Archive for September, 2010

Star Wars 3D

September 30, 2010

— director commentary on the integrated special scenes —

Lucas: Really, I’m embarrassed by this. The original Mos Eisley bar music isn’t all that great a tune. And I think it would bring immediacy and youthfulness to the film to have a cameo of a, um, where’re my notes, of “a really great, innovative and original band”. Hence Nickelback.

Lucas: This small change was made to support our new half-hour animated cartoon series set between the New Hope and Empire, the exciting new Abandoned!: The Lost Adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Owen Lars, which will also have a twelve-part novelization by our stable of talented, untried and deadline-motivated autourettes.

Lucas: The problem with creative endeavors is you rarely get to express the whole of your vision in any one work. For example, though those became the icons of a different film series, I originally wanted Han Solo to have a fedora, a leather jacket and a bullwhip, and have the Millennium Falcon powered by the Ark of Covenant. Also, Greedo was supposed to be a snake that tried to throttle Han. Also, Chewbacca was supposed to be a snarky bikini-clad girl, but on the first day of shooting she had an accident involving glue and a large number of passing heavily shedding cats, and because of budget we just went with it. Also a sore throat. Thus these small changes in Han Solo, and the new Chewbacca, played by the skin of Kirsten Dunst.

Lucas: I think that in a post-9/11 world it would be, er, insensitive to show the Rebels in overall concept, broadly speaking, according to someone I heard on the Internet, executing a suicide attack, zooming their “planes” through concrete canyons to this “world’s” “center”, and causing an explosion with thousands of dead. For this reason, this scene of the evacuation of the Death Star, and the X-fighter ejection seats, is meant to convey no-one actually died in the attack.

Lucas: I never was really satisfied with the futurism of Star Wars. I wanted to show the Empire as a real world with mythic, iconic overtones, a world where people live and buy cool mythic stuff and do exciting iconic things in. While preparing this edition, I hit on the idea of hologram ad boards and wall scrolls, and rather than make new brands out of whole cloth, I turned to my iconic friends at Nike, Nokia, Depend, Adidas and the Coca-Cola Company…

Lucas: Yes, Luke’s lightsaber activates with the Nokia tune now. Deal.

Lucas: Personally I was never really satisfied with this ‘Admiral Ackbar’ character. It wasn’t until Episode I that I came up with an alien that fit my original conception. Hence Admiral J-J B.

Lucas: Well my first idea was never to make a movie; I just happened to be a person that made movies. I was inspired by the adventure serials, you know. I think the saga flows much better when broken into half-hour segments. Obviously this could cause problems with the pacing, so we’ve had to eliminate some subplots with were frankly “filler”, and to add a few new ones, such as the Jedi Clone Padme Saga, and the adventures of Chewbacca and Pompa, a plucky Ewok Jedi, bringing the total to 108 half-hour episodes for the original three films. Since this conception of the saga presents my ultimate original fully realized ur-idea for now, this will be the only version available from now on.

Aaaand what’s your worst nightmare? (Please don’t comment with “Never finding true love”. This is a rhetorical question.)

* * *

When I get a brain flare as demented as the one above, it deserves more than being a throw-away comment over on Pharyngula. And the idea of Lucas tinkering with Star Wars again is a bottomless well of possibilities —

“Also, in this new 3D version Darth Vader occasionally turns, reaches, and punches the viewer. While this may be taken as an expression of Lucas’s regard for his audience, it was probably more meant to (a) show off the 3D, and (b) establish the character of the slightly revamped, more ‘ninja’ Sith Lord. The three-dimensionality of these sudden lunges is quite startling; but not as much as Lucas’s decision to replace most of the supporting cast with Gungans.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Pharyngula-linked Hollywood Reporter page has a persistent ad for “hundreds of free diaper coupons”.

Matriculation and the previous millennium

September 29, 2010

If ye be hearing sounds of screams from the north today, that’s just a weird reflecting trick of the upper layers of the atmosphere, carrying the sounds of the mathematics portion of the Finnish high school (lukio) matriculation examination (ylioppilaskirjoitukset) a long way to you.

