October 13, 2012

Notable movies looking at my Netflix history

The Baader Meinhof Complex (ugly story about rebellious German youths and their excess, see Reds); Audition (wtf I own this, elegant, humorous, brutal); 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 days (very dogme telling of Romanian women), Paranoid Park (GvS with another beautiful film, see Elephant!), The Host (Korean monster with a hint of Lynch, brilliant), District B13 (Mother. Fucking. Parkour. That is all.); Oldboy (hammer fight in the hallway, self-tooth-pulling); Irreversible (the most artfully horrible thing I've ever seen); Tell No One (French noir), The House of the Devil (2009 revival of 1980s horror that is pitch perfect); Monsters (recommended by Matt, part of the genre of modern smart sci-fi with Moon and District 9).

I recommend all of these.

posted by sstrader at 11:05 PM in Cinema | permalink

October 6, 2012

Harris on torture

In chapter six of The End of Faith, Sam Harris argues that torture is justified in any circumstance in which we would be willing to cause collateral damage. The argument goes that, barring an ideal world: armed conflict is sometimes necessary, armed conflict may inflict harm on non-combatants, and that harm may be as painful as torture techniques. If we accept this sequence, then we accept that torture is allowable. The context is unimportant; killing is an end without intent.

Earlier, he contrasts foreign offenses against us with our reaction to US soldiers in the My Lai massacre. Our actions are different because what distinguishes us from many of our enemies is that this indiscriminate violence appalls us. Ah. Here, context is important.

If soldiers torture and we revile them because of that, we are holding a higher moral ground. What then does it mean when torture is institutionalized and we don't revile that fact? To Sam Harris, it means we are intellectually honest. This is laughable.

posted by sstrader at 12:20 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

October 3, 2012

Hitchens on criticism

In the middle of reading Sam Harris's The End of Faith, did not expect his focused criticism of Islam, and so browsing other, similar discussions. Hitchens schools a Muslim on free speech is, of course, relevant to all religions:

Religion makes very large claims for itself, that it is the total solution to all human problems, and that the sooner that it's imposed on everyone, the better. Well, that's a point of view, but if it's going to make such claims it has to drop the demand that it be immune from criticism and especially from satire.

This in response to the Danish Muhammad cartoons, a pre-echo to the recent protests over That YouTube Video, and brought to mind by long-suffering X-tians who demand satisfaction whenever atheism brings up long-known contradictions in their faith.

posted by sstrader at 12:24 AM in Religion | permalink