Archive for May, 2014

Maleficent

Posted by Troy on 30th May 2014 in Entertainment

Better than Star Wars.

That’s the best way I can put it.  Without giving away the plot line and without spoilers, Maleficent accomplishes in an hour and 37 minutes what Star Wars attempted to do in 13 hours and 11 minutes.

Maleficent is romanticism at its finest.  A study in character, of morals and the flaws and the elegance of the human soul.  How that soul is forged and beaten and grows under the stress and fire of pain and conflict and of the beauty it can achieve.  The story is just incredible.

If you had asked me at lunch today, what my favorite movie was, I would have told you Cool Hand Luke.  Now?  Maleficent.  I cannot even think of another movie that even comes close to approaching this movie.

The soundtrack?  Seamless to the movie.  A perfect accompaniment.

I did not particularly care for the comic relief moments.  I understand why they are in there, both for the audience and for the storyline (the fairies bumbling along is a necessary element in the cause and effect chain).  However, it was a little overly-silly in a movie of such intense, raw emotion.

I was never a big fan, but Angelina Jolie BECAME Maleficent.  Physically and emotionally, she embodied the character.  She kept a raw emotion that kept me on the verge of tears for the vast majority of the movie.  I found a few moments with Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning) that fell a little flat, but I think that only was because of the amazing bar set by Angelina Jolie (and the rest of the cast, truthfully, did amazing jobs with their roles).  I hesitate to even give that small detraction to the movie.  As I said, I think I wouldn’t have even commented on it except for the incredible job by all the other actors.

The only other detraction is they drew the climatic battle out a little longer than would have been true.  Battles are over in almost a blink of an eye.  However, this is a story, and a good battle scene is always welcome, so I forgive this blemish as just a bit of “storytelling.”

As far as 3D goes, it is worth it.  There are several segments that make it worth the premium.  However, the movie would not suffer for foregoing the 3D.  Worth the money, but you can let it go if you don’t want to pay for it.

Finally, I suppose I must comment about purists.  I am sure many purists will hold this movie up against Sleeping Beauty.  If it makes you feel any better, pretend that Sleeping Beauty is the legend that grew from what happened and Maleficent is the true story.  As William Wallace said in Braveheart, “History is written by those who have hanged heroes.”

The only Five Star rating I have ever given.

Toure, White Privilege, and Reparations

Posted by Troy on 28th May 2014 in Current Events, Human Nature

MSNBC host, Toure, has gotten into a lot of hot water with the Jewish community.  Apparently, Toure was discussing reparations, and a Jewish person responded that his family survived the Holocaust, came to America with nothing, and made it.  Rather than make some sort of intelligent response about this, Toure decided to write it off as “the power of whiteness.”  Which is basically Toure claiming that only white people can succeed in America, that their path is paved and all other races are barred (except for Asians…those crafty white people made sure that at least one race would surpass them so that they can hide behind this fact).

First of all, not even Toure is stupid enough to say that Holocaust survivors are privileged.  All he was commenting on was that he believes that white people can make it if they try and blacks (and other races) cannot.  This is because the deck is stacked.  So if a poor white person makes it, it is nothing to be really proud of.  The way was paved for them.  If a black person somehow makes it, they cannot be held up as an example.  They are merely an exception.  They were one of the few that somehow slipped through the cracks of the institutional racism that whites put in place to maintain the white power structure.  This really is how they view the world.

First of all, let me dispel a few myths here.  People like Toure claim that hard work will not let the other races get ahead.  I say that this thought DAMNS the other races to NEVER get ahead.  If you do not believe hard work is what it takes to succeed, you never will succeed.  This applies to school, at work, at your family life, at everything.  Nothing worth anything in this life is easy.  It all takes effort, and the more effort you put into something, the more God rewards you.  There was a story my dad once told me about a famous piano player.  After a concert, a woman told him “I’d give anything to play like you.”  He responded, “I did.”  We all start out with different advantages and disadvantages.  However, no advantage from birth can triumph over human will.  The talented musician who never practices will always pale against the musician that practices eight hours a day, every day.  Just ask Chet Atkins.  As far as reparations go, I’ve always said I would be in favor of it…as long as it comes with the following conditions: they forever renounce their US citizenship and they are banned from living in America.  If these terms are not accepted, then they are just after free money.  That’s it.

