Sunday, November 18, 2012

James Fenimore Cooper Bio Essay Video

So here it is, the product of much sweat and blood…I think the video and the description say all you need to know, so lets get on with the show!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What About the Justice League Movie??

After a series of starts and stops beginning five years ago (which you can read about here), it seems Warner Bros. has settled on a 2015 release date for the Justice League movie, just in time to rival Marvel's The Avengers 2. Whether the date will be pushed once more is yet to be seen. The cast for the movie chosen in 2007 met with fan disapproval, and has since, of course, been dropped. Henry Cavill will be taking up the mantle of Superman for June 14th, 2013's Man of Steel (see the teaser and costume pics); all other roles, as well as that of the Big Black Bat himself are up in the air. Whether Batman will be rebooted before a Justice League movie, or brought directly in as an already-familiar character is under discussion. (**TDKR SPOILERS**) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (playing Robert Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, scheduled for wide release tomorrow), who appeared to be taking over for Bats at the end of The Dark Knight Rises, says, concerning a possibility of him appearing in Justice League:
"if the script inspires me and if there's a filmmaker that I respect and connect to...I'd consider anything."
After all the excitement Marvel has been causing, it makes sense that DC would want to get in on some of the action. After the overall mediocrity of last year's Green Lantern, though, I wonder if they will ever truly catch up. I'm excited to see, for better or for worse, some of these characters up on the big screen, and I truly hope they manage to pull it off well.

Though, call me partisan, I can't help but hope as well that, altogether, Marvel will continue to produce better work than DC.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Some Excellent Commentary on "The Avengers"

 Mick Martin writes a very smart article describing "The Top 10 Worst and Best Things About 'The Avengers'". Probably the most interesting and haunting section is the number one con, entitled "Jack Kirby's heirs didn't see a dime from The Avengers". The sorely missed Jack "King" Kirby, along with Stan Lee, created and wrote the original Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and the Mighty Thor comics, as well as the Avengers and others. Kirby, of course, was also the illustrator of these comics, his work being positively immortal. But his descendants did not profit from the movie at all.

Quoth Martin:
Jack Kirby made it difficult for me to see The Avengers.
After Marvel won its legal battle against Jack Kirby’s heirs in July 2011, a number of noteworthy comic book bloggers and critics vowed to give none of their money or attention to Marvel products – including the films – until Marvel made things right with Kirby’s estate.
After my first viewing of Avengers, because of course it’s legally mandated I do so, I immediately went on Facebook to spread my geek-joy. A lot of comments from friends followed, and among them was a professional writer who wrote deep in the thread, “I have so far resisted saying that I hope you enjoy dancing on Jack Kirby’s grave and making the soul-less corporations rich.” I was not very happy with her, but she wasn’t wrong.
I am not proud that I did not side with Kirby. My voice wouldn’t have put a dent in Marvel’s armor, but that’s hardly the point. The guy helped to create the characters that littered the landscape of my childhood dreams, and I see my lack of support towards his heirs’ cause as a genuine failure.
It is stupidly melodramatic, but when I try to come up with an analogy justifying my love for the film, the money I spent to see it in the theater, the money I will spend again on the DVDs, and the fact that I am helping promote it; I think of Rusty Sabich cleaning the blood and hair off the hammer his wife used to kill his lover in Presumed Innocent. I almost can’t help it. I can, but I almost can’t. I fell in love with it, so I’m willing to do wrong to have it.
The whole article is excellent, and is great reading for anyone who enjoyed "The Avengers".

And for anyone already anticipating May 1st, 2015's "The Avengers 2", here's a rundown on just who may or may not be making an appearance in it. Why Black Widow isn't there, I do not know, but I would also like to add Ms. Marvel as a possibility, as well as (hopefully!!) at least a hint at the Vision. I still think Namor is a loooong way off though…

Also the villain has been confirmed as Thanos, who we saw in the mid-end credits sequence of "The Avengers". I have high hopes for this film, as well as a plethora of others planned before and after. But more on that later…

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Best Geeky Costumes 2012

In honor of Halloween, a little gallery of people who really went out of their way to be geeky this year…

Which is your favorite costume? Sound off below!


