Friday, February 22, 2013

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Book Review: Atlas Shrugged

        As a lot of you who have read the book can assume, just the act of being in high school and reading it has prevented me from posting in this blog. So I'll be damned if I don't review it. To summarize, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is the story of Dagny Taggart and her witnessing of the world's decay. A better way of putting it is this; it will make you question a lot of what you think is moral and immoral. In essence, it's one of the best dystopian novels ever, and of course, for the gamers, it's the book Bioshock was partly based on. 

This is, more or less, what the story's about.
       First of all, let's start with the form. This novel has an omniscient narrator, which lets you expand a bit into each character's psychology. Every single one gets his share of the spotlight, some more than others of course, but it's crucial for the story to develop well. It follows a chronological timeline, and it was written in U.S.A. in 1957. 

      The impressive thing about the novel is that not a single word is wasted, and almost everything is a symbol. The most important aspect is the battle between two philosophies, that of John Galt and that of the looters. John Galt's philosophy in a basic sense says that the value of a man is the value of his work, and that nobody should get what he doesn't deserve. Need doesn't entitle anybody to anything. It may sound selfish, but in a sense, it's representative of true capitalism and does, in fact, make sense. The looters, on the other hand, want to exploit the virtuous under the barrel of a gun.

      The characters themselves are quite curious. Dagny Taggart, the main character, is a form of embodiment of Galt's philosophy. She's a hard worker, always figuring out how to solve problems, always striving to improve, and being indifferent as to what others think. Her brother is the opposite. He wants to make a good impression and is a master of manipulation, whereas Dagny always lives based on logic. 

This is a really good visualization. 
         A character which appears enough to be mentioned is called Eddie Willers, who represents the average Joe in a world full of more-than-human heroes and extremely petty thieves. His problem is usually realizing things when it's too late, and is one of the characters most people can relate to.

           There's also a few other issues about sacrificing your virtues to the people, dissecting what money is and if it really is the root of evil, if feeling pleasure should actually make you guilty, among a whole lot of other topics, and damn it, if you get into it you'll have your mind blown. 

Like so.
           I could go on about the characters, philosophies, and what they represent, but it would take me a whole day to go through it. I'll leave the rest of it for you to figure out, but keep in mind that this book is extremely deep and may be at times hard to read because you'll question a lot of things. If you're the impatient type, it's still worth the wait. The book has three volumes, or acts, if you will, and most of the questions are answered until the third volume. It's such a profoundly epic book that I might actually pick it up again someday, even though it's a monster of a book. 

Just remember this, take it as a mantra: 

I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never life for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. 

Read the book and you shall understand.

Monday, February 11, 2013

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Joseph Alosius Ratzinger (Or Pope Benedict XVI)

*Force Pull*
        He was born in Martkl, Bavaria, April 16, 1927. After living around for a while, he enrolled in Hitler's Nazi youth when he was 14 years of age. Whether he was a devout member of the Nazi Youth is constantly debated, but it must be noted that it was obligatory for every young man over 14 years old. That being said, he had somehow evaded the Deutsche Jungvolk (Younger sort of Nazi Youth), so it's still strange as to why he came out to join the Nazi Youth. After that, he joined the army, and he claimed never to have fired a shot and never participated in combat. He then deserted and became a prisoner of war. The thing is, he did so in April 1945, when the end of the war was quite close. Now, I am not suggesting that he ever supported the Nazis, but I am merely stating that he could have possibly done more. Pope John Paul II was Polish, his country got it worse during the war, and he participated in anti-Nazi theater acts. Nevertheless...

In complete fairness, I would have found it hard to resist, too. You can't escape a death machine like the Nazi army.
       After the war he entered a seminary along with his brother Georg Ratzinger, and he got involved in many theologician matters. He then became archbishop of Munich and Freisig, then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, until 2005, when Pope John Paul II passed away. Now, before I go on, let me tell you what I think about Pope John Paul II. He was, as a person, a very peaceful, graceful man, and when the time of WWII came, he was very brave indeed. As a leader of the Church, he was humble, and one of his good deeds was acknowledging evolution as "more than just a theory", and not covering up the atrocities the Church made, but apologizing for them. Now, of course, he used to be a conservative man, and I didn't agree with his views on womens' ordinations, abortion, and other matters. Something impressive from him, though, was his stance on homosexuality, stating that even though he defended opposition for same sex marriage, he said that homosexuals have the same inherent dignity and rights as everybody else. Hell, he's even helped take down some dictatorships. Talk about activism. 

