Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Blog Title

I have changed my blog title. This time for real. I mean it. Now, first off, this title has nothing to do with race whatsoever. So get that out of your head. However, if you can figure out what movie I quoted in the title then you are allowed to criticize me for my entertainment choices.

I chose the new title because it reflects the slightly more humorous bent my blog has taken in recent months. I have also decided to bend my writing talents toward more cultural type ruminating. I will still talk politics, but in a more cultural sense. I want to address other things, such as religion and the effects that various religious movements are having or what they mean. I think this title will both keep me honest, and keep me remembering to be funny once in a while.

This change is for good. I'm not going to switch back to the old title. It was a good title when I needed it. I had a bad habit of hiding behind a facade. I will never completely shake that habit, but I think I understand how to defeat it now. I do not need a title to make me remember that anymore. So, welcome to the new title!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Real Sci-Fi

I remember when the movie Artificial Intelligence: AI first came out in theatres for several reasons. First, because I wanted to see it, but did not have the chance to go. Second, because that was literally a month before I went off to college. And last, because one of my friends did get to see it and he told me that it was good, but at the very end aliens come. He did not think it made any sense. I have since watched the movie a few times and would like to dispel the aliens rumor. If you pay any attention to the movie, whatsoever, it should be obvious that those are not aliens. I apologize for the spoiler. But one main theme throughout the movie was the inevitable downfall of mankind and the fact that A.I. could go on building themselves and living past the apocalypse. There were many clues that this would happen. I know, the A.I. at the end of the movie look weird, but they are A.I., not aliens. Randomly sticking aliens in at the end of the movie would destroy the thematic elements altogether. Steven Spielberg is way smarter than that.

To me structure is kind of an afterthought and I do not pay that much attention to it. However, one thing I find interesting about the movie is the three act structure. People thought the movie had several endings due to the three act structure. Apparently no one reads Shakespeare anymore. Each act has a different emotion and slightly different cinematography. They flow together very well, but you can see the points between each act. In each act the characters change and we see the main character, David (an A.I. child who can love), differently. In the first act he's a little boy living happily until he is deposed by his parents' real son. The only one who identifies with him at all is Monica, the mom. However, she is a bit of a weak character in that she cannot understand why he begins acting strangely and exhibiting signs of jealousy. In the second act he goes on a journey to become a "real boy" and his obsession with this idea begins to appear dangerous. In the third act, he seems to resolve his obsession a bit. He no longer looks to take others with him realizing it is a personal journey. He is the most patient sentient being you could possibly imagine after he gives up on his dream and then realizes that he might be able to have it after all.

Aside from the moral journey of David, the movie introduces an amazing complexity of moral questions. I think the obvious moral question is the one of using robots as a means of sexual satisfaction. This is aptly portrayed by the character Gigolo Joe, an A. I. lover model. The question is not answered, but the movie shows that human nature could make such a question into a huge and horrible problem. Joe ends up on the run because an angry husband manages to pin the murder of his wife (whom the husband killed) on the robot. This then is the dilemma, that an autonomous object, created by humans is blamed with the crime of human nature. Joe's portrayal is a parable of the entire movie in a sense. Humans have created these things to serve them, then humans turn against the very things they created, hating them for the services they provide.

At the same time the movie does not portray humans as being completely depraved. The moment when the audience rescue David and Joe from the Flesh Fair, believing David to be a human boy instead of an A.I. is remarkable for its show of compassion. These people are not so caught up in the venue of destroying the A.I. whom they hate that they ignore the plight of a fellow human. That scene arranges a dichotomy that we saw in the first act when Monica abandons David with tears in her eyes; and in the third act when David's creator, Prof. Hobby, realizes that his greatest creation is flawed. The A.I. at the end of the movie bring this dichotomy to fruition. They honor David because he knew humans and they did not. To them, mankind was the master they love and were never able to serve. They glean David's memories and see the wickedness of humans for themselves. Still, they obviously believe that they are inferior to humans. They even try to find ways to preserve humans or bring them back, out of this strange desire to serve that which would have destroyed them.

A.I. was 12 years in the making and I think for good reason. It is possibly the best science fiction movie ever made in the U.S. I would say so. For that reason, I think it is fairly unpopular. People do not like real, hard sci-fi. They like popular science fiction, like Star Wars. Things need to blow up. The more artistic, deeply thematic science fiction -- the kind I hope to write -- is not as easily understood in the popular medium of film. Spielberg did some of his best work ever making this movie, and I think it deserves to be remembered as a classic among today's films.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's Today!

It's Craig and my second anniversary today. Two wonderful years with a wonderful man. I could not have asked for better. I'm so happy!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's About Time

I will not go so far as to give this article an Ah, Logic rating. But it is nice to see a Muslim taking a stand against the atrocities practiced against other Muslims in their regimes. I think the article deserves to be read by a lot of people, so I am doing my part to get it out there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You Can Take My Iowa Straw Poll . . .

. . . But you can never take my freedom!

I came to this state, put up with it's strange people and now the one thing that made it interesting -- so far -- appears to have been taken from me. Two big time candidates have ditched the August 11th Iowa straw poll. Namely, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Now, you probably already know about this if you keep up on the news even a little bit. After all, this was last week's headlines. I have a need to process what this means for the average Iowa politics freak (e.g. me).

I still plan to get into the straw poll. It's not in my town, but it's not that far. I was not planning to vote for McCain or Giuliani anyway. But it would have been interesting to see them debate the other candidates. Many are suggesting that this opens the door for a lesser known candidate to do well. Maybe it does. It also causes me some consternation.

