Thursday, October 31, 2013

Through computer glass

The dim blue hue of a computer screen,
Masks the oily blackness of the window it opens.
A man thrusting his hips into a woman’s most private place,
But without the tenderness of a lover.
They are merely two ghostly, hollowed out forms that dance in the twilight of a red-eyed camera.
What happened to the dreams of the little girl within?
At her soccer games or dance recitals, was this always to be the same godless outcome?
A deterministic nightmare from the mind of a depraved Calvinist bastard.
Can’t she be saved?
Not by me, for I am weak.
For the love of gold she did it, and for the love of lust I watch it.
This is business… and I am a customer.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ninja Turtles movie

As Ninja Turtle mania spread like wildfire throughout Middle America in the late 80’s, New Line Cinema had a simple but brilliant idea: Bring the turtles to life in a movie. As I was too young to see the film when it premiered in 1990 (I was only a year old), I had to settle with a VHS copy. Well, in the span of my childhood I put that tape through the grinder. While I’m aware that TMNT is a flawed movie, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a lot of fun.

The main problem that comic book aficionados had with the cartoon version of the Ninja Turtles was that it was too slapstick. They liked the humor, but felt that the violent edge of the original graphic novel was lost. Luckily for everyone, the TMNT film combines the best of both worlds. The turtles are still reciting their goofy jokes (“You gotta know what a crumpet is to understand cricket”), but they’re ready to kick ass and take names while they’re at it.  

So, the Ninja Turtles are still crime fighting heroes, and they still confront the evil Shredder. There’s Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello… as well as Splinter, their giant rat mentor. It’s a classic good versus evil yarn, and I really don’t see a problem recommending it to kids as young as six or seven. There’s a little cursing (I remember thinking it was the coolest thing when Raphael said “damn”) and some stylized violence, but you’re not going to get Game of Thrones type content here.

The fight scenes are pretty cool though, Raphael’s battle with the Foot soldiers on the roof of an apartment building deserving special mention. The soundtrack is also surprisingly good, with Turtle Power tapping into that cheesy 80’s hip hop, and Shredder’s Suite being a legitimately thrilling piece of music. A shout out must go to Jim Henson, as this was the last project he worked on before his death, and the actual turtle costumes look amazingly expressive and vibrant.

TMNT is made for children, so I feel that a lot of the bashing it receives is redundant. As the great film critic Roger Ebert once said, TMNT is, “probably the best possible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie.”

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bush and torture

In case anyone thinks I’ve somehow left my liberal roots altogether, let me assure you, I still lean left. I am a liberal in the truest sense of the word: I believe in liberty. I also believe in human dignity. In the past few years, Republicans seem to have forgotten that whatever scandals Obama is dealing with right now, be it Benghazi or the IRS, they are absolutely insignificant compared to the atrocities committed by George Bush. George Bush is the worst president in modern history, perhaps going back to James Buchanan. Put simply, if you think Obama should be impeached, then Bush should have been executed by firing squad… that’s just being consistent.

I’m not even going to talk about Bush lying us into the Iraq War under the pretense of weapons of mass destruction, (which he actually joked about once at a dinner by looking under a table and saying, “Nope, no weapons under there”) or his botched handling of Katrina (“You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie”), I’m just going to focus on how he turned America’s military and intelligence personnel into torturing thugs. As a follower of Jesus, I am also stunned at conservative Christians’ attempt at rehabilitating Bush’s legacy.

So, after 9/11, I actually thought Bush did a good job. I remember the scene where he was standing atop some rubble with the megaphone, saying, “We hear you” or something like that. I was actually impressed by him as a kid in middle school. However, it wasn’t long before I started hearing things about what we were doing as a country that made me a little confused. I heard about a place called Guantanamo Bay, and how “bad” people were being sent there. Well, they had to deserve going there, right?

In case you’ve been living in a bunker near the Earth's core for the last decade, Guantanamo Bay is a prison… where you’re sent without a trial. Did you catch that last bit? I hope so. We take it for granted now, but just think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. We’re assuming that someone is guilty. We don’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, we just guess. Does that terrify anyone else? That they’re statistically going after brown people doesn't reassure me.

So, we’re already off to a bad start. As if going there isn’t enough, the conditions once inside are even worse. According to the “torture memos” written by John Yoo and approved by Donald Rumsfeld, the “severe pain” prohibition of the U.N. Convention is only defined with "death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions" and that prolonged mental impairment is only associated with a duration of “months or years.” So, if you’re beaten and don’t die, you’re good to go according to the Bush administration.

Of what we know of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” a.k.a. torture (of which is little due to the CIA destroying multiple interrogation videotapes in 2005), we know that there was little off the table. Torture included simulated drowning, use of attack dogs, being kept in a freezing room, being forced to lie in “stress positions” for over 40 hours, the use of insects, waterboarding, and sleep deprivation for days. Sadly, these are only the most well-reported incidents. Go to Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and you’ll see a whole hell of a lot worse.

