Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Scene From A Corner Store

I had a bit of a fight with my family, based on one family member backing out essentially at the last minute from plans made earlier. I was angry and decided that rather than doing the wise thing and sublimating that anger into finishing cleaning and packing my apartment, I would visit the corner grocery and convenience store. I meant to pick up some energy drinks for the trip and a Haagen Däs bar for comfort.

There were three people behind the counter today. A nice young man, about my age or a bit younger, a middle-aged woman who was doing inventory, and a woman who looked older than 50. The young man was serving an older man who directed a veritable torrent of sexist "jokes" at the two women. All employees were clearly uncomfortable with this, but he was jovial and almost done paying for whatever he was getting. He then said something that I had to reply to.

"It's a man's civic duty to be an asshole to women." I am, of course, paraphrasing. He repeated the line because there were people in his "audience" who didn't let out some nervous laughter, so I'm sure of all the words except "asshole". He might have said "ass" or "prick" or maybe "jerk". My response was "if you say so," said with a smile. The aim was to subtly tell him he was not supported by this particular male, while keeping the tone light. The reply from him was "well, it might not win you any points, but it feels good." "Iiiiiiiif you say so," I said, in a more fauc-cheery manner, as if I was a sitcom character and that was my catchphrase. The 50something who was serving me piped in right then.

"Well that's why...never mind". This prompted a slightly less friendly "what?" from the sexist guy, and my cashier handwaved it with "nothing." His debit payment (everyone in Canada shops almost exclusively with Interac debit cards) completed, and he was gone a moment later. The woman clarified to us "I know him, his wife left him not long ago. I was going to say 'Well that's why your wife left you' but I thought better of it." The younger cashier said that he figured the guy was single, and she said "yeah, he is now, so that's why..." and she left it hanging. Did she mean that's why he was acting sexist? That's why she was nicer where she didn't need to be? I'll never know. After a moment, my purchase was done and I said "and there's a reason for that." Laughter. "Have a good day, sir." I nodded, left.

Knowing little details can change a situation greatly. Was that man really a genuine sexist asshole, or was he really hard done by his wife who left him? If the one cashier hadn't known him, I'd have simply assumed he was a distasteful person. Now, I know he at least has a reason to be angry at women. Perhaps not a very good one, and perhaps he did cause her to leave him, but I'd never even consider the possibility that he was anything aside from a total bastard without knowing that one detail.

How many other times have I judged a person poorly knowing nothing about them aside from a single thing they did or said? I know we've all done it. How many times do we similarly judge those we know only through work, school, etc. How often do rumours of bitchiness or other similar things get started because of one bad day?
What I'm saying is we ought to be less quick to judge others before we know anything about them. Read more!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

There Is No Good Secular Argument Against Gay Marriage

Sorry I haven't written here for a while. I have submitted a post a week at MIBReviews (go check out the site and other contributors!) but otherwise I've been away from the blogging. There's been one article I've been hoping to respond to...and here it is. Go read it (it's a short piece) then come back here.

Done? OK. The argument put forth by Mr James Jordan is that same sex marriage is different from heterosexual marriage, therefore, it should be outlawed. Here's how he actually tries to justify that:
In same sex marriage, there is no procreation. There is no mother and father. A man and a woman do not equal a man and a man. Period. It's not that a man and a man are less than a man and a woman. It's that the two unions are fundamentally different.

See the problem? The "they're not the same" argument can easily be used to ban interracial marriage. After all, a white man and a black woman isn't the same as a a white man and white woman, or a black man and a black woman. Hell, a black man and a black woman aren't the same as a white man and white woman, so why are we allowing black people to marry at all? Or ANY racial group other than "white"? Those types of unions are fundamentally different than the "norm" of white couples. We could even go so far as to outlaw marriages between people of different economic classes, or people of different age groups or nationalities, if we so desired, since those unions are all fundamentally different than staying within one's own class or age group.

But we can even go further than that. The specific examples he used, despite actually being wrong (we'll get to that) can be used on many types of marriage that are legal in all of the USA. No procreation? OK, then, sterile people can't be married, including those who get vasectomies and hysterectomies. Menopausal women can't be married either. And "no mother and father"? Well, then people who don't ascribe to traditional gender roles (men who do housework, women who discipline kids, etc) can't be married either. And by extension, this argument invalidates single parent households, as well as gay adoption.

However, if we simply ignore the part about gay couples having the same sex, we'd find that they are, essentially, the same as heterosexual couples. There can be procreation, though it has to be by a surrogate or a sperm bank, or even in vitro fertilization. And it's quite easy to have one partner fulfill other "traditional gender role", thus having two males, or two females, while having a "mother and father". I mean, do you really need a vagina to care for children, clean and cook? Do you really need a penis to make be the "breadwinner" and to fix stuff?

