My Least Favorite Trope (and this post will include spoilers for The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Matrix, Western Civilization, and—cod help me—Bulletproof Monk*.) is the thing where there’s an awesome, smart, wonderful, powerful female character who by all rights ought to be the Chosen One and the hero of the movie, who is tasked with taking care of some generally ineffectual male character who is, for reasons of wish fulfilment, actually the person the film focuses on. She mentors him, she teaches him, and she inevitably becomes his girlfriend… and he gets the job she wanted: he gets to be the Chosen One even though she’s obviously far more qualified. And all he has to do to get it and deserve it is Man Up and Take Responsibility.
And that’s it. Every god-damned time. The mere fact of naming the films above and naming the trope gives away the entire plot and character arc of every single movie.
I couldn’t agree more. I liked those films, but it would have been awesome if Peter Quill had been played more like Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China. A P.O.V. character who only thinks he’s the protagonist.
Caltech and The Feynman Lectures Website are pleased to present this online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Now, anyone with internet access and a web browser can enjoy reading a high quality up-to-date copy of Feynman’s legendary lectures.
“The dehumanizing idea that illness is connected to sin is a common feature of religious thinking about disease and sickness in general. Periods of crisis, like this one, may empower religious leaders to speak openly about the way that their traditions understand disease, but these explanations are not the product only of such exceptional moments of crisis. They are, rather, deep, long-lived, and fundamental aspects of how religious communities think about the sick among them. Both the leaders who present Ebola and other crises as divine punishment and the commentators who attribute this perspective to human nature under stress — and thereby excuse it — are participating in the perpetuation of a dangerous and destructive mode of thinking.”—
Joel Baden (professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale Divinity School) and Candida Moss (professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame), “Ebola Is Not God’s Wrath”, Slate
“What is elementary, worldly wisdom? Well, the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ‘em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form. You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.”—
Charlie Munger, “Elementary Worldly Wisdom” (speech)
“Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself.”—
Because the [religious] moderates are so nice we all are brought up with the idea that there’s something good about religious faith. That there’s something good about bringing children up to have a faith.
Which means to believe something without evidence and without the need for justifying it.
They’re entitled simply to say, “Oh, that’s my faith, I believe it, you’re not allowed to question it and you’re not allowed to ask me why I hold it.”
Once you teach people that that’s a legitimate reason for believing something then you as it were give a licence to the extremists who say, “My belief is that I’m supposed to be a suicide bomber or I’m supposed to blow up buildings – it’s my faith and you can’t question that.”
“It simply eludes [creationists] that science is a progressive endeavour, not handed down by rare authorities to be memorised and parroted like scripture, unchanged, untested and un-amended for centuries.”—Felix, comment on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ evolution”, WEIT
“When we look at the fossil record — and the genetic record, and the geological record, and the anatomical record, and every other record from every branch of science that supports the theory of evolution and investigates how it works — we don’t see any signs whatsoever of outside intervention. What we do see is exactly what we’d expect to see if evolution were an entirely natural process, proceeding one generation at a time.”—
“Well: here is the answer to de Waal’s question. Some atheists are evangelical because religious claims about the universe are false, because children are brainwashed into the ancient superstitions of their parents and communities, because many religious organisations and movements have been and continue to be anti-science, anti-gays and anti-women, because even if people are no longer burned at the stake they are still stoned to death for adultery, murdered for being “witches” or abortion doctors, blown up in large numbers for being Shias instead of Sunnis… One could go on at considerable length about the divisions, conflicts, falsehoods, coercions, disruptions, miseries and harm done by religion, though the list should be familiar; except, evidently, to de Waal.”—
A. C. Grayling, “Apes and atheism”, a review of Franz de Waal’s The Bonobo and the Atheist,Prospect
If someone is doing the Internet equivalent of being a big-mouthed braggart and posting an article with the screaming title, “10 Absurdly Famous People You Probably Don’t Know Enough About” you would expect them to at least get their historical facts right, wouldn’t you? Well you would be wrong at least as far as “absurdly famous” person number seven is concerned, Galileo Galilei. Tim Urban the author of this provocative article on the ‘Wait But Why’ blog appears to think that history of science is something that you make up as you go along based on personal prejudice mixed up with some myths you picked up some night whilst drunk in a bar. Having not had a real go at somebody else’s terrible history of science for sometime now and not having deflated my favourite punching bag, Galileo or rather the hagiographic imbeciles who write about him, for even longer I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and correct Mr Urban’s little piece as it were a high school term paper.
“Any person who tries to intimidate members of our community with threats or harassment is in no way my ally and is only weakening the atheist movement by silencing its voices and driving away support.”—