Saturday, February 11, 2006

Gag Me With A U.S. Military-Issued Spoon

From the Corner on National Review Online:

Has anyone seen, does anyone know of, a movie depicting the war we are in now, the fight against the barbarians? We've had movies about the first Gulf war, and a morally ambiguous fiction about something or somewhere called Syriana--but anything about our over-four- year- old fight for civilization against the Islamist barbarians, based on fact? Anything? Anyone?

Is he kidding?

Please, tell me he's kidding.

It's not enough that our troops are fighting and dying in Iraq? Now you want to be able to pay ten bucks to sit in the comfort of a reclining theater-seat with a tub of popcorn and a vat of cherry coke and vicariously get off on fictional recreations of war?

Isn't there, like, a REAL war going on....right now?

Comments like these make me sick. They also reinforce my opinion that the gung-ho supporters of the war in Iraq have no conception of what war actually means. They want to be entertained by it. It's a big, fun, video-game/action movie to them.

People like Mr. Bennett make a big show out of "Supporting the Troops," but what does that actually mean? Does it mean that Bennett's fighting for more armor for our troops? Does it mean that he's demanding at least a loose time-table for bringing our troops home?

No, apparently it means that he wants to watch stuff blow up real good. And he wants to see "the Barbarians" get what's comin' to 'em. I have no idea whether Bennett's ever fought in a war, though he's certainly served his country in the political arena. But his website gives no indication that he's ever seen combat. Again, though, this seems par for the course. It's the people who aren't fighting that seem to want to glorify this conflict the most.

I'm an outspoken and unequivocal critic of our justifications for invading Iraq. I think we made horrible miscalculations, questionable decisions, and continue to do so even today. I don't question the necessity of regime-change in the middle east, but I object to the way in which we've handled this so far. It's been, for lack of a better term, piss-poor.

But....

Y'know who I respect more than most people on this earth? Soldiers. They do a job I can't imagine doing. They do it selflessly; accepting a pitiful pay-check, increasingly shrinking benefits, the constant promise of maritial infidelity while they're away, and shifting public opinion. They're Big Damn Heroes, of the First Fucking Degree.

Instead of bemoaning the lack of bloody, cinematic entertainment - featuring actors who earn more in a week than our soldiers earn in a year, playing people who they cannot begin to possibly understand, because they live their lives in a world where selfishness is king - why not spend that ten bucks on some freakin' BODY ARMOR, Bennett.

What's more important? Movies, or our soldiers' lives?

Longing for a filmed recreation of our current war seems to me to be a longing to be comforted by the relative black-and-white world of the movies - where the good guys always win and the Barbarians are defeated. In other words, fantasy.

Bennett doesn't want a movie about Iraq. At least, not an accurate movie. Because that film would be just as "morally ambiguous" as Syriana, if told honestly. What Bennett wants is Saving Private Ryan in Baghdad. In other words, fiction.

If Ridley Scott shot a film on this war and included scenes of civilian Iraqis being bombed, or our military allowing for the looting of Muslim holy places, or of the vast and inarguable incompetence that was, and is, our nation's "plan for war," or of soldiers who die for no other reason than their own country's failure to adequately or reasonably protect them, would Bennett be happy? I don't believe he would. Not even if these scenes were a relatively-small portion of a movie dedicated to glorifying our efforts.

I hadn't meant to unleash this much venom. I'm sure Mr. Bennett believes he really is "supporting the troops" by asking these sorts of questions. But it's absurd, self-deceptive, and unrealistic to argue that spending between 40 and 100 million dollars on a film (not including marketinb, of course) is in any way supporting them. Send your ten bucks to Iraq, Bennett.

Grrrrrrr.

(heads-up, courtesy of alicublog)

Friday, February 10, 2006

What A Dick Move

Vice President Cheney has admitted he told his Chief of Staff to leak classified information on the Iraq war.

Why isn't he being targeted by the Prosecution again?

Animated Discussion

There's been some snickering on the 'net lately over the "conservative" comic-strip, Day by Day, written and illustrated by Chris Muir. Apparently, Mr. Muir did a strip this week where a black man complained about how, even at Mrs. King's funeral, the Democrats were attempting to divide us.