Reparations are based on the assumption that slaves should have been paid for their labor.  As such, their offspring should be paid (we’ll ignore the statute of limitations, naturally).  News flash: if they had been paid, they likely would have done what every other person does with their money: spent it.  As such, there would have been no inheritance.  Even if you think they would have saved it, then the majority of the savings would have been wiped out during the Great Depression.

Of course, what their side will say is that white Americans were only able to build their wealth due to slavery and that all whites have inherited that privilege.  As such, modern day white Americans owe modern day black Americans because modern whites are CURRENTLY benefiting from slavery.  Yeah, well…so are modern blacks.  Would any modern black American opt to move to Africa right now instead of America?  If they did, they are fools.  Their lives are infinitely better and full of infinite possibilities because of what their ancestors suffered.  Sorry, but that is true.  In fact, that person wouldn’t even exist if not for slavery.  Hell, they should get on their knees and thank God that slavery existed, for without it, they would not exist as their ancestors would not have met and born children which eventually lead to the existence of Toure himself.

And that brings me to my final point.  Black Americans invented peanut butter (Honey Roasted Peter Pan…yum), the cell phone, traffic lights, and other things.  They invented jazz and rock and roll.  They came up with Southern BBQ.  Anytime you want to get a chip on your shoulder about the past…be it the Holocaust or slavery, know this: you exist right now due to the fact that those evil things happened.  A million sperm vying for a chance to fertilize an egg.  We are each one in a million…more so given generations and generations it took for God to create us.  For whatever reason, he sent plagues and Holocausts and wars and slavery and disease and everything else imaginable because he wanted YOU to exist.  After He went to so much trouble, I just got to ask… what are you doing with your life?

Long Live the Constitution

Mark Cuban’s “Bigoted” Remarks

Posted by Troy on 23rd May 2014 in Current Events

First of all, if you come out and say you’re a bigot, go ahead and expect people to jump on it.  Can’t say that I feel sorry for him.  However, Mark Cuban did not say anything racist.  He is a culturist (as I have said in the past…we are culturists, not racists).  A racist would cross the street if Wayne Brady was walking down the street.  What he is talking about of prejudice, and there is nothing wrong with prejudice (to per-judge, typically based on past experience and perceptions).  Prejudice keeps ya alive.  It is also a matter of facts and circumstances.  Let’s take his argument:

Black youth in a hoodie is walking down the street.  Mark Cuban crosses the street to avoid the youth.

Maybe.  I would think if it was late at night and there was no one on the street except the two of them and the kid was looking shady, yep.  But on a crowded street in broad daylight?  Hell no.  Same kid.  Same hoodie.  Difference?  The calculus of personal safety was changed with the various factors.

If you want to say all prejudice is bad, let me ask you the following spectrum:

Low risk: A black kid dressed like a Jehovah’s witness, carrying a bible, and singling a hymnal at noon on a crowded street.  High risk, a group of black adolescent males dressed like gangsters at 1 AM in a bad neighborhood carrying weapons and shouting “Let’s kill whitey.”  At what point along that spectrum are you allowed to prejudge?  You can roll your eyes at the high risk scenario, but it’s still jumping to conclusions.  They could be filming a movie.  They could be playing a prank.  They could be doing a project for their Harvard sociology degrees.

But hey, we can play the same thing on the other side.  If you’re a black person walking down the street:

Low risk: A white kid dressed like a Jehovah’s witness, carrying a bible, and singling a hymnal at noon on a crowded street (does it get safer than this?  Maybe if the kid’s in a wheelchair?).  High risk, a group of white adolescent males dressed like bikers with white supremacists tattoos all over themselves at 1 AM in a bad neighborhood carrying weapons and shouting “Let’s kill all n_____s.”

Racism is judging someone solely for their skin color.  Mark Cuban is judging someone for their culture.  And, honest to God, that is valid.  If you don’t want to be prejudged on such grounds, do not adopt violent cultures as your own.

