Archive for the ‘fun’ Tag

Deep Philosophy in a Fist Fight Among Comic Book Heroes

So I read this article the other day. It’s a fluff piece by an otherwise fairly serious, business-oriented online publication. The premise is that two authors are opining on which of Captain America or Iron Man is right in their conflict over the Sokovia Accords in the Captain America: Civil War movie. Bottom line is that the Accords require the super-powered Avengers to register with the government and become government employees, or face arrest. Naturally, some of them (Cap’s team) object, where some (Iron Man’s group) capitulate. The movie is essentially a huge fight among the factions. (There’s also quite an extensive body of work in the comic books on this topic, but the article focuses only on the movie.) The contributing writers to this article are glib and humor-focused and it’s a quick, fun read. 

But after reading it, I spent a lot more time thinking about the subject and some of the proffered arguments than I expected to from such a topic. The writers assume a lot about their readers, expecting them to know a lot of the details that the article glosses over or leaves out altogether. And they reduce the topic, essentially, to a question of logic vs. emotion, heart vs. ego. 

I think it deserves a bit more than that, though. 

Travis Clark takes up the argument for Iron Man’s point of view. Basically, Iron Man/Tony Stark is pro Accords, saying regulation is inevitable and the Avengers’ activities need government oversight and sanction. Clark’s apologistic premise is that the Accords are essentially gun control: the Avengers’ powers are weapons that require government regulation, especially given that the Avengers are as much a menace to public safety as they are a help to the victims of the super villains they oppose. 

In my opinion, this view oversimplifies the Avengers’ abilities to “weapons” while at the same time overemphasizing non-powered individuals’ safety interests, sacrificing the Avengers’ individual agency to a romanticized vision of public safety. 

Imagine: what would happen if the super-powered heroes didn’t exist or weren’t there when a super villain attacked? All the public safety concerns (deaths, injuries, destruction) feared from super-powered fights would come to pass, only more devastating because of the added tyranny and evil that goes unopposed. 

In other words, it is unfair and illogical to equate the hero with the villain, and specious to claim that damage done in the course of fighting evil is solely the fault of the heroes. Had the evil-doer not attacked, acting out of evil intent, none of that damage would have been wrought. Blaming those who bear a burden to oppose evil for the damage evil causes is repugnant and wrong. 

That’s not to say recklessly endangering lives and property in order to “save” them isn’t equally wrong. But what is reckless or not in the situations the Avengers face can’t be measured on the same scale a parent uses to adjudge the recklessness of a new teenaged driver’s first fender-bender. Blindly submitting the use (or not) of their super human powers to the will of a government body on which they have no effective representation, and which is peopled entirely by non-powered bureaucrats, would be reckless. Engaging in a fight of evil only when a partisan interest is threatened would be reckless disregard of duty. But fighting evil when it threatens in equal measure and with equal prejudice (violence) is not, of itself, reckless. 

Carrie Wittmer, the other author in this article, advances Captain America’s argument. Cap’s take is that human governments have proven to be too vulnerable and unreliable and those who bear the burden of wielding these powers must also bear the burden of deciding how and when to wield them. He thinks the Avengers can’t afford to ignore threats the way partisan governments do. Wittmer agrees, arguing that as people (super-human, alien, Demi-god, what have you) the Avengers are individuals with will and agency. They can’t be fairly compared to guns, access to which needs to be controlled. 

And she argues that Cap’s distrust in government is well placed. Both the situation in Cap’s own origin story movie and in the events in Age of Ultron that lead to the Sokovia Accords being proffered are proof enough of that. Had Cap not acted of his own accord and saved both Buckey and the soldiers being held prisoner, Hydra and the Red Skull would have had free run and destroyed all the world cities identified on the bomb ships carrying the Tesseract Weapons. Had the Avengers not acted to blow up the Sokovia city before it could fall back to Earth, the resultant blast would have wiped out exponentially more of the world than that doomed city (which they evacuated before destroying it). 

My view is aligned with Captain America and Wittmer: personal agency, the right to choose, individual liberty and the right to be free from servitude, and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of innate characteristics, these are much more meaningful, substantive and supportable reasons than the comparatively weak public safety argument made by the Iron Man camp. For me, the argument is that slavery in the guise of employment regulation is no means to the ostensible end of public safety. Rather, it’s creating property out of the in-born, accidentally produced, or purchased (Iron Man) abilities of individual persons. People aren’t property. And imprisonment as the only alternative is no choice at all. 