So, yeah, your argument fails, James. As does your assertion that you don't have to hate gay people to oppose gay marriage. I mean, I guess that one could just be ignorant and not hateful, much like a white person in the 1960s thinking black people need to use different toilets because white people can't handle "black diseases" (that was seriously the justification for that, or at least according to The Help, which is a pretty good movie). But really, once you get down to it, by denying gay people the right to marry each other, you're making them second class citizens. It's the very definition of second class citizenry, denying one group of people rights afforded to others. And if you don't have a good reason to do that, then yes, it is hateful. Sorry. Read more!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Contagion Review

Last night, I saw Contagion with my good friend @evetheatheist. I had heard a lot of good things about the film before I saw it. But was it an infectiously good time? Click the link, since there are very minor spoilers ahead.

The first thing I'd like to say is that, appropriately, I was rather sick, much to the dismay of my company. I still have a bit of the sniffles. In a very real way, that helped me get more into the mood for the film, since the film was all about how easy it is to spread a disease like my cold. The film actually starts with a black screen and a few coughs, then Gwyneth Paltrow looking as "normal" as someone as beautiful as her can look. The movie was extremely realistic in nearly all ways, and even though some of the medical professionals were played by extremely attractive people, it wasn't to an unbelievable level (how many movies have a supermodel in her early 20s playing a high-ranking nuclear physicist or some such?). The next thing I noticed was just how star-studded this movie was. In addition to Paltrow, it had Matt Damon, Lawrence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Chin Hau (Lau from the Dark Knight), Elliot Gould, Demetri Martin in probably his first dramatic role, the guy who plays Malcolm in the Middle's dad (or the Breaking Bad guy, if you watch that show), the photographer from Just Shoot Me...a lot more recognized people than in most movies I normally see. And that, in a way, is the movie's biggest problem.

See, I don't think that ensemble movies are always bad, not even ones like this one that don't have an evident protagonist. In fact, the premier movie of that type, Seven Samurai, is one of my favourite movies ever, and Inglourious Basterds was one of the best movies of last year. The difference, however, is that those movies had more real resolution than this one did. This might have been by design. As Eve said to me as we left the cinema, "life has no resolution". And it's true, the lack of real resolution for the various story threads, and of the movie as a whole, adds to the realism of the film. But it detracts from the quality of the movie as a movie.

Here's what I mean, and here's where we get into the minor spoilers. I'll limit them as much as possible, but spoilers are inevitable to make my point.

Jude Law plays a glory-seeking conspiracy theorist blogger with an overly swelled head, whose personality I am convinced is influenced by Andrew Breitbart. Throughout the movie he advocated for an alternative herbal treatment to the epidemic, and eventually it's revealed that he fraudulently claimed that Forsythia (the drug) was successful in curing him, and made a few million dollars. At the end, it looks like he will get his real comeuppance, then...nothing. No explanation as to whether he really gets away with it, what the long term effects of his actions were, nothing of the sort.

Marion Cotillard's character, Dr. Leonora Orantes, is a WHO agent who investigates the possible origin of the disease in China. She gets abducted by Sun Feng (Han) so she can be used as a ransom in order to ensure his village gets the vaccine before they run out. The next scene with her shows her teaching some village childr
en, having developed a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. Then, the exchange happens, we find out that all is not as it seems, Leonora runs away from her colleague at the airport and...what? Nothing, that's what. I really wanted to know what happened next, but the film decided to cut that thread right there.

Kate Winslet's character may or may not have died from the infection, though she probably did. Where was the reaction from her mentor, Dr. Cheever (Fishburne)? What was the consequence of the incredibly out of character (and stupid) move Cheever made at the end? What happened to the mouse?

The only thread that gets adequately resolved, I think, was Matt Damon's story. I really felt for the grieving husband and father struggling to cope with not only the deaths of his wife and son, and the revelation of his wife's infidelity, but also being there for and protecting his estranged teen daughter (though part of my love for Damon's role might be due to the man-crush I developed for him after this). It's also about the only place where we see the real societal effects of this major epidemic. Honestly, if they spent more time there and cut some of the padding (there was a point where Eve left for 10 minutes and she missed about nothing) and maybe abandoned Cotillard's plot thread altogether, perhaps making a whole new movie about it, the movie would have been better. Eve said that the film dragged at a few points, and I think she's right. It's strange when a film both lacks adequate closure to all its plot thread and still drags at points.

