Saturday, December 19, 2009

Red and Black

Red and Black
By Stendhal

"Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black), 1830, by Stendhal, is an historical psychological novel in two volumes, chronicling a provincial young man’s attempts to socially rise beyond his plebeian birth with a combination of talent and hard work, deception and hypocrisy — yet who ultimately allows his passions to betray him." ~wikipedia.com

In a nutshell
Well well well, what have we got here then. Red and black surprised me when I got my hands on it by its sheer size. Now one or two months after going through it, I must say that I had taken quite a liking to the style of writing as well as the story itself. I for one, adore books in which the characters start at the bottom of some sort of food chain or other and make their way up, but the twist that Stendhal had for Julien Sorel surprised me even more. Yes, I was surprised. If you don't read anything about what you're about to read, of course the book will surprise you if the author has that sort of intention.

The story is interesting enough as said in the wikipedia article carrying the main character through different changes in scenery in which most often than not, he did not fit. Many a supporting character paid great expense for attempting to help Sorel how to cope with his new life, but the man seemed to pay more attention to his inner ego than towards what was happening on the outside. I was left with the impression that he was thought intelligent only because he could memorize a great deal of things ( the bible in Latin... of all the useless knowledges... I'd kill for a memory like that ) and in my opinion, intelligence and memory are not one and the same.

Still, maybe I'm judging him too harshly because I don't really agree with his wishy washy way of dealing with his two important female characters, but then again books are not written to be agreed with. Or maybe his intelligence didn't shine fully because he wasn't in his usual element, but I hardly doubt that would have done him any good in the mountain forester's cabin. The other characters are well described as well, and considering the two volumes the book has, it'd be quite surprising if they weren't. The names however haven't remained in my mind and I'll not be pained to google more.

Sadly I can't find a quote so that's that for today.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dragon Age : Origins

Well, considering that this is what I've been doing with my time the last week and something, I thought it only reasonable to make a short review of the game right here. So without further wish wash talk : Dragon Age : Origins.

A note though before we start. I shall be comparing this game a lot with Baldur's Gate 2 considering the developers at Bioware considered it the "spiritual successor" of it.

The plot (thickens)
Well... truth be told, it does not. There's nothing that makes the main plot in any way surprising. It's simple and straight forward and while the game offers a lot of choices to go through with it, I didn't find the patience to go through all of the possible endings. It is an enticing story, but nothing more. (I could go into great detail about it, but I fear spoilers). If I were to rate it, I'd give it an 8, for good writing, but not further up on accounts of predictability and straightforwardness.

The Characters (maybe fonts?)
Well well well... to tell the truth, it has been an extremely long while since I've seen such well made characters in any game. All of them are memorable and fun and the voice acting is brilliant. There are romance points in the game with more than one person (seems that they learned their lesson from Neverwinter Nights 2) and all of those that I found were unique and interesting in their own way. Also the game tackles the gay (male, and I would suspect female - I didn't try that out) relationships that most other games would not touch, and I sincerely applaud them for making Zevran a very likeable character. I'd not put him past reaching the epicness of Boo. If I had to rate it I think a 10 would be sufficient, because the characters border perfection.

The Graphics (are eye candy)
To say that a game has good graphics these days is like saying it comes in a box. We have achieved a good place in time when the eye candy of a game is really important, but considering all that's out there, all the sources of inspiration etc, etc, etc, you'd have to be a blind wombat not to be able to get it right. What we can talk about is how well optimized the game is, and to tell the truth, I'm not really sure. My computer had a few hitches here and there on almost full graphics but overall it was a pleasant experience so 9 would be sufficient.

The soundtrack (chuuu chuuu!)
To put it simply... it is great... at a point one of the characters sings and I loaded the game up 3 times just to hear that... It was that awesome...

The gameplay (tossing and turning)
This is the point where I take out my PC is the master race hat and wave my flag around. This game has the same problem as all the games that are made with gaming consoles in on the prime plane. You can clearly tell when a game has that in mind and you can see it clearly in Dragon Age origins. The controls are simple enough, and the interface is okay, but the way the game works, simply puts me a bit off it. It's a certain je ne sais quoi that the game has, as opposed to, say The Witcher which is a PC exclusive title. Areas are relatively small and have very little branches or liberty of movement... I once got killed by a monster because the character I was controlling got caught in a twig. I kid you not. That's not the sort of collision detection that a game in this day and age should have. But enough of my ranting... while the game smells of console like socks in a gym bag, it doesn't really ruin the experience, and then again there are some out there who are not PC master racists like myself, so I find it unfair to give the game less than 8.

Replayability (dragon is replayable)
The game has 5 origin stories which are all well written and it is said that the world reacts to you depending on your origin. The differences as far as I played in the main story, are minor concerning NPCs but enough to warrant a replay out of the more dedicated fans... or maybe myself when I'll be bored again. Also, being the experienced gamer that I am, I think the almost a week of constant playing says much about the game's length.

All in all it's a good game, and I compared it to Baldur's Gate 2 far less than I expected to. It definitely deserves a buying but the spiritual or otherwise successor of Baldur's Gate 2, Dragon Age : Origins is not.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The cat / The house on the canal

The Cat / The house on the canal
By Georges Simenon

"Georges Joseph Christian Simenon was a Belgian writer. A prolific author who published nearly 200 novels and numerous short works, Simenon is best known for the creation of the fictional detective Maigret." ~wikipedia.org

The book I got my hands on had the two aforementioned titles (which are two short stories) on it, but as the wikipedia article suggests, Mr Simenon had written a lot more novels and short works. His writing style is interesting but the object of these two stories are rather unexciting.

The Cat, says the story of a grumpy old couple who communicate by throwing notes to each other. And the rest of the story is saying how that came to be and what the main character does in reaction to that, which is not much. I mean, it's not like he'll be able to go on a journey of self-discovery and come back to see the world and his wife with new eyes. No, the novel is more realistic than that.

The house on the canal, is a bit more interesting as far as action is concerned, and while people die in it, I can't find any sort of interest in the trials and tribulations of a girl that was forced by the death of her father to move to the country with her cousins. While some rather peculiar things happen, and her odd behaviour and thought patterns are incentive enough to want to know what happens next, ultimately I couldn't wait to end this book as well and to start reading something else.

Overall, it was not a waste of time, but if presented a more interesting book, I would have read it. I have not found a quote from either of these two novels in the 5 second attempt that I had, so there won't be any. I won't be bothered to do more for a book that left me indifferent.




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wuthering Heights

It's been a while but here's the next book I read. I'm a few books after this one, but I couldn't be bothered to write... something about the lecture seeping into my mind.

Wuthering Heights
By Emily Jane Bronte
"Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë's only novel. It was first published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, and a posthumous second edition was edited by her sister Charlotte.
The name of the novel comes from the Yorkshire manor on the moors on which the story centers (as an adjective, Wuthering is a Yorkshire word referring to turbulent weather). The narrative tells the tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.
Now considered a classic of English literature, Wuthering Heights met with mixed reviews by critics when it first appeared, mainly because of the narrative's stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty. Though Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was originally considered the best of the Brontë sisters' works, many subsequent critics of Wuthering Heights argued that its originality and achievement made it superior. Wuthering Heights has also given rise to many adaptations and inspired works, including films, radio, television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor, ballet, opera, and song (notably the Kate Bush hit "Wuthering Heights")." ~wikipedia.com

In a nutshell
I was rather unlucky after reading my last book to find myself in the situation to read about yet more nobles and the situations in which they live. The narrator changes a few times but that doesn't do much to disrupt the flow of the story. It's a frame story as some literary critics might want to call it.

The story itself is interesting enough, I might say, but sincerely, I'd have rather skipped it. Aside from the ending characters, I found myself lacking the power to like the main characters of the story and the fake main character, as I like to call him (is the first narrator, then the narration is taken over by his maid, which continues on with the rest of the story) is the one I personally would have liked to hear more about. That's how boring the story was.

The author gave poetic justice in the end, but the fact that the fake main character had no input on the happenings of evens in the whole book, I found it a bit lacking. Maybe it's me, maybe it is cause I really had trouble giving a damn about those others, and the story is quite interesting... But to tell the truth I didn't find it so... maybe I was just unlucky to read it so soon after Pride and Prejudice... ah well.

"I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist's heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.
'Mr. Heathcliff?' I said.
A nod was the answer.
'Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir. I do myself the honour of calling as soon as possible after my arrival, to express the hope that I have not inconvenienced you by my perseverance in soliciting the occupation of Thrushcross Grange: I heard yesterday you had had some thoughts - '
'Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,' he interrupted, wincing. 'I should not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it - walk in!'
The 'walk in' was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment, 'Go to the Deuce:' even the gate over which he leant manifested no sympathising movement to the words; and I think that circumstance determined me to accept the invitation: I felt interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than myself." ~Wuthering Heights, Chapter 1


Friday, August 21, 2009

Something to keep things moving - Pride and Prejudice

Well, oddly enough, the last few months have given me nothing to be truthfully annoyed about. Hence the lack of posts in the last few months.

