A Thought for Every Thursday – Human Algebra

Welcome to A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday we’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it ourselves, we look to you for the resolution.

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Human Algebra

Please complete the following equations using only one word in each blank space:

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______________ + ______________ = Happiness

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_______________ + ______________ = Sorrow

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_______________ + ______________ = Evil

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_______________ + ______________ = Love

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Keep your answers to yourself OR share with the world.

It’s your call.

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

Bury Yourself in Books!

Readers! Philosophers! Hard Partiers!

I want your reviews!

Stars

I’ve got two softcover copies each of every book in the Coffee Table Philosophy series.

And I’m giving them away for FREE!

All you have to do is agree to complete an honest Amazon review within two weeks of receiving your book.

Interested?

If so, choose any of the following (multiples allowed) and I’ll ship FREE same-day to you:

101 Questions for Humanity

101 Questions for Midnight

101 Questions for Men

101 Questions for Women

101 Sex Questions

To get your copy shipped, reach me in the comments section below, via email, via Facebook, or via Twitter.

To get a feel for what’s inside each book, click the images below.

101 Questions for Midnight 101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500 101 Questions for Men Cover 101 Questions for Women Cover 101 Sex Questions

Review me, baby.

I need your lovin’.

J Edward Neill

Now available – 101 Sex Questions!

101 Sex Questions

A sexy departure from the Coffee Table Philosophy series

It’s quick. It’s dirty. It’s fun. It’s a deeper, sweatier take on philosophy. Meant for hot nights alone with your partner, candid conversations between lovers, and parties during which (almost) everything goes.

Includes quizzes about sex, games, and sexy distractions to keep you occupied for hours. Read just one Question…and you’ll want to drown in them all.

101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

For a sample of what you’re in for, check here.

And if you like your philosophy cleaner (and darker) check these out:

101 Questions for Midnight 101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500 101 Questions for Men Cover 101 Questions for Women Cover untitled-200x300

J Edward Neill

Ex Machina Movie Review

Ex-machina-uk-posterDisclaimer: This is a mostly spoiler-free review

In the modern realm of wide-release films, it’s rare to see science-fiction movies that are:

A. Unabashedly intellectual

and

B. Not reliant on hyper-violent technological advances

Ex Machina is both of these.

I saw this movie in a cozy, nearly empty theater.  I felt torn about the empty part, because I worried it might mean not enough people were interested in the kind of movie I’d like to see a whole lot more of. Apparently that’s not the case, since to date it’s netted a cool $18.7M. That’s good news. Great news, actually. Meanwhile, the experience was almost ruined by a few stereotypical loud-ass movie talkers. But the offending parties managed to shut up long enough for the rest of us to focus.

Thank goodness for that.

At first, Ex Machina comes off as boy-meets-girl completely flipped on its head. Caleb (played to nerd-fection by Domhnall Gleeson) is an apparent coding whiz for a huge computer search engine company. When he’s selected to travel to a mysterious, almost CIA-like black box facility, he does so with glee. And who wouldn’t? For an opportunity to meet Ava, the world’s most advanced android, most of us would leap in headfirst. And the setting in Ex Machina is so realistic, one begins to believe something like this can…and will…happen someday soon. Go Caleb. Get some.

If Arnold Schwarzenegger was the perfect person to play the original Terminator, Alicia Vikander (who plays the aforementioned android) is perfect-er. She’s eerie. She’s beautiful. And she nails every little tic you’d expect from a woman-robot. It’s clear from the beginning who owns the dialogue between Ava and Caleb. And it ain’t Caleb. I have to believe Lady Vikander will score big based on her performance here. She echoes the strength of Game of Thrones’ super-heroine (Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen) and frosts it with the sort of intelligence you’d like to see Hollywood give more of its female roles.

Very quickly, the boy-meets-girl vibe melts away.

For those who aren’t aware of what the Turing Test is, I recommend you study the concept. It’s the frontline premise of Ex Machina, and quite possibly (in part due to this year’s epic The Imitation Game) a new piece of vernacular everyone will soon become familiar with. Essentially, the Turing Test is the methodology for determining whether or not an A.I. can behave human enough to trick us into no longer knowing it’s a computer. If the computer fools the human, it passes.

Turns out the one inviting Caleb to perform the world’s most important Turing Test (on Ava) is the buff yet emotionally FUBAR Nathan (played to frat-brother genius levels by Oscar Isaac.) Nathan is like a chessmaster working both sides of the board. He’s got tech game like no one’s business, and a penchant for working off his hangovers by pumping iron and intimidating the slim, non-alpha Caleb. Nathan’s motivation is the question of the hour. It’s clear he wants more than just a Turing Test. And it’s obvious he gets his rocks off by head-fucking people. But the lines between antagonist and protagonist are blurred, just as they should be.

