Posts Tagged ‘datechguy's magnificent seven’

By Christopher Harper

As Christians, Jews, and Muslims observe the important religious rites of Easter, Passover, and Ramadan, I suggest that every believer and nonbeliever read the seminal works of Russian author Leo Tolstoy and his search for the meaning of life and religion.

Born into Russian royalty in 1828, Tolstoy became one of the most influential authors in the world. War and Peace and Anna Karenina are two of the greatest novels ever written.

As a member of the Russian elite, the young Tolstoy lived a dissolute life of gambling, drinking, and debauchery.

But a crisis of conscience, particularly after his service in the Crimean War in the mid-1850, sent him into a deep depression.

His search for the meaning of life led him to a personal belief in God that also emphasized nonviolence and asceticism. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledged the importance of Tolstoy’s writings in their beliefs.

A Confession, published in 1880, chronicles Tolstoy’s search for the meaning of life and the influence of God.

At the outset, Tolstoy admits that his life and those of the elite lacked any significant meaning except to engage in debauchery. He writes: “I asked: ‘What is the meaning of my life, beyond time, cause, and space?’ And I replied to quite another question: ‘What is the meaning of my life within time, cause, and space?’ With the result that, after long efforts of thought, the answer I reached was: ‘None’.”

Tolstoy explores the sciences for the meaning of life and finds them wanting because they can only define the mathematical explanation of existence.

He writes: “It was long before I could believe that human learning had no clear answer to this question. For a long time, it seemed to me, as I listened to the gravity and seriousness wherewith Science affirmed its positions on matters unconnected with the problem of life, that I must have misunderstood something. For a long time, I was timid in the presence in learning, and I fancied that the insufficiency of the answers which I received was not its fault but was owing to my own gross ignorance, but this thing was not a joke or a pastime with me, but the business of my life, and I was at last forced, willy-nilly, to the conclusion that these questions of mine were the only legitimate questions underlying all knowledge, and that it was not I that was in fault in putting them, but science in pretending to have an answer for them.”

For the most part, he found organized religion wanting, mainly because of the hypocrisy of those heading the Russian Orthodox Church, and that got him excommunicated from the church. Nevertheless, he found the simple faith of the working and lower classes much closer to how he thought religion should be centered on faith.

Finally, Tolstoy writes about a dream in which he is pushed out into a river and understands the meaning of his life. He writes: “The shore was God, the stream was tradition, and the oars were the free will be given to me to make it to the shore where I would be joined with God. Thus, the force of life was renewed within me, and I began to live once again.”

Tolstoy’s Confession and his later books, The Kingdom of God Is Within You and Resurrection, became more important to him than his recognized great works.

This season may be a good time to read this great man’s search for meaning.

By John Ruberry

Two years ago here at Da Tech Guy, I had this to say about the first season of Shadow and Bone, a Netflix fantasy series.

If you like elaborate clothes, eye-catching special effects, and being transported to an alternative yet familiar civilization, then Shadow and Bone could be for you. But if you expect fully-developed characters and a coherent plot line, then stay away.

With the second season, which began streaming mid-month, we have more of the same.

Shadow and Bone is based on a young adult fiction series of books, set-in an alternative universe centered mostly on the nation of Ravka, which in turn is based on circa–1880s Russia. The costumes are Emmy-worthy, as is the CG art direction. The acting? Not so much.

The central character of Shadow and Bone is a Grisha, Alina Starkova (Jessie Mei Li), a practitioner, although this term isn’t used much in the show, of magic. She’s a Chosen One character, an orphan like Harry Potter, who is dubbed the Sun Summoner. Alina is reluctantly placed in the position to heal the world of many ills, including disposing of “The Fold,” a smoke wall of sorts, inhabited by pterodactyl-like beasts that divides Ravka–kind of how the Ural Mountains separate European and Asian Russia.

The Fold is the creation of an evil Grisha, General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), also known as the Darkling. His dream is–along the lines of Darth Vader’s recruitment of his son, Luke Skywalker–to combine their talents and create a dark version of Utopia. 

Season Two begins as Alina, accompanied by her love interest who she met in an orphanage years earlier, Mal Oretsev (Archie Renaux), are headed to Noyvi Zem, an African-like nation. They are internationally known fugitives and…well really now, do you think they’ll go unnoticed? It is in Noyvi Zem where they connect with a key figure, Sturmhond (Patrick Gibson), a pirate, or as he calls himself, a privateer. 

Also back for the second season are the Crows, a midlevel trio of organized crime schemers: Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Jesper Fahey (Kit Young), and Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman). They were hired by an underworld figure to kidnap Alina. The Crows have returned to their base of Ketterdam, a thriving city of vice based on Amsterdam. The Crows have two new members, another Grisha, Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan), and an explosives expert, Wylan Van Eck (Jack Wolfe).

If there are midlevel hoodlums in Ketterdam, then of course there must be a Big Boss. That man is Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly).

I observed in my Season One review that the Crows are much more interesting characters than Alina and Mal–and apparently, I’m not the only person who believes that, because a spinoff series centered around the Crows may be in the works. But if viewership of the second season tails off and the show is cancelled, we probably won’t see a Crows series.

As of today, Shadow and Bone is ranked fourth in viewership on Netflix.

There are many more Shadow and Bone characters–too many of them. And too many subplots. 

What about those Grisha? Even they are confusing.

There are three levels, I think, of Grishas. They are the Summoners who have power of wind, water and fire, Alina is one of those, the Heartrenders, whose powers are over the body, and Durasts, whose domain is chemicals, rocks, and the like. But the Grishas are not explicitly defined in Shadow and Bone, unless I missed something. A vintage-era Hollywood scriptwriter could have solved that head-scratcher by adding a one-minute conversation between Alina and a random passenger on the ship to Noyvi Zem, who could ask her, “Tell me about all of the Grishas?”

