My zombie-killing daughter

I’ve always judiciously exposed my kids to depictions of violence. I want to raise them to be able to handle malevolent creatures — people and spirits.

I started by allowing them to watch me play Gears of War — ‘the monster game’ as it came to be known. Later, Left 4 Dead (‘the zombie game’) actually became a favourite that my eldest daughter (five at the time) would bug me to play with her. Whenever I did, her sister — two years her junior — would join in, too. Lately they’ve watched me playing Dead Island.

My goals are to model a) fearlessness in the face of evil and b) taking action against evil — particularly bringing to bear power over evil supernatural creatures. Demons are real and they’re scary — but they need not be harmful. I’m determined to equip my kids to stand up to them (be warned, though, that Christians are endowed with unique authority in this). Last night my six-year-old daughter demonstrated that she’s learning these lessons.

She had a dream in which she was sitting on our couch watching TV in our open-plan lounge room/dining room/kitchen when a zombie appeared. She called out a warning to her mum who was preparing dinner, but it was too late — the zombie attacked her mum and began biting her face. My daughter was witnessing the death of her mother. I was nowhere to be seen. She was all alone — nobody was there to save her. My daughter was not overwhelmed by loss, she wasn’t paralysed by fear, she didn’t flee in terror — she picked up a gun and shot and killed the zombie. Then she shot her mother.

When she woke her mum in the night to tell her about the dream (she was upset, but not crying, though she felt like it), my wife immediately expressed her pride in her daughter’s heroic actions. She had not only stood her ground against a terrifying creature, she’d also taken precisely the right course of action against the creature that moments before had been her mum.

Warfare in the natural realm is the domain of men, but all of mankind — male and female — is caught up in a spiritual war whether you perceive it or not. This little girl’s shaping up to be a formidable warrior indeed. I couldn’t be prouder.

No, Bob Brown, it’s the Reapers!

Bob Brown reckons the aliens haven’t made contact with us yet because they’ve wiped themselves out like we’re destined to do. But he can relax. The aliens are alive and well and we’ll make contact with them once we’ve discovered the Mass Effect relays. So instead of trying to bring technological progress to a screaching halt, the greens should try doing all they can to support it.

Then, of course, the Reapers will wipe us out along with the rest of organic life as they do every 50,000 years or so, but at least humans won’t be to blame.

On obfuscation

I subscribe to a lot of blogs. Andrew Bolt’s is one of them. Today he blogged on an impressive example of needlessly impenetrable text:

Allen Feldman, New York University

3-5 pm, Thursday 22 March

Room 148, RC Mills Building A26

The violence that is poised between humanitas and inhumanitas speaks to the metaphysical ordering and phantasms of everyday political terror. Are practices of political aggression separable from the Western metaphysical divide between human and animal, and what are the ideological utilities of this divide? Does political animality point to an anthropological sovereignty that only acquires positivity, tangibility, and figuration through its displacement onto, and passage into, the extimacy that is animality? And why does subjugated or expelled animality perennially threaten anthropological plenitude as an uncontainable negativity? These questions imply that the many thresholds of language, labour and finitude that have repeatedly delimited, governed and consigned the animal and human in metaphysical thought and practice can be remapped as a properly political dominion: a wildlife reserve in which philosophical, ethological, and anthropological declaratives and descriptions encrypt zoopolitical relations of power and force, and where the animal predicate circumscribes a concentrated time and space of subjugation, exposure, disappearance and abandonment.

That’s got to be a joke, right? Well, it’s definitely amusing, but it’s no joke. Associate Professor Feldman wrote this in an essay that he meant to be taken seriously. And in fact it was taken seriously enough to be published as part of a collection of essays addressing “the relationship between government and humanity.”

The thing about this kind of writing is that it detracts from its message when there is a message and hides the absence of a message when there isn’t one. So why do it? It impresses people, for one. I suspect that Feldman is more interested in his career than he is in any benefit to humanity that might be gained from his study of anthropology or teaching of it. That’d be a shame, but understandable. Feldman has clearly developed a genuine talent and found a way to capitalise on it. I can’t blame him for that or for putting the best interests of himself and his family (if he has one) first.

So my purpose here isn’t to denigrate the work of an academic — it’s to encourage anyone who finds themselves impressed by this kind of thing to consider whether it’s truly worthy of being held in high regard. There’s enough unnecessary darkness in this world. We don’t need people purporting to have answers — or useful questions — darkening their message with this kind of obfuscation. We need truth, clearly expressed.

Now it’s obvious that neither this book nor this essay were intended as introductory material to the subject of the relationship between government and humanity, but if you, like me, think the subject is important and you want a source of information on it that will clarify rather than stupefy, that approaches it from a basis of sound time-tested principles rather than modern speculation, I commend to you the Acton Institute.

Kony 2012 and Mass Effect 3 – Part 1

I find myself drawing comparisons between two promotional videos I’ve watched recently—one for Mass Effect 3:

And one for the experiment called Kony 2012:

I have no problem admitting that I’m a sucker for good advertising. I find the ME3 promo exciting. It makes me want to take part, though the game would cost me time and money and its primary offering is mere recreation. The promo’s creators have done a very good job of manipulating me by exploiting my capacity to be moved emotionally.

Now it seems to me that those who feel compelled by the Kony video to take part in its experiment have likewise been manipulated and I wonder how many of them realise that.

