Wearing skulls and dressing in black will get you killed – at least in Iraq, where dozens of teenagers have been stoned recently for wearing black and channeling Emo. “Emo” is a Western subculture that follows the revival of gothic and horror trends in society and literature, and also parallels closely the attraction to vampirism, witchcraft and magic.
Skulls and crossbones have become super cool symbols in international pop culture; even hello kitty is on board.
As Baghdad explores its new-found freedom, news articles like this one shock us with horrific violence at the hands of Islamic conservative fundamentalists. In particular, a recent strain of murders have focused on teenagers who want to stand out, be cool and participate in international trends of fashion and culture. This should make anyone indoctrinated into Western ideology hope that Islam as a religion goes extinct quickly: surely we don’t need that kind of backward, tribalistic, head-in-the-sand idiocracy influencing our culture or politics?
And yet, so what if Islam is stoning youths? Doesn’t Yahweh command – in the book believed as the literal word of God for an enormous percentage of American citizens – that we not suffer a witch to live? That anyone practicing magic, … Read More »
An online review posted about Disney’s 2012 John Carter of Earth movie runs thus: “John Carter evokes pretty much every sci-fi classic from the past 50 years without having any real personality of its own.”
The essential thing to keep in mind, however, is that Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars was first published almost a century ago in 1917! Science fiction and fantasy novels and stories since then are deeply indebted to John Carter.
Others influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs and his John Carter books include James Cameron who mentioned the influence on his science-fiction epic Avatar in The New Yorker magazine and George Lucas, whose Star Wars movies were influenced Edgar Rice Burroughs and by Flash Gordon, which in turn was influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
But something you won’t read about in other online reviews is this:
John Carter is an atheistic movie.
A tagline for the movie could be, “There is no god, only superior technology.” Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars is basically like earth – lots of evenly matched civilizations destroying each other for centuries until one gets an advanced technology (gunpowder, etc) and annihilates the other side. But there is also an element of magic, mysticism and religion. … Read More »
This morning, between about 10am and 12am outside my 5th floor apartment, was a never ending parade of drum, bad karoake and high pitched squeaking clarinets played by people with no training – all blasted from portable megaphones charged with a portable battery. It made me wonder where that old phrase, “everyone loves a parade” comes from. While the noise pollution, pierced sporadically by firecrackers, may seem quaint and exotic, after 8 years living in Taiwan it’s hard to excuse the distraction and invasion into my home office, where I’m trying to concentrate on editing some documents.
But it’s a special occasion – it’s the birthday of the Earth God (Tudigong). You might assume that this would be akin to Western “Earth Day”, where we all gather to make empty vows about recycling and healing our planet. You’d be wrong – Earth God’s birthday has principally become (at least in Taiwan) the day to go and give money to the temple, for your own financial benefit. Hence, all the parades may be seen as a form of power advertising: it’s Earth God’s birthday! Don’t forget to go give him some money, to bless and ensure your own prosperity!
Although this may seem … Read More »
***Oops – the movie adaptation of Paradise Lost starring Bradley Cooper has been canned as of February, 2012! It’s a crying shame…Hope they revive it down the road.***
For the past decade, traditionally marginalized or “evil” characters have gained the limelight – witches, vampires and werewolves have changed from creatures of the night to tragically misunderstood victims of humanity’s bitter prejudice. At the same time, Western humanist values caused us to champion rebel heroes – heroes who fight against all hope to topple powerful governments or tyrants. What is less known is that this impetus towards “Freedom at all Costs” started with Milton’s depiction of Satan in Paradise Lost, whose brilliant speeches on the right to self rule and the right to overthrow government directly influenced the poets, artists and philosophers who developed the themes of resistance and rebellion and the need for absolute freedom and equality. The US Declaration of Independence and Constitution are indebted to the liberal ideology of Milton’s Satan.
So it is with extreme interest that I’m watching the development of Paradise Lost into an epic Hollywood movie made by Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers. Sure we’ve seen this kind of “rebel hero against the gods” motif before, … Read More »
If you’ve watched “limitless” you may have been inspired (as I was) to research into the “smart pill” debate that has been brewing for the past several years. Is there really a drug that can make you smarter? ADHD medication like Adderall and Ritalin are classified as nootropics and commonly referred to as “Mental Enhancers”. It should come as no surprise that such drugs, although regulated by prescription, will be taken off label. Gingko Biloba, which has never been proven to improve cognitive function, still sells several billion dollars worth of products claiming to do just that. We are a caffeine-fueled, ultra-competitive society of adventurers addicted to time management and productivity.
So as rumors grew that taking ADHD medication like Adderall and Ritalin can speed you up, make you think clearer, focus on manual tasks without distraction, be more efficient, and more focused, naturally “smart drugs” became a whole new kind of drug use. (I was tempted to use the term ‘recreational drug’ or ‘drug abuse’, but neither seemed fitting.
These are not drugs people take to get high or party – they are used by college and grad students, financial investors, professors and other people who need to be able to … Read More »
If you found out that your employee was a child-molester, would you fire them? According to a new Supreme Court ruling, you may not be able to.
Here’s the story: a woman is working for a church, but she develops narcolepsy (she can’t help falling asleep). The church fires her and gets a new employee – but she threatens to sue because she should be protected under the Disabilities Act. But the Supreme Court refused her right to sue, on the basis that it could not interfere with a church’s right to chose its own representatives (freedom of religion, etc.)
The ethics of this conflict are murky: The Western practice of diagnosing everything as a disability means that soon everybody will be protected against firing, and employers can no longer count on hiring able and competent people to work for them. This does not mean I am anti-disability; people with disabilities who are just as capable of doing a good job, should have that opportunity. But having a job should not be a right guaranteed to disabled people – unless perhaps, the government is paying for it. But should the government force a private company to keep an employee who isn’t doing her job?
On … Read More »
Seventh-Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, are in a fight against fast food chain McDonalds. The reason: 50% of the town practices a form of Christianity that endorses a clean, healthy and vegetarian diet. In their defense, the town has statistically higher health than many places in the world. The conflict: should they be allowed to prohibit the other 50% of the people from eating garbage?
The “opposition” chosen to represent the heathens is a fat, batman-hat wearing guy who says “If you don’t want to be healthy, don’t be, if you want to be healthy, be healthy.” People should be allowed to choose unhealthy, health-harming (and by extension, ecosystem/economy destroying) practices.
But why? Spiritual traditions around the world, including Christianity, more or less agree that vegetarianism is better for ourselves and the world; it also seems to make people more relaxed, aware, and peaceful. I’m not vegetarian – but mostly because I eat whatever is cheap and convenient.
What would the world look like if the government took steps to ensure that what was available was also what was healthiest? What if they prevented huge corporations from using their resources to dominate the food growth, preparation and consumption market?
I’m pretty sure I … Read More »