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Walter Hudson

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, and as president of the Minority Liberty Alliance. He hosts a daily podcast entitled Fightin Words, proudly hosted on Twin Cities Newstalk Podcast Network. Walter is a city council member in Albertville, MN. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.
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Conan Spoofs Trump/Ramos Fight

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Conan O’Brien jumped on the recent confrontation between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Univision newscaster Jorge Ramos as fodder for a late night sketch. A voice actor playing Trump “calls” the show to object to Conan’s characterization of the incident.

Ironically, a fair amount of the humor in the sketch emerges from racial stereotypes. However, because those stereotypes are filtered through the presented caricature of Trump, they’re somehow not offensive.

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This ‘Smallest Political Quiz’ Might Be Too Small

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

smaller smallestLaboratories have their uses. Eventually, though, anything learned there must be applied to life in the real world.

Anarchists operate within a utopian thought laboratory where everyone acts benevolently if simply left alone. In that imaginary context, the above “political quiz” has merit.

Does anyone need a king? No. But saying so does not make one an anarchist. It’s not as though monarchy is the only form of government. But that’s how anarchists see it. They regard any governing authority as “ruler,” making no distinction between arbitrary tyranny and due process under a constitutional republic.

The real question ought to be: do you need law? If you answer “no” to that, then you’re an anarchist. Of course, you’re also a slave, because anarchy isn’t an actual thing. It’s a vacuum into which the rule of the brute rushes in.

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Burqas in Drivers License Photos Raise Questions

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

A International Business Times story from earlier this month has been lurking in my newsfeed. It reports on the state of Illinois allowing Muslims to wear face-concealing burqas in driver’s license photos.

My initial reaction was probably the same as most readers. Concealing one’s face on a document of identification proves absurd. No sensible agency should allow it.

Then again, when all things are considered, there’s more to the issue than that simple question of function. The number of things you can’t legally do without a government-issued ID are legion, to the point where you basically can’t legally exist without an ID. In that context, it could be argued that requiring people to violate their religious conviction to obtain ID effectively bans their religious expression.

Another way to look at it: your choice of religious expression should not create a burden for others. The Amish choice to forsake modern technology places no burden upon the rest of us to do the same. Should the Muslim choice to conceal the face require the rest of society to suspend its rules?

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Star Wars May Be About to Resurrect a Dead Actor

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

It’s called the uncanny valley, the final frontier in digital imagery, the point beyond which artists will be able to create digital human beings which audiences cannot distinguish from the real thing. Inanimate objects are relatively easy to recreate in the computer, and artists have become very good at creating them. Live non-human creatures like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes‘ title characters boast stunning realism. Yet, convincing digital human beings remain just out of reach.

That may be about to change. Suitably, the franchise rumored to be crossing the uncanny valley is Star Wars, a property which has spawned several major film innovations over its four decades of development. The Daily Mail reports that actor Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, will be digitally recreated to reprise the role of Governor Wilhuff Tarkin in next year’s Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One.

If true, the report raises a number of intriguing creative, ethical, and legal questions. Collider’s Matt Goldberg parses though them:

Acting is a series of choices, but those choices will be removed from the [digitally resurrected] actor. That’s why performance capture is still vital because it adds authenticity and distinction.  Granted, performances are still shaped in the editing room, but the editing can only shape what’s been brought to life by the actor.  Would the real Cushing have made his lip curl after saying a particular line or is it just what [director Gareth] Edwards wants?

Or maybe this is some unnecessary hand-wringing on my part.  After all, they’ve already brought back Tarkin on Star Wars Rebels, but that’s clearly a cartoon.  But what’s the dividing line?  Does one even exist in terms of the ethical implications?  Is all that’s missing the technology and a competent voice actor?  And is that all that makes a performance and a character?

While I’m sure there will be a great amount of lip service paid to honoring Cushing’s memory, a painstaking digital resurrection for Tarkin basically makes him a CGI puppet, and it’s a bit twisted and perhaps even a little unnecessary.

Goldberg provides a better analogy than he may realize by evoking animation. Indeed, one of the smarter moves Lucas made when he created the Star Wars property was locking actors into agreements to use their likenesses in other media. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and others have all had their faces plastered on novels, drawn in comics, and recreated in video games. Is there really much difference between that and a full-blown digital recreation?

