The China Problem

Argument: China is already undergoing a demographic shift unparalleled in both speed and scale, transitioning from a young country to an elderly one within a single generation. Its vaunted “rise” is fraught and likely doomed, but this is not something to rejoice over. The many terrible crises China will soon face will be the story of this century. Our story.

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Watching God’s Children

Christianity is so sad.

The psychology of it is on full display in this video. Behold how stupid these people are. They have no idea what they’re talking about. They’re completely oblivious to the reality of what the Bible is, where it came from, and the innumerable interpretations of it. There’s nothing resembling a consensus on Christian eschatology, and it’s pretty clear why if you actually read the material cited. Ezekiel? Zachariah? Hezekiah? Revelation? It’s all a bunch of rambling nonsense. Many clutch at very specific verses as examples of fulfilled prophecy (ergo, credibility), glossing over the 99% of the text that’s chock-full of incomprehensible references and predictions that never came true. The Bible is fantastic literature, but the idea that anyone would take it as some sort of concrete roadmap is beyond me.

I’m lying. Of course I understand, since I was Christian until the beginning of my third decade, but I also get why the uninitiated might be baffled. Of particular interest might be why Evangelicals are so obsessed with the Apocalypse. Well, they’re not. Obsession isn’t the right word. Yearning is. Once the Apocalypse comes, the grave tribulation they’re suffering–banal economic turbulence, liberals gaining more and more power and influence, young people falling away from the Church, gays everywhere, brown people finding a voice, other brown people blowing up white people on rare occasions–will disappear. All will be right with the world. Never mind how many people will die or suffer in the process by their own admission. Two thirds of Israel will die, but they’re heretics or whatever. Logically, it’s vital that they try to accelerate the timeline of prophecy (don’t think about it) as much as possible. Why would you want to sit around waiting for all this chaos to work itself out? If you donate $5 and vote for Republicans who “love” Israel, you’ll get you brownie points with God and make your salvation extra secure.

People wonder why I have such venom toward the religion that I came from. To be honest, I can’t understand why anyone who lived through it wouldn’t be a tad bitter toward this corrupt, broken institution, infested from top-to-bottom by charlatans, zealots, and bigots exploiting even greater bigots below them. Once you realize it’s all comforting lies for privileged special snowflakes whose fragile worldview can’t handle the slightest bit of nuance or discomfort, it all makes perfect, painful sense. These people are so insecure and frightened by anything and everything different or inconvenient that they’ll channel untold amounts of money into aiding and abetting a brutal policy of occupation against innocent people. It’s disgusting. There are two emotional conclusions you can draw from the modern state of Christianity in America: disgust or pity. Put any respect, admiration, or even empathy out of your mind. What you see in this video is an evil that needs to be defeated and buried. It’s scared people abusing the world because they can’t handle their own inner fretting, nothing more. Going to Israel and taking some tours of dusty rocks and hills is merely a highly elaborate ritual of masturbation. It’s a way to blow off steam and keep silencing those nagging thoughts.

I speak from experience. I spent much of my teens pouring over Christianity’s essence, studying apologetics, studying the Word, studying various outlooks and analyses of it, but the cold truth was I just wanted some certainty in my troubled life, for everything to make sense, for the constant gnawing doubt in my head to just go away and leave me alone. I couldn’t turn my brain off, so I took the only logical path available: finding satisfying answers. The only problem, as I realized far earlier than my conscious mind knew, was that Christianity didn’t have them. I hung onto the trappings of it for a while, but in my heart I’d given up a long time ago. I would force myself to go to Sunday-night church before raiding in WoW as a stiff ritual, hating every bored minute of it, tired of trying to socialize with other teens that I didn’t understand. That was the last ember of it all, somewhere when I was 18-19. The whole thing fell apart very quickly the moment the social and emotional impetuses ran their course. I can remember a quiet period of a few months in 2009-2010 where I my deconversion rapidly completed itself. The whole thing clicked. The door shut behind me.

Again, try to understand this through the frame of emotion. Intellect has naught to do with it. Unlike me, the people you see here can turn their brains off, can run headlong into comforting scammery, can embrace the most immoral and reprehensible behavior imaginable so long as you say the right words, make the right gestures, and use the right imagery. They’ll jerk off in front of Palestinians whose land has been paved and planted with suburbs. They’ll hoot and holler and cheer for a slimy scam artist like Trump. Anything. Anything to keep the thoughts away.

