Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give A Damn

Most of you reading this article probably recognize those 8 iconic words. For those of you that don’t, the words in the title above were spoken by an actor named Clark Gable in the film “Gone With the Wind”, which was released in 1939. The plot to this film, which takes place in (1861) Georgia, is unimportant to this particular rant. The bit of dialogue mentioned above, however, is essential.

“Gone With the Wind” was released a mere month and a half after the Motion Picture Association board had passed an amendment to the production code. This amendment stated specifically that the “Use of the words “hell” or “damn” except when their use shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore … or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste” was forbidden.

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It is hard today to imagine the amount of impact something like the word “damn” would have had on viewers then. For perspective, it would have been akin to the F-bomb being dropped in a PG movie today. Although we can laugh at the idea of this and consider it to be ridiculous, who knows what the future of the rating system will be in the coming century. As a society, the idea of what should, and should not be censored, has changed immensely in a relatively short amount of time. When I was a child, the word “Fuck” was restricted to R-rated movies. Imagine my surprise when in 2001 I heard the word being used not once, but three times in a movie that held a PG-13 rating.

These changes are not restricted solely to the cinema. Content allowed in video games has also gone under a radical change. Technically, the first video game to contain nudity and sex was a (1982) game titled “Custer’s Revenge”; A reprehensible depiction of racism, sexism, rape culture,  and complete lack of game-play. This game was, however, 2D and highly pixelated. A far more graphic depiction of nudity would arrive in the form of “Duke Nukem 3D”, a game released in 1996 that showed women’s bare breasts. Since then, nudity has become more and more common in mainstream titles, as has violence, vulgar language, and drug use. The content of a game series like “Grand Theft Auto” Would never have been released 30 years ago.

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I realize that none of this is particularly new information to most of you. You have lived through these changes and have noticed them just like I have. In truth, these changes are not what I intend to discuss. Rather, I intend to write about the underlying idea of censorship as a whole. The desire to address this topic came from, of all things, a vlog made by the YouTube personality PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg). During the video in question, Felix states that he has recently come under scrutiny by the public for his perceived anti-Semitic behavior. Upon further research, I found that in the past Felix has faced similar criticism for his attitude towards things like rape, the homosexual community, and race. When I read the sniveling complaints of the overly sensitive, pity-seeking, emotionally underdeveloped neanderthals that were accusing this man, I couldn’t help but to feel an immense amount of bemusement.

When exactly, I wonder, did our country stop abiding by the First Amendment?

Our society has, over the course of less than a lifetime, made significant changes to our own definition of acceptable content. It is incredibly hypocritical, then, for us to unnecessarily judge someone on words used that carry no power of their own save the power we personally give to them. Likewise, social norms have evolved. It is now no longer socially acceptable to say things such as “gay” or “retarded” in the derogatory sense. Politically insensitive racial terms are also viewed as taboo, with words such as “chink”, “spic”, and “nigger” being considered especially abhorrent.

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I personally identify with many of these cultural taboos. I am Filipino, Mexican, Chinese, Native American, and I am also bi-sexual. My days spent in high school were rife with bullying, and the full gambit of insults was used to my detriment. I have been called a wetback, a slanty eyes, a faggot, and a tree climber. I have faced discrimination based on my interests, gender identity, and race. Over the course of the years I have found less and less people that wish to demean me based on features which I have no control over. Yet I do still run across the occasional bigot who feels it their personal mission to convey their biased opinions to anyone within earshot.

In all honesty, why shouldn’t they?

I am not so weak that I take offense to someone calling me something that has been deemed offensive by the very same people that wish to “protect” individuals such as myself. I understand that the word “gay” can mean multiple things, and if it is used to describe me in a negative way, so what? I cannot imagine why I would afford anyone the satisfaction of having a word hold sway over my emotions.

I did not always feel this way. I used to come home to my mother in tears; I was so hurt by the words that had been used against me. Looking back on that time, I can understand why I was effected so strongly. My entire life had been filled with censors. There were words that you could not say, and words that could hurt someone deeply if uttered. Because of these words being forbidden, I was struck in the heart when they were flung at me. If, however, those words were not forbidden and instead were introduced with no stigma attached, I would not have had cause for offense in the first place.

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Words are not people. They are not inherently evil, nor good. Words can be used in any way that the speaker sees fit, and the only people that align these words with good or evil are ourselves. With that being said, it would be rather nice if all of these stuck-up jackasses that think we should pussy-foot around for the sake of people’s feelings would just stop. Don’t they understand that they are fighting against themselves? By raising awareness on the damage of these words and by condemning their usage, they are, in fact, creating the pain that they are supposedly seeking to prevent. Words do not just fade out of existence, and even if they did, new words would arrive to replace them in due course. Censoring particular words is not going to change an idea. 

It is time for us, as a people, to stop being so Goddamn weak. If you are offended that someone called you a faggot, question why on earth that becomes anybody’s fault but your own. If somebody calls you a chink, who gives a damn? The worst has happened, you were called a chink, and that’s the end of it. Anything that you feel as a direct result of being called by these names is not the fault of the person saying it. As of yet, mind control has not been proven to exist, so the only person making you feel like shit is yourself. If you go to work, and on the way inside the building, someone says that your shirt is ugly, then shit, that’s their opinion. You wouldn’t gasp aloud and begin frothing from your gaping mouth, aghast at the pure, unadulterated hatred of your favorite button-down. You wouldn’t start a charity in the name of raised awareness for Big Macs after someone told you that they thought Big Macs tasted like shit. You didn’t choose to like them, and you didn’t choose not to like them, because you can’t.

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I am a faggoty, girly, red-skinned, squinty-eyed banana-tree climber, and I don’t give even half of a fuck if that is alright with you. 

Thanks for reading.

More to Follow

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Are You Even Listening?

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was around 6 or 7. My teachers had noticed that I seemed to have difficulty focusing during class time and that I tended to act out by being disruptive to the classroom. Back then, doctors had enough information on ADHD to know that medications such as Ritalin could help to assist with focus and hyperactivity in persons diagnosed with the disorder. Shortly after being put onto this medication, I suffered a psychotic breakdown accompanied by paranoid delusions. As a result, I was promptly taken off of the medication and it was decided that I did not, in fact, have ADHD.

Fast-forward 18 years, and I was a normal college student with a steady job. I attended classes full-time, and worked around 40 hours a week in the fast-food industry. About halfway through my second quarter, I suddenly started failing to show up to class, and frequently arrived late to work. I ended up both quitting work, and failing the majority of my classes. Aside from this, I had begun to notice that something was just not quite right with my memory. I could be in a conversation, hear everything that was said, agree to do something, and then forget everything as soon as I walked away. When I went in to a psychiatrist and explained my symptoms, they immediately suggested I be put on Adderall. The doctor also told me that, in her mind, it was clear that I was suffering from ADHD, and had simply found ways to cope with it up until now.

