Friday, September 13, 2013

Follow Your Conscience

I lost the Pope Francis photo.
Here's Jonathan Pryce instead.
Pope Francis said atheists would be forgiven by God if they followed their own conscience. Some thoughts:

1. Atheists have been following their own conscience ever since they turned atheist.

2. This is the pope trying to woo humanists, freethinkers, and other forces of secularism. The world is becoming increasingly secular and people are looking at religions warily. To be able to continue participating as a world power, the Catholic Church must evolve. And evolving to survive is what the Catholic Church does best. The Church adapted the widely popular winter solstice feasts and turned it into Christmas. People need their personal gods so the Church devised the concept of patron saints who can intervene for you. Modern science is incompatible with the creation myth of the Bible so the Church decreed that the myths are metaphorical. The Church has become very good at maintaining power by being flexible. This is something other Christian denominations don't understand, which is why they are increasingly seen as rabid.

3. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If this trend continues, the Catholic Church will go the way of Buddhism. Sort of. Buddhism nowadays downplays the weirdness that got attached to it throughout the centuries. Today, Buddhism is seen as an atheistic religion and can be drawn upon for inspiration and wisdom. The same can be the path of Christianity, or at least Roman Catholicism. Already, there are Jesusists or Jesuanists (different from the Jesuits, mind you) who draw from Christ's philosophy of peace and love and reject the reprehensible parts of the Bible.

4. Catholics need not be worried. Vatican spin doctors are already burning the midnight oil to write press releases downplaying the implications of Pope Francis' seemingly heretical statements so you can rest assured that atheists are still going to hell and you still need your religion to go to heaven.

Thursday, July 04, 2013


My political views have always been left-of-center ever since I became an adult. I believe that there's too little for the many and too much for a few, and this makes me angry. But I have never been comfortable with leftist organizations, even as a student in UP Los BaƱos, because the propaganda turns me off. Propaganda, in my opinion, is the greatest insult to a person's intellect. Propaganda is designed only to whip your emotions, to manipulate you into subscribing to a point of view. Those who use propaganda are not interested in educating you so you can think for yourself. Those who use propaganda are interested only in telling you what to think.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Don Draper

What makes Don Draper, in my opinion, one of the most interesting characters on TV in recent years is how morally ambiguous he is. He is cynical, arrogant, vindictive, manipulative, unfaithful, and hypocritical. Yet he is also capable of committing extremely noble deeds, of being protective and nurturing. His best work as an advertising creative shows that all human desire is anchored in love. His cruelest acts are done with neither hesitation nor guilt. He is at his most creative when he is also at his most destructive. He is most powerful when he is most broken.

The complaint I heard most about Mad Men's Season 5 was that Don Draper in love and happy was but a shadow of the self-loathing juggernaut of a man from the previous seasons. That season ended with Don diving back into the cesspool of deceit that is his natural element.

But then the complaint I heard most about Mad Men's Season 6 was that Don took to the nastiness a little too well, outdoing every despicable thing he'd done in the previous seasons. I must admit that I was turned off by the character a few times in this season. But then the final scene of the season ender made it all worthwhile.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

I get the feeling that people are polarized over Man of Steel.

On one end are those who hated the CGI on steroids, the absence of the iconic theme music from the Christopher Reeves movies, and the morose tone of the story. This group generally appreciated the exploration of a god-like alien's humanity but wasn't so impressed with the spectacle of superpowered fisticuffs. I believe those in this group are old enough to remember Christopher Reeves' Superman movies with fondness and have a mature enough taste in entertainment to not be easily mesmerized by explosions and lens flare.

On the other end are those who loved the CGI and the the re-imagining of the Big Blue Boy Scout into a moody character that aptly captures the cynicism of our times and the struggle for identity of the Millenial generation. This group generally appreciated the CGI spectacle but thought the family drama part of the movie was too mopey. I believe those in this group are teenagers and twenty-somethings who grew up on video game cutscenes, who laugh like loons upon watching the harness-assisted flying scenes of superheroes past, who think that the dark and edgy superhero is a recent invention, and who wish that those from the former group would recognize that Christopher Reeves' Superman was thirty-five years ago and just move the heck on.

This is what you get when hundreds of millions of dollars are poured into summer movies. They have to get both types of superhero fans into the theaters. And this was the best way they could have done it.

Personally, I found the movie adequate. But I would have preferred something else entirely.

Superman: Red Son.

But I am part of a fringe market, I suppose.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

TV Ratings

Having just finished the season finale of my favorite TV show, Hannibal, I was left thinking of the whole ratings game. Hannibal, while a superb program, stank at the ratings. So much so that it was, for a time, in mortal danger of not being given a second season. It's not that people weren't watching it. It was just that people weren't watching it where it mattered: the small screen, where the Nielsen Company can gather data regarding audience viewership, and where advertisers can shove their products up your noses. People were downloading it through The Pirate Bay because those who belong to the wired community don't like commercial breaks and arranging their lives around TV schedules. Some of us even wait for a season of our favorite TV show to end so we can download all of its episodes and then watch them in one Saturday of unhealthy snacks and drinks while percolating in our sofas. The point is, people who do not get counted as viewers do watch TV shows, making ratings an inaccurate gauge of a show's popularity. Why do networks continue relying on this model? Because people who don't watch commercials don't count. It's not really about how many people are watching. It's about how many people the advertisements are reaching. Even then, viewership trends are only collected from a tiny sample of the population. Really, my viewing a TV show or not won't affect its ratings since I'm not part of the survey. Chances are, you aren't either. Ratings is the imaginary coin of the network wars. In the Philippines, for example, what TV networks with their multi-million-peso TV shows are clobbering each other over are the viewing habits of less than 2,000 households with with AGB Nielsen's TV meters.