But Caesar, for God’s in His Heaven

Another day under Trump, another journalist wonders how it’s possible for white Evangelicals to support him with such zeal and passion.

One of the enduring puzzles of contemporary American politics is why white evangelicals, who loudly proclaim their devotion to the teachings of the Bible, continue to support the thrice-married, six-times-bankrupted, multiple-times-unfaithful, chronically lying president, who has, at the very least, violated three of the Ten Commandments (“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt not steal,” and “Thou shalt not bear false witness”) and arguably several others.

As someone who came from the Church, what’s far more remarkable to me is how people continue to be shocked by this.

Look, kids. Here’s the dirty secret about Christianity: there are no real Christians.

First off, this is something you can infer directly from Scripture itself. The Bible speaks quite plainly to how only God will be able to separate the “tares” from the “wheat” when Judgment Day comes, whatever “Judgment Day” means. It was precisely these kinds of verses that led me down the blessed path of full deconversion, away from Calvary: nowhere is complete, 100%, absolute, foolproof salvation ever stipulated within Christianity. None. It’s not there. You can be as virtuous as Christ Himself and still be a tare as far as He’s concerned. You might even earnestly believe you’re among the saints, but only God will truly know when the time comes. Salvation is a complete crap-shoot by Christianity’s own standards. There’s no way you can lock it down, no way you can believe and/or work hard enough to know you’re among that number. That’s why Calvinism gained any sort of popularity in the first place: it solves this fundamental problem, only at the expense of Christianity’s soul. It’s the fundamental downside of an omnipotent, omniscient Creator: He can do whatever He wants, pick whomever or whatever He wants to be in His particular 700 Club, and if He decided at the last minute to just change all the rules and condemn you, earnest, fearful believer, to eternal damnation, there’d be nothing you could do about it, because you’re a tiny gnat before your Maker.

All of that is neither here nor there, of course, because God doesn’t exist. But even if He does, God doesn’t matter, which is why the bickering over His existence is a giant waste of time. We can still measure the impact His ostensible touch has on human behavior–rather, the complete lack thereof. Christians are indistinguishable from their heathen brethren. They eat, drink, sleep, pee, poop, and fuck. They like socializing. They like having things and they like enjoying things, especially that sex thing. There is no behavior of any subgroup of Christianity, from the poorest to the elite of the elite, that falls outside the confines of anthropology. Scientists can detect variances and draw strong conclusions about the nature of the universe based on the tiniest variations, the most infinitesimal specks in a picture of the observable universe. Whatever Few True Christians out there would be very noticeable, even if the success rate of Christianity was something pathetic, like 0.0001%. That would still get you into the millions based on sheer math.

Now, Christians know this, far better than anyone. They have eyes, ears, mouths, and functioning nervous systems. It’s the reality they have to deal with, one with a complete absence of God in any practical, useful sense. They have to work with a Church and culture inhabited by and run by those same humans from top to bottom, no exceptions. Nope, not even Sir Awesome Hat up in Rome, despite two millennium of writing on the topic that boils down to a giant yuh-huh. The Pope is elected from within a tiny group of men who dutifully worked their way up the corporate ladder, complete with paper-trail. It happens on camera in front of the whole world. He’s just some guy. God has nothing to do with it. Any of it.

That means Christians–every last one of them, just like everyone else–are making this shit up as they go along. 

See, the crux of Christianity is Witness. Christians are supposed to be different from other people, to be distinct and undeniable, to reflect God before the world. But you can’t do that without, you know, God. There has to be some Divine Spark somewhere: your friends, your pastor, his superior, whoever, somewhere, someway the Spark has to trickle down so people can work off it, no matter how small.

Here’s an example: Christians buy insurance. Why? Because there’s risk in their lives.

“But wait, why is there risk? God is God. I should be protected if I’m saved.”

“Weeeeeeeeeeeeell,” says the Church, “I know we sold you on that, but reaaaaaaaaaally, there’s no way to guarantee either your salvation or God’s protection at any time.”