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Adderall changed everything for me. I had honestly never realized just how much I was being effected by my disorder until I looked around my room and thought, “My God, who lives here?” I began to notice improvement in other areas of my life as well, primarily involving my ability to communicate with others. Rather than thinking about what I was going to say when someone stopped talking and focusing on that, I found that I was able to listen as well as respond. I think the most radical change, however, was in the difference in motivation that I felt. I used to put off projects such as homework assignments indefinitely, telling myself that I would start them later. I also used to begin projects that I was actually interested in with vigor, only to run out of steam after a couple of hours. This resulted in dozens of unfinished ideas, and provided a source of great frustration for me.

With life being what it is, this story doesn’t have a tidy ending wrapped up in a bow. I still struggle with my ADHD, even on the medication. Focusing is possible now, but it requires an immense amount of conscious effort, and I find it very easy to become overwhelmed. My life is divided into multiple scenarios of give and take, where for every situation, I consider how much mental energy something will require. I suppose normal folk could randomly decide to go out for drinks after work with a group of friends, but for me, all I can focus on is how much energy it is going to take for me to be able to function while I am there. Paradoxically, I often get random urges and make plans off the cuff, such as calling up a friend out of the blue, asking if they want to hang out in fifteen minutes. I have found that the more time that I have between the forming of a plan and the actual date of the plan itself, the more I form reasons why I shouldn’t follow through.

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It is often hard for those without ADHD to imagine how it feels for those that have it. Sure, they understand what the disorder does to people. Hell, they might even joke around about having it themselves, since they feel so hyper sometimes. But, understanding something has nothing to do with feeling it, and ADHD is considered by the vast majority of people to be nothing more than an annoyance; Like a nervous tic or something. Furthermore, the assumption exists that since someone is on a medication for something, they should be just like normal. I wish that this were the case, but, I can tell you with utmost certainty that it is not.

I think a lot of the exaggerated belief in the effects of Adderall come from all of the people that have taken it that didn’t actually need it. Adderall is incredibly close to methamphetamine, and someone without ADHD that takes it will experience a high, or Euphoria. They might even feel as though their cognitive performance has been increased, although numerous studies have proven that this is not the case. I cannot blame people, though. If I had taken a prescription drug recreationally and felt like I could focus with immense clarity, I would probably assume that everyone who took the drug would also feel the same way.

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The farther I get in this article, the more I start to question its purpose. I’m sure that everyone reading this already knows about ADHD and Adderall. I am also sure that there is nobody out there so interested in my life that they want to read nearly 1,000 words about it. But, I suppose the point here is to grant some clarity and understanding to what I, and other people that share my disorder, have to deal with on a daily basis.

Having ADHD as an adult feels like you are trapped in a room with a crowd of people that all shout at you in a different language. You hurt the ones you love without ever knowing it, because while you were forgetting everything they said to you, or asked you to do, they were deciding that you really must not care about them enough to listen. You are seen as lazy, by others, and by yourself, and you hate it. You know you can do better; You have so many good ideas. But every time you try to put your mind to the task, your mind floods with so much data, and so many images, that you can’t even touch the pencil to the paper. You find solace in activities that interest you, but even this has its pitfalls: You focus so much on what you are doing that you drown out everything else around you. You could waste an entire day on a single thing, and never even notice.

Meeting people is easy for you. You are seen as energetic, quirky, and intelligent. None of the expectation is there, no responsibility to remember what someone has said. Over the course of time, however, you lose your friends. You cancel arrangements frequently, or forget them entirely. You rarely text back, because every time you think about what to say, you get distracted by something else. On the few times you actually do follow through with your plans, you feel so exhausted afterwards that you need to spend a week or two as a hermit just to recover all of the energy you used.

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You sometimes think that you are crazy. You know for a fact that you remembered to call your dad on Father’s day, even though when you check your phone you haven’t actually called anyone for a week. Sometimes you get depressed, you blame yourself, and even start to hate yourself for not being able to just change. You resolve to work harder, but just like all of the plans you start, you do well for a week and then slips right back into the old.

Oh, and when you are formally diagnosed and tell people that you have ADHD, they won’t even bat an eye. “You’ve got that hyper disease, must be nice to have so much energy.” “I think my dog has ADHD, he won’t focus for shit.” And, after they know, nothing will change. Employers are the main offender, but the expectation for you from everyone remains the same. Quietly, you think that you should have told them you were Schizophrenic, at least that elicits some kind of reaction or understanding.

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In short, having ADHD is hell, and it is truly sad that most people don’t understand its severity and impact to living a normal life. Much has changed in the past couple years regarding the awareness and accommodation of  neurological disorders, but until those with ADHD are afforded a certain amount of consideration, I will continue to stew about it.

I am a proud result of genetic abnormality, and Goddamn it, I want some accommodations

Thanks for reading.

-More to follow

 

Autism and Evolution

Truthfully, I did not intend to write this article (Or any other article today for that matter). However, I was just presented with an argument so false that I cannot help but to return to the ol’ keyboard and type a few paragraphs about it. The argument in question involved a highly controversial topic, and further, I am going to approach this entire subject from a purely analytical perspective. If you are easily offended, this is not the article for you.

“Autism could be evolution, who are you to say that it isn’t?”

This was the quote flung haphazardly into the air during what was supposed to be a civil discussion. Here we see a statement, followed by a question, and I would like to respond to the latter first. Who I am is irrelevant. I am a normal human being that happens to research topics thoroughly before addressing them. Phew. I feel better with that out of the way. Now, onto the statement.

The definition of evolution, provided for reference, is: “The process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.” The secondary and far less subjective definition is thus: “The gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form”. The term “evolution” is also synonymous with advancement, progression, and natural selection. I would also like to provide the definition of natural selection: “The process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring.”

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Now that we have some framework, let’s dive in. Our evolution from tree dwelling monkeys into the dominant species on the planet was brought about by the evolution of our genome. Evolution, by definition, provided us with traits that made us more likely to be able to survive and to adapt to our environment. It is also worth noting that evolution comes about as a result of mutations in the genome of a species that end up being positive and are therefore kept. Negative traits that would promote devolution are usually taken out of the genome over time.

To get more specific, in a study performed by researchers from Harvard Medical School at Boston Children’s Hospital, it was concluded that our species progressed as rapidly as it did because of small regions of our genome that we share with other species. These regions of our genome changed rather rapidly, specifically during out species’ divergence from our closest living relatives: The chimpanzee. All in all, there are about 2700 such beneficial sequences in the genome, which are known as human accelerated regions (HARS). Disturbingly, the current genome that the majority of us possess today sits in a very delicate balance, and is, as a result, highly susceptible to even minor changes.

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In addition to the generalized examination performed on the genome, a control group of 2100 American children with autism spectrum disorder was studied. In this study, it was shown that these children were 6.5 times more likely than their healthy siblings to exhibit duplication, or deletion, of a HAR. The non-beneficial duplication or deletion of an HAR is known as recession, or, recessive mutation. It is worth mentioning that at least half of our current advancement as a species came about as a direct result of HARs enabling us to perform and understand complex social behaviors.