Here's the cartoon:



The problem? Mr. Muir is white.

Now, there's a certain irony in a white, conservative cartoonist using a fictional black conservative character to voice this. Most of that irony comes from the fact that there aren't many black conservatives who aren't cartoons who have agreed with what Muir says.

But I think I'd agree with Muir's underlying point, "conservative" or not. A funeral shouldn't be a vehicle for your gripes against the administration. Attempting to politicize Mrs. King after her death, whether its for the purposes of the right or the left, is in poor taste.

And I have to admit, I like this cartoon:



Our biggest problem right now isn't any one ideology. It's an inability to meet or talk to people with differing beliefs without yelling at them for it. We're all guilty of this, and its hurting our country. One of my best friends used to comment on this page daily, until the sheer fact of my liberalism drove him away.

We shouldn't be at each other's throats. We should be finding common ground. We're all in this together, and no matter how much we hope and wish, we aren't going to magically make everyone think just like us.

Blatant, Unapologetic Snark

This made me chuckle:

Buy Ribbon Magnets! Whatever you do, don't sign up for the military yourself! That demoralizes the troops! Let them know you really care by covering your massive SUV in ribbon magnets! Plus, be sure to buy the ones that come from Communist China. Don't let the Leftist Unions win!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Senate Follies

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared in front of the Senate committee on Wiretapping this week. Here are a few highlights from the "discussion":

SPECTER: Is there any way you can give us assurance that it is true, without disclosing the methods and sources of your program?....What assurance can you give to this committee and beyond this committee to millions of Americans who are vitally interested in this issue and following these proceedings?

GONZALES: Well, I would say, Senator, and to the American people and to this committee that the program as operated is a very narrowly tailored program.

And we do have a great number of checks in place to ensure, I am told, by the operations folks that, to a great degree of certainty, a high degree of confidence, that these calls are solely international calls.

Well, that's a relief. In other words: Trust us. We're pretty sure we're not listening in on you. But don't quote me on that.

LEAHY: Now, back to my question: Did you come to the conclusion that you had to have this warrantless wiretapping of Americans inside the United States to protect us before the president signed the resolution on September 18th, 2001? You were the White House counsel at the time.

GONZALES: What I can say is that we came to a conclusion that the president had the authority to authorize this kind of activity before he actually authorized the activity.

LEAHY: When was that?

GONZALES: It was subsequent to the authorization to use military force.

LEAHY: When?

GONZALES: Sir, it was just a short period of time after the authorization to use military force.

LEAHY: Was it before or after NSA began its surveillance program?

GONZALES: Again, the NSA did not commence the activities under the terrorist surveillance program before the president gave his authorization.

Look at the above exchange. What is Gonzales actually saying here?

GONZALES: We are always, of course, subject to the Fourth Amendment. So the activities of any kind of surveillance within the United States would, of course, be subject to the Fourth Amendment.

LEAHY: Well, Mr. Attorney General, we're getting the impression that this administration's, kind of, picking and choosing what they are subject to.

Oh, SNAP!

SPECTER: Well, then, let me ask you this.

Under your interpretation of this, can you go in and do mail searches? Can you go into e-mails? Can you open mail? Can you do black-bag jobs?

And under the idea that you don't have much time to go through what you described as a cumbersome procedure, what most people think is a pretty easy procedure, to get a FISA warrant, can you go and do that of Americans?

GONZALES: Sir, I've tried to outline for you and the committee what the president has authorized, and that is all that he has authorized.

LEAHY: Did it authorize the opening of first-class mail of U.S. citizens? That you can answer yes or no.

GONZALES: There is all kinds of wild speculation about...

LEAHY: Did it authorize it?

SPECTER: Let him finish.

GONZALES: There is all kinds of wild speculation out there about what the president has authorized and what we're actually doing. And I'm not going to get into a discussion, Senator, about...

LEAHY: Mr. Attorney General, you're not answering my question. I'm not asking you what the president authorized.

Does this law -- you're the chief law enforcement officer of the country -- does this law authorize the opening of first-class mail of U.S. citizens, yes or no, under your interpretation?