Performance capture has emerged as a new cinematic art form. As filmmakers bridge the uncanny valley, it seems inevitable that performance capture will converge with computer-generated human models and voice actors to portray classic characters. It opens up a world of exciting possibilities.

Imagine a follow-up to the Back to the Future films in which new actors could be placed side by side next to a young Michael J. Fox circa 1985. Imagine a retro sequel to Tim Burton’s Batman aimed at portraying what a third film under his helm might have looked like. Imagine a romantic comedy pitting Margot Robbie against Marylin Monroe. Such projects could prove possible once the uncanny valley is crossed.

Rights to likenesses have clearly been negotiated before. They could be negotiated again in the context of new technology.

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Fans Defy Anti-Religious Ruling, Sing Halftime Hymn

Monday, August 24th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

The term crusade has taken on a certain irony in recent years, as zealous atheists have organized legal challenges against expressions of religion in the public square. Historically, the constitutional separation of church and state was never interpreted to prevent individuals or groups from expressing their beliefs in public forums. But that hasn’t stopped activist judges from inventing restrictive interpretations that the framers clearly never intended.

A recent example comes from Mississippi, where a high school band was prevented from taking the field at a halftime show where they planned to perform the Christian hymn “How Great Thou Art.” The Rankin County School District had previously approved the performance, but changed their minds in light of recent court rulings. Fans protested the development by singing the hymn in place of the band during halftime.

From IJ Review:

In 2013, a Northwest Rankin High School student and the American Humanist Association sued the school district for a series of assemblies that were deemed to be “pro-Christian.”

They included a church-goer speaking of Jesus Christ, though the school maintained that the events were organized by students.

Thus, U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves permanently banned the school from “including prayer or religious sermons in any school-sponsored event.”

The prevailing argument in the debate over how church/state separation is implemented denies religious people their freedom of expression. The taxpayers of the Rankin County School District, presumably Christian by a vast majority, somehow lose their ability to express themselves when their money is spent by government. That’s perverse.

It shouldn’t be difficult to distinguish between religious curriculum and voluntary religious expression. A band performing a hymn does not encroach upon anyone’s rights. So long as individuals express their beliefs, and not the institution in an official capacity, atheist taxpayers have nothing to complain about. By contrast, religious taxpayers do have a complaint when told by the state that they can’t speak their mind or sing from their heart.

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Can We Have a Grown Up Conversation About Spanking?

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

spanking flow chart

I lost some friends this past week. They weren’t real friends, just the Facebook variety. I ended up blocking them after a debate over spanking spiraled out of control. Lines were crossed, and acquaintances were ended.

The conversation started when someone posted the above flowchart. As you can see, it guides parents through the decision to spank their children. If your children are old enough to understand reason, the chart directs you to simply reason with them. If your children are not old enough to understand reason, the chart claims that spanking won’t help.

There are a handful of problems with that rationale, most stemming from the ludicrous unspoken assumption that “using reason” reliably gets children (or anyone) to behave properly. I responded with a simple question. If a child is either incapable of reason or unresponsive to it, do they get to run roughshod over their parents?

I never got an answer. Instead, I was attacked by a lurking herd of demagogues, each anxious to assert their moral superiority by condemning corporal punishment. The attacks came in two broad categories. First, any type or amount of spanking was conflated with child abuse. This precludes any debate. If any type or amount of spanking is child abuse, then that’s that. There’s nothing else to say on the matter. It’s fine if you believe that. But if you’re going to invite debate on the question of spanking, then you can’t use your conclusion as the premise. The whole debate occurs around whether spanking is child abuse. Simply stating that it is does not demonstrate that it is.

The second broad category of attack, and the reason I found myself quickly blocking several of my “friends” on Facebook, was a moral equivalence drawn between spanking children and spousal abuse. “Do you hit your wife when she disagrees with you?”

Such a question in the context of a spanking debate demonstrates the futility of further association. Children are not adults. Parental relationships are not non-parental relationships. Someone who needs that explained to them isn’t the kind of person I want to know socially.

Be that as it may, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend for a moment that the parental relationship requires explanation. The capacity to apply reason and knowledge to the production of life-fulfilling values distinguishes adults from children. Left to their own devices, children may be able to forage for a short time, but lack the foresight and experience to reliably make sustainable decisions. That is why they need adult custodians, parental figures who take responsibility for them.