What? Obviously 6 745 people wrestling with it could generate quite some moaning; why I myself years and years ago during one portion of the examination found myself thinking so profoundly I got a nose bleed.

And the paper-checker in distant Helsinki no doubt got a rude shock, finding the next paper had splatters of blood on it. (Because I have this sense of drama, the little bleeding incident only motivated me more; ended up with an eximia, or the second-highest grade, from that particular portion. “Clearly this student is a suicidal nutcase; give him a few extra points!)

Ah those were the days; waiting with nervous others for the beginning, cracking a few jokes (the more nervous I am, the chattier I get); then lining into this big giant room that was usually used for the playing of basketball, and was too big and high even for that; sitting down to one of an incongruous cluster of desks; waiting some more; receiving the questions, and noticing the silence; checking once more I had a sandwich an’ tissues an’ a drink an’ pens an’ eraser an’ sharpener an’ ruler an’ a compass for emergency trepanations, an’ wishing I could type instead of scratching; the clock starting its long run of six hours; turning over the sheet, feeling a mixture of excitement, confidence, trepidation, dread and deceleration (for the lack of a better word).

Then ferreting out the obviously easy questions, then those I by some quirk felt I could easily answer; then a complicated sorting algorithm that counted point distribution, knowledge of unacademic origins, ease of bullshitting and the aesthetic appeal of the questions and their probable answers; then a lot of writing. Then a nosebleed, that one time; other times, a break for a sandwich and an apple, and a drink (I suppose fruit juice, but all I can say is, not coffee and not alcohol); then more scribbling.

Then, depending on the subject, writing the answers out in a clear and clean form, or then round after round of tinkering, and then the final writing-out, all the time subaudibly cursing this pen-and-pencil-and-paper business when a computer would have been so much quicker and easier and, cor, wave of the future, not seen round here, no sir!

Logo of the Matriculation Examination Board of Finland

the logo of the Matriculation Examination Board of Finland: I don't think the examiners wear helmets like that, really

Then looking around, noticing so very many others were still writing; turning the sheet over just to see if there were questions hidden on some portion I had missed; then handing my answers and papers in, gathering the pens and others in a clumsy fistful, and skittering out. With luck, a word with a classmate about the answer that was obvious once one was out the door; otherwise, trying to forget the exam to focus on the next one, only a few days away, floating with a weird sense of fatalism that whispered if I wasn’t ready now, there was no way to be any readier tomorrow when the next exam was.

This for two weeks; then the long, nervous summer holiday that started too soon, waiting for the answers from Helsinki, from the national board of examiners; and then finally one sunny and quiet early summer day in the good year 2001, sitting in my dad the teacher’s car at the high school parking lot, waiting for his day to finish, a paper from the school office in hand, and on it my scores; and in my mind a whirl of disappointment at my imperfections, and pride at my achievements, and a deep sense that all was right with the world, and all was new and shiny and waiting for me; and on the radio, a fairly academic pop-sci show about giants kettles (hiidenkirnu); and creeping to my mind the slow awareness that, golly, I would be heading to such an academic environment when autumn came, to a city not very distant, but quite alien; to live on my own, and to make of life what I would.

Oh, the days. Turns out most of the positive intimations were right; but things are always more complicated than they seem.

The three years of Finnish lower high school (yläaste) are a mixture of the American nightmare of a high school, and a particularly pessimistic prison drama; but the following (if one goes there) three years of (proper) high school (lukio) can be a bliss of good friends, great teachers, and all the information one can imbibe. (Not that the curve stops there — from yläaste on every step is to better and better worlds. Then again, Dante’s Hell would be a step up from the aimless thoughtless evil of the denizens of a typical lower high school class. And I wasn’t even bullied, mind you — that’s not done to someone who broods and looms like I do.)

(Wait — a memory from my lukio days, the good days. Strikes me there was one course about the history of religions, and the usual stress of poster-making; I drew a few irreverent cartoons of Mohammed and the caliphs to illustrate the text on Islam’s early history. Didn’t strike me or anyone else then that such activity could offend anyone. The quality of my drawings, well just maybe; but the fact of drawing a few jokes of Mohammed and the caliphs, well, no, never. Oh, the days, indeed.)