So I think the creators of both videos have done their jobs very well, but I also think that the intentions of the creators of the former video are more justifiable than the intentions of the creators of the latter. Many people—many Christians in particular—wouldn’t easily accept the proposition that the marketing activities of a for-profit company whose product is video games should be considered more righteous than those of a charity whose mission is to promote justice in third world countries, but I intend to make that case. I’ll begin in part two.

A quote from a mensan

I was encouraged to read the following sentence this morning:

As I have pointed out many times before, those who are capable of intellectually defending their position will do so calmly. Those who can’t always try to shut down the conversation one way or another.

The man who wrote this is experienced in the kinds of fights I wrote about in my first post and a mensan, so I’m fairly confident that in general he’s right.

I’m encouraged because I experienced this recently when I happened to receive a dressing down in an online forum by one of its owners. The owner then locked the thread before I could defend myself. Later he agreed to unlock it so I posted my defence, but he responded by attacking me again and re-locking it without addressing any of my arguments. This was frustrating, but I feel better knowing that a man like Vox Day shares my view of situations such as these.

Being a loser

Want to see me being a loser? Check out the videos I posted today on ESGN‘s YouTube channel. They show a match that I played with Pacific Gamerz as part of ESGN’s squad rush comp.

My team lost every round, but I love playing against guys like this. What do you gain apart from a sense of satisfaction when trouncing people? Playing against guys of this calibre, though, exposes you to ideas and strategies that you might never come up with on your own. I don’t play only to win, but to learn as well. These boys definitely gave me a schooling.

Wanna fight?

I love a good fight. That’s why I’m a gamer. I’m also a krav maga practitioner, but since this blog is about SaintBen’s experiences rather than Ben [my surname]‘s experiences, I’ll focus on the online stuff.

But I’m also a Christian and Christians aren’t meant to fight, right? 

Rubbish, buddy! Got a problem with me? Let’s have it out! Let’s get it sorted here and now! (Again, we’re talking online here — don’t get the impression that krav maga practitioners are itching to kick your head in, or more likely, your testicles.) I don’t subscribe to the gentle-Jesus-meek-and-mild school of thought. The real Jesus wants to destroy that pussyfooted imposter because he’s causing many Christians to be pussyfooted men. 

Now as I said, I love a good fight. A good fight, mind you — not a bad one. I hate a bad one (Watch for a post on hate soon — hate is a valuable thing, but some foolish people want to outlaw it). Good fights serve productive purposes. I’m all about helping people, not hurting them, but sometimes pain is an inevitable part of the process. 

Believe it or not, I strive not to think solely about myself when engaged in conflict. So a man like me is frequently misunderstood. My life’s mission is to advance God’s kingdom, not petty self-interests, so it’s important to me that every conflict is resolved in the best interests of both parties. 

This is unusual, I know, so it’s not surprising that my opponents rarely understand what I’m up to, but justice is too important to me, and people are too important to me, for me to take the win-at-all-costs path or to avoid speaking up altogether. 

So there are some principles I adhere to when fighting online (offline it’s anything goes when health or life is at stake — hence the groin-kicking reference earlier) and I’ll outline what I regard to be the three most important here. If you want to make your online fights more productive, you’d do well to adopt them. 

Attack the argument, not the person 

Generally, the worst thing you can do if you want a productive outcome is to attack your opponent rather than his arguments. This is called an ad hominem attack. Indulging in these is counter-productive and makes you look foolish. If your opponent is immature it will make him harder to get through to. If he’s mature, it provides him with ammunition to use against you. 

Sometimes, though, your argument pertains to a legitimate flaw in the character of your opponent. In this case, it’s imperative to adhere to my second principle: be prepared to back up your accusations.

Always base accusations on evidence 

Since being right is important to me (as opposed to simply crushing my opponent), I strive to be open to the possibility that personal attacks made against me might be founded in truth. It could very well be that there’s some flaw in my character that I’m oblivious to, and if so, I need to know about it in order to rectify it. 

But I won’t entertain a naked accusation. If you’re going to accuse me of something, you need to back it up with evidence. I’m not some mug who takes to heart every filthy aspersion that’s cast at me. Show me the error of my ways — don’t merely tell me about it — and I’ll give what you’re saying due consideration. 

It’s rare that your opponent will have this attitude. On occasion I’ve judged it worth being accused of making ad hominem attacks because I care enough about my interlocutor to show him what he can’t see about himself. Usually, though, it’s best to focus solely on arguments that don’t pertain to your opponent’s character. Which leads me to my third principle. 

Choose your battles 

In my view, the aim of every fight should be peace — that is, to resolve the argument (who wants to carry on a fight indefinitely?) but some people just won’t play by the rules. Others don’t have the maturity to refrain from lashing out at every perceived slight. Such people make resolution impossible. 

I’ll often ask straight out: Are you open to persuasion? If the answer’s yes, I’ll proceed. If not, it’s most likely a lost cause, so I’ll usually walk away. It’s easiest to do this when your opponent’s being a real ratbag. It’s not so easy when he’s someone you really care about. I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to persuade immature friends, but I judged it to be worth it because I cared about them so much. 

Also, sometimes I have considered it worthwhile in online forums to challenge an obstinate or irrational person in the hope of persuading those reading the exchange. 

Now all this is more than just my opinion. I’ve tested these principles in many an online stoush and their efficacy has been demonstrated time and again. I’ve used them successfully to persuade and to diffuse tension and to arrive at mutual understanding and respect without persuading my opponent and without him persuading me. 

But what do you think? If you agree or have something to add, I’d love to hear from you. Want to challenge anything I’ve said? Step into the ring, my friend! Hit me with your best shot!