As the custodian of a child, you sit in the driver’s seat of their life. You think on their behalf, make decisions on their behalf, and pursue their long-term happiness by substituting your judgment for theirs. Put another way, you have authority over them. You get to tell them what to do. Importantly, this authority does not exist to serve you, but to serve them. Your goal as a parent is to bring your children up in such a way that they develop the capacity to act rationally and sustain themselves.

This is not the same kind of relationship you have with your spouse. It’s not the same kind of relationship you have with other people’s children. It’s not the same kind of relationship you have with any other human being. It is the parental relationship, and it is unique.

Next: Why loving parents spank…

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Original Batgirl Actress Dead at 78

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

She may have been the first female superhero on television. Certainly, she was a pioneer. Yvonne Craig played Batgirl in the classic 1960′s Batman television show, awakening male libido in teenage viewers over several generations. Craig also played a green Orion slave girl in an episode of Star Trek, another iconic role from the era. She passed away on Monday. From Variety:

She had been suffering from breast cancer that metastasized to her liver…

Her guest appearances on TV include “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Fantasy Island,” “The Mod Squad” and “The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis.”

She also starred in two movies opposite Elvis Presley, “It Happened at the World’s Fair” and “Kissin’ Cousins.”

Batgirl was introduced in Batman’s second season in an effort to expand the show’s appeal. Subsequent onscreen iterations of the character have been sparse, and none as memorable as Craig’s original portrayal.

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Zorro to Ride Through Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

A script has been percolating in Hollywood that re-imagines the legend of Zorro with a dystopian spin. The Hollywood Report claims the project has now been greenlit for a 2016 production. Collider expounds:

Reborn takes place in the near future and moves the mythic hero into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where he takes on tyrants. The project has been percolating for years, most recently at 20th Century Fox where Gael Garcia Bernal signed on to star with a script by Glenn Gers, Lee Shipman, and Brian McGreevy.

Obviously that iteration never came to pass, and it’s unclear in what shape the script for Zorro Reborn is in at the moment, but it’s possible the success of Mad Max: Fury Road spurred folks to think there’s success to be found in a post-apocalyptic spin on Zorro. Sobini CEO Mark Amin is producing the film and seems fairly bullish on this recent development, so we’ll see if Zorro Reborn actually does get in front of cameras next year or if this is yet another false start.

While the concept has promise, here’s hoping they come up with a better title.

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Abrams on New Star Wars: ‘Telling a Solid Story’

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

In a newly released video from Variety, featuring interviews with the cast and crew of the forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams offers insight into his creative approach. “We really focused on how do we tell a story and incorporate what people know in a way that won’t feel like we’re just doing call backs for the sake of it. It’s not about a best-of. It’s really about telling a solid story. We were really lucky to have the whole cast do such an extraordinary job.”

Actors John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, who portray two of the new central characters in the saga, speak of their characters’ unconventional relationship. From Boyega: “What we know so far is that their worlds collide in some way that is very important to the balance of the galaxy. These characters, who don’t have similar backgrounds, come together to be part of an adventure. That’s our connection.”

The first poster for the new film was unveiled at Disney’s D23 convention over the weekend, revealing that Boyega’s Finn will at some point wield a blue-bladed lightsaber. The Force Awakens lands on December 18th.

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WATCH: Meet Atlas the Humanoid Robot

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

We may be a few years out from the dawn of our robot overlords. But we can get a good look at their immediate ancestors. Boston Dynamics has been working on impressive robotics for the past few years, producing four-legged dog-like monstrosities with creepy life-like agility.

More recently, they’ve upped the ante with humanoid robots capable of negotiating real world terrain. From The Daily Mail:

The Atlas robot created by Google-owned firm Boston Dynamics is a formidable figure at 6ft 2in tall and weighing in at 330lb.

The robot boasts 28 hydraulically actuated joints and stereo vision, and is one of the most advanced robots ever created.

At some point, we’ll likely see a convergence of this technology with advances in facial simulation and artificial intelligence, and the world’s first true android will be born.

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What Do You Think of This Black Lives Matter Meme?