(And then — and mind you, these are not the only content our small and lovely high school had — there was the history course whose teacher also also infatuated with spoken presentations and posters and the like: thus the presentation of my posse: four or five boys with one reader and the rest acting out “theories on the demise of the Roman empire”. One, with the help of the classroom faucet, was “lead poisoning from the water pipes”. Another, with screaming and a packet of ketchup, was “barbarian invasions”. I think one more, without any props, may have been “stagnation, eh”.)

For completeness’s sake: my grades were two laudaturs, four eximias. The first two in long English and long mathematics; the four in (let me think) medium Swedish, short German, science and Finnish composition. (The subjects have fluctuated quite a lot since; and what I call “science” was the reaali or the “real[ity related subject?] examination”, which included every single subject save sport and those mentioned above; for me, it was physics and chemistry and a ginormous temptation to answer an easy-looking psychology question despite not having had a single course of the subject.)

The range of grades runs, from the best to the fail, laudatur (“L”, to the best 5%), eximia (E, to the next 15%), magna (M, 20%), cum laude (C, 24%), lubenter (B, 20%), approbatur (A, 11%), improbatur (I, 5%); the mnemonic is Lem-C-Bai.

And yes, the system is so rigged that each year 5% of those taking part in a particular exam will fail it. That’s surprisingly cruel, now that I think about it; but the system also means smallish fluctuations in the quality of the questions don’t matter; the relatively best will get an L no matter what, even if the questions were (as in one infamous case) a Swedish listening comprehension test about the repair of space shuttle components. If there are big changes, though, a test that is absurdly difficult or easy, then one’s grade can be a toss of dice, with a whisper and no more between an L and an M.

(Oh, and the examinations are organized once each autumn, and one each spring; most students (I guess) still take most of the exams in springtime in the third year, and maybe farm out a few to the previous autumn. Or the next autumn, if things go all banana-shaped. And then in addition to the examinations you have to pass all the various courses, and add more until you have 75 courses or more; usually takes three years. In my three years, I ended with 90+ courses, and stopped there only because there were no hours left to take psychology. That level of studying was easy for me, and I love understanding the world; and also I was a (recovering) superciliously thoughtless little asshole with a reputation to maintain at the time.)

(“Superciliously thoughtless” translates as “Well, oh-bviously I am better than Those People. They listen to Undignified Music, and Smoke, and Drink even. It is well known, for reasons I don’t care to consider, that such things are for the ones that lack a Proper Attitude. I shall not desire their company; I shall mope here in the corner and make them feel bad. Yes, I shall. I wish to rub their noses in their inferiority. If only they would stop having such a good time!”)

(I like to think I’ve extricated most of the said iron bar from my rectal regions since then, occasionally with the use of a mattock and a kit of welding equipment; turns out “Why so serious?” is an excellent question, and you will improve as a person if you just keep asking yourself why you think what you think and whether there’s any sense in it. In no time you’re a George Carlin fanboy listening to Iron Maiden, reading Richard Dawkins and, er, actually still drinking nothing stronger than coffee and Coca-Cola because when the inner Savonian breaks free, no further intoxication is required.)

And, fsk, this is what happens when I think I’ll write a short, humorous note on the reason for the possible ubiquity of drunken youngsters this evening. Mathematics day of the matriculation examination; matematiikan ylioppilaskoe; er, that’s it.

The teaching-assistantial mind at work

September 28, 2010

So, this is how a mathematics course works: there is a big mighty lecturer, who twice a week delivers the Gospel of the Gaussites; and if his words and the reality of the world are at variance, so much worse for reality. Then there is the teaching assistant, who once a week meets all those that were (or were not) hearing the Gospel, and sees they receive the right answers to the week’s exam sheet of four to eight questions.

This is usually done by the method of “I shall now circulate a sheet; put a mark on each question you’d be willing to demonstrate at your fellow miscreants from the blackboard, with such squawkings added to your scribblings as are necessary. If necessary, I shall then reject your solution and substitute my own. Oh, and a percentage X of the marks are required to attend the lecture-course exam / the marks merely give you the possibility of scoring 110 on a course with a maximum of 100 points. Any volunteers to present a question of your choice? Fine, I shall look at the list and order some volunteers then, and order and order again (but no double jeopardy); and if there aren’t enough marks then gosh darn it I shall have to hand-wave and chalk-wave the remaining problems myself.”