I have recently lapsed into a series of non-geeky posts (though very fun), which have caused me to not notice THIS:

Phase Two begins. For reals, folks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Some Thoughts On Feminism…

This from my last DBQ follow-up…
I chose to read the link on Judith Sargent Murray, a radical feminist of the 18th century. The article mentions some of Murray's at-the-time radical ideas, which are now more or less taken for granted, mostly having to do with the psychological and mental equality between men and women. She was an advocate of equal education, and of the breaking down of unjust cultural restrictions. 
Feminism is always a touchy subject, one which has seen a great amount of evolution in the last few hundred years of history. I think the best way the argument for feminism can be put forward is as, not one of radical subversions of social constructions, but one of common sense. Take this quote from the article as an example: "many people also held the belief that women were incapable of logic and that mental exercise harmed their physical ability to bear children". Here, male society is literally treating women as a subspecies. This may be the work of the corruption of ancient gender roles, but primarily it is caused by a lack of common sense. When all can realize that women and men were created equal, it seems, then sense will be restored to civilization. 
But that's where the difficulty comes in. As I've said before, we humans don't like to settle for any less than the extremes. And the extreme of feminism, as well as many other doctrines, has been playing out in modern history with disturbing results. You see, people often mistake equal for the same. But as any child could tell you, men and women are far from the same. In fact, it is our very differences that make us the most of who we are. Equality without difference is like…well, it's like nothing at all. Imagine a world full of seven billion clones of the same person…sure they're equal, but they've lost any reason to want to be equal. No difference, no need. What I'm trying to say is that, the search for equality isn't about trying to erase all differences, but about seeking the liberty to effectively incorporate your differences into the organism that is the human race. Another example: imagine your hands and feet needing to work together as equals–if they didn't, your body would be uncoordinated and ineffective. But imagine if your hands and feet were to erase their differences–you'd have to walk on a pair hands, or hold a glass with a pair of feet. 
One more point I would like to make is about the concluding quote of the article: "grant that their minds are by nature equal, yet who shall wonder at the apparent superiority, if indeed custom becomes second nature." I had never stopped to think about where the term "second nature" comes from, but now it makes sense–something repeated enough that it seems the natural thing to do; an environmental adaption masquerading as a second set of genes. This seems to be what history has led us to…the belief that, if repeated enough times, anything is natural. Men two hundred years ago used this belief against women, and had been using it for centuries before… But have things changed so much? In a culture where a third of the population is murdered before it sees the light of day, can we say we have accepted the natural order of things? Throughout history we always seem to find a way to mess with our identities, as well as those of our fellow humans…we need to watch out what we make second nature.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Psychology and Mad Science

Wow, my psych book is provoking all kinds of thought tonight… Just some quick things it says about evolution and the Big Bang that might interest…

First, the awesome St. Augustine says: 

“The universe was brought into being in a less than fully formed state, but was gifted with the capacity to transform itself from unformed matter into a truly marvelous array of structures and life forms.” 
Augustine understands that, just because nature seems to be developing itself, it doesn't mean the whole organism of the universe wasn't originated by, nor isn't carefully watched and controlled by a Divine power.

And now, a bit about the Big Bang: 

"Meanwhile, many people of science are awestruck at the emerging understanding of the universe and the human creature. It boggles the mind—the entire universe popping out of a point some 14 billion years ago, and instantly inflating to cosmological size. Had the energy of this Big Bang been the tiniest bit less, the universe would have collapsed back on itself. Had it been the tiniest bit more, the result would have been a soup too thin to support life. Astronomer Sir Martin Rees has described Just Six Numbers (1999), any one of which, if changed ever so slightly, would produce a cosmos in which life could not exist. Had gravity been a tad bit stronger or weaker, or had the weight of a carbon proton been a wee bit different, our universe just wouldn’t have worked. What caused this almost-too-good-to-be-true, finely tuned universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? How did it come to be, in the words of Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Owen Gingerich (1999), “so extraordinarily right, that it seemed the universe had been expressly designed to produce intelligent, sentient beings”? Is there a benevolent superintelligence behind it all? Have there instead been an infinite number of universes born and we just happen to be the lucky inhabitants of one that, by chance, was exquisitely fine-tuned to give birth to us? Or does that idea violate Occam’s razor, the principle that we should prefer the simplest of competing explanations? On such matters, a humble, awed, scientific silence is appropriate, suggested philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” 
This makes two important points, I believe. First, that the Big Bang is quite compatible with Divinity, in fact, if anything, confirms it. Second, that science cannot ever completely explain God, or us for that matter. This is because God created science, and is not subject to it. The mysteries of the universe are just that–mysteries. Much of the trouble in the world comes when people think they can understand the mysteries, change the laws, manipulate Truth to accommodate for their own ideas. I hope we stop using science for evil–"mad" science, I guess you could call it–and use it for what it was meant to be–a beautiful design that points us to the infinite wisdom, and the perfect creative mastery of God.

