Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So I've read all of the Anne stories

Yes I've gotten though every single one, thanks largely to project Project Gutenberg, as the library copies seem be on the move more often then not, and that's with two library chains at my disposal.

After a while the characters, though appearing under different names, do get a little repetitive. After all one can only contend with so many old men who are really quite nice under their ogarish exterior and terrifying matriarchs who have been on their death bed for 20 years or more and still manage to make everyone lives miserable day in and day out.

Overall I have to say that which the child Anne was endearing the adult Anne was just too perfect in every way. Small wonder then that as the stories wore on the spotlight shone on other characters more and more.

In the end I'd say that The last book, Rilla of Ingleside was was the best of the books. Still managing to hold humor despite its dark background, and having a somewhat less idealized heroin in Rilla Blythe. I'm not sure the book could stand on its own, as it does presuppose that you already know a bit about many of the characters, but it certainly most intense, of the lot.

The two later additions written to plug gaps in the chronology where however disappointing, mostly as they where completely lacking any central plot or problem but where rather a serious of unrelated events. The first of these, Anne of the Windy Poplars, presented a near goddess like Anne who made everything better by her mere presence. And then we had Anne of Ingleise, a similar sequence of random events, but one in which Anne played almost no roll at all, while being overshadowed by her young children. (I have to admit I didn't finish this one). In any case afterwords the practical Mary Vance, and baby disliking Rilla made a very pleasant change.

PS After a little more reading Jane of Lantern Hill, is by far my favorite Montgomery book. I think I'll stop here as Montgomery's story lines (while quite enjoyable) are a tad on the repetitive side, though I may read more at a later date.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No Comments Allowed

One thing really bothers me about newspaper sites. And that is how the choose to enable comments for some stories but not others. Looking at some recent stories on the Sydney Morning Herald website there does seem to be some very strong religious bias here.

Contentions stories about Islam almost always have comments enabled. But ever time Cardinal George Pell goes and says something stupid, this feature is conspicuous by its absence. Take this resent article for example Faithless are coarse uncaring and without purpose

What Amazes me the most is the utter ignorance behind the Cardinal on every single point, which has been rgurgatated again and again, even though all of them have been addressed and debunked by Atheists.

THE lives of people without faith have ''nothing beyond the constructs they confect to cover the abyss''

Um sorry, who is confecting myths to cover up the abyss? Is it rally skeptics who insist on evidence before they will elevate a hypothesis to the status of theory. Or is it those who say that the one truth is contained in a book written thousands of years ago. A book, which is true, ulike all the other books written thousands of years ago.

''A minority of people, usually people without religion, are frightened by the future,''

As far as I can see most of the impending doom, moral degeneration and end of civilization senarios are perpetuated by theists, not atheists. This is inverably followed by a call to renew faith, which will somehow solve all the worlds problems. Yes there are real problems, that require real action, and real solutions. But Faith will not solve them.

''It's almost as though they've … nothing but fear to distract themselves from the fact that without God the universe has no objective purpose or meaning.

No Cardinal I don't accept that your blind acceptance of a particular creation myth makes you objective. Heck even your scriptures don't actually bother to explain why your God created the universe, only that He did, and Liked what he created. Which as far as I can see makes it an experiment or some kind of art project.

An evolutionary perspective might instead say that the purpose of life is to propagate itself, beyond that we, as self aware beings, make our own purpose. What could be grander then realing that their that the question of Life the universe and everything will not be answer by searching, but by invention?

Cardinal Pell said education was not enough to create a civilised society, that faith was necessary too. He cited the example of 20th century Germany

How Ironic. That he would site a movement steeped in religious language, Lead by a baptized Catholic, who if anything saw himself as a new Messiah. A regime that rose at a time when antisemitism was the normal position of the catholic church, who prayed that the Treacherous Jews would see the light. This Particular prayer was removed at Vatican II, but has now been reinstated (admittedly the new version drops the word Treacherous).