I seriously loved this man as a kid.
He worked hard, played hard.
And he went on, and on, all the way -
-until the end.
           Now, Pope Benedict XVI, on the other hand, didn't dwell unto such important matters for the Church, but he took care of some smaller problems. One that had been generating a lot of controversy for the church, for example, was the sexual abuse problem. There were some priests that for some reason were engaging in pedophilic acts, and he chased down and expelled some of the offenders, such as Father Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ, who had supposedly maintained relationships with two women and had abused a few children, including two of his six alleged sons. Now, Benedict's main preaching game was called "Friendship with Jesus", which is exactly what you think it is; having a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He's also against abortion and same sex marriage, and surprisingly, has expressed his views against relativism. 

He was quite the jolly man, though.
        So, yeah, he wasn't a good Pope, but he wasn't a bad Pope either. That being said, he didn't have much time to do papal matters, having been elected Pope at the age of 78. His giving up, though, is something that the world will have a hard time getting over. How come, since John Paul II kept going on even when he couldn't lift his head out of fatigue? Well, he's supposedly losing his mental faculties and he himself admits that he's on his final days, so, there's not much that can be done about that. Yes, he wasn't a bad guy, but yes, he could have done better. 

That being said, it's been a good run, so long, Ratzinger. 

Now, it's not a real goodbye without some of the funny pictures that have arisen thanks to this pope's strange unphotogenic aura. 

In nomine Patris et Fili et Spiritus Sancti,
videre tibi posterius.

Monday, February 4, 2013

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Does Randy Blythe Deserve Freedom?

        As a lot of people in the heavy metal community know, Randy Blythe, the singer of Lamb of God, got into some trouble back in 2010 when he was performing in Club Abaton in Prague. Now, there was this kid, 19 years old, who jumped unto stage, and was pushed back by Blythe, at which moment he fell to the ground, hit his head and died. The twist? The kid had already been pushed off twice by Randy. 

Quite honestly, after the tragic death of Dimebag, one has to take care of  himself onstage.

           Now, it wasn't anything to be surprised about. Randy Blythe usually treats his fans the same way when they jump onstage; you get a small beating and get kicked off the stage. The problem here was that security wasn't there to catch the boy when he fell down. 

Why didn't anybody think of the slam gate?
          So, what happened after that? Blythe left Prague with the rest of Lamb of God, and when he returned, he was arrested with the charge of manslaughter. So, after that, he was detained for a bit, then let go under bail, but he stated that if there was a trail, he would return for it. Now, the laywer handling the accusation is a good one, having imprisoned a few people for life and some for more than a decade, but he's also got a good defense. Randy also stated that he did in fact kick a fan off the stage, but other fans nearby gave thumbs up, which in a meant "all is well". The trial began today, February 4, and will end with the week. Nosek's family's also seeking for $530,000 in damage, and if found guilty, Randy will serve 10 years. 

What's society's verdict? 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

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Mortem Giveaway

           Hey guys. I'm about to turn 18, and that makes me want to celebrate with you. For that reason, I shall give away my book, Mortem, this Friday the 18th for free. Go to my book's Facebook Page the 8th of February, look for the promotional code and download the book! It's my gift to you!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

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Young Talent: Marina Andrienko

          As many people are aware of, it's essential to develop skills when you're young so you can do things like increasing your mental capacity, or, as some of us would rather, having something to show off. Here's one girl with such a talent, her name is Marina Andrienko, and she's the first person ever to be interviewed in this blog, hopefully the first of many.

  • Who inspired you to start playing, and when did you start?
Of course, Matthew Bellamy inspired me to start playing the guitar. I fell in love with him and the way he plays at first sight and note. The thought of his incredible talent made me want to be like him.