Racism will always exist for the same reason that rape will always exist and murder and child molestation and a whole host of other evils.  True racism is MOSTLY a thing of the past (ie, he’s black so he’s sub-human).  If anything, I say the Left are the true racists now as they seem to believe that blacks lack the capability to succeed on their own merits.  I have a friend in education, and the government issues guidelines for what is considered acceptable educational standards which are based on race, lowering the bar for black students.  That is unacceptable.  Black students have the same unlimited potential as any other student, and all students should be judged equally.

Long Live the Constitution!

Support for Gay Marriage at All-Time High

Posted by Troy on 22nd May 2014 in Current Events, Political

I think I’ve been mostly silent on the subject of gay marriage.  Why?  Because I largely agree with Michael McDonald: it’s about as pressing as “are we eating too much garlic as a nation.”  However, since it will soon be shoved down our collective throats (and make no mistake, it will be…sorry gay marriage supporters, but at least 40% think it should be illegal, and legitimizing it by legal recognition is, in fact, shoving it down their throats), I’ve decided to give my full opinion on the matter.

On a personal stance:  I don’t really care one way or another.  It doesn’t pick my pocket nor break my nose.  I think it should be a matter for the states to decide on a state by state basis.  Below, I will support why I believe this.

Every state has their own definition of who should get married.  This includes ages.  In some states, you can marry your cousin, and in others, not.  So forth so forth.  Of course, once upon a time, there were some states that prevented interracial marriage.  This went to the Supreme Court, and it was overturned.  As such, states were denied the right to limit marriage based on race.  I’m married to an Asian (I’m white, by the way), but I think that decision was wrong.  I think it should have been overturned by the long and ponderous process of social acceptance.  That’s hard to say out loud, but it is what I actually believe.  See the following important continuation as to why I believe that communities should be allowed to set who may or may not be married.

A daughter of an unwed mother grows up.  She hunts down her biological father when she is eighteen.  Upon meeting, the two fall in love and want to get married.  Should they be allowed to?  The answer most will give is “ewwwwwwwwwwww, no.”  Why not?  They are consenting adults.  By the way I have structured the argument, there was no child molestation (etc) to cause objection.  You might respond “Well, they would have birth defects.”  So what?  Shall we sterilize those who have sickle cell or “little people?”  Are they not assured to give offspring that have birth defects/medical conditions/etc?  The real reason is because it’s “yucky.”  95% of the population would agree with you.  As such, fathers cannot marry their daughters.  So, 20 years ago or so, I’d say at least 80% of the populace would say that gays should not be allowed to marry.  Now, more people say they should.  As such, they should be allowed to marry in those communities that confer such acceptance.

And here again, this proves my point about the slow process of acceptance.  Over time, more and more communities accept it until, at some point, the Supreme Court has to step in and say that it has such overwhelming approval in the vast majority of states that all states must recognize it.

So why don’t we skip the middleman and just force it down the throats of everyone?  I’m just not for that.  I think the backlash of force outweighs the mere 10 years of further social conditioning to achieve acceptance.  That’s just my personal stance on that.  As Terry Pratchett once said, “Have you ever noticed that people are always wanting to drag people kicking and screaming?  Why has no one ever tried taking someone’s hand and gently leading them?” (Paraphrased from memory)

One question I do have is “Why is this suddenly an issue?”  Homosexuality has existed for AT LEAST fifteen years or so.  At the very least.  So, why now?  I have two theories.  The first is one that supporters generally give me about secular contract law, etc (how romantic).  The second is that it has been manufactured and promoted for political reasons.

The first one I heard as I once was in a conversation about this and pointed out that, “No one can stop you from being married in the truest sense of the word,” (ie, you can devote yourself to each other and call each other your spouse and no one can stop you).  This was in response to people saying that people should not be allowed to marry those they love and spend the rest of their lives together (etc).  That is when the argument about contract law and inheritance came about.  Of course, you can always write a Will or Living Will to give all the rights that they are asking for.  A little extra paperwork, perhaps.  Now, as far as price breaks for family admission to Disney World and such…I have no response to that.  If, however, the real issue is that you cannot ensure the legal continuity via Wills and the like of community property, then I say the real issue is the over-encroachment of government into our private affairs.