''Australian society will become increasingly coarse and uncaring … if Christian principles are excluded from public discussion.

Yet another absurdity to claim that Christianity has some kind of exlusive claim on emotions that we are all capable of merely for the fact that we are humans, evolved from primates that lived in social groups.

The most glorious statements of the rights of Man we have did not come from any religion. But from secularists who knew what it was like to live under boot heels of religion. I am of course referring to the US deceleration of independence. It was secular society that first said we are all equal, and none will be placed in power by right of birth. It was secular society that said that slavery was wrong. Now that secular society is here all of these things seem obvious to us. SO my question to the good cardinal would by, why didn't your God reveal these ideas thousands of years ago, when your church had control of the Roman Empire, and in essence control of Europe?

But no the truth is that the Church has fought tooth and nail against every single step of the march to the modern world. Denouncing every idea to the last possible moment. Favoring despotism over democracy and censorship over freedom of expression at every single turn. How Ironic that now that they have lost their power to oppress they want to claim that they are all that s stands between civil society and chaos.

Despite the repeated claims of conservative theists the world few of New Atheists is a positive one, not a negative one. New Atheists do not lie and claim to have all the answers, but rather admit that they do not, and that much work needs to be done. And go on to invite every indidual to join them on the quest to find better answers.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ben Hur

So we took the boys to see the ben Hur spectacular last night. Yes it was big, very big. But it also went a long way to prove that bigger does not necesarily mwan better. And on the whole, while I acknowledge that a lot of people worked very hard on this production, the results where underwhelming.

First of for most of the show the scale was simply too big, and it was all the cast could do to run to their places and while the same music played over and over again.

The first supposidly big scene was the galley fight, only it made no sense as while the romans came in on a galley, the pirates arrived on foot. Watching the one, admididly huge galley being assembled was frankly a little boring. Really why not use smaller ships that can actually move about the stage and have somthing that looks like a real navel battle?

Then we get tot the biggest let-down of the night, gladiators who spend all their time wrestling. The excuse that they could not use weapons for occupational health and safety reasons seemed absurd. I can go down to any toy or costume shop and get reasonable looking weapons (that are considered safe for children), and with their huge budget they couldn't get something made that was safe but looked passable (considerthing the distance that the audience is viewing at?

Then finally we come to the highlight of the night, the chariot race. OK this was a moment of sheer awesome that could not be done any other way. However we are talking about 5 - 10 minutes of awesome out of two hours.

In the end, It was good, but not good enough for me to feel I got my moneys worth.

Monday, August 09, 2010


Well it turns out that gofr does exactly what I want. so yay to the author, and yay for my little pet project, looks like most of the Yak's will have to be shaved another day.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

What bugs me about Go

Putting language design aside entirely, because lets face it every programmer has a different idea of what should, and should not, be in the perfect language, there is one thing that is beginning to really bug me about go.

And that is how poorly documented the command line tools are. Firstly see the Plan 9 docs at http... is positively useless to me when I'm on the train with no internet access. Which is a good percentage of the time.

I've been wresting for several days with trying to set up a build system for a multi package project. The documentation for cgo says see the make file, which was not at all illustrative, especially as the make file does not seem to contain any rules that actually call the cgo! All we seem to get is a lot of messing about with intermediary C files. And trying to dig deeper just ends up at the completely undocumented gomake program.

Then my second problem is that I don't want to install the resultant package globally I'm using it in exactly one particular project. Installing it globally for my system is completely the wrong thing to do, especially as I'll be going back an making frequent changes to it, And my ultimate aim is to produce a standalone executable.

The depressing thing is that in this particular instance even the mailing list seems to be of little help. Searching through the archive suggests that no one has gotten an answer to this question. Every thread I found is filled with people saying yes I have this problem too. And the odd, the I have this problem too so I've started writing a build tool variation. I've started yet another thread about this though, just in case I have better results .

