Tag Archives: memes

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Folau did not quote the Bible (and who actually made the content that Izzy shared?)

Israel Folau did not quote the Bible.

Israel Folau shared a ‘meme’.

The meme, as demonstrated below, comes from a street preaching circle in the United States that one could legitimately describe as a non-Biblical ‘hate preaching’ ministry that has a track record of distorting the Gospel and cherry-picking the sins it features to condemn the sexual proclivity of the modern west, but that has significant blindspots that lead to a distorted representation of the Biblical source material. The ‘ministry,’ like Folau’s meme, conveniently ignores an equally pressing besetting sin of the western world, and at least one of the preachers in question: greed.

The ‘meme,’ pictured above, paraphrased the Bible but also flips its audience from Christian to non-Christian, and misrepresents the text in question. The image Folau shared comes from a context (this street preaching group) that determined what parts of the Bible passage were highlighted. The list of sins in the image comes from, but does not quote, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” — 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NIV)

Folau’s social media presence reveals a tendency to quote the King James Version of the Bible, which, is, of itself an interesting phenomenon within the church — the KJV is a favourite volume of those who are suspicious of ‘modern’ ‘human’ re-writers of the Bible, which is a deep irony built on a reasonable amount of ignorance around Bible translation and history. The KJV translates these verses in this way:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. — 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (KJV)

The original, or earliest, rendering of this text from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that we have, used in english Bible translation is:

ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἄδικοι θεοῦ βασιλείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν; μὴ πλανᾶσθε: οὔτε πόρνοι οὔτε εἰδωλολάτραι οὔτε μοιχοὶ οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται οὔτε κλέπται οὔτε πλεονέκται, οὐ μέθυσοι, οὐλοίδοροι, οὐχ ἅρπαγες βασιλείαν θεοῦ κληρονομήσουσιν.

And this isn’t a point I’m making lightly – because those who want to make a simple ‘black and white’ case that Folau quoted the Bible and so is being persecuted for being a faithful Christian need to ponder how helpfully his meme renders the words μαλακοὶ and ἀρσενοκοῖται, which are the two words for homosexual sex (behaviour) combined in the NIV translation, or separated as ‘effeminate’ and ‘abusers of themselves with mankind’ in the KJV. Whether these map carefully and accurately onto the modern word ‘homosexual’ is an important discussion to consider when determining how much the meme accurately represents the Bible. I don’t think it does. I believe, and have a long track record of arguing that ‘homosexuality’ as a label describes a person’s orientation to the world, their sexual attraction, their proclivity to ‘lust’, and that these for people ultimately (often) end up in same sex sexual activity of the sort Paul prohibits. The Bible doesn’t directly speak to orientation or attraction, but it does talk about behaviour in a way that people with any orientation or attraction have to take on board when submitting to the authority or rule of Jesus and the re-ordering of our hearts and lives when we move from “worshipping created things” as Paul describes our sinful state, to “worshipping the creator.” The meme  misrepresents the relationship between ‘sinners’ and ‘sin’ established by Paul, who is emphasising sinful activity or action, not an orientation or desire (though in 1 Corinthians 6:11 he does say ‘such as some of you were’ and our orientation, attraction, desires, lusts, and actions are often integrated so that actions are an expression of orientation. For anybody who becomes a Christian, gay or straight, the call to repent and turn to Jesus is the call to re-orient ourselves in the world and so moderate our attractions, desires, and behaviour accordingly.

So, that’s one strike against the idea that Folau ‘quoted the Bible’ via this image (at least in this image, it doesn’t seem to me that he’s in trouble for quoting Galatians in the text attached to this image in his post). Another strike would be that in the context of Corinthians, Paul has just spoken about how the church in Corinth should engage with the world, and how they should respond to sexual immorality — he says they’re to keep themselves pure, exercising judgment on sexual morality in the church, but leave judging those outside the church to God (1 Corinthians 5). I’m not one to quote Matthew 7:1 as though it should stop us seeing behaviours that are against the express revealed will of God as ‘not sinful’ or some sort of wishy washy revisionism, but I am going to point out that there’s a difference between writing to Christians telling them not to behave like the world, and writing to the world telling them to behave like Christians and taking the position of God when doing so — judging them — it is not for me to declare that ‘hell awaits’ anybody; it’s for me to declare the Gospel of Jesus, and him crucified (as was Paul’s description of his practice in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 1-2, a message he summarises to include the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15).