So, why now?  I personally believe this is a trumped-up political-crusade meant to distinguish the “cool” from the “non-cool.”  Let one “cool” person come out saying they support “traditional marriage,” and see what happens to them.  They are ostracized immediately.  It’s the new Scarlet Letter.  Conformity through shame.  So if you want to belong with the cool kids, you best think just like the cool kids.  As I said, why now?  I suppose you could say that this is the first time in history when gays had enough acceptance that they could BEGIN to demand marriage.  Of course, you’d be wrong.  In ancient Greece and Rome and Japan, homosexuality was perfectly accepted.  No one cared, but they did not have gay marriage.  This is just a puzzler to me, and the only thing I could come up with was that this is all a trendy-political fad.  I really hope it is not because I have some bad news for gays if it is…

Marriage is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Nothing’s free.  The first thing you’re going to notice is that ONE of the partners will start asking, “Um, so why aren’t we married yet?”  Trust me, that gets old.  You will also find that you can’t just “break up.”  Divorce is a long, evil process.  It is not fast.  It is not, get you stuff and go.  It’s months or years in court, fights, lawyers, court costs, etc.  Also, marriage is a completely different mindset.  It is different that just living together.  I think there may be a bit of buyer’s remorse after twenty years or so, but that’s just speculation.  I am guessing that there will be almost V-day celebrations when the Feds force national acceptance of gay marriage.  But I just have a sense that it’s more about the demand for the thing more than the thing itself.

All that being said, if it were on the ballot in my state, I’d probably vote for it.  I cannot come up with a reason why two consenting adults cannot join in a marriage legally (in the eyes of God is a different matter, but I’ll leave that up to God to judge and decide on the other side…He’s a bit wiser than me).

I will say that gays could have an almost overnight success if they just change from calling it “marriage” to “civil union” as they would pick up and addition 10% to 15% support giving them a super-majority.  That was argued against.  Again, I think part of it is the desire to force something down someone’s throat (power trip).  However, I had it put to me that it’s akin to the old “separate but equal” basically turns into “separate but not equal” in practice.  That’s fair enough, but then you sue after being denied equal rights under the law, and you’ve backdoored into gay marriage.  By that time, people would have gotten used to the idea, and the vast majority of people just flat wouldn’t care anymore.

That is my long and complete (if summarized) stance on gay marriage.

Long Live the Constitution!

Does McConnell’s Victory Signal the Death of the Tea Party?

Posted by Troy on 21st May 2014 in Current Events, Political

No.  Thank you.  Oh…elaborate?  Fine.  The “Tea Party” is basically a loose affiliation.  That is to say, there are no membership dues.  For the most part, there are no newsletters.  Contrary to popular opinion, there is not even a true cohesiveness of thought.  If you were to actually go to a Tea Party meeting (rather than get your opinions from TV as they like to control what ideas you are exposed to), you would discover that it is a mish-mash of several different philosophies ranging from Conservative to Libertarian.  However, they are all decidedly small government people.  The concept that they are anti-government is ridiculous.  Instead, they are for a small, limited federal government.  They want roads and police…they just want them provided by their state and local governments as the Founders envisioned.  That being said, no “Tea Party” candidate would ever win in Nancy Pelosi’s district.  Does that mean that mean the Tea Party is dead?  No.  It just means that her district is for bigger government with unlimited taxation powers that provide massive social programs (we generally call this “communism,” but we’ll call it “progressive” as they prefer that label when force feeding it to you on national TV).  Likewise, for whatever reason, Kentucky seems to prefer Mitch.  However, I do have some hope for Kentucky as they did elect Rand Paul, a libertarian.  That being said, the true test for Mitch McConnell is if he can maintain his position as the Republican leader in the senate after this next round of elections.  I have a feeling he will be replaced.  In so far as that goes, that is a national choice.  I have always advocated the right leader for the right people.  Ted Cruz would suck if he was representing Nancy Pelosi’s district and vice versa.  We all deserve to be represented…even if you are bat shit crazy.