GONZALES: Senator, I think that, again, that is not what is going on here.

We're only focused on international communications where one part of the communication is Al Qaida. That's what this program is all about.

LEAHY: You haven't answered my question .

That's right. He hasn't. Except, he really has. He's saying that, yes, they do have that authorization. They just don't want to tell you, Senator.

BIDEN: General, there are two real issues here, in my view, and I'm going to focus on one, and that is the president's reassurance as to what is exactly happening. For if, in fact, the only people being wiretapped or e-mails read are Al Qaida operatives contacting American citizens, I don't think you're going to find anybody in America saying, "Oh, my God, don't do that."

What's really at stake here is the administration's made assertions in the past where their credibility has somewhat been questioned. And so it's not merely the constitutional reach you have; it is: What is actually happening, what is actually going on?

I'm going to focus on that first, if I may.

How will we know, General, when this war it over?

GONZALES: I presume the straightforward answer, Senator, is that when Al Qaida is destroyed and it no longer poses a threat to the United States.

Whenever that may be, we know it's not today. We know we're still at war today. We know we'll probably be at war still tomorrow. And so we know it still continues today.

BIDEN: The truth is, there is no definition of when we're going to know whether we've won, because Al Qaida, as the president points out, has mutated into many other organizations that are not directly dealing with bin Laden and are free agents themselves.

BIDEN: Is that correct?

GONZALES: It is certainly true that there are a number of terrorist groups who share many of the same objectives of Al Qaida in terms of destroying America.

BIDEN: So as long as any of them are there, I assume you would assert you have this plenary authority.


You'd assume correctly, Senator.



Bush to Nation: "Oh, By The Way....? I Totally Saved Your Asses. BOO-Ya."

From the BBC:

US President George W Bush has given details of what he said was a foiled al-Qaeda plot to fly a plane into the tallest building on the US west coast.

Mr Bush said the plan - uncovered in 2002 - involved using shoe bombs to blow open the plane's cockpit door.

Planning began in October 2001, but it was derailed in early 2002 "when a South East Asian nation arrested a key al-Qaeda operative", Mr Bush said.

The plot was finally thwarted in the summer of 2003, when the suspected head of JI, an Indonesian known as Hambali, was arrested in Thailand.

The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says that while Mr Bush plainly meant to warn Americans of the continuing danger posed by international terrorism, the only really new detail was that of the shoe bombs.

It comes as the White House is under pressure from some of the president's own supporters to be more aggressive in talking up the successes of intelligence gathering, our correspondent says.


Some people are saying that the President's revealing of this attack now is a blatant attempt to diffuse criticism of his wire-tapping program. Others have said it was simply to divert our attention from Gonzales' questioning about said-program. I don't particularly care about the motivations, really.

But here's something I do care about: being distracted. The willingness to distract indicates an awareness that what you're attempting to distract me from is probably not something I'd approve of. Or agree with. Or find legal, just, or democratic. It indicates an awareness that what you're doing is probably going to be percieved as wrong.

Of course, there's also the simple argument that Bush is simply bringing this plot up in order to show the necessity of wiretapping, or show that through his efforts, terrorism has been thwarted (therefore implicitly arguing that we should let him wiretap - because he knows what he's doing).

But nothing in the recounting indicates that wiretapping played any sort of significant role in capturing these terrorists. And in our current political climate, where there are (right or wrong) quite a few people who think Bush is royally pounding the poodle at his job, you'd think that a successful operation like this would have been trumpeted by the administration. Wouldn't the public knowledge that we'd foiled an attack have lifted our spirits (it sure would have lifted mine)? Wouldn't it have told terrorists, both current and potential, that the U.S. is not to be funked with?

Where's the logic in this?





Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Proof Of Insanity

From E! Online:

A friend just saw Nate Fillion, Summer Glau and Gina Torres coming out of one of the exec buildings at Paramount where they are putting together the new CW unit.

Hmmmmm? Will Firefly fly again?

My crippling obsession with Firefly is well-documented. This is the slightest, most uncertain sort of "scoop," yet I'm still compelled to post it here.