So far the only tool I've found that at least claims to handle cgo is gofr. Sadly it seems to be a little out of date at the moment and won't actually compile at. All in all my pet project is delayed, because I've got a Yak or two to shave...

PS: Yes I know its open source, and I would happily contribute documentation, if I actually knew how to solve the problem. Which sadly I do not.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More NCurses

Since someone actually commented on my original post here is a status update
I've actually moved to starting again from scratch, with a wrapper that is more modern than the one I found (It still had semicolons at the end of each line). My new version is already somewhat more comprehensive though nowhere near complete.

One of the changes I've made is to allow method chaining so instead of adding the move and do X method for every single operation I have a Mv and Color and Set (as in attrset) which return the window you called them on. This allows calls like:

window.Mv(10,10).Set(curses.A_BOLD).COLOR(4).AddStr("Hello World")

or better yet:

fmt.FPrintf(window(10,10).Set(curses.A_BOLD).COLOR(4), "Hello World")

Yes I made Ncurses Window type implement the Writer interface : )

And as to releasing it back. I absolutely plan too. Though I still have a few Items I want to get working first such as:
  1. Make my InitScreen take configuration options so that it can set things like CBreak, NoEcho and Keypad for you (I already have it initilising the color system if required.
  2. Implement the border drawing primitives though this is just fairly mechanical work.
  3. Add basic wrappers for the related panel, and menu libraries. I'm still trying to decide how all this should be packaged.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Messing about NCurses and Go

So recently I update by go installation and then installed an ncurses library. I quickly discoverd that the ncurses wrapper is incomplete and tends to not be very goanic.

So far I've added a whole host of missing methods and changed a few others. I also added a Write method which lets ncurses Windows work with the methods in the fmt package. I'll have to see if the original author is interested in my changes as I do seem to be taking the wrapper in a slightly different direction.

All together it has been an interesting way of playing with the go language.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Hogfather

I finally got around to seeing the Hogfather. It was good, but not as good as the book. I suspect that the problem may be that it is hard to translate Pratchett to the screen. The Discworld definitely can be a dark place. But it is also a very funny one. The film treatment had the darkness down, but lacked the humor.

It was marked as PG so I thought I would watch it with my boys however we only got a few scenes in before I decided that it was likely to give them nightmares.

Often the humor in Discworld is not in what the characters see but how it is described and what they think in reaction to it, and there are also frequent side thoughts and even the odd footnote (even some of the footnotes have footnotes). All of this is hard to get into a medium that uses images rather then words to describe, and considers it bad form to make thoughts audible.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Attention all Naturopaths. The good news science has proved that there is a water memory effect.

The bad news is that it lasts for less than a Nano second, so yet again all available evidence suggest that you are all Quacks.

Yes there are real and legitimate herbal readies, However naturopathic water is not one of them. Any benefits gained by your marks clients are a result of the placebo effect.

For more on Quckery Naturopathy see the following links:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Maximum Ride

I'm currently reading some books by James Patterson. I started with 'Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment', then moved on to the original 'When the Wind Blows'. Its interesting to see the same author give the same setup two treatments

On balance I like the original more. As its somewhat purer and closer to the potential science. A girl who's arms are wings makes genetic sense, even though a human sized creature would not be able to fly under current Earth conditions.

In contrast the six limbed children of the Maximum Ride series are pure fantasy, as are the Erasers (techno babel for werewolf). And I have to say all the additional random powers give that set of books a very X men vibe, which I just didn't find that entertaining. Especially when one of the bird children finds that she can also breath under water, using invisible vents in her neck.

I'm also reminded of why I tend to stay away from Suspense Thrillers. Patterson's style is to use short sharp chapters and rapidly shifting point of view, much like a movie. Occasionally making the amateurish mistake of shifting heads mid scene. Maybe its acceptable but I've studied the craft of writing enough to e jarred by it. In 'When the wind blows' this seems to particularly happen with the Thomas Harding character. He is hunting the bird children and there are numerous instances where Point of View shifts rapidly between him and Either Max or Mathew, then back again all on the one page

Its a pet peeve but I find the frequent changes of point of view and perspective (some chapters are in first person and others in third) jarring and a little confusing. So far in When the Wind blows I've counted nine points of few, and at least one chapter which I think was a flashback, though this isn't entirely clear. Suspense Thriller writers seem to do this an awful lot, Indeed the short section ending in the Point of view character being murdered is a stable of the field.

