There Are No Rights, Only Material Needs & the Need for Personal Sovereignty

August 16th, 2010

A system does not have to honor its every part’s every request.  But it does have to accommodate its every part’s every true need.

The system of a bacterium, for example, does not exist to serve only its DNA, or only its lipid membrane, or only its tRNA.  But it does have to obey the physics that define what each of those parts can and cannot do, and what they need to exist and to change, or else the bacterium ceases very quickly to be a bacterium any longer.

Likewise the system of a multicellular organism, such as a dog; the dog cannot give all of its energies to the brain, no matter how eager that brain is for glucose, lest the dog’s other parts shut down and the dog lose its whole self.  But the dog must give each cell what that cell needs, in terms of temperature, materials, and protection from mechanical or chemical damage.

A society of organisms is no different.  A society of human beings is no different.  But when we get to human beings, the individual needs which the society as a whole system must answer, become more subtle and complex.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Nth Word (Still Means Something Mean)

August 16th, 2010

Disclaimer:  I’m not black. Read the rest of this entry »

Dream Job: Inception as Excellent Movie and Pretty Wicked Metaphor

July 26th, 2010

Several reviewers have noticed that Christopher Nolan’s latest movie works on a meta- level, as a movie about moviemaking, as seen from the writer-director’s point of view.  The parallels aren’t too hard to suss out: the artificial dream is the Movie; Robert Fischer’s the movie’s Viewer; Dom Cobb’s the Writer-Director; Arthur’s his Assistant/Editor; Saito’s the Producer; Ariadne’s the Set Designer; Eames is the Actor; Yusuf’s the Musical Director; and Mal is the artist’s Spouse–his private relationships and emotional baggage.  Read the rest of this entry »

Charity Requires Relationship

July 18th, 2010

If I give to my fellow human being, but do so involuntarily, he will eventually know.  If I give to my fellow human being, but do so to satisfy my own ego, seeing him only as a statistic or a project or an inferior or a stereotype or member of a group, he will eventually know. Read the rest of this entry »

Field Guide for Spotting the True God

June 6th, 2010

If your god does not welcome dialogue and questioning, it is not the true god.

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Quantum Killing and Non-zero-sum Guilt

June 6th, 2010

It’s usually through a thousand tiny cuts of reduced kindness (each one individually invisible to any but the most capital-G of Gods and the most conscientious and self-scrutinizing of saints) that a surplus workforce is driven from the fold and into the waiting arms of a war, prison, slave labor, insufficient medical care, or other population-control device.  Read the rest of this entry »

How Things Really Work and Are and Always Will and Have to Be, Says God. Part 2: How to Sell a House

May 15th, 2010

My son is getting old.  Not highlander old, yet, but old enough to begin seeing that his old man doesn’t always know everything.  This must be remedied.  To that end, I’ve decided to tell him the secrets of the universe, one at a time, through this blog.  The wrong secrets, watered down to homeopathic levels and then cut with acid and soaked into pages from Dianetics.   Thus this the second installment of my new series, “How Things Really Work and Are and Always Will and Have to Be, Says God.”

Pt. 2: HOW TO SELL A HOUSE:

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How Things Really Work and Are and Always Will and Have to Be, Says God. Part 1: How to Make a Baby

May 12th, 2010

My son is getting old.  Not highlander old, yet, but old enough to begin seeing that his old man doesn’t always know everything.  This must be remedied.  To that end, I’ve decided to tell him the secrets of the universe, one at a time, through this blog.  The wrong secrets, watered down to homeopathic levels and then cut with acid and soaked into pages from Dianetics.   Thus this the first installment of my new series, “How Things Really Work and Are and Always Will and Have to Be, Says God.”

Pt 1:  HOW TO MAKE A BABY:

Read the rest of this entry »

Name That Movie Character: The John Hughes Edition

May 11th, 2010

Name a John Hughes movie character who:

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Donnie Darko

March 26th, 2010

Donnie Darko doesn’t start where you think it does.  It starts with the timeless question, Why do bad things happen to good people?  What good could there be, for example, in the random death of an innocent kid?  Donnie Darko tackles this question by showing us what would have happened if said kid hadn’t died.  Don’t worry–no spoilers here.  It would be almost impossible to spoil a movie this alive with weird particularity.  Too often, when we wonder about that innocent kid in the newspaper’s obit section, he remains an abstract good, his death an abstract injustice, the future he missed out on a vaguely imagined good future, doubtlessly preferable to his early end.  Not so in Donnie Darko’s universe.  Donnie’s world is full of miracles and odd homework assignments, family rancor and psychiatry sessions, strange gurus and neighbors.  Everyone in this film is the center of his or her own world, which realistic touch makes it matter all the more when we see how their lives are affected by the life and death of that innocent kid.  Donnie asks the timeless question.  God answers in a bunny costume, and shows him the answer on a movie screen.  Amazingly, the answer satisfies.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

March 26th, 2010

Just, ditto:

Roger Ebert’s review of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Revolutionary Road? More Like Devolutionary Road

March 15th, 2010

I expected this movie’s characters to come across as paper dolls, an effete outsider’s best guess at what a doomed suburban family looks like.  And I have to say, after the first fight scene, outside the car at the rest stop, I was bracing for a very stage-y script and three hours of unconvincing sparks (for the convincing kind of stage-y sparks between husband and wife, check out Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf).  Read the rest of this entry »

B Minus Man

March 12th, 2010

I’m a victim of my own good fortune, which is to say, I’ve been spoiled.  Had I not recently burned through, or been burned through by, the first four seasons of Dexter, I might have walked away from 1999′s Minus Man with a greater appreciation of the originality with which the film treats its serial killer, Vann Siegert.  On its own merits, the movie does provide many pleasures, but in each case, a gremlin of inconsistency sneaks into the picture.  I owe you several examples, so here goes: Read the rest of this entry »

2009 Films in Review

March 8th, 2010

2009 didn’t see me seeing a lot of 2009 movies, if you catch my drift… here, however, are the ones I did see and what I took away from each: Read the rest of this entry »

Multiple Universes My Ass

January 14th, 2010

What’s the opposite of a razor?  Because lately I’ve seen a lot of presumably sane scientists express enthusiasm for the “multiple universes” interpretation of quantum physics, discarding their standard-issue Occam’s Razor in exchange for Occam’s Duct Tape.  In so doing, they reveal the difference between physicist and metaphysicist and the ongoing need for the latter.  Read the rest of this entry »