Thursday, February 25, 2010

Similarities Between Firefly and The OC

I have finally seen the series Firefly, and I have noticed some similarities between it and something else. We all know Mal and Han Solo have a lot in common (for the uninformed: they're both gun-happy space smugglers), but what about comparing another old Fox show--The O.C.? Fans of The O.C. and fans of science fiction don't usually overlap, but since I saw the The Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager in an O.C. cameo, I've realized that all bets are off.

  • Nandi/Julie Cooper: This is probably the most direct similarity. Nandi, from the Firefly episode "Heart of Gold," and Julie Cooper, a regular character on the O.C., are both played by the same woman, the lovely Melinda Clarke. Both characters are rather promiscuous (Nandi is literally a whore), yet despite the things they may do wrong (including Julie's constant conniving), they both have some good at heart, and you can't help feeling bad for them. These characteristics are rather more subtle in Julie Cooper.
  • Tracy/Oliver: Tracy, Mal and Zoe's war buddy from the Firefly episode "The Message," is a cowardly, selfish guy who is willing to indirectly break the lives of the people around him. He clearly shouldn't be trusted, but sweet, sensitive, and so naïve Kaylee starts to like his awkward charm just a bit too much, especially after her fight with her love interest, Simon. Oliver, a character who appears in one arc of The O.C., is a cowardly, selfish guy who is willing to indirectly break the lives of the people around him. He clearly shouldn't be trusted, but sweet, sensitive, and often-naïve Marissa starts to like his awkward charm, and wants to save him and protect him, especially as her love interest, Ryan, constantly protests, causing them to fight. Fortunately, Tracy lasted for far less time than Oliver did; both are utterly detestable. Side note: If I remember correctly, The O.C. had another character like Oliver in the third season, when the show was basically repeating itself and everyone had run out of ideas.
  • Mal/Ryan: Malcolm Reynolds is the main character of Firefly. Ryan Atwood is the main character of The O.C. Mal likes to punch people. Ryan likes to punch people. Mal loves a high-class girl but the series ends before they realize they should be together. Ryan loves a high-class girl but her life ends before they realize they should just be together (thank goodness--I hated Marissa). Mal has a goofy friend named Wash. Ryan has a goofy friend named Seth. Mal is in a world--really, a galaxy--that rejects him and his crew. Ryan is in a world--really, a city--that rejects him, his manners, and all he knows. They even look similar:

If you can think of any more similarities, add them in a comment!

P.S. The O.C. lasted for multiple seasons, and I wish Firefly had that in common as well. :(

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Analogies for Pointers in Computer Science

As part of an argument with an acquaintance for why C is better than Java, and why it is worth the hassle to use pointers, I quickly came up with a few analogies for pointers and why they are cool. My programming prof liked them, so I am providing them here for your enjoyment. If you don't know what a pointer is, see Wikipedia.

On using pointers:
  • +It's like texting your roommate to say "There's cake in the fridge if you want some" instead of actually bringing him/her the cake.
  • +It's like passing around a kite string, and then everybody gets to fly the kite without moving the actual kite at all, just the string.
  • +It's like Rickrolling in that you can pass around the same link with many names, and still end up in the same place.
If you have any more, you should totally add them in a comment!

(And if you want to use these for your class or tutorial, feel free, but please cite me!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

On Fixed and Wandering Churches

When a church has a building, it has security. It has the ability to run multiple morning services, Christmas Eve services, Sunday School, mid-week services, VBS, youth group, staff meetings, and anything else necessary in the same building without giving it a second thought. Churches who don't have buildings of their own, those who meet in homes or colleges or places that they rent, have no such security. They don't know if they can count on having the same place for Sunday service a year from now, and they often have to scrounge for places to meet for anything extra. Holding a VBS of their own is essentially out of the question. For some of these churches without buildings, their size is simply much too small to warrant one; for others, they are growing and could use one, but the financial situation makes it impossible.

However, a church without the security of a building has to rely somewhat more on God, not knowing where they will be in a year, or what they will do for a location if they are blessed with more growth, and that can create a better spiritual foundation for the church. On the other hand, churches with buildings may have paid more than they could reasonably expect to afford, getting space for more people than they could reasonably expect to have, and if it was pride rather than God telling them to go ahead with the building project, they should not be surprised if the security that they expected never shows up.

If, while the weather is dry, God says to Noah, "Build an ark," and Noah complies, he can trust that the floods will eventually come. Conversely, if Noah decides on his own to build an ark while the weather is dry, expecting that the floods will come, but has no word from God that he should do such a thing, why should he expect the floods to come? If God tells Noah to build an ark of a certain size, and he chooses to build it bigger or smaller, should he expect to survive the flood? Should he expect to be blessed?

If a church does everything that God asks of it, if the leaders pray and listen before taking the steps to gain a building, and the reply is "Yes, build," and they are good stewards of what money they have, the church ought to be able to trust God that the finances will be worked out, regardless of their apparent state. Yet, if, out of pride, they build when they should not, or if, from lack of faith, they do not build when they should, they surely can expect the growth of their church to stagnate. Are we not instructed to be faithful even with little?

The church is the people, and moreover, the relationship of the people with God. The temple would not have been built if the building meant nothing, and yet, the building would be nothing without the people in it to learn and to worship, and the building is nothing without the presence and the blessing of God.