You can’t live without the fire
It’s the heat that makes you strong
‘Cause you’re born to live
And fight it all the way
You can’t hide what lies inside you
It’s the only thing you know
You’re embracing that, never walk away

—Within Temptation: “Iron”

The United States Just Finished 46th in a Press-Freedom Study

Romania finished ahead of us. Think about that, anyone who remembers The Iron Curtain.

Star Wars '99: The Star Wars Prequels: Some Things are Better Left Unsaid


A brief examination of George Lucas’s prequels and the purpose of Star Wars ‘99

There’s no shortage of explanations as to why George Lucas’s Star Wars prequels are considered a failure, but I personally believe the usual culprits (execution, screenwriting) are symptoms of a more fundamental…

You guys. You Guys. YOU GUYS. Aaron Diaz is finally going to reveal more of his Star Wars 1999 project.

There will be more than one woman and more than two black people.

You had my curiosity; now you have my attention.

From a philosophical perspective, libertarians generally believe the appropriate role of government is to protect life, liberty, and property. The question is, is forbidding abortion a way of protecting life, or should it be viewed as a restriction of liberty? There’s a plausible libertarian case on both sides. People who are consciously libertarian are more respectful of the other position on abortion, in my experience, than most pro-lifers and pro-choicers. I do not think there is an official position.

David Boaz, interviewed in the The Atlantic by Molly Ball.

This Is Why Apple Rebooted FCP

I don’t know how this works in FCP X, because you don’t change to a new NLE in the middle of a huge project, but the Boris FX 3D Text plugin Apple licensed to do titles with fine-tuned controls and effects, such as drop shadows, drives me totally bonkers. It’s a tyrant that doesn’t play well with others and forces me into hacky workarounds to perform what should be relatively simple tasks.

Example: I want to cross-dissolve between two screens worth of credits[1], so I should be able to just drop in a cross-dissolve transition from FCP’s extensive library of effects. But because I have credits for two different characters on the screen, I used two different instances of the Boris plugin, and when I drop in the dissolve, only one of them dissolves. The other vanishes immediately when the transition starts, while its counterpart on the next screen remains absent until the transition has finished.

Positing that this might be due to a bug in the alpha channel implementation, I tried cropping each slide to exclude the expanse of empty space surrounding each title, but to no avail. Instead, I just now finished keyframing every clip individually to change the opacity from 0 to 100 (or vice-versa) over the course of 24 frames, which took far longer.

Also, I’m pretty sure the render time increases over using FCP’s software-optimized transitions. So I’m writing this during the 25-minute wait it takes to render out 2 minutes worth of still images with text over them.

  1. That’s right, in this movie I have static, screen-based credits instead of scrolling ones  ↩

Meet Me at the Edge of the World

Just got Over the Rhine’s latest double album, and I’m playing it on a loop while I read. With the autumnal northern-Indiana weather and gathering dusk, it makes me feel like curling up on the couch and losing myself inside a good fantasy novel, but instead I’m catching up on the news and my magazine backlog.

Halfway is good enough for now.

Summer, Not Modest, Is Hottest

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul is not saying that we should self-regulate to prevent other people from doing sinful things on our account. He is saying that we may need to self-regulate to prevent other people from doing totally permissible things they think are sinful (but aren’t) on our account.

This is the meaning of the phrase “cause to stumble”. We want to help our fellow Christians avoid “stumbling” into the sin of legalism toward themselves; we are never told to limit our own liberty by being paranoid that we might make someone “stumble” into the sin of actual sin.

So, please, for Christ’s literal sake, stop telling women that when they wear bikinis or sundresses they are “causing their brothers to stumble”, because that is not at all what Paul meant, and it’s mega-hot outside.

You Just Shouldn’t

If your response to something you dislike or disagree with in your chosen subculture is, “I just can’t with this,” you’re writing in the wrong place.

Non-writers can afford the luxury of being too triggered or disgusted to respond to something. Writers focusing on one particular niche topic may feel free to disregard or shrug off ideas in a different niche than their own. But if an idea in your subculture starts to gain traction—any attention or viability at all—excusing yourself from the conversation with “I just can’t with this” probably means you should excuse yourself from the conversation entirely.

This isn’t a knock against people who have wounds or trauma that make it too difficult for them to address certain subjects. And it may just mean you need to narrow your focus. For example, if you, a fashion blogger, have experienced emotional trauma from fat-shaming such that you can’t write about body image issues, fine: you’re a fashion blogger who doesn’t write about body image. If, on the other hand, you claim to be a fashion blogger who does want to address body issues, but every fifth article you read on the subject makes you shut down for the day, you probably need to stop writing on this subject.

I can hear you thinking now, “Oh sure, invalidate my opinions because of their strong emotional component.” Nope. Your opinions are totally valid. Your status as a writer is not. If you want to have a voice in a certain discussion, you have to be present for the entire discussion. Nice, considerate people—people who already feel kindly-disposed to you and eager to hear your thoughts (that is, the core of your existing audience)—will listen to whatever you have to say, even if you need to duck out of the conversation halfway through. If you want everyone else to pay attention to you, though, you’re going to have to grit your teeth and stay in the conversation, refusing to back down in the face of not only strong, direct opposition but unintentional triggering as well.

If you want to call yourself A Writer, you don’t get a choice about this. Do you think war correspondents with PTSD get to keep their beat as long as they don’t have to see anything too grisly?

In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques… The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.