This is a second strike; the third is to reframe Paul’s statement about ‘inheriting the kingdom of God’ to ‘hell awaits’ the other. It’s not that judgment isn’t a thing, Biblically, it’s that a causal link between these particular sins — that are symptoms — and judgment, is not a point Paul is making in this text. Also, when Paul does get to 1 Corinthians 15 his argument isn’t ‘heaven v hell’ but ‘death and dust in Adam’ v ‘life and imperishability’ in Jesus. We tend not to be super careful about making a distinction between Hades and the lake of fire reserved for Satan, his minions, death and hades, and those who reject Jesus; and I’m not convinced a person whose flesh has not been made imperishable by the Spirit of God (ala 1 Corinthians 15) lasts for very long in Revelation’s lake of fire… but this is a much more contested point than the one I’m making with this third strike against the meme; that the Bible as a whole, and Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in particular, don’t make judgment about particular sins, or particular types of sinner, but about whether one accepts Jesus as Lord and receives the Spirit, and life, or whether one rejects Jesus.

This is a point made by Jesus himself about what earns judgment, in, for example, John 3. Where ‘seeing’ the Kingdom of God requires being ‘born of the Spirit,’ which comes through believing in Jesus (John 3:3-16), but death comes as the ongoing result of not being born again and judgment comes on the pivotal question not of what sins I commit as a result of rejecting Jesus, but on the question of whether or not I reject Jesus.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  — John 3:17-18

So that’s three strikes. I’m not sure you can say someone ‘quotes’ the Bible if they take a message from the Bible written to Christians, that has a particular context within a letter, and then turn it around to say something else to non-Christians, in an apparent direct contradiction with the verses from right next door (1 Corinthians 5). It’s not ‘quoting the Bible’ if you obscure in your translation decision what the original makes clear (the move from ‘homosexual sex’ to ‘homosexuals’). It’s misquoting the Bible. ‘Quoting the Bible’ is also not the ‘shibboleth’ test Christians seem to be treating it as — it’s possible to quote, say, Job’s friends or Satan as he is tempting Jesus, without the literary context, and to say very untrue things about the world.

But here’s two more questions to raise about Folau’s post (and this is not to say Folau should have lost his job for sharing his religious beliefs publicly, but rather to say, Folau did not lose his job for quoting the Bible).

  1. Is it wise to try to reduce the teaching of the Bible into memes, or even just into single verses to pump out via social media devoid of the context both of the Bible as a coherent whole, and a real relationship with the person you are communicating to? And;
  2. Where did this meme actually come from, and to what extent should that frame questions about how helpful and Biblical its content is?

The first one is one where people will no doubt reach different convictions based on communication theory and an understanding of the ‘content’ of a proclamation of the Gospel; ie what ‘communicating’ the Gospel as a message involves in terms of content, and how this ‘content’ should shape the context we give it as communicators. How much does our ‘message’ need to inform and shape ‘our mediums’. I wrote a thesis on this question, basically, so I won’t revisit that here…

But the second question is quite instructive. Google’s ‘reverse image’ function reveals there’s no public, track record of this image being shared online (this doesn’t mean it’s not been shared and circulated on systems that might be closed to Google’s image search function (like Instagram)). Its presence on the web in the form Folau used it, directly coincides with Folau’s publication of the image; and correlation is causation in this case.

I also waded through, thanks to reverse image searching some of his other posts, Pinterest boards of other images Folau has shared on Twitter and Instagram over the last 12 months, and it appears he gets images from a wide variety of sources. He has a penchant for criticising prosperity preaching (and Joel Osteen and Hillsong cop his ire regularly). In the fallout of last year’s similar controversy, he shared a video from David Wilkerson (the guy who wrote The Cross and The Switchblade), who is popular amongst a certain corner of the Christian ‘dark’ web — those who believe the church, in its current form, have compromised and that faithful preaching looks a lot like taking to the street with placards. Folau is getting his content from somewhere, and he got this image from somewhere, and where it came from (both when he found it, and originally) is not irrelevant; especially not in the realm of ‘memes’ and how they are circulated and distributed.