Aperitif

Because the rest of this morning's posts are so damn depressing, here's a picture of Bambi:

More Lovely News


From Dailykos Diaries:

You see that lady above with her child? That's Corey Shanaberger & her daughter Grace, who's 3. They lost Corey's husband Wentz in an ambush in Iraq.

According to the Bush Administration's new budget, they're part of the problem with the deficit. You see some of those leftist socialist treehuggers out there will tell you it's the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that Bush wants to make permanent. Nonsense, the real problem is that Corey & Grace get $255 & survivor benefits from Social Security...

President Bush's budget calls for elimination of a $255 lump-sum death payment that has been part of Social Security for more than 50 years and urges Congress to cut off monthly survivor benefits to 16- and 17-year-old high school dropouts...

Exxon Hates America

From Reuters:

The United States will always rely on foreign imports of oil to feed its energy needs and should stop trying to become energy independent, a top Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) executive said on Tuesday.

Instead of trying to achieve energy independence, importing nations like the U.S. should be promoting energy interdependence, McGill said.

"Because we are all contributing to and drawing from the same pool of oil, all nations -- exporting and importing -- are inextricably bound to one another in the energy marketplace," he said.


You know who's really hurting our country and aiding the terrorists? Us. All of us. Every time we fill up our SUV's with middle-eastern oil, we're spending money that, in many cases, is funneled into terrorism, and into programs that educate young men and women on how evil Americans are.

McGill and his ilk want us to stay firmly fixed to the rotten teat of middle-eastern oil. In the face of burgeoning, promising, abundant alternative energy sources, McGill and Co. would rather we continued funding both sides of the war on global X-Tremism(!)(tm), or whatever we're calling it now.

Of course, record-high profits have absolutely nothing to do with Exxon's stance on this issue.

Logic, But The Illogical Kind

From Hullabaloo:

The oceans no longer protect us. The terrorists are coming over any minute to kill us all in our beds. They are a ruthless enemy who hide in caves until they suddenly decide to strike without mercy. But they have an achilles heel. They are all suffering from serious memory problems. Unless they see it in the paper they forget that we are tapping telephones.

This is why it was so horrible that that the NY Times revealed the program. It jogged the terrorists' memories and now they won't use their phone and e-mail accounts anymore. Until they forget again, that is. So, shhhh. Loose lips sink ships.

So says Alberto Gonzales.


Doesn't that make...err...perfect sense?

Exec-cution

From Newsweek:

Feb. 13, 2006 issue - In the latest twist in the debate over presidential powers, a Justice Department official suggested that in certain circumstances, the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States....

....California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances....

....Tasia Scolinos, a Justice Department spokeswoman, told NEWSWEEK: "Mr. Bradbury's meeting was an informal, off-the-record briefing about the legal analysis behind the president's terrorist-surveillance program. He was not presenting the legal views of the Justice Department on hypothetical scenarios outside of the terrorist-surveillance program."


Given that we're all included in the "terrorist-surveillance program" now, one might be forgiven for feeling a little uneasy about the prospect of the President assuming the power to execute "suspects" within the United States.

Not that this administration would ever attempt to do something legally questionable.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Lift Your Voice

Moveon.org likes to send me a lot of email. At some point, I must have signed up with them, because MAN, do I get a lot of email. Most of this stuff I tend to read and delete. I'm interested in politics, and I believe in the power of petitioning the government, but I also tend to think (rightly or wrongly) that too much of a thing is wasted. Still, when I read about the petition that they're sending to Attorney General Gonzales and to America's Senators re: Wiretapping, I felt the urge to sign my name. After reading the boilerplate response they provided for me, however, I also felt the urge to add my own comments to the petition. Here they are:

As a freedom-loving, loyal, and proud American, warrantless wiretaps concern me. Given the leeway which FISA already provides, it concerns me further that legal, established methods for wiretapping were ignored.

It is important to the democratic spirit of this country that we speak up and allow our voices to be heard when we feel that something is amiss in government. I salute and applaud our President's efforts to keep our country safe, and I firmly believe that he believes he has the best interests of our country at heart. But I firmly disagree, in that same democratic spirit, with the circumvention of the law in order to achieve a desired end.