“Why not?”

“Well, for one, you’re not living up to the standard.”

“How am I not living up to the standard?”

“Well, I mean, come on, you’ve gotta be doing something wrong.”

“No, I didn’t. You know I didn’t. God as my witness.”

*God bursts in like the Kool-Aid Man* “BITCH ARE YOU QUESTIONING ME?”

“No no no, of course not! I love You!”

“Oh, cool, just checking. Here’s some more stuff now, ’cause I feel like it.”

….

You know what that’s from?

The Book of Job.

Yep. The whole point of the Book of Job, since none of you bothered to read it, is that Job is sinless but God can, surprise, do whatever He wants. The Book’s lesson is that no amount of righteousness, even complete perfection, is any basis to presume you’re shielded from bad stuff from happening to you. Conversely, your commitment to Him shouldn’t be contingent on whatever material boon He deigns to grant you, as that’s just not gonna work out well. “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” So why is such a depressing lesson even in the Biblical canon, not that far from Ecclesiastes? Because practical experience informs us of this. Job is Christianity’s answer to a very simple question:

If God’s on my side, then why is He still fucking with me?”

Well, because He can and does. It really undercuts the whole Witness thing, which would logically lead to you forgoing the concept of insurance altogether. There are some Christians who do this, but 99% of the rest of the Church severely criticizes them for being fools, and rightfully so: they all end up being struck by normal disaster and get screwed. Job was right.

But this is a minor example. If God were really on your side in any appreciable way, then Christians would appear absolutely nuts to all other humans. They wouldn’t care about money, or politics, or what society was doing, or what anybody was really doing. They wouldn’t even care about particular moral foibles like premarital sex or lying. They certainly wouldn’t invent a cosmic travesty like Contemporary Christian Music to try to attract fellow kids. They would be radically different, their Witness completely undeniable, which would also mean it’d be very effective. It’d work. Christianity wouldn’t be beleaguered or in trouble or even remotely concerned by anything temporal. They’d be a supermajority born out by simple effectiveness. Who wouldn’t want to be Christian if the Fruit of the Spirit were real and demonstrably attainable by an average person? Who doesn’t want love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, against such there is no law?

That’s what the Faith insists, but reality is completely different. Christianity is beleaguered. Christianity is marred. It’s inhabited by weak, filthy, shameful, disgusting, greedy sinners who have never had any right to lecture anyone. It attracts televangelists and charlatans. It attracts hypocrisy and deceit like flies to honey. It promotes abuse and pain. It’s unpopular and lame. Most devastating of all, it’s helpless. The Rock is tossed about by the vagaries of the World, its most hated Foe. Christians know exactly how much Christians suck, and Christianity most of all. What is God if He can’t step in and squash these icky gays and keep our kids from bumping uglies together in the woods? What is God if He can’t let me pray in schools? What is God if He can’t fix my marriage? What is God if He can’t tell me how to get my kids to like me? What is God if He can’t pay my rent? What is God if He can’t make my bones stop hurting?

Christians want an answer to these questions, relief from the immense burden of cognitive dissonance they carry every second, the cross that makes them all so miserable deep down inside. They just want something tangible for their struggle, not just Sunday promises and platitudes. Like any sane creature, they want some results. Everything should be going their way, easy peasy lemon squeezy, but it’s just…not. They pray and God doesn’t answer. They preach and no one listens. They try to stand up for their faith and no one respects them. You can’t call black people the n-word anymore. You can’t keep those Muslims out of the public square. The gays are everywhere. Everything and everyone is changing, but God sits up on His throne, silent as the grave, and I’m down here watching it all, waiting.

What’s that?

Mexicans are rapists? Yes, finally someone speaks the truth. Muslims are dangerous? Yes, a man after our own heart. He’ll put our people in the courts and put them back in their place? Yes, sign me up. Yes, Caesar, strike back in God’s name. Yes, do His will. We’ve been waiting for you. Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!

How is that surprising?

How is that shocking?

How is that puzzling?

Christians are people. And people, if given a choice between power or principles, will always take the former. Power gets you what you want. Principles get you nothing, except some vague salvation some way off in the future after death, but I’m here now and my heart’s in the right place. After all, Jesus didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword.