In the early days of the Folau controversy I asked what the difference between his ‘quotes’ from the Bible and the quotes from the Bible featured on Westboro Baptist signs were, because there is more to faithful proclamation of the Gospel than just taking bits of the Bible that name specific sinful behaviours, convicting people of that, and telling them to make some sort of belief transfer to Jesus; there’s more to ‘evangelism’ than just holding up a placard and shouting. But I wasn’t sure there was a legitimate link between a Westboro sign and Folau’s meme; as a result of a reasonably deep dive into the source of Folau’s image, now I’m not so convinced the comparison isn’t apt; and that rather than the picture being ‘quoting the Bible’ it isn’t a certain form or re-appropriating the Bible for a ‘hate speech’ based approach to preaching.

My reservations about Folau’s communication strategy on social media are much the same as my reservations about Westboro; though I don’t think he is a ‘teacher’ in a church in the same way Fred Phelps is, so I think his actions are well intended and wrong, rather than the horrid actions of a false preacher; Folau’s post is the fruit of that sort of false preaching and wrong use of the Bible taking hold in the lives of real people searching for a coherent truth about the world, and sin, and Jesus. Folau’s post is the product of a tradition that puts the emphasis on those ‘blocks’ in all the wrong places in a way that distorts the truth and misrepresents it to a world ill equipped to have conversations about sin and judgment (especially when it comes to the way it tackles the sexuality issue).

Folau did, however, source this image from somewhere. Because the image does exist in a variety of forms, with some variations. It is used by a couple of street preaching ministries in the United States, appearing both in the ‘Bulldog Ministries’ (bulldogministries.com) ‘evangelism’ of David Stokes in Texas and surrounds, and the ‘ChristianInterviews.com’ (site now defunct) ministry of Aden Rusfeldt in Philadelphia. Both seem affiliated with OfficialStreetPreachers.com; which features images linking to ‘ChristianInterviews’ and is linked to by Bulldog Ministries. Official Street Preachers features this charming assembly of some of their signs (an earlier version of this post had this image as the header, which led to some confusion and concern on social media, the header image has now been changed).

Here’s the Facebook page and YouTube channel for Rusfeldt’s ministry, and a gallery of public preaching from both sites featuring signs identical to, similar to, and from the same ‘family’ as Folau’s meme.

From what I can tell, the earliest use of these signs that are the source material for Folau’s memes come from Stokes, in that this news article from 2012 describes the graphic pretty well.

“The first thing that really draws the eye, though, is the enormous sign he’s carrying.

“WARNING,” it reads, in five-inch high orange letters. “Drunks, homosexuals, abortionist [sic], adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, witches, idolaters, HELL AWAITS YOU.”

More recently, in Philadelphia, the sign has been part of an array used by Aden Rusfeldt. Here’s a fascinating profile of his mission strategy in Philadelphia, containing some interesting data that brings into question the decision to not, include greed in the ‘ChristianInterviews’ placards.

“And Pastor Aden knows what it’s like have your soul saved. He, too, used to be a seemingly hopeless sinner. Pastor Aden had sex before marriage. He used to drink heavily. He polluted his body with marijuana.

That’s the stuff that Pastor Aden tells you about when he gives you his “testimony,” as Christians call it — the story of their salvation.

But he leaves some stuff off of that list.

Pastor Aden has been fined millions of dollars by the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission over investment schemes he ran as far back as 2005 and as recently as 2015. According to the government, he was known as “Big A” to many of the people whose money he took. The CFTC found that he “defrauded customers.”

And a few weeks ago, the Internal Revenue Service filed an $800,000-plus federal income tax lien against Pastor Aden and his wife in Bucks County, where they may or may not live.”