It is believed that the genes partially responsible for causing autism are not inherently bad. In fact, these genetic variations could very well have been positively selected during our evolution due to the fact that they aid in cognition. The process of evolution tends to eliminate variants to the genome with large negative impact quickly, but, common variants that occur with higher frequency yet smaller effect can accumulate over time, manifesting in either positive, or negative inherited traits.

The difference between a child who exhibits normal development and a child whose development falls under the category of ASD is decided by an extremely small number of these traits. Think of the genome’s volatility like this. Adderall and methamphetamine are separated by only a methyl group, yet the effects of both are radically different.

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Finally, we arrive at the conclusion that this knowledge has brought us to. Autism, is not evolution; It is the result of a genetic mistake, and represents a regression of progress rather than a progression. 

With that being said, I want to address the subject of the autistic population. Those suffering from ASD are not a mistake. They are human beings the same as you or I that are living with a neurological disorder that falls under the category of mental disability. Keep in mind that autism belongs to the same family as Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia, among others. Those with ASD are also nearly universally gifted above and beyond the rest of the world. Some individuals can accurately recreate and entire city’s skyline with pencil and paper (down to the exact number of streets and windows) from memory after having seen it only once. Some of our greatest mathematical advancement has come from those diagnosed with ASD. The list goes on and on, but I mention it for a purpose.

I am not ignorant to the benefits that this disorder can bless people with, nor do I perceive them as anything less than human. I stand for reality, and for truth, and I don’t believe in pandering to someone’s feelings because it is easier. I do not believe in calling something by a term that does not accurately describe it, and thus sends the wrong message. Finally, I do not believe in encouraging or otherwise validating outright denial.

Thank you for reading.

-More to follow.

P.S.- To the person that motivated me to write this article: You should always do research before arguing for something. 

Hollow Knight Review

If someone had told me about this game without ever having played it, I would have politely feigned interest then went home and watched YouTube videos of cats. 

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Thankfully, I bought this game of my own accord and for no other reason than the intriguing title. What I found was an intelligent, metroidvanian experience with stellar art and a moving score. Seriously, I could listen to the soundtrack for this game all day.

The game places you in control of a small, beetle type being, who arrives in the desolate and sparsely populated town of Dirtmouth. The town rests directly above a sprawling complex of tunnels and caverns that contain, among other things, a gigantic and thoroughly dystopian city. Most of what you see in the beginning hour or so of this game will be shaded in dull neutral colors, but don’t let that fool you. Later on, as you progress and unlock the ability to travel to previously unreachable areas, you will find areas of lush forestation and plunge into neon tinted depths.

Progression is key to any metroidvanian game, and Hollow Knight sticks to the tried and true formula of go here, kill that boss, get a new power to go to this other place and kill that boss, and so on. The abilities that you gain are rewarded at a good pace, and nearly all of them have purpose in combat as well as in platforming. One ability in particular allows you to dash quickly downward, left, or right. This proved to be an ability I utilized until the end of the campaign, and was instrumental to my survival considering that the majority of your attacks are restricted to melee.

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Existing to augment your abilities and gameplay are charms. These little badges are scattered about the world in secret rooms, boss fights, and rewards for quests. Initially you can only equip about two of them, but after you run across a certain character you can increase your capacity. The functions of the charms are never powerful to the point where they make the game easy; Rather, they focus on assisting you in your own personal gaming style. I, for one, fancied using hit and run tactics, so equipping a charm that extended the reach of my melee attack proved extremely helpful.

You also gain access to powerful  special abilities that utilize a resource called “Soul”. For instance, early on in the game you will gain the ability to shoot an energized blast directly in front of you. This ability is not necessary to defeat a certain incredibly annoying enemy, but it makes the fights with them much, much easier. Special abilities must be used sparingly, however, as initially the amount of “Soul” you can store is fairly moderate. Thankfully, this can be upgraded as well via gaining shards of soul containers scattered about the world.

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Combat mostly consists of a combination of slashing, jumping, dodging, and parrying. Enemies hit hard (With bosses hitting even harder), and even a slight loss of focus could result in half of your health being taken down from a misstep. I don’t mean for it to sound like Hollow Knight is unfair; It always presents the opportunity to avoid an attack. But, hack and slash this game is not. Enemies follow set patterns of attack, and their types are diverse. I ran into everything from flying insects that spat acidic bile to heavily armored and (Thankfully) lumbering beetles who wielded gigantic two-handed swords. You will find your more standard enemy types here, but even they possess a unique charm that kept me guessing until I had run into them more than a dozen times. With that being said, it is worth noting that rushing into a battle swinging wildly is a good way to get yourself killed and lose all of your precious Geo.

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Geo is a currency that is dropped by enemies, or rewarded for your accomplishments assisting the half a dozen shopkeepers you run across in your journey. You can use it to purchase anything from charms to mask fragments (The latter of which grant you an extra health slot when you gather enough) and the NPC conversations are always well written and intriguing; There is an immense amount of lore to be uncovered here. Geo is also used to purchase one of the most important things in the entire game: Maps.

In most games I don’t really care about maps and instead prefer to explore the world on my own. In this game, however, maps are vital to your navigation throughout the interconnected areas underneath Dirtmouth. To purchase these maps, you must locate the map-maker (A friendly NPC encountered early on) and provide him a modest sum of Geo. Locating him never proved overly challenging, as when I was near him I could hear his humming as well as follow the trail of discarded papers he had left behind. It is worth noting, however, that these maps are not always complete, and some of the areas must be explored before they will actually show up.

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Even armed with a map and the various upgrades this game has to offer, though, death is something of an inevitability. Hollow Knight deals with this in an interesting way, reminiscent of games like Dark Souls. When you die, you drop your Geo and leave a “Shade” of yourself at the location of your death. Getting back that precious Geo involves braving it back to wherever you were struck down and defeating your own specter.

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Saving progress occurs in-game rather than through a menu, with the game employing a function-able checkpoint system involving park benches. Resting at one of these benches provides you with restored health, soul, and fills in any blank areas of the map that you have explored. Saving at these park benches became such a normal routine that I was actually pretty shocked when later on the game used those same mechanics against me, thrusting me into the clutches of a rabid beasty.

A lot of games exist that have amazing combat, graphics, and music, but lack in the character department. I am exceedingly happy to report that Hollow Knight went for quality over quantity in their character department. Although my interaction with fellow bugs that weren’t trying to kill me was very limited, each NPC that I spoke with practically dripped character. It isn’t often that a game with text based dialogue can remain this engaging, but crazy enough, I could actually feel the difference in the separate characters’ personalities without actually having to hear them say a word. I suppose text based is not entirely true (The characters speak in a language that sounds like a cross between Ewok and a drunken Scandinavian rapper) but the gibberish never conveys as much feeling as the text itself does.

