Friday, May 29, 2009

Mae Pobl yn Gallu Dod i Gasgliadau Twp -- Now in Welsh!

[I'm getting better at the Welsh thing, I think, so I decided to translate a recent post. If you happen to be more proficient in Welsh than I, let me know how this could be better! Original is here.]

Mae Andrew Stuttaford o Secular Right yn ymarwar y bwnc o pam maen rhieni ynfynych anffyddiol codi blant crefyddol (er mae e dim yn dyfynnu'r dalmau i brofi mor aml mae hwn yn digwydd). Tra mae e'n ymosod dynion gwelltynol rhyddfrydol, maen a'n synied fel mae'r hynt dim ond fel maen pobl dod i grefydd yn trwy arweiniad rheiniol, mae e'n atalnodi'r faith, amlwg i fe, fel mae crefydd yn ein cymysg genynol; fel "mae ei'r hynt datblygodd ein rhywogaeth." Achos, mae pob o ddeutu ni cyn pobl yn o ein cyndadau, a dan pob o ni'n codi cyn meudwyaid, mae sawl yn byw yn ynysoedd neilltuedig yn yr Gefnor yr Arctig.

Mae Stuttaford yn awygrymu fel mae'r hynt i godi blant ynffyddiol yn i godi blant crefyddol (ydy.). Os hoffoch chi'n hynnw, hoffech chi'n FAWR yr fannod nesaf. Mae ei'r fannod pan mae e'n tafodi anffyddiwr llegach, rhyddfrydol, oblegid ei cred fel mae anffyddwyr dylu yn cael dull i apelio i'r eisiau ysbrydol fel mae ein gwahoddwr o "Secular Right" wedi haeru yn barod dan ni dim yn osgoi.

Yn y ddiwedd, mae'r oddau Stuttaford yn anodd taran i ganfod. Mae ei'n amlwg fel mae e'n tybio fel mae crefydd yn gymhelliad anianol ac anochel fel dan ni'n raid yn heddychu, ond mae ei awgrym unig i ddiddyfnu hyn dim yn rhesymol; mae ei'n mwy dull i hyfforddi oddi hi. Ond sut aml ydyymgeisiadau i hyfforddi pobl oddi rhwymau genynol yn lwydiannus? Yna, pan mae e'n cyflwyno â awgrym o ysbrydolrwydd anffyddiwr cyn hynt i ddofi ein tuedd cynhenid am pethau goruwch naturiol - rhywbeth a canlyn yn wir gan hyn honiad chwerthinllyd - mae e'n gwrthod ei yn barod oblegid mae e'n trosodd y raid am ffon fagl nefol. Yn hon enghraifft, synnai neb dim os roedd Stuttaford yn ysgafala o raid i fwyta unwaith neu dwywaith beunydd hefyd.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mayhem at the Cinema

There is going to be a movie made about the story of Varg Vikernes and the band Mayhem. It's a story about murder, Satanism, arson, and various forms of insanity in a repressed, depressed, rather cold country (Norway was not always the same-sex-marrying smile factory it is today). It is apparently going to be at least a little based on the totally awesome book, Lords of Chaos, and going to be directed by Sion Sono, who previously made Suicide Club. Not a bad sign.

On the other hand, the film's American producers have determined that it is going to be "a story of youth and youthful energy," and it is going to "fall under the teen film category." One of the most twisted stories in musical history is going to be turned into some American Pie-ed version of Rebel Without a Cause.

And to boot, Varg Vikernes, crazy insane arsonist and murderer, is going to be played by Jackson Rathbone, star of Twilight.

Let me re-emphasize this. The famed neo-nazi neo-pagan erstwhile-Satanist crackpot producer of amazing atmospheric black metal:

is going to be played by the boy who gives the best kisses!

For the record, it's very possible that the film is still salvageable. Sono is clearly a good director and to be fair I have not actually watched Rathbone's acting. That said, I know the story very well, and like many metalheads, I'm sure, I have thought about this as a potential movie. In my head, though, it was always a story about Dead (Per Yngve Ohlin, Mayhem's singer, committed suicide). He seemed to be insane in a much more endearing way than Vikernes. For that matter, it could be a story of comparative insanity. Put the messiah-complex story of Varg next to the tragic, inward, dark soul moping of Dead, throw in the histrionic ambitiousness of Øystein Aarseth (Euronymous, guitarist from Mayhem, killed by Varg), and you've got a movie that not only connects with teens' assorted neuroses, but can still keep the interest of an adult cinemaphile.

