Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Rain Of Blame Falls Mostly On The Cain

At the time of writing this post it's not clear whether or not Herman Cain will shut down his campaign for the Republican presidential candidacy over allegations of a thirteen-year affair (he's "reassessing", something he might have tried after he accidentally revealed he doesn't know which country Libya is), but given the howls of outrage coming from his former followers, it's worth revisiting what I said three weeks ago: far, far too many people consider a man committing adultery to be a much worse activity than a man pressuring uninterested women into sleeping with them.

Adultery is a "sex scandal", and as such, I don't give a shit about it.  I feel bad for the man's wife, because it's not going to be much fun for her in the next few weeks/months.  But that's it.  Maybe she knew, maybe she didn't.  Maybe she'll forgive him, maybe she won't.  Maybe there'll be a divorce.  Hell, maybe it isn't even true (though apparently Cain's lawyer's statement is somewhat damning - I've not read it myself).

Sexual harassment is not a "sex scandal".  It is merely scandalous behaviour which happens to involve the pursuit of sex.  And it's scandalous not because it offends the Victorian mores of certain groups of the population, but because it's the deliberate refusal to respect the feelings and motivations of another person on an intimate subject in order to get exactly what you want without any of that complicated business of actually finding out how someone feels.

And every time someone tries to equate the two, they're implicitly making the argument that all that matters is whether a man is attempting to cheat on his wife, and any other women in the story is simply a mechanism by which that man's goal can succeed or fail.

See also.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Xth Iteration

Depending on how one looks at it, Uncanny X-Men #1 has either two jobs, or three.  The first is the most obvious: it has to work as a jumping on point for new readers.  The second and third jobs are to still be recognisable as part of the progression of a book now in its forty-second consecutive year, and to justify the fuss and bother of a) removing half of the characters and setting them down on the other side of the country and b) renumbering a book which was only five months away from reaching UXM #550 [1]. One could argue that the second task is contained within the third, but whatever.  This book has shit to do.

(Spoilers after the jump)

Saturday, 26 November 2011


I've been playing a lot of Streets of Rage 3 lately, since I bought it three years ago and still haven't gotten around to finishing it (or even getting more than halfway through).  My initial opinion was that it was a big disappointment, but I decided to give it another chance whilst sober, rather than just playing it at 1am after everyone else has passed out, as I've been doing up until now.
(Note how the black kid has been left off the cover art
in favour of a marsupial.  That's some racist BS right there.)
 Turns out I was right the first time.  I can't believe how successful Sega were in making literally every aspect of the game worse than its predecessor.  The previously wonderful music (one level's music was so good that I used to pause the game at that point and sit and read with it in the background) is now a nightmarish jumble of nonsense - apparently a random note generator was employed, and my God you can tell.  The sprites have been enlarged for no real reason, meaning the limited frames used in animation are more obvious and, more critically, you can have fewer opponents on screen at any given time.
That ties into another problem.  The real fun in Streets of Rage 2 lay in cranking up the difficulty so that the screen became flooded with a host of villainous scumbags all practically begging to be punched in the face.  This game has drastically downgraded the damage each of your moves does, meaning the game is both harder (though some of that might just be my difficulty in shaking the tactics I settled on in the first game), and features significantly fewer enemies.  Moreover, there's fewer kinds of foes, which is completely unforgivable.  Even the naming conventions are less interesting: the prancing shuriken-throwing ninjas from the last installment are back, but back then they all had their own names.  Not anymore.  There also seems to be less variety even of moves, the Thai kickboxers (all with their own names, natch) have been replaced with flame-haired fashion victims with a fraction of the repertoire.

The only slight improvements are the ability to run and roll, which speeds the game up, and the inclusion of more interactive backdrops.  Even this causes more problems than it seems, though, the controls (at least in the Wii version) are too sensitive, meaning that all those lovely new pits and cargo-carriers are too difficult to avoid - one moment you're happily kicking some fat fucker in the gonads, the next you've dropped into a forward roll and tumbled yourself into the path of an oncoming vehicle.  Plus, once you get past the increased interaction, the backgrounds themselves are massively boring.  Gone are the days of stabbing muggers on a pirate ship, I can tell you.

Still, it's not a complete write-off.  You do at least have the option to play as a violence-crazed slap-happy kangaroo (a master of the... martsupial arts?)  On the other hand, you don't have the option to play as a character in a particularly good game.  Which is a shame.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Requiem For Podsixia

This may require knowledge of two entirely different cult TV shows to work at maximum effectiveness, where "maximum effectiveness" is defined as "laughing your ribs through your lungs".  On the other hand, you may just have to be a BSG fan.  Let's find out.