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In closing, this is a gorgeously realized game with intelligent level design, challenging platforming elements, responsive combat, and intriguing characters all set up around deep, meaningful lore. Of all of the games that I have played this year, this is the one that has made the most impact on me as a gamer. All in all,

8/10

 

The Dying God and The Power of Belief

Belief is powerful, whether you consciously realize it or not. Not only can belief in something manifest itself in ways that science cannot explain, but willpower can be utilized consciously to achieve feats that should be impossible. The common term for the power of belief is “The Placebo Effect”, which is used to describe a situation in which an individual, because they believe that they have received treatment for a malady, begins to improve in health even though no actual treatment has been administered. Many tests have been performed on this ranging from studies focused on physical ailments to mental disability, and although it is recognized as a real occurrence, no proof has thus far been offered as to why it happens.

The earliest studies on this experience date back to the 16th century. During this time, the Catholic faith sought to discredit the efficacy of exorcisms by giving patients claiming to be possessed by demons false holy artifacts to hold. In nearly all cases of this study, the patients manifested violent contortions regardless of the item being “Holy” or not. Later, a more medically centered examination was done in the eighteenth century by a man named John Haygarth, during which he tested the validity of a method called “Perkins Tractors”. This, at the time, was a respected procedure and involved the utilization of metal rods that supposedly possessed special unique alloys. The rods were placed on or near the offending areas of the body and were said to be able to relieve chronic pain, among other symptoms. Haygarth found, however, that there was no difference in relief between the “uniquely” alloyed rods and the standard “dummy” ones.

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More recently, stimulant medications were tested using two control groups; One of which that was actually given the stimulant, and the other of which merely told that they were given the stimulants. Again, both of the groups exhibited a marked increase in performance and response time, regardless of whether or not they were actually influenced by the real effects of the drug.

Likewise, willpower being utilized as a tool to achieve the unexplainable has been documented. One of the most notable of these documented cases is that of Wim Hof, who was able to prove in scientific tests that he was able to regulate his autonomous nervous system to the point that he could influence his own body temperature. Not only this, but he was able to raise the amount of oxygen in his body to such a level that he stayed submerged in water with temperatures well below freezing for a period of 7 minutes.

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You might be wondering how gods factor into any of this, but I’m sure you have already guessed. Here are a couple definitions we need to get out of the way.

Faith- Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

Hope- A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Belief- Trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.

These definitions are important because it illustrates the connection between all of them. In fact, these words are synonymous. I hesitate to mention it because I believe the acts of these people to be deplorable, but, faith healing actually has several documented cases of success as well. Anyone who lets their child die because of a refusal to seek medical treatment is, in my opinion, either clinically insane or psychopathic. Of course, in situations where no medical treatment can be offered for an ailment and faith is able to provide a cure, I am all for it.

What I am about to assert is grounded completely in possibility and is by no means a belief I have invested in, but it does make me think. If faith, belief, or hope in something is enough to produce measurable effects on an individual basis, could it not, then, be possible of generating effects on a larger scale?

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Hehehe, Ahem. I am not talking about this cringe-worthy shite. What I am referring to is something that actually already exists all around us. Christian faith started as a splinter of traditional Judaism long ago and has since spread all across the globe (Mostly) to become on of the dominant religions of the world. A lot of people believe in this, and they usually have children that they introduce to this belief, and so on. Imagine if, after 15 years, somebody told you that Ibuprofen was actually just sugar and didn’t cure headaches at all? This entire time you had been feeling its effects (Hopefully), and now you find out that it was never the Ibuprofen at all, it was something else. Coincidence? Perhaps, but a far more likely conclusion would be that you believed that it would work, and thus it did.

So, if large scale belief exists, and if all of those believers pray for an ailment to heal, and then that ailment does indeed heal, who was actually feeling the effects of the placebo? The answer is, all of them were. The followers believed that their prayers would be answered, which affected them and their actions, and in turn, the person suffering from the ailment believed that the believers believed, and believed for themselves, and miraculously healed. Lots of belief.

It is a known fact that abstract entities can be extremely powerful. Take for example the idea of freedom that resulted in the founding of the united states. Or, take the massacre of millions of Jewish citizens during the holocaust. These were both ideas that were started in some cases by one man, and evolved into something so large and powerful that millions of people were effected and are still effected by them now. These ideas have gained immortality, either by fame or by infamy, and will never cease to exist in memory over the course of time.

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But, how far does that power of thought actualization go? Further, how do we define our existence? Usually we define our existence by our senses, but those can be augmented and fooled. Additionally, we have no concrete evidence to suggest that there are limits to what belief can achieve, especially seeing as how less than 20 years ago we thought that what ol’ Ice Man Wil Hof achieved was impossible.

God’s existence has already been proven. At least in a sense. He exists because people believe in him, and he has power for the same reason. If this is so, however, then Gods are dying. The advancement of technology and science has brought with it an unprecedented decrease in the amount of people who profess to a faith. More and more people are questioning or outright denying the existence of God, who is, at the very least, an idea. Furthermore, God, or whatever higher power you believe in, stands as a symbol of hope and healing for those who had lost all faith in recovery. To lose faith in this would be much like taking away all of the anti-depressants at the same time. We still don’t know exactly why or how they help on a case-by-case basis, but we know that they are effective.

And, perhaps terrifyingly, what if the faithful are right? Better yet, what if the faithful were not correct in the beginning, but by the power of their faith they transformed their God from an idea into something more tangible?

And, what if faith and belief, just like time, is a force of reality that we know can be manipulated but that we have no way to measure or influence?

Thanks for reading

-More to follow

:DISCLAIMER: This was a fun article to write, but I don’t actually believe that any of this is true, I just believe that it is possible.

The Ignorance of Atheism

I am not a christian. I want to make that perfectly clear before I start delving into this subject. I am also, however, not an atheist. I thought for quite some time when I stopped believing in the Christian interpretation of God that I could rely solely on science and concrete facts as the basis for all of my beliefs. After several years of research and more than a few sleepless nights of deep thought, I now find myself residing somewhere between atheism and agnosticism.

My faith in “God” was shaken immediately following the death of my mother. Up until this point I was a devout christian. My family and I were part of a fairly large congregation, and throughout my mother’s bout with cancer, they proved to be a rock of support and love. At thirteen, I had never truly experienced the death of someone close to me, and as such was ill prepared for the final days in which cancer began to take a much heavier toll. When she finally passed, it hit me incredibly hard; not just because of the grief inherent in death, but also because up until this point, I had been under the impression that the prayers being constantly performed and the unwavering faith of our family would be sufficient to save her.

After she passed away, my brain jumped into overtime. I have always been logical, despite my Christian upbringing, and I needed to find some way to explain what had happened: Something that was contrary to everything I had ever been taught. I arrived at the conclusion that if God is all powerful and yet allows terrible things to happen, he is not benevolent. Conversely, if God is benevolent, but cannot prevent bad things from occurring, he is not all powerful.

