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I Know Who I’d Prefer To Ship Out Of The Country…

10/07/2014

refugees1

It has been pointed out that outrage is no good if it does not point to a viable solution.  For those who might be interested in helping out by taking in children who are in need of foster care, we present the following resources:

http://scffaa.org

http://www.childhelp.org/programs/entry/california-childhelp-foster-family-and-adoption-agency/

http://adoptuskids.org/for-families/state-adoption-and-foster-care-information/california

http://californiacasa.org

http://www.casala.org

Even if one can not be a full time foster parent or an adoptive parent, one can be a child advocate and help out in some way.  Like the story of the starfish on the beach, it may not be possible to help them all, but it will mean everything to the ones who can be helped.

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Unclear On The Concept

8/07/2014

Holly Makes Jesus Sad1

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And As The Snake Whips Around…

8/07/2014

…to bite Hobby Lobby and SCOTUS on the ass…

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt

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The Muddled Morality Of Sergio Leone

6/07/2014

Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

TGTB&TU soundtrack a

Better known to American audiences as The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, this iconic Italian Western frequently scores high on “best of” lists: Sergio Leone’s best film[1], the best of the Dollar a.k.a. “Man With No Name”[2] series, the best spaghetti Western, and (more rarely) the best Western ever.

It is a grand, entertaining epic, a significant notch up in scale from the previous films in the series[3]. It is almost a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story, set in a landscape of bleak lifeless deserts and abandoned blasted and burned out cities destroyed by war.

The restored version is currently streaming on Netflix, returning about 14 minutes of previously deleted footage[4] but only serving to make an already meandering story even more meandering. No new or vital story points are revealed, though Eli Wallach’s Tuco character certainly benefits the most from the fleshing out.

And that’s what makes The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly so fascinating…and muddled.[5]

Read the rest of this article »

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Addendum to “Lauren’s Choice”

30/06/2014

I’ve been asked, “But what about adoption for unwanted children?”

To that I say:

Yes!
Yes!
Yes!
and even more
YES!!!
PLEASE!!!

That is the best, most humane solution to the problem of a woman’s unwanted pregnancy.  It’s a perfect example of “pony up”.  Give that child a stable, loving home.  Raise it to its full potential.  Personally assume that responsibility.

A blessing for the child
A blessing for the parent
A blessing for the society

GO FOR IT!

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Lauren’s Choice

30/06/2014

Cartoonist Lauren Weinstein was told that the child she was carrying had a high (1-in-4) chance of carrying the cystic fibrosis gene to such an extreme degree that it might require a lung transplant before age 5.  Weinstein tells the story of her nerve-wracking three week wait to find out if this would be the case in her story “Carriers” (parts one / two / three / four / five).

Major Spoiler:  
It has a happy ending and
her daughter was born
disease free.

laurenstroy

Many reading her story will rejoice, but say to themselves,
“If it had been me, I would have never even thought of terminating my pregnancy.”

Good for you.

Seriously.

I mean that.

I want you to have a choice.

Just like I want Lauren to have a choice.

Just like I want billions of other women to have a choice.

Because nobody knows what is best for a woman and the pregnancy she is carrying other than that woman herself.

She gets to make her own decisions.

Just as you get to make your own decisions.

She’s certainly entitled to seek medical advice and/or moral support from others, but in the end, she is the one who has to either see it through to a live birth or terminate it.

It is, quite simply and quite literally,

NOBODY
ELSE’S
FUCKING
BUSINESS

And I drop the f-bomb very deliberately & in its sexual context to get the point across:

Not your uterus,
not your problem,
not your responsibility,
most certainly not your business,
not now,
not ever.

If you’re serious about wanting to reduce the number of abortions in the world today, see to it that birth control is reliable, available, and inexpensive (free would be best; we can pay for it with the money we would otherwise spend incarcerating unwanted/abused/neglected children who grow up to be addicts and/or felons).

See to it that sex education is universal, pragmatic, sensible, and easy to understand.  Wishful thinking, no matter how devoutly inspired, does not trump science or the realities of human nature.  Be prepared for and compassionate to people who make messy mistakes; there but for the grace of God…

See to it that no mother ever has to worry about affording a safe place to raise her child, or how she will feed her child, or pay for her child’s health care, or her child’s education (you can slice a fraction off the defense budget for this; we can somehow squeak by with only 999 new jet fighters instead of 1,000).

Pony up…

…or shut up.

.

.

.

thanx to
Tom Spurgeon,
The Comics Reporter,
for the tip off

 

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The Anti-Abortionist Credo

30/06/2014

anti-abortionist credo

I forbid you to have sex without MY permission.

I forbid you to know anything about birth control.