Now, that was not my point — merely something to tell to annoy those whose work involves essays. Not that a spectacular misunderstanding of a problem, or a critical typo in the problem sheet, doesn’t sometimes cause a blackboard essay and a soliloquy on the hardness of doing the impossible, even if that is what Mr. Professor wants. (“But I can’t prove all integers are less than three!” — “It commands so on the Sheet! Do you suppose our Tenured One, caffeine be unto him, could make a mistake in writing the Sheet, his inspired Doctoreal word, you infidel humanitiestistic scum? A Fratwa on you! A Fratwa! Alpha Beta Gamma, never sleep at night! Tau Gamma Sigma, your bike a toilet paper mummy!“)

My point, and a particular illustration of how my mind works, is this: if there is a course, it is good to have a home page for it. One can put the times of the lectures and the demonstrations there; the exam dates, the possible course book few ever see (you scribble down what the lecturer scribbles up is enough), any course changes and peppy messages of goodwill, a picture of the TA skinning a cat, the problem sheets; maybe even some kind of model answers or answer clarifications, too. One tends to follow some kind of a pattern with these last ones — dullmaths1.pdf, dullmaths2.pdf, and dullmaths1ans.pdf, dullmaths2ans.pdf, and so on.

It is, I think, to be expected that sooner or later a clever mind might think to experiment with the URL, just to see if there’s an unlinked-to answer sheet to undemonstrated questions already on the server.

For that reason, I’ve for the present course (for which taking care of the course page fell to me) made sure to always have answers4.pdf on the server long before probsheet4.pdf has its day at the blackboard. The contents of answers4.pdf are something like this, in big letters centered on an otherwise empty page:

Nah, it’s not here yet.

Good try, though.

Here’s a gold star sticker, a barnstar and all!

Don’t know if anyone’s acted in ways that reveal this message of snide cheerfulness; don’t particularly care since my warm fuzzy feeling comes from the potential and not the actual discord. (The student lot at this particular course are a bright and cheerful bunch, so they’d probably tell me if their mercenary curiosity gave them this reveal.)

Still, it pays to have routine of updating where I never add a single link to the html without making sure the snidery pdf is bumped to next week’s numbers.

(Another alternative would have been a pdf that read “UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS ATTEMPT. Your IP address and username have been recorded, and course management has been notified. They will contact you at a later time.” But there’s a difference between a wink and waving your privates in someone’s face, right?)

(Well, depends on your chosen slang definition of a “wink”, really. Cyclopean snake wink and all that.)

Droppin’ a few shorts: animal link edition

September 27, 2010

I have been informed of a grave threat to the welfare of us all: cats.

More here.

If you care about yourself or your family, you’ll build a shelter that is easily accessible from your house, but in a place where cats won’t easily find it. A cat can kill you any number of ways, and one of those ways is waiting outside a shelter while you’re inside starving to death, so make sure you’re stocked with food and other supplies to last for at least one year.

* * *

I have been informed of a second grave threat to the welfare of us all, and especially of our young: goats.

More here.

The Childhood Goat Trauma Foundation was created in 1982 by a small group that originally came together as a an informal support group for problems that were the result of traumatic experiences at petting zoos as children. This group realized that there were many others out there who were afraid to come forward with their horrific stories and wanted to find some way to help as many people as they could. The Childhood Goat Trauma Foundation is the result of their dream.

Through its programs and workshops, individuals from all walks of life have been able to live happier and more fulfilling lives, without the ever-present ghosts of their personal goat traumas. Some have even made such progress that they have been able to put their traumas completely behind them and rejoin mainstream society.

* * *

Frankly, after this information I am too scared to approach any animals at all. Especially since half of them seem to be mystery birds. Honestly, I never realized there were so many of them. I always thought there were (a) penguins and kiwis, (b) ostriches and dodos, (c) eagles, crows and vultures, and (d) little tweety things that won’t let me sleep.

