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Comment author: gwern 02 January 2016 02:51:43AM 5 points [-]
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (enjoyable while you're watching it, but dissatisfaction starts as the credits end. I largely agree with Harrison Searles's review. Problems: remake of A New Hope which refuses to admit it's a remake but pretends to be a sequel undercuts previous trilogy, is nonsensical, and lacks any suspense - who didn't see Han Solo being killed off like 20 minutes before he died, because his parallel with Obi-wan Kenobi was so unsubtle?; Abrams's style of movie-making is unbearably light and facile, to the point where blowing up multiple planets doesn't even register emotionally - and how did that particular scene even make sense? does this whole movie take place in a single solar system or something? - on top of the absurdly fast cutting which means you've forgotten half the movie before you've finished walking out of the theater; protagonist is a Mary Sue; the antagonist is risible - apparently the true power of the Dark Side is not anger & aggression but pomade & petulance, and I certainly cannot imagine being intimidated by Adam Driver intoning "if only you knew the pouter of the Dark Side" since he looks like he should be more concerned about acne & dates than agents & droids (remarkably, Driver is actually 32 years old); special effects are overly dominant except where they exhibit a bizarre lack of imagination/ambition, as no space battle in it is remotely as awe-inspiring as Return's Endor fleet battle or Revenge's opening Coruscant fleet battle, and even the lightsaber battles are a major letdown; no dialogue is particularly memorable, and the mish-mash of scenes borrowed from the earlier films winds up destroying any kind of mythic effect or drama. Was BB-8 the only original and genuinely good part of the movie? Entirely possible. In the end, it is just another Abrams movie: slick, SFX-heavy, and as substantial & satisfying as movie theater popcorn. In a way, it makes me long for the prequel trilogy; as barmy as opening a movie with tax disputes was or including Jar Jar Binks, Lucas at least tried for more than mediocrity & repetition. Let us hope that this is analogous to Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0: a movie made dull & unoriginal because the new financial backer is worried about losing the investment, but as it made so much money, they could afford to be more interesting in 2.0.)
Comment author: gattsuru 06 January 2016 01:42:50AM 1 point [-]

Abrams's style of movie-making is unbearably light and facile, to the point where blowing up multiple planets doesn't even register emotionally - and how did that particular scene even make sense? does this whole movie take place in a single solar system or something?

The Starkiller Base is described as a hyperspace weapon, while the target locations were (supposedly) all in one location, and Expanded Universe physics allow bleedoff of energy or physical interaction between objects moving within hyperspace and normal space (though never for anything interesting to my knowledge). This is kinda goofy, but you're in a Star Wars setting so it's not unreasonably so.

On the other hand, the use of planets to pull the projectiles out of hyperspace doesn't really make sense with how the Falcon breaks through the base's shields, so they don't do a terribly good job of staying with or explaining those rules in the film, and it's horrible at actually passing the impact of what is supposed to be billions of people dying.

I wasn't too put off by the protagonist's Mary Suedom, since she's Corran-Horn level at worst, but agreed with most of the other complaints and frustrations. It's also worth pointing out how extremely unsurprising the film is; even with the vast lows of the Expanded Universe, it picked not from its best moments and ideas but from many of its most unremarkable and boring.

Comment author: gattsuru 14 April 2015 01:55:55AM 0 points [-]

It's possible that he read it from Harry's mind. Snape is a powerful legilimens, does not believe that anything is cheating when he has to win, Harry had no protection or even deep knowledge of the technique, had to have been thinking of the answer, and hadn't thought to avert his gaze until later.

That said, Severus is more in tune with the Muggle world than most others in the setting, and in Chapter 61 we see Dumbledore treat him as an expert source on muggle technology :

"Severus?" the old wizard said. "What was it actually?" "A rocket," said the half-blood Potions Master, who had grown up in the Muggle town of Spinner's End. "One of the most impressive Muggle technologies."

Later in Chapter 18, we also see the phrase "Common sense is often mistaken for legilimency." Especially as a potions master and someone who retained an interest in muggle chemistry into adulthood, Snape does have more reason than most wizards to know this information. Harry also tends to overestimate both his knowledge, and both he and Quirrel tend to assume the victories of others come from innate differences rather than simple changes in planning or knowledge.

On the other hand, had Snape known that information, it would also mean he could have ended the world accidentally. Dunno what to make of that.

Comment author: seer 31 March 2015 04:59:09AM 6 points [-]

Ah, it's not really about locus of control: the context is destitute people falling ill due to contaminated food. It's more about situations where bad things happen that are not readily controlled or avoided due to lack of knowledge or circumstance.

So that's an argument for why it would be better if life were fair.

Comment author: gattsuru 31 March 2015 03:17:04PM -1 points [-]

So that's an argument for why it would be better if life were fair.

If the experienced observations were to look different. Stuck with the universe we've got, though...

Comment author: seer 30 March 2015 02:48:49AM 5 points [-]

"wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?"

I don't see what this quote is supposed to mean, besides a deep-wisdomy way of saying that you don't want to take responsibility for the consequences of your actions.

Comment author: gattsuru 30 March 2015 03:05:58PM 1 point [-]

I don't see what this quote is supposed to mean, besides a deep-wisdomy way of saying that you don't want to take responsibility for the consequences of your actions.

Ah, it's not really about locus of control: the context is destitute people falling ill due to contaminated food. It's more about situations where bad things happen that are not readily controlled or avoided due to lack of knowledge or circumstance.