  • Is the rest of your family involved in music?
I live with mom, cat and parrot. Well, my mom isn't really involved in music, but she played the piano and sang quite often when I was a child. I always listened to her and sang too. My cat doesn't like music, but the parrot does haha. 

  • Do you just play guitar, or can you play some other instrument?
I play the guitar and recently started to learn the piano. Actually I'd like to play the bass and drums and sing, as well :D.
  • Which are your favorite bands? 
It's a difficult question, I'd rather say I haven't got "favourite" bands except for Muse. More than that, I just listen to songs I like, no matter what band it is. 

  • Do you play in public? Say, concerts or festivals?
I've never played in any publics yet. The reason is that I live in a very small town and there are no such places.

  • How often do you practice? 
I actually don't spend a lot of time on playing now because of my school. Many people ask me how much time I play per day, but I can't answer. Sometimes I can play for days round the clock and sometimes I have no time to play for even a month.

  • How many guitars do you have?
Now I have 2 guitars: Schecter ZV Mirror and Manson Mirror replica. I don't use Manson because it's broken. My previous guitars Gibson Les Paul Custom Silverburst replica and Squier Bullet by Fender are sold.

  • Which guitar do you want to have?
I'd like to get a good Telecaster, don't know which exactly. And of course, a real Manson guitar is my dream.

  • What tips can you give for beginners?
I can just say: love music with all your heart, wish to succeed as much as you can, always believe in your dreams and never give up. 

  • Do you write any songs, and if so, are you planning to release them?
I've composed a couple of songs and I plan to write again when I have free time. I'd really like to release them but at first, I need a band. :)

             So, as we can see, Marina has an excellent attitude and is planning to release some of her own songs when the time comes. I personally believe that she has a lot of potential, and if all goes well, we'll be seeing a lot of her later on. In the meanwhile, here's her Facebook, her Youtube channel, and in case you're "too busy" to go to Youtube, here's Andrienko covering Muse's song Showbiz. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

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Minami Minegishi

          So, recently a video has gone viral in which Japanese pop star Minami Minegishi from AKB48 shaved her head and apologized for having spent the night with a guy. I know, I know, the Japanese are tough on discipline, and this band is known for being strict with its members, which, in terms of keeping quality, should be. There was this condition of not getting into a relationship, apparently, and this artist shaved her head in a sort of penitence of breaking the rules, and I think that it's good to take responsibility for your actions, but she just stayed for one night, it's not like she killed anybody. I say we need to show some love for this girl, at least post something on her Facebook page. The problem is I can't recognize which page is hers, so if one of you knows which facebook page is actually hers I would appreciate it if you posted it in a comment and I'll be sure to post the link here and on the sidebar. 

Here's the original video. 

I’m Minegishi Minami from Umeda team B of AKB48.
I’m very sorry to have caused enormous worry to members, fans, staffs, my families and a lot of other people with the article in the weekly magaizne that is published today.
(Deep Bow)
As the 1st generation member of AKB48, the group that has formed in 2005, it’s my responsibility to always behave as a good role model to juniors. I deeply regret what I did this time. It was a thoughtless deed and I was completely lacking self-awareness as a senior member.
My brain blanked out and I’m still unable to figure out what to do, what I can do. But after I saw the magazine a little ago, I couldn’t help but doing something. And I decided to shave my head without consulting any member or staff at my agency.
Although I don’t think I would be forgiven by doing this, the first thing that I went through my head was that “I don’t want to leave AKB48.”
This is a place where my dear members, who I spent my blossom of youth together, are. And it’s unimaginable to even think about leaving the group where I’m with so many wonderful and sweet fans.
I understand it’s wishful thinking, but if it’s possible, I would like to still be AKB48′s Minegishi Minami.
This is all my fault.
I’m truly sorry.
I will leave my hereafter to the hands of Akimoto-sensei and management.
Though I haven’t been able to tidy my mind up, but I just wanted to tell my current feeling to you.
Thank you so much for listening to me.
(Deep Bow)