Thursday, September 22, 2005

The most offensive art installation in history

I do not know the most offensive art project extant, although I'm sure Piss Christ is somewhere in the top 75.
Friend DEG suggested one to me a while ago.
He said, "Did I ever tell you about my idea for the most offensive art installation in history?"
"Imagine this."
"It's called 'Jesus fucking Christ.'"
"That's a verb, isn't it."
So there you have it. An image to keep you going, brought to you by the guy who gave local band The Inflatable Jesus Love Dolls the name for their song 'Big Penis Truck.'
But the question is: should we be allowed to suggest it? In a day and time when people worry about a political correctness that never was there is a strong, strong fence around criticism of religion and patriotism. We can't probe belief, investigate it nor ridicule it. Anything can be defended by the words "Well, that's what I believe." The very people who are against any form of relativism are all for sliding behind a brick wall protection of belief. They wouldn't want to see light shone into dark sections of there world view.
So my answer is yes, like burning a flag or swear words or any number of things I don't like and don't want to hear, it's not only allowed but, from time to time, required to be absolutely offensive.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Recent movies

I'm a movie nut. I watch everything I can get my hands on; the worse the movie, the more likely I have to watch it when my wife is out of town.
Recently we've watched a couple that are worth sharing with people.
If you don't know it's about Ray Charles, then I am not going to contribute. Much like Rain Man, that extremely ordinary buddy movie with the outstanding performance by Hoffman, Ray follows the very familiar story arc: Poverty - Trauma - Beginnings of Talent - Early years - Drugs - Drugs and Success go hand in hand - Eventual Triumph/Early Death. Ray is flatly directed and has a pretty standard style, but Jamie Foxx is well beyond outstanding as Charles.
A word of advice, when you watch the DVD learn from our mistake. Watch the theatrical version. Although the extended version has some interesting recuts of scenes, the producers didn't actually produce a second version of the film, instead they leveraged the technology buy giving the DVD two different chapter orders. Watching the extended version makes your player sound like the death throes of the motor. Unless your player has an extrememly short seek time, there's no end to the annoying breaks as you skip from the theatrical chapter point to the extended scene and back. Coupled with the unfinished colouring and editing of the extra scenes this makes an unsatisfying version of the movie.
The 40-Year Old Virgin
Aah, a comedy that is funny. My beard has made it down past my knees since the last one.
Oh and it's crude, base, offensive, cringe-inducing....did I mention funny?
My folks went and saw the movie a week before the mrs and I did. Shall we just say that my mother didn't enjoy? Hell, my father was bugged out.
All the way through, friend DEG and I laughed and cringed, although I was a bit more aware of the potential offense the mrs might take. Still, on the whole she laughed and liked it.
If you're one of the last few who haven't seen it, I recommend but with this caveat: there are jokes about fucking a horse. You're warned.
The Constant Gardener
A great suspense movie, with a genuinely intelligent plot (pay attention, I'm not there to hold your hand from the credits) and good performances. Ralph Feinnes can portray an inner universe of incredible vastness with just a twitch of the corner of his eye. A performance that could only be called quintessentially English. The camera work favours that grainy, documentary feel that's more common nowadays, and some odd angles worked out for what they mean, not how easy it is to find the principle in the shot. This gives it a more arty feel that the usual suspense/spy fare.
Just a quick thumbnail of what I thought.
And of course:
A bit over a week ago, friend DEG calls and offers a ticket to an advanced screening. So I took the requisite .084 of a second to decide and met him on Thursday.
Walking out neither one of us could say anything but, Wow. Actually, friend DEG was also able to say, Spanked Revenge of the Sith. (I still don't think Sith was that bad; of course it's just that we're getting used to Star Wars being so bad)
Serenity was well plotted and well paced. It was gripping. Although there were some concessions to popular sentiment like a battle in the upper atmosphere so there could be engine sounds and a strangely 2-dimensional, naval interpretation of interplanetary travel, the characterizations (a Joss Whedon trademark) and story didn't pander.
And the 'space western' motif seemed to click for a change. I was often a bit unsure of it in the TV series.
Anyway, Serenity is a complete must see. One of the better movies this year.

Get well soon, Derek.