Maybe more on this later…for now, I bid you goodnight, for real now. God bless!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just a Note…

…I have NO idea what's happening to that poll…some of the answers seem to have been erased…maybe the awesomeness of Mark Shea was too much for it…anyway, I may take it down, or if people start using it, I can just leave it…

A Huge Thank You to Mark Shea…

…for his very kind plug over at Catholic and Enjoying It! This really means a lot to me!

You also may notice a lovely drawing of and by yours truly to the right >>>

I made this my favicon, but it somehow isn't showing as such…does anyone else see it? Anyway, I know the narcissism involved in having your face be your icon…so luckily, I managed to make myself look pretty ridiculous XP

God bless you all!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Response to "Who Are We?: Catholic Faith in Light of the HHS Mandate"

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote another religion-related essay for my online AP US History class…the assignment was to respond to a history-related news article, and I chose a Crisis Magazine article written by Pete Jermann (link found in text). God bless you all in the great war for souls…
This year, Catholics in America were challenged. The HHS mandate, instructing Catholic organizations to provide their workers with healthcare, including contraception, sterilization, and abortion, threw religious freedom back in the face of the faithful Catholic populace, whose religious beliefs condemn these practices as grave violations of human life and love. To see how Catholics have responded to the HHS mandate, check out these political cartoons. 
"Who Are We?: Catholic Faith in Light of the HHS Mandate" asks us to ask ourselves the reason for this outrageous offense, which really represents something much bigger: a cultural gravitation away from God. In asking us to do this, Pete Jermann, Crisis Magazine writer, takes us back to an unlikely place: The Old Testament.  
We may sometimes see the God of the Old Testament as some kind of angry and distracted monarch who stumbles onto the scene occasionally, smiting a sinner or two, and leaving with cryptic verses about blessings and curses. What is up with this God, who never seems to get along with "His" people, and always seems to be tossing out arbitrary "rules" that no one seems to follow? In Christian theology, Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, the "mediator" who makes sense of what seems to be a mess. This is the reason why most people have an emotional attachment to the New Testament, much more than to the Old. So what of the Old Testament? Though God's rules may have appeared arbitrary, what we have to realize is that, even in the Old Testament, God is love, and as the article states, love is never arbitrary. 
What does this have to do with the HHS mandate, and America today? This is explained in the second half of the article. In 1968, Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae, the well renowned encyclical letter that challenged birth control (if you want to go for it, you can read it here). Poor Paul VI. I think it's telling that in Star Wars and the History of Vatican II (another excellent and hilarious read, for anyone interested in modern Church history and/or Star Wars), Paul VI is analogized with Obi-Wan Kenobi, the brilliant Jedi master who was left in charge of a rebellious youth after his own master's death; whose young charge was turned to the Dark Side right under his nose. Likewise, Paul VI was left with the responsibility of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) from his predecessor Blessed John XXIII; and who obliviously let it become corrupted in the hands of a rebellious world (important note: this is not to say that the council itself was in any way corrupted, the corruption lay in what the people did with it). His Humanae Vitae was greeted with much the same air of mockery, confusion, and disinterest by many (a November 1968 Time Magazine cover featuring the past Holy Father can be seen here). Many regarded him as simply an angry old man, making up arbitrary rules…sound familiar? 
Besides explaining why this view is simply nonsense, both as it applies to the God of the Old Testament, and to the beliefs upheld by the Catholic Church today, the Crisis article asks us if we should really be surprised. It particularly drives home the point of trust. We, as Catholics…no, heh, I guess I'd like to take back my opening statement (you weren't going to let me get away with it were you?). Because contraception, sterilization, and abortion aren't just "Catholic Crimes". They're crimes against human life and human sexuality, against ALL of us, whether we want to admit it or not, and thus mandates such as this recent one should shock ALL of us. But they don't. They're convenient. 
So let me rephrase my statement. We, as human beings in America have not trusted our God. This is the connection the article wants us to make: like the Hebrews in the desert, like the confused disciples who left Christ over his Bread of Life discourse, like the Confederate Civil War soldiers who thought they needed slavery to survive, we cling to our own shallow desires, for fear that God won't be enough to satisfy…a strange kind of insanity called Original Sin. 
Saints and sinners, virtues and vices, have shaped our country. At the moment our country is under attack like never before. An attack that has been going on, in some form, throughout our history, whether in the tyranny of England, or the tyranny of slaveholders. But now it's attacking the building block of society: the family. Separating making life from making love, recreating our bodies so they are incapable of making life, and finally ripping life from the womb of it's mother, butchering it, and using what's left (alive or dead, mind you) for "scientific" research. This is the battle. This is the battle that will be recorded in American history books, as the great battle against our most bloodthirsty enemy: the Culture of Death. This is not just a battle of religion, but a battle of and for humans…no, humanity itself.  
History is being made every day. How will you change it?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Roger Williams