I certainly won’t pay for your sex education.

If you defy ME and have sex anyway,
then I want you to get pregnant / catch the clap (or better yet, AIDS!).

I forbid you to have an abortion.

I will judge you and call you a murderer if you do.

I demand you bring the pregnancy to full term.

I demand you bring the pregnancy to full term
even if the child will be born with a fatal condition.

I demand you bring the pregnancy to full term
even if you already have a house full of children and
you are stretched to the breaking point.

I demand you spend 18 years of
your life (minimum!) taking care of this child.

I will not help you.

I will not offer any financial subsistence.

I will not lift a finger or spend a dime of MY money to help you provide
food / lodging / medical care / education for the child.

I demand you suffer for your sins.

However, you may not judge ME.

Because just by saying I oppose abortion,
just by condemning you for your choices,
I am pure and holy.

(Did I miss anything?
Did I not summarize our
position accurately?)

 

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Thinkage

12/06/2014

“When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.” — Bob Herbert, “Losing Our Way”

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SHERLOCK Jumps The Shark

6/06/2014

bbc-sherlock-1600

“The Sign Of Three”, episode 2 of season three of BBC’s Sherlock series was in my mind the best Sherlock Holmes story ever told, in any medium, by any writer.

Sorry, Sir Arthur.

It had everything one could hope for in a Sherlock Holmes story and more:
Nifty mystery, ingenious solution, plenty of glimpses into the private lives of Holmes & Dr. John Watson. But more than that, it was a story that involved Holmes & Watson on a personal level, not as puzzle-solvers-for-hire. It unfolded in a seemingly lackadaisical, disjointed fashion, apparently being about one thing before spiraling tightly on another thing which, in the end, proved to be about the first thing after all.[1]

But as delighted as I was by “The Sign Of Three”, the season closer “His Final Vow” seemed to go out of its way to undo all the good things about the previous episode.

The good parts were very good:
The villain was suitably villainous and a better (which is to say, worse) foe for Holmes than Moriarity. The build up to the first Major Plot Twist was primo Sherlock, and even though Holmes was heartlessly manipulative of another person, while dismaying it was still within his character.

Oh, but that Major Plot Twist…

bbc hammerhead

Okay, the series is right on the money when it points out Watson is a danger junkie, that he seeks out people, relationships, and situations that feed that addiction. Doyle alluded to as much (albeit not in those terms) in his original stories.

But what Sherlock the series fails to pick up on is that Watson, not Holmes, is Doyle’s wish fulfillment character. Doyle was much too bourgeois in real life to want to be “a high functioning sociopath” like Holmes; he wanted to be the staid, steadfast upper-middle class Englishman with a wife and a home and a pipe and a prestigious career, but with the ability to go off at his own discretion for daring adventures on the side.

Watson is essentially Doyle’s Mary Sue
in his fan fic about Holmes.[2]

So, yes, Watson would indeed gravitate towards dangerous people, but not all people he gravitates towards would be dangerous nor does he want them to be.

Watson, like Doyle, feels comfortable in a world where everything is exactly what it seems to be — and despite puzzling clues, in the end they all end up meaning one thing and one thing only.[3] He knows Holmes is an insensitive wanker because that is how Holmes always presents himself. He knows clients can be disingenuous or even dishonest because that’s how they present themselves.

But he also knows certain people are trustworthy because no matter what their social circumstances, they will never present themselves falsely. Watson, like Holmes, can trust junkies and thieves and beggars and gang members provided they never fly under false flags.[4]

In a nutshell, at arguably one of the most basic, primal levels of Watson’s emotional life, he has a person who presents themselves under a false flag. He might very well have continued his relationship with this person knowing they had a somewhat tawdry past, but it doesn’t play true to either the BBC series or the entire Holmes / Watson oeuvre if they presented themselves as one thing and then revealed themselves to be another.

As bad as that was, however,
it was only the smallest shark
that Sherlock jumped.

bbc jaws_dts_hires

As noted, the villain was truly good (in a bad way, if you catch my drift), and a better match for Holmes than Moriarity. He was, in fact, the anti-Holmes, more so that Holmes own brother, Mycroft (or Mike, as people kept referring to him in this episode much to his annoyance; nice touch, that). In the end the villain was seemingly victorious, he had out maneuvered Holmes, Holmes was forced to admit to Watson he had no plan on how to deal with him.

Which, of course, is precisely the moment where Holmes does something that reveals he’s been two steps ahead of the bad guy all the time and the seemingly insurmountable fix that he and Watson are in is actually all part of his well laid plan to turn the tables on the villain and hoist him by his own petard.

Only that doesn’t happen.