The point of the quote is that it is no more comforting to be Job, and to have your family killed and everything taken from you because it is a deity's plan, than it is to be a moral nihilist who has your family killed and everything taken from you because the universe is a cold and unforgiving place. To many people, Job's deal is less desirable, because railing against the fundamental unfairness of the universe is a lot more socially condoned where a lot of deities are lightning-bolt-happy.

Comment author: Jiro 28 March 2015 08:07:32PM 4 points [-]

He's not fantasizing about he himself beheading atheists. What he's fantasizing about is subtly different: he's fantasizing about the idea that atheists will get beheaded because of their own atheism rebounding on them, so it's their own fault.

Comment author: gattsuru 29 March 2015 02:18:40AM 2 points [-]

Robertson doesn't strike me as a particularly scholarly thinker, but even less well-thought religious folk have confronted the problems of evil and tragedy. The story of Job is a common subject of discussion in churches and among religious folk, and it's always framed as horrible things happened to Job because of his belief in a deity and because of the deity. Christians aren't unused to the concept of bad things happened because of their faith rebounding on them.

He's fantasizing about the outside world giving 'indisputable proof' of external morality. The religious folk have /countless/ scenarios like this, and the better-spoken ones will explicitly call them tests of 'relative' morality.

There's a pretty easy response to Robertson's thought experiment even within that framing -- to borrow from Babylon 5's Marcus Cole, "wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?" -- but the state of promoted discussion by atheists is so terrible that Robertson's probably not aware of it.

Comment author: William_Quixote 12 March 2015 07:41:30PM *  13 points [-]

The question Harry asks Draco and Draco's final non answer seem like a reference to the book The Sunflower by Simon Weisenthal.

Simon was in a concentration camp and called to the bed of a dying SS officer who asked for forgiveness. He felt pulled to both forgiveness and to the justness of telling the nazi that what he had done was unforgivable. In the end he said nothing.

The book has Weisenthal discussing the dilemma and then 53 other people of note commenting on what they would have done ranging from the Dali Lama to Desmond Tutu.

Comment author: gattsuru 12 March 2015 08:37:41PM 3 points [-]

Also, whether Harry intended it or not, he gave two separate choices: whether Harry should stay away entirely, and whether Harry should be a friend that does not manipulate or risk harming Draco ever again. At least to some extent, Draco's refusal to respond reflects a disjoint answer to both questions, and has invited Harry to remain a friend that may manipulate or harm Draco for his own good.

Comment author: OphilaDros 12 March 2015 07:24:17PM *  7 points [-]

Mr. Counsel might have been Bartemius Crouch Jr.

Comment author: gattsuru 12 March 2015 08:00:47PM *  4 points [-]

Crouch, Nott, or Jugson, though I'd guess the latter more heavily -- Jugson's constantly in the center of the blood-purist aligned factions during one of the battle games, and mentioned as Dumbledore's example of a powerful Death Eater with a seat on the Wizengamot, as well.

Mr. White was selected for a particularly humiliating and harmful process, and coincidentally Quirrelmort had wanted to harm Lucius badly on the scale of framing him for attempted murder of his own son, and there's a pretty clear connection.

Comment author: drethelin 12 March 2015 04:26:29AM 1 point [-]

Do we know that? Like we just got a reveal that HUGE portions of his life and actions were based on deliberately obfuscating what he believed and wanted to do.

Comment author: gattsuru 12 March 2015 04:21:48PM *  3 points [-]

Possible, but Dumbledore's discussions of death and mortality in chapter 39 seemed like he was trying to avoid becoming Harry's Mentor/Opponent -- ie, if he were trying to manipulate Harry with this deep emotional reveal, he'd have done so in a different way. He continues to treat death as a normal matter in chapter 110, even though he doesn't believe Harry to be nearby and does believe that the only listener will not be able to communicate his position to Harry, and Quirrelmort says that he'd expoused such positions long before he had access or cause to access the hall of prophecies.

Comment author: drethelin 11 March 2015 11:08:05PM 1 point [-]

What's the something? He seems to have successfully caused Harry to defeat Voldemort

Comment author: gattsuru 12 March 2015 12:36:08AM 2 points [-]

Dumbledore is fundamentally Deathist, and not only has he personally been locked out of mortality by his own trap, several of his interventions (most obviously killing a pet rock) were less related to making Harry oppose Voldemort effectively, and more into making Harry the sort of person that would promote transhumanist ideas including anti-Deathism.

Comment author: ChristianKl 11 March 2015 10:59:05AM *  1 point [-]

Keeping it secret to the public makes sense on the other hand keeping it secret to the order of the phoenix is a different matter.

You keep secret without asking from people who are your equal or higher than you in status. If you get asked by someone lower than you to keep something a secret than you at least want to know the secret yourself.

Comment author: gattsuru 11 March 2015 03:56:47PM 5 points [-]

In this setting, there are things you avoid learning even if you're higher status than the secret-keeper. Some secrets are dangerous even to the listener.

I suspect Mrs. Bones includes anything rising from a fragment of Voldemort's torn soul, whether the trick that decapitated dozens or revived an ancient dark lord, in that set. Part of the reason she distrusts Harry is that she believe he's an eleven-year-old struggling with a dark spirit -- which gives him a comparative advantage of knowing what evils needs must be kept under wraps

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