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Thus began my 7 year long relationship with atheism. Atheism was a breath of fresh air. Everything could be explained via scientific research and observation. Religious accountability was a thing of the past, and as such, so were the restrictions inherent in such beliefs. Further, I possessed a certainty that bordered on arrogance that I could explain anything away with logic. I wore my atheism like a shield, and it protected me for quite some time, but I still could never find the answer to the only question I actually cared about answering: “Why do shitty things happen?”

The answer to that question is that shitty things happen randomly to everyone, and usually for no good reason. But that’s not the important fact here. The importance lies instead in the answer I found that I wasn’t looking for, and subsequently led me to regain faith in, at the very least, something.

I want to switch gears now and talk about Socrates. Socrates was a Greek philosopher who lived from 470/469 – 399 BC. Although his apprentices acquired more fame and respect than he did following his death, he presented a method of philosophical reasoning that laid the foundation for logical systems still utilized today. Above all else, Socrates believed that he didn’t know everything, and that he could truly know anything to only a certain degree. This form of belief was mirrored by a philosopher that would emerge much later by the name of Descartes, who famously quoted, “I think, therefore I am” as a way to prove his own existence. Socrates was famous for leading arguments around in a circle, starting with one question, then refuting answers given to explain the original inquiry until he and his counterpart arrived right back where they started. Yeah, Socrates was kind of a prick, but one thing that he believed that stuck with me was that he could not believe or disbelieve in something utterly unless it could be completely proven or disproved.

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Fast-forward a couple thousand years or so, and philosophy has largely been replaced with science and is now considered to be a pseudoscience. Philosophical debate has been replaced with a system of hypotheses, experimentation, observation, and subsequent testing to verify validity. I am infinitely pleased that we now have a separation between philosophy and science, as subjectivity is not something one can apply scientific method to.

Christians frequently try to evangelize and convert others to their beliefs, while atheists customarily delight in disproving the latter. I am certain that both respective sides could argue their own points of view until the end of days, but I know for a fact that no resolution may ever be reached. Frequently, criticism against Christianity is directed towards its doctrines, and not at the basis for the belief itself (The Bible). I believe that this is where most of the confusion arises from.

The Bible is historically accurate. I am a huge fan of history, and of war generals. One can not be a fan of either of those things without at some point running across biblical references. There exists, in fact, a large lump-sum of money to be rewarded to whomever can disprove the bible. This amount of money has existed for more than 50 years, and yet nobody has arisen to take it. More important than the fact that the bible is accurate historically, though, is that it actually doesn’t directly contradict science, and as such I have no idea what all the fuss is about.

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The usual disagreement that has to do with the bible rather than the doctrine of the bible revolves around the first eleven chapters of Genesis. These are the chapters in the Bible that describe the creation of existence by God in the span of six days, with one day being set aside for rest. During this time, the heavens, earth, sun, stars, physics, air, and everything else is spoken into existence. Following this (And some patting of his own back) God creates the first human from clay; A man named Adam. From Adam’s rib, he creates the first woman; Eve.

Ok so clearly we know enough about evolution to disprove that entirely, but consider the following. Every human alive today can, indeed, be traced back to one, single, female ancestor who lived over 200,000 years ago in prehistoric Africa. For those of you not well versed in geology, Africa and its nearby area is where nearly all of the stories in the bible take place. I would also like to introduce two concepts. Firstly, if we are to believe that “God” Truly is as he is described in the bible, then he is an existence our brains aren’t even equipped to comprehend, and as such, things such as laws of physics or time would not apply to him. Secondly, there is a gigantic amount of imagery used in the bible.

We will come back to those points in a minute, but first let’s discuss the easy stuff. We know that the phenomenon dubbed by scientists as “The Big Bang” occurred around 13.7 billion years ago. We can measure radiation caused by stars from that time with out instruments even today (That’s why you hear static on the radio between stations). Science has, however, failed to explain or provide evidence for what happened before this time. We can explain how the universe went from what it was at that original starting point to where we are now utilizing our knowledge of the life and death of stars, and by utilizing the periodic table (Which coincidentally came from our observation of stars). Nevertheless, we simply cannot provide any insight into how the beginning came into being (My brain is starting to hurt).

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If anyone is interested I can more comprehensively explain the logistics of our journey from masses of gasses and compounds in the sky to what we are today but for now, I want to draw a conclusion. We know that the laws of physics are not universal from our study of black holes, which are capable of distorting time among other things, and we also know that imagery is utilized liberally in the bible. It would stand to reason, then, that everything we have proven by science regarding our creation could possibly have been set into motion by God. If we are to support the method of scientific observation, we actually have to believe that a God is, at the very least, a possible explanation.

I know that a lot of you may cry foul at the part where it says that we were made from clay. Well, factor in these two things.

  1. It never outright states that God made us exclusively of clay, only that clay was used. Additionally, the word clay is purely symbolic and a more literal definition of the original text would have been dust or dirt. The chemical composition of soil consists of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium, and traces of relatively insoluble elements such as iron and aluminum. Humans consist of oxygencarbon, hydrogen, nitrogencalcium, and phosphorous. A very small percentage of our bodies are also made up of potassiumsulfursodiumchlorine, and magnesium. Oh, and the stars consist of Hydrogen, Helium, Oxygen, Carbon, Iron, Neon, Nitrogen, Silicon, Magnesium, and Sulfur.
  2. Given that we know that physics can be manipulated, and that God is alleged to be one to whom physics do not apply, it is entirely possible that the seven day account of creation is not literal. It would stand to reason that billions of years could pass in the blink of an eye for such a being, or that time would be viewed in such an alien fashion that we could not begin to understand it. There is also no specific information offered on Adam and Eve’s beginning other than the fact that they were created, so they very well could have been the first two apes to possess sentience. Oh, and don’t think of Ape the wrong way, I don’t mean they hunched over and waddled about, they were most likely very similar to us: We are actually still Apes today.

The conclusion to all of this, and I suppose the grander point, is that I now firmly believe that I cannot be an atheist if I cannot disprove the existence of God, or any higher power for that matter. If I were to claim something such as that, with no concrete evidence to back it up, I would become just as bad as I viewed all of those who were faithful to be. For, just as one can be blinded by faith, one can be blinded by willful ignorance. Atheism, then, is no true definition of belief in nothing. It is, in fact, belief in ignorance.

Thanks for reading.

-More to follow

Why I Support Feminism (And Not Whatever That Other Stuff Is)

Feminism: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”

 

In the grand scheme of history over the course of the last couple millennia, it becomes blatantly apparent that America is a fairly young country. As with most great civilizations that have existed, we are not without our share of reprehensible acts and ideals. I don’t need to remind anyone that we used to survive economically through slavery, or that we used to consider only the wealthy to be fit for positions of authority (We totally still do that last one). This is of course without the mention of the fact that we stole and connived this land from the Native Americans.