Monday, August 17th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

alldreamsmatter

For over a year now, we’ve been hearing the mantra that “black lives matter.” Many have responded by saying that all lives matter, whether black or not. Black Lives Matter activists insist that special attention needs to be paid to black lives right now.

The above meme compares that debate to the rhetoric of the Civil Rights era. What if, when Martin Luther King articulated his dream, whites responded by saying “all dreams matter?” Wouldn’t that sentiment miss the point?

Perhaps. Then again, King’s dream encompassed all people and inspired unity. Can the same be said of Black Lives Matter?

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Do We Deserve a Service as Awesome as Uber?

Friday, August 14th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Bernie Sanders considers himself to be a champion of the little guy. Such is the standard shtick of any “progressive” politician. Sanders says he wants to help the poor and the middle class.

In truth, however, Sanders only cares about a particular segment of “little guys,” those who pay union dues from which political contributions are offered. Nothing may highlight this fact more than Sanders’ opposition to the emerging sharing economy. The Daily Caller recently expounded on how Sanders “does NOT like Uber.”

Sanders said he has “serious problems” with Uber because it is so “unregulated.”

Standing against companies like Uber is not too surprising for Sanders. He has made labor policy and union rights a fundamental aspect of his campaign. He has even been able to gain support from many union leaders who have been upset with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

It’s as if “the little guy” only ever works in a union. In truth, the real little guys are making their way in this emergent economic frontier. Individual contractors utilize what they have — their vehicle, their time, and their good name — to either make a full-time living or supplement their existing income. These are the littlest of little guys, working essentially alone, operating independently, and competing against an established and deeply entrenched ground-transportation industry.

Uber, Lyft, and similar technology companies have opened up a world of possibility for people in a wide variety of circumstances. On the partner side, they offer the opportunity to earn money on a truly customized schedule. Drivers can work as much or as little as they see fit, whenever it suits them.

On the customer side, ride-sharing offers a superior service to the highly regulated (and thus stagnant) taxi industry. Uber transactions occur electronically, with no cash exchanging hands between riders and drivers. It all happens in the app without so much as running a credit card. A feedback system incentivizes drivers to provide a pleasant experience.

The sharing economy is good for little guys who want to make money, and other little guys who want a superior customer experience. Why then do so-called “progressives” oppose this particular form of progress? The Daily Caller expounds:

Unions have been some of the more adamant rivals of [the sharing economy]. Contracting as a whole makes it more difficult for unions to organize workers, because unions have to pursue one contractor at a time as opposed to all employees within a single workplace.

Though contractors can still join a union, it’s much easier to unionize employees because consent doesn’t have to be unanimous. If a union can get the majority of employees within a single bargaining unit to agree to representation, it becomes the Exclusive Representative of all the employees.

If that union happens to exist in a mandatory dues state, all the employees within a unionized bargaining until must pay union dues or fees whether they agree with the union or not.

Pols like Bernie Sanders wax poetic about big business and rich fat cats exploiting the little guy. In truth, Sanders seeks to propel himself to power on the backs of crushed entrepreneurial dreams. It’s a numbers game. The rich will always be a minority. So it’s easy to demonize them. Similarly, the aspiring poor will always be a minority. So they get to be demonized too.

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Pastor Takes Big Ministries to Task for ‘Watered-Down’ Truth

Thursday, August 13th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

We live in the age of “church growth,” a time when many pastors and church leaders focus on marketing tactics meant to fill pews and stuff coffers. Writing for the Christian Post, Pastor Shane Idleman of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, exhorts his colleagues to rethink their approach to ministry.

The truth is often watered-down in the hope of not offending members and building a large audience. Judgment is never mentioned and repentance is rarely sought. We want to grow a church rather than break a heart; be politically correct rather than biblically correct; coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict.

Idleman pines for a time when preachers instilled the fear of God in their congregations, when the Word was preached with urgency.

Where are the Spurgeon’s who spoke with such authority that his sermons are read more today than ever before? Where are the D.L. Moodys who brought America to her knees? Where are the Evan Roberts’ who, during the Welsh Revivals of 1904-5, preached so powerfully against sin that people cried out to truly know God? Where are the Puritans like Richard Baxter, who said with such humility, “I speak as a dying man to dying men”?

