Introductions

Say who you are.  Let me know why you are reading.  Say something nice about someone. Maybe even me.

Don’t criticize my sentence fragments.

I’m Todd.  I’m reading because it is my blog although I find the opinions overrated and the posts sporadic.  This could be counted as my third attempt at a blog.  Normally they last about two weeks.

But in other areas I think I am pretty nifty.

Knowing

I’ve been playing with this idea for awhile. I’m not sue how good an argument it is. Let’s try it out.

The point I’ll eventually drive to is that creationists aren’t all whack. But it will take a bit to set up.

There are many ways we can come to know things. I’ll list a several.

Instinct – behaviours that do not need to be taught or reasoned. Crying when distressed. Holding our breath underwater.

Logic and math – given a set of axioms you can prove another set of axioms.

Observation – we learn by experiencing the world around us.

Revelation – knowledge gifted directly from God.

Imagination – we just make stuff up.

Science – testing the truth of a hypothesis through experimentation.

Belief – knowledge given to us by others – people, books, the Interwebs which we believe.

It is a pretty cool list. I’m not pretending it is complete. And obviously revelation is debatable if you’re an atheist.

However, each knowledge type has difficulties in determining truth. I’ll run through them again.

Instinct – it is a behaviour set but not reason by definition.

Logic and math – this is great at determining truth, but it requires that the axioms you start with are themselves true. Also, it can be hard.

Observation – “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But in general, we are lousy observers. Our observations are clouded by memory and bias and emotion. It is a cop maxim that no two witnesses will describe a crime or criminal the same. Science was really designed to overcome our observational flaws.

Revelation – the good news is that this must be true by definition. The bad is that most cases seem to be very hard to distinguish from imagination or mental health issues.

Imagination – while you might luck out with truth, you’re more likely to have fiction.

Science – Science is far better at proving things false than true. But you can often get “true within this set of constraints”. It is cool because it brings together many other knowledge types. Imagination to make a hypothesis. Logic to design your testing criteria and interpret results. Observation to conduct the tests.

Belief – the truth of received knowledge is entirely based on the quality of the teacher.

Anyone still here?

We live in an age of science. It’s wonders surround us as proof of its efficacy. I’m writing this on a hand held device that would have been wild imagination a century ago. It was a common scifi trope fifty years ago. Now it is nigh ubiquitous.

But there aren’t really a lot of scientists. Not a lot of people that actually do science whether it is designing experiments or verifying and critiquing them.

Most of our scientific knowledge comes about as belief. Learned knowledge passed by teachers, parents, friends, coworkers and the Internet. In most cases, modern science is so complex that we couldn’t run the experiments ourselves anyway. Heck, Newton had a far better scientific knowledge of optics, the move of celestial bodies and curves than I do. Even though I know some quantum mechanics that help explain it all – Newton did the science. I’ve just been told about it.

This is one of the key legs of my argument. We talk a lot of science, but we don’t do science. The knowledge is passed to us and we believe it.

We believe things from sources we find trustworthy. There are other measures. New knowledge must be consistent with old knowledge. It should itself be consistent. But I contend that first and foremost it is about the trustworthiness of the source.

Our ability to determine trustworthiness is some of the first knowledge we develop as children. Our parents first. Then teachers. Then friends. Later we trust other experts. But that initial core of what we believe including who we should trust comes from our folks.

Later in our teenage years and 20s we are hard wired to question and challenge those beliefs. But early on we trust parents.

That is leg two.

We live in a horrible age of trustworthiness. We are asked to believe things all day long. Marketing that tells us much, but whose only truth is the desire to sell a product. Politicians who can’t separate fact from spin of their own political biases.

Science is just a play toy for them. Another tool to sell a product or an ideology. This, I contend, has the impact of reducing how much credibility we will give to scientific knowledge.

Leg three.

Which brings us to evolution vs. creationism. Or alternatively science vs. religion. Or scientific knowledge vs revelation. At least that is how the argument is generally framed. “How can they believe such tripe? Look at the evidence!”

But it is really belief vs. belief. But we are pointing at expert opinions. We aren’t doing the science. We are observing species in isolation like Darwin. We aren’t breeding fruit flies like Mendelev. We aren’t analyzing DNA strands.