So I've been reading about Roger Williams in my online AP US History class (taught by the amazing Mrs. Richman), and have taken a bit of a liking to him. Williams was first an English Anglican, then a Puritan of Massachusetts, then a Separatist, and eventually (after almost being banished from America for his radical ideas, but instead sneaking to modern day Rhode Island, which he would later co-found) became so exclusive that he only believed himself and his wife to be holy enough to participate in his own small church as communicants. To his friend John Winthrop, founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, he said: "Abstract yourself with a holy violence from the Dung heap of this Earth". But later, he experienced an extraordinary change. Realizing he had taken his ideas too far, he completely turned his life upside-down, and was soon welcoming all into his church, saints and sinners alike. This fascinating blog series tells the story better than I can.

I chose to write a recent essay based on his "A Plea for Religious Liberty" an interesting document written in 1644. Below is an excerpt from my response. I think it features an important idea, as well as having a bit to do with some stuff my sis over at Goldenfeet is going through with some fallacious and logically impaired commenters, so I thought I'd share:
The subject of religion greatly affects (as well as fully permeates and ties together) politics, economics, and sociality in this time and place. Few could be a more inspiring and striking example of religion in action than Williams, with his radical 180 degree turn from obsessive perfectionism, to the humility needed to realize the point of his preaching. This turnaround represents, to me at least, much more than the good, but ultimately secondary (not to mention highly corruptible) message of "toleration". As a Catholic, an important part of my religion is the idea that, in addition to striving for one's own salvation, one must also try to bring as many other human beings as possible with him also. To try to reach salvation alone would make as much sense as an arm trying to crawl away from its body. Thus, simply telling someone "you are not worthy" and walking away, is ultimately pointless. Christ ate with tax collectors and prostitutes, not because He "tolerated" their lifestyles, but because He cared about them enough to spend some time with them, in the hope that, later on, He might spend eternity with them. Humans always seem to get it wrong, either stumbling into the "Don't Judge!!" ditch, or else slinking our way through life wearing the "O Thou Unworthy Wretches" mask. We need to find the middle. I believe Williams realized this, and was willing to completely change his life because of it. I could well learn from him.

You Learn Something New Every Day!

So I find this cool comic page:

And then I notice they call him "Kent" instead of "Dent"… Well, here's what Wikipedia says…
As mentioned above, Harvey Dent does return as Two-Face in the 1970s. With the establishment of the multiverse, however, the Two-Face of Earth-Two (i.e., the character seen in the original Golden Age stories) is said to be Harvey Kent, who had not relapsed following his cure. The last appearance of this version of Two-Face was in Superman Family #211 (October 1981), depicting him as a guest at the marriage of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle (Catwoman). He meets Lois Lane and Clark Kent, and his shared name with the latter creates confusion.
Well then.

Also, did anyone notice that "Kent" is talking about some "Dr. Ekhart"? Sound anything like a certain "Eckhart" we know? Coincidence? I don't know…*cues Twilight Zone music*…

A Bit of Wisdom From Peter Kreeft

This is an excerpt from "Angels (and Demons): What Do We Really Know About Them?"
Aren't angels irrelevant today? This is the age of man, isn't it?

Yes, this is the age of man, of self-consciousness, of psychology. And therefore it is crucial to "know thyself" accurately today. The major heresies of our day are not about God but about man.

The two most destructive of these heresies—and the two most popular—are angelism, confusing man with an angel by denying his likeness to animals, and animalism, confusing man with an animal by denying his likeness to angels.

Man is the only being that is both angel and animal, both spirit and body. He is the lowest spirit and the highest body, the stupidest angel and the smartest animal, the low point of the hierarchy of minds and the high point of the hierarchy of bodies.

More accurately stated, man is not both angel and animal because he is neither angel nor animal; he is between angels and animals, a unique rung on the cosmic ladder.

But whichever way you say it, man must know angels to know himself, just as he must know animals to know himself, for he must know what he is, and he must know what he is not.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I Discovered This…

…and my life truly became more beautiful.

No words right now… I think I have to go cry…

You Think That Nothing Could Be Better Than This…

Until you read one of the top comments:
There once was a boy named Draco, destined to be a thug, his parents were chill with Voldemort, who gave him an awkward hug.
This gets all the wins.

And do check out this one too:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Arrrr…get up on the deck, ye wobble-legged landlubbers, tis' time to celebrate the finest holiday on the Seven Seas!

Incidentally, it's also Hermione Granger's birthday. Someone should really make a Potter/Pirate pic.

And here's a nice gallery to feast yer scurvy-self eyes on.