They have been largely replaced by topical “relevant” sermons on “life application,” like having a better marriage or parenting children. Such topics are certainly important, and the Bible has much to say on them. However, if preaching on any topic does not begin and end with the Gospel, then church-goers are served no better than they would be by an episode of Oprah.

America is Giving Up on Christianity Because it Gave Up on God Ages Ago

Fox News Contributor Goes Off on Christians

Why I Am Non-Denominational Christian

 

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Star Wars News Floods the Internet

Thursday, August 13th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Alongside the first international television spot for the forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the folks at Entertainment Weekly have released a ton of new pictures and character details. Here’s a breakdown of the revelations (minor spoilers follow):

Director J.J. Abrams told EW that fans can expect another trailer in the fall, closer to the film’s release. The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th.

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Expect No More Star Wars Trailers in the Near Future

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Many fans anticipated that Disney would release a new trailer for the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens at their propriety convention D23, which commences this weekend. The belief was bolstered by the absence of a trailer at the recent San Diego Comic Con. However, those expectations were smothered by director J.J. Abrams in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

“It is true, we are showing no footage, behind the scenes or otherwise. In the fall, there’ll be a trailer.”

While fans may be disappointed, the decision makes sense from a marketing perspective. The two teaser trailers released thus far have done their job, generating widespread buzz and fueling anticipation for the December 18th release. A third trailer now would serve little purpose. Better to spike interest closer to the film’s release. Besides, how much more of this movie do we really want to see before we see the actual movie?

H/T Collider

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Customer Requests White Delivery Driver, Gets One

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

It probably wasn’t a call that Lowe’s driver Marcus Bradley was expecting when he went to work that day. Tasked with making a delivery to a customer in Virgina, Bradley got a call from his manager asking him to bring the load back. Why? The customer had called to say she didn’t want a black man at her house. From The Root:

The woman who reportedly asked that no black delivery driver be sent to her home told the news station that she has a right to request what she wants.

“I got a right to have whatever I want and that’s it,” the woman said. “No, I don’t feel bad about nothing.”

Lowe’s has since fired the manager for honoring the request.

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No, Jesus Does Not Love Unconditionally

Monday, August 10th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Last week, I wrote about “unconditional love.” I claimed that it was a myth. In truth, love as such cannot occur absent conditions. All emotions are a response to preconceived values, and values are by nature conditional. We love what we love because it is what it is.

Reaction to the piece was mixed, as reflected in the comments section. Some followed the argument. Others disagreed. Of particular interest to me, since I am a Bible-believing Christian, was this response from “Harald”:

Christ loves me unconditionally. He died for all of us, no exceptions.

Is that a myth too?

Yes, Harald. Yes, it is.

The idea that Jesus Christ loves everyone unconditionally remains popular among believers and non-believers alike. Yet it has no biblical basis and actually runs counter to the truth of the Gospel.

Other commenters provided additional context for Harald’s point, reminding readers that the English language has one word for “love” to reference several different meanings. “DaveK Or” states:

Trying to discuss unconditional love without setting its definition is probably pointless.

Fair enough. Of course, in the context of this discussion, the definition has been set. The popular usage of “unconditional love” refers to universal acceptance of anything a person does, says, or believes. Anytime someone misapplies the verse “judge not lest ye be judged,” they appeal to this notion of “unconditional love.” The religious left thrives on the theme, which has underscored certain denominations’ embrace of the homosexual lifestyle despite clear biblical prescriptions.

Let’s look at Harald’s comment again. “[Christ] died for all of us, no exceptions.” I believe that. The Bible teaches that. However, Christ’s act was not an expression of unconditional love. We must consider why Christ died for us.

unconditional

Here’s what happens when you search the text of the Bible for keywords “unconditional love.”

If Christ’s love were as unconditional as many portray, then his death would not have been necessary. It would not matter whether we believed in Him. It would not matter whether we obeyed Him. Of course, the Bible teaches otherwise. The biblical narrative outlines in great detail the conditions which required Christ to offer his life on the cross.

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The Myth of Unconditional Love

Friday, August 7th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

While watching the above trailer for Amazon’s Transparent, I was struck by the tagline, “Love is unconditional.” In the context of a show about a transgender father who comes out to his grown children, the idea seems clear. If his children love him, they won’t care that he thinks he’s a woman.