All in all, I think this would have worked much better as a TV series, where the format would have been more conducive for this type of movie. Literally everything else was well done, and the science, from what I can tell, is impressively accurate, and the atmosphere was expertly built, but you have to finish your story to actually make it a good movie. I recommend it when it's on Netflix or some other rental service, but don't go to it in the cinema unless you go with excellent company.

6 sniffles out of 10
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Chat With Eric Hovind

So, I got mentioned in the blog of Eric Hovind, as in “Kent Hovind’s son”. It was mostly about a conversation between him and a cool chick named Paula, aka Nerdista. After that post he continued the discussion with the both of us. I decided to post the part that I participated in here. There are spelling mistakes, of course. Blame autocorrect and the twitter character limit. The link to each individual tweet is below the words (I copied it into word that night, so it's more than 3 or 4 hours old despite wording it that way.) Click the link to read it all.


It starts with me quoting then, commenting on, something he said…


benfromcanada Ben Dobson

@erichovind: @Nerdista Using any logic is to use my worldview. Yours can't account for the unchanging absolute laws.”Dumbest thing eversaid

4 hours ago


@erichovind Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada Would you care to try to explain how an immaterial law came from a material world?

3 hours ago


Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada speaking of your tweet, remember this? "truth doesn’t need to be “absolute” to be true"

3 hours ago

Ben Dobson

@erichovind "law" is only a word we use to describe an observed phenomenon. Get past the word.

3 hours ago


Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada "law" describes an "absolute"! but you don't believe in those.

3 hours ago


Ben Dobson

@erichovind what makes a law "absolute" has nothing to do with our calling it a law. It could be "the pizza of gravity" would still be true

3 hours ago

Meanwhile, there was another thread to this discussion, which does tie back into this idea of absolute, objective laws right around here.

Eric Hovind

@Nerdista Of course no person invented logic or morals. That is the irony. They must come from something outside this material world.

5 hours ago


Nerdista Paula

@erichovind And science can track how morality evolved, and it's not given through god.

5 hours ago


Eric Hovind

@Nerdista Morality did not "evolve". If it did then we could make the killing of children for fun morally OK. Just vote it in! Change it!

5 hours ago


Ben Dobson

@erichovind @nerdista if morality didn't evolve why does your bible support slavery while you do not? BTW thanks for mention in your blog.

3 hours ago

Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada NP. And clearly you don't quite understand the Bible vs the African slavery you speak.

3 hours ago

Ben Dobson

@erichovind oh, I understand it alright. African slave trade was perfectly in line with your bible. 100%

3 hours ago


Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada Is it wrong? If so, why? What difference does it make what my chemicals do to someone else's chemicals? Is slavery wrong?

3 hours ago


Ben Dobson

@erichovind slavery damages society & thus harms humanity's longterm survival rate, so yes, slavery is wrong.

3 hours ago

Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada You are assuming that longterm survival rate is "good". Again you appeal to a morality. Are moral laws unchanging?

3 hours ago


Ben Dobson

@erichovind do moral laws have to be unchanging to be useful? Yes, survival is "good", no, I don't need to borrow anything to say that.

3 hours ago

Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada I am not asking about usefulness. I could find it useful to steal from someone, doesn't make it right.

3 hours ago

Ben Dobson

@erichovind it's useful to the thief, but if everyone steals, it ruins the group. Needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

3 hours ago

Ben Dobson

@erichovind I know exactly how you'll twist that. No, murder never benefits "the many" so don't even ask.

3 hours ago

Ben Dobson

@erichovind to clarify: thievery damages group because if all simply steal, no one is productive, we all suffer.

3 hours ago

Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada ?? where did you get that from? So if the whole world decided we need to kill the Jews, that would make it OK?

3 hours ago

Ben Dobson

@erichovind I guess you missed my follow up tweet predicting that. No, murder is never useful.

3 hours ago

Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada So murder is always wrong. Right?

3 hours ago

Ben Dobson

@erichovind murder cannot be justified except as self defence. So yes, it's wrong

3 hours ago


Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada By what standard is it wrong? In other words, says who?

3 hours ago



Ben Dobson

@erichovind does declaring a thing "wrong" or "right" make it so? Survival & all that aids it is "right" regardless of proclamations

3 hours ago

Due to the nature of twitter, there was another side thread where Eric replied to a tweet of mine twice in different ways. We eventually got back to the real point, though.

Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada Is hurting society "Wrong"?