In 2004, it came to light that horrible atrocities were being inflicted upon Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib detention facility. I don’t even know where to start with this one… American soldiers raped, and sometimes outright killed, Iraqi inmates. There were even incidents of soldiers pouring phosphoric acid onto the prisoners, or jumping on an already broken leg with such force that it would never heal properly. Abu Ghraib is best remembered by the public as the photograph of a prisoner with a hood on his head, standing on a box, thinking that if he moved an inch he’d be electrocuted. This was a dark stain on America, one that was spilled by George Bush.

The bottom line is that I refuse to believe that Abu Ghraib didn’t operate on a higher authority. All evidence pertaining to it has probably already been destroyed, but I know that Bush and Rumsfeld were behind this. Even if they somehow weren’t, the fact is that Bush created the template and atmosphere for this to occur in the first place. If he hadn’t used torture at all, and taken the moral high ground, this never would have happened. If you take away even one person’s dignity, then you’ve sold the pass to go all the way. There’s no limit to human depravity.

Don’t just get the government to torture suspected terrorists for you; ask yourself, could you, personally, rip the fingernails off another human being? Could you make him think he’s drowning to death via waterboarding? If you can’t, then please, choose to protect life both publically and privately. Also, if you’re a follower of Jesus, as I try to be, ask yourself if God would approve of torture.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nintendo halcyon days

I was never sure if I liked the smell of his house,
Mac and cheese, always mac and cheese.
As a den of memories, carefully tucked away in the corridors of my mind,
There could be worse smells associated with this Golden Age.

The blue carpet was a rough, matted mess,
Each prickling fiber creating new wrinkles of childhood delight.
Their fruit roll ups tasted the best,
As does anything that you take without asking.

My friend, my best friend, hated that I loved video games so much,
Yet for all his miniature brilliance,
There was an acceptance of me and my scrambled, electronic preoccupation.

When I think back to those days, dominated by my friend’s ridiculous bowl cut,
I think of myself blowing into the reaches of that magic box.
I think of the red, 8 bit curtain rising on a hulking tube television,
With a friend sitting by my side.

Abortion and Worldviews

“A rat has a heartbeat, too.” I used to say this, as a pro choice atheist, in response to the fact that a fetus has a heartbeat. How could I say such a thing? What was wrong with me? Well, I will argue that as an atheist, absolutely nothing was wrong with my line of thinking. In fact, it was only natural.

I’ve tried to stay away from the abortion issue, but for the first time today, I found out what, exactly, partial-birth abortion is. Now, all abortion is horrible, but this particular method, once legal in many states, is just beyond the pale of all evil. Partial-birth abortion is very true to its name. Once the pregnancy is too far along, like 25 or 26 weeks (which the baby is viable at that point), the doctor can no longer just use forceps for an abortion. They artificially force it to be born. Except the head, of course, because if the whole body was delivered, it would legally be a child. I honestly am struggling how to describe this… so I will let Brenda Pratt Shafer, a nurse who worked at an abortion clinic, describe the partial-birth abortion of a 26 1/2 week old baby with down syndrome.

“Dr. Haskell brought the ultrasound in and hooked it up so that he could see the baby. On the ultrasound screen, I could see the heart beating. As Dr. Haskell watched the baby on the ultrasound screen, the baby's heartbeat was clearly visible on the ultrasound screen. Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby's legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby's body and the arms-- everything but the head. The doctor kept the baby's head just inside the uterus. The baby's little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors through the back of his head, and the baby's arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might fall. The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening and sucked the baby's brains out. Now the baby was completely limp.”
Brenda’s account has been corroborated, and the clinic even admitted that she worked there as a nurse. I just don’t know how anyone can read that account, or look up a video of the procedure being done (which is easily found on Youtube), and not fight the urge to vomit. Thankfully, there is a ban on partial-birth abortion in America since 2003, but Planned Parenthood has been seeking to overturn it via the courts.

Which brings me to my next point… Do you want to know why Planned Parenthood is trying to reinstate children’s brains being sucked out by a tube? It sure as Hell doesn’t have to do with women’s health, I can tell you that. They’re doing this because they don’t believe in God. Put simply, if you don’t believe that God created humans in His image, and that we all have a soul, then of course you’re not going to care if fetuses are killed. After all, even a rat has a heartbeat, right?

This godless problem is rampant in liberal Hollywood circles (and I say that as someone whose blog is called liberalmuffin). One of the most high profile defenders of abortion is Peter Singer, an atheist professor who somehow has tenure at not just any university, but Princeton. He literally has argued not just for abortion, but for infanticide. He claims that since a newborn baby is incapable of rational thought, then it is not a person. His views are succinctly summed up in this one quote from him, “Membership of the species Homo sapiens is not enough to confer a right to life.”

I have a question for Peter Singer though: Where’s the cutoff? Why not euthanize a five year old with Down Syndrome? I mean, our culture already aborts them as babies. Maybe we should just jump ahead to the logical conclusion of all this and execute everyone who is “unfit.” Where have I heard that before? I’m sure a certain mustachioed man would like Peter Singer… and I ain’t talking about Mario.

Please, if you’re thinking about getting an abortion, know that there really are options. Your child deserves to be loved.