That’s not the only place Rusfeldt (and others) choose to leave greed off the list. It’s also interesting to ponder why ‘slanderers’ or ‘revilers’ don’t make the graphics, given that 1 Corinthians 6 is their origin. The dropping off of ‘greed’ from a list of sins in order to emphasise the sexual deviancy of the western world is a distortion of the difference between lust and greed; both are about false worship of created things (sex, or money and possessions). It’s not a cheap rhetorical move to ask why the guy being paid a million bucks a year shares an image that doesn’t mention it, it’s pointing to a massive cultural blindspot within Christian responses to the west. We’re great at throwing rocks at people who don’t match our sexual ethic, but not great at seeing where our economic ethic marches in lockstep with the world — or in the case of one of the promulgators of the meme Folau shared, where we’re running ahead of the world into swindly theft built from greed and carefully retelling our story to avoid that while living in a mansion.

And it’s not a ‘genetic fallacy’ thing to trace the source of this meme back to this petrie dish of hate preaching. Folau saw this image somewhere. It’s not circulating on the regular internet in obvious places. He has made a deliberate decision to pass on a meme — the study of ‘memetics’ is all about how memes function a bit like genes; that ideas transmit through different networks in particular and connected ways. The area of memetics is interesting and a bit disputed (and comes from Richard Dawkins, and is built on evolutionary science, which might poison the well for some Christians). But when we say ‘Folau just shared a meme’ we’re buying into a certain sort of idea transmission and communication theory that says that meme is connected by heritage to what came before, and remains connected as it evolves. Whether the Gospel is, itself, something like a meme — or whether it can be reduced to an internet meme — is another question; but what’s instructive in this case is that the origin of our communication material will shape what is communicated, and that will shape how the communication is received and the reaction it earns; and at this point Christians can rest a little easier, because Folau didn’t just quote the Bible, and had he just quoted the Bible we can’t know what the reaction might have been. He shared an image that has been used by people reducing the Bible to a message of hate, targetting an ‘other’ that those people hate and see as corrupting the world, while being oblivious to their own corruption (in the area of greed), and promoting an ongoing ignorance to that issue.

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#Benspiration a new craze sweeping the internet

Faux-spiritual fauxtivation is the new black on Instagram. I’ve always fancied myself a hallmarkesque writer of vaguely convincing half truths – and lets face it, that’s what passes for truth these days. So I’ve launched an experiment that is part seeing how gullible the internet is, part fun, part outlet for my cynicism.

benspiration

Will you join me? Will you be #benspired?

You can get your regular dose of #benspiration, or contribute, at the Facebook page, the instagram hashtag #benspiration, or you can follow @benspiration on instagram.

benspiration 2

When I get sick of it I’ll do a bit of a breakdown on what sort of pictures and quotes were the most popular and what that says about the instagram generation. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll be so benspired I’ll start believing the hype.

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Tommy Westphall’s mind

So a casual reference to multiple universes in the James Bond post yesterday, and the link to an old post about the space time continuum jumping scene which links the British and American Offices when David Brent visits the American Office, meaning that two almost identical days happen to two different people who exist in the same universe, led me to one of the coolest pop culture memes I’d never heard of.

The theory of Tommy Westphall’s mind – which, in a nutshell, through crossover characters and references between programs, ties over 300 TV shows to the imagination of one autistic character in a show I’d never heard of called St. Elsewhere named Tommy Westphall.

The last scene in the St. Elsewhere show allegedly made it apparent (it’s disputed by at least one article) that the entire show had been in the imagined world of Tommy Westphall. Characters from St. Elsewhere, appeared in the series Homicide. Homicide’s character Detective Munch, has been in seven different shows, other than St. Elsewhere – including Homicide, SVU, Arrested Development, The X-Files, The Wire, 30 Rock, and even Sesame Street… Characters from those shows have been in other shows. Tying them to the same universe. Tying them to Tommy Westphall’s mind.

Here’s the map.


Image Credit: The Tommy Westphall Multiverse Map (bigger)

Here’s the key to the grid (PDF), explaining the crossovers.