Long Live the Constitution!

Real Men (Marines Watching Frozen)

Posted by Troy on 15th May 2014 in Uncategorized

Someone shared a video of a bunch of Marines singing along to “Let It Go” from Frozen.  Needless to say, they invite ridicule.  Here are a bunch of beefy men, true warriors, singing along like little girls (and having a great time doing so).  Of course, such ridicule should be done selectively as any one of them could wipe the floor with the average guy that wanted to pick on them.  Something that should be accounted for in the equation.  So, that leads me to the question: what does it mean to be a real man?  Does feeling joy in your heart and singing along to a cartoon make you any less of a man?

I’ve had people tell me all kind of things that qualifies a person as a real man.  Going to war.  Being able to reverse a trailer.  Being able to drive a stick.  Running a marathon.  I even had a guy claim he was a real man because he drank stout beer.  I wish I could go back and order a cosmopolitan just to check his reaction.  Oh well.  Such are regrets.  What I have decided is that there is only one test to see if you are a man: Do you meet your responsibilities.  If you do, then you are a real man.  It really doesn’t matter how you accomplish it.  A man might be able to completely rebuild an engine, but if he has 5 illegitimate kids that he doesn’t pay a dime in child support for, I’d say he is a piss poor man.  Meanwhile, another man who has to take his car into the shop but takes care of his family is a much better man because he has taken care of his responsibilities.  That is not to say that being mechanically inclined is not a great thing.  I hold great admiration for those who can work on their cars.  However, such trivial matters should not be the measure of the man.  In both cases, the car is fixed.  The responsibility of that duty, discharged.  However, one man takes care of his other responsibilities and the other one does not.

I’ve read a lot of history.  One of the things that always trips me up is how much men used to embrace, kiss on the cheek, weep…all of these things that we have decided makes a man less manly.  And these were real men…George Washington, Alexander the Great, Arminius… men you would not want to insult.  So, what happened?  Why do we consider such behavior weak, unmanly?  The only thing I really can come up with is Hollywood.  We were brainwashed by how these men act, that they get shot and don’t cry.  Of course, it’s easy not to cry when you don’t REALLY have a hunk of burning lead in your body.  My dad was a tough man.  One of the toughest I’ve ever known.  He accidentally shot himself in the leg.  He cried.  I never thought any less of him for it.  I would have squalled.

I think the men back then understood life more than we do now, which is sad and pathetic.  They accepted life on a level that we don’t anymore.  As such, they allowed themselves to feel each moment.  Maybe it was because you never knew when you’d die back then.  After all, people rarely made it past 40 back then.  You had to embrace each moment.

I have found that the more I write, the easier I am moved to tears, either of sadness or joy or just the infinite beauty of a moment.  My writing has almost brought me closer to God and has helped me understand the nature of God.  C.S. Lewis hints at this in Mere Christianity.  Researchers have found that reading makes people more empathetic.  I think it’s because it enables you to get into the head of another person, even if it is a fictional being.  I think it is even much more so when you write that person.  You are them, and yet you aren’t.  How much more so is it for God then?  To completely understand someone through and through?  Then to know that he knows everyone so thoroughly?

To anyone that says real men do not cry.  I only say

Jesus wept.

Is America an Oiligarchy?

Posted by Troy on 14th May 2014 in Current Events, Political

No.  Oh, you want a longer answer?  Okay.  Some people like to claim that we are an oligarchy, that billionaires and big businesses and special interest groups buy elections.  Of course, I can understand why it may seem that way, but here is the problem I have with this: making this statement is the speaker saying “the rest of the populace are morons.”  You see, if someone says, “The NRA bought the election,” what they are really saying is that the stupid populace will believe anything.  Ergo, anyone that spends the most money will brainwash the masses.  The neat thing is that it is a self-aggrandizing statement as well as they are claiming that 1) they are smart enough to see the truth when others are too stupid to see, and 2) that they are moral and generous enough that they seek to save others from this fate.  The worst part is, if you really believe this kind of thing, then you really are saying that citizens are too dumb to be trusted with the vote.  We do not have an oligarchy.  What we have is a representative republic with a disinformed and utterly disinterested populace.  That is the problem.  If the populace put half as much time in following current events as they do the NFL or social media fads, then bad public servants would be removed in short order.

