Wednesday, August 31, 2005

... unfortunate

went to go see unleashed last night (God bless cheap tuesdays!) and about fifteen minutes into the movie both sound and picture failed. (much hubbub around the theatre...) picture was restored about a minute later, but sound not for about five minutes, during which muzak - sorry oasis ("don't look back in anger"?), i always mistake them for muzak - was playing. ironically, it kind of matched what was showing onscreen.

excellent to see bob hoskins in a movie again, even though he was so thoroughly malicious. jet li competent as always, fight scenes superb (first of the end credits was to yuen wo-ping for fight choreography), and morgan freeman subdued in his supporting role.

jet li has hit an interesting groove with his english-language movies (romeo must die, the one, kiss of the dragon, cradle 2 the grave, and unleashed). interesting characters, and while the stories are, on the whole, fairly predictable, each works to be quite entertaining as a whole. having never been able to see many of his chinese films, i'm looking forward to giving my dvd player a good workout at some stage renting some chinese dvds with subtitling going on (the subtitles are almost as entertaining as the films!).

very violent. excellent fight scene with token white martial arts dude (who i'm sure someone will be able to tell me is some world champion or something or other) in a small toilet adjacent to a bathroom in which similarly token female was showering until she was terrified by the fight that burst into her quiet little artistic world.

big kudos to kerry condon, who was excellent as the de facto sister/love interest (victoria) for jet li (danny). one to watch out for.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

... and you'll miss it

i met dave for coffee last week, and as we discussed the various things going on in our lives, he pulled out a book called blink. the thesis of the book is that there are a whole host of decisions that human beings make on a day-to-day basis without necessarily consciously knowing how or why we come to those decisions. examples were given of "priming" (giving a person particular stimuli that gear thought processes toward a particular approach to a subsequent situation) and snap-judgements (like an art critic looking at a ten-million-dollar statue and recognising it as a fake... without knowing why he knows that, or articulating a reason).

it's not a hard book to read - i finished it in under five hours or reading yesterday - and it's kind of strange because i've always had a theory that the things we learn by reflex are often more... useful? helpful to thinking? i don't quite know what i'm saying.

example: i firmly believe that rote learning of times tables is intrinsically helpful to learning and understanding algebra. i also suspect that it helps in understanding chemical equations in high school science as well. i have no hard data to support my theory, except that of the people i went to school with, and the people i've tried to help with their homework, the ones who needed little help with algebra were ones who knew their times tables. from the little i've read about neurophysiology and other psych- and neuro-sciences, the learning that happens early in our lives has a lot to do with how easily and what kinds of skills we learn later in life.

so the snap judgements discussed in the book made a lot of sense to me. they might make sense to you too. it's worth reading. i wish i could remember the author's name.

thank you google! malcolm gladwell - think - the power of thinking without thinking

Sunday, August 21, 2005

... top five

after seeing a friend's blog entry i was moved to quote alice:
"i weep for you," the walrus said: "i deeply sympathise..."

and in said vein, a quick top 5 from me:

1. drivers seem to be given a licence to solipsism along with one for their car these days. they seem to think they're the only people of consequence on the move in this city, and as a dedicated pedestrian and public transport user, i'd like a 193 number to which i can txt the licence plate numbers of anyone i feel unfit to be driving a car.

2. we have brilliant public transport in sydney, but all i ever hear are complaints. don't you get to where you're going? that's one better than a lot of users of public transport elsewhere around the world. given the complexity of the network, i'm amazed it doesn't all slip sideways into a parallel universe at some critical juncture (as i'm sure some people think their urgent connection already has!). get a book; get a walkman; learn to snooze standing up; get an earlier bus/train/ferry if you have to.

3. we don't need a desalination plant. we need a more mature approach to the use of water in this city. i read an article in a newspaper a little while back which talked about the author growing up in western nsw and occasionally being allowed to have a "sydney bath", which consisted of water about three inches deep in the tub. wow! three inches! we can use less: we just have to think more. (oh, yes, i see the problem with that...)