According to this interview with one of the guys who came up with that map, some of the crossovers are more tenuous than others, but about 70% of them are meant to be fairly tight connections by character – rather than references to entities or corporations that are fictional presences in more than one series.

They even mention the theory that all of Tarantino’s movies occur either within the same universe, or as movies within the Tarantino universe that characters from the main universe watch.

Jesus v Horus (and Zeitgeist)

So there’s this movie called Zeitgeist. It’s popular on YouTube. It’s old. It questions the originality of the claims Christianity makes about Jesus.

It’s not very good history.

It resurfaced recently as a silly cartoon infographic circulating on Facebook and elsewhere.

If the claims in this infographic were accurate it’d be a great reason to rethink following Jesus.

But they’re not. I did a little reading when this popped up on a friend’s wall. Here’s what I found…

It’s a shame hardly any of the statements about Horus are even remotely close to being true, and most of them are based on some non-scholarly comparative religion by a guy named Gerard Massey that has even been debunked by skeptics – there aren’t any references to Egyptian papyrii, hieroglyphics, or recordings of the Horus legend, of which there are actually many competing accounts, that back up the claims made, and the comparisons on the basis of what is generally agreed about Horus stories are so vague that they’d apply to anybody people want to worship as a god…

Ignoring the odd origin stories of Horus (there are many, some involve Osiris being raised, others involve Isis conceiving Horus from the dismembered body parts of her husband, which I’d argue makes the virgin birth claim untenable, also the idea that Iris was still a virgin after a significant time period of being married to Osiris before his death is frankly, quite quaint…), there are other obvious problems.

The Christmas day birthday one just isn’t true – the mishmash of calendars being used and developed by different cultures not withstanding – in Egyptian mythology Horus is born on one of the five epagomenal days (the days added to the lunar calendar to make up a year). These were added to the end of the year – but the year started in either July or August, not January. So the last five days weren’t the last five days of December, but days in July, or August

Also, Christmas was a deliberate takeover of pagan festivals, it wasn’t until about 300AD that anybody seriously suggested Jesus was born then, and it’s not a particularly serious suggestion given the complete lack of evidence.

If these very simple claims are very easy to debunk, and they appear to be – though admittedly there’s a lot of competing claims about Horus that have been compiled as though there’s only one Horus narrative, and there’s a few merges going on between Horus and his father Osiris. The best one being the resurrection one – which confuses Horus with his father Osiris. Who wasn’t crucified, but nailed into a coffin…

If this is the kind of thing that passes for educated atheist interactions with Christian beliefs then it makes me sad.

There’s no doubt that both Christianity and prior to that, Judaism emerged within, and mostly against, other cultures with competing religious views and accounts for the creation of the world, and their particular culture’s special place within it. There’s also no doubt that Christianity deliberately responds to alternative claims using familiar terminology, so, for example, just about all the titles used for Jesus were actually used for the worshipped Roman Emperors – because Christians were making a deliberate comparison between Jesus and Caesar.

Most Ancient Near Eastern religions involve Gods and their offspring – none push quite the same human/divine paradigm that Jesus is claimed to have pushed (fully God+fully man), and none of them hang quite so much on the full humanity, with divine parenthood, of the saviour figure.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the real God would present himself in a manner expected by the people of the day, especially if it’s a manner described years before in the Old Testament.

Here’s a nice little bit of extended scholarly debunking of Zeitgeist from CPX.

Zeitgeist: Time to discard the Christian story? from CPX on Vimeo.

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Book spine poetry (and theology)

So ages and ages ago, Ali tagged me in a meme. I liked the meme. I wanted to participate. And then Andrew participated, and one thing led to another…

I made some poems, that felt a little more like prose. I’ll write out the titles below each picture so that you

Like this attempt to capture the Zombie Apocalypse.