I respectfully request that this matter is looked into by my elected representatives, and by my Attorney General. It is with the hope of maintaining the freedoms I hold dear that I make this request. I love my country, and I desire safety as much as anyone. But more than safety, I desire liberty. I desire freedom. I desire a government both open and accountable. Surely these desires are not incompatible?

This petition reads that I "demand" a thorough and independent investigation. I do not "demand" anything. I do not feel as though I have a need to do so. This is America, where the investigation of potential illegality should not come at a "demand," but because it is the right thing to do. Because it is the American thing to do.

Sincerely,
Matthew Morse

If you're interested in signing it, you can do so HERE. If you're wondering why any of this might possibly affect you, click HERE.

God's Army

From Newsweek:

Seventy-five percent of Liberty's debaters go on to become lawyers with an eye toward transforming society. "I think I can make an impact in the field of law on abortion and gay rights, to get back to America's godly heritage," says freshman debater Cole Bender...

..."We are training debaters who can perform assault ministry, meaning becoming the conscience of the culture," says [Jerry] Falwell, who is also hoping the team will elevate the humble academic reputation of Liberty itself. "So while we have the preaching of the gospel on the one side - certainly a priority - we have the confronting of the culture on moral default on the other side."

Jesus.

Be forewarned and aware. Mr. Bender and his merry ilk are here, they're most definately not queer (at least, not admittedly so), and we're going to have to deal with it.

There is little difference between this sort of evangelicism and the fanatical religious extremism of the Middle-East. We can hedge and quibble and debate about just how much difference exists, but the fundamental truth of the matter is that the goals of these groups are remarkably, substantially, similar. They hate our freedom, our liberty, our tolerance, and our melting-pot culture.

What The Bleep Do You Know?!



(This article was written for Collider.com. In the event that Collider publishes it, it will be available on their site, with a corresponding link to it here at Codemorse. Consider this a "sneak-peek" for faithful readers of this site)

In February, 2004, a little film called “What The Bleep Do We Know?!” was released in exactly two theaters.

From the hotbeds of Yelm, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, “What the Bleep” spread - eventually ending up in 146 theaters across the country. In contrast, Jodi Foster’s latest film, “Flightplan,” was initially released in approximately 3,424 theaters on opening day.

What the Bleep” (hereafter WTB, to keep the author from losing his mind) was something of a phenomenon. With virtually no mainstream press coverage, a teeny-tiny budget, and no stars (the film features “Academy Award Winner Marlee Matlin.” Its pretty safe to say that Ms. Matlin, though assumedly a lovely person, is not a “Star” in the traditional sense of the word), WTB went on to gross more than ten million dollars in the theater. It’s since raked in cash from international sales and distribution, home video/DVD, and an accompanying book. For a film made on a shoestring, that’s pretty bleepin’ impressive.

So, what’s the film about, anyway? Well, that’s kind of complicated. Let’s ask the film’s website, shall we?:

Part documentary, part entertaining story, part animation with mind-blowing special effects, What the BLEEP!? defies all attempts at categorization. The storyline and interviews with fourteen of the world’s greatest physicists, doctors, biologists and mystics reveal the quantum underpinnings of human life, where thought affects the fabric of physical reality via infinitely subtle neurological processes.” (link)

Got that? Me neither.

Essentially, WTB is about Marlee Matlin, who wakes up one morning to discover that her thoughts determine the course of, and success in, her life. A bunch of talking heads pop up, from time to time, and offer up “scientific” explanations for why thought is such a powerful tool.

WTB is like a Tony Robbins self-empowerment session, delivered with animated segments and a new-age philosophical bent that wouldn’t be out of place in a shop that sells crystals and “discover your inner wiccan” handbooks.

****

February 3rd marked the release of “What the Bleep?! - Down The Rabbit Hole,” (hereafter DTRH) which, in addition to having one of the most awkward film titles in recent history, is also a sequel-of-sorts to the phenomenally successful “What the Bleep Do We Know?!” I say “sequel-of-sorts,” because DTRH is essentially WTB, repackaged. It’s got more talking heads, more animation, and the same Marlee Matlin storyline.

But why should you care about any of this? Especially if you aren’t the type of person who tends to contemplate their inner power-animal?