Is that true though? Do I need to accept anything my loved ones say, think, or do for them to remain loved ones? Does love require universal acceptance?

The popular notion of “unconditional love” emerges from post-modern moral relativism. It is an interpersonal application of the idea that everything is equally valid and equally true. In that context, judgment has become hate. The rhetoric of the gay-rights movement, and of the broader anti-rational Marxist culture, leans heavily on this idea. One cannot disagree with the gay orthodoxy without being labeled a hater. So it makes sense that Amazon would remind us, in their marketing for a transgender drama, that love is supposedly unconditional.

We’re dealing with a particularly insidious lie that cheapens love by transmuting it from a value-based emotional response to an autonomic pleasantry. Put another way, unconditional love is nothing special. If love is unconditional, then anyone deserves it. If anyone deserves it, then the particulars of an individual’s behaviors, beliefs, and values do not matter.

Imagine how your significant other would react if, upon asking why you love them, you replied with, “No reason.” Imagine they pressed, and you expounded with, “I love you the same as I would love anyone. It doesn’t matter to me who you are, what you think, what you do, or what you believe or stand for. I love you in spite of you, as I would love anyone in your place.”

How would that go over?

Ironically, the unconditional love crowd typically punctuate their rhetoric with the sentiment “love people for who they are.” But that doesn’t make the least bit of sense. You can’t both love someone for who they are and love them unconditionally. Their identity is a condition. They are not someone else. From this we quickly realize that the real exhortation of “unconditional love” is to accept whatever taboo, be it homosexuality, transgenderism, or any of a hundred other things.

Unconditional love is a particularly vicious argument from intimidation, as we’ll explore on the next page.

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No Midi-Chlorians in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Thursday, August 6th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Resonate throughout Disney’s revival of the Star Wars franchise has been a call back to the original trilogy. References to the prequels have been far and few between. Director J.J. Abrams has frequently boasted of his use of practical effects. Even the forthcoming Battlefront video game draws exclusively from the original Star Wars films. It’s like Episodes I through III never happened.

Furthering that trend, Abrams recently confirmed that a particularly upsetting aspect of the prequels will not be referenced in the new film. From IGN:

During the red carpet premiere for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Abrams was asked by MTV whether or not midi-chlorians will be a part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to which the director responded with a simple “No.”

In The Phantom Menace, the mystical properties of the Force were given a metaphysical explanation in the form of midi-chlorians, microscopic symbiotic lifeforms which “speak to us” and make life possible. Fans didn’t react well to having the Force rationalized so literally. Perhaps the larger problem was that the explanation did not serve the narrative, either of that particular film or the franchise as a whole. In either case, we won’t be revisiting the controversy when The Force Awakens hits theaters this Christmas.

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Peter Dinklage Just Lost His Job (One of Them Anyway)

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage just got replaced, not on that show, but in a video game where he voiced a key character. Dinklage can currently be heard as the artificial intelligence Ghost in the massively multiplayer online shooter Destiny. The game has been out for a year, but Dinklage will nonetheless be replaced by industry renowned voice talent Nolan North. From IGN:

Dinklage faced a lot of criticism for his unenthusiastic performance in Destiny, so the fact Bungie decided to replace him with someone slightly more familiar with the requirements of video game voice acting isn’t a huge surprise.

Video games remain unique among entertainment mediums as continually developing projects which expand, upgrade, and change over time. Nevertheless, this may be the first time a voice actor’s entire performance has been retroactively replaced a year after a game’s release.

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Fantastic Four Falling Flat Before Release

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Things had been looking up for the rebooted Fantastic Four franchise. On paper, it looked like a project that couldn’t fail. Chronicle director Josh Trank, X-Men: Days of Future Past scribe Simon Kinberg, a cast of talented up-and-comers including Miles Teller, Kate Mara, and Michael B. Jordan — all signaled good things. Despite rumors of trouble on the set and a sour taste left from previous iterations, trailers had the effect of warming fans to the new film.

More recently, however, there have been troubling signs that Fox has lost confidence in their product. There have been few early screenings for critics. There will be no red carpet premiere. Promotion has been relatively muted.