So if it is belief it becomes about the trustworthiness of the experts. The scientists, contaminated by marketing and pseudo-science, who seem to express contempt for religion on one side. The other are the friends, family and church leaders you’ve grown to trust all your life.

That is the specific case. But in the general think about this the next time you are arguing with someone about their incorrect beliefs. You get annoyed because they ignore your science, your logic and your experts. But what you aren’t succeeding at is the argument to, “Trust me more than the person you got bad knowledge from.” It becomes a social problem rather than a science one.

Or that might just annoy you.

Weekly Recap

I feel great this morning. I was exhausted when I went to bed but, lo and behold, sleep banished my weariness.

Last week was good too.

My big work project is nigh complete. 25/28 done. All components in place just one more community to bring online. I finished all my planning and coordinating for the project on Friday.

I’ve actually had to start thinking strategically. Since starting I’ve had project deadlines overhead for years. The next such deadline is small in comparison. So there is time to think. Hard to get my brain to switch gears.

But the highlight of the week was one of the worst concerts I’ve ever attended. I’ll explain.

Friends were over Saturday and their kids said they’d show me their fiddling skills. But the instruments were at home. That evening they facetimed me for a 6 song review.

The kids were awesome. They’ve put in some hard work. I was thrilled and privileged to watch.

But the FaceTime quality was bad. There was audio static and video jitter and whole seconds where the whole feed cut out.

There were also charming distractions. Their youngest daughter also participated and the microphone sometimes chose her and muted the fiddles as background. But she was delightful.

It was all pretty awesome. Thanks for the show!

Of course, that was the family’s second kindness that day. We spent the afternoon sorting, tossing and packing. It is done except for books, games, gaming and comics. :) So there is little visual difference! But really once comics are sorted my whole place can likely be packed in 3 hours now.

Gaming was cool. We did an alien infested space station scenario a la Alien. I played the guy who lost his cool. I hid, I cowered, I ranted. Great fun for me.

My home care has changed. On weekends they are coming to help at 9:30 am. This sucks. I feel I’m lying in bed waiting while the world passes me by. It is nearly 4 hours later than my weekday reveille and I just can’t sleep in that much.

On the plus side the extra care is working out great! AHS provides a pretty cool service to keep folks independent. And the aides are all cool.

Read a neat comic. Boxers and Saints is a two volume historical fiction about the Boxer Uprising in 1800. Each volume provides a view from the respective side. The Boxer volume is the tale of a boy who bit by bit betrays all his own morals in search of a greater good. Eventually this includes betraying those closest to him. The Saints volume is neat in that it shows all the slights done to the Boxers in the first volume as unintentional gaffes or just misunderstandings.

I watched several movies too. August Osage County was intense with great acting, but not really my thing. I saw After Earth too. This was totally my thing, but was fairly rotten.

That was the week that was. Thanks to everyone who lent a hand.

Have a great week.

Costumes

Do you spend much time thinking about superhero costumes? Maybe not as much as I do.

Claim: few costumes designed are identifiable or classic. Certainly very few recent costumes.

What are the classics? Batman tops my list. But not many other DC characters. Superman is classic, but not actually great in my opinion. It is the template other mediocre costumes emulate.

Spider-Man works great. Iron Man, Captain America, Wolverine – my list is similar to the most popular heroes. But I’d add Daredevil, Moon Knight and Doctor Strange to the list too.

Other heroes are recognizable too: Hulk, Thing, the Human Torch, but their powers give them that instant identify.

Ok. Here is my theory. The best costumes work in silhouette. Addendum – a striking logo is a bonus.

My test case is Batman. Cape, cowl, gloves are all recognizable even in profile or shadow. The bat logo is striking too.

Spidey is the counter argument. The elements of Spider-man’s costume that work aren’t visible in silhouette. The eye pieces, the complicated web pattern, but mostly it is just a bodysuit – featureless in shadow.

But it obviously works. I’d say because other elements do work in silhouette. The way Spidey always crouches or clings to walls, the distinctive hand position and, of course, the webs. Even in shadow or profile Spidey works. (Artist often make the eyepieces highly reflective and almost luminous too.)

