Thursday, 21 August 2014

a modified Christopher Hitchens argument

what does Andrew mean by a modified Christopher Hitchens argument? Before Zeus took Chris's life, he was an excellent 'public debater' but unfortunately because he was kinda of a journalist, career oriented person he bounced around various television and radio shows and stirred up lots of controversy.  Not a bad thing but it meant that he ended up in some very dumb debates with complete idiots and he destroyed them with 'tried and true' lines of argument that he repeated a lot. So by the end of his life he was basically bashing fundamentalism and it kinda seemed like he was taking the easy road. Even though in earlier years he bashed all kinds of different people, which was better. Like the video with him debating on 'Talk Live' with some American White Supremacists. It is a great example of his power to deal with evil people and show why they should be considered evil.

I hope you watched this whole video because it was great. A shining example of Hitchens 'calling out' shity people with shitty opinions. (no not every shitty opinion deserves to be heard by everyone, just like bad music does not deserve radio play)

Hitchens was much more like Sartre (with the philosophy and constant drinking and smoking) then he was like Dawkins or Chomsky - a part of his appeal.

Anyway I will get to the point of my story. The Hitchens argument against religion is this:

1. Religion makes human do evil things that they would not have done if not religiously motivated. Therefore religion cannot be justified as something good. 

He gives good examples, but mainly to do with body mutilation stuff like circumcisions and things.

Okay I agree in part, but other people (like Robert Wright) have shown that many 'religious' wars are simply traditional land wars and so in many ways the real problem is "real estate". But if Hitchens said 'real estate causes people to do evil things" not many people would listen or care. 

SO here is my point. Watch this:

1.  Business makes human do evil things that they would not have done if not finically motivated. Therefore business cannot be justified as something good.

Ex. cut down rain forest for beef cattle for fast food restaurants. Or fire 80% of workers at the factory/mill to balance the budget while CEO takes large bonus because that is how it works.

2.  Science makes human do evil things that they would not have done if not scientifically motivated. Therefore science cannot be justified as something good.

Ex. Experimenting on animals. Treating humans as specimens. Nazi medicine- we know more about the brain and neurology today thanks to the "unethical' experiments they did on live humans. 

So I think I have made my point, I am not defending religion or business or science but have just been thinking lately that his 'religion argument' can easily be used on other 'structures' in society. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Ninja Turtles, Censorship and Nunchaku

the latest incarnation of the 'mutant turtle ninja teenagers'
So the latest version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja/Hero Turtles is now in box offices and they have a new CG gritty look (Warning: I have not seen the new film, nor plan on going to the theatre, and this in not a review) and like all new superhero/comic movie adaptations there are tons of grey landscapes done on blue screens. Anyway I am no movie production critic (maybe a movie narrative critic) and so my main concern today is to discuss a matter related to these dudes-censorship. We need to back up a bit though-like to Plato's Republic.

The Republic is the 'ideal city' in the philosophy of Plato and perhaps his most well know work and contains the famous 'cave analogy' among others. Part of the perfect city involves a (some would argue) totalitarian regime and deliberate censorship of certain arts. The most famous was the banning of flutes, and Aristotle in his work of Politics notes a sign of cultural decline when 'legislators' allowed the flute back into the public education. Flutes caused people to get excited and so better ban them! :) Flutes were only good for war and the Olympics!

Fast forward to the 1980's in the North America and the UK where the is a new conservative political stranglehold over the arts again. BUT this time it effected me. You see when I was very young I was into superheros and ninja's.  The 'ninja film' (well the US incarnation of ninja films) was in full effect.  There had already been ninja art "booms" in Japan in the 1930, and 50's and was a major source of children's books and entertainment- and spread to North American originally through James Bond novels and the film You Only Live Twice) . 

(side note: The documentary from 2006 THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED covers lots in interesting ideas around how and why films get certain rating and how any explicit lesbians love scenes would be considered x-rated while some PG-13 movies had murders and violence in spades, but that is a separate article. BUT IT IS AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE CULTURAL ENGINEERING PUZZLE. Anyway back to ninja movies.)
In 1988 my family moved from Canada to the UK where my "mum" was from. The original Laird and whatever his name was  "teenage mutant ninja turtles" were at the time still part of 'geek comic culture' and had not yet been completely pillaged and were pretty gritty and a very cool idea at the time. 
this original sketch sold at auction for like a bunch of money recently 

This was lightyears before MARVEL sold off all the right to its world and Mutants were all over the box office and Prof X became a household name.

Captain Jean Luc Xavier 
The original 'medium' for the Turtles was graphic novels and they were awesome to say the least.

Anywack lets get back to "me" ;) and the point of my story. While Nancy Reagan was teaching everyone that all drugs were equal and they were all hand made by the devil- the UK took the craziness a step further and decided that in order to make England safe (in a land where you can easily get crushed and killed at a 'football' match and where the food needs to be burned to carcinogenic levels to be considered cooked) they decided to ban a word- guess what word "NINJA". not kidding and I wish I was because I had to live in this crazy irrational culture for a few years. The ban was part of the "video nasty's" campaign that decided to ban movies like the EXORCIST as 'too bad for society'. So not only did they already have all guns banned in the UK, all martial arts weapons  needed to be banned as well and then one person really earning their censorship pay check decided "you know what lets extend the ban into the fantasy world- that should really teach those pesky kids NOT to imagine anything and follow the rules blindly right". SO here are some of the things that came out of that brilliant idea.
1. TEENAGE MUTANT HERO TURTLES; yes they actually changed the name from ninja to hero (not synonyms for the record). and here is proof from a video game cover from Konami as released in the UK.

2. It gets better now, because the Japanese Nunchaku or "NUM-CHUKS" as they are normally called are so difficult to make just like this video demonstrates, like a kid could not just make them in 5 minutes (holy shit is my sarcasm dripping out of the screen yet)
HOW TO MAKE "NUMCHUKS" they decided that it would be best to 'remove' them from reality completely!!!!! Well at least as far as they could not even be featured in a fantasy movie, like they were more dangerous then a time machine or ray gun. So the 'num-chuks' were removed and Michelangelo was given a grapple hook???? This scene "proves" he used numchuks in the original :) 

Anyway it gets even better because in TMNT 2 the secret of the Ooze a scene was deleted when Mike is swinging pepperoni in a 'numchucky way' -I know people were getting paid to make these decisions and probably even patted themselves on the back for 'improving society" FFS!
COMBAT COLDCUTS- do you think the carcinogenic preservatives or the 'numchukness' was worse??
AND the icing on the cake.

Do you know why nunchaku became so popular??? One name: BRUCE LEE!

Bruce Lee was no traditionalist and that is why he is using a Japanese weapon "the nunchaku" and they looked awesome on camera. It was also 'not' a Japanese ninja weapon, there are very few distinct 'ninja weapons' in fact and is a modified farming tool much like the traditional Okinawa Sai and Kama. Legendary Dan Inosanto was said to introduce them to Bruce. 
BUT LOOK AT THIS from the IMDB (movie database) on alternative versions of 'THE GAME OF DEATH".

"All footage of nunchaku was removed from the UK cinema version (which also meant substantially re-editing the closing credits), and video versions received a further 2 secs of cuts to remove a closeup shot of a back-break. The cuts were fully restored for the 2001 Hong Kong Legends release though the 2005 Universal DVD featured the heavily cut video version."

I remember vaguely Bruce using a stupid looking baton-like stick and I think that was what they 'altered' the nunchaku with as seen here. 

Anyway,  I am done writing for now, there are tons of directions this can go and I will leave it at that!