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Back when I was growing up, one of the activities a younger version of myself did was to engage in scavenger hunts. Yes, it may be hard to believe, but there was a time when parents actually allowed their progeny to go door to door, knocking on the doors of strangers in the neighborhood, and ask for objects from a list of items such as blue rubber bands or combs with broken teeth.

Nowadays, scavenger hunts – like most other things – have migrated to the digital world and the Internet. Instead of rapping on doors, participants in scavenger hunts now use cameras to take part in photo scavenger hunts. These are activities where the object is to capture on film (or pixels) certain visual imagery. You can have an outdoor photo scavenger hunt with your kids, participate with Cisco in a photo hunt at the 2014 Mobile World Congress, or take part with the folks who brought you the largest scavenger hunt ever (according to the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records) – which would be GISHWHES (which stands for Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen).

In that vein of photo scavenger hunts, I would like to offer up the following images (free of charge) for anybody who would like to use them for a future event. All I ask is a credit. We’ll start with a picture of actor Nicholas Cage selling watches.

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If you need a photo of melted store signs, this should suffice.

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I’m not sure why this would ever come up, but the beauty of photo scavenger hunts is that the organizers can come up with some odd objects to find. So, if your list of photos to procure includes “An advertisement for the country of Andorra on a bus”, here’s your sign.

DSCN6257

For my grand finale – and for an image that should be worth over 1,000 points in any hunt, I give you Beetlejuice in a Santa outfit.

DSCN5973Now go out there and snap some photos.

Earlier this week, I posted my thoughts about a theory making the rounds of the Internet about how the Disney movie Frozen is a conspiracy put forward by the House of Mouse to turn children into homosexuals.

Since the gentleman who floated that theory offered up no actual evidence for his rant, allow me to do the same and state for the here and now that Frozen is actually a movie that…

…teaches children the evils of the gold standard;
or
…is a stunning repudiation of the metric system;
or
…is a gateway studio to lure unsuspecting kids into Touchstone Pictures.

All kidding aside, let me show you what can happen when you actually offer up evidence for a crackpot theory or two. Here and now, let me state for the record (and with tounge firmly placed in my cheek) that the Disney animated movie Frozen is actually a promotion of misogyny.

As proof that this movie actually shows a hatred and dislike for women allow me to remind my reading audience that there are only three speaking roles for human females in this movie. There is Elsa, the older sister. There is Anna, the younger sister. Finally, there is Elsa and Anna’s mother, the Queen.

Of those characters, they are either killed outright (Queen), threatened with death (Elsa by orders of the Duke of Weselton and, later, at the sword of Hans, Anna by Hans’s refusal to help), or are killed but come back (Anna). Other than a dunking in water (Hans) and being exiled from Arendelle (Duke), there is no consequence for the murderous activity of any of the male characters.

So there you have it, my proof that Frozen is anti-woman.

Of course, there is also proof (read: reading what you want to see) that Frozen is an allegory of the story of Christ and is thus pro-Christian.

At the start of the movie, the audience sees Anna and sees how she wants to build things (such as a snowman). A carpenter likes to build things also and Jesus was a carpenter.

Jesus was tempted in the desert and Anna is tempted by Hans’s offer of marriage.

After Elsa goes off by herself and builds her ice castle on top of a mountain, Anna tracks her down and gives her a sermon on how she needs to stop the blizzard. Jesus also gave a sermon on a mount.

Anna comes to aid of a wrongly-accused woman (her sister) just like Jesus came to the aid of Mary Magdalene.

And now the coup de grace

At the climax of the movie, Anna is turned to ice and is therefore killed. However, she comes back to life through the power of love. Jesus also died and came back to life because as 1 John 4:8 states “God is love”.

So there you have it. With actual elements from the film, I can spin it so that Frozen can be both anti-woman and pro-Christian.

It really is too bad Mr. Swanson couldn’t have come up with any evidence to support his theory that Frozen would turn his daughters into lesbians. It would have been extremely easy (as I have shown above), but I guess that would have meant actual mental effort on his part.