Long Live the Constitution!

Michael Sam Got Drafted

Posted by Troy on 12th May 2014 in Current Events

And the whole world rejoiced.  Well, not really.  Mostly those who don’t care about football one way or the other rejoiced.  I’d guess that most football fans didn’t care one way or another.  Certainly, most of them didn’t say, “This is a milestone!  Finally, the NFL is all inclusive!…well, except for women anyway…”  Well, what really happened was that anyone who dared to speak out against this player has been punished.  Freedom of Speech…except to those we disagree with.  Right?  I wonder if a player got punished for advocating communism if the Left would clap or would they be outraged?  Regardless.  I hate to see anyone punished for speaking their mind.  Thought crimes are abhorrent, and demanding a third party punish an individual for “offending us” is fascist.  If you believe in the strength of your position, beat them in the arena of ideas.  Convince others that you are correct in your views and the other person is wrong.  Demanding another fight your battles is pathetic.  It’s just like the Sterling case.  Everyone demands the NBA force him to sell his team.  The wife says that half the team belongs to her (true) and she wants to keep it (also true), but the NBA is forcing her to sell her half of the team too.  Why?  Because something her husband did?!  Shall we start sending spouses to jail for the crimes of the other spouse now?  And everyone cheers, such self-righteous little fascists.  All thoughts they disagree with must be brought to heel by force, not reason.  It is sickening.

Long Live the Constitution!

Monica Lewinsky and Why the Left Should Feel Ashamed

Posted by Troy on 6th May 2014 in Current Events, Political

She’s come back into the news, and her name brings up some old issues for me.  Her case definitely makes you see the hypocrisy of the left.  We had a much younger intern who was taken advantage of and seduced by her boss.  Had her boss been the head of a Fortune 500 company, NOW and the left in general would have called for his head (unless the boss in question was a major donor to the Democrats).  Instead, they rallied around her boss.  Why?  Because he was a Democrat and he was a President.  Make no mistake, if the tables were turned, Republicans probably would have done the same in the face of a Republican President because it is never about the offense but rather if they have a D or an R after their name.  So you had a President lie.  Not only did he lie, but he showed how much contempt he had for the American people by trying to convince us that he did not lie because it really depends on what the definition of “is” is.  Recall that?  He thinks we’re all morons.  But rather than get mad at a man taking advantage of a woman, what did they do?  They attacked the girl.  They called her horrible names and talked about her weight and how unattractive she was.  Again, if another woman was in that position, they would have run to her aid, but since protecting Bill was their top priority, they chewed her up and spat her out.  Was she fashion model quality?  No, but she was far from the pig the media made her out to be.  She went on to become a social pariah and the butt of a joke.  Meanwhile, they elevated him to Olympus.  There is no one that I will defend if they are in the wrong, and I damn sure wouldn’t shred the victim of someone I thought was in the wrong.  For shame!

Long Live the Constitution!

Benghazi Coverup

Posted by Troy on 6th May 2014 in Current Events

How do I know there is a coverup?  Well, I’ve known for quite some time, but the actions of the White House after the surfacing to the e-mail is proof positive.  When they say that they will not comply with a Congressional oversight committee, that is major.  One, that is part of the checks and balances.  Thumbing one’s nose that that is a slap in the face of the Constitution and is not done lightly.  Also, if there really wasn’t anything to hide, the White House would welcome them to review everything.  Why?  Because 1) it would be a complete waste of time during which other investigations on his many Constitutional infractions could not be examined and 2) it would make his opponents look irrational.  If there is nothing there, the Democrats would have nothing to lose and everything to gain by the investigation moving forward.  As such, their refusal to cooperate damns them.  Unfortunately, we did not have accurate information before the election, so we are stuck with him.  Even if they find something, even if they find a letter hand signed by Obama saying “I don’t care who dies as long as I get re-elected,” it will be far too late to impeach him.  However, he may go down in history they way he should, as the foremost Liar in Chief we have ever had.

Long Live the Constitution!