With that in mind, I shall add the scope of this project to discussing books in short bursts. Mostly because I'm not really keen on joining a forum and discussing books.

To start things off, I'll use the book I've just finished this morning, before going to sleep.

Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

"Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen. First published on 28 January 1813, it was her second published novel. Its manuscript was initially written between 1796 and 1797 in Steventon, Hampshire, where Austen lived in the rectory. Originally called First Impressions, it was never published under that title, and in following revisions it was retitled Pride and Prejudice.

The book is narrated in free indirect speech following the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with matters of upbringing, marriage, moral rightness and education in her aristocratic society. Though the books setting is uniquely turn of the 19th century, it remains a fascination of modern readership, continuing to remain at the top of lists titled "most loved books of all time", and receiving considerable attention from literary critics. This modern interest has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and a plethora of books developing Austin's memorable characters further." ~ wikipedia.com

In a nutshell
Not the usual kind of book I like to read, Pride and Prejudice was able to catch me from the start. The witty humor (at points) and the dosing of drama and romance combined with the main character (Elizabeth Bennet) and her supporting characters (Jane Bennet, Bingley, Fitzwilliam Darcy) which is almost impossible not to at least like from the start, made me read the 300+ pages of the book in record time. The plot isn't all that complicated, there are no layers of intrigue, or mysteries to be solved, only a bit of soap opera-ish kind of tension towards the ending of the book.

The author did a great job to tie all loose ends and the ending was fulfilling enough. I don't look back at the time spent reading it as time wasted. It was a delightful little distraction, and I recommend the book to anyone who delights himself in reading.

That's all that comes up in my mind at this time. If you have any questions about the book, leave a comment and I will respond or edit my post in order to accommodate an answer.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters."
~Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 1

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Patriotism

I dare say, it has been a long while since my last post, and to my few readers I apologize. I haven't lacked things to rant about, nor inspiration to write the articles... or rants... themselves. However, I have been lacking the time, and more honestly the mood to write anything. So here I am now, with this new and rather fresh frustration of mine. I haven't considered this subject as important enough to merit attention, until the events in the Republic of Moldova ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Moldova ) started a few weeks ago, after the elections. You can consider those events as the final drop of water in the almost spilling glass that made me write this article. But enough about that, let's see the definitions.

Definitions
nation = "a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own " ~dictionary.com
patriotism = "devoted love, support, and defense of one's country; national loyalty." ~dictionary.com
humanity = "all human beings collectively; the human race; humankind." ~dictionary.com

Main Body
Since the dawn of time, man has been gathering in larger and larger groups of like-minded people. First there were families, then tribes. Depending on the area, they evolved into small nations or city states. Then real nations, and finally alliances. It seems logical enough, that to achieve great things human beings need two things. Numbers and ambition. History stands testament that when both of them are present, many great things can be achieved. No matter the technological advancement.

People, as a rule of thumb, are unambitious. We're like ants, only we have evolved thinking. We, as a race, need to be told what to do in order to do it. That's why people listen to governments, presidents, prime ministers and kings. Because we need to have someone with a vision. Someone who can guide people to a better tomorrow. As individuals, we wouldn't be able to achieve even half of what was achieved till now. Hence the need for leaders. Tribe elder, noble, king, president, senate, it does not really matter what you are going to call it. But ambitious people don't like to share. They don't like to share their followers, their dreams or their prosperity. That's why when the first two tribes of humans met, blows were probably exchanged. Not because that we are violent in nature... but because we'd rather die than share our food with people from a place we don't know. I suppose some of that can be blamed on the fear of the unknown. We don't know them, we fear them, hence we will not share our food with them.

But with ambitious people, through conquest or diplomacy countries were forged and then alliances. So here we are now, in the year 2009 with a globe sliced up in imaginary lines. We have nations. Just like human children, human nations are born in blood. But unlike humans who are born young in the blood of the old, nations are born from the blood of the young while the old linger on. Don't get me wrong, some people needed to be liberated for one reason or another and lives had to be sacrificed. But I do have to ask something... Why stop now in the unification of the human race? Why, when we used every little reason under the sky to unify before, like language, color, religion and ancestors... why stop now? There is still one thing all humans have in common... we are all human... Think of everything we could achieve as a rase if we stood united.

The answer to my question "Why stop now?" comes in one single word. Patriotism. Other reasons would be easily overcome if there was a real desire for unification, but patriotism is the main reason, whether it is acknowledged or not. People are scared to loose their "national identity" so, that fear turns to hate and dissent towards globalization.

Conclusion
I consider it self-destructive to resist the next step in the evolution of human government on accounts of love for the place you were accidentally born into. You did not have a choice as to where you are born, so why defend it like your life depends on it?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

People are dangerous (II)

I said I was going to continue this article, but I am rather stumped for ideas really. I do not think that I can expand on what was already said so I will end it with a discussion on diplomacy.

You see, the problem with people is that they feel greatly about some very retarded things. I get passionate about religious talks, anime and computer games and for most of part, I can go into pretty much detail about those or some other given subjects to the point I bore my audience. Of course I will not like it when someone I do not know, will come around and say that my particularly favorite religious belief, anime or computer game sucks, but if that person is not a close friend, I will shrug it off and walk away. The thing is, not many people are able to do that (meaning walk away), and for the most part, both sides, the accusing sucker and the defending sucker, are to blame for this.

On the defender sucker's part it usually boils down to the misunderstanding of the meaning of life. What I mean by that is that the defending sucker, forgets that he is not defending his personal phylosophy of life in most cases, but a book, a movie, a political party or whatever. You do not need to throw bricks at people's heads until he dismisses your very existence as an inconvenience to the world around you. And even then, as long as you have friends you prove him wrong. So the defender sucker has the inability to not give a shit. But what of the accusing sucker?

Well, this is mostly the serious part of this article I wanted to write. I have recently joined a critique network where people submit manuscripts and different members from the comunity critique their work in order for them to improve their writing. I am not saying this to brag, I wanted to get to the fact that the leader of the site placed a great deal of effort on making sure that people know how to be diplomatic. With your own creations more than anything else, you will be prone to get upset if someone, instead of saying something constructive, he simply says something like "Yea, it sucked. Write it again. You have no talent." He said that if you don't have anything useful or nice to say, or the piece that you have to critique is that bad, simply move on to the next rather than destroy it with harsh language. Nobody was born smart.

Where I want to go with this is : "People could use a bit more diplomacy when critiquing other people's tastes" if they want to avoind having bricks thrown at their heads in the very worst or loosing all of their friends in the very least. Think a bit before you say anything, state that your personal preference is a fact and so on and so forth. It will save you a lot of headache in the future.

Then again, some of us might not want to be friends with certain groups of people, so diplomacy may be skipped in those moments. Do what you have to, but really try to be diplomatic, because nobody likes an asshole.

Friday, February 20, 2009

People are dangerous (I)

Yes my dear readers. People are dangerous. I fear this will be a long post with one or two which will come afterward. I try to keep my posts consistent, and will touch more than one point in this series of posts, because frankly my dear readers, this latest turn of events is by far, the thing that appalled me most in the last 3 years.

Definitions
fanboy = "Fanboy is a term used to describe any individual who is devoted to a single subject in an emotional or fanatical manner, or to a single point of view within that subject, often to the point where it is considered an obsession." ~wikipedia.org
critique = "to judge or discuss the merits and faults" ~dictionary.com
diplomacy = "skill in managing negotiations, handling people, etc., so that there is little or no ill will; tact" ~dictionary.com

Setting
So you know where I am coming from, I will provide a few links towards 2 youtube channels that have been the focus of my attention for the last day or so, and an article in last week's edition of The Escapist online magazine. The links are not suitable for work.

First of all I mention Hellsing920. http://www.youtube.com/user/He11sing920
This guy has been ranting out there for a while about different things. I've went through all of his videos and found them entertaining at least as well as some other good things that may vary from person to person, which I will not mention. The videos in question are related to The Dark Knight movie (Entitled "Fanboy Chronicles - The Dark Knight part 1 and 2 ")

Second it is lillylivers. http://www.youtube.com/user/lillylivers
This girl has also been out there for a while tossing messages with hellsing and others into the vast sea of bile, vomit and garbage that is the internet, and in particular, youtube. While I don't personally support the way she has argumented and concluded some of her rant and fanfucktardery videos ( ie "go die", "nobody likes you", "you will die alone", etc) the things that she actually points out are wrong with said communities are pretty much true. Also, the video about the Twilight series ( entitled "I think I have just trolled the twitards" ) is the thing that finally pushed me to write this.