The wonderful news is that America has evolved since its beginnings, transforming itself from a pillar of racism, segregation, xenophobia, and social apartheid, into a beacon of freedom, acceptance, opportunity, and equality. (Bad taste in my mouth after that last part). We are, of course, still changing, and have even in recent history made radical changes to laws that have been in place since the founding of our country. Marriage is no longer strictly recognized as being between a man and a woman, and laws regarding internet privacy and exchange of digital information are being tweaked and updated constantly.

Perhaps one of the most well known changes in our system of laws aside from the abolishing of slavery was the nineteenth amendment to the constitution. Finally, in legal writing, we as a country stated clearly that the rights of our citizens could no longer be dictated or otherwise affected by gender. This amendment came about as the result of nearly 300 years of hard work by several members of various feminist movements throughout history, and it certainly didn’t happen all at once. In fact, some of the first issues to be addressed by feminism were the lack of a right to vote for women and the lack of any legal recourse for a woman in an abusive relationship. Yikes.

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Several other issues regarding women would be tackled (And solved) in the following years of the nineteenth amendment, including equal rights for employment, election, income, and reproduction.

The history of feminism, being as long as it is, is divided up into “waves”, with the first wave advocating primarily for the amendment to the constitution and the secondary wave lobbying for further specification of the rights of women. It is also worth noting that while the first wave was primarily politically centered, the second wave was almost entirely focused on the social aspect of equality. Most of us were actually born during what is being called the third feminist wave, which was mainly directed towards fixing the perceived failures of the latter wave.

I actually agree with a lot of what this “Third Wave” stood for originally. For one, the proponents of this ideology initially sought to challenge and avoid the over-emphasis on the experiences of white, upper-middle class women. They also intended to raise awareness on the lack of a binary understanding of gender, which I completely support. Before I get too far, let me state for reference that true feminists are not trying to insinuate that there are more than two biological genders. Humans either have male, or female reproductive organs. What they are trying to convey, however, is that nobody should have to be considered overtly masculine or feminine as a result of their sex. This would remove the perception of women necessarily being delicate, and of men necessarily being more sturdy, for example.

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There is also a supposed fourth wave of feminism, but it is (For all intents and purposes) advocating for the same things as the third wave while utilizing a different platform such as twitter, so it isn’t actually separate.

Feminism is a beautiful ideal; envisioning a world where gender roles are no longer propagated and in which those who identify as being a different gender can be afforded the proper amount of respect. And now we address the majority of feminists that are polluting our social media websites.

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Yeah, those ones. Seriously feminists, what in the name of Carrie Chapman Catt happened to you? I support feminism, not whatever crazy ideas of sexism you are trying to spew all over anyone within reach. Game of Thrones was not sexist because of its lack of male nudity; there are strict FCC regulations on what can, and cannot be shown and for how long it can be shown in any form of media broadcast around the world. Men are not sexist just because they imagine their favorite superheroes as male and not female; Take a look at the source material. Video games are not sexist just because they frequently feature damsel in distress scenarios; It is not being insinuated that all girls are in need of saving and can’t save themselves, it is insinuating that in this one particular self-contained story, the princess was raised in the lap of luxury and didn’t want to sully her clothes in an escape attempt.

I mean, for God’s sake, you can make anything sound sexist if you try to hard enough. “I feel so discriminated as a man, since most television shows and movies portray me as a stupid breadwinner. I’ve got feelings too.” I mean seriously, piss off. We men have spent the majority of our lives being taught to conform to a pre-conceived notion of manliness, and by the way, a lot of it stems from our biology, not from our ideals. By the way, the entire idea of what an ideal man is like didn’t stem from us, it originated with women. Women wanted a strong man capable of financially supporting them at the very least because that’s what would be most beneficial for their survival. We aren’t saying that a woman can’t take the place of the man in a heartbeat, but if he wants to fill his traditional role then he should be able to without fear of ridicule over being “Sexist”.

What we are talking about here is not feminism, its the exact same double-standard, segregating bullshit from the past but in reverse. You want to be equal? Awesome, I want that too. But that means that as a man I can hit you if I get angry. I can expect you to hold the door open for me. I can expect you to pay for half of the dates, and to get a job working in a steel mill fabricating support beams for freighters. I can expect you to be fine with me staying at home and raising the kids while you go out and work to support the family. Oh, and if you yell at me and frighten me or threaten me, I can call the police and have you arrested.

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Not the equality you were looking for?

-More to follow

 

The Fine Line Between Morals and Ignorance

Greetings fellow inter-web users. I just became aware of a controversial post on social media, and I absolutely have to talk about it. 

For the sake of anonymity I am not going to share more specifics than necessary about this post. I would also like to state that as the post related to an opinion, I am by no means ridiculing the person or telling them that they are wrong, rather, I am stating how I personally feel about the opinion and the related concept.

Alright, here we go. So the post had to do with the popular HBO series Game of thrones (Based on the book series by George R.R. Martin). In the post, not only was a youth pastor of the christian faith demeaned for expressing interest in the show, but the show itself was described as pornographic.

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Before I get into the statement and what it represents in a broader scope, let me first provide the actual definition of porn.

Pornography: “printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.”

With only one definition, the entire basis for the aforementioned argument is null and void. A television show which revolves around political ramifications, royal houses with ulterior motives, fire-breathing dragons, and other such fantastical things in no way fits the definition of porn. Add to that that the first four seasons of Game of Thrones (with an average of twelve episodes each with run-times of an hour or so) contained exactly 30 minutes and 19 seconds of nudity total. If Game of thrones was actually porn, I doubt that stuff like this would exist:

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Ok so that isn’t exactly porn (There really are porn parodies of this show) but that’s kind of the point. When I think about this show, I don’t think, “My my my, can’t wait to see some dicks and tits”. The internet is vast and if I really want to I can just go to Pornhub or something.

Before we get a bit more serious here and tackle the concept, not just the statement, let me tell you a bit about myself. I was raised by parents who had adopted me and were significantly older than normal parents. This meant that instead of having the standard one or two generations gap, I was living with parents who were born at the tail end of the Great Depression. My parents were wonderful and caring and put up with way more of my shit than they should have. Oh, and they were devout Christians.

Growing up in a Christian household, I was not given a choice in what I believed. I went to church on Sundays, went to a private Christian school, read my bible, and didn’t have access to the internet or other “Worldly” and evil things like Harry Potter or Pokemon. As a matter of fact, when I was actually old enough to really believe in something rather than just not argue with what I was told, I was all about Christianity. I didn’t cuss, I didn’t participate in sinful activities, I didn’t listen to bad music or watch “pornographic” television shows (Couldn’t resist). It wasn’t until late in my teenage years that I actually gained access to the internet and technology.