Revelation Unravelled
An Outbreak Of Darkness
Gridlock
The Summons
Newspaper Blackout
To The Burning City
World War Z
A Furious Hunger
Serious Eats
Backyard Ballistics
One Last Kill

And these…

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies Of The Apocalypse
Meltdown
A Furious Hunger
Help Lord The Devil Wants Me Fat

How To Be A Man
The Idiot
The Big Idea
Absinthe And Flamethrowers
Fools Die

How To Have A No. 1 Hit Single
Songs Of The Humpback Whale
An Outbreak Of Darkness
Backwards Masking Unmasked
The Whole Truth

Just Do Something
One Day At A Time
Jogging With Jesus
Run Baby Run
Slim For Him

And then I made some theology. This is pretty much the narrative arc of the whole Bible, though it’s also a summary of Genesis and then the solution to the problem of Genesis…

How To Read Genesis
What Is History?
The Origin Of The Species
Utopia
Picture Perfect
Calls To Worship
The Tipping Point
Help Lord, The Devil Wants Me Fat
Adams v God
Weasel Words
The Collaborator
Cry, The Beloved Country
Requiem
The Promise Of The Future

Deliver Us from Evil
Emperor: The Death of Kings
Divine Justice
The Great Exchange
Paradise City
This Other Eden

Tumblrweed: Hey Internet Girl

Aaron Sorkin, creator of the West Wing and other brilliant things, has written a new show called The Newsroom, if you’re not in Australia you can watch the whole first episode on YouTube.

Anyway, he’s doing a press run for the show, which is just kicking off. And he was a bit of a patronising jerk to a reviewer, Sarah Nicoll Prickett, who points out that the leads in Sorkin’s work are always men.

I reckon a) this is an odd criticism of Sorkin given he’s a guy, and by the look of the reuse of his material, puts a fair bit of himself into his writing, and b) he has produced some of the more memorable and powerful female characters in his major TV shows – so Dana in Sports Night, Abbie Bartlett and CJ in the West Wing, and Jordon in Studio 60…

The review praises the show but absolutely eviscerates Sorkin – the reviewer writes well and it’s a scintillating read.

“The great American dialectic – optimism and realism, faith and reason – is thrillingly animated onscreen, but hardly moreso than on the page. I had to watch the show twice just to believe (a) how good that script was and (b) how incredibly convinced of its goodness, in every sense of “good,” it was.

Hence, my first question starts, “I watched the pilot twice … ” But I don’t get to the question part because Sorkin looks as if he wants to say something. I invite him to do so, and he asks, “Because you liked it so much the first time, or because you didn’t understand it the first time?”

So huge is the hubris in thinking anyone smart enough to write about this show for a national newspaper might not be yet smart enough to understand it (should you fret about your own Sorkin-fathoming abilities, let me say that if you read Don Quixote in the ninth grade or studied American History in the 11th, you will be fine) that I just swallow and tell my own truth.”

And then…

“Sorkin doesn’t see this. He denies being either an ideologue or a modernist, agreeing only that the show is written in his voice, and that said voice is “authorial” (both my word and his). I’d posit that creating an authorial drama in a time of mumbling, precarious, voice-of-a-generation comedy almost absolutely constitutes an ideology, one both modernist and masculinist. But conveniently, at that moment, the interview’s over.

“Listen here, Internet girl,” he says, getting up. “It wouldn’t kill you to watch a film or pick up a newspaper once in a while.” I’m not sure how he’s forgotten that I am writing for a newspaper; looking over the publicist’s shoulder, I see that every reporter is from a print publication (do not see: Drew Magary). I remind him. I say also, factually, “I have a New York Times subscription and an HBO subscription. Any other advice?”

He looks surprised, then high-fives me. Being not a person who high-fives or generally makes physical contact with interview subjects, I look more surprised.

“I’m sick of girls who don’t know how to high-five,” he says. He makes me try to do it “properly,” six times.”

This interview spawned a tumblog. Hey Internet Girl.

The New Yorker has also panned the Newsroom and Sorkin’s ouvre generally

“There are plenty of terrific actors on this show, but they can’t do much with roles that amount to familiar Sorkinian archetypes. There is the Great Man, who is theoretically flawed, but really a primal truth-teller whom everyone should follow (or date). There are brilliant, accomplished women who are also irrational, high-strung lunatics—the dames and muses who pop their eyes and throw jealous fits when not urging the Great Man on. There are attractively suited young men, from cynical sharpies to idealistic sharpies, who glare and bond and say things like “This right here is always the swan song of the obsolete when they’re staring the future paradigm in the face.””

