Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Offend people the right way

Nobody would ever accuse me of being on the cutting-edge of topical content when it comes to my blog, but I feel a little bit more behind the curve right now. Personally, I blame it all on the baby and the fact that I've had to return to work. Still, I've been thinking about some stuff lately, and now I finally have a chance to write about it. (Although Logan's getting a bit twitchy and Mommy's not home...)

When I heard about that one moron pastor's decision to have a "Burn the Koran" day, my reaction was to think that he was doing something stupid. Yeah, yeah, he didn't actually go through with it, but I understand that there were some other yahoos out there who went and did it anyway. Now, you might be wondering, what did I have against it? After all, didn't I participate in "Draw Mohammed Day"? That's something that would offend Muslims. Why would I be on board with one and not on board with the other?

I already explained my reasoning for drawing Mohammed, so if you want to know why, click on the link. The reason why I don't think that one should burn the Koran is because burning a book, or a flag, album, picture, etcetera, is the lowest form of expression. All it communicates is "I don't like this and I don't think anybody should get to look at it and make up their own mind." If one is inclined to critique the Koran, then create something like The Skeptic's Annotated Koran. Burning books is just dumb. I have some serious problems with holy books myself, or rather, I have a problem with people who think that these holy books should become the basis of law for a modern society. Still, I think that there is much that one can learn from The Koran, The Bible, The Vedas, etcetera. At the very least, you can understand what exactly it is that people believe about their various gods.

The one thing that I want to make absolutely clear is that I don't think that people shouldn't burn The Koran because people might get offended. A person has every right to burn it. If people get offended - too damned bad. This is a free society. I also don't think that our actions should be dictated by what would and would not offend the Muslim extremists in other parts of the world. If we let them do that, then they're controlling us, and therefore "winning".

It should be made absolutely clear that in this country, we have the freedom to destroy the holy books of others. However, wouldn't it be nice if we all could find more intelligent ways to critique things?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Comics Roundup for 9/8/10

I thought I'd start off today's comics roundup by reminding everybody (myself included) what the point of it all is. I don't aspire to have a formal "comics review" blog, so if that's what you're looking for, you'll be disappointed. For the most part, I write this for myself. Why do I do it? Because I sometimes find that I'll buy certain titles out of habit more than the fact that I'm enjoying them. I've found that by doing this particular exercise, where I have to write a little something about every comic I get, I've been able to focus more on getting the stuff that I'm really anxious to read rather than the stuff that completes a collection. With that said:

The Amazing Spider-Man
#641 -
Now we know everything that happened in between "One More Day" and "Brand New Day". From where I sit, it all makes as much sense as a story that undoes past stories possibly can. A lot of people really bagged on "One More Day", but I kind of liked it, mainly for the reason that it was the first time in quite a while that I cared about Peter and Mary Jane's relationship. With this particular story, I feel that way again, and we can see that she'll continue to be an important part of his life. Also, their break-up makes some sense, and it would probably have been harder for them to get divorced under the same situation. One thing's for sure, if they ever plan on undoing the undoing of the Spider-marriage, it's not going to be any time soon.

The Amazing Spider-Man #642 - I picked this up in spite of the fact that Paul Azaceta's artwork. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - while he is a good artist, and actually an above-average storyteller, he isn't quite the right fit for Spider-Man. Still, this issue seemed a bit better than what he's done before, and there weren't any shots of Spider-Man that made him look like he was having a hernia. What's better, the story by Mark Waid is really fun, and we get Peter Parker at his Peter Parkeriest, what with his roommate selling all of his clothes off so he can make the rent, leaving him with just an ugly sweater that he has to wear while going on a date on a hot day.

Green Lantern #57 - One thing's clear with this issue and it's that there are many story possibilities left over now that there are several different Lantern corps throughout the universe. Also, there's a lot left to tell now that it's established that each corps has its own entity. This one deal's with "the predator" of the Star Sapphires, and it gets to the issue of why the Star Sapphires would seem so screwy even though they're supposed to represent what's thought of as a more positive emotion - namely, love.

Hellboy: The Storm #3 (of 3) - This wasn't so much a complete story as a prelude to what's promising to be a larger epic tale. Still, there's a bit of a character arc for the titular character, as Hellboy continues to do things his own way. Recently, he discovered that his destiny of being the harbinger of the end of the world wasn't so clear-cut. There was another option. Still, not liking the idea of being manipulated, HB is going for a third option - an option that he hasn't completely figured out yet. Anyway, I think that I say it pretty much every time, but this continues to be a must-read series of miniseries. To think that I've been sticking with this character for fifteen years, and the best stuff is the most recent. I can't wait to see what's next.