3 hours ago


Ben Dobson

@erichovind society benefits all in it, aids in survival, thus all that damages society is "wrong" & what benefits it is "right"

3 hours ago


Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada So if it benefits one society to take over another one, is it right to do?

3 hours ago


Ben Dobson

@erichovind one can try to justify it. As we've seen, learning what our gov'ts do to other societies can hurt our own society (cont)

3 hours ago


Ben Dobson

@erichovind above society is "species". Ultimately, survival of the species is the ultimate good.

3 hours ago


Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada How do you know that? What if I said, survival of "Mother Earth" is good and killing all people will help?

3 hours ago


Ben Dobson

@erichovind that's silly. Human survival is above all. That's the basis of all codes of morality, if you study with some seriousness

3 hours ago


Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada Why is human survival above all?

3 hours ago



Ben Dobson

@erichovind because we are human. Chimp survival is highest goal for chimps, elephants for elephants, etc. And before you try to day(cont)

3 hours ago

@erichovind that we can use that to support 1 "human" group over another, yes. That's why Darwin is important. He shows we're all human(cont

3 hours ago

@erichovind and so it's wrong to harm any human, regardless of where they're from. That's morality evolving due to science for you.

3 hours ago

Eric Hovind

@benfromcanada So we go back to "I can do whatever I need to do to survive?" Hardly a "Standard" for morality. Sry, good night for now. 3am

3 hours ago

Ben Dobson

@erichovind uh, no, not at all what I said. We depend on each other, so we have to look out for each other, silly. Have a good sleep, then.

3 hours ago

Essentially, I made it as clear as possible (in 140 character tweets) what my moral philosophy was, and though I didn’t explain fully why, I did allude to it. As you can see by his recycling his dad’s talking point of “killing all people to save mother earth” right after I said human survival was the goal, and the very last tweet from him, he clearly misinterpreted my ideas. Perhaps he lacked the reading comprehension skill necessary to interpret what I’m actually saying, perhaps his prejudice blinded him. Who knows? Either way, I got a full discussion with the head of Creation Science Evangelism AND I was mentioned in his blog. Feather in my cap right there
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Monday, September 5, 2011

The best of #comicbookbible





Something magical happened on twitter yesterday. A bloke named itsThat_0ne_guy started a twitter hashtag called #comicbookbible that was, essentially, taking a bible quotation then replacing a bible character's name with a comic book character's name, though it did evolve to not be just comic book characters, and to in some cases plant the comic characters into bible stories. It didn't become a Trending Topic or anything, none in my twitter circle are big enough to make it so, but for for a few glorious hours, it was very, very good. You can search the tag yourself, but it deletes older ones from the tag search after a week or so. This will preserve some of the best. I'll link to twitter accounts and all tweets involved, and group by user name. I'll only post my own if they were retweeted by multiple users, to avoid ego tripping. I highly suggest you ReTweet and Favourite any of these tweets you enjoy, to keep the hashtag going and such. Let's go!

@itsThat_0ne_guy: And on the first day Wonder woman created the heavens and the earth and it was good. [The one that started it all]

Deadpool took a rock into his sling and with it struck the mighty Goliath down with one blow. [Works on at least 2 levels, as there are a few Marvel characters named Goliath too]

Beware the false prophet who speaks Electrocutioner's name without being called upon by Electrocutioner.

Human bomb sacrificed himself to destroy the adulterous abomination that was Gomorrah & to remind humanity of his greatness.

Although I walk through the valley of Megatron, I shall fear no decepticon for Optimus Prime is with me.

@FireLeopard: Jesus ascended into the heavens...to join the Justice League. #comicbookbible

Beware of the demon Mystique, for she is wily and takes many forms.

Let all creation rejoice before Galactus for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. And he judges it tasty.

What he did was wicked in the Dr. Doom’s sight; so the Dr. Doom put him to death also.
Genesis 38:10 [This guy cited several of his scriptural sources, something I wish I did]

Be strong, do not fear; Wolverine will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will save you. #ComicBookBible

Thor is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.


HULK DO ALL THINGS THROUGH GAMMA RADIATION! IT MAKE HULK STRONG! Philippians 4:13


Seek first the Kingdom of Dr. Doom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33


Heaven and earth will pass away, but Apocalypse will never pass away. -Mark 13:31


The light of the Green lantern shines brightly, but the lamp of the Yellow Lantern is quickly snuffed out -Proverbs 13:9


@0100110010110
[this guy added another dimension by specifically adding some christian twitter handles to some tweets. He's also how I found the tag.] RT But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Cobra Commander’s gift.

And every voice shall proclaim, BRUCE BANNER is HULK!