One of my favorite comics on the web is xkcd.

In addition to its use of math, language, and sarcasm, this comic often introduces me to things in popular culture that I would not have tripped over on my own.

The popular block-building game Minecraft was on my radar thanks to xkcd.

This comic alerted me to the fact that there is a discussion about a replacement value for pi.

Also, the genius of Randall Munroe was my first inkling that there was a game called Kerbal Space Program.

With the above being said, xkcd has now brought me awareness about the game 2048.

This game, 2048, has now become my new addiction. It is simple and maddeningly tought to put down.

I am, however, happy to state that I was able to create the 2048 tile. Yeah, me! My high score stands at 20,264 (there’s your number for the day). How’s your 2048 score?

But now, the game hits my pleasure center by daring me to uncover the 4096 tile. Curse you, creators of 2048!

I’m going to start this post with a story. At the international school that my trio of children attend here in Bangkok, my middle child, Jared, has a foreign language teacher that he cannot stand. Jared finds this teacher to be unfair, capricious in his punishments, and unhelpful when asked for advice. At first, I thought my middle child was being his usual stubborn self, but after a few interactions (i.e., back to school night, parent-teacher conferences, emails), I can verify that Jared’s teacher is rude, paranoid, obnoxious, unable to hear criticism, and basically should find another method of employment. Because of my new-found attitude toward this teacher, I now view everything this teacher does through the lens of my own dislike for him. In all subsequent electronic correspondence with this teacher, I now read his words with his sarcastic, defensive tone, which colors my emotions of what the teacher is trying to convey. I realize that. I understand that. I try to modify my displeasure towards this teacher, but it’s tough.

My displeasure towards this teacher taints his input and so the output I take away is sullied by my bias. It’s coming to the point where the teacher could say, “Jared is fantastic”, but I would read that praise as ironic.

I understand this issue is mine and I need to work on it. An article I recently read in BBC News showed me that I am not alone in allowing my hate to bias me, but at least I’m working on it. The same cannot be said for Kevin Swanson.

When I first read this article on the BBC’s website, I at first could not convince myself to click on the link to read it. I simply could not comprehend that anyone would go so far as to say that the Disney movie Frozen had a “gay agenda”. You can read that story here.

Well, I finally did click on it and it was even worse than I thought.

Kevin Swanson, a talk show host, makes the claim that not only is Frozen part of a conspiracy to turn kids gay, but that this movie is “…evil, just evil.” Oh, but why take my word for his word when you can leap on over here and read selections from his diatribe.

If you’ve read Swanson’s comments and if you’ve read the BBC News article, you notice that Swanson offers up absolutely no evidence for his allegation that Frozen promotes homosexuality. None. So, with no evidence to back up his claim, where does Swanson’s claim come from?

It comes from the same place where my displeasure for Jared’s teacher originates. It comes from bias.

For someone who is so biased against gays (as an example, this article makes the claim that Swanson wants homosexual behavior criminalized), it makes sense that he would see everything in popular culture through the lens of his bias. Just like I read the teacher’s emails with my biased view against him, Swanson’s view of movies is colored by his bias.

That doesn’t make it right, it just makes it irrational.

I should lean into my irrationality and remember the words of Mark 12:31, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

I wonder if Swanson is aware of that passage.

Travel Theme: Pink

I wish I had a picture of the singer, Pink, because that would have been unique.

Instead, I will have to make do with the actual color of pink. The reason I have this color on the brain is that it is the weekly theme from the website WheresMyBackpack.com.

I dove into my archives of digital photographs and came up with this item from 2009. This is a close-up of an Air Nippon plane. The only item that satisfies the theme are the letters, but I’m tickled by this picture by the bit of whimsy the designers placed on the plane.

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Hold on, little panda, hold on.

I despise movies that make no sense.

Let me rephrase it. I despise movies that make no internal sense.