For me one or two points of few is a far better approach. I recall seeing this done rather well by De Lint in Little Grrl Lost. Here we had TJ's story told consistently in 3rd person and Elizabeth's told consistently in first person. Each has one or more longish chapters to tell their story until it gets to some kind of narrative pause, or cliffhanger, before we switch.

So in summary I like the idea enough to soldier on, even if I find the way it has been written a little jarring.


I''ve come to the conclusion that what this author needs as a tough editor, willing to call him on things. I suspect that what has happened is that Mr Patterson has gotten sufficiently successful that they publish his draft as is, with insufficient editing.

I'm on 'The lake house' now and there is a host of the same problems. Switching between heads. Redundant chapters honestly why do we need to get a description of what is happening at the Hospital three times. OK the 3rd has a different point of view, but its still hopelessly redundant. Worst still we get this right at the beginning, with the name of the villein. Whats the point of a suspense novel where the reader knows who the villein is from the first chapter? Then we have Francis start naming the secret project even though she never actually found out the name of the project. Yes the reader knew but she didn't. And then finding out that the Good doctor has clones, Again ruin the suspense why don't you.

I still like the story, but the way it is written is driving me up the wall.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thank God For Evolution - book review

In case you didn't know its a book by Michael Dowd. I have to say that I admire the goal of this book. The Eco aware and inclusive theology that Dowd is trying to build is an admirable thing. However I fear that is has some rather serious problems as its based on a combination of bad science and misappropriated theology.

Firstly the Science. Dowd is a fan of evolution. However he tries to make the leap from Darwinian evolution, an established biological process, to evolution as the underlying principle of the universe. And here we have made the error that Creationists love to see. Because quite frankly Evolution as a paradigm of everything is not a scientific theory, and can be easily blown out of the water. Doing so does nothing to biological evolution,despite what Creationists would like you to believe.

In any case Dowd's evolution seems to be a synonym for emergence and the argument that the Ultimate Reality which is God and the universe simultaneously (Dowd is a pantheist), is evolving. This seems flawed as by definition Ultimate reality is a closed system, and being closed is subject to the second law of thermodynamics. For me that really is the end of that one. Note this same, creationist argument is wrong when applied to Biological evolution as the Earths biosphere is not a closed system, it receives energy from the sun, and emits waste energy back into space constantly.

Dowd then spends a lot of time on the ideas of Evolutionary Psychology, which is a relatively young approach and does have its detractors. But simply we have the old nature vs nurture debate and the fact that we are not certain how our behavior is shaped by our genes and experiences.

Despite this, his view of self growth is quite a compelling one. The basic idea is to look at places where you had the wrong reaction (in hind sight) and ask why, then answer along the lines of, I had this reaction because of my evolutionary legacy, and the fact that this same pattern of behavior allowed my distant ancestors to survive. Its an interesting way of accepting the past without assigning blame to yourself or others, and in some cases might by just what you need to do.

The danger here for Dowd is that he has pinned his argument on contentious science. And if Psychology decides that the evolutionary approach is not useful, then Dowd's entire argument will become irrelevant. All in all I really feel this is pseudoscience pretending to be the real thing. And in this regard is not any better then Scientific Creationism.

This is followed by a number of practices, including generic meditation and self honesty aimed at self improvement. They seem like good solid things to do, and I have to say I lack the courage to attempt some of them. I haven't however read enough self help literature to know if there is anything new here or not.