Of course, being raised as a godly young man, I did the sensible thing that most in my position would do. I watched a shit ton of porn. Soooo much porn. I must have spent a whole summer looking at smut. Here’s the thing though, and this may be TMI, but I had no idea what masturbation even was. I wasn’t looking at porn to gain some satisfaction from it, I was looking at it because up until that point I had never been taught anything at all about the human reproductive system, and by golly, I was curious. Receiving sex-ed courses from Jenna Haze isn’t exactly ideal, and of course all good things eventually come to an end, so it wasn’t long until my Aunt snooped about on the computer and followed the trail of bread crumbs to my double digit porn site history. The memory of what followed has been emblazoned into my mind ever since. I was confronted by my Father and my Aunt (My mother had passed away by this time) and I was sat in a chair with my father sitting close by while my Aunt went to the pornographic websites in an attempt to… I still don’t actually know what was supposed to be accomplished.

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I tell this story not because it’s sad or funny or I expect to elicit some sort of response, but because I want everyone reading this to know that I am not just another Atheist who doesn’t understand the true meaning of God’s wisdom. I am actually not even an Atheist. What I am, however, is someone who has spent many years worth of time doing research and self-reflection on religion.

Now we arrive at the issue at hand.

Somebody called a TV show pornographic, ok, so what, that’s their opinion. But, add in a dose of generalization, pair that with labeling, mix it with a healthy splash of essence du’ lack of knowledge, and we arrive at bigotry. I would like to play by the rules of Christianity for a moment. The bible clearly states that God is the final judge, jury, and executioner.  There are several scriptures to support this, including: “But do you suppose14 this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches15 of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”16 Romans 2:3-4

Or perhaps: “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you5 who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”6 Romans 2:1

And who could forget: The Powerful One, God, the Lord, has spoken. And He calls the earth from where the sun rises to where the sun goes down. God shines from Zion, perfect in beauty. May our God come and not keep quiet. A fire burns before Him, and around Him is a powerful storm. He calls the heavens above, and the earth, that He may judge His people: “Gather My holy ones to Me, those who have made an agreement with Me by their gifts given on an altar.” And the heavens will tell how right and good He is, for God Himself is judge.” Psalms:50

Judging (Pun completely intended) by these scriptures, it would appear that we have absolutely no right to pass judgement on others.

Oh, and speaking of right, the bible has something to say about that as well.

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

“You shall have no other gods before[a] me.”

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

13 “You shall not murder.”

14 “You shall not commit adultery.”

15 “You shall not steal.”

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

That’s a verse from the book of Exodus, chapter 20. The problem is that, try as I might, I just can’t seem to find anything in there about Game of Thrones being pornographic… What it does look like, however, if we are to follow the instructions of commandment number 3, is that there are an awful lot of crucifixes that need to be removed from churches.

Now that I have stated my opinion via the teachings of Christianity, I shall approach it from my own perspective.

It is completely immoral, either through benign ignorance or malicious refusal to attain knowledge, to condemn, or otherwise attribute falsely, characteristics that you perceive to be undesirable to individuals, or to matters and objects of subjectivity. This is the problem with Christianity as a whole, in my opinion, and why they are viewed unfavorably. The original teachings of Jesus were all about acceptance, forgiveness, peace, and good will. What is being practiced now, however, is the inappropriate labeling and sensationalizing of innocent subject matter such as music, books, or TV shows that have no intrinsic characteristics and as such cannot be sinful. Further, how dare anyone insinuate that because of an interest in something that is not a shared interest, someone is lesser, or wrong. That, friends, is where racism and homophobia came from.

Perhaps most distressingly, are the people that actually buy into this type of shit. We don’t need a generation full, or even a large group of people who have lived their lives so sheltered by their faith that they have never even seen a naked person other than themselves, or taken a class in sex education. How on earth are these poor people supposed to understand or handle all of this new stimuli with no prior experience? How is sheltering someone to the point that it hinders their development to their benefit?

I need to take a breather. Thanks for reading. I think I’m gonna go watch some “porn”.

More to follow

Ten Movies Worth Watching (That You Probably Don’t Know Exist) Part 2

Good evening to all you movie watchers! The list of low-notoriety film gems continues below.

 

6. Silence (2016) (R)

Genre: History, Drama

Directed By: Martin Scorsese

:DISCLAIMER: If you hold belief in God then you will hate this movie

Silence

Ah, Silence. I extend my sincerest thanks to you for having the balls to portray a controversial and true account of religious history (Apologies, I drooled on the keyboard a bit). I will admit that I began watching this movie with the lowest possible expectations, and good golly miss Mary Mother of Jesus was I pleasantly surprised. The pacing of the film (God awful slow at the beginning) is the only complaint I have for this raw, unyielding portrayal of the ban of Catholicism under the Tokugawa shogunate and the effects on the priests who ignored it. It is notoriously difficult to convey subtle emotions such as doubt or contemplation realistically in movie format, and I am pleased to report that this film is a prime example of first rate direction and acting. The underlying theme of a crisis of faith is powerfully delivered, and the characters portrayed come across as intensely human and relate-able. There is a calm and somewhat morbid beauty in much of the film’s respectably long run-time, and dull shades of gray and black give way effortlessly to vibrant, nearly neon hues. Confidence booster this movie is not, but if you are game for a subtle, intellectual, and entirely unbiased view of religious persecution, look no further; This movie is a masterpiece.

Summary: Two Jesuit priests travel to seventh century Japan to locate their missing mentor.

7. A Monster Calls (2016) (PG-13)

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Directed By: Juan Antonio Bayona

A Monster Calls

I don’t know how many of you have seen Bridge to Terabithia, but my God that movie was sad. Apparently, however, the movie industry was not content leaving me a sobbing loon, and wanted to give me another push to becoming dehydrated from loss of water through tears. I was pretty choked up about Bridge to Terabitha, but this movie made Bridge feel like going to the refrigerator after filling a bowl with cereal and realizing you have no more milk. Yeah, that kind of sadness. I don’t mean to dissuade anyone from watching this movie. It is a beautifully filmed example of coming to terms with loss, and the “Monster” itself provides a healthy dose of mystery to the plot. I cannot stress enough how much I recommend this movie, if only for the perspective it offers, bur make sure you have tissues and a gallon of ice-cream at the ready.

Summary: A boy whose mother is terminally ill discovers a “monster” outside his bedroom window.

 

8. Man of Tai Chi (2013) (R)

Genre: Drama, Action

Directed By: Keanu Reeves

Man of Tai Chi

Ah yes. Few things can perk me back up like watching two grown men beat the s*** out of each other for no reason. Well, I suppose there is usually a reason, but the reason is usually disproportionate to the amount of whoop-ass being delivered on screen. This film stands out, then, as a rarity in the Kung-Fu Genre. As its name suggests, this film is primarily about martial arts, specifically, Tai Chi. If you’re like me and assume Tai Chi is a super awesome fighting style, let me state that Tai Chi is actually more like Yoga and was designed for exercise, not for fighting. Like most movies set in a universe where  it is perfectly normal for people to kick each other into walls and such (I’m looking at you, Keanu), this movie is fairly light on plot. What it lacks in plot, however, it more than makes up for in tight, close-quarters choreography, and the pure novelty of the fact that, come on, people are getting beat up with Wii Fit moves.