4. winter's too warm, the rest of the year is too humid. did sydney move a thousand or so kilometres north without anyone being told?

5. people in sydney seem about as friendly as prisoners in a maximum security gaol. eye contact is taken as aggressive or critical, and heaven help you if you smile at someone: people cross the street, or do that scrunched up eyes plus raised eyebrows plus frown thing (as if they're trying to pass a really difficult... umm... exam). my experience of other cities around the traps (and i know i'm not the most travelled of bods, but i can only speak from my limited experience) is that a smile will often produce a smile back. it's not that hard. people who know me will agree (i think) that i'm not necessarily a natural optimist (my half full glass is usually half empty, and a good deal smaller than i thought it was to begin with), but when i see people smiling, my first impulse is to smile as well. i have to admit, i don't usually wonder why they're smiling (so that t-shirt phrase, smile - it makes people wonder what you've been up to doesn't necessarily point to me), but i'm almost always glad that they're smiling. sydneysiders generally seem to be preoccupied with everything else to the exclusion of serendipity. maybe it's just me.

not very quick, i suppose. (i'm sure i've been sitting here for half an hour... i guess i'm not really that riled about it all...) but there you go.

i really should get a move on on that book meme i got tagged to do...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

... finished

just finished the cybernetic samurai and boy, i'd forgotten what a good read it is. (and who would have thought that tokugawa was darth vader's father...?)

thank you victor milàn... and thank you alices at north carlton, victoria. most helpful.

Friday, August 19, 2005

... forgiven

sometimes there are days when i feel... unlovable. not because i think that i'm unlovable, but because i've become... aware of my own sinfulness. anything can trigger it - i hear a song on the radio, or a commercial, or hear a snatch of conversation... or for one reason or another i'm reminded of things i've said or done that i know have been wrong, that i know have been offensive to God. i feel that i am unlovable to God, that he will turn his face from me and no measure of tears, no sea change in living will turn his face back to me again.

and yet i know that that's not true. my heart is so full of bitterness and hate i'm turned against myself and made to forget - sometimes for an instant, sometimes for what feels like an age - what my head knows with utter certainty:

"that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." [romans 8:38-39]

and that:

"if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. if we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." [1 john 1:8-10]

it's easy to have these in our heads but not grasp them in our hearts. when we know what we are supposed to do and do not do it, the power of sin can create in us a tremendous sense of guilt that distorts everything inside us. yes, our sin has repercussions, but i think that if i could have lost my salvation, i would have done so before now, and those words of paul in romans would be no comfort for me now, no point of arrest in my downward spiral of self-loathing and self-pity. yet they are such words, comfortable and giving me pause. if i could lose my salvation so easily, could i not have won it by my own efforts? i don't know for sure - not for dead certain, i don't think: i'm still turning it over in my head and wrestling with it in my heart - but my increasing suspicion is that my role in my conversion was to confess the truth that Jesus is my Lord and i am not. full stop. my role in my sanctification is to trust, obey, and repent at all stages. and my role in my glorification is to turn up and praise God for his justice and mercy and love.


so what made me think of this? the band, sons of korah. their album, redemption songs, is an awesome collection of psalms set to contemporary music, and their version of psalm 32 is an awesome and touching reminder to me that i could not pay for my freedom from slavery to sin - i was redeemed by one who could: the LORD.

psalm 32: forgiven
of david. a maskil

blessed is he who is forgiven
who sins are covered
blessed is he

whose sin the LORD won't count against him
in whose spirit there is no deceit

when i was silent i wasted away
through all my groaning
every night and day

your hand was heavy upon me
my strength was weakened
as in the summer heat

and then i acknowledged my sin to you
and i didn't cover my iniquity

i said "i'll confess my sin to you"
and you forgave me the guilt of my sin

so let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found
while you may be found

and then surely when the mighty waters rise
they will not reach him
they won't reach him

you are my hiding place
and you protect me
and you surround me
with redemption songs

redemption songs

Thursday, August 18, 2005

... book

when i was in high school i read a novel called the cybernetic samurai, by victor milan (the "a" has a accent grave, but i can't remember how to put it in). it was about the birth of a machine intelligence named TOKUGAWA, and of course, as in all SF stories about such things, humans try to pull the plug and hijinks ensue.

i've been looking for it second-hand for about fifteen years.


