The Newsroom: The Tea Party is the American Taliban

You gotta love Homer

Pascal vs Homer
Pascal vs Homer

Yeah, what he said…

Death and What Comes After

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called “life”

Electric word, life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else,
The afterworld

A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll-Be-Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby

Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life,
You’re on your own

-“Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince

————————————————————————————-

Stephen Hawking’s quote about the existence of an afterlife has been making the rounds of most of the atheist blogs that I read. Haven’t read it yet? Here, I’ll help you out. It’s from his interview with The Guardian:

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

This is a concept that I actually do struggle with. I don’t believe in God anymore, and that was a slow, tough process. What has been even tougher is accepting that this means there is nothing after my body dies.

My life has not been all that hard. I’ve never faced starvation nor homelessness. I’ve never been physically assaulted. I know that in so many ways I am a very lucky person. But, on the flip side, my life hasn’t been an ongoing party, either. No one’s is.

But during those particularly rough times when I felt helpless and hopeless I could comfort myself by believing that even if I were to die from the anguish, there was always something else – the ‘afterworld.’

While I don’t think I’d like to see the sun day and night (I like the stars, thank you very much, Princey) I hoped that after death would come the ultimate freedom – that my ‘spirit’ would be able to go and do whatever it wanted. I wanted to float around the universe and see all the stars, galaxies, planets, life – everything – that is out there. I hoped to meet people that I had admired during life that had also passed on. I wanted to create my own mansion with lush grounds full of flowers and fruit trees. And my libraries would contain every book ever written, every film ever shot, every piece of music ever heard.

But now, that seems less likely to happen. Once I die, that’s probably it. Done, finito, bye-bye.

I have heard the theory that since energy can’t be destroyed, then the energy that makes up our consciousness will simply transform into something else – that perhaps I will get to float around the universe and take in the sites. But, it’s just a theory and one I won’t be able to prove or disprove until I’m dead.

Either way, it really doesn’t matter. If that theory is correct, yay! Rings of Saturn, here I come! But if it’s not correct and I just go ‘bloob’ and I’m gone, I won’t be here to care anymore. It will be over and the world will go on.

So, in the end, I’m undecided about what I think happens after death. I will just have to not dwell on it and make sure I make the most of the time I have in this life. Fortunately, Prince is wrong on this one. In this life, I’m not alone.

Oh, hells yeah

Christians are being oppressed? Are they serious?

From No Jesus, No Peas

Things that Christians can say that no other religious group in the US can:

  • I can expect to get the day off for my faith’s holidays in almost any job.
  • I can easily find books, in virtually any bookstore, accurately describing the beliefs and practices of my faith.
  • I can go into a non-specialty store and find decorations specific to my faith’s holidays.
  • I can go into a non-specialty store and find greeting cards specifically designed for my faith’s holidays.
  • I can go into virtually any music store and find music pertaining to my faith and my faith’s holidays.
  • I can easily find various paraphernalia — bookmarks, T-shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, jewelery, etc. — that pertain to my faith, my faith’s symbols, and my faith’s holidays, in numerous non-specialty stores.
  • I can put up decorations around my house and in public view pertaining to my faith’s holidays without worrying that people will judge me negatively or think I am “weird.”
  • I can easily find a group to worship with and carry out my faith’s rites and ceremonies.
  • I can easily find spiritual counseling in my area from someone who shares my faith, often paid for by health insurance.
  • I can easily find support groups and charities organized by people of my faith.
  • I don’t have to worry that someone will tell me my faith isn’t a “real” religion.
  • I can easily find holiday specials on TV that depict people celebrating my faith’s holidays.
  • I can expect the media to try and accurately portray my faith’s views on any political matter.
  • I can walk onto any campus in the country and find a group dedicated to my faith.
  • I can be pretty sure I won’t cause a huge controversy or a moral panic if I try to open a community center for my faith.
  • In virtually every election I have voted in, at least one and often both of the major candidates share some variant of my faith.
  • The majority of Americans identify with some variant of my faith.