The first reviews have begun to hit, and they’re not encouraging. At the time of this writing, the film holds a ghastly 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That will likely rise as more reviews come in. But the current score rests with 5 out of 6 critics saying “don’t bother.” Variety’s Brian Lowry writes, “Fox’s stab at reviving one of its inherited Marvel properties feels less like a blockbuster for this age of comics-oriented tentpoles than it does another also-ran — not an embarrassment, but an experiment that didn’t gel.”

Fantastic Four opens in theaters this Friday.

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10 Jobs More Dangerous Than Cop: Does That Matter?

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

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The above meme caught my eye on social media, posted to the Facebook page of an outfit calling itself Police the Police. The implication is that police officers should not be granted sympathy or any benefit of doubt on account of the dangers they face in the conduct of their duties. After all, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a list of the top ten most dangerous occupations, and “cop” wasn’t on it.

Of course, in the ongoing debate about law enforcement practices, the relevant consideration isn’t whether police officers have the most dangerous jobs in the world. The issue centers around the type of danger they face.

Apples and oranges are not sufficiently different to call the above meme an apples and oranges comparison. It’s more like an apples and sentient-apples-armed-and-trying-to-kill-you comparison. It’s a difference so stark, even the Huffington Post gets it:

Getting killed is a hazard in many occupations, but there is one glaring difference between death risks of law enforcement officers and those of other dangerous occupations: only police officers face the threat of murder as a part of their job. No one is out trying to kill fisherman or loggers or garbage collectors.

A cop on the street endures daily contact with drunks, the mentally disabled and violent criminals. They endure life-and-death situations on a daily basis.

Exactly. When we talk about the dangers that police face in the conduct of their duties, we’re talking about split-second behavioral shifts which can end lives. That’s the context, not cold labor statistics.

That’s not to say there isn’t a legitimate debate to have about law enforcement practices. There is. But memes like the above one add nothing of substance to it.

Police Want Exemptions from New Los Angeles Gun Restrictions

Obama to Ban Some Arms from Police

Pelosi: What Is the Job of Police, ‘to Fight a Guerrilla War’? 

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Mitt Romney as Mitt Romney in New Colbert Spot

Monday, August 3rd, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Stephen Colbert will be taking over the Late Show for CBS in September after the retirement of David Letterman. Promotion has begun in earnest with an already active YouTube channel and some new television spots.

One features former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Colbert tells us he expects to interview all kinds of public figures, including politicians. Confronted by Mitt Romney, he offers a compliment. “Wow, you do a great Mitt Romney.”

“I am Mitt Romney.”

“That’s it,” Colbert encourages him. “Stay in character.”

The spot ends with another joke tagged on the end. Something about pancakes. Probably should have quit while they were ahead.

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Cecil the Lion: Idol for a Child-Killing Culture

Friday, July 31st, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

We’re better than the people who came before us. That’s the built-in claim embraced by the evolutionary paradigm. We’re more evolved. We’re more developed. We’re more sophisticated. We’re smarter and more capable. We would never suffer atrocities like slavery or human sacrifice. Such horrors are relics of the past, or at least tucked away in the darkest corners of the third world.

The formal term for such assumptions is “the historian’s fallacy,” defined as “when one assumes that decision makers of the past viewed events from the same perspective and having the same information as those subsequently analyzing the decision.” The worst application of the historian’s fallacy occurs when people judge the actions of God recorded in the Old Testament.

Commonly, whenever a debate regarding religion lasts beyond a certain point, someone will point to the violence commanded by the biblical God. He sent the Israelites to wipe out entire nations. How could such a God be good?

The question is asked from a presumption about the circumstances. These nations whom God wished destroyed were upright, peaceful people, we’re to assume. They minded their own business until this vicious Old Testament God came along and unjustly destroyed them.

In truth, however, the nations which God used the Israelites to destroy were the Nazis of their day. The Canaanites were a vile culture that threw their own children into pits of fire as sacrifice to nature and fertility gods, such as Baal or Moloch. They were irredeemable. Their destruction was essential to the survival of God’s people, not just physically, but culturally. If the influence of these heathens survived (as it did due to Israelite disobedience), then it would corrupt the Israelite culture (as it did, again due to Israelite disobedience).

Fast-forward to today. We’re so much better than the Canaanites, right? We don’t cast our children into pits of fire as sacrifice to pagan gods. Right? Consider some evidence on the next page…

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