn’t answer. She just said we were in English class, not history, and we weren’t going to talk about that. So I thought it was a poem and we could talk about it because it was a poem, and I almost raised my hand because I really wanted to know, but Emma raised her hand and asked almost the same question and about who wrote it, but Mrs. Stick-up-her-butt still said no.

And that’s how it was all day. No one would answer the real questions we had. Like about the Statue of Liberty and about why California and Washington and New York would put something on the internet that said that and about whether we were in a war with China. Other than the trade war that everyone had been talking about for months and blaming China for why everything was costing so much.

After lunch, Trump came on TV. It was a live broadcast. He wanted everyone everywhere to watch it which made me wonder if my parents were being able to watch it, because the TV at home wouldn’t work because we didn’t have an antenna, and there were no TVs where my dad worked. But they heard it because it was on the radio, too.

And Trump said he turned off the internet.

He said we had to be protected from those rebellious states and thoughts and he couldn’t have them putting stuff like that on the internet because only he knew what was good for the United States and he wasn’t going to have that kind of stuff out there for people to see.

He said he would make a new internet and it would be beautiful. Then he talked about twitter. A lot. And he was mad that some people would ruin everything for everyone because they wouldn’t do what they were told. And that he was going to make a big, new, beautiful internet.

But, until then, we would all have to use our TVs so everyone should go buy antennas and he was going to make sure that there were plenty of TV antennas for everyone and it was going to make so many jobs.

So I was mad that my parents voted for Trump because he said awful things and did awful things, but my parents said I just didn’t understand but that I would when I got older and that he would be better as a president and I should just wait and see. But he hasn’t been better as a president; he’s been worse, and even they complain about the things he says and does all the time now.


Because when I got home, I found that instead of the blank screens I had been getting, I was getting that screen you get when the internet is down. The one with the little dinosaur that let’s you play that stupid game. And now there is no reason to check for the internet anymore, because I know that it’s gone.

At least until we get the internet that Trump says he’s going to build, but I expect that that is going to go about the same as the wall that he still is talking about but isn’t happening, either.

Dad spent all evening out trying to get an antenna for our TV, but no one has any. He said he might be able to make something out of a clothes hanger, and Mom spent an hour looking for one, including ransacking my closet. I told her I didn’t have any wires ones and that I would look, but she wouldn’t let me or even listen to me and shoved my stuff all around. It was rude, and, like I said, I didn’t have one. She couldn’t find one in the whole house, so we still don’t have any TV, either.

I feel depressed and don’t know what to do. There’s nothing to do. Except, I guess, read. Is that what people used to do before there was TV and the internet? I can’t even listen to music because Mom has the stupid news on the radio ALL the time, but all they do is say the same things over and over again without ever actually saying anything. THEY can’t even answer the question about whether we are in a war with China. Or what it means that that poem was in the internet and why those states said that.

Tomorrow, I guess, I need to go buy some books. Or go to the library. All I can find here are mom’s stupid romance things, and that’s not what I want to read about.

I want to go to California. I bet they have the internet.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Why There Is No Hope For Your "Christian" Friends

One of the most constant and consistent frustrations of those opposing Trump is with his supporters, especially with -- and this is most of them -- "Christians." The disbelief that non-Christians have with "Christians" who support Trump is completely justified, but discussions about the lack of compassion from "Christians" is for some other time. This time let's deal with the dismissal of facts and reality by "Christians" in their rabid defense of Trump and the things he's doing.

So let's deal with a hard truth:
There is no hope for your "Christian" friends, and it is a waste of your time trying to talk to them or convince them of anything fact-based or anything having to do with actual reality, even when it comes to things that might be directly affecting them (like the ACA) in the very near future.

Well, that's kind of doom and gloom, isn't it?

Maybe, but it's the truth, and here's why:

From childhood, "Christians" grow up being taught to ignore science, history, and archaeology for the greater truth that the Bible contains. See, sometimes what's in the Bible comes into direct conflict with the reality of the world. In those situations, "Christians" are taught that the Bible is always right and science is always wrong. Always. The Bible is infallible after all, so any fact that goes against something in the Bible is always suspect. It is only a "fact," meaning it is some piece of some liberal conspiracy to undermine the Church.

Let me give you a couple of real world examples that I dealt with over and over again as I was growing up.