Instead, Holmes settles (one can’t say “solves”) the matter in a manner more befitting of Mike Hammer, John Shaft, or even Philip Marlowe.

This is not to say that Holmes is incapable of or even unwilling to use direct means, but they are always punctuation marks to carefully laid out lines of thought.

The main plotline ends with Holmes facing banishment (read “suicide mission”) as a penance for his atypical resolution to the case. While not as much of a downer as the season two faux suicide, it’s still a grim ending to the season.

…and apparently the producers felt the same way
because reaching so far into their arses that they
could tickle their uvulas, they yanked out the
biggest shark of all.

bbc Mega-Shark-vs-Giant-Octopus-2009-Movie-Image

Some genres you can get away with they-are-only-dead-if-you-have-a-body-and-even-then-only-maybe; Dracula and Frankenstein are quite literally unkillable and nobody bats an eye when they pop back.

But non-fantasy characters can’t be treated so cavalierly. In the nearest analogy to the Holmes / Moriarity match-up, James Bond never actually killed or presumed he had killed Blofeld until the villain’s final appearance in the books (You Only Live Twice) or films (For Your Eyes Only[5]). Bouncing back from the dead is something to be used very sparingly and since Bond had already done it in his own series, Fleming and later the films’ producers opted not to have any villain come back for seconds after being officially killed off.

Holmes and Moriarity both were killed in the season two closer. If somebody is going to get a call back, it’s going to be Holmes. Sherlock has fun with the ridiculousness of his return in the season three opener, presenting three mutually contradictory explanations while implying none were true. They can get away with that because the tone of the series is light enough for viewers to swallow one such huge implausibility, and because whatever ruse was used to fake Holmes’ death, it clearly involved an army of confederates (“No more than 25,” Holmes explains) to pull it off.

Those confederates would not overlook Moriarity’s corpse — or lack there of — in the aftermath. At the very least Holmes would be aware Moriarity faked his own death and, once Holmes’ own resurrection was revealed, would have no reason not to warn Watson that their old nemesis was still on the loose.

Further, Mycroft and the British government clearly felt Moriarity’s death had been proved to their satisfaction, so their reaction to the bizarre video announcing Moriarity’s apparent return from the dead is puzzling.

The most obvious conclusion is that it is not Moriarity hizzownsef who jacked the nation’s video channels but either a still surviving confederate or an entirely new villain who seeks to capitalize on Moriarity’s notoriety for whatever reason.[6]

One final thought:
Who exactly is this series about? It is not Sherlock Holmes, for despite his name on the title he remains an elusive enigma as a character. We like him (but he is not likeable) yet his character growth is pretty much nonexistent other than begrudgingly realizing he likes Watson and needs people like Molly and Mrs. Hudson in his life.

Rather, everything in the series seems to revolve around Watson. In the first episode we see his problems, and his build up prior to Holmes being sprung on us virtually unannounced (albeit brilliantly so). Watson was grown from a PTSD victim to an active agent in his own life, he has grown emotionally and opened himself up to others.

Where are the creators taking us with this? Are we going to learn in the end that this whole series has been about the distress / recovery / healing of Watson’s mind?

[1] I’m really trying to avoid spoilers here.

[2] A theory long expounded since the very beginning of Holmes’ literary career; people wishing to write their own Sherlock Holmes stories would be well advised to leave Watson out of it and come up with their own Mary Sue to interact with Holmes. It would be truer to the original form than adding a second level of projection onto the tale.

[3] Watson would be driven to distraction if he had to work with Perry Mason.

[4] There’s a lot more to this line of thought, and those interested would be well advised to seek out The Amazing Randi’s thoughts on the subject. Randi’s central thesis is that far from being open to a wide range of possibilities, Holmes is actually confined by a narrow range of stereotypes in which all things can mean only one unique thing, and false conclusions derived from same are the fault of the deducer, not of the things failing to be what they are presumed to be.

[5] Yes, he used Blofeld’s mini-sub as a battering ram in Diamonds Are Forever, but Blofeld was still protected by a thick pressure resistant hull and was never shown dying on screen; further, since his two henchmen came after Bond aboard the cruise ship, one could only assume Blofeld was alive and still paying them as they would have no incentive to tangle with Bond otherwise.

[6] Or it could be Mycroft simply getting his brother out of a jam by creating a bogus new threat that only the great Sherlock Holmes can solve. Which would imply Holmes’ actions at the end of “His Final Vow” were part of a plan sanctioned by the British government. The problem with rabbit holes is that the rabbits keep digging more…

 

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A Meditation On “Playing Post Office” And “Going Postal”

29/05/2014

Sex & violence
Quintessential
American values

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