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Messages - JoshCrow

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251
General Comments / Re: The theory that Dems want to ban guns
« on: January 12, 2016, 09:32:14 AM »

So...should I count this as one vote in favor of partisan politics in the realm of gun control? Just because I don't expect politicians to speak to each other reasonably doesn't mean I have to like it.

You are advocating FOR a public figure to take pains to conceal what they believe in an interview. I always took you to be someone who recognized the problem with that, someone who was tired of the emptiness of their speeches which are designed to offend nobody and therefore say nothing. It is fascinating to see you take up the contrary position so quickly.

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General Comments / Re: The theory that Dems want to ban guns
« on: January 12, 2016, 09:23:38 AM »
Josh, if criminalizing any sort of gun ownership of handguns for home or personal defense purposes is not Obama's end game, them why does he dodge the question with that obfuscation about what can he do in a year?  The combination of calling the question crazy while refusing to give a plain answer, bodes very poorly. If the answer really is no, then why not just say NO, that's not where I want America to end up?

I'm not convinced his answer WAS obfuscation (if anything it was omission), since Obama is entering what is widely known as the lame duck phase of his presidency (one could argue he's been there for a long time already). The concept of the lame duck is the widely and popularly accepted notion that a president in their last year has very little political capital to spend to do anything major.

I agree that Obama could have followed that by saying "but just wait until Hillary gets in - she'll make major changes!". But why would he say that? You are basically asking Obama to undermine his own position in an interview! Regardless of whether he is right or wrong in your eyes, is it reasonable to expect a president to deliberately present evidence counter to their own agenda? I do not believe any president has ever been held to that standard, sir. IT would be lovely if people adopted purely objective positions and stated arguments against their own beliefs - but while we wait for that to happen, we've got the reality of politics to deal with.

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General Comments / Re: The theory that Dems want to ban guns
« on: January 11, 2016, 10:55:50 PM »
But my main point isn't about a nefarious agenda or Obama winking at the camera, but rather that if a prominent leader of the gun control movement such as Obama is calling the other side crazy then what hope is there for real dialogue? It will just continue in the vein of each side trying to sneak changes past the other side with no understanding or agreement.

I think a far more nefarious thing is to police your every word until you are incapable of expressing anything other than a feigned "respectful disagreement" in the face of lunacy. This isn't a marriage, and Obama's wife didn't just ask him if she looks fat in that dress.

"My dear sir, I see and fully respect that you believe federal agents are going to break own your door and confiscate all your guns."

Nope, sorry, crazy ideas are still crazy. Call a spade a spade. I'm surprised to hear you advocate otherwise. When is the last time you can remember any politically charged issue involving millions of people being solved because both sides said "yeah, you are totally reasonable and we just disagree"?

This is to say nothing about the fact that you are expending energy on a really very oblique comment that is degrees removed from being any sort of direct indictment of people. To point to this thing reminds me of "microaggressions", and in a bad way.

254
General Comments / Re: The theory that Dems want to ban guns
« on: January 11, 2016, 07:10:16 PM »
What about the point in the video where Obama could be interpreted as mocking suspicion of government? "Some distant authority." Might it not be hard for both sides of this to see eye to eye when the spokesperson for one side (Obama for gun control) seems to be casting an aspersion on people who fear that government tends to encroach on their rights?

It's not that I don't see the interpretation you're referring to, but I feel like your decision to scrutinize it so closely is part of what contributes to the overall requirement for politicians to speak blandly and say nothing. If we're going to parse between "some" and "a" as an object of interest in a president's ad libbed speech (in a live interview, I would add), I think we're actively encouraging them to say nothing at all lest they betray a thought unfavorable to some.

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I guess I can see a case for not wanting unstable people to have guns to protect them, but is "we have to stop them killing themselves" really applicable to the general agenda of making Americans feel safer?

I am a strong supporter of euthanasia yet I feel like preventing people (particularly young people) from ending themselves during what is likely a temporarily bad spot in their lives is indeed a public service of value. Suicide attempts with guns are, to put it bluntly, too effective compared to other means, and thus do not often function as a "cry for help" to alert people to a serious problem in someone's life like an unsuccessful attempt. I'm sure if you spoke to people who have recovered from their suicidal tendencies, they would agree that they should not have been given an easier means to self-terminate.