See, dinosaurs were my first love. I spent a good 10 years of my life planning to be a paleontologist when I grew up (which is a story for another time). By the time I was four (yes, I said four), I was already neck deep in textbooks about dinosaurs (not little kid books but actual science books about dinosaurs and paleontology). To put it another way: Science was my thing. However, dinosaurs don't fit well within the "Christian" mythos. I mean, where are they even mentioned in the Bible? And how do they fit into that whole seven-day creation myth? "Christians" will go through all sorts of mental contortions to explain all of those very real bones sitting in museums.

Explanation one:
When God created the Earth, he created it with the fossils already in the ground. There were no actual dinosaurs, God just made giant bones and stuck them in the ground.

What the fuck?

Yeah, even as a kid, that was kind of my mental response even though I had no clue about the word "fuck."

I mean, why? Why would God, any god, do something like that? Just to fuck with us? I actually had to have a discussion with my mom about this when I was... oh, I don't know, maybe 12 or 14. Her question to me was, Is it possible? Is it possible that God could have just put the bones in the ground?

How do you answer something like that? Of course, it's possible. But why? I told her it didn't make any sense logically that God would do something like that.

And she said something like, Maybe God did it as a puzzle for us to figure out.

What the fuck?

Look, this wasn't my mom talking. She didn't come up with these ideas on her own. It was some unit or something they were doing in Sunday school and, since it was about dinosaurs, she wanted to talk to me about it. And it wasn't just from my mom I head this theory. But, you know, when it came from the Church, she wasn't ever much for questioning it. This was about as close as she ever got to doing that.

So, yeah, if it was a puzzle, how do you even figure that out? What, then, is the puzzle? If you come up with answers that the "puzzle" would lead you to -- that dinosaurs ruled the world for millions of years then died suddenly -- you are completely wrong. That doesn't make any sense, that God would deliberately mislead us like that, not to mention that there are no clues at all that God had just stuck bones in the ground, so you could never come to that knowledge from the "puzzle."

So she said, "It could be a test?" Like a test of our faith. To see if we would believe that they had been real when what we should be doing was immediately grasping that God had stuck bones in the ground even more proving that He is God.

A trick, then, I said. You're saying that God is trying to trick us. That's mean.

The conversation ended when I said I didn't believe in a God who would make bones and stick them in the ground for no logical reason. It was either stupid or mean. Then I walked away.

We never talked about it again, but that was how I dealt with that particular scenario any other time I heard it mentioned.

Explanation two:
Man and the dinosaurs lived simultaneously upon the Earth. Yes, despite any archaeological evidence, man and dinosaurs coexisted. Some people even believe that Noah had dinosaurs on the ark and that he saved them from the flood... just so that they could all go extinct some time just after that.

One of my youth pastors when I was in high school believed this, that Noah loaded the ark with dinosaurs. Baby dinosaurs where the really big ones were involved. We had... disagreements... about this frequently. So much so, in fact, that he did two separate units about Creationism (in the same year!) with the whole dinosaur/human coexistence as the central point. For one of them, he brought in some outside "expert" on the issue who had a film and various "proofs" that dinosaurs lived with men. The most famous of these being this fossil of a dinosaur footprint with a man's footprint within it. That was the proof.
[If you're interested, this is known as the Paluxy dinosaur/man track controversy and has been debunked by science, though there are still plenty of young-Earth Creationists who believe in the coexistence of man and dinosaur.]

Mostly, "Christians" tend to ignore the dinosaur question or take up the more liberal view that maybe the word "day" where it's used in the creation myth didn't mean a literal 24-hour day.

The point, though, is that "Christians" are taught from a young age to ignore empirical evidence when it contradicts the Bible and that they will fabricate all sorts of stories to get around conflicts.

AND they think they are smarter than you while doing it, because, in the end, they believe that their "foolishness" is greater than your "wisdom":

I Corinthians 1:27 -- But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise...

I Corinthians 1:19-20 -- For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

I Corinthians 3:18-20 -- If any of you thinks he is wise in this age, he should become a fool, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness." And again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."

These are not the only examples of this kind of philosophy from the Bible, so you might be able to understand why some of these people espouse the view that you don't need to have "any learning but what's in the Bible," something I've been told numerous times by numerous people all the way into my 20s when I was going to college. There's a reason why they pride themselves on their ignorance; it's because they've been raised to believe it's a virtue.

Their ignorance makes them "smarter" than you, and you're just not going to talk those people out of that. You can't argue with stupid, especially when it believes it's pulling the wool over your eyes.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Clone Wars -- "A War on Two Fronts" (Ep. 5.1)

-- Fear is a malleable weapon.