Finally we come to Dowd's theology. And here I do not think he is being intellectually honest. The problem being that Dowd desperately wants to cling to the conviction that his pantheistic, miracle free, uncommitted about any afterlife theology is still a Christian Theology. So we have several chapters on how selected stories from the bible can be interpreted as metaphors for the evolutionary emergence of human being and human morality. Granted Maybe my personal reactions against the Christian myths is causing me to be overly bias, but I just cant see this working.

The problem for Dowd I believe is that every Christian authority I can think of has, at some stage or other, denounced pantheism. Most recently they did so in response to the move Avatar. Yes it had pretty pictures but there was no plot people, let alone a theological message worth mentioning. So he is trying to take Christianity that it has already looked at and rejected.

And in the end I would have to agree that when you take the Christian message, then take away all literalism. When you argue that the virgin birth and resurrection where just put in because 1st century people would not take the message seriously with out it, what you have left is a great idea but its not what it was.

Dowd's theology is not bad. It is in my opinion quite good but it needs its own myths and stories. Indeed his website tries to provide several. And if your going to do this shackling yourself to a two thousand year old book is really more trouble then its worth.

So to sum up. I like the theology Dowd is trying to build. His practices for personal development are great. However the over reliance on evolution as a model of everything makes it scientifically questionable. And the attempt to dress it up in Christian language seems redundant, and possibly counter productive.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Grimm RPG

I recently acquired a copy of Grimm RPG. Its a twisted fairytale setting. And uses its own Unique mechanic called Linear D6 (PDF). I have to say that I really, really like the mechanic, and can see a lot of potential for it outside of the setting.

In particular is about the only system I know of that represents teamwork as a game mechanic, by allowing the players to pool their dice together for one big roll, which stands a good chance of getting a higher result than any one of them could have achieved individually.

I'm thinking this would work quite well in a lot for Anime inspired games. Especially ones that have similarly aged protagonists and an emphasis on teamwork and combo attacks against more powerful single opponents. The magic system which requires casters to build up power over multiple turns would also fit right in to many Anime worlds (Picturing Goku building up to unleash an energy blast, didn't he once do this for 6 episodes in a row before having his effect fizzle out).

The handling of size difference in combat situations is also very nice and graceful. I haven't really considered weather its realistic or not (then again I don't really care that much). But it does lead to a nice game balance in a game that can include kids facing off against giants.

Finally we get to the setting its self. And here is where Grimm really shines. The twisted fairytale world created is absolutly brilliant and includes elements both comic and absolutly terrifying. The idea of having Humpty Dumpty (now cracked and slowly rotting) being the source of corruption in the land of fairy tales is simply inspired. Other characters are similarly twisted, from a sadistic Cinderella to a a mad tooth fairy that has decided that simply pulling teeth is more efficient then waiting for them to fall out.

Setting details carry right through to the naming of traits and talents on the character sheet. Where Cool replaces Charisma and Imagination replaces Intelligence. WHile other games might divide skills into physical and mental Grimm divides them into Playground and Study. And all of them being measured by a grade level between 1 and 12.

Currently I'm experimenting with running a campaign online using Google wave as my play area. But I can't give any more details here as the some of people I've invited to play know where to find this blog.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A little light spam

I actually had comments on a few of my posts. Except it turned out that they where both spam. One was an advert for cheep pharmaceuticals and the other an aside about the 2012 nonsense, that even the Mayans don't actually believe in. Oh well, here's hoping for more relevent comments in the future.

NW RPG Update

I think I have my RPG rules where I want them. All I need now is a new name. I'd iike to keep the Initials though, if I can come up with something useful. One nice feature Is that character generation can be quick. I Sat down (admit idly with a basic concept in mind) and had the character sheet filled in, in well under 10 minutes. I made a Miu (A Cat boy) who as Cat people are want to be has rouge based skills, and is reasonably handy with a Dagger.