What’s a little blood?

Boku no Hero Academia – 3.5

 

BHA Season 3
I predict there will be lots of punching and shouting.
  • Boring intro meant to cut animation costs is boring.
    • It’s not like we need a recap on Deku’s boilerplate motivations.
  • This opening has grown on me. Hard to believe Uverworld is still around.
    • Remember them in Bleach? You know, when it was good?
      • Approximately 13 billion years ago.
  • This is the gayest fight in BHA so far.
    • Complete with a money shot.
      • Oh, stop it, you were thinking it. It’s 2018. No one has an excuse to be that oblivious anymore, not even Japan.
        • Especially Japan.
  • “Delaware Detroit Smash.”
    • lolwat? What the fuck does that mean?
      • Do the Japanese know that Delaware and Detroit have, like, no relation to each other except for sheer alliteration?
        • (No, they don’t.)
  • Why is Facepalm still in this shitty bar? I swear he’s been here for fifty years.
    • Is the bar named “Expo?” It’s like where 90% of the exposition in this series takes place, that and Deku’s magically functioning abused cranium.
      • Who pays the bills for this place? Who keeps the lights on? Does Facepalm have a part-time job at Wendy’s downstairs?
        • Is that why he’s so pissed at everything?
    • Now he’s using an easy-to-animate RPG frame to describe this basic setup because last week’s episode inhaled the animation budget.
      • I wonder if Mr. Black Hole even knows what an RPG is.
        • “What the fuck is a simulation game?” -Mr. Black Hole
          • Who has been polishing the exact same glass for ten episodes now.
    • So, Facepalm plan involves spreading dissent in this superhuman society or whatever. Considering a lingering 20% of it is normies, who are at this point literal lesser beings compared to their superhuman counterparts, it’s amazing the society is intact to begin with.
      • Like, Deku’s non-Quirk life up until now suuuucked, and that was just high-school bullshit. I can only imagine how miserable life is for those adults who don’t have superpowers.
      • I don’t think anyone’s gonna listen to a guy with a hand in his face, though. It’d be really awkward.
      • His plan also involves the “Vanguard Action Squad of the League of Villains.”
        • Whose assignment is to….attack a bunch of random teenagers.
          • And this fits into the above Keikaku…how?
    • “It doesn’t matter if they succeed or fail.” -Facepalm
      • Um, dude? Yes, it does.
        • For example, if they fail absolutely miserably, then these kids won’t be scared of them.
          • Maybe you should consult the Heart of the Cards again.
    • Wait wait wait, why does Facepalm have a random picture of Bakugo?
      • I’m not sure what subtext I should infer from this.
    • “In a society bound by rules, we’re not the only ones being oppressed.” -Facepalm
      • lolwat?
        • That makes no sense.
          • Are you implying Bakugo is being oppressed? I’m pretty sure he’s as privileged a shithead as they come.
    • STOP TELLING US WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE. I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN THEIR NAMES IN THE PAST SEVEN DAYS.
      • Except for Facepalm.
        • And Mr. Blackhole.
          • And, like, all the villains.
            • And half the heroes.
              • Hmm.
    • Deku protests he’s fine right after almost passing out on his feet with blood pouring down his face.
      • Deku might be mistaken.
    • Don’t worry, Deku. The obligatory Shounen power-ups will take care of this situation juuuuuuuuuuust fine.
    • “I’ll leave this villain here for now.” -Deku, a moron
      • THERE’S NO WAY ANY OF THESE TWENTY ASSUMPTIONS WILL PROVE MISPLACED.
    • How incredibly convenient Kota’s Quirk is exactly what they need to deal with a forest fire.
      • Later Kota will grow up to be a mobile fire-hose or pressure-washer.
        • He’ll die poor and forgotten.
          • YAY SUPERHERO SOCIETY.
    • Now we cut back to Eraser and this random asshole.
      • “Dabi.” Thanks, anime.
        • “This is about as much damage as I can take.” -Dabi, in case you forgot in the past second. Which I almost did.
          • So…you suck?