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Season five starts with a... newly found special significance, the introduction of Saw Gerrera. Saw started his opposition against the Empire while it was still the Separatist movement, and we get to see those origins in this episode.

This is also a very relevant political episode, a social commentary on terrorism and how governments can, perhaps even, inadvertently create terrorist organizations. I think nearly all modern terrorists groups in the Middle East can be traced back to the 80s and the politics of Reagan. Sure, it was to "stop the spread of communism," but we gave them weapons; we trained them, look where that took us.

The idea to equip groups and offer training to them is, of course, Anakin's. He calls this supporting rebel cells. Some other Jedi, notably Obi-Wan and Yoda, worry about the creation of terrorist groups. I think we can see the seeds of the Rebellion being planted here, certainly where it pertains to Saw Gerrara. This should be an interesting arc...

The episode is not without personal conflict as well. Ahsoka has to deal with feelings of jealousy as she watches a burgeoning relationship between Steela Gerrera (Saw's sister) and Lux Bonteri, who also shows up in this episode. Oh, that Lux, always popping up in the strangest places!

All things considered, this is a much stronger opening episode and story arc than season four had.

"A means to an end, fear cannot be. Stop those who spread terror, the Jedi must."

Monday, February 6, 2017

Voting by Mob Mentality

Okay, so, this is one of those posts where I'm going to be talking some psychology. I'm going to be working from some general principals, and I'm not going to be citing references. That's because I'm not looking up any new information, not that I would probably cite references even if I was. Basically, if you don't trust me to know what I'm talking about, you should do your own research to verify the things I'm going to say. Or even if you do trust me to know what I'm talking about. I frequently do verification research even on people I trust. Heck, I do verification research on myself all the time just to make sure I have the details correct before I actually post something.

Facts matter. Science matters. Stay educated.

Here's an example of why you should research:

Common sense and general accepted practice over the last decade or so says that group efforts results in better work than individual efforts. This is why teams have become such a thing in business and in schools. The problem is that research shows that group tasks result in overall inferior work because the work is dragged down to the level of the least competent member of the group. It's one of those things where you can't go faster than the slowest member of your team. Basically, rather than the work being elevated by the more competent members, the more competent members have to dumb down to operate on a level with the least competent members.

And that goes against conventional wisdom of how these team efforts work, so people keep proponing group efforts over individual efforts because they don't bother to look at the science. So, go ahead, go look at the research and the data, the actual science. Stop listening to conventional "wisdom."

Speaking of humans in groups, one of the principles of psychology and sociology is that people in groups, also, tend to become, let's say, less intelligent as the groups get larger. Groups of any sort tend toward the lowest common denominator. [As a complete aside, this is an important thing to acknowledge when you look at the FACT that Republicans tend to be less intelligent and less educated than Democrats. The lowest common denominator on the Republican side of things is MUCH lower than on the Democrat side of things.] This is how mobs start, because people of lower intelligence are more easily riled up, but, once one gets a few people riled up, it spreads through the group. It is literally like an infection.

Recently, The New York Times published an article in which Satan (oh, I mean, Steve Bannon) is quoted as saying that the media didn't understand the forces that drove Trump into office. I think he's right. The media didn't understand what was happening at the time -- but, then, no one did except, perhaps, Trump and Satan himself (oh, I meant Bannon again) -- and they still don't understand now. However, it came to me the other day, and it was one of those "d'oh!" moments where you have to wonder why you didn't see it sooner, especially since the correct comparisons were being made.

Trump got to office on mob mentality. Seriously, think about every Western you watched as a kid and remember the lynch mob scenes and how the crowd was chanting, "Lock her up! Lock her up!" Oh, that's not what they were chanting? Same thing, though. Trump riled up a mob, formed a posse, and rode out to get himself someone to lynch. And got elected to the highest office in the world on the energy of what amounts to no more than a lynch mob. Only, this time, there is no white hat to step in between the mob and the instigator and talk them down. As if that has ever really been a thing anyway.

The problem with mobs, though, is that they take a lot of energy to keep going. On their own, mobs are short-lived entities that begin to dissipate from the fatigue of the individuals within the mob. In short, it's easy to get a mob all worked up (you can look at Trump's rallies to see that), but they take energy to keep them going. They take somewhat constant agitation.