The article is this: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_188/5741-Crazy-in-Love
It is an article on what fandom has brought to people and I must say that while reading only the article may give you an understanding on what I'm talking about, only following the links to the actual evidence that the author of the article brings forward, will you trully dip into the putrid swamps of fanboyism.

Brass Tacks
Those being said, let's start by differentiating fanboys and fandom. These two terms are extremely different. Because real fans, don't want to be mistaken with fanboys. Fans will say, "Hey, that movie is good, you should try it" whereas fanboys will say "THAT MOVIE IS GOD'S GIFT TO HUMANITY!!!!" and if you do not agree with them or, divinity forbid, challenge their belief with another movie and argument why it is better than said movie, you will find the discussion reduced at hitlerium, degrade into namecalling or degenerating into a fist fight, even when only women are concerned. I will elaborate on my last point later on.

Finally let us really start the discussion. If you read the links that Pat Miller provides in his article Crazy in Love, you will see some forum screen shots of people fantasizing about Sonic the hedgehog. Erotic fantasies of a furry. Now that in itself is something to behold and shock. I think that, if I was on the Sonic creator and maker team, and laid eyes on those boards... I would hang myself, only so I could twist in my grave. There is one person out there who claims to be Sonic's wife. And she doesn't stop there. "I would eat his vomit". If you look enough in the screen shots of the boards, and I think it is mentioned even in the main article, you will see that line. I will leave you, my dear readers, to formulate your own opinions on this phenomenon, I know I have, and to tell the truth, the sad thing is that people mistake these ... people... with actual fans. I say sure, if it makes you happy go right ahead, be batshit crazy. But when on the offshot that these people go outside and talk to a person and somehow Sonic comes up in the conversation, as is usually the case when someone is obsessive about something and they meet a new person, and in the chance that people say that they don't utterly adore the damn little hedgehog, you will see a pocket sized nuclear bomb go off. There will be screaming, shouting, name calling, cursing, slapping and even fist fights.

It is true, I have never seen such a thing in my life, however, I know where I live. And I know a group of people as fanatic in their beliefs, just as those people. I have probably mentioned manele before in my posts, if I haven't please leave a comment and I will expand on the subject there. I assume that any person saying that they do not particularly enjoy that type of music, or even dare to say that that type of music sucks, will get some sort of reaction close to the ones I have specified before. Again, I have not witnessed such a thing yet, however, I know the society I live in, and such a reaction, not only is in the realm of possibility, the probability of it happening are pretty high in normal circumstances. Because these people are comparable to US stree gangs. They don't know the meaning of "I'm minding my own business", and will often take any sort of opinion that diverges from their own as an assault.

There are 2 more concrete examples of these occurrences that I will elaborate, and they use the videos I named at the begining of the article.

First is Hellsing's rant and research that critics of The Dark Knight movie (the latest batman movie out there) which said that it was not that good, received threats to themselves, their lives, their families... for doing their job of criticizing a movie. Hellsing himself, if memory serves, had received from hate messages from viewers demanding that he review The Dark Knight. One of them out there actually bought him a copy after a video stating reasons as to why the review of it is 2 months late or something. I didn't remember the details, they were irrelevant.

The second is lillylivers' more shocking video concerning the Twilight series fanboys (remember, the definition is individual, and individual is gender lacking). Short video even shorter, she has had her arm broken, been slapped, her eye-ball gashed with a fake nail and a brick thrown at her head when exiting a book store, because she answered "No" when asked "Isn't Twilight the greatest series ever". Or that is what I understood from the videos. Now excuse my French but what the fuck is going on here? I know I have said that people don't read enough nowadays in a former post, but god fucking damn. These are not the middle ages and she didn't say she didn't like the bible for the love of Mike. If reading will get people to act like this, then stop the presses. Fuck reading. Let them fucking watch Survivor and Big Brother. Take the books away.

I will even be considerate of those more skeptical of you towards things found on youtube, and I will say, for the sake of argument, that lilly may or may not say the whole truth, or fabricating any of those events. My dear readers, if ANY of those events are true, it means that it probably happened again somewhere else. Maybe not the same event, maybe not as dramatic or even more dramatic, maybe even not related to the same bloody book, but it happened and will happen again. When a person cuts his own penis with a kitchen knife and fead it to his dogs (I shit you not, this was on the news a few years back), I can guarantee 100% that at least another man out there lost his penis by his own will and fed it to his dog, since the dawn of time, till now. Maybe it wasn't with a kitchen knife, maybe it wasn't actually fed to his dog but to a cat, a pet parrot, maybe it was cut by a farming tool, but it happened. Because people are good at hurting themselves and others in the most imaginative ways possible. If you don't believe me, look up the Spanish inquisition.

Will be continued
I will stop here for now, for it is already a long post and I have more material especially targeted to all the amateur (and I'm not using the word with a derogatory meaning) critics out there, as well as some other stuff related to how fans of different things might be able to tolerate each other a bit more.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The stigma of culture (II)

Continuing from where I left off the last time I posted. The continuing article is about music

The stigma of classical music
In my frantic search for music which helped me to study, I ran across an interesting site which offered radio classical music. After a while I started thinking about current generation music and how much it differs from what music was a few hundred years ago. More to the point, I was thinking of the upper class of music in those days, because frankly I can't imagine that the only kind of music was orchestra and opera. The participation at such a concert was regarded as status symbol as well as the mark of culture, or elevated education. I suspect that not many people aside from the upper middle class and high class were able to participate at these concerts and because of that, love for classical music was not as widespread.

However, the question that popped in my mind was a bit sudden. Why don't you hear about current generation famous classical music composers? Why are there no classical music concerts on MTV or other music broadcasting tv stations. I'll tell you why. Because the general society would classify those thins as either lame or beyond them. Surely, those who think that something is beyond deserve to have it beyond their grasp. What I don't understand is those who decide classical music is lame. We all know most human beings are as sheep, quick to follow anyone who expresses a strong enough point of view. And under that sudden conformism and peer pressure, even people who would have actually liked classical music will fall into the norm of not liking it, simply because his "friends" would not. Hence why the music stations both radio and tv (aside from those who are for the diehards of classical music) will never air a piece by Mozart played by the London Mozart players for example.

My father, when I asked him if he likes classical music, told me that to be able to enjoy classical music, you need to study the composer and try to think what he meant to say with that piece and I was left speechless. Do you, my dear readers, agree with him? Is it necessary to read about the piece and why the composer wrote it in order to enjoy the soothing sounds of the orchestra? Is studying musical history necessary to falling in love with the warm notes of a piano? Why am I, who never really pays attention to neither author nor title with most of the books or the songs I listen to, barred from being able to enjoy this sort of music? I opposed his idea and I still do.

But the most of my ire goes towards society. I don't think I can count on more than 2 hands the number of people I know (and note I say people I know not friends) who would not look at me funny if I were to invite them for an outing at a piano recital, and not because they hate the piano. How did this come? Why don't we hear more about current classical music composers who have created new masterpieces? Why do we hear more about Paris Hilton wanting to have a duet with Paul McCartney? Sure, you could tell me to go look at the sources who deal with this sort of thing, but this is of course my point. Why do I have to search so deep beneath the layers of information, if it actually exists, in the age of information, where a lot more useless crap is available for us to see right on the top?

In conclusion, I will look back on my previous statement of seeing Mozart on MTV, and realise that he would be twisting in his grave if he were to be placed next to Linkin Park, Britney Spears and Eminem. I know I would

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The stigma of culture (I)

Within the 2.1 decades that have compromised my life thus far, I was witness to some things that, when I look back upon them at this point in my life, make me recoil in disgust. I am not talking about the events of 9/11 or some other bloody struggle. Nor am I talking about some or other death or birth of a great thinker of our time.

The stigma of books
I, like some others out there, probably a bit too few out there have a passion for the written word. I, like even fewer out there, have a passion for reading philosophy. While I am unaware of my ability to actually do philosophy at a high enough level, the purpose of my reading it, is to better my knowledge and understanding of the world around. Take the new ideas I am confronted with, I run them through the spectrum of my principles and discard or adjust my principles depending on how much sense I believe the author is making. Even if I come to the conclusion that the author's ideas were misguided in any way or they do not end up as a ideology I will myself endorse, the experience of reading that book will remain and help my future arguments. The last statement I believe, or hope, is true for most of my brothers and sisters in books out there.