(As soon as this video started, I knew Gaeta was going to end up being Hesh).

h/t to Gooder, for finding this and bringing it to my attention.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Mitt & Al

Steve Benen (amongst others) pulls Mitt Romney up on the latest of lapses of truthfulness.

Benen notes that claiming that your middle name is actually your first name is hardly a big lie.  I'd go further, in fact, and say it's a total non-event, especially when, as in this video, it's at least arguable that Romney is making a joke.

Basically, there's no "there" there.  So why am I even mentioning it?  Because the incident brings to mind two thoughts.  Firstly, had Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. claimed that his first name was "Al", would it have been ignored, or would the press have sunk their teeth into it as another piece of evidence that the man was a congenital liar?  (Hint: it's that second one.)

Second, why is the "Mitt is a liar" narrative not caught on the same way it did with Gore in 2000.  It's certainly not been totally ignored (once George Will calls a Republican a liar, you know things have gotten bad), but it's not reached anything like the lunatic fever pitch that Gore went through.  Is it because Romney is merely the presumptive nominee right now, as oppose to the chosen candidate?

And if the latter is true, what happens when (and it surely is when) Romney gets the nod?  Will the storyline take hold, or will it actually be dropped entirely as "old news" (which, of course, means "a storyline we're bored of and OH LOOK YOU GUYS A SHINY PENNY!").

I'm guessing it will be, actually.  Someone needs to keep an eye on Bob Somerby; I'm not sure his heart can take what's coming.

Still Unsupported

Sorry for the paucity of posts around here right now.  I actually had something in mind to write about last night, but I got caught up fighting with my CD drive again.  Through the application of a knackered external CD-RW drive I found buried in my gubbins, I have now successfully demonstrated that my computer can recognise CD drives (unfortunately said drive is too knackered to be of use otherwise).  The hunt for why it refuses to recognise the internal hard drive continues.

Also, thanks for the various offers of tech support and suggestions for what to try next.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

True Facts

Insomnia, insomnia
There's clearly something wrong wi' ya
Tomorrow I'll be a zombie, yeah
Just shoot me in the head.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Statistics Is Fun And Easy

This caught my eye (from multiple sources; original here) today: a handy graph proving that you can underline some of the most serious obstacles to economic justice without even having to reach for a protractor.

Could the above have some connection to some US billionaires having a de facto 1% tax rate?  We report, you decide!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Fire And Balls

I had been planning to use this post for a quick review of Stephen Donaldson's Gildenfire, which I picked up from Barter Books a little while ago.  That plan lasted right up until I actually read it.  Billed as "an untold episode from The Illearth War", it's pretty much a single chapter that Donaldson cut from the book, with the print blown up so it can fill a 94 page hardback book.

It's not bad, by any means (Donaldson cut it for narrative reasons, and entirely correctly), but I feel slightly ripped off just for paying £3.50 for it second hand.  It hardly helps that the "missing" story it purports to tell was actually three times as long, with this slice being apparently the least interesting.

That's pretty much all there is to say on the subject.  So let's talk about something altogether more awesome: power snooker!

I had no idea this existed until I happened to stumble across this year's semi-final between O'Sullivan and Robertson.  It's like someone watched those "Extra time multi-ball!" ads from a few years ago and decided to apply it to snooker.  Instead of a frame limit, the game has a half hour clock.  Instead of counting the frames, the scores just keep being added to until the timer runs out (O'Sullivan was north of 500 by the time the match ended).  There's only twenty seconds allowed per shot (on pain of a 20 point penalty), and only nine reds at break-off, but what makes it really insane is that one of the red balls is the "power ball", which once potted doubles the score of all other balls for the next two minutes, irrespective of who's at the table. In addition, anything potted from behind the baulk line is worth double points as well (quadruple once the power ball is in effect).

The whole thing is ludicrously, delightfully mental, and the crowd are encouraged to add to the madness with chants and boos.  Apparently the game is only a shade over a year old, but I hope it becomes a permanent fixture.  As much as I love snooker, when the funniest moment your game of choice has to offer is "Snooker Loopy", it's time to shake things up a little.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Tech Lack Of Support

The scene: SpaceSquid arrives at the PC World help desk, his desktop stack clutched in his slightly effeminate hands.

Friendly Assistant #1: Can I help you, sir?

SpaceSquid: Yes.  I paid you guys to transfer my data to a new hard drive, and the CD drive wasn't working when it came back.

FA#1: That's odd.

SS: Yes.

FA#1: It's probably a connection issue.  Or the software.

SS: ...Yes.

FA#1: I guess those are the only two options anyway.

SS: Indeed.  A haunting would be my next guess, but it's a distant third.

FA#1: Well, I'll hand you over to the tech guy.

SS: Thanks.