I'm not a friend, nor am I connected. I'm just a listener.
I discovered Skepticality when I was looking for anything skeptical or science news related when I downloaded iTunes 4.9. Given the range of guests, Monkey News and overall charm of the podcast, I was turned to a regular listener in a single show.
Checking out the updates, I found the message from co-host Swoopy giving a tear-filled explanation of Derek's collapse into a coma.
Drop by them and leave a message of good will and support. Every bit helps.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

An actual answer from a politician...

As many have said around the blogosphere (a term I actually detest but seem to have adopted at an alarming rate): I couldn't have said it better. I know I couldn't, and didn't.
Found it here Evolutionblog or the original at

Friday, September 02, 2005

God as a Very Blunt Instrument

Behold the awsome power of God! He shall smite thee for thy ways. Make straight the way of the Lord!
Also: New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don't want to swim.
To hear some folk weighing in on the disaster in New Orleans, you'd think they brought it on themselves. With all the whoring and flashing and drinking and Godlessness. To wit:

Now New Orleans is under water, bathing in sewage and devastation rather than providing downtown fountains for homosexual capers aplenty.

All of this has prompted Repent America to conclude that the biblical God had a heavy hand in the Katrina swing along. It’s an "‘act of God,’" they claim to media. United States-based, Repent America goes to the streets to preach repentance of sin, conversion to Christ as personal Savior, and thereby living the holy lifestyle according to the biblical message.

As far as Repent America is concerned, divine judgment has come upon a metropolis that was bent on making its environs open to hell’s demons. Therefore, God intervened. There will be no "Southern Decadence" skipping the light fantastic. Over and out. Done. Gone. Under water.

The funny(-ish) part is that New Orleans, and Louisiana as a whole, is one of the more religious, church-going areas in the Red States.
So to get a few hedonistic homos, God, in his wisdom and mercy, sank a whole city of his devoted followers.
Of course, there are competing points of view on his divine mercy. For example:
At least one New Orleans-area resident believes God created the storm as punishment because of the recent role the United States played in expelling Jews from Gaza. On Sunday evening, Bridgett Magee of Slidell, La., told the Christian website Jerusalem Newswire that she saw the hurricane “as a direct ‘coming back on us’ [for] what we did to Israel: a home for a home.”
So, now He's pissed about something that happened over in Israel, but instead of hammering Jerusalem or some group of unbelievers or somebody directly involved in the pullout, he swamps a whole bunch of his devotees (and that group of hedonistic homos in the middle).
And this is where you end up with mixing divine will and natural disasters -- untenable theology. Divine will is so unclear here that there is no interpreting it. There is certainly no predicting it. Sorting out what God wants is a monumental and ultimately self-defeating task.
After Pat Robertson's shooting off of the mouth, the net was abuzz with Top 10 great quotes from him. And what do we get to see? Hate-filled diatribes, vitriol, narrow-mindedness and worse qualities all wrapped up in a sugar coating of the smug sanctimoniousness of shallow Christianity. One that stuck out to me was his conversation with Falwell, agreeing that the ACLU, Liberals and tolerance of homosexuality were to blame for 9/11. They made it happen.
The connection between the religious and the gloating is becoming all too strong, all to common.
A lot of this has been banging around in my head since the tsunami. That was when my own grandmother talked about God wanting to clear the world of non-Christians. She says a lot of things that I know she wouldn't have 5 years ago. Some of it is down to the her health issues; some is small town devotion. Still how distasteful is it? How uncomfortable in your own family?
In times of great pain and suffering borne by our fellow human beings, people swoop in with this kind of weak theology like vultures on a flattened gopher. The question they don't seem to ask is why God should choose a natural disaster or terrorist attack to express his will or anger. It's not an asked question because there is only danger in ascribing divine will to these events.
Ask for a moment how powerful a god must be to create such events. Then ask, why not powerful enough to strike down the ones he's aiming at. How merciful a god who kills ten he's against by killing 1000 others. Powerful enough to create a hurricaine; not powerful enough to just kill those he despises. Able to shift tectonic plates; not able to hit a few people with lightning. Can't he pick and choose his targets?
We know from the story of Job that god will fuck his most favoured into the dirt in a craven desperation to get approval and attention from Satan.
In a tantrum worthy of a three year old, he'll grind you under his heel because he wants to stomp your neighbour, or because he wants to prove to someone that he's big and strong.
He can't hit what he's aiming at, doesnt care what he's aiming at, and may deliberately aim the wrong way just to prove he's a bad-ass.
And we should put our trust in him.