Well, it’s because both films are carefully constructed propaganda. What’s more, they’re skillfully and purposefully veiled propaganda. And what they’re selling, beyond the cutesy “We make our own reality” façade, is something deeply, deeply weird.

But don’t take my word for it. Just ask Ramtha.

****

From the WTB website:

One of the great enigmas that scientists have studied in the last decade is Ramtha, a mystic, philosopher, master teacher and hierophant. His partnership with American woman JZ Knight, his channel, still baffles scholars….[W]hile JZ Knight is channeling Ramtha, the readings of her brain-wave activity shift to delta, and that the lower cerebellum operates her body which talks, walks, eats, drinks and dances while Ramtha teaches – about the mystery of mind over matter.”

If you’ve seen WTB, then you’ve seen this JZ Knight person. Here’s her picture:


She pops up throughout WTB (and, assumedly, throughout DTRH), dispensing little kernels of wisdom. In her free time, she channels a 35,000 year old “mystic” named Ramtha. In the credits to WTB, Ms. Knight is identified as Ramtha, channeled by JZ Knight (this is, sadly, not a joke. You can see it for yourself right here).

Ms. Knight, or Ramtha, or whoever, runs the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, which again appears to be the Tony Robbins experience run through the blender of new-age mysticism, and processed through the “living channel” of JZ Knight. The Ramtha School offers free packets of information, which I was sorely tempted to apply for before eventually freaking out over the idea of these people having my name and address. The School appears to take its cue from other, currently en vogue pop-culture-savvy cults like Kabbalah and Scientology. In fact, the core message of Ramtha’s School is substantially similar:

Through a coherent system of thought that unifies scientific knowledge with esoteric knowledge of spirit, his students study biology, neurophysiology, neurochemistry and quantum physics. Like Bohm [Ramtha] declares that consciousness is the ground of all being. In his own lifetime 35,000 years ago he learned to separate his consciousness from his body, raise its frequency and eventually take it with him. He has been one of the few human beings to become an eyewitness to the seen, and, the unseen.

If you stuck the words “Hawaiian volcano,” “Body Thetans,” and “L. Ron Hubbard” in there, you’d have a working description of Scientology, no?

Three of the directors of WTB (how many directors does a film need, exactly?) are students of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment. Many of the professional scientists interviewed in the film are proponents of the Ramtha philosophy (though it’s unclear how many, if any, are explicitly students of Ramtha).

Maybe it’s the hallucinogens talking here, but all of that sounds a bit…wonky to me. Fusing the spiritual with pop-culture is nothing new – the Christian music industry has been doing it for decades – but hiding it is.

WTB is the film equivalent of a Trojan Horse – concealing a very specific, cultish belief system in a movie that pretends to be about something larger. That’s really creepy to me.

The makers of WTB seem to have realized, whether consciously or sub, that most people probably won’t key in to a movie about the glory-that-is-Ramtha, because with the exception of JZ Knight’s bizarre end-credit, Ramtha “himself” is never mentioned in the film. Anywhere.

Maybe this is because what the Ramtha School of Enlightenment has to say about the idea of thought-as-reality is not really specific to Ramtha. The idea of “mind over matter,” after all, has been around for millennia. But given their overt connections to the School, the directors are more likely making a film about their own beliefs; which is that Ramtha is the way to enlightenment.

This brings up all sorts of questions. Do films reflect the beliefs of the filmmaker? If a Christian director makes a movie about the value in charity, selflessness, and Good Works, but doesn’t mention that he’s Christian, is he “hiding” it? Does it matter if he is, as long as people come away from the film feeling better about themselves? Is implicitly advocating a particular philosophy really any “worse” then explicitly pushing for it? Should it matter that the directors of WTB worship some middle-aged lady doing a riff on Whoopi Goldberg’s Ghost routine? Maybe not. But I found the whole back-story to WTB fascinating, and more than a little disturbing.