As an appetizer before my main course, here’s an example that twists my knickers.

In both Men in Black III and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, there is an implausible image. In each of those cinematic ventures, there is a scene on the Moon. In those movies (and probably more), the camera shows an Apollo-style lunar lander. However, the lander still has the ascent stage attached to it which would be an impossibility because if the ascent stage was still there, the astronauts would not have been able to return home.

(Source: Men in Black III corrections and Transformers: Dark of the Moon corrections)

As a fan of science-fiction, I have no issue with movies that bend the laws of physics, as long as they do it consistently. Spaceships in the universe of Star Trek and Star Wars can travel faster than the speed of light, but they give explanations for it. The Enterprise has warp drive and the Millennium Falcon uses hyperdrive. Even time travel doesn’t bother me that much as long as, again, it is done consistently within the universe of the story. I know there is no way for an object to travel back in time, but that doesn’t diminish my appreciation for the television show Doctor Who.

All this brings me to today’s version of “nerd rage“. Last week, I saw the animated movie Mr. Peabody and Sherman. I could go on and blather about how Hollywood has strip-mined another aspect of my childhood for their gain, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Instead, allow me to ramble about the cinematic implausibility in that movie.

I do not have an issue with a talking (and bow-tie wearing…because bow ties are cool) dog. I do not have an issue with time travel. The genius canine and the WABAC machine are reality-bending items, but they are necessary for the story. So, I am fine with those reality-bending items (just like I am okay with the TARDIS and the Babel Fish).

What made me slap my forehead was the scene in this movie concerning the manhole.

Early in Mr. Peabody and Sherman, the duo are in the era of the French Revolution. During a chase scene that takes places in the sewers outside Versailles, Mr. Peabody causes an explosion that blows the manhole covers into the air.

So far, so good.

However, the explosion was all part of Mr. Peabody’s escape plan because the manhole cover falls through its own hole and lands on the baddie thus allowing the dog and his pet adopted boy to skeedaddle away.

See my issue?

It is a physical impossibility for a manhole cover to fall through its own hole. That’s way manholes covers are round. A round manhole cover is cannot fall through its own opening and that keeps sewer workers safe (see here and here for sample explanations).

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Unless Jamie and Adam over at Mythbusters have busted this idea, I will continue to slap my forehead over this scene (and all others like it).

TIME to Navel Gaze

It is sometimes difficult to come up with new things to post about when my past themes provide so much material also.

Back in September, I wrote about the differences between the covers of TIME magazine that Americans see and what citizens in the rest of the world see.

Last week saw yet another wonderful example of my previous thesis that the editors of TIME “think the State-side readers are morons.” I can only again surmise that the powers that be at TIME who decide what graces the cover of that magazine think that Americans are not interested in the world at large and only care about what happens in their land between the “sea to shining sea.”

Last week, the covers that appeared on the magazine that people in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the South Pacific could see looked like this…

Time_LastWeek_International

The cover shows the aftermath of the central square (called the Maidan) in Kiev, Ukraine, after the president of that country, Viktor Yanukovych, fled. This flight was due in part to the mass of protesters who had camped in the Maidan demanded a more pro-Western lean to the country. Yanukovych titled towards Russia and so there was conflict.

The popular uprising of a European country on the doorstep of Russia that includes the overthrow of its elected President is (and rightfully so) big news. The cover of TIME even admits that the drama is not yet over.

So do what those living in Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City see on their covers of TIME? This…

Time_LastWeek_USA

They see a cover about an event that happened in October of 2013. Granted, Stephen Brill’s article about how a group of people rescued the technical failure that was heathcare.gov (the on-line portal that allowed people to sign up for President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act) is a wonderful read, but it’s an event that happened a full five months ago.

To sum up, international readers of TIME see what is happening now in the larger world and which poses questions about the future.

State-side readers of TIME see themselves…in the past.

I have a feeling this trend of TIME will only continue.

As a final thought, I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who sees this habit from TIME.

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