And I was half certain the last were a category error for my siblings, too.

(This one, mystery bird for Sep. 24, looks like it’d rip half your face off if you blinked the wrong way. And just shriek and body-slam in if you thought a window was a barrier enough. “Twenty-four hundred stab wounds, sergeant, and the apartment all torn to shreds. Even the power outlets pecked apart to the depth of ten inches. This was done by a beast whose viciousness is beyond all human ability to comprehend.”)

(And somewhere not at all far away, an unblinking mad red eye was watching them. Watching, and clattering its beak slightly, something like amusement shivering its neon-green feathers as it listened to the hiss and glurgle of the police car’s tires and gas tank getting emptier and emptier.)

(It was going to be a terror in the daylight, and a day of shrieks under the forest’s eaves… for the Flock was awake.)

This is [music genre here]

September 24, 2010

Fine Finnish heavy metal: Lordi, and the self-explanatory This Is Heavy Metal.

Which raises the question, can other music genres do this? Are there songs called “This is Funk” or “Dis is da gangsta rap”? Or “This. Is! JAAAAZZ!!”?

Oh, and do other music genres have heavy metal’s habit of occasionally making songs which consist of shout-outs to old hits, or to famous genre bands, and of nothing else? (Behind the links the first three that came to mind: Sabaton/Metal Machine, Megadeth/Victory and Sabaton/Metal Crue. And yes, Megadeth was so metal it could make a callback track about its own songs.)

(And, yes, metal is so metal that even tracks like these are awesome. Metal is so metal even Spinal Tap, a parody of a heavy metal band, is pretty fucking metal, and actually better than most metal released these days. Better than that faint praise, even. Metal is so metal that Brian Posehn’s Metal by Numbers, a comedy song about how new metal sucks, is as metal as metal can be. Metal, in addition to being a term I’ve cunningly not defined here, is all about being theatrical and melodramatical, which means there’s no such thing as overdoing it. Or to quote a bit of life advice from Rammstein’s Christoph Schneider, “Do your own thing. And overdo it!”)

(And what hey, seems Posehn has a new song/video out, and a new album. I leave you to watch that while I’ll go looking for a retailer.)

Edit: Waaaaait a minute. Callbacks? Self-reference? Or… meta metal?

Edit II: Could go on and on about how callbacks are a light-hearted way to respect your respect-worthy elders and to show you know and acknowledge your place as one more glorious tungsten brick in the screaming wall of metal glory; but if I need to do that, you’re not going to be convinced.

Mrs. President tweets

September 24, 2010

This is something I expected from you wacky foreigners — Americans, Brits, Germans, Swedes, Belgians, Canadians, Mexicans, Spanish, Portuguese, Ukrainians, Russians, Chinese, Indonesians, Scots, the Irish and the French and the Japanese; you know, you people who aren’t real people like we Finns — but this is something I did not foresee for a Finn, though I should have.

Tarja Halonen, the President of Finland, is tweeting.

Which, if I could throw it back in time, I would. Mostly because the people of the 70s would assume it some suave European perversion, something forbidden in Ireland and Alabama, and denounced by Republicans and Christian Democrats everywhere minutes before their robes are flung wide showing just the thing — something involving general trippiness, healthy young sweat and exotic oils from India, probably.

(She seems to tweet mostly in Finnish, though. Must be to keep the plan “Russian Invasion 2012” secret. Wouldn’t do to have Mr. Putin having his rusty divisions at the border to meet the unstoppable alcohol-fueled Finnish onslaught.)

Ptah; sooner or later I’ll fall for tweeting, too.

The wombat millions

September 23, 2010

Lo, many long years ago this was the extent of my knowledge of a particular nocturnal Australian quadruped:

M:tG card "Rabid Wombat"; (c) WotC 1995-2010

Lo, all these long years later, my knowledge of wombatkin has increased with only one fact: wombats are comedy gold. Not because an audience might particularly relate, but because the word in itself is silly. (Wombats themselves can be scary, though. I have it from a trustworthy Australian authority that one particular species, the misnamed “drop bear”, is a fairly merciless sharp-toothed stealth killer, and can even attack humans. There even is a special skin cream of some sort, called “vegemite”, or “wombat brake”, that repels the drop bears. Also kiwis, who I gather are some kind of small, hairy ape-like creatures.)