So what’s the solution? I don’t know, given certain outcomes shown in the Avengers: Infinity War movie that opened last weekend. (It’s awesome, by the way, go see it!) But here’s one, admittedly flimsy and un-detailed, idea:  why can’t Dr. Strange (the Watcher and wielded of the arcane arts) be a broker between the UN and the Avengers? He’s smart and has the power to control time, so he could test the possible outcomes of proposed deals. He could help them find an arrangement that balances public safety with the supers’ freedom and agency, so that they don’t have to choose between becoming property or prisoners, and the world gets a say in how it is defended or protected by those who have these powers. Each camp is represented and no one is enslaved. That’s a win-win. 

And that’s some pretty deep philosophy in all that comic book nonsense. 

That was fun. I hope you have a great week and find something fun and challenging to keep your mind working. 

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Some things 

I’m working on a substantive post (possibly with contributions from another blogger, too!), but it’s not ready yet. Yet I don’t want to break my posting streak, so here’s a quick list of some things that should tide us all over until I can get the other one written. 

  1. I’m very glad to have the first quarter behind me. After weeks of 12+ hour days and everything being an emergency (sales guys seem to think any moment that their deal isn’t my sole purpose in life is a moment of deep crisis), I was very glad to close the books on Q1 on Friday. It was supposed to be on Thursday, but of course there always has to be at least one that drags on and on. I’m hoping to have a quiet week to catch up on everything that got pushed aside in the last few weeks, but I don’t count it as likely. 
  2. Went to see Ready Player One over the weekend. I had really enjoyed the book and was hopeful that the movie wouldn’t ruin it. Glad to say that I enjoyed the movie just as much. While the movie changes a lot from the book, my personal opinion is that the story’s core is in tact and the action was fun. Definitely recommend!
  3. I started a bullet journal. It’s a new endeavor for me and I’m not entirely sure I’m doing it “right”. However, I have it set up and a week’s worth of jottings down. Time will tell if I can keep it and the blog going at the same time and whether the radically different writing style will contribute or detract from my skill and productivity as a writer. (Clearly, it hasn’t done anything so far to deter from rambling run-on sentences. 😉)
  4. Although it’s much colder today than I’d hoped, there are definite signs of spring all over the place and I couldn’t be happier. I’m so ready for new growth and a little warmth. My SIL’s tulips are beginning to emerge, my grass is beginning to green, and the songbirds are back in my trees. I love this time of year. Actually, I love the turn of all seasons. Change keeps us on our toes and reminds us that life is always moving ahead. Springtime in particular brings this message, with the renewal of leaves and grass, rebirth of flowers and wild things. I find it hard not to be hopeful in the spring. 

Happy Spring to all of you. I hope you find good things in your every day to make you feel positive and hopeful. 

Dobby is freeeeeee!!

Ok, so I’m no house elf. But it still feels amazing to be free of work in the middle of the day and middle of the week. Leaving my office when the sun is still up, much less high enough in the sky to need shades, is far too rare for me. 

I’m taking a few days off to visit a friend. Three whole days of nothing but hanging with a pal and having fun. No hoops to jump through, no corporate nonsense, no litigation demands, no sales people demanding my time, no crises to avert. Just leisure. 

Board games, yum things to eat, a movie, Butch bro time, and new friends to meet. This is gonna be epic!

Have a great week and weekend and find time to do something just for you!

Ultra-quick Positives

3 good things:

  1. Yesterday, there was sunshine and it got above 50F for the first time in months. I left my office early enough to enjoy the last rays. It was so warm walking to my truck that I took my coat off and enjoyed the warm for a few minutes. 
  2. I got to see The Black Panther movie. It’s awesome!
  3. Tomorrow is my birthday and I’m taking the day off. Going to get my hairs cut and hang out at the bookstore and go out for dinner to this really cool place in the hip part of town. Just gonna chill and enjoy the day. 

I hope you find some good things to feel happy about this week. 

Odds & Ends

Whelp…looks like I missed on the post-a-week target again. Ugh. 

