Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Selfish good deeds

I seem to recall an episode of Friends where Phoebe was arguing with one of the other characters (Chandler, I think...) about whether purely good deeds exist or not.  Her point was that they do.  The other character was telling her that no matter what, deep-down, people have a selfish reason for doing what they do - even it's as simple as feeling good about their good deeds.  Well, I don't know about that, but I do know that some people do some pretty stupid stuff that they might justify as being a good deed, but there is nothing but selfishness and/or ignorance driving their actions.

Case in point, when I take my dog on a walk, I take her to a park that has a pond with ducks and geese.  Pretty much every time I go there on the weekend, I find somebody feeding the birds there.  And where do they usually do it?  Right in front of a sign that pretty clearly reads:  DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE.  Seriously.  It's not like they feed them on the other side of the pond where they could legitimately say that they didn't see it.  Last time I was there, the guy was pretty much tossing the bread right in front of the sign.

Not too far away is another sign that explains WHY you shouldn't feed the wildlife.  Basically, it's not good for them.  All that white bread?  Yeah, that's not really what they'd be eating out in the wild.  Also, and I'm not sure exactly how, but apparently it helps to spread disease.  Maybe more food equals more poop and more poop equals more disease.  I don't know.

The thing is, it's not like feeding the birds is a necessary thing for anybody to do.  They have to go out of their way to bring the bread to the pond.  It's not like something bad will happen to them if they don't.  So why are they doing it?  It's because they want to see the ducks and geese eat, and they don't care if they're ultimately doing more harm than good.

Something that's kind of along this line comes up whenever there's a birthday - in particular, my birthday.  Ever try to tell people that you don't want them to sing you the happy birthday song?  They don't like to hear you say that.  Never mind that it's YOUR birthday.  Never mind that, within reason, you're expected to give the birthday person what he or she wants.  Never mind that the song is annoying and you feel like an idiot as you have to sit there and pretend to enjoy it while everybody's singing it to you.  Oh no, it's the birthday song, and you're going to listen to it even if you don't want to because they want you to be happy with something that you don't like.

Lastly, there are the people who drag their kicking and screaming kids up to Santa Claus so they can have a picture taken?  For whose benefit is this, exactly?  Certainly not the kid's.

I suppose I could go on, but you get the point.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Comics Roundup for 3/21/12

Gettin' tired - gotta make these quick:

Batman #7 - The plot thickens in the story of the Court of Owls.  This book is doing well, and it deserves to do so.  It's nice to see what Greg Capullo can do when he's teamed with a good writer.

Justice League #7 - This was a decent issue.  I don't think that Gene Ha is a good choice for this title though, even though I've really liked him on other things.

Wolverine #303 - A good issue, but it would have been nice to have one art team on the whole story.

Wonder Woman #7 - After being a bit disappointed with the last two issues, this has once again risen to one of my favorite titles.  Can it be that the artist, Cliff Chiang makes that big of a difference?  I don't know, but it sure doesn't hurt to have him back after a couple of fill-ins.

Kick Ass 2 #7 - It was pretty tough to have a satisfying end to this series, but Mark Millar did a pretty good job of it, and he's definitely setting things up for more.  I will say yet again that I don't know if I'd want to see this made into a movie, as much as I've enjoyed the comic.

The Amazing Spider-Man #682 - Yet another solid installment, and the start of something big.  I'm glad that Dan Slott is doing regular "big" stories for Spidey.  That sort of a thing is normally reserved for team books - but why not Spider-Man?

Super Crooks #1 - Another Mark Millar book.  I've liked the rest, and this one is pretty good so far as well.  Basically you have a bunch of crooks who head out of the country, since the U.S. has too many damned superheroes who always thwart them.  I expect some twists and turns in coming installments, as that concept can only be enough to get the ball rolling.

Friday, March 23, 2012

How to handle the religion question with my son - part II

I wrote a month ago about how I plan on dealing with the issue of religion when it comes to my son.  Ever since then, I've been thinking about it some more, and I've been meaning to write some additional thoughts.  Basically, I never really addressed what I want for my son.  In other words, I didn't say what I'd want his religious attitude to be, if I had my preference.

I'll be honest.  As an atheist, I want him to be one too.  I didn't just come to this conclusion randomly.  I gave it a lot of thought, and I sincerely believe that religious belief clouds one's mind.  If I didn't think so, then I'd convert over to a religion.