So far as I can tell, the political nature of Iowa makes it an ideal location for a youngster -- such as myself -- interested in getting involved in politics. This is not to suggest I want to be anything big. It's just that Iowa has two things going for it as far as I can see: lots of cheap corn and early caucuses. I'm stuck here, I may as well enjoy it. I like popcorn, so I've got that side of it covered. I'll do my best to keep the state economy going by eating popcorn with almost every movie. On the other hand, I thought it would be fun to volunteer for a candidate (still don't know which one) and go to the straw poll. Or just go, watch and help make history by being polled there. These two candidates pulling out makes the straw poll a little less climactic. That's what bothers me.

Here I was all excited to be thinking about doing something cool. Then along came McCain and Rudy and they stole my thunder. Well, they also lost a potential vote. Not that I would have voted for them anyway. Chances are, however, that if I thought one of them did well at the straw poll event I would have at least said something about it and maybe cast an unofficial vote for them. I would never vote for either of them in a real election. But now they have lost even a "good job" from me. That is the way of things. You bother me and you won't get my pat on the back.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ah, Logic # 11

Another amazing piece by Victor Davis Hanson. He almost always makes sense. After reading that article I feel like playing Civ III and taking over the world!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Climbing The Walls

A day in the life of Esther:

6:30am - get up, take shower.
7am - check email, stare at the zero interesting emails.
8am - eat something for breakfast.
8:30am - look for sculpting classes online or read or watch episodes of Arrested Development.
10am - think about the fact that I have nothing to do all day.
11am - read.
12pm - eat something for lunch.
1pm - apply for some jobs online.
2pm - clean and unpack boxes or just clean.
3pm - watch Dr. Phil.
4pm - read or think about the fact that I have nothing to do.
4:30pm - start making dinner.
5:30pm - Craig gets home. Finish making dinner.
6pm - eat dinner.
6:30pm - go out and drive around or buy something.
7:30pm - watch a movie, do something.
10pm - go to bed and to sleep.

Gah. I think I'm going to start working on my book very seriously again. Reading my day is almost worse than living it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Ah, Logic #10

Here's one for the immigration debate. I especially like the bit where he points out that we are not obligated to keep the families of illegal immigrants together. We Americans are so easy about giving in to guilt trips and such. This is our country and there is nothing wrong with enforcing laws about who can and cannot enter it and when.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Not Quite Warming Up

Things about Iowa that annoy me:

- The people are all too hick to know how to drive in traffic.
- Everyone has a chip on their shoulder. They always want to start a fight even if you did not do anything wrong.
- People here are incredibly chatty. This is nice, but sometimes annoying because I am not chatty. I just do my business and move on. Consequently, they look at me funny.
- No one knows why to honk they're horns even when they do use them. I was honked at once for driving straight in my own lane, once for waiting for someone to pass my turn out before turning into the street, once for stopping behind someone who was turning left and once for taking my own turn at a four way stop. It's the chip on shoulder principle.
- There is very little variety in shopping experience. In Indiana I could always find what I needed at one store and if it was not there I knew where else to look. Here I cannot find what I need and have no idea where to look because most other places do not have them either. So far I am unable to find capers that do not have vinegar in them or corn tortillas that do not have dextrose (I cannot have vinegar or dextrose).

Hey, it's home now. I'll get used to it eventually. It's always weird coming to a new place. I remember how weird it felt when we first moved to Indiana. Just another tough ransition. This too shall pass.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Answers

I think I have given everyone sufficient time to read my trivia questions from the previous post and respond. It's been nearly a week. I guess it was trivia. I mean, not everybody knows trivia. I spent countless hours reading books about pirates (bad ones) and sailing ships as a kid, so perhaps my brain cataloged too much trivia pertaining to such. I did get one response and those look right to me. Here are the answers:

1. Matt's answer:
"Calypso is featured in The Odyssey, and delayed Odysseus on the island of Oyigia with her feminine wiles." That would be a yes. I would add that she was a nymph.
2. Matt's answer: "Tethys, a titaness, original sea goddess." Yes. If you want to go to more contemporary (as if) Greek mythology then you could say there was no sea goddess. Poseidon, the sea god, was male.
3. Davy Jones is actually derived from a word and meant the devil. He never was a real person. Not sure what the word was or if anyone knows that.
4. Davy Jones' locker is a euphemism for death at sea. (That was a real easy one, people.)
5. The captain of the Flying Dutchman was Captain Vanderdecken, a Dutch captain who may or may not have ever actually lived.
6. The legend goes that Vanderdecken attempted to sail the Flying Dutchman around the Horn (the bottom of South America) too late in the year. The storms were already terrible. But he kept trying to sail around it and fought the storms for more than a month. His ship ran out of food and fresh water and he still would not turn back. Then he cursed God in his anger at the weather. An angel came and cursed Vanderdecken, his ship and his crew. They would have to sail the high seas for eternity as a ghost ship.
7. If any sailor saw the Flying Dutchman (a ghost ship) he saw a harbinger of doom or bad luck. The Flying Dutchman was usually "sighted" in bad weather and sometimes down around the Horn.
8. Matt's answer: " Charon, as featured in the Aeneid."
9. Pirates kill people and steal stuff.
10. It's good because they wear fluffy shirts and wield cutlasses. Actually, this is one area where I have not been able to suspend my disbelief while watching the Pirates movies. I just keep thinking to myself, "But they're fighting for their right and freedom to kill people and steal things, why should I care about them?" Ah well, it's just a movie. And a fun movie at that.