However, I said stigma in the title of this post and I will get to that soon. In my observations of the actions of those around me, I have come to the conclusion that, people in general dislike to read. Well... aside from the usual morning newspaper that most of us read either out of boredom, desire to have something to talk about with our colleges at work around the water cooler, or simply the desire to be informed. We all read ... a bit. However, the reason of my rant today, is the attitude children have towards their peers who have a passion for books. And more worrying these attitudes of .... I'm not even sure what to call them, but I will use oppression in lieu of a better word... have crossed over to the adult world.

"Say, I've noticed a certain anti-intellectualism going around this country man, ever since around 1980... Coincidentally enough... I was in Nashville Tennessee last week, and after the show I went to a waffle house. Right? I'm sitting there, I'm eating and I'm reading a book. I don't know anybody, I'm alone, and I'm reading a book. And this waitress comes over to me "Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk... What'cha readin' for?" Wow, I've never been asked that... Not 'What am I reading?'... but 'What am I reading ... for?' ... Well god damn it you stumped me.... I guess I read for a lot of reasons but the main one... is so I don't end up being a fucking waffle waitress. Yea... that'd be really high on the list... Then this trucker in the next booth gets up stands over me and goes "Well... looks like we got ourselves a readah"... What the fuck's going on here?" ~ Bill Hicks - Sane Man (1989).

So, if we are to believe Mr Hicks words, and we would add the social delay that occurs when things that happen in the western world approach the old soviet block countries we should expect this in the near future, or that it has already been happening. It is my belief that children are the way the future will look. If I remember correctly from my early years, the fact that you had a passion for reading (which in my childhood was not so developed as it is now, and I have to thank a few friends for opening my eyes and my desires to actually read) was looked down upon by most of the other children in your class, and other classes in general. This continued through high school, where most people, while a bit less intolerant to books, were more than happy to let the jesters of the class poke jokes about the few who wanted to reach higher reason. College was not as scrutinized as high school for I have attended less than was wise to, so an educated opinion can not be performed. However, I hold most of my current classmates in a bit of higher regard that those of my select highschool (and I don't use the term ironically).

So how is this possible? I was never educated to have any disdain for those who read, and with time, I actually came to admire then join the few who read more than the newspaper. Did parents then not teach children the value of books? Do parents now not teach children the value of books? Will we, when our turn to be parents, will we not teach our children the value of books? I am not saying that they are obliged to like it. I am saying at least respect those with the patience and determination to go through things they cannot do.

"The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history". ~ Carl Thomas Rowan

I will never understand intolerance, but intolerance to readers is something that simply does not make sense to me. Dear readers, am I overly sensitive about this? Are these observations of mine distorted, or mere exceptions, isolated events?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gays revisited

A while back... not that long, I have spoken about gays, and with some recent developments I am thrown to this topic yet again. Only this time I have disdain for both sides.

Let me start at the beginning. In a city called Cluj, in the immediate future, there will be a lesbian parade if I understood well. Now, of course this sparked the disapproval of the conservatives and certain religious groups, however one politician which I shall not name (cause I cannot remember his name, but I do remember his party) caught my eye. Said politician is a member of the Democrat Liberal party, and with such I was really surprised to see him against a parade, while saying that goes against the family values. Now, please excuse my French but what the fuck? I thought that line was used by conservatives and religious fanatics... Weren't liberals a little more forgiving? He said he does not have a problem with gays being gay, but has a problem with gays being so public about it, which made me think a bit.

Why do gays have parades? Now comes my disdain towards the gay community (again I will enforce that I have nothing against gays and I support them getting recognition, rights and so on and so forth). Blacks don't have parades, Asians don't have parades, nor any other kind of minority which was oppressed and abused once in the past and gained rights. They have been recognized more or less willingly by most of the EU and wheels of politics are in motion, working for them to obtain rights. In the past, these parades were used to remind the world that they are here, and they are not that few to be called mad or the exception from the rule. But with their recognition and the aforementioned politics in motion, what more are these parades going to accomplish? I say that democracy is the liberty to do as you please in the pursuit of personal happyness while not impeading other people's pursuit of personal happyness. While I do call the said politician a hoppocrit, I also call upon the gay community to be a bit more... should I say more... delicate to other people's sexual preference. It is somewhat extraordinary as how some recognised minorities themselves turn to racism or sexism or discrimination, and I find the turn of events as disgusting as I find them amusing.

There are no straight parades out there my dear gays. So why do you still, after all that's being done, still consider it necessary to do so? What I'm trying to say, is that the most you will accomplish by doing so, is to anger those who want to stand against you, without any sort of gain. So what is the point?

My dear and few readers, I may be ignorant of some things, I admit. My thumb is not as much on the pulse of the world as I claim to have it, but I call things as I see them. And I see excess on both sides. Am I asking too much when I ask for moderation?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Feminists and the opposing forces

Well, I am looking at western culture and society and am left wondering. I am left wondering whether the social problems that arose within the western societies will make its way towards us in the future. You might say I'm paranoid, that each society has its own problems, but I am starting to see a pattern. It happened with anti-religion in schools (not as potent as in western countries but still here, and I am quite for the removal of said symbols from classrooms) and to the latest thing, the gay couples rights. Now I am unsure whether or not these will follow a chronological order, but I am worried about feminists and the opposite side making their way here.

There was a time when women were not allowed to do some things, but in my opinions those times have passed. Sure, there will be no utopia concerning sexism. There will be a few men here and there who won't agree with the fact that there are women out there who can do better than a man on a particular man considered job, as well as there are always going to be a few women out there who will believe that there are men out there who can do better than a woman on a particular woman considered job. But those are extreme cases and their frequency will die out with the current generation and the next.

But again, that is not why I am worried. Physics say that with every action there will be a opposite and equally powerful reaction. As we seen, the feminist aftermath has given birth to a man driven group or groups to fight against it. Each have their own views, but for the record, I'm going to lump every pro-man thing in PM and pro-woman thing in PW. These two groups may have elements in common, but that would be just splitting hairs. I'm going for the big picture.

With all these groups fighting for their own goal of supremacy of either one sex or the other, I am beginning to think... when will it be enough? In how much time has passed since feminism and its retaliation group started, have neither of these groups achieved enough of their goals to get to a point where they can say "Hey, we can stop now. It's equilibrium. Let's keep things as they are and start working towards a better goal... like curing AIDS and Cancer". But no, neither of these groups are willing to leave up.

So I will as you dear readers, do you think sexism on either side, still exists? And if so... how frequent do you believe it is? Is it frequent enough to keep both groups working on it, or can they pack up their stuff and go home?

Games are for kids

I can't believe I have let this topic wait this long. And I will start it off with a confession. I am a gamer. I will define gamer as a person who spends a good portion of his or her free time and resources playing video games. I will also define kid, anyone under the age of 12. That being out of the way, I will also state that I won't touch only games but cartoons and animes as well. But let's get on to the topic.

Video Games
I've heard this a million times and it seems that even though the computer games industry is growing as well as the number of people playing video games, a lot of the people out there are under the mindset that computer games are for kids. I came to wonder how this statement stands these days. I mean, the clearest proof of the fact that there is no high end age limit to playing games, is the fact that there are non porn 18+ (or Mature) video games out there. That being said... how can kids, if you will allow me this time to lump in teenagers of all ages with kids, play that specific game.

I'll point out simulators first. Technology has advanced to the point where, with a bit of resources (meaning a joystick and/or steering wheel) you could get to having a pretty realistic experience. So how would you say that flying a plane or driving a car is kid's play when you have the realism to maximum? That argument falls right there. The best example for the simulation genre is Ubisoft's Silent Hunter series, in which you are given command of a World War 2 submarine on either axis or allied side. The part of it that's amazing is that in later games ( 3rd and 4th installment of the series are the ones that I had the pleasure of playing ) you could set the detail level so high, that you actually had to identify the ship yourself and calculate torpedo trajectory while taking care not to be detected. You can't honestly believe that this sort of things appeal to kids.

Again working the technology point, there are real-time / turn-based strategy games out there that are complex enough in both political maneuvers and military maneuvers that require a lot of high level planning and foresight. How can you tell me with a straight face that an average 11 year old is capable of such feats? Sure trial and error may reap the desire result after a while but only if said kid has to. There are really a few number of them out there that have the patience and forethought necessary to like such a thing. We all know kids want instant gratification, so this sort of game cannot be appealing to them, now can it?

After writing this first part I don't see that much of a strong case, but I hope that by the end you will get the meaning of my message.