Well, here’s one more wombat fact for us: a nameless benefactor has donated eight million dollars for their conservation. (No, not in formaldehyde in big creepy transparent glass jars under the Sydney opera, waiting for the eventual first performance of Mad Max: Beyond the Wombadome. Apparently Tina Turner has qualms.)

No, just eight million to help these beautiful, mysterious, nice (I’m not kidding here) creatures; apparently they’re endangered. (There’s some horrible unfairness in the fact that while wombats are endangered there are, just to give a random example, millions and millions of Belgians.) The benefactor’s nameless; the wombat-helping organization is somewhat shellshocked; and for some reason I can’t stop smiling. Probably because while I don’t know squat about wombats, I love the concept of a wombat: a creature of goofy aspect with an outlandish name. (Wait; I’m Finnish; I’m just the same!)

Read all of the plight and the charity from Adelaide Now, if you so desire. (And, while AN’s not one of my regular news inputs, wouldn’t it be in some way nice to pick one location all the world away from you, and follow its news now and then? With all kinds of small local papers being online now, you could probably pick Bad Ass, Berkshire, and get a possibly useful perspective to things by keeping informed about the local by-elections.)

(Oh, one more thing. What’s the female version of Man-Bat?)

How to get on Wikipedia

September 23, 2010

There are two general ways for this.

Way #1: Go add yourself.

Pros: Quick. Easy.

Cons: You’ll get deleted. Plus self-insertion is as great a sin over at Wikipedia as it is in fan fiction. Plus it’s kind of a dick move. Plus how’d you like to have, for ever and ever, the shadow of “[citation needed] [weasel words] [not NPOV]” hanging over the part of you that you most value?

Way #2: Be notable.

As this is a bit vague, I’ve picked some easy ones from the Wikipedia notability guidelines for the inclusion of persons.

  • Entertainers. “Has made unique, prolific or innovative contributions to a field of entertainment.” A sculpture made of a dozen living pigs tied with twine, maybe? Oh, wait, prolific. Gonna need a lot of pigs, and a few more spools of twine.
  • Pornographic actors. “Has made unique contributions to a specific pornographic genre, such as beginning a trend in pornography”, etc. — well, the possibilities are endless, and on Internet there is an audience for anything. Though I terrify myself by trying to think up something I haven’t seen yet. (Clowns? Done already.)
  • Creative professionals. “The person is known for originating a significant new concept, theory or technique.” I say, “No-one has painted a mural with live chickens before me!” — and then consider whether I’ve taken this newness thing a bit too broadly. What’s a significant new concept anyway? Do I need to paint the Statue of Liberty green and yellow striped with them chickens to be significant? Or Paris Hilton? Or myself, and then post pics on Myspace?
  • Academics and athletics. Too much work. (Wait, Eric von Däniken has a page. If pseudo-academicians qualify, how about pseudo-athletes? I can make a fairly egregious parody out of any sport I attempt. But do I then need to film an instructional video — “Co-ordinationless Cardio Massacre” — and sell a few million copies of it?)
  • Big enough cretins qualify; see Mark David Chapman, Charles Whitman, etc. If that is too much, consider Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the shoe thrower. Simple cretinity isn’t enough; either the target of cretinism or the method of cretinousness (Jeffrey Dahmer) has to be noteworthy. Hence thoughts turn again to pigs, twine, chickens and paint. “I took him. Here are twined pigs in his place. Ke ke ke. The Pheasant (name but not method inspired by the Dara O’Briain routine, you can cite this; also it is not a sex thing).” (Oh, wait. “My captive shall be released when Wikipedia agrees to…” — but consider that your inclusion in Wikipedia might not be the only consequence of the necessary actions — “Your honor, I merely wanted to be on Wikipedia.” — “Bullshit! If I’m not notable, you are not notable. Maximum sentence. Take him away!”)