The New Avengers #4 - I sure hope that other people think that Stuart Immonen is hands-down one of the best artists currently working on superhero comics today. Every page is fantastic, and he only seems to be getting better and better. Of course, the stories are pretty engaging as well. As I've mentioned before, this was the Avengers book that I was the most skeptical of, but it's quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Batman and Robin #14 - I'm glad that I recently reread every issue of this series, as I actually had some sense of what was going on. Grant Morrison shows us why The Joker will always be Batman's greatest villain, and it's interesting to see how this whole thing is becoming more about him versus Black Hand than the Dick Grayson Batman versus Black Hand. I must also point out that I really dig Frazer Irving's artwork, and I even had a strange dream last night that seemed to mimic his artistic style.

Astro City Special: Silver Agent #2 (of 2) - I think that I need to read this and the first issue back-to-back, as I didn't really remember what had happened in the previous one. That said, I still enjoyed it well enough, and it's good to see that this story was finally told. It certainly was an ambitious little tale, and the character is definitely more than a Captain America-type as I would have figured.

Wolverine #1 - I actually got this one for free, as I took my son, Logan, on his first trip to Flying Colors Comics. The owner, Joe Field, gave this to him, but I asked Logan if it was okay if I borrowed it to read, and he seemed cool with it. Anyway, I liked it enough that I'll probably pick up the next issue. I was especially pleased to see Renato Guedes handling the artwork, as I really enjoyed his work on Superman. Personally, I'm a bit confused by all of the different Wolverine comics that are out right now, and I don't know why the adjectiveless title has been rebooted. Whatever, it was a fun read.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Flip side of the same B.S. coin

I'm about to make a statement that should upset the majority of people in this country:

Global warming deniers and 9/11 "truthers" are equally full of crap. In fact, they're almost identical in their whole style of argument and their standards of evidence that they'd be nearly indistinguishable if they didn't have separate pet issues. In both cases, you've got yourself a narrative that the believer (or non-believer, in the case of global warming) subscribes to and must not deviate from. Also, they both have a face of their enemy (Bush/Cheney for the truthers, Al Gore for the deniers). Lastly, they both cling to talking points that sound like slam-dunk arguments, but if they took the time to read up on anything that's not espousing their predetermined viewpoint, they'd see just how full of crap they are.

I can just imagine a global warming denier reading this and saying, "No way! I'm nothing like those truthers! Those people are crazy!" Of course, the truthers no doubt are cringing at the comparison to them and the climate change deniers. I suppose that there might even be some people who deny both global warming and that Muslim extremists attacked us on 9/11. Those people are doubly mad, I guess.

I don't feel like going over every single argument and every single piece of evidence, but allow me to be at least a bit more specific. With your deniers, they like to pull out the old "They said there'd be global cooling in the 1970s!" This makes them feel good because since we're not living in an ice age, it just goes to show that these climate scientists were wrong once, so they could very well be wrong again. Well, guess what? That whole talking point is disingenuous at best, a complete lie at worst. There was never the scientific consensus over an imminent cool-down like there is over global warming. (And don't get me started on the whole thing about how scientists are supposedly still debating this issue. If you allow anybody with a BS into the argument, then you might have something. As for climatologists, the ones who know what they're talking about, last I read they were 97% on board with us humans causing the current warming trends.)

With your truthers, they like to pull out the whole thing about how engineers are saying that there is no way the plane explosions could have brought down the twin towers. Well, if they did some research, they'd see that there are some engineers who were able to explain it just fine. Also, a truther recently told me that it was remarkable that there weren't any signs of damage from the plane's wing at the Pentagon. You know what I did? I looked it up. Turns out, there was evidence of it.

I should also point out that when it comes to 9/11, you've got a lot of people who know about as much as I do about engineering and physics (which isn't very much) having really strong opinions as to exactly what a plane crash is and what it should do. With climate change, you've got people who don't understand the difference between their local weather and average global temperatures.

I leave you with a couple of sources. The first is a long list of answers to common claims of global warming deniers. Before you comment with a long-since debunked claim about how it's not true, I suggest you consult it. It's currently standing at 120 debunked myths. The second is Wikipedia's article on 9/11 conspiracies. Yeah, I know, Wikipedia is unreliable. Shoot, I told my seniors that they'd get a zero on their essays if they cited it. However, I also told them that Wikipedia is a great starting point for doing some research, and it's in that spirit that I recommend this particular article. What's great is not just its thoroughness, but the number of links to further information and evidence that the truthers will find to be most inconvenient.

I end with a quote from Sherlock Holmes. He said it in the recent movie, but it's also from the excellent short story, "A Scandal in Bohemia". "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."