Cartoons and Animes.
Moving on from the gaming industry to the movie industry, why are cartoons generally attributed to children? Sure, there is the mega-corporation named Disney that made cartoons since gods know when, but really now, how can so many people believe that a medium such as a drawing (which in effect is the basis behind the cartoon) be given such a disqualifying audience as that. Yes yes, children are the miracles of our world bullshit, but there is so much more to it than that. The cartoon industry can be so much greater, and I will take the opportunity to make a reference towards Japanese culture and their animes.

First of all I will argue that not all cartoons are targeted at children. I don't really realize how, anyone can say that The Flintstones or The Jetsons are cartoons targeted at children. Sure, they are funny and presented in an odd way, but if you think about it... most of the jokes are adult jokes. How can children relate to Wilma's doubt's that Fred is cheating on her, or the wives spending of the men's little money. How can children get those jokes? Those jokes are targeted at adults, because only after you passed through life a bit, can you get stereotypes like that embedded into your head. Only after you got the basics of adult life and adult doubts and problems can you understand why Fred and George still went to work even if they hated it, why Wilma had her doubts, why Fred and Barney always got pissed at how the women spent their money, why Wilma and Betty always complained that their husbands never took them out or the tragedy that Barney and Betty couldn't have a child. Don't tell me children can get the full meaning of those actions.

Sure, I will give out the fact that there are children's cartoons out there, and they are many more than the adult targeted ones mostly because of the success that Disney had and many other people wanted in on the money train. There was a niche to be had and people jumped at it. But most of them neglected the wider audience that is the adult market, and rightly so. There would be a huge market for adult cartoon industry (and I'm not talking about porn) if adults were going to lower their comfortable "cartoons are for kids" reason and actually watch a proper animated movie. Think of the money they would save on special effects, stunt people, locations, boats and so on, because with cartoons, all you need is animators and a few voice actors. Writers would not be constrained by the human body and possibilities. Their imaginations could run wild. Such stories could be written and portrayed. Alas, that won't happen in the near future. Sure it's begun, with things like Kung-Fu Panda... but it's too little.

Moving on to anime, I have a bit of a bone to pick with most of what's west and east of Japan. There's a preconception out there that anime equals, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon and Sailor Moon. Well... I'm sorry but I will have to burst that bubble. Anime, unlike cartoons for the western people, have gone over their "anime ar for kids" and targeted the whole of the population with their works. I'm not saying that many Japanese adults watch anime, I can't really say that for sure, since I haven't had a chance to talk to one in person, but I will say that there are animes out there targeted towards adults who are willing to drop their arrogance. Only one example is needed for this and it's called Ghost Hunt. By watching all of it's 24 episodes, I am convinced that it is by far, the best horror thing out there in the industry of viewing. But that's just a minor example really. There are really many many more good animes out there in a wide palette of genres, ranging from dama, fantasy, action, adventure, you name it. I dare to say it is as varied as the film industry, with a lot less known titles. Mostly because to the western world... animes are weird or for kids.

In conclusion
I know it's another long post but I will end it with a rant. Why is it derogatory for an adult to play games or, watch cartoons or animes? Sure, they are different than the mainstream of movies and tv series but when you draw the bottom line... what is the point of the "entertainment business"? Let me tell you. The point of the entertainment business - and I will lump here reading a book, watching a movie, playing a video game, watching an anime or cartoon, going to the theater, etc - is to provide us with an escape from our reality. An escape in which, for the few hours we can spare, we can watch or imagine our favorite characters going out and doing things we only can dream about. Watching situations that are most definitely never going to happen to us and for the most part, live with them. That is the purpose of the entertainment business. We all want a bit of time out of our lives to be able not to think about our own taxes, mortgage, work, money, boss, school, girlfriend, politics etc. And games, books, plays, movies, cartoons, animes... all of these serve the same purpose. To provide that escape we all need, and hopefully... bring a new viewpoint into our own lives.

I have unlocked the sands of time, conquered the world at the throne of Dacia (reference, Romanian history BC), survived a couple of world war 2s, commanded a submarine, piloted an F22 and a MIG 29, survived a zombie infestation more than once.

I have also been next to Romeo when he killed himself, I've helped Tyler Durden blow up buildings and rescued Victor Mancini from self induced choking and I've been held captive with Aleksandr Petrovich Goryanchikov in a Siberian prison camp.

And that's only off the top of my mind. What have you done?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fame

"Fame is the perfume of heroic deeds." ~Socrates

I start this post as my own personal cry to the wide world that fame has become something awful. My opening statement, the quotation from Socrates, showed the true and pure meaning of fame. However, it is my belief that if he saw what fame is today, he would change that quote immediately. I am not saying that his quote should be wrong. I'm saying that what fame is in these times, is a sad, molested, and diseased image of its former self.

In the ancient times in order to become famous throughout the country, you needed to be a great leader of men, a great politician, a sculptor, a writer... anything which gave birth to the enrichment of human culture and society. (politicians are exempt from that class, considering they were sharks before lawyers).

The reason I am writing this is rather simple really. I know way fewer positive examples of fame than negative examples of fame, and with the latter, I will say why exactly today's fame has become the bastard child of stupid and yesterday's fame.

So I will go first with a Romanian abomination. This woman goes by the name of Magda Ciumac. Her story... which I stress is not even hers ...begins with the famous unsolved disappearance case of Elodia ( a woman who i won't go into many details. I will only state that this case held front page of the newspapers for half a year ). So Magda decides a few days before the divorce with her husband (a k1 fighter aka monkey) to say that he admitted to her to have "arranged" (read, kill) Elodia. So... obviously she was invited to talk shows and gathered some fame on that thing alone. Now this person walks around being called "famous" but there are a few undeniable facts about her. She's stupid... there's no doubt about that... she's ugly... you need only look at her... and she can't do anything.

So why exactly is she famous? Because she profited on the desire of the public for stupid behavior. It doesn't matter that she spews out stupid without even talking, as long as she attacks someone or does something to entertain the masses and have something to talk about. It is really sad that people like this get recognition and National Mathematics Olympics get like 200 Euros if even that and no sort of recognition whatsoever. Really now, has society degenerated so much that we do not appreciate people with talent? Or are there really so few talented people out there that we need people like this to keep our headlines every day? Are there no other things happening in the world aside from this idiot's doings?

Anyway, the next is a British person much like Magda. Kinga Karolczak.
"Well Kinga... she's famous because in front of 56 cameras on national television, she shoved a wine bottle up her vagina. What do her parents think? When the neighbors came around the next day and say:
' Saw your Kinga on the telly the other nigh.'
' Oh yea? What was she up to? '
' She was up to the fucking label '" ~Ricky Gervais, Fame Live in London 2006

I think that quote says most of what I wanted to prove with her example. There are many others such as this. I think Paris Hilton already a given... Britney Spears is also one of them since she stopped actually singing... she did that well for a while (not in my opinion but still the vast amounts of wealth means that at least some people thought she was doing alright) and many many more.

I wish it would be like Horace Greeley said "Fame usually comes to those who are thinking of something else."

Fame has become a target. Fame is not something that needs to be gained with "heroic deeds". It's something to be gained by being stupid. It's hell of a lot easier. Who needs the splitting of the atom when I can shove a wine bottle up my vagina... figuratively speaking. And the ones responsible for this... the ones that are encouraging people to become famous by being stupid, is you... the public. And me for writing in this post about them. I wonder if ever, we as consumers will wisen up and demand quality out of our news. Will we ever rise up to these bastards that feed us all this crap, bile and garbage they call news or celebrities and in the end espect us to pay for this kind of products. Will we ever be unsatisfied with mediocrity, banality, conformity and sub par standards. Are we as the human race, that bent of cultural self mutilation?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Morality... and lack thereof

Initially I wanted to do a bit on fame, but concerning a few recent events in my life and of the general world I will rant on morality.

Prelude. Definitions ~dictionary.com
Morality –noun,
1. conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct.
2. moral quality or character.
3. virtue in sexual matters; chastity.
4. a doctrine or system of morals.
5. moral instruction; a moral lesson, precept, discourse, or utterance.

Main body
So, "Why morality?" you would ask. Well the answer is simple. It has long been my creed to follow a personal moral code, a code of principles I adhere to as, please excuse the pun, religiously as I can. This article, or if you will allow me the gall to say "lecture", is more towards the separation between religious morality, social morality and personal morality.

Here's my theory. You see, there was a time, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, and men and women thought natural leaves were fashionable. At that time and place, people were savages. They thought nothing was wrong in killing, stealing and all the other stuff animals normally do. After seeing how annoying this is to most people (because nobody would actually hunt and in that case, there would be no food for others to steal), someone had the bright idea to invent laws. Sure, that worked for a while, because people were afraid of the punishments that came after being discovered. But then, the human nature kicked in, and people devised methods of not being caught. Sure, less people stole now, but still, a considerable amount. Then, one or more bright men had the idea of creating the world's greatest lie in order to save humanity from starvation and in essence, self destruction.