            • CONFIRMED IN THE NEXT SCENE.
              • BRILLIANT DEDUCTION, ME.
    • Is that Deadpool?
      • His name is “Twice.”
        • …………..
          • Is he bi? Is that his quirk? He can change his sexual orientation at will?
            • I assume there’s a better reason that’s his name.
              • Foolishly.
          • Oh, I guess he has two personalities.
            • …I was very wrong.
    • Wait wait wait, Eraser ran maybe 20 meters and he runs into Deku. So how did nobody hear or see his fight between him and Muscles, let alone help him?
    • Gotta say, these fights aren’t particularly exciting.
      • The Cat-Drag-Queen makes up for a bit, though.
        • “Cat Combat,” ha. You silly Asians and your Engrish.
    • Oh look, it’s Shredder.
      • Correction: a legally distinct Ninja Turtles Reference.
    • WAIT WHAT NOW DEKU’S HERE ARE THESE PEOPLE ALL TEN FEET FROM EACH OTHER
      • How much did they pay off Continuity this time?
    • Dabi is lamer than lame. I can’t even begin to care.
    • So, uh, exactly why do these kids whose profession is mortal combat need verbal permission to engage in mortal combat?
      • I’m pretty sure any court would understand the situation.
        • Also seems like something UA wouldn’t ever worry about.
          • But no, gotta manufacture tension somehow.
    • Good God, Kota. How dumb are you?
      • Sure, you’re a shithead kid, but it’s still pretty baffling how you just can’t wrap your head around the concept of a hero.
        • Oh hey, my commemorative Anvil from Anime Moralizing Inc. just came in the mail. What great timing.
          • I MUST SMASH SOMETHING WITH IT.
            • NOW KOTA UNDERSTANDS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A HERO.
              • DO YOU GET IT?
                • NO? MORE HAMMER TIME THEN.
    • Eraser, given how overpowered your Quirk is, you have about ten million things better to do than take eight hours to cover ground that Deku lept over in literally seconds.
    • Deku continues his habit of refusing to listen to the most basic advice.
      • JESUS CHRIST, DEKU, CALL HIM BY HIS NAME.
        • Ha ha, double entendre.
          • Bakugo and Deku, sittin’ in a tree.
    • Oh look, these villains are incompetent and uncoordinated.
      • Facepalm’s Master “Plan” is going swimmingly.
    • “THAT IS SHIGARAKI’S PERSONAL DESIRE” -Spinner
      • …did a robot write that?
        • Also, who’s “Shigaraki”?
    • OH MY GOD FINALLY SOMEONE DID SOMETHING SMART.
      • Catwoman punched that scene to death. You go, girl.
    • Now Bakugo’s being stupid. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.
    • Generic-Eldritch-Man. Or whatever. I don’t care.
    • It’s a fucking wonder that Bakugo is even alive.
    • LOOOOOL HIS QUIRK IS COMICALLY EXTENDING HIS TEETH INTO GIANT BLADES?
      • AND HIS NAME IS “MOONFISH”?
        • HA HA HA HA.
          • THAT’S SO STUPID. HA HA HA HA HA HA.
            • THIS IS GREAT.
    • Oh yes, Todoroki, you A-list anime protagonists should be sooooooooooooooooo worried about a little forest fire. It’s not like you can leap skyscrapers in a single bound or anything.
    • Hey, uh, Todoroki. Since you both have combustion powers, why not just create an explosion that clears the area and disperses the gas?
      • Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuur.
    • “I’m not stupid!” -some dumbass whose name I can’t remember
      • Boy, it would be nice if there were a caption to oh there it is.
    • Wait, Spinner and Big-Lips are up again? They both took blows to the fucking face.  What.
      • Ugggh.
        • The pacing in this arc is shitty so far.
    • Um, no. You run *away* from the epicenter of the gas, kids.
    • HOLY SHIT A GUN.
      • THERE ARE GUNS IN THIS UNIVERSE.
        • AND THEY’RE VISIBLE.
    • Woman. Might want to do something about Colonel Mustard here.
      • Also, this is why you don’t run toward the danger.
        • Now she’s lecturing this random asshole about using a gun like a smart person.
          • Well, that’s over. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.
    • Yay, Falco’s back. Hooray!
      • Oh.
        • Oh.
          • Welp, they’re fucked.