I realize that I could no doubt have some success if I isolate him from any other points of view and basically act like the ultimate authority in his life, where he must believe what I believe.  That would probably work for at least until he was a teenager.  However, that's not my style, and honestly, it's something that I associate with the religious more than freethinkers.  And if I'm totally honest, I'm not interest in having a robot for a son.  I'd rather have him disagree with me and think for himself than agree with everything I say because he's just repeating me.

So I realize that he has to live his own life.  And personally, I don't think that learning about religious beliefs will hurt him in the slightest.  If anything, it will help him to understand the world he lives in a bit better.

Obviously, some faith paths are preferable to others.  I'd rather he be a Muslim who doesn't believe in a literal interpretation of the Qu'ran (they do exist, ya know) and values women's rights and democracy than a fundamentalist Christian who intimidates women who go into Planned Parenthood.  I'd rather he be a Christian who accepts evolution and the Big Bang (they do exist, ya know) than a Scientologist.  I'd rather he be a Scientologist than a member of a Jim Jones type of a cult.

You might be thinking:  "What you want is for him to be like you."  Well, what parent doesn't, to some extent anyway?  But in all honesty, I don't really want him to be like me.  See, my whole life, religious belief has been important.  When I believed, I'd think about it all the time and argue in favor for a God.  Now that I'm no longer a believer, I still think about it a lot and argue against the existence of a god.

Basically what I'm saying is that I don't want my son to bother giving all this stuff as much thought as I have.  I guess I'm just somewhat obsessive about certain things, and this topic has always been one for me.  I want him to learn and explore, maybe even attend a religious service or two, but I don't want him to have to waste his time struggling with faith like I did.  It's used up far too much of my brain power, I'm afraid.

Only time will tell what he thinks and what he'll do.  Hopefully no matter what it is, he'll at least be happy.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Comics Roundup for 3/14/12

Just moved into a new place, so I didn't have time for last week's Roundup.  Here's what I got in the past two weeks:

Fatale #3 - Honestly?  I haven't read it. I can't remember what happened in the past two issues.  I'm probably going to let it build up to a few issues before I sit down and give this series a go.  As I've said before, this creative team has produced some of my favorite comics in recent memory, so I'm willing to take that chance.

Winter Soldier #3 - I liked the first two issues well enough, but this one is a bit more like it.  The only bad thing about it is that once again I'm reminded of how great a villain Doctor Doom is, and thusly how bad they screwed him up in those Fantastic Four movies.

Wolverine #302 - Speaking of "that's more like it", this one is just that.  I was losting interest during the past two issues, but this has renewed my interest in the series.

Action Comics #7 - And yet another pleasant surprise.  This was potentially going to be my last issue, but I'm interested yet again.  They just need a more consistent art team on this title, I think.

The Amazing Spider-Man #681 - I haven't checked out the Spider-Man message boards on Comic Book Resources in some time, and I'm curious as to whether everybody is hating on this title as much as they always seemed to be in the past.  For my money, this is one of the most consistently entertaining titles out there.

Crimson Empire III #5 (of 6) - I probably oughtta reread this entire series once the last issue comes out, as I'm forgetting a bit here and there.  Still, it was entertaining, and it's good to see them wrapping up this series after so long of a break.

Wolverine and the X-Men #7 - Another fun issue with some madcap hijinks.  This is becoming one of my favorite series.

Batwoman #7 - The artwork isn't nearly as good, but the story is still interesting.  I also like how this has a pretty distinct feel from the other Bat-related books.  It doesn't feel like a "Let's see if we can sell more comics with another Bat-character" type of a deal.

Batgirl #7 - Another fun installment of a great series.  And I'm glad that Barbara's former condition is still a factor in the story without it feeling like I'm being beaten over the head with it.

Batman and Robin #7 - It was pretty hard to top the last issue, and this doesn't quite pull that off.  Still, it's pretty damned good -with the exception of the cheesy line uttered by Damien Wayne on the last page.

Avengers Assemble #1 - Nothing too special to see here.  It's a pretty fun read, but I'm once again guessing that it will read better as a short chapter of a longer story.

Captain America #9 - This series just keeps getting better and better.  It's a shame that Alan Davis isn't sticking around though, but it looks like they have a good artist lined up to take his place on the next story arc.

Green Lantern #7 - Pretty good, as usual.  Plus, I'm glad to see that we're finally going to be learning a bit more about the Indigo Lanterns.

The Avengers #24 - Once again, Norman Osborne is a victim of his own hubris.  This was a pretty satisfying issue.