And earlier…

“Sorkin’s shows are the type that people who never watch TV are always claiming are better than anything else on TV. The shows’ air of defiant intellectual superiority is rarely backed up by what’s inside—all those Wagnerian rants, fingers poked in chests, palms slammed on desks, and so on. In fact, “The Newsroom” treats the audience as though we were extremely stupid. Characters describe events we’ve just witnessed. When a cast member gets a shtick (like an obsession with Bigfoot), he delivers it over and over. In episode four, there’s a flashback to episode three. In a recent interview, Sorkin spoke patronizingly of cop shows, but his Socratic flirtations are frequently just as formulaic, right down to the magical “Ask twice!” technique.”

Ouch. I’ll still watch it. Even if Sorkin’s characters, like his scripts, are rehashed series by series. Because they’re still the best characters and scripts going around.

Tumblrweed: The Pepper Spray Cop

The other day a nasty policeman followed orders, and government policy and sprayed a bunch of peacefully protesting university students, who were peacefully protesting on the campus of their university, in a peaceful protest approved by university faculty, in their peaceful little faces, with some not very peaceful pepper spray. There were cameras everywhere. The cop has since been identified. Because that’s how the Internet works these days.

This image is evoking exactly the kind of reaction you’d expect, potentially providing a new set of martyrs for the Occupy Movement – because students are the 99%.

The other way the Internet works these days is via memes – memes which add fuel to the fire. I give you the “casually pepper spray everything” meme. And the tumblr (there’s some artwork there, as in famous paintings, not just meme fodder, featuring some nudity – just a warning (and some language)).


Some meta-memes…

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Reverse movies meme: Popular plotlines inverted

So, there’s a bit of a meme going around where people reverse the plotline of movies – like:

127 Hours backwards – the humbling story of a young amputee who goes into the desert and finds an arm.

And this:

I reckon that’s fun. So I’ve come up with a few. Have you got any?

Titanic – The story of a huge, ship shaped, submarine that emerges from the depths to rescue hundreds of people from a frozen, watery, grave.

Romeo + Juliette – the story of two zombies, who return from the grave only to be kept apart by their feuding families.

The Wizard of Oz – A young lady is sent by a wizard to fly a house to a faraway land. First she must get rid of a bunch of weird followers, removing vital organs and personality traits, and eventually she releases a witch from her captivity under said house.

Knock yourselves out.

The world’s slowest Meme response: The NSFW Workplace

NSFW. Four letters that spell danger on the Internet. But what do you do if your workplace itself is not safe for work?

About a year ago (possibly more, possibly less) somebody (I think it was Ben) tagged me in a meme where you had to show off your desk. And I didn’t. I took a photo of my desk (I have a few workplaces) looking very tidy. But I was a little reluctant to take a photo of my office. Which in our house is called the “naked lady room”… I’ve actually been doing some study in there this week. So I’ve decided to put aside my shame, and post this picture of the room (that’s a photo of my fully clothed wife on the screen of the computer lest you get any other ideas).

Now, I don’t want to lead a brother astray (or a sister) so if you find seventies style pixelated wallpaper featuring black and white nipples at all tempting. Do not click this link to see the wall paper in that room in full detail.

Can somebody tell me what whoever was designing this was thinking? Let alone whoever decided to put it up in that room…

Oh, and here’s the photo of my desk.

Meme win.I can’t imagine the spam comment this is going to get.

Wifi as meme

Have you ever been somewhere, like an airport or public spot, and turned on your wifi only to discover a computer-to-computer network called “Free Public Wifi”?

It almost never gives you internet. Because it’s a phantom network (basically) created by a quirk of Windows XP.

“When a computer running an older version of XP can’t find any of its “favorite” wireless networks, it will automatically create an ad hoc network with the same name as the last one it connected to -– in this case, “Free Public WiFi.” Other computers within range of that new ad hoc network can see it, luring other users to connect. And who can resist the word “free?””