The others I list all have elements that work like that. The shield and ear wings, claws and cowl, blocky armour. On the others – Daredevil has the horns and billy club, Moon Knight is a Batman copy with a distinctive cowl and cape, Strange has the cape and hand positions.

After Batman my favourite DC costume is the Flash. It is mostly just a body suit except the wings. But artists always make the lightning details work into his speed effects. Like the Human Torch his powers make him distinctive.

But so many costumes are just bodysuit in different colours. Most original Xmen costumes are boring, but Angel, Iceman and Beast had power effects to make them distinctive. Magneto works though. Dave Cockrum did a good job on the all new Xmen.

Punisher is a boring bodysuit. But the silhouette is saved by the great logo.

Wonder Woman has a horrible costume. Distinctive accessories: tiara, bracelets and lasso but over a swimsuit.

Some that kinda work: Green Arrow – the bow and quiver and the cowl, but mostly a body suit. Iron Fist – great logo, bare chest and distinctive collar and cowl, but not much silhouette.

Anyway, back to my thesis, the best costumes are those that are identifiable by silhouette.

Weekly Recap

Hurm. I saw Captain America: Winter Soldier. Good movie. My hopes were very high so I ended up a bit disappointed. But that is my fault not the movie’s.

It was very comic booky. By that I mean the serialized storytelling. Lots of elements introduced that will pay off in later movies. My favourite bit was the updating of the Arnim Zola concept.

Treek was down. That was cool. He seems to be doing well. As usual in received a free meal for the pleasure of his company. Tim and Pauly joined me. That would have been the highlight of the week, but I started to get kidney stone pain during dinner.

Gaming on Friday and Saturday. Yay. That was cool. Started a new Star Wars game on Friday. Was devoured by the black goat of the woods on Saturday.

Hmm. My project due at the end of March should be ending today. Kinda. We will be 11/14 done. We are done the rest too but actual cutover is waiting on external forces.

The big thing this week has been trouble standing though. Three times I’ve needed help to get out of bed in the last 10 days. . The other times it was a struggle. There were no easy days. I think I’m done being able to get up on my own.

The upshot is that I need to move. This week will be planning that. First task is a purge of everything if don’t need. I’ll be putting out a call for weekend help to sort and haul.

Sigh. I was hoping that after getting the chair I’d have a period of stability.

That was the week that was. I’m in a very bouncy van right now. It is like a kids roller coaster.

Talk to you later.

Noah – A review and discussion

Spoilers Abound

Darren Aronofsky is a visionary director. By that I mean he has a strong visual sense of what he wants and creates movies to match. For me, personally, he is also a director whose vision generally exceeds his capabilities.

That is the case with the epic film Noah. A lot of reviews focus on the film’s fidelity to its source material. As that isn’t the director’s intention it isn’t a fair comparison. He is telling a modern film with modern themes and values. But the movie doesn’t quite hold up.

It is a stunningly shot film. It has some good action scenes (but also some lousy ones). It has strong conflicts for Noah to face. As an entertainment it is thus largely successful.

The theme of the movie is that mankind has ruined the planet and whether they can be trusted to do better in the future.

The flaws? First the film is over long. At 2 plus hours it is too long for an action thriller. It adapts a story that is told in 5 chapters in the Bible and which can be well summarized in two paragraphs. So there is a lot of additional material. A lot is ineffective.

The characters are ciphers. Noah, portrayed by Russell Crowe, is fully realized. Ila, played by Emma Watson, has some good scenes, but no true character arc. Most of the rest spend the movie standing around stony faced. Sometimes they are scared, angry or sad as the plot demands. But they don’t come alive. The movie has a full character arc for Ham, played by Logan Lerman, but he acts every scenes with the same wooden, stunned face.

Finally the theme is bludgeoned at us. The movie is overly manipulative. Often choices are made that make no sense in order to forward the theme.

All told it is an entertaining spectacle of a movie. I think most folks watching it will enjoy it. But viewed on its own terms it doesn’t quite measure up.

Ok. The is the end of the review. But I also want to talk about choices the director made. Film making is about making choices and when doing an adaptation it is a bit more obvious what choices are being made.

I already spoke on the choice of theme. Obviously quite a bit different than what the source material describes. And most choices made support that theme.