One of my criticisms of Season One is that maps showing the different countries were needed for coherency. This season has them.

Are there monsters? Yes, some ho-hum smoke beasts who are impervious to gunfire. And as I’ve seen too many times in bad mid-20th century science-fiction serials, of course that doesn’t stop characters here from shooting at them again and again.

While the universe of Shadow and Bone is of the late 19th century, there are some 21st century flavors. Ravka (Russia) is predominately white but multiracial. Nearly all of the romantic pairings are interracial–and there is nothing wrong with that.

But rather than focusing on check-box casting, Shadow and Bone needs to present viewers plotlines that are easy to follow, stronger performances from lead actors, and more frightening monsters.

Shadow and Bone is rated TV-14 for violence.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

But don’t worry, most won’t be coming back.

The military changed its rules on the COVID-19 vaccine because the science showed it didn’t actually work Congress passed a law requiring them to do so. Now that this has changed, the military wants the members that it kicked out to come on back…or at least, some people do. Others still cling to the “You disobeyed orders and should be punished!

With the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine order lifted, troops can refuse to take the shot without risking ending their careers. But those who refused it in the past could still be booted for “disobeying a lawful order,” Defense Department officials warned lawmakers Tuesday. “It’s very important that our service members follow orders when they are lawful, and there are thousands that did not,” Gilbert Cisneros Jr., Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel, told members of the House Armed Services Committee. “The services are going through a process to review those cases to make a determination what needs to be done.”

So, in other words

Remember, we aren’t talking small numbers either:

Defense Department leaders said about 16,000 individuals refused that order without making any requests for exemption or accommodation. About 8,400 were separated from the services as a result.

I’m sure they will be coming back in droves. Remember this?

And this?

I give the Navy credit, at least all the individuals kicked out received honorable discharges. The Army was not so nice. A general discharge can impact the benefits you receive from the VA. It’s a choice by the service, and as the majority got a General Discharge, it defnitely means the discharging authority was angry over the refusal to obey orders, despite the fact the science was questionable at best on the vaccine.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again, this was NOT a good hill to die on for the military. Encouraging vaccines is one thing, but until there was a few years of data, you were just going to piss people off with mandates. Add a few young people dying after the shot, whether it was vaccine related or not, and you have a massive PR crisis on your hands.

Lawmakers are hoping many of those discharged will come back:

They did note that the vaccine refusals make up a small fraction of the total force, and said they hope that most service members continue to get the COVID-19 vaccines even without the mandate. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers on the panel said they hope to reinstate all dismissed individuals to the armed forces with full benefits and back pay. Cisneros said officials are not looking into any such move at the present.

Fat chance. The emphasis on “small fraction” misses a key point: every single member kicked out is going to tell all their friends to not join. The military just created 16,000 influencers, a portion of whom will take to social media and create a recruiting nightmare for the military. Worse still, this doesn’t count the many members that chose to retire early or voluntarily separate rather than continue service. Remember that “unprecedented” rise in military retirements and separations noted in the Health of the Force survey? That’s not random. You can only beat down on people for so long before they start to vote with their feet. Even among people who took the COVID vaccine, there is a fairly large number that didn’t think the mandate was a good idea. I make plenty of choices that I think are smart, but I wouldn’t mandate them on others, and I’m not alone in this thinking.

The military created this mess, and its spilling over into recruitment and retention. Expect it to get worse, despite anything that Congress will do.

The post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. If you enjoyed this post, consider donating to DaTechGuy or purchasing one of the authors books.

When I first heard the news from President Trump that he was soon going to be arrested, I was absolutely outraged.  I knew the fury I felt would be shared by the vast majority of Conservatives and Libertarians.  I knew that instant and widespread protest by us Trump supporters would be the most appropriate way to answer this injustice.  As you can see from this Townhall article, President Trump reached the same conclusion.


I was most disheartened when I saw the following statement by the new Speaker of the House of Representatives.  It is additional proof that Kevin McCarthy is not a Conservative.

My disappointment increased to an intolerable level when I saw this American Thinker article.

President Trump has stated that he will be arrested on Tuesday and we should all take to the streets.  Don’t do it!   Stay home, and let the lawyers handle it.  This is a set-up, just like January 6.  Don’t fall for it.  Don’t go anywhere near a federal building, don’t stand with groups of people you don’t know, and don’t send threatening emails.   Stay home, and let the lawyers deal with it.  President Trump has good lawyers, he has great lawyers…he even has had Alan Dershowitz as a lawyer.  Trials are meant to be won, by rich people.  President Trump is rich.  Let him fight his battle.  He has proven more than capable. 

It’s okay to be angry about things.  And we are supposed to have the right to protest peacefully.  However, they will sabotage that right.  They will inject fake bad actors for the express purpose of charging you with a crime. This will be an attempted Charlottesville and January 6 mass-arrest false flag operation.  Sometimes the best response is no response at all.

Both Speaker McCarthy and the author of the American Thinker article demonstrated remarkable cowardice.  Peaceful protest is not only our most effective weapon to fight tyranny, it is one of our most important God-given natural rights, one that has been enshrined in the First Amendment. To abandon that right just because the Left might attempt another false flag operation, such as January 6th, is unconscionable.  If Trump is arrested we must absolutely take to the streets in massive non-violent protest.  We must also be on our guard.  When the left does, in fact, try to entrap us again, we must expose the plot.