Windows, when it looks for networks, goes through the following steps:

1. It looks for preferred networks to connect to from the networks available.
2. If that fails, Wireless Auto Configuration attempts to connect to the preferred networks that do not appear in the list of available networks.
3. Failing that, if there is an ad hoc network in the list of preferred networks that is available, Wireless Auto Configuration tries to connect to it.
4. If that fails, and there is an ad-hoc network in the list of preferred networks that is not available, Wireless Auto Configuration configures the wireless network adapter to act as the first node in the ad hoc network.

So here’s what happened:

“At one time or another somewhere out there someone connected to a real ad-hoc WiFi network that had the SSID “Free Public WiFi”. They added this network to their preferred network list. They then traveled to a location where this WiFi SSID didn’t exist (airport, airplane, and/or hotel). They powered on their laptop with the wireless card on and Wireless Auto Configuration took over and starting searching for WiFi networks. After trying steps 1 through 3 above, Windows gave up and configured WiFi card to ad hoc mode with the SSID “Free Public WiFi” (since it was a preferred network).”

And a meme/harmless virus was born:

“A second person in close proximity to the user above also has a wireless enabled laptop and is looking to connect to a WiFi network. They scan to see what is available and notice an SSID called “Free Public WiFi”….they connect to it not knowing that it is an ad hoc network. After a few seconds of wondering why they can’t surf the web they disconnect from the SSID, shrug their shoulders and move on with life. Now they have the viral SSID in their preferred list too. The next time they power on their laptop it starts to look for the “Free Public WiFi” SSID. This process is repeated in many locations across the US and world again and again. Soon this SSID is in preferred wireless networks lists everywhere spreads like a virus.”

My Happiness

Ben tagged me in a meme. I have to list ten things that make me happy. Presuppose that there are ten or more things about my relationship with God, and my relationship with my wife that make me happier than the things on this list. Neither of those are “things” though. I’m going to try to limit my list to nouns, without too many abstractions.

  1. Conversation.
  2. Coffee.
  3. Bacon.
  4. Venn Diagrams.
  5. Arguments about fun stuff.
  6. Pictures of Mexicans.
  7. Ninjas.
  8. Politics.
  9. Words, used well.
  10. Home-cooked meals that rival their restaurant counterparts.

I tag anybody who stands close enough. I’m too slow to catch you.

How the internet works: trending topics

This is a pretty funny story about how internet conspiracy theories spread. It all started with a serious Wired story about a vaccine that may mitigate stress related hormonal damage to your brain.

Headline: Under Pressure: The search for a stress vaccine.

It became a four hundred word tabloid story about a vaccine for stress.

Headline:Jab that could put a stop to stress without slowing us down.

Then a little conspiracy committee decided that what was going on was some sort of clinical trials of a mind altering, brain eating, drug that would be a tool of the nefarious one world government.

Headline: Establishment Media Pushes Brain Eating Vaccines.

This last group encouraged readers to search “brain eating vaccine” on google – and it quickly hit the google trends charts. One day I’m going to spend a bit of energy blogging specifically about the words that are on that chart at the time to see what happens to my traffic.

Meme: Five things in my wardrobe that I wouldn’t be without.

So this is my first meme. Simone and Amy I hope you feel very special. Simone created the initial meme and Amy passed along the link. Deep down I wonder if this is a subliminal way to get more links to your blogs. I’ll oblige as I like you both.

I’m currently at the end of a tiring week and am enjoying lazying around in my flannelette pyjamas. I’ve been in them since 6.20. Awesome.

My top 5 things in my wardrobe that I wouldn’t be without.

1. Dark blue jeans. Comfortable, practical and versitile.

2. Cocktail dresses. I amassed a small collection while living in Townsville.

3. Wallabies jersey. A large dose of sentimentality mixed with an equally a large dose of patriotism.

4. Brown jackets. I have a long and a short one. Looking forward to wearing them more than once per year.

5. No ironing required white skirts. I hate ironing so I like these skirts. They can be dressed up or down.

Now I’m supposed to tag people. I choose Phoebe and Queen Stuss.