In a ‘Horror’ble Mood

It’s October again and for the husband and me, that means it’s time for horror movies galore! We watch them year round, but in October we try our best to watch one a night when possible.

We started a little late this year – we didn’t watch our first until the 2nd of October (we’re such slackers) but we’ve stayed on target ever since.

It wasn’t intentional, but we stumbled upon a theme for our two movies this past weekend – the consequences of fear and ignorance in extreme situations.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Bubba Ritter...he's all messed up

We started out pretty low key with a made-for-tv movie from 1981. Otis P. Hazelrigg (Charles Durning) leads a group of weak-minded characters who are literally looking for any excuse to torment the local mentally deficient man-child, Bubba Ritter (Larry Drake).

After brutally shooting Bubba down while he is hiding inside his mother’s scarecrow, they find out that Bubba is innocent of the crime they were chasing him down for – the death of his only friend, little pre-pubescent Marylee (Tonya Crowe).

But that doesn’t really matter. They weren’t chasing him down for what he did – just for what he was – something they didn’t understand or, in Hazelrigg’s case, something they envied.

At the trial, where all four men are found innocent of murder, Bubba’s mother warns them that there are different kinds of justice and that someday, they will pay for what they did.

They find out that Momma Ritter is right when one by one, they are tormented by the presence of a new scarecrow in their fields – one that disappears when they gather their friends to check it out. Tension levels and panic rise as each are struck down in turn until only one is left and running for his life.

Being made for television, there is very little gore in this movie amounting to a little blood and some gunshot wounds. All violence is implied except for the brutal killing of Bubba and by today’s standards even this is pretty tame. However, the emotional impact has a chilling effect.

This kind of movie just doesn’t work without a strong cast and this movie definitely has that. Charles Durning, a steadily working actor from the 1960’s to the present, will no doubt be familiar to almost any viewer and his performance makes this film.

I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys atmosphere, a little mystery, strong characters and a solid story.

The Mist (2007)

The Mist
On the run from monsters

Sunday night we re-watched The Mist for the first time since purchasing the DVD back when it first came out. Remembering how good the movie was, I wondered why we hadn’t watched it more than once. Halfway through the movie I remembered why.

This movie pisses me off. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great movie. It’s a very good adaptation of Stephen King’s novella by the same name, and even improves on some plot points that I really didn’t like from the original source material. The cast is top-notch and the direction superb.

I’ve just gotten to a point in my life where I can’t sympathize with ignorance any longer and especially the use of ignorance to generate fear and even more the use of religion to perpetuate that ignorance and fear. The character of Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) is a loathsome woman who does more damage to the survivors of the mist than the actual monsters now roaming the world.

I realize that this is the point of the film – that letting others use fear to control us is even more dangerous than letting the unknown frighten us out of our wits. By the end of this movie, the few rational people left dare to face the very real monsters outside the store rather than deal with the even more dangerous monster that is now human society.

Perhaps this is why my husband has such a problem with the movie’s ending – which does differ from the source material and not in a necessarily better way. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but I think I have to to make my point here. Our few heroes brave the unknown but it still ultimately destroys them. The only survivor has to kill all that he has left, including the personification of innocence, only to find that it was completely pointless.

So, yeah, if they had kept the original ending from the book, my analogy here would have been much more uplifting. And maybe that’s ultimately why I’m not going to be able to watch this movie more than once every few years.

The Mist
Less scary than fanatics

Still, I highly recommend the movie. So many of King’s horror stories have been butchered by Hollywood and director Frank Darabont does a marvelous job adapting this tale for the screen.

If you get the special edition, I do recommend watching it as intended – in black and white. We watched it in color this time and while it still works, the black and white photography lends more to the alien atmosphere outside the store and reinforces the metaphor of opposing factions inside the store.

Purchase Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Purchase The Mist on Blu-Ray