(thank you, ohmintsofa!)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

... sin city

went to see sin city last night... very interesting movie. i've always loved what i've read of the comics, and i'm very much thinking about buying them now i've seen the movie. it was like watching a comic book come to life - everything that the batman/spiderman/x-men resurgence should be but isn't quite achieving. my greatest hope is that with the awesomely successful delivery of sin city to the screen, we will sooner than later see grendel on the big screen as well. that might be a long bow to draw, but it's what i think.

one of the things that surprised me most about the film was how little i was involved in it. the very medium of cinema means that without distractions - a ringing phone, dogs barking outside, needing to check up on the oven - it is possible to be more fully immersed in the film you're watching than in virtually any other mode of viewing. maybe vr will one day approach this, but that's mindstorm territory and i'm not about to go there today. so it felt a bit strange that i felt so little pull to enter the movie.

i did film study at university for a while, so i'm pretty well able to dissociate myself from many things i view, but that's usually against a pull to enter the world of the movie. i didn't feel that pull at all with sin city. rather, the very artificiality of its look, the outlandish story, and persistent voice-over narration all combined to make it somethign watched rather than something one became caught up in.

don't get me wrong. there were gasps and laughs aplenty. bold, stark characters of unspoken origin and intent. the closest i think we have to this in any other film so far was in detective story in the animatrix.

very good film technically. hard to believe it was all shot against green screen, but it really couldn't have been done any other way. story wise - there's nothing edifying about this movie. Christians beware - this film is a descent into the sinful nature in a way that makes me personally glad that i have been brought into the kingdom of God, and which (if it has a grain of truth at all) confirms my bitter and pessimistic view of human nature. sin city is well-named, a great and terrible film.

two thumbs up.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

... devotion

just got back from devotion. singing was great as always, and there were more people there tonight than i've seen since i've been going. very encouraging.

it's good to have such ecumenical events like devotion (which i've misspelt every time i've typed it in this post). next month, on the first weekend in the month, is the big exoday event, and devotion, which usually meets on the first saturday in the month, will be going to that instead, and meeting on september 10 and not september 3. it's also where united are going to be recording their new live album (apparently) so it'd be an interesting thing to go along to. i just might be there.

i've been so tired this week, but it was good to hear "it's great that you made it" when i was chatting after devotion tonight. i didn't hang around long, and i'm heading home from this internet cafe now, after i post this.

devotion is a big word. you don't hear it used a lot these days, and i think it's because it's regarded with a bit of suspicion. i mean, if you're devoted to something or someone, then you're going to be focussed on that more than anything else (i suppose). which means, unless you're devoted to tolerance, your very devotion is going to alienate you from some people.

but even those who claim to be devoted to tolerance, to the idea that everyone's opinions are worthwhile and have an intrinsic value because they're opinions held by a living breathing person (i think this is the thinking (if much) behind the idea), even these people are very often completely intolerent of those who aren't similarly devoted to tolerance.

i rather suspect that it has something to do with responsibility. that if tolerance is to be the universal law, all action has value. taken to the logical extreme, then, any action is valid if it forms an integral part of a person's worldview and not provable to be a whim. how can this kind of view prevail in a nation that respects the rule of law? doesn't rule of law mean that there are things that a society does not tolerate? doesn't "tolerance" therefore inevitably lead to a relativism that white-ants respect for the rule of law and then allow for the corruption of that system into uselessness and self-aggrandisement?