RT And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Batman shall be saved.

RT “Do not be afraid, I am your shield, your very great reward.” -Captain America #comicbookbible

@benfromcanada [that's me!] Superman died for our sins!

Then Jonah was cast into the sea. Luckily, Aquaman saved him from a big fish that wanted to eat him.

For Magneto so loved the world that he killed his only begotten son, Quicksilver.

"The wages of sin is death."-The Punisher

"Though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil, for I am the Man Without Fear."-Daredevil

"In brightest day, in blackest night, I am the way, the truth, the light." - Green Jesus


Crom, why have you forsaken me? [My excuse for using the Conan tag here]

The fool says in his heart "there is no Batman"

Iron Man: "More Jesus blood over here!"
Jesus: "Tony, you're drunk."
IM: "There's a demon in the bottle! Cast him out!"
[referencing the famous Demon In A Bottle storyline, of course]

@johnenormal: Thou shalt wear thy underpants on the outside of thy Lycra body suit. #comicbookbible [probably the only literal usage of the tag]

@gmpaylo: Archie begat Jughead. Jughead begat Betty. And Betty begat Veronica. And Veronica begat Moose And Moose begat Miss Beasley..

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Lara: for thou shalt conceive, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Kel-El.#ComicBookBible

@kellhus2: And they came unto Sodom, that is called Sin City

@WhiteAsNoise: And realizing their new found strength the mutated turtles climbed out from the depths of the sewers.

After lois lane discovered the source of superman's power was in his hair she shaved it off while he was sleeping

@evetheatheist
: As the Lasso of Truth doth adorn her, Wonder Woman shall flyeth into evil upon her invisible jet.

Verily, Spiderman's webs, yea tho silky & strong, shalt'nt b woven as thine underwear. Leaveth thine waxing 2 Brazilians.


@myside_yourside: Then the Lord asked Cable: "Where is your clone, Stryfe?" He answered: "I do not know. Am I my clone's keeper?"

"...and whoever doth not take up the clown makeup and follow after me is not worthy of me" Joker 10:40 #ComicBookBible

"An evil unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but none will be given except the sign of Joker" Harley 16:4

@sean_browning
: Plastic Man looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah and turned into a pillar of salt. Actually it was more like salted licorice.

Romans 12:19 - "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord...and those shall BURN AT THE MAN-THING'S TOUCH!"

And God said to Job: "Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me." And Job answered: "Shazam!".


@JessRGGG
: "And Storm brought forth water to quench the dry land and there was much rejoicing."

And finally, @sapient_ape showed us this comic, courtesy of Ruben Bolling:



You, too, can participate in the fun! Donate a tweet or 2 to #ComicBookBible today! Read more!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Announcements, Updates

Hey all! So, I'm going to start with some fairly big news that you quite possibly already know. I have been added to the roster of Man In Black Reviews! In fact, as of this writing, my twitter feed is already added. Anyway, I highly recommend that you bookmark and/or subscribe to that site, and I also highly recommend you check out my new colleagues' work. Not going to make any suggestions, there's enough content that whatever you like will probably be represented in some degree.

On that particular site, I will primarily be doing retroactive reviews of Sword & Sorcery fantasy, though I will go "off topic" at some points later on. The first post should show up this coming Thursday, when an updated version of my review of the new Conan the Barbarian (complete with some opinions that have changed since I watched the film) should appear. I also intend to get another post up on Sundays, and as often as possible, get a weekly post up Thursdays and Sundays there, as well as at least 2 weekly posts on this weblog. The only interruption to this schedule is, unfortunately, going to happen soon. The reason for this is that I will be moving and taking on another job. I'll be out of town for a bit starting next week, after my time at my current job ends, then I'll return to tie up loose ends and leave northern BC for good. So, expect a temporary interruption of service.

Lastly, I'd like to thank those of you who have been reading this blog with some regularity, and ask that you share this blog and any articles you find interesting and entertaining with as many people as possible. Why do I ask you this? Well, aside from the obvious desire for more readers...I'm actually fulfilling a challenge brought to me by one of my anonymous commentators. See, I've seen a few of my articles get hit with a message from an anonymous person (I assume they're all by the same person) that I should make a difference. You know, in addition to the $200 I raised for cancer research earlier on (click the "charity" tag). Well, I will. I have a similar drive planned for this coming November, but I'll need more regular readers. More details will emerge closer to the beginning of November, but I intend to use this weblog for good more and more regularly, so please spread it if you like it, and show people articles of mine you enjoyed.

Oh, also, follow me on Twitter. That is all. Continue with your day.
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