Gods. Any type of gods. Most of the religions have one sort or other of afterlife in which you get rewarded for being a "good" person in your lifetime (I use "good" in the loose term of the word. It applies to whatever religion thought was good). Some of them even have the "Be good and you'll be reborn something awesome. Be bad and you'll be reborn a spider, or a toad or a worm.". But this lie, this elaborate millenniums old hoax caught up so badly, mostly because people did not want to be held responsible for their mistakes or shortcomings. Most people simply needed someone to blame for their troubles, explain the unexplained and more importantly give them a reason for existence. Sure, there are those people who thank their "gods" for both the good and the bad things that happen to them, and I truly respect those people, because it takes a great amount of faith in order to throw your own hard worked accomplishments at the feet of a benevolent deity along with your misfortunes.

But by now you would be asking yourself, "Sure, that's all fine and dandy, but what does that have to do with morality?". I'll be getting to that right now

Many forms of aforementioned prehistoric hoax exist and are evident today in their most evolved and complex forms. As humanity evolved so did the hoax and with it came all sorts of notions which were used to make humans feel above their peers. Many if not all had faith. So how do you differentiate, physically between two individuals of the same faith and in its extended definition to other faiths? Out comes morality, like a stripper out of a big cake at a bachelor party. So, here is this new notion that allows us to differentiate between people, but with no notion of how to implement it, people searched for the answers. So they looked in the most obvious place possible. Not the laws of the state, obviously, because, states are a worldly creation and we all know divinity > man. So they copied what their religion, which by now was a complex hoax with a shitload of added content that was unnecessary to fulfill its primordial task and copy/pasted those into a "moral code", and tried to apply this code to people of other faith.

So finally we get to the matter at hand. Morality. Should we have it. If yes, why. And after why how do we define it considering the wall of text from above. From now on it's an IF - THEN - ELSE logical structure which all human beings, in my opinion, should adhere to.

Religious morality.
IF - You are religious.
THEN - Apply this at the outermost layer of your moral code. GO TO social morality.
ELSE - GO TO social morality.

Religious morality, as its name suggests is the moral code of conduct your religion dictates. Considering the number of religions in existence, as well as lack of religions in some cases, this should not be applied as a social moral.

Social morality.
IF - You are part of a society (the answer to this is most definitely yes)
THEN - Apply this at the in between layer of your moral code. Change in accordance to the society you live in.
ELSE - You will be persecuted.

I define social morality as a code of conduct within a special society, such as a nation. Considering a nation is a place where more than one religious groups of people meet, it is obvious that social moral codes should be considerate of those that do not share the same religious beliefs.
In a perfect world, this code should not change even if you change the society you are in, and also in a perfect world it would be equivalent with the nation's laws (again assuming that the nation's laws are perfect).

Personal morality.
IF - You are a human being (and I stress human being - this does not apply to aliens or other things )
THEN - HAVE ONE, and apply it to the innermost of your moral code and live by it.
ELSE - TRY AND MAKE ONE!

Okay, now, by my stance in the passage above you probably guessed that I feel very strongly concerning personal morality. This is something special. This is something personal. This should be something that is well thought of beforehand. But most importantly this MUST NOT BE APPLIED TO ANYONE ELSE BUT YOU. Personal morality, in my opinion, should consist of answers to the questions "Would I like that to be done to me?".

1. Would I like someone else to steal from me?
NO. Then I won't steal.

2. Would I like someone to lie to me?
NO. Then I won't lie.

3. Would I like someone to give me the chair in a bus if I am old?
YES. Then while I'm young I will give old people my chair.

The list goes on. While there are a plethora of such questions in existence today the personal moral code should answer to the most common, as well as things that you personally feel strongly about. I will take my own personal moral code as an example further.

4. Would I like someone to impose their religion on me?
NO. Then I won't impose my lack of religion on them.

5. Would I like someone to steal my girlfriend?
NO. Then I won't steal someone's girlfriend.

6. Would I like to be betrayed by my friends?
NO. Then I won't betray my friends.

7. WOULD I LIKE TO HAVE SOMEONE'S PERSONAL CODE IMPOSED ON ME?
NO. Then I won't impose mine.

Again, the list can go on a bit more, but that would loose the point of this lecture.

So, towards the end I would like to point out some things.
First of all, I will point out a relationship between these three types of moralities. First of all, religious morality cannot be changed. That is generated by your religion and even then you apply that layer only if you want to, with no repercussions "in this life". Still concerning religious morality, it should NOT be used to create social morality.
Secondly, social morality, should be independently thought out by a group of open-minded people that are willing to listen to the needs of all the people (Yes, I mean perfectly honest politicians. I am aware that these are a myth but still. This is a lecture, not a reality portrait.).
Finally, personal morality should be thought by oneself. It should contain, as an axiom, respect the social morality of the society you are in (again, I remind you that I am working with a perfect scenario of social morality).

So, where exactly am I trying to go with this. The message is simple. It's actually not even a sentence.

THINK
Think about anything, think about everything, but just think. Use that brain you evolved over the eons. Think for yourself. Think!

QUESTION.
What if...? Why...? When...? How...?. These questions should be asked every time you encounter new information.

Create your own damn personal moral code. Don't let others do the thinking. If you are reading this and are understanding what I am trying to say, you have the capacity to think for yourself. It doesn't matter whether you agree or not. You can think. Create your own moral code, and then stick by it. Don't let it go. Don't compromise. It is your core fundamental belief, and renouncing it would be like loosing your identity. Because if you follwo the steps at creating morality as I said, you will see that no combination of Religious + Social + Personal morality will ever give the same results.

It is my honest belief, that if the leaders of our societies used this "template" in creating their own moral code, scientists would not have been burned in the middle ages for being ahead of their time, gays would not be persecuted and allowed to marry, women would not be so pissed off at men, the crusades would not have happened, nor the holocaust, racial persecution would not have existed and so much more. And finally the argument that "It's not moral" would have a lot more weight than it does now. Because if the rules I stated above would be followed, morality would only be applied when it would be equivalent with the laws of the society.

If you've read until now, might as well go on for the record. This is the final idea.
I know what I said above cannot be applied in reality. The three types of morality are not a standard, and I am unsure if there is a philosophical school of thought that says something like this. If there isn't the more inapplicable this idea is. So now, you thought about your morality and have build your moral code as I lectured, but are unable to use it (I assume as much). So what exactly do you do? How do you build the social morality considering it isn't equivalent with the laws of your nation. Well... extend your personal morality to overlap the social morality, loosing on the way things that concern sexual orientation, religion, or any other things that can vary from person to person.

Again an example. I will assume the following Personal Morality.

PM = { 1. Do not steal. 2. Do not curse. 3. Do not use the lord's name in vain. 4. Do not have sex with sheep. 5. Do not walk naked on the streets. 6. Do not have sex with peopel of the same sex. 7. Do not kill. 8. Do not rape.}

We extend this morality and create the following Social Morality.

SM = {
1. Do not steal. 5. Do not walk naked on the streets. 7. Do not kill. 8. Do not rape. }

You will observe that the resulting SM will have only illegal things in most countries.

Epilogue
With that I believe I treated all the cases that might arise in constructing a moral code. What you do with this information, is up to you dear reader. I have no funny quotes to end this with. I'm sorry. I also want to apologize for the length of this post. Not exactly a 5 minute read.



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pro-life

Well, hello again. It's a late hour again and I'm all fueled up for a new rant. Well... not really but can't think of anything else to do, and this was the remaining on my short list. So here we go.

Prologue
Definitions ~ urbandictionary.com
Pro-life
A political stance characterized by the belief that abortions constitute murder. Currently, America has legal abortions available to those who want and can afford them. Persons of the pro-life platform wish for abortion to be illegal.

Pro-choice
A political view that believes that abortion should continue to be legal and accessible. Pro-choice is not necessarily pro-abortion, but merely being in support of a woman's having the option available. People who follow this view would not necessarily opt for abortion themselves, but do not wish to deny others the option.
Pro-choice is not an antithesis to pro-life; while the pro-life view would force women to give birth, pro-choice would not force them to abort.

Main body
Considering my last post, there was a part that I omitted considering it would have doubled the length of the post and, even then it would not let me express my thoughts completely on this matter. The resolution which invites member states to standardize the laws concerning "gay" marriages also invites member states to standardize the laws concerning abortion (the greatest impact of this would be felt in the states where abortion is illegal).

So this rant tonight is directed at those people who call themselves pro-life (the second group of people protesting this resolution, the first one being pro-family, which I tackled last night). So, what exactly is pro-life. As the definition states, pro-life is an ideology which states that abortion is murder. Let's get to the bottom of that bean basket and ask the question. Why? It's a bunch of cells. How is removing a bunch of cells murder?