So I have this, and some screens and some Adventure ideas. I'm getting my Boys to decorate their own Screens and character sheets. All I have to do is set up stats for the actual monsters (I have basic templates) and I'll we'll have a short dungeon Crawl on the weekend. Then somthing a little longer latter on.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Homebrew RPG

Someone has informed me that I was beaten to the punch with the Never World name. Well there goes a long held idea that has had its day I guess. I actually have cover art that I made a good 20 years ago for my Never Worlds (yes I had an S on it back then) rulebook. I didn't have any idea of what would go into it, just the Idea that I would write an RPG called Never Worlds one day.

Other than that I spent soem time coming up with a moderatly different setting and a set of customised races for my game. Only to have my Sons (aged 5 and 7) declare that they wanted to be a Dwarf and an Elf (or a Dragonian) respectively. So there goes my desire for an original setting.

At the moment I'm wrestling with getting a magic system that I'm happy with, and really haven't had much traction on the idea so far. I'm still wavering on how customizable spells should be, and casters will need to pay for using magic. I originally wrote customizable spells which do not have set duration or number of effects but now I'm thinking that this should be changed to a more riged set of effects so that spells have a fixed cost.
And maybe a generic rule about maintaining spells once they are cast.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Never World RPG 2nd instalment

Minor tweaking has continued so to speak. Mostly I've been trying to simplify things, make skills work more consistently with each other and remove as many modifieres and rolls as possible. At the same time i don't want to loose variability too much. In the process I found more inspiration here and there. Including some even better ideas about how wounds should work. These let me get rid of the large, and very clunky table of Damage classes, and the need to roll damage as a seperate activity.

Now I'm down to a system where the Attacker will make one roll, and the defender might make one roll, if they are wounded.

I'm still increasingly happy with the rules and have even managed to get a character sheet together which is simpler on the one hand and gets the important numbers down on the other. And all this while making space for a portrait as well. All together a good feeling.

Now I just have to work on some of the other areas that have special dozens of special modifers like reaction rolls, hiding and sneaking etx. The goal is to ahve a set of tables that easily fit on half an A4 page, while still being readable.

PS: This post seems to be getting a lot of spam comments in Japanese, so I've been forced to disable further comments on it.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Creating An RPG

My latest pet project has been creating my own set of RPG rules. It has been an interesting to say the least. And an interesting one as I have morphed the rules through phases of expantion and contraction. The contractions mostly triggered when I realized my Character sheet was getting too complicated, and had too many modifiers and derived values.

At it peak I simply had too many special skills that could mofify rolls made with other skills and the sheet had something like eight special purpose bonuses. I've now paired that back down to two. So you have bonuses for being very Strong and for being Very Dexterous. And if you use magic your main magic skill works that way as well.

At some point I decided to change the damage system from hit points to a wound based system (which isn't so obviously numeric). Still a few simulated battles have shown me that it is workable and a basic (not combat optimized) starting character has a good chance of beating two goblins in a straight out fight.

I've ended up with an essentially 2 Stat system Mind and Body as the main way of getting things done. Now all I have to do is some play testing and a lot of wording refinements. With so much flux I still have sections that refer to attributes and modifiers that no longer exist. Or give bonuses that are not relevant anymore. Or are simply not explained properly because I know what I mean.

So my plan of action is:
  1. Clean it up
  2. Develop a setting
  3. Develop a starting adventure
  4. Self publish
  5. ...
  6. immense Profit
  7. Buy whats left of White Wolf, Games Workshop & Wizards of The Coast, after my RPG's success has driven them to near bankruptcy, mu ha ha ha.

Nothing could be simpler really (well except for point 5 there, that might require some reality manipulation).

On the technical side I've used Monkey Pirate Tiddly Wiki. as my content creation engine. And it has been a very nice way to work, and rearrange and cross reference. I started with an ordinary TiddlyWiki but then I liked what MPTW added in terms of extra buttons and such. And it only took a little hacking of styles and macros to get a look and feel I was happy with.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Avatar is over hyped

I saw Avatar this weekend and it was an extreme letdown. Well lets start with the good point. The 3D CGI was gorgeous to look at. And Cameron really captured what I have always imagined that an enchanted forest should look like. And yes this was an enchanted forest, just because the Elves where blue 12 feet tall and had tails didn't change this fact.

