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Month: November 2006

Old time

Pandas don’t have just one religion, but probably their most popular religion is this:

There are many gods. The goal of all the gods, except for maybe a few twisted ones, is to create the most perfect object possible in our universe. In fact, this is the sole reason our universe was created; any object created in the palaces of the gods, which lie beyond, is perfect by definition. The universe we live in was fabricated as a testing ground of sorts.

It is self-evident that the perfect object is a stalk of bamboo. The gods compete, each in their own ways, to make the best bamboo that can be made.

Pandas are arbiters. One cannot properly determine the worth of a stalk of bamboo without a panda to pass judgement. This is why pandas exist; they were added to our world in order to help the gods decide if their bamboo efforts had reached fruition. Before there were pandas, the arguments between the gods had consequences not to be desired.

This is why pandas must eat bamboo. It is a holy duty. It is not, as some might think, laziness or gluttony. By eating bamboo, pandas hasten the day when the goal of all the gods will be reached; and all will celebrate.

Some might ask if this goal should be reached, since — if the purpose of the universe is to test bamboo — the universe will be purposeless once the perfect bamboo is accomplished. Purposelessness is another word for “disposable.” Pandas, however, are not inclined towards long-term thinking. They simply enjoy bamboo.

With thanks, as always, to S.

Rending of hair, and so on

I thought this review was interesting as a sample of flawed political discourse. Also fun for those who want to hear about how Happy Feet is a dangerous, offensive movie, but I’m gonna shine a flashlight on the clever rhetorical trick. Or, in this case, probably not a clever rhetorical trick — it’s probably just a guy who doesn’t realize exactly what kind of hyperbole he’s engaging in.

The trick is this: you take someone generally considered to be offensive on your side of the political spectrum, and you take a behavior you disapprove of on the other side of the political spectrum, and you say “it’s OK to disagree with me, but that behavior is exactly like this offensive person!” It gives you this veneer of reason, cause you’re being all rational and bipartisan and admitting there are slimeballs on your side of the fence. However, it also irrationally conflates what may be perfectly reasonable behavior with behavior that is generally accepted as slimy.

E.g., Pat Robertson:

Calling this Liberal is like those people that call Pat Robertson a conservative. Real conservatives cringe at that statement. No, he is an ultra right wing Christian neo conservative who teaches the word of Christ out of one side of his mouth and then calls openly for the public assassination of the democratically elected leader of a sovereign nation out of the other. No. Real conservatives stand as far away from that scary goon as humanly possible.

Aw, that’s awesome. He’s condemning a guy who calls for assassination! That shows he’s rational.

Happy Feet is the Liberal Pat Robertson.

Well, there you go. Happy Feet might as well be calling for public assassination. Wait…

Happy Feet is liberal like that unwashed hippie wearing the Look to the skies T-shirt that climbs and handcuffs himself to a tree to prevent someone from knocking down a forest on their own land.

You can have mixed opinions about the morality of people who cuff themselves to trees, sure. However, I think it is reasonably clear that calling for assassination is somewhat lower on the morality scale than tree-cuffing. Cause one involves death, and the other does not.

The review goes on to explain that Footloose is evil because the hero doesn’t believe that God forbids dance — um. Wait. No. That’s the plot of Happy Feet, in this case, but it’s definitely evil. Maybe it was evil in Footloose, too, I dunno. He’s pretty convinced that there’s something clearly wrong with it here — “Still not making up a single word.” After that there are a lot of spoilers, so I won’t keep going, but wow.

This shows up all the time on political blogs. Not quite as often in movie reviews. Good trick to recognize when you see it.

More contemplations

The Sony Reader continues to impress. I’ve read two complete books on it now, thanks to the $50 credit you get at the store when you buy it, and the thing just works. It’s readable. When I’m reading an book on the screen of my computer, I tend to skim. With this thing? Not so much.

I’ve kind of given up on using it as an RPG library for now, because PDF is not its best format. But I don’t feel a twinge of regret at that, because it’s so darned cool otherwise. Yesterday I was eating lunch and I finished the book I was on. Instinctive thought: “Oh, damn, now I have no book for the rest of the meal.” But no, I had 20 more books, and no additional weight. I mean, if you put me in a bookstore and said “you can get that book on paper or on the Reader,” I might well choose the Reader.

The optimal format for these things is Sony’s own BBeB. S. pointed out Manybooks, which is mostly Project Gutenberg books, but they provide everything in BBeB format as an option. Nice. They also provide just about every other ebook format you could ask for.

RTF is an excellent second choice, and once again I find myself heading over to see what Baen can provide outside of wretchedly vile conservative SF porn. (See also the Baen book in which the SS comes back to save Germany from alien invaders.) Still, they have a good free library, plus there’s an archive of the Baen CDs. The latter had permission to redistribute explicitly granted, so it’s nice and legal.

I’m hoping one of these days Tor gets more serious about Baen-style ebooks. It’s gotta happen soon.

Anyway. Yes. Good device. Love it to pieces. More later.