Let me refresh your memory with a hit from a dictionary.
murder (noun) = The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice.

So you define murder by killing a human. How can you call a human something which lacks the basic thing that a human has, which is self-awareness. It's like killing bacteria at that point. That is why it is illegal to abort after 3 months (I believe was the legal limit). Because at that point, it is not a bunch of cells any more. If you're interested in the medical stuff go right ahead and use google.

So, who exactly is pro-life? Well, let's get started by simply stating that you will find most people of said political movement, to be also deeply religious people. The "We consider it to be murder" is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to mask their "Only God has the right to take a human life". If they are not deeply religious, they will usually argue, "But what if that child will have the cure for cancer?". Well... we don't know do we... but what are the chances of that? If we go further down this path we will get in one of those useless moralist debates, "Are x number of lives destroyed justifiable order to save y number of lives?". I don't want to get into that. If you don't know how we could get to one of those comment and I'll explain in length. Also, you will do well to consider that a pro-life person will never ever be a single trailer-park mother with 9 children, of which I name "pizza-delivery-boy jr", "garbage-man jr", "cable-guy jr", "drunken-night jr", living off of the children's allowance. You will see these self righteous snobs coming from small middle-class families or higher, maybe one or two children and old parents. Why? Because it is so much easier to dictate how other people should live their lives as long as it does not influence them in any way. Sure, there are exceptions, but they are so few and far between, you might as well write them off as errors.

Another group of people who are pro-life, are politicians. But we all know most of these bastards would sell their own mothers to get votes, so you can see why I'm not going to go out of my way to detail their motives.

I wanted to say a bit more about why not to be pro-life, but then I remembered why I wanted to write this article in the first place. You could call it, my tribute to a great man who died way too early. So I will let his words bring the essence of my argument.

"We're pro-life." What does that make me? If you're so pro life, do me a fucking favor. Don't block med-clinics. Okay? Lock arms and block cemeteries. Let's see how fucking commited you are to this premise. "She can't come in". "She was 96, she was hit by a bus." "There's options." "What, are we going to have her stuffed? What are you talking about? She's dead." "We're pro-life, get her out of that casket, get her out. She's not going. We're pro-life people. There will be no more death on this planet." ... Here's my actual theory. Here's my real theory. If you're so pro-life and so pro-child then adopt one that's already here, that's very unwanted and very alone, and needs someone to take care of it, in order to get it out of a horrible situation. People say "Why don't you do that?". And I say, cause I hate fucking kids and couldn't care less. I couldn't give a fuck. I don't care at all about abortion. It's your choice. Case closed. The end. Bottom line. And by the way, a 3 month year old kid in your belly is not a fucking human being. Okay? It's just a bunch of congregated cells. You're not a human being, until you're in my phone-book. ~Bill Hicks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gays

Prologue has two parts tonight.
Part 1. Definition. In this blog post I will use the term gay in lieu of homosexual. It's shorter.
Part 2. Personal opinion. I have nothing against gays. As long as they respect my freedom to be straight and marry a person of the opposite sex, I respect their freedom to be gay and marry a person of the same sex. I don't care about children, but despite that, I am a firm believer that good parenting and not the parent's sex is responsible for bringing up a child.

Main topic.
Well, a few days ago (don't know exactly when) the EU (European Union), suggested that Romania legalities or, should I say, recognizes same sex marriages. This caused some major protests from different organizations such as the Romanian Orthodox Church (duh), AFR (Alianta Familiilor din Romania – in English “Families Alliance of Romania”) and some more conservative politicians. AFR, went so far as to write an open letter to the European Parliament.

The leader of aforementione organization Petre Costea said “Prin aceasta actiune ne exprimam profunda ingrijorare fata de incercarile Consiliului Europei de a aproba o rezolutie cu privire la recunoasterea casatoriei intre persoane de acelasi sex in toate cele 47 de state membre ale Consiliului Europei” ( in English - „With this action we hope to express our deepest concern towards the attempts of the European Council to validate a resolution concerning the recognition of same sex marriages within all the 47 member states of the European Council”). The same man also states “Credem ca APCE isi depaseste atributiile si stabileste un precedent periculos, alarmant si ingrijorator. Familia si casatoria trebuie protejate, intrucat sunt institutii concepute a asigura supravietuirea societatii si perpetuarea speciei umane prin procreere si prin cresterea si educarea copiilor. Relatiile homosexuale, uniunile civile sau casatoriile homosexuale nu indeplinesc nici una din aceste nevoi si prin natura lor sunt incapabile a satisface aceste obiective” (in English – We believe that APCE { read European Parliament Council Gathering – not really sure of this thing... if you're really interested in this check it out and let me know} is overstepping its attributes and by doing so, it creates a dangerous, alarming and worrying precedent. Marriage and family need to be protected, as they are institutions conceived for the survival of society and the perpetuation of the human race through breeding and raising and educating children. Homosexual relationships, civil unions or homosexual marriages do not fulfill any of these necessities and through their very nature are incapable of satisfying these objectives.”) ~Quotations taken from http://tinyurl.com/7n925a (don't worry it's not a virus).

Now onto the discussion. Gay marriages have always been a touchy subject in many countries. But the guy's attitude towards this subject I am sure is shared by many. So I will demolish his speech one argument at a time.

Well, first of all, the APCE is saying it will “recommend” that we recognize same sex marriages. The law will have to pass through the normal channels in order to be promulgated. So no worries there. Why write to the EU when you have other retarded politicians here who share your views.

Secondly, family and marriage are not necessary for the perpetuation of the human species. I will take the most obvious counter example to the man's statement. Animals. They don't have neither families nor marriages in the human sense of the thing. Penguins are the only ones to my knowledge that pick a partner and mate for life. Aside from those, the right to reproduce when the reproductive season starts, comes to the strongest. They fight till they can't fight no more for that basic right and through that they assure that only the strongest genes pass on. I'm by no means an master race believer, but surely, you can see where his argument fails. If human species perpetuation is your flaming problem, then surely you would have to be against marriages in genera, because it limits the available genes.

Third. Same sex marriages cannot cater to the raising and education of children. WHAT? Well... god damn it, I didn't notice that the world was a perfect place until gays came along and raised bad children. That was the problem. Now we can tell them they can't marry and raise children and all our problems will be over. The sex of the parents that raised the child has no bearing on what the child will evolve into unless other ignorant parents educate their kids that being gay will get you into hell. That is the only thing that gay couple children need to fear. Bullying at school, in the early stages of life. After that, people would mature.

Epilogue
So you see, I am for the UE resolution that all countries legalize same sex marriages. Hell, I am for legalizing same sex marriages. I am against using religion as a reason to stop some people from pursuing their own happiness as long as it does not interfere with other people's pursuit of happiness. And furthermore Mr Politician, this is not the first time this has been discussed. The same sex marriages topic has been discussed in more advanced cultures than our own. Look at those discussions and if you think you can bring something that they missed (which I heavily doubt considering you spend most of your time in parliament mostly napping, reading a newspaper or playing solitare on your laptop) by all means. Romanian society needs to grow up. And it's not the only one.

On the funny side of things, here's a new perspective for all you men out there. This could be transposed to women in some cases.

I told him, "We're all gay, man. It's just to what extent are you gay." He says, "That's bullshit, man, I ain't gay at all!" I said, "Yes, you are and I'll prove it." He says, "Fine, prove it." I said to him, "All right- do you like porn?" He says, "Yeah, I love porn, you know that." I said, "Do you only watch two women doing it?" He said, "Naw, I'll watch a man and a woman make love." I said, "OK, do you want the guy to have a tiny, half-flaccid penis?" He said, "Naw, man, I like big, hard, throbbing co- (stunned pause) I did not know that about myself." ~Ron White, You can't fix stupid

National Redemption Cathedral

As a prologue to this post I will tell you something about myself. I am a convinced atheist. Yes, drop the oh my gods, and servant of Satan (yes, I had people call me this after I said I was an atheist. If I don't believe in God, I obviously do not believe in Satan either) bullshit right now, or stop reading this post. Wait for another. Religion, any kind of religion, does not satisfy me. If I was to pick one, I'd pick Wicca religion, because of the cool spells they have, but I've watched a video of one of their rituals which was so damn embarrassing I had to quickly turn it off. Still, I would prefer the moody mother nature against the benevolent omnipotent god that does nothing aside give out punishments only after we're dead. There are more philosophical reasons to my decision, but I will let them for a longer more prominent post on religion, I'm saving for later.