On some level, it does bother me that “Ramtha” is sitting behind the scenes on this whole thing. That JZ Knight is quietly gathering new converts to her School of Enlightenment. The very qualities that allowed WTB to become such a grass roots success story (namely, the use of the internet as promotional tool, the surface-innocence of its message, and the obscuring of the “religious” notions that inspired it) also allow the movie to disseminate the word of Ramtha easily and effectively. Did you like the movie? Maybe you want to know more? Then visit the website! Oh, and who’s this Ramtha person? Oh, he’s the inspiration for the movie? And I can take classes to learn more? And buy books? And posters? And photos (my personal favorite being “Ramtha in Shade”)? And “Subliminal Tapes and CD’s”? Pretty soon Ramtha’ll have his own energy drinks. Or a line of books for children.

What’s really important to me (and, if one is to judge by the recent “A Million Little Pieces” backlash, to most of America as well) is the truth. Especially when it comes to something as fundamental and as powerful as religion. If someone’s going to sell their religion to me, I want to know I’m being sold to. There’s something inherently sinister about disguising WTB’s origins and inspirations. What does it say about a religion when it attempts to win you over through deception-by-omission?

DTRH premiered Friday, February 3rd, and quite-probably at a theater near you. If you were planning on catching it, maybe it’s important that you know what it is you’re watching. If you had no idea what the bleep these films were all about, well, I hope I’ve entertained. All hail Ramtha!

Chris Rock, Kevin Smith, and Muslim Extremism

From the BBC:

Four people have died in violent protests against cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad, following more than a week of demonstrations.

Three people died after police in Afghanistan fired on protesters when a police station came under attack, a government spokesman said.

In Somalia, a 14-year-old boy was shot dead and several others were injured after protesters attacked the police.

Further protests have been taking place from Gaza to India, Indonesia and Iran.

They follow attacks on Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon over the weekend. The cartoons were first published in a Danish newspaper.

Demonstrators shouted "death to Denmark" and "death to France", and called for diplomats and soldiers from both countries to be kicked out of Afghanistan.

"They want to test our feelings," protester Mawli Abdul Qahar Abu Israra told the BBC.

"They want to know whether Muslims are extremists or not. Death to them and to their newspapers," he said.

Well, I guess that settles the question of whether or not "Muslims" are extremists. Or, rather, whether Mawli Abdul Qahar Abu Israra is. Were the circumstances not so tragic, Mr. Israra's comment would be funny.

This past weekend, my girlfriend and I watched Dogma together on Comedy Central. Despite Smith's film being linguistically neutered by the channel - watching a Kevin Smith film without the obscenities is a little like watching the Wizard of Oz with all the technicolor sucked from the screen - I was very entertained by it. It's a silly film, not a great one, and Smith's limitations as a director are widely documented; but what makes Dogma work are its ideas. The film is loaded with theological trivia, thoughtful musings on Catholicism and religion as a whole, and ultimately displays the sort of bedrock-solid faith that people like James Dobson like to pretend at.

What does any of this have to do with Muslim protests over cartoons?

Chris Rock, playing the forgotten 13th Apostle in the film, talks about the fundamental danger of embracing beliefs over ideas: "I just think it's better to have ideas. I mean, you can change an idea; changing a belief is trickier. People die for it; people kill for it." Like most of the 'Big Questions' Dogma asks, this one is surrounded by poop jokes and weed references. But the film's general irreverence masks a serious reverence for ideas, and a serious distaste for when those ideas harden and congeal into beliefs.

The riots here, provoked over a few cartoons that dared to mock or poke fun at the Muslim religion (and I haven't seen them - though they do sound in poor taste), are a perfect example of how belief in religion over a devotion to the idea of God causes far more harm than good.

Codemorse Collides With Fifa Soccer 2006



Head on over to Collider.com to check out my "review" of Fifa Soccer 2006. I say "review" because it ends up digressing into thoughts on God, free-will, the gaming industry as a whole, and the fact that soccer players named "MORSE" seem to have an innate talent for mediocrity.

A brief excerpt:

Soccer’s sort of the bastard child of American sports, one that everyone plays when they’re young and then pretty much abandons. So why should you be interested in Fifa Soccer, when John Madden Football is such sweet, sweet candy?


Well, because it’s a pretty good time. But mostly because it harbors the secret of eternal life.


Read the whole enchilada HERE.