But once you get past the visual glamor you find a story filled with cardboard characters and plot holes you could fly a shuttle through.

Firstly we have the bad guys: A corporate twerp and a trigger happy Duke Nukem lookalike who have somehow been put in charge of the companies most important mining operation. Its quite evident that neither is actually suitable for the jobs they are doing, and honestly I couldn't imagine them actually having such jobs. The Twerp especially seems completely dominated by his subordinates, there is no way he would have been able to get to that position in such a short order.

The good Guys are euqally cardboard non entities. Even our hero (I can't even remember Jake Sulley seems aqkward and wooden pretty well all of the time. Especially towards the end of the movie he uttered some of the most jarring dialog I have ever heard.

Then we have the Pilot (what ever her name was) who rescues the good guys from captivity. The problem is she has no real motivation to do so. here is a difference between refusing to fire on civilians and active rebellion (and willingness to fire on your former coworkers). She had been there for much longer then the hero and was one of the Marines. When she flew on the Navin side she knew she would be shooting at (and killing) people she had bantered with in the mess hall. More over she was pretty well condemning herself to permanent exile on Pandora. No matter which side one the only thing she could have hoped for if she returned to earth was a long jail sentence as a traiter, or on murder charges.

Then we have the Navin who are steryotipical nobel savages. Theoretically great hunters and warriors who can't seem to get a thing right until lead by a Human Marine.

Why is it that the Navin aren't ready and waiting when the Humans come to destroy hometree ? They didn't even have their flyers ready, even though they had an hours warning. Surly they would have gotten their children and other non combatants out before a known attack force arrived. And be ready and waiting to drop fliers down on the helicopters. This is making their leaders look stupid.

Why is it that their arrows are useless for the first half of the movie. The first Planet side scene a truck drives in with arrows sticking out of its wheel, and they barely penetrated (didn't even flatten the tire), then during the attack on Home Tree the arrows just bonce of the heleicopters. In the final battle however, when our hero is leading the Navin, suddenly their arrows can pierce through the Helicopter windscreens. Either they can or they can't And if they can they should have taken out a good number of the helicopters in the first battle.

In any case the Humans had been their long enough for The Navin to know about metal and that their arrows can not pierce it (Would any sensible hunter waste ammunition, that had to be made by hand, firing at something he knows he cannot hurt. The humans seem to be quite capable of not wasting ammunition (even The Head of The Science team gets the idea).

Why is it that no one rides the armored herbivores (the ones that have gun poof Armour on their heads (WTF)) They look to me like the ultimate in heavy cavalry and if the Navin's link can tame the fiercest predator on their planet surly a herbivore would be tamable as well. What kind of idiot does a cavalry charge against machine guns? These are supposed to be hunters. Can't the find secure positions to stage an ambush, at least it would give them time to fire a few rounds of arrows before getting hit. Even a few pit traps would have helped.

All in all the thing is that If the Navin are as in tune with their world as they are supposed to be, and their weapons are as capable. then they should have been able to wipe the floor with the human security forces without some ex human leading them. And if there not then his leadership would have been useless unless he could find better weapons somewhere, either stolen form humans or I don't know, the artifacts of an ancient Navin Civilization which the people had abandoned.

The whole every creature (and even some of the plants) have exposed links for establishing direct neural connections thing was rather hard to accept too. It really deserved some kind of justification. THere was no hint that it was engineered and at the same time I can't see how it could have provided such an evolutionary advantage that every animal would have one.

Then we have the Energy Vortex. Which is believed to be a very high energy electromagnetic field. Others have noted that such a field should have been quite devastating to humans (if not the local wildlife). However the fact that is selectively knocked out Sensors without affecting anything else is bizzar. Honestly It the flux is so strong that sensors don't work then why do the communicators continue to work? Heck even the computer systems should be affected (uneless they have special shielding). And what about the Avatars, which are also run by remote control but seem to have no restrictions on range (and are also unaffected by the flux).