So, let's start with the National Redemption Cathedral.
"Construction on the National Redemption Cathedral will begin on the 27th of April, after the Easter festivities, says the Romanian Patriarchy.
According to estimates, the constructions will take 4 years without finishing touches. The capacity of the building will be of 5000 people, almost 5 times more than the current Patriarchal Cathedral.
...
The costs for the construction of the new Cathedral will reach 400 million Euro, of which half will go to the actual construction and half will go to the finishing touches, painting and decorating the building." ~ Adevarul de seara (Romanian newspaper. translated, goes "The truth of tonight")

On first glance one might say. Okay what's wrong about that?. Well... if you've asked that question, you've not thought about this fully yet.

The question on my mind after reading the full article, was "Who is going to pay for this."
The Orthodox Romanian Church does not have those funds. I know. I am absolutely sure about that. There are national treasures in the form of churches in the north of the country that have been waiting for renovations for at least 10 years now, but could not be started, or completed because the money ran out. So... where's the money coming from? Donations? I think not. It's impossible. There is no way that amount can be raised by donations in this country, and to tell the truth, I think that is true for most other countries as well. So, the church doesn't have the money, the population doesn't have the physical money... the only option left is the state.

Now we open a completely different box of total crap of which kind we can only find here.

400 million Euro is a bit much for this country. Even for the state. If the state will be paying for this, which, I'm assuming it will, considering there's no other place this money can come from, in the best case scenario is 50 mil Euro per year (considering half is the building and the rest is for decorations 200mil/4year = 50 mil/year). I'm going to start with the less impacted population class. The non-orthodox people. As an estimate, I'd say orthodox is the major religion in Romania leading with 86.7%. So the rest would have no benefit whatsoever of the current construction. I as a non-orthodox, (yes atheists get here as well) am not pleased having my tax money spent on that humongous waste of money. I will never go to church from today forward, nor will I ever visit that place. Now that we got that out of the way, there are two more arguments I have against the state paying for this.

Argument #1 and probably the most obvious by now. Couldn't that money be spent elsewhere. Think of all the homeless shelters, orphanages, hospitals that can be built or renovated with 400 million Euro. And if they found 50 mil Euro per year for 4 years, I bet they could find for more than four years. There are teachers striking almost every year, because of the shoestring salaries they get. Doctors as well. Don't they deserve the money more? What would you prefer. Giving your children better education and health care or building a humongous piece of crap you'll probably visit only 3~4 times a year. If you've answered the latter, please don't read my blog ever again. You're beyond salvation.

Argument #2 and with a political implication here. I thought it normal that religion has to be separated from the state, in a democratic environment. We are not in the flaming middle ages when the church had almost the same power as the king or even greater. So, why exactly is the state paying for this? What will it get in return. Will they pay a humongous rent to justify spending all that money? They probably won't. You'd loose all your popularity if you're going to ask the church to pay rent. 86.7% are orthodox. Remember that.

So where exactly are we, dear readers, at the end of this long blog post. Well.. we're nowhere. You are in front of your computer either thinking "That sucks man, your government .... " , "You are so going to hell....", "I never thought of it that way....", and I'm wondering if most of my compatriots will ever get past the nationalistic+religious stiffy they got from "actively" contributing to their nation's religious salvation. Again, I'm assuming that the state is going to pay for this monstrosity and not donors or the church. I ruled those out, earlier, but hey, maybe Romanian people are more wealthy than I know.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Subway Etiquette

This has been nagging at me for a while now. As a frequent (read daily) rider of the subway, I have come to notice some things that really really piss me off. In a (futile) effort to give people some pointers as to how to behave in the subway, I have compiled this list of things that should and should not be done in subways. The list is numbered, but when I was writing this, I did not compile which pissed me off the most or the less.

1. DO NOT LISTEN TO MUSIC ON SPEAKERS.
I'm referring here to any sort of speaker. Phone speakers, stereos, laptops, home-cinema systems, I don't care. It is disturbing the other passengers. Be aware that not everyone appreciates your type of music and leave us the fuck alone. Especially if your particular style of music is copied from a Turkish type of music and prides itself on copying rhythms from other songs (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're probably not Romanian. "Manele" is the term. If you have a burning desire to hear this horrible piece of shit, just go on youtube and search for "Nicolae Guta")

2. LET PEOPLE GET OFF THE TRAIN.
Well, considering #1 which relates to current technology and people have not accustomed to the etiquette of such technology (I'm bullshitting here making false hopes that society will realize how annoying that is) this one should be fucking obvious by now. I'm sick of people sitting in front of the door while a trainfull of people need to get down. Really there is no need to sit there. You could sit 2 cm to the left or right, but please, not in the fucking middle. What's that, someone would get the free chairs and you won't have where to sit? Well I'm sorry to hear that, but just because other people are asses doesn't really mean that you have to... right? I mean... come on. I have to get down. The train won't leave without you, and your feet won't break if you go 4 or 5 stations standing. If you go further than that you'll probably have a chair by the end. This leads me to #3.

3. OLD PEOPLE, STOP STAMPEEDING ON PEOPLE TO GET TO A FREE CHAIR
This one is pretty straightforawrd. Not once have I laughed at the wrestling matches between old hags trying to get on the train or bus. Very funny. Never degenerates into a brawl. That would even more fun to watch. Leads me to #4.

4. OLD PEOPLE PLEASE STOP MAKING A SCENE.
Well... there's a saying in the "old people world" which goes like "Youth today... why back in my day... bla bla bla". Let me be as clear as possible. Ready? I. DON'T. CARE! Not only don't I care, but neither does the piece of crap younger person, who you're making a scene to. There are a few scenarios here so I'm going to walk you through them.

Scenario 1. Old person stands patiently beside the chair of a young person while younger person sits and doesn't give the chair. At this point, the older person has 2 options. Cause a scene and not cause a scene. Cause a scene is simple. Start your monologue with "youth today" and have another friend help. It works very well at disturbing the rest of the passengers. Please. DON'T DO THIS, unless it's a medical emergency. Option 2 is curse the fucker in your head and critisize his behaviour in your head but DON'T cause a scene.

Scenario 2. Old person gets on and goes to the closest chair, and drops his groceries in the sitting person's lap. I can't even say how wrong this is. Figure it out yourselves.

Scenario 3. Young person gets up, gives you a seat and you go on a fit for some reason or another you didn't like the way he gave you his seat. This is not only disrespectful to the person who wanted to do you some good, but disturbs the rest of the passengers with your rant on "Seat giving etiquette". You ungrateful bastards.

This is a short list of things I've heard or have happened to me. There surely are a lot of other things happening out there, cause as you know, life beats fiction.

5. DON'T PICKPOCKET, FEEL GIRLS/GUYS UP
Self explanatory.

6. CLOSING DOOR ETIQUETTE
Yes. I've seen some things that made me write this part.

#1 The train was packed. At the end of the line of people who wanted to get on, there was this big fat dude. The door closing audio warning was heard. The dude literally stepped back 2 steps, and ran into the crowd of people in front of him, getting them ALL in the already overpacked train. You can imagine how that is bad. I wish I could slap that dude silly, but I would probably hurt myself more than hurt that lump of blubber. Well... I could have hit him in the nads....

#2 Old person was taking her time. She had an umbrella. I was sitting near the door. The train was almost empty. The door closing warning message was heard. She was walking way too slow (I think on purpose) so I thought she wouldn't get on. Just as the door was closing, she proceeded to extending the umbrella in between the almost closed doors. My mouth was hanging. The doors automatically opened, and she got on at her own pace. And they say the youth today has no manners. What the fuck!

7. DON'T EAT
Well, this is a bit odd, but I'm going to specify some things. Some of the peasants (I'm using this as a derogatory term) that live in my country, find it good manners to eat roasted sunflower seeds on the street. Well, I could excuse that, but I still don't enjoy the site, the subway station and subway train in general, is another story. Not once have I been witness to an asshole dropping the seed peels (I don't know another term for it) on the train floor, which looked simply filthy. And after a while it starts to stink. Do we really need another stink to the already stinking trains? Sweat, booze and bad perfume is enough. This brings me to #8.

8. DON'T LITTER
Again you would think this is rather obvious. It's not.

9. COUPLES, TRY TO ABSTAIN FROM LIKCING YOURSELVES IN THE MOUTH.
A polite peck here and there is OK, but long french kissing seeions followed by groping and other things such as that, is disturbing. Hand, in your lover's pants in a definite no no.

Now, really. Are these things so difficult to grasp. Do we, as people need to have an attitude that screams "As long as it's not mine I don't give a rat's ass.". What irks me even more, especially in regards with the littering, is the fact that these people go and complain afterwards that "Bucharest is a dirty city". Well no fucking shit Einstein. Whose fault is that?