Here are some random thoughts from my work-stressed and scattered brain:

  • May the Fourth Be With You – a silly, silly play on words that never fails to make me giggle. I am, of course, wearing my R2D2 bow tie and “May the Force Be With You” spinner ring for the occasion. 
  • I am now convinced that my work computer has become sentient and developed a sick affinity for making me lose my mind. It only has to implement mandatory updates when I’m on a deadline. It only experiences slow-downs or crashes when I have unsaved work on my screen. And it loses network connectivity only when it is critical that I remain connected to access resources necessary for my deadline-driven, unsaved-progress-generating projects. This vindictive nascent AI is winning in its game of chicken with my last nerve. 😦
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is opening this week!!!! Can’t wait. This movie kicks off the summer blockbuster season and I’m so excited! I hope I get to see them all!
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is becoming an obsession. It was a belated birthday gift to myself and I love it. I’m absurdity proud when I beat a boss or solve a puzzle without resorting to a guide or walk-through. I’ve been a Zelda fan for forever. I’m old-school in that I am convinced beyond persuasion that Ocarina of Time is the best Zelda game of all time. But this one is in a league of its own. Such a rich, open world to explore! The 15 minutes to an hour of play I get on a good day during the week only makes my obsession spiral. It’s a great game, try it if you can!
  • It’s the little joys in life that make it special. I hope you find a pun or a movie or a game or some other little nugget of fun to bring some light and happiness to your day. 😎🙏✌️👊

I’m baaaaaack!

So…hi. It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Life has a way of running inexorably on and suddenly it’s been 3 months and only feels like a couple weeks. Sheesh. 

Anyway, I’ve been trying to write and failing epically. I’m my own worst critic, true, but I think the issue is more basic:  I feel that I have to have something deep and meaningful, or worldly wise, or Earth-shakingly original to post in order to be worthy of publishing here. I’m completely baffled how that idea got into my head, but it’s been a barrier for a while. 

Yet, this is my blog and I started it for me. I made this a place for my own thoughts and expressing them in my own voice. I’m honored that my writing has attracted readers. But that was never the primary purpose. I need to get back to that original goal. 

So I’m giving myself permission to just post anything I feel like sharing. It may be a rant on something irritating, a list of positive things, something that makes me think, or smile, or just some random oddity that I find interesting. I’ve seen a few of my favorite bloggers do this periodically and it seems to work for them. So I’m giving it a go. 

I hope you enjoy the nearly uncensored view into my brain that this is likely to turn into. I also hope that I can keep up a somewhat regular posting pace. Because I like this blogging thing and the feeling of connecting that I get from sharing something from my brain to the internets. 😜
So, for today, three good things:

  1. I’m posting to my blog, which WordPress tells me just turned 4 years old. My ambition is to post at least one thing a week for the rest of the year. 
  2. Spring is here in the Midwest US. Green things are starting to grow. My SIL’s tulips have already pushed 3 inches of leaves out of the soil. So happy to see life return. I’m including a picture of the sunrise from the first day of Spring that I took on my drive to work. It was a good way to start the day. 
  3. I went to see Beauty and the Beast with a friend last Friday night and absolutely LOVED it! Say what you will, but a good ol’ Disney story always leaves me smiling. I still find myself singing “Be Our Guest” in my head. That was pure escapist fun and I’m glad I went. 

I hope you all find more than a few good things to smile about today. 

April Means Spring 

Well, I pretty much neglected this blog in March. Kind of a shame, following such a good effort in February. But, it’s April now, springtime on the American prairie. Since spring means renewal and fresh starts, I’m treating April as another fresh start to blogging. I’m setting a loose goal of weekly posts. We’ll see how that goes. 

Today started of epically Monday-ish, with a full iPhone reset/restore and non-functioning badge readers at work. But things picked up and it turned into a productive day that I’m proud of. 

One good thing about today (and many days over the last few weeks) has been the steady stream of compliments I’ve received since my video segment aired at the all-employee meeting on St. Patric’s day. I was quite nervous when HR and the film crew showed up in my office unexpectedly to film a short employee engagement video to be shown to the entire company. But it turned out to be really fun and they edited it so well that it wasn’t totally cringe-inducing to see myself on the screen. 

Since the meeting and after the video was uploaded to my company’s intranet, I’ve received dozens of enthusiastic compliments from folks near and far in my company, saying how much they enjoyed it and how much they admire my bow ties. 😎 How cool is that!? 