Most events from the Bible occur in the movie. While the theme is different the movie is quite close to the written text. Two significant differences are that the movie never makes it clear that it rains for forty days or how long is spent on the ark until land appears nor does God ever speak directly to anyone. I thought not mentioning the forty days was quite interesting since it is one of the key elements everyone would know.

Bizarrely Noah is not a disaster movie. There are lots of conflict types in the movie, but not the one required for a disaster movie. Man vs. man. Check. Man vs himself. Check. Man vs God. Check’ish. But there is no man vs. the environment.

In a movie where the world floods, they never fight the water or storms. No scenes of almost drowning. No problems with the Ark leaking. No being tossed around by the storm.

That was interesting.

Next in an adaptation of a Biblical story God is almost absent. I say almost because there are many miracles depicted. But they are portrayed like magic. More importantly none of the characters have a relationship with God. In a very modern take, God is distant and unfathomable. God communicates only with Noah and only through visions that are easy to misunderstand. None of the other characters seem to relate to God. (Except the bad guy but his challenges go unanswered.) God is never referred by that term or ever The Lord, but always as the Creator.

Noah’s relationship with the Creator is not portrayed as faith, but obedience.

I thought that was interesting too.

Finally, the choice of how to portray the wickedness of mankind. While most men are shown as brutal and violent the big choice is showing the earth as a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Their evil is to believe the earth is theirs to subjugate and exploit. Noah is shown as good because he protects even the smallest flower.

Obviously this is one of the choices used to support the theme. But I still found it interesting.

Finally every other review I’ve read mention the rock angels. This was a Peter Jackson type inclusion that I didn’t find notable. They served their role in supporting the theme and plot. Their animation was cool. But mostly a bit forgettable. Their addition to the story was a choice, but I was not as interested in it as others made. Certainly not as interested as every other reviewer.

I think that is all I have to say.

Weekly Recap

I went to see The Muppets Most Wanted yesterday. The best part is the cameos. There are over 20 I think. Some are blink and you miss them. Some are teen idol types I don’t know, but you know it’s a cameo.

More jokes missed than hit. But there were a million jokes. So I laughed aloud several times – often to jokes the kids in the audience did get at all.

The musical numbers were horrendously bad though. Bad.

There was a scene in the movie where Kermit reminded me somehow of Dad. Not sure why. Suddenly I was choked up during a funny bit though.

Really I watched many movies over the weekend. Frozen, Saving Mr. Banks and Pan’s Labyrinth were all Saturday. I can recommend all three. I liked how in Frozen the girls always saved themselves without, or despite, the aid of the boy. Now that we’ve done that maybe they can do one where boys and girls are equal partners.

Haven’t even finished my comics yet. 5 left to go. But I’m spending most of my time reading the Baroque Cycle again. I stop a lot in the book to compare it to the actual history.

Hmm. Walking Dead is having its strongest season since the first. And Justified is great. Those are my can’t miss tv.

Setbacks at work over the week. But, another part of my big project went live. So it is now 9/14ths done. This next weekend another 3/28ths will go production. And if I can keep it on track everything else should be handed over to business testers for the remainder. Basically my team’s role will be done. I’ll still need to coordinate the production changes and the DBAs will do the final copies, but most of our work will be done on deadline.

Rob finished his first SW adventure. Fun was had. The gundarks might have been an unforced Chekov pistol though… But they are set up as scary for the next time. Now we will see what is in Dano’s head.

I think that is the week that was.

Weekly Recap

I didn’t write yesterday because I wanted to welcome Mom home. However her flights were delayed a full day. She should be home now.

Welcome home Mom. I hope Cuba was excellent.

My week was quiet. Work is crazy. I’ve said this before. We are in the final days of the month and I have a giant project due. Strictly speaking it has been going on for 8 months and is 4/7s complete. So there is a lot to do. A lot.

But the rest was gaming and comics and tv. The usual. Three slightly interesting bits.

Went to a party Saturday. A friend is now one year older. She is catching up to me. Yay!

Went to the dentist. I asked flat out if he thought I was gonna make. The prognosis looks good. Apparently death by plaque is not a common fear of most patients of his.

We had a new GM on Friday. Finally it was neither Dano nor I blathering. Yay! A nice job was done and great joy was found by all.

Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. I’ll blather more in a week.

Or less…