255
General Comments / Re: The theory that Dems want to ban guns
« on: January 11, 2016, 02:40:33 PM »
Now selling a gun like that (when reliable) where the safe is the charging station...  You may have a market there.  That said, the cost becomes an issue.  Is the "right to self defense" (or however you want to state it) something only those of a certain economic level are entitled to?  Could we / should we subsidize this technology?  Tax credits?  /shrug 

Charging station? If they were designed properly they would last as long as a digital wristwatch. This isn't a smartphone - it's a dumb short-range transmitter. And you'd be surprised how robust embedded electronics can be if properly designed - I don't see a lot of serious technological barriers here. I'm speaking as a professor of electrical engineering here (which I rarely get to do on this forum).

256
General Comments / Re: The theory that Dems want to ban guns
« on: January 11, 2016, 02:14:52 PM »
And the problem is there's no good way to detect improper storage before an accident. Random inspections are unconstitutional and a bad plan besides. Complaint driven inspections are slightly better but still not the kind of thing a free society should be using. An "in plain sight" rule wouldn't greatly expand the ability to detect unsafe storage and since the cops would already be in the house, I suspect there wouldn't be a measurable effect.

I suppose centralized storage would work but that wouldn't pass the current reading of the Second Amendment and would invalidate the purpose of home defense.

Mandatory smart gun technology (e.g. gun will only fire if within arm's length of a coded wristwatch) is a plausible answer that would drastically reduce the suicide/accidental death rate. The tech is actually commercially available but has faced opposition getting to market (from guess who).

257
General Comments / Re: The theory that Dems want to ban guns
« on: January 11, 2016, 10:20:58 AM »
I'll echo what D.W. and jasonr said - it seems obvious that Obama is no fan of guns or the 2nd amendment but has essentially no chance of achieving a gun-free USA. As D.W. said, the idea of a "conspiracy" is basically a question of degree for the pro-gun team... anyone afraid of losing their guns tomorrow is probably a moron, but if it's merely the thought of some long-term cultural change occuring against guns, then it's not unreasonable as a fear.

Personally, I think this IS a cultural battle, not a legal one. The very idea of a "gun culture" is disturbed. I would view anyone in possession of more than a simple handgun for defense as basically being "psychologically suspect". The elevation of guns into a symbol beyond merely being a tool (for hunting, defense) is, in my opinion, a perverse fetishization and a symptom of unwellness. It is called a symbol of freedom, but Captain America said it best in the Winter Soldier film: "This isn't freedom. This is fear."

258
General Comments / Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« on: December 29, 2015, 04:10:45 PM »
Hayden Christensen got it much worse, trust me. :)

259
General Comments / Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« on: December 29, 2015, 03:33:39 PM »
While I can't, obviously, say anything about specific claims made by specific people, I think there would be a lot less fuss about Rey if she'd been a male character. "He" would get more of a presumption of competence that blunt some of the criticism. There would still be complaints, but they'd be of a distinctly different flavor.

As has been noted, if Rey had been a male, there would have been fewer people interesting in defending him or his blandness - he would have been much more widely panned as a dull stock-figure action hero (kinda like Sam Worthington in everything he's been in). I think we're so used to seeing it by now it would not have attracted specific "Mary Sue" complaints but they would have been more annoyed at the blandness than the competency. I'm comfortable acknowledging that the "Mary Sue" term is mostly because having made her both a woman and kick-ass with no faults, people can "smell" the political agenda behind it rather than assessing the character directly. But at least a male lead wouldn't have had lines like "don't hold my hand"... or who knows, maybe they would have made Finn gay to compensate and keep the diversity flame going.

Rey is no Katniss Everdeen. Not many people questioned her as a character - frankly because she had one.

260
General Comments / Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« on: December 29, 2015, 09:41:32 AM »

Pete's kids have got the right of it, and in 30 years they'll very likely be defending the deep complexities that it brought to the table in similar service to the grandiosity of their childhood experience.