Folks appreciate that an executive can be fun and funny for the employees and is relatable through something as quirky as a fun bow tie. That’s a very good thing! 

29 Days: Lazy Saturday 

Well, I didn’t spend the whole day in my pjs. 

Had a slow start, spent some time watching tv, and then dressed & went to the shop for a few minutes before going with my brother and sister in law to our monthly supper club. We have a group of art friends that we get together with once a month. We rotate picking the restaurant.  It’s usually really fun and the food is usually an adventure. 

Tonight was fun. The conversation was interesting and non-controversial. That’s good, especially since there are elections coming up and a few of our number are vocal, nay, rabid when discussing politics. We had a nice meal, good visit and enjoyed each other’s company. A fine Saturday all around–one very good thing. 

29 Days: Movie Star

So this just happened:  Came back to my office to find HR and a camera crew waiting for me. Before I could panic, the HR rep smiled and said they were shooting clips for an employee engagement video for our upcoming all-employee meeting and they wanted to include me. Scary, yet oddly flattering. 

Everyone set up, hooked me up with a mic and started with some mild silliness. Rapid fire questions and no small amount of giggling by both me and HR’s “secret agent” ensued. I got to talk about my job, yes, but also about movies, my BB8 droid on my desk, and bow ties! Awesome!

I was nervous at first, but everyone was nice, patient, and funny. The whole thing turned out fun. I hope it is still fun after it’s seen by the whole company next month and not a total cringe-fest. Yikes! 😳

The Runner

Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

Today’s Prompt: Go to a local café, park, or public place and write a piece inspired by something you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.

— — — — —

I’m beginning to believe what my grandmother once said to me in fit of pique when I was 8 years old, that I’m just a “contrarian”. At least as it relates to strict rules of writing and grammar. Like this exercise, removing adverbs, showing not telling. How incredibly irritating. (Yes, that’s telling, not showing. I know. I get it. I don’t care.) Rules that seem to have no purpose other than to be a rule and have the effect of making my written voice stilted, embroidered with unnecessary detail and old-fashioned make me want to stab something.

I’ve worked rather hard to keep my written voice in line with my spoken voice. I want my writing to speak in ink or pixels as my lips and vocal chords do. That means that some of the rigid grammar rules get roughed up on occasion in my writing. But at least no one can reasonably draw the conclusion from my written word that I speak like a Victorian dictionary.

And, yes, I know the maxim that you must learn and master the rules before you have license to break them. B. S.

There is a place for formal, rule-following in writing. I’m careful to do so in my professional communications and reports, analyses and opinions. But when writing of life, especially my life, I don’t want people to focus on my grammar proficiency. I want folks to get my drift right away and come with me on the journey. For me, colloquial phrases, easy (if imperfect) grammar are the essential tools.

With that little temper tantrum over, however, I’ll give it a shot. I may not succeed in excising all adverbs, but I’ll try to show you something, rather than tell you about it.

— — — — —

I have to stop myself from chortling out loud every time I see him. But I can’t keep from silent giggles when no one can see. I don’t know him, don’t even know his name. But I watch for him every day, smiling every time he comes into view.

Face alight with energy and concentration, he runs as if stung by angry bees from his car to the front door of the office building every day. Yet his elated jounces shout to the world: “I’m not late, just happy!” A wild shock of sandy hair flips hither and yon on his forehead with every step. Briefcase and coffee mug held out from his body to avoid bumps and spills, he gambols, seemingly care-free, despite his speed. This awkward gait doesn’t make him clumsy. Indeed, I’ve often admired his balance over icy pavement, marveled at his arrival without a single drop spilled. Loose-jointed, rolling slightly from side to side, yet steady, he pelts across the parking lot as if treasure awaits him at his desk.

Those thirty seconds of observation every mid-morning bring me a tiny moment of levity and mystery. Why does he run? What is he thinking about with such energy? Would he mind that I think he’s hilarious in his morning commute?

A few minutes investigation would likely reveal his name, department and boss. I could find him and ask him. But that would spoil the mystery, steal the tiny moment of anonymous fun from my day. Instead, I’ll just keep wondering, filling in the blanks with my own wild speculation and enjoy the fun.

— — — — —

So, I was right. It’s full of adverbs. I think that’s what description is for me. I may never succeed at the type of fictional prose advocated by this rule of style. But I don’t think I’ll mourn that loss to deeply.

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