All in all I loved the visuals but hated the story, and at almost 3 hours a the middle third was frankly boring to sit through. Recently there have been stories of Avatar being the highest grossing movie ever. This true in raw number however when corrected for inflation it comes in at 21st place (when I wrote this, though it is moving up). The actual record is still held by Gone with the Wind.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Post Christian Morality

Quit a while back Australia introduced a citizenship test. At the time the local paper ran a quiz which claimed to contain questions from the actual test. One of the questions was about the guiding principle of Australian law, with answer options including 'Christian' and 'secular' and the obvious red herring of 'Sharia Law'.

The correct answer, was 'Christian'. My partner however, who is catholic wanted to answer secularism. Which got me to thinking that in despite what we might like to claim she is right. I have very much grown up with post Christian values. And indeed ones which are in places opposed to most religious teachings. To me the key concept is the idea of personal freedom. If it harms none, do as you will.

The fact that this also happens to be a key statement of Wicca is coincidence. However it flies in the face of judo christian tradition. Modern progressive churches do (I belive) accept some idea of free will to do. but they do not seem to attach any special moral meaning to it, other than a negative one where your free will gives you the right to damn yourself, or you can surrunder it and follow the church teachings and be saved. This is not however universal as soem Protestant denominations still teach the Calvinist idea that God has decided who is and who is not among the saved, and there is nothing you can do to change his mind.

When I look at the ten commandments, Ignoring the various controversies about what is and isn't aprt of this set, I find that only three of them are enshrined in Australian law. We hare prohibited for Stealing, murdering and bearing false witness. But then again these are things that have been discovered by most successful societies around the world, though granted not all of them.

As to the others. the first Thou shalt have no other god before me, is unconstitutional in Australia. Likewise for the making of idols. As we have freedom of religion. In other words the writers of the Australian constitution, following in the footsteps of the American founding fathers, said that the bible is wrong on that point. That to restrict the free practice of other religeions is morally wrong. So wrong in fact that the fact should be noted in the document of final arbitration.

Adultry, taking the lords name in vain, and being rude to your parents may be considered bad form as it where but are not considered illegal. The last one about honouring your mother and father requires some careful thought in considering what a strict reading actually implies. to me it suggests following their orders qithout question, but what if said orders are themselves illegal. Is a child that is being abused dishonouring their parents if they report the abuse? Morally I'd have to say no, taking the commandment literally I'm not certain of the answer.

Then we come to the idea of working on the Sabbath, and coveting of goods. Both of these seem to be part and parcel of capitalism. A good chunk of our economic activity is based on coveting and encouraging others to covet. On the whole we seem to have settled that coveting, while bad in excess, is necessary in moderation. Without it international trade would all but grid to a halt. Ditto for research and development, which is based on wanting to know and wanting to create.

So overall are we a Christian society then? One third of the ten commandments cannot be enforced because to do so would be against either the constitution or the established conventions of our society. The breaking of another third are either encouraged, tolerated or seen as a personal matters. This leaves only 1/3 which remain codified in law, and these are so common to the human race that they can hardly be called Christian values. So all in all I think that the idea that we are still a nation built on Christian ideals is demonstrably false.

Then there are the many other points which we have made moral judgements on, but which the ten commandments are silent on. Chief among these is slavery. the then commandment eplicitly prohibits you from coveting your neighbours slaves (some transaltions say servant). This implied that your neighbour, and you, might actually own slaves. Similarly no mention is made of universal suffrage, racial or gender equality. Worst still the bible is consistently sexist, implicitly racist (certainly in the old testament), and has historically been used to justify the divine right of certain individuals over others. And yet our values say that these three things are important. Again we appear to be post Christian rather then Christian in our prevailing world view.