responsibility, on the other hand, accepts difference exists, but does not deify it. responsibility accepts the rule of law, and a variety of rule exists where responsibility is instrinsic to those systems. where responsibility for enforcement of rule of law is surrendered (willingly or not) to the state, the same handwashing as that encouraged by tolerance occurs - again, not what a healthy society needs.

the midst of these two extremes is where the devotion sung about and prayed about at devotion is to be found - forgiveness. i guess i'd like to be devoted to forgiveness. i know it's why i'm still here, walking and talking and typing on this earth. without it, i'd have been dead in a bathtub 15 years ago, not here right now.

i'm tired and i'm rambling, but i think i might have the tail of a thought nailed down here. it's wriggling a bit, and hopefully the lizard it was attached to hasn't got away. pray that i'll be able to sort it out, get it down on paper or something.

Friday, August 05, 2005

... astonished (when i shouldn't be)

we were looking at romans 9 last night, considering the sovereignty of God along with paul, as he effectively makes a nonsense of the (seeming) conflict between God's choosing of people outside of their opinion, and our responsibility for our own actions. it made me think a bit about my relationship with God and whence it came.

years ago, not long after i decided to trust God with my eternal life, if i was asked how i'd become a Christian i would say that God knew me so well that when the time came he arranged things so that my natural choice would be to choose his will for my life over my own. he knew i would choose him when the time came. if i am asked now how i became a Christian i say that God chose me for himself before he created the world, and he enabled me to choose his will for my life, and he continues to make me more and more like Jesus.

there is a difference here, not unlike between the "deep magic" and the "deeper magic", in the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. the deep magic refers only to what we can see for ourselves. the witch knew that a substitution could be made by an innocent for one who was guilty (aslan for edmund), but she did not know that by doing that aslan did not have to be bound by the ordinary rules for that punishment. the life he laid down for edmund he was free to take up again.

when i first became a Christian, i thought i understood the "deep magic" of the relationship i have been reborn into; as a more mature Christian i know realise (in my more insightful moments) just how little of the "deeper magic" i understand.

when it comes down to it, understanding is a blessing not everyone receives, and not always in the same measure. understanding is a gift from God - but it pales into insignificance beside the gift of salvation that we have from him. we should not be ignorant about it, but full understanding of it is not needed to glorify God with our love and obedience.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

... tired

not terribly marvellous that someone should be tired, but i'm surprised at how much moving my bed ninety degrees seems to have changed my sleeping patterns. i'm finding it incredibly difficult to get to sleep, although whether that's things in my mind needing to be thought, or just junk being defragged by my brain, i have no idea.

the frames all got sorted out, and my wardrobey thing is working fine. i need to reorganise my desk space, and get an anti-draught curtainy thing set up for my verandah doors... maybe i'll sleep better then.

but work awaits.

(thanks madam dragonfly for letting me post your link!)

Monday, August 01, 2005

... tidying up

in my never-ending quest to be less weighed down by stuff (yet still maintaining a measure of stuff to live comfortably with), i went to howard's storage world to get some elfa frames to match the ones i already have (which i inherited from my dear departed dad's dear departed (bankrupt) video shop business). the ones i have are probably about 20-25 years old - i'm sure they weren't new when dad bought them - but the age of my frames were not even in my thoughts.

i lugged the enormous bag home (with all of five items inside, including "across the nightingale floor" and a bonus book, matthew reilly's "hell island", which he wrote as a giveaway for the 2005 books alive push here in australia), put the frame i'd bought together, only to find when i was joining it all up that my old frames are 35mm too shallow front-to-back as you slide in the drawer!!!

well, i wasn't a terribly happy camper with this, given that i'd already worked out that morning that buying cheap frames from ikea wasn't going to work because their frames are too narrow for my old basket to fit into lengthways, so hsw was going to be the only place for me to easily get to, to get my elfa frames. i ended up buying another frame, returning the hanging rod connector for a refund and making arrangements to get a different style hanging rod connector from hsw in hornsby.


and i still have tidying up to do after i fix those, because all the moving around required me to disconnect my computer, and i have to type out the Bible study i wrote for youth group...