I'd like it a lot if they did this well.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

International Events

The civil war in Sri Lanka is supposedly over and done. At least, the LTTE is essentially vanquished, and the Sri Lankan government has declared victory. Given how ugly things got throughout the conflict, but especially in the last couple weeks, with the hospital bombings and things, I wonder at how effectively the Sinhalese government will be able to keep the Tamils from forming another serious rebel movement. That said, the fact that President Rajapaksa gave a victory speech in Tamil might be a good start.

In other international news, it would make me very happy if Obama told Netanyahu that his government is bad and he should feel bad.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Two of the Worst Conventions of Non-Metalheads Writing About Metal

(1) Referring to any metal that wouldn't get played on an Active Rock station as either "death metal" or "speed metal."

Death metal is a pretty clearly defined subset of metal, but is more useful to the mainstream as an archetype of how ridiculous metal can be. This is helped by its memorably brazen name, and somewhat feeds into the whole metal will kill your teenage children idea. The fact that most of these people don't know about black metal or Varg Vikernes makes this slightly bizarre.

Speed metal is sort of like the word berry: what people think it means and what it actually means are almost completely unrelated. It's also sort of the opposite of berry. Berries are actually a much larger set of things that people are unaware of (which mostly exclude what we commonly call "berries"). Conversely, speed metal, inasmuch as it refers to anything specific at all, is a very narrow grouping of 80s bands like Annihilator and the first couple Helloween recordings. It's basically thrash without any punk elements. But it gets used to refer to just about anything.

(Notably, in the example linked above, the metal referred to as "speed" is actually pretty slow and grooved. And actually it's pretty much numetal.)

Recommended fix: Just call it "metal" and you'll probably be right.

(2) Using Metallica as the canonical and universally accepted paramount of quality metal.

Metallica are a thrash band from the 80s. They put out two good albums, then they put out two great albums, then they put out garbage for about a decade and a half, then they put out another pretty good album. Their first great album was essentially an improvement of the style on their first two good albums, and their second great album was a bit more experimental. It was also mis-produced almost into the grave. They are actually remembered best by most people for their first bad album.

Now, I don't expect mainstream pundits to go around talking about how their favorite metal band of all time is Bathory, or how revolutionary the first couple Celtic Frost albums were. But the thing is, there are several other bands that everyone has heard of who are better than Metallica, and even more agreed-upon both within and without the metal community.

Recommended fix: Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden. Show me one person who likes metal and does not like the first six Sabbath albums, and I'll show you a liar.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Alas, Poor NPR

Hey, NPR programming directors. Shit is happening in the world. Do we really need to hear the same culturally tone-deaf commentaries about how horrid Twitter and Facebook are, and how they strip our privacy (you know, because they are forced and all), and how Twitter is basically the same as a blog? You guys are now only mildly less annoying than the sound of my alarm buzzing, or the static between used frequencies.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Joe the Plumber: Don't Lay No Pipes

Samuel "Jose El Fontanero" Whatsaburger, on the subject of gaybuggery:
"People don't understand the dictionary--it's called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that."

Despite this mindset, JtP apparently no longer feels that the Republican Party represents his beliefs.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

People Can Come to Some Silly Conclusions

Andrew Stuttaford at Secular Right discusses the question of why nonreligious parents often raise religious children (though of course no numbers are cited here to define what HOW often this happens). While sticking some needles in some "left-liberal" straw men who think that the only way people come to religion is by through parental guidance, he points out the apparently obvious fact that religion is in our genetic makeup, that "[I]t’s the way our species has evolved." After all, everything about us as people is gotten from our progenitors, because we are all raised as hermits living in secluded Arctic Ocean islands.

Stattuford suggests that the best way to raise irreligious children is to raise religious children (yes.). Now, if you liked that, you'll REALLY like the follow up, wherein he berates a namby-pamby "left-liberal" nonbeliever for his belief that secularists should find a way to appeal to the metaphysical impulse which our Secular Right protagonist has already asserted is inborn and inescapable.

In the end, Stuttaford's overall point is actually somewhat difficult to discern. That he thinks religiosity is an inescapable natural urge that must be placated in some way is clear, though his only suggestion as a way to do this makes no real sense; it is more of a suggestion as to how to train people out of it (one is forced to assume the mechanism here is an urge to rebel). But how often are efforts to train people out of genetic imperatives successful? Then, when presented with a suggestion of secular spiritualism as a way to appease our inherited penchant for the supernatural - something which actually follows from this ridiculous assumption - he rejects it out of hand because he is above the need for any sort of ethereal crutch. In this case, one wouldn't be surprised if Stuttaford were also free of the inborn human desire to eat food a couple times a day.

As this was written by Andrew Stuttaford* and quoted by Andrew Sullivan, I'm afraid I'm going to have to start a policy of distrusting any non-religious conservative named Andrew.

*Update - Okay, Andrew Stuttaford is also a National Review Online writer. I suppose that says a lot about him.