Within 10 years this film will be regarded as flawed in a completely different way than the prequels. The prequels suffered from being overstuffed with garbage. The Abrams films will be remembered for being spiritually and emotionally hollow, and lacking meaningful nourishment in story. They will be remembered as like a sugar rush.

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This is the first act in another three part production; complexity really has no place here.

It's also Episode 7. There's plenty of existing material, themes, and even characters. It was full of squandered opportunity to touch on those, but settled on nostalgia and spectacle over storytelling.

I still have (a new) hope, that with the next one Luke will serve to ground things and make it unavoidable that characters will have to do more than run and shoot and bounce from one macguffin to the next. I hope the most exciting scene is simply Luke training Rey and them having long conversations about the Force.

261
General Comments / Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« on: December 28, 2015, 07:40:26 PM »
A good breakdown of the overall problem with the film: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/critics-notebook-how-star-wars-851209

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Of course, Lucas later went on to squander an entire universe of good will with his trilogy of Star Wars prequels. But even those unloved movies were rich in intellectual ambition and grand ideas about society, power, courtly love and the darkly seductive allure of fascism.
 
The prequels were rightly criticized for their annoying characters, creaky dialogue and enslavement to CGI technology. But Lucas made his biggest mistake in overestimating his audience's appetite for moral complexity and novelistic depth. It turned out most of us just wanted to see more wise-cracking space cowboys, Pixar-cute robo-pets and teenage wizards with Daddy issues. Which is where J.J. Abrams comes in, revitalizing the Star Wars saga by infantilizing it. And us.

262
General Comments / Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« on: December 28, 2015, 09:34:47 AM »
We know a lot about Rey. We know she's willing to turn down at two months of food (more like 4 or 5 given her luck at scavenging) to help someone she just met and who's actively keeping secrets from her. We know she's survived doing incredibly dangerous and unprofitable work on not enough food. We know she's good with machines and capable in a fight (someone pointed out that her lightsaber style is a lot like her staff fighting).

Rey doesn't need to switch on because she's never off. Luke has the liberty of indulging in sulks about his life; Rey's too busy not starving to death. Her journey in this movie isn't to step up to a challenge she's afraid she might not be able to might but to abandon the child's hope that her family will show up and make everything all right; to let go of the things that are tying her to the life that will kill her.

NH, that's about the level of characterization we get for a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. It's a character with zero inner life or relatability, whose defining personality trait is "tough-as-nails and did we mention she's tough Maybe you didn't hear us she is very tough." She is basically Milla Jovovich's character from Resident Evil.

263
General Comments / Re: Who do you trust with the nuclear launch codes?
« on: December 26, 2015, 11:01:46 PM »
Trump is not the fool his supporters are. I'm not terribly worried about him.

264
General Comments / Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« on: December 23, 2015, 04:18:34 PM »
But if you're going to make the claim that Rey is standing in for someone's wish fulfillment, then it would help to point out who and what wish you're talking about instead of trying to flip the concept inside out and pretend that part of what makes her an appealing character is a flaw just because the direction of that appeal doesn't cater to you first, but rather to other segments of the audience.

If I read a piece of fiction and I find the lead character Mary/Marty Sue-ish, what does it matter if I can identify exactly who wrote it? It's just something you can "smell" in fan fiction. Characters either have that aura of being 'wish-fulfillment' or they don't and feel more natural and organic in the established universe.

As for the rest of your comment - there's no accounting for taste, is there? People liked Transformers, too, but it doesn't make it a good film.

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Rey on the other hand doesn't have the struggle with her instincts, but she does have the fight between attachment to the past and accepting the destiny put before her. She frequently has to make the choice between holding back or leaning into it, only grudgingly accepting it bit by bit till the end when she finally makes the decision to step outside herself and put aside her resentment and pain from being left behind to move forward. There is no lack of change and growth there, it's just a different kind of change and growth.