Summary: In Beijing, a young student of Tai Chi discovers a more lucrative use for his skills.

 

9. The Salvation (2014) (R)

Genre: Western

Directed By: Kristian Levring

The Salvation

I have always loved watching westerns. I love a good gunfight scene followed by the rescue of the love interest and the inevitable ride into the distant sunset. This is not one of those movies. If a traditional western is a leisurely walk in a familiar park, this movie is a barefoot walk down a trash filled alleyway behind a 7-11. You’re not gonna be comfortable, you’ve never been in this situation before, and you are sure as Hell going to be relieved when you come out the other side. This film is gritty, starkly realistic, and chock full of tobacco spittin’ straight jaw clenchin’ revenge, and the final act makes the entire thing worth it. I remember actually jumping out of my chair, for one. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, but this movie has the true heart of an epic western.

Summary: In 1870’s America, a peaceful settler embarks on a quest for revenge after his family is murdered by members of an outlaw gang. 

 

10. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016) (R)

Genre: Music, Comedy

Directed By: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone

Popstar-Never Stop Never Stopping

I find it hard to believe that anyone hasn’t at least heard of this movie, but if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it. It’s f***ing hilarious.

Summary: When his new album fails to sell records, pop/rap star Conner4real begins to see his entire life collapse around him.

-More to follow

 

I appreciate everyone who checked out this page. If anyone has requests or ideas for top ten lists, or for future content for this blog, feel free to post in the comments section. 

 

Ten Movies Worth Watching (That You Probably Don’t Know Exist) Part 1

I consider myself to have somewhat eclectic taste in movies.

From the war drama to the romantic comedy, I have seen a large variety of movies, some of which that stuck in my mind for weeks. Listed below, in no particular order, are ten movies that I personally believe offer a worthwhile cinematic experience, but that didn’t necessarily receive much fame.

1. Howl (2015) (R)

Genre: Comedy, Horror

Directed by: Paul Hyett

Howl

In case the picture above didn’t make it obvious, this is a werewolf movie. I have been a huge fan of werewolves for most of my life, and truthfully find them terrifying. Unfortunately, with zombie movies and vampire movies taking over the mainstream media, us werewolf fans have been left with a small selection. The good news is that this is one of the most well done horror movies I have ever seen, and it happens to also be about my favorite movie monster. The gore effects and creature design are excellent, and the acting is almost exclusively above average for a horror film. Additionally, the sound designers got the music and atmosphere just right to create an immersing, terrifying experience.

Summary: A group of strangers are aboard a train that breaks down in the middle of a forest. With communications inoperable and the full moon looming overhead, they must decide whether to leave the safety of the train to seek help, or to stay and hope to survive till daybreak.

2. The Lost City Of Z (2017)  (PG-13)

Genre: Biography, History

Directed by: James Gray

 

The Lost City of Z

Truthfully I have never been a huge fan of the “bio-pic” genre. The stories that are told are most usually either fantasized beyond their source material, or they tell a story not worth telling. This movie is one of the few exceptions. If the grand, sweeping cinematography and powerful score are not enough to generate interest, the portrayal of the real-life main character (Percival Fawcett) by Charlie Hunnam is engrossing and complex enough to carry the entire movie. I didn’t feel as though I was watching a film about someone from history, I felt as though I had been transported back in time to watch the events unfold as they happened. Aside from the stunning visuals and outright Oscar-worthy performance, the story that the film is based on is as epic as I have ever seen outside of fiction.

Summary: At the turn of the 20th century, a British Explorer named Percival Fawcett discovers evidence of an ancient, highly advanced civilization previously hidden from discovery. Despite suffering ridicule from his peers, he perseveres in an attempt to prove the validity of his claims. 

3. Shallow Ground (2005) (R)

Genre: Thriller, Horror

Directed By: Sheldon Wilson

Shallow Ground

There are a lot of indie-horror flicks out there, A lot. There are so many in fact, that it has become very difficult for even higher budget films in the indie-horror category to avoid being lost amid the swarm. I stumbled upon this film one day when searching for something, anything new to watch, and immediately prepared myself for the worst (The film looks like it was shot with a magnifying lens duct taped to an Iphone 3G). I have to say though, after getting past the initial shock of shoddy post-editing, I was astonished at the story, acting, and even the low budget special effects in this film. Words of warning for the faint of heart, this movie contains quite a bit of gore (On of the main characters spends the entirety of the film naked and covered in it) and violence. What stands out in the film, however, is the plot, which had me guessing (Which is not a usual for me) until the screen faded to black.

Summary: A naked teenage boy covered in blood appears at a remote sheriff’s location exactly one year after the brutal unsolved murder of a local girl. The sheriff, guilt ridden over his past failures, feels compelled to discover the truth behind the boy’s identity and purpose, and in doing so unknowingly inches himself ever-closer to an unthinkable horror.

4. ’71 (2014) (R)

Genre: Drama, Action

Directed By: Yann Demange

'71

This film is another rarity in the sense that it not only offers a glimpse of a relatively untold true story in a human way, but it manages to tread the fine line between fact and fiction while still maintaining a strong feeling of tension and energy. The lead performance by Jack O’Connel is compelling, and you find yourself quickly becoming invested in his safety as he scurries about in enemy territory, unfamiliar with his surroundings and never knowing who is friend or foe. Don’t take the genre of this film the wrong way, it definitely has the gore and harsh reality of war on display, but unlike traditional war films such as Saving Private Ryan, The focus of the story boils down to one individual and his desperate fight to survive.

Summary: A young British soldier must reach safety after being accidentally abandoned by his unit during a street riot in Belfast. 

5. The Autopsy Of Jane Doe (2016) (R)

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Directed By: André Øvredal

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Although its outward appearance practically bashes you over the head with a blunt object while muttering something about “horror”, this movie actually ended up being one of my all time favorite mystery style movies produced in the last decade. The way that the main characters (A coroner and his son) connect with one another on screen is believable, even heartbreaking at times, and the subtle way in which the mystery unravels kept me on the edge of my seat for most of the film. The score is also excellent, providing the right amount of palpable fear while at the same time remaining subtle enough as to remain unnoticed. If anyone thinking about watching this movie is going to be around cadavers any time soon (Or if you really like cats) you probably shouldn’t  watch this.

Summary: A duo of coroners (Father and son) are tasked with determining the cause of death for a homicide victim who bears no physical evidence of trauma.

 

-More to Follow

 

I appreciate anyone who checked out this page, I will be uploading the second half of the list soon. If anyone has requests or ideas for top ten lists, or for future content for this blog, feel free to post in the comments section. 

Part 2