Trump needs the mob. He needs his posse. His lynch mob. This is not just the energy that keeps him going, that he feeds off of (it is that, too); this is the energy that is keeping him in office. As long as the mob stays riled, the Republicans will fall in line behind Trump and whatever insane thing he is doing. Republicans have come into the realization that to go against Trump is to go against the very people who got them into office, and they can't risk offending those people, because the mob will turn on them just as quickly as it goes after liberals and Democrats.

Because Trump needs the mob, he has to continually agitate them to keep them riled up. This is, at least in part (the rest of it is because he has no impulse control and can't stop his tongue and his fingers from saying whatever stupid thing comes into his head), the reason Trump says and does outrageous things that have no basis in fact or reality, like demanding an investigation into voter fraud. It doesn't matter if the claim is ludicrous, because it keeps his base riled up and mob like. The mob has no logic or thought. It reacts to Trump on emotion and faulty instinct.

What, then, is the answer to the mob issue? How do we get people to slow down and actually apply thought and logic to Trump? [As if most people (and those people in particular) use much thought and logic to begin with.] I don't have a good answer to that. Generally speaking, the way to stop a mob is to let it play itself out, but Trump seems especially good at keeping his base agitated and in play for him. And, honestly, part of that is due to us, those who are standing against Trump. When we react to something Trump has done, like the Muslim travel ban, it serves to foment his followers without much work from him, allowing him to go off and do things like hosting special screenings of Finding Dory [I bet Trump feels a special connection to Dory and her inability to keep anything in her head.] or, you know, put Satan on the National Security Council.

The other thing that can stop a mob is a sudden shock to the system, so to speak, something which instantaneously catches the mobs attention. For that, it's possible that Trump could do our job for us, not that we should count on that.

At any rate, I think it's important to know what you're dealing with and that it's probably pointless to engage with Trump supporters in any kind of rational discussion. You can't reason with a mob. Or with someone in an abusive relationship. It just makes the person defend the abuser, put the person on the same side with the abuser. You have to wait for them to realize they are being abused and be ready to confront it. That's the current state of Trump supporters. Eventually, Trump will do something that will affect each of them personally, then you'll see them get it, get that Trump is a liar and a cheat and has just been using them for his own profit.

Eventually, Trump, already the least liked President a week into his presidency, will have no one left on his side... except Republican politicians (>cough< McConnell >cough cough< Paul Ryan >cough<) whose heads are stuck too far up Trump's ass for them to get away.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Clone Wars -- Season Four

So... Here we are at the end of season four of The Clone Wars. When the Squid and I started this "little" venture back in -- oh, man, that has been a while ago, now! -- sometime ago, I didn't remember the specific low points of the series. Well, if the series has a low point, season four is definitely it. At least, the beginning of season four, at any rate.

Well, you can go back and look at the individual reviews if you want on the beginning of the season, no need to pick at the scabs, right?

Season four doesn't really get going until episode seven, "Darkness on Umbara." I think the Umbaran arc and the introduction of General Krell is the high point of the season. It's too bad that Krell had to die; he was a great villain. But that story line left some threads lying around that I'm pretty sure we go back to in season five. Or, maybe, six. I don't remember.

Of course, the big reveal of the season is that Darth Maul survived being bisected in The Phantom Menace and, now that he's back, he's out for revenge against Obi-Wan. As I said in my review of "Brothers," I'm still ambivalent about the resurrection of Maul. I think I'm a bit more negative about it, right now, than I was after I finished watching the Maul arc, though, which doesn't conclude at the end of season four. Yes, mostly because I can't remember what happens. What I do remember is being somewhat reconciled to the whole thing after watching the story. Something akin to, "Well, it was dumb to bring him back but, in the end, worth it." I guess I will let you know for sure when we get there.

Possibly, the most significant even of the season, though, is arc in which Obi-Wan goes undercover as Rako Hardeen by faking his own death... without telling Anakin. In the grander scheme of things, I think it's important to show the cracks in Anakin's "faith" so that his fall from grace is more... not really believable... has more context. It's always annoyed me when people talk about how sudden and abrupt Anakin's fall is in Revenge of the Sith. First, a "fall" is always sudden and abrupt, because things are always okay right up until they aren't. But, also, it's not like you can't see it, even just in the movies. The seeds of Anakin's fall are apparent all the way back to Phantom Menace. It's nice to have these Clone Wars stories, though, where we see the development of what will become Anakin's break with the Jedi.

So, yeah, even with season four being the low point of the series, there are still some good arcs in it and what I would call essential viewing.