I got none of this from the film I saw. Rey seemed to have made few if any significant choices... though one was clear early on (sell BB-8 for money I could really use, or not?). Most of the rest seemed to be survival-based dilemmas (i.e. do something or die, which isn't much of a choice). Finally when she might have had to make a choice about what to do with the defeated Kylo Ren (kill him? spare him?) the choice was ripped away from her, literally by the ground separating her from him and making a choice. It's too bad, because we might have learned something about her there.

Rey was utterly unrelatable and distant. Contrast her with Katniss, Buffy, Jessica Jones, or countless other excellent female protagonists who have a clear story arc. She's a block of wood next to any of them. Heck, Lara Croft had more story arc.

265
General Comments / Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« on: December 23, 2015, 01:17:12 PM »
Not a hallmark, it's the definition of a Mary Sue.

Claims about poor characterization aside, if you want to make the case for Mary Sue, then you've got to make the case for author insert. If you want to make some other claim then pasting "Mary Sue" on it is referencing the wrong trope.

I know you have a tendency to not recognize any definition of a term other than that which suits your argument, but even the Wiki page for 'Mary Sue' acknowledges that not all of them are specific author proxies. I'll post the relevant stuff here - make of it what you will.

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"Mary Sue" today has changed from its original meaning and now carries a generalized, although not universal, connotation of wish-fulfillment and is commonly associated with self-insertion. True self-insertion is a literal and generally undisguised representation of the author; most characters described as "Mary Sues" are not, though they are often called "proxies"[6] for the author. The negative connotation comes from this "wish-fulfillment" implication: the "Mary Sue" is judged as a poorly developed character, too perfect and lacking in realism to be interesting

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General Comments / Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« on: December 23, 2015, 12:11:42 PM »
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Incidentally I did not come out of TFA with the Mary Sue thing in mind at all, but between jasonr and the article both are making a decent case for Rey really being just that.
Which writer are you thinking she's a Mary Sue of?

The thing about a Mary Sue is that they don't have a particular personality (other than awesomeness). Whomever wrote it is irrelevant - and that's kind of the point of the Mary Sue, because she is "any fan" who wants to be a badass in a movie series they adore. If she represented a particular and real human being she wouldn't even be a Mary Sue. She is an idealization, instead. And more frustrating is that unlike other hyper-talented characters in Star Wars, she seemed to have no discernible inner life. She was a total blank slate. I couldn't tell you the first thing of what she *thought* about the things going on around her, because the movie never slowed down to look into it.

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General Comments / Re: The Force Awakens (SPOILER ALERT)
« on: December 23, 2015, 09:41:38 AM »
Rey was little more than a generic action hero... it was like having Jean-Claude Van Damme plowing through the movie. I know precisely zero about her as a person, whereas Luke was whiny but at least we got to know him. Rey is just some sandblasted, hardened tough guy gal with no relatability, humor, or humanity about her. It's just fine for "The Expendables", but this is Star Wars. You can't anchor an emotional character-driven film on a walking vacancy in that department.

Not that Finn was much better, but at least he got to express more than a single emotion. My trouble with Finn is that he didn't seem to fit into the narrative by serving any function. He contributed not much but to provide an audience surrogate (in some scenes he was basically the fanboy, pointing out how awesome it is that that's Han Solo over there). Being a reformed Stormtrooper is a really cool idea and could have provided major insight into their psychology - and in a better movie it would have gone there or at least alluded to it. But much of what I got from this guy was "Whoohoo, I'm just happy to be here".

I guess the defense against all of this is "it's Star Wars, it's not supposed to be profound". But that's a cop-out and I reject it just as Fenring does. This movie was such a waste from top to bottom. That it got 95% critical approval just shows how cowardly movie critics have become, or else how undemanding. This movie will fade in the memory after a few months and ten years from now they will be regarded as no better than the prequels, precisely because the new characters are paper-thin.

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General Comments / Re: DNC Software Breach
« on: December 19, 2015, 08:14:43 AM »
We're sick of hearing about something that just happened? That's an interesting take on breaking news that isn't exactly on the level of the email scandal. I wouldn't have been surprised if most people here hadn't even heard of it, frankly.

It was a humorous reference to Sanders' "sick of hearing about your damn e-mails" comment at the Dem debate.

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