The varieties of M-of-Eris

September 20, 2010

Hmmm. This blog is named Masks of Eris. I have webcomic — well, more of a daily humorical doodle — called Lemmata, which almost became something-of-Eris too. Then I have this warren of hand-made extra-fictious conspiracymongery, Mirrors of Eris.

Seems likely that if I at any future time acquire yet another address or title, it’ll be M(something) of Eris, just to keep with the brand. (“Eugh, it’s another work of That One. Move along, quickly!”)

So, as a note to myself, here are several possible possibilities beginning with the letter M. Plus taglines.

  • Macadamization of Eris — Well, the mud bath did not help…
  • Mad Dog of Eris — the yippin’ frothy battle Chihuahua of Discordia!
  • Mafia of Eris — we’re gonna make you an inner various immoral allowing others eating away.
  • Maid of Eris — M/28, ruffles and lace; want pictures?
  • Mammafries of Eris — have some R-rated McDonalds fare and discord
  • Mammthoth of Eris — a big Egyptian servant for the Grecian goddess
  • Martinet o’ Eris — Attention! Discord! Attention! Discord! One two three! Battery — chaaaarge!
  • Mattock of Eris — trepanning Mother Earth all day long
  • Me-262 of Eris — What do you mean, “what does the Nazi jet mean?”?
  • Mecha of Eris — (no no not a gamer guild dammit)
  • Meconium of Eris — please, don’t google the m-word
  • Meow of Eris — is the sound of a dog in an ice block going through a band saw: “mrreowwwwr!”
  • Mermaids of Eris — fish top and female bottom! swarms of them!
  • Military of Eris — don’t harm this general’s privates!
  • Milk of Eris — yes hur hur “milk” now can i have another?
  • Mine of Eris — dig in! kaboom! haha! got ya!
  • Misambiguation of Eris — a rather clear matter, confused
  • Mobile Suit of Eris — “Look, if I tear my face plate off, she’s sitting there! Nnhagh! It… does… come… off! Nharr!”
  • Moon of Eris — Dysnomia’s the name; lawlessness the game
  • Muezzin of Eris — fnooooooooooooooooorrrrd!
  • Mummy of Eris — Nyx’s the name; endless night’s the game
  • Myrmidon of Eris — lead, follow or ooh pink invisible elephants

You need a tagline, feel free to be inspired by these.

The fundamental problem of modern Christianity, as I see it

September 20, 2010

There are these two facts:

A) Modern Christians are and want to be nice people: compassionate, loving, democratic, all for sensible moderation and not being an asshole.

B) Traditional Christianity was (and is, as far as it is still practiced) a fairly awful autocratic, sadomasochistic, tyrannic joyless apocalyptic death cult full of somewhat arbitrary and pitiless, outdated sins, punishments, demons and Hells, i.e. an asshole nirvana.

The way to bring A and B together is usually extreme vagueness, because one can’t in good conscience abandon A, or get rid of B as it still has some good, famous, stirring parts. Then again, I’m all in favor of this cherry-picking if the book is to be kept; I’m of the opinion that most Christians are better than their holy book; their utter un-Biblicality is a shining triumph of human decency over dusty dogma.

Egads, I wouldn’t want any former version of the Jesus cult over the liberal ones we have now. Not what the world-ending Jew himself thought he taught, not the early sweaty apocalypticists, not the feuding epistle-screaming bishops, not the playboy Popes, not the joyless Puritans, not the legions of racists, sexists and life-haters; and certainly not the two-faced prudish Victorians! Modern Christians are much better than their heritage or their sacred texts. The history of Christianity has been — if you ask me, a totally impartial atheist — not a descent from Jesus, whether a corrupting or a refining one, but an escape from under his tyrannic shadow into ever better and less Biblical morals and ways of life. (Weird, that: the conservatives are right about this — them liberals aren’t very good Christians. What they miss is the liberals are better people for it.)

Thus, whenever a modern Christian is confronted by a theological question… the answer is usually a smokescreen of theological proportions, with so many funky terms and circumlocutions it is quite impossible to know what, if anything, is being said.

Usually, nothing is, and that is all right; then there’s a nice humanistic message of modern tolerance, love and goodwill we can all agree on, theist and atheist alike.