Where Ex Machina really succeeds is in its pace, its dialogue, and its atmosphere. Caleb’s encounters with Ava are blocked off into seven sessions, each of them growing in intensity. Conversations between Caleb and Ava have a permanent shadow lying overhead, a subtle reminder that she’s smarter, quicker in her learning curve, and possibly deadlier. And the hyper-realistic, we-could-picture-these-moments-actually-happening, verbal sparring between Caleb and Nathan leave one needing to know what comes next. Even once our suspicions of dread become tense enough to snap.

Not to be underestimated is the melodic yet somewhat dark soundtrack. Composers Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow blend their music so well into the film I knew halfway through I needed to buy it and play it…over and over again. Which I did end up doing.

untitledAnd then there’s the end sequence. It’ll be hard to watch without wanting to see it again and then immediately becoming a part of the growing online discussion. I’ve read many takes on the path of evolution Ava takes. Some speak of sweetness, others of liberation, but I saw something darker. Watch it twice, I say. And tell me you don’t sense one possibility for how the world might end.

 

So if you crave MORE than robots with laser guns, spaceships doing things that are impossible in space, and over-the-top future battles, go see Ex Machina.  It’s a solid A, and the best sci-fi movie to hit theaters in a long, long time. And if I have a special love for it, it’s also because the director, Alex Garland, is also an author and screenwriter. Would that I were so talented.

From time to time, I’ll review more movies.

Sorry ’bout that.

Get into my coffee table philosophy series here.

J Edward Neill

 

101 Questions for Humanity

Surprise New Paperback Release!!

J Edward Neill dives headfirst into philosophical non-fiction with his latest book:

101 Questions for Humanity

101 Questions for Humanity

Designed to provoke, question, and challenge, 101 Questions for Humanity is the supreme coffee table book for armchair philosophers. Crack it open during big parties, small gatherings, or lonely nights on the couch. Entertain yourself…or twenty friends.

One philosophical challenge per page…101 pages.

Once you taste one question, you’ll want to devour them all!

To get a feel for 101 Questions’ content, check out the popular blog, 10 Questions for Humanity.

101 Questions for Humanity

Now available on Amazon

J Edward Neill

Ten MORE Questions for Humanity

PaperTigerChasing

For the original 10 Questions for Humanity, go HERE.

For my new philosophy book, 101 Questions for Humanityclick here!

As for today, you get ten MORE questions. Because…thought provoking.

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A Moment of Omniscience

If you could ask ONE question of the universe and have it answered utterly and completely, what would it be?

This One’s Rhetorical

Why do so many people get so angry about politics?

No Judgments, I Promise

From the following, choose the worst thing you could possibly be addicted to: Alcohol, Drugs, Sex, Gambling…or TV…

 UFC 666: Jesus versus Superman

If you could lock any two historical figures (dead or alive) in a cage for a fight to the death, which two would you pick?

 That Song by The Clash

A fascinating new planet is discovered far from Earth. You can journey there safely and live out your life, but it’s a one-way ticket for you and whomever you take. Do you stay or go?

Stepford Wives (And Husbands)

Let’s say science perfects an absolutely lifelike robot for use as a spouse. And let’s say this beautiful, intelligent, customized-to-you robot will do anything and everything you ask. You buying one?

Continuing the Shallow Theme

Perfect body? Perfect face? Or perfect intellect?

Crimes Against Ourselves

Considering everything, does humanity deserve to exist?

In the Battle Between

Is there any such thing as absolute good or evil?

Back to the Future

You’ve built a time machine. It only goes one direction in time. Do you want to see how it all began? Or how it all will end?

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Disclaimer 1: In observance of Tessera’s no politics, no religion policy, please eat salt after reading this

Disclaimer 2: I know the answers. I’m more interested in what you have to say

To support all of my bad habits, check this out: 101 Deeper Darker Cover

Love,

J Edward Neill

Tessera’s Top Five Posts from 2014

First off…

Happy New Year!

I’m going to assume you all are recovering from last night’s festivities, so today’s post is a simple one. Let’s look back into the Tessera archives and reminisce, shall we? Here are the top 5 posts (by views) from 2014.

5. Taking a Stab at Marvel Movies by John McGuire

It’s not surprising this made the cut. Marvel is huge. Marvel is everywhere.

4. Forget Me Not by John McGuire

Writing – Where do writers get all those ideas? Another post by John McGuire!

3. Ten Questions for Humanity by J Edward Neill 

Neill gets philosophical in this popular post from just a couple weeks ago.

2. Monsters, Magic and Moonlight by Amanda Makepeace

That’s me! This was my pre-Halloween post on spooky art through the ages.

1. My Top Six Videos Games of All Time by J Edward Neill

Yes, on a website of writers and artists, our top post of 2014 is about video games. This post sparked us all to write up our own top six video games.

Diablo

Here’s to a fantastic 2015!