Homogenization of Movie Trailers

by Chris Burfield in

Red Letter Media is famous for absolutely destroying the Star Wars prequels, and justly so. Those videos are hilarious and if you haven't seen them drop what you're doing and either bookmark the page, cause each video is really long, or watch them right now. Don't worry I'll wait.

Well they just recently did a deconstruction of every major movie trailer released in the last few years. While not as funny as those videos, there is no real commentary just careful editing of the various trailers, it is a good way to see how everything is turning into the same thing.


Hat tip to The A.V. Club for pointing the way to this.

Funnier Trolley Problems

by Chris Burfield in

If you've ever taken a philosophy class or having a passing familiarity with basic philosophy concepts then you may have heard of The Trolley Problem. If you haven't then let me do the hard work for you and give you the link to the wikipedia article on it :-)

McSweeney's and Kyle York provides the daily humor by riffing on this classic problem in a hilarious way. My favorite is:

The Meta-Ethical Problem

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards Immanuel Kant. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits Jeremy Bentham instead. Jeremy Bentham clutches the only existing copy of Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. Kant holds the only existing copy of Bentham’s The Principles of Morals and Legislation. Both of them are shouting at you that they have recently started to reconsider their ethical stances.

Read the others here.

And Another GOP Hopeful Bites the Dust...

by Chris Burfield in

... At least in my personal preferences. I wasn't seriously considering Scott Walker as a potential use of my vote in the primaries, but since he has come out against even legal immigration (Vox article) there is no way I will consider it now. Being against immigration is wrong both economically and morally (Bryan Caplan article at EconLog), there is no way around those two facts. 

Is Israel Doomed?

by Chris Burfield in

Not in the sense that it will be conquered from without, more like it will fail from within. There is a very good read over at Vox by Max Fisher which makes the case that it is possible. Mainly, the argument is that Israel cannot long remain a democratic state while continuing to occupy the West Bank because the occupation fundamentally erodes democratic values. At the same time the occupation will continue to erode world-wide support for Israel.

It is a long read and my small pull quote is not sufficient to get the full gist of the article, read the whole thing.

From the Middle (link to full):

Israel's unwillingness or inability to reconcile its Jewish identity with its democratic ideals, or to reconcile its military occupation of Palestinians with its place in the international community, puts the nation as it exists now at real risk. Unless Israel can change, it is heading down a path whose steps and ultimate destination appear increasingly, terrifyingly clear:

1.) Bit by bit, Israel will continue to trade away its democratic values and its international support to maintain its occupation and settlement of the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza, the Palestinian territories it has dominated since 1967.
2.) Eventually that occupation will lead to the utter collapse of Palestinian self-rule in the occupied West Bank. Israel, having committed to the occupation, will more forcefully assert its rule there in the style of an overt colonial power, alienating a Western world that has foresworn colonialism.
3.) Finally, the Jewish democracy Israelis fought to create and preserve will be gone, replaced by an authoritarian state in which Palestinians lack fundamental rights. Perhaps this culminates with the realization of the Israeli far right's dream of annexing the West Bank, thus declaring Israel an apartheid state, or perhaps Israel never takes this formality. In either case, the result is an undemocratic Israel and a pariah state.

An Introduction to Chesterton

by Chris Burfield in

I came across a well written introduction to Chesterton over at Mere Orthodoxy. I've quoted him a time or two on this blog so I figure this will help bring you into reading him if those quotes haven't. His work can be quite dense and not at all similar to anything today, hence the need for something like below.

From the Middle (Link to Full):

And so we come to this odd place where it is possible to have spent most of your life in the church in some way and yet have little-to-no ability to look out and see all of life as a Christian. You look at that tree or that car or that job or that relationship in largely the same ways that a non-Christian would with the main difference being this small bit of life that is sliced off and labeled “Christianity.” So when abortion comes up, you see some difference. When your boyfriend wants to sleep together, the difference pops up.

But over the course of your normal day it’s impact on your life is actually quite negligible. And when matters of faith, ultimate meaning, or any of the big questions come up, it’s difficult for you to relate to them unless they’re explicitly stated in the comfortable language of your apologetics class or the church youth group.

If this in any way describes your experience, then this is both why Chesterton will at times be so difficult and why he is so essential. He will be difficult in that he is not easily labeled nor can his ideas be easily packaged and locked up in a box for future regurgitation. He’s oblique in his argumentation, preferring to draw you in with a series of images rather than trying to come at a question or problem directly.

Dallas Willard on The Beatitudes

by Chris Burfield in

I love Dallas Willard's Divine Conspiracy. The best chapter in the whole book is his examination of Jesus' Beatitudes. Here is a short passage. It gets to the heart of the chapter, that the beatitudes have been repeatedly misinterpreted, that they are instead pronouncements of blessing upon those who find themselves in these positions, not that these positions are praiseworthy in and of themselves.

Jesus did not say, "Blessed are the poor in spirit because they are poor in spirit." He did not think, "What a fine thing it is to be destitute of every spiritual attainment or quality. It makes people worthy of the kingdom." And we steal away the much more profound meaning of his teaching about the availability of the kingdom by replacing the state of spiritual impoverishment -- in no way good in itself -- with some supposed praiseworthy state of mind or attitude that "qualifies" us for the kingdom. 

In so doing we merely substitute another banal legalism for the ecstatic pronouncement of the gospel. Those poor in spirit are called "blessed" by Jesus, not because they are in a meritorious condition, but because, precisely in spite of and in the midst of their ever so deplorable condition, the rule of the heavens has moved redemptively upon and through them by the grace of Christ.

Bolded phrases and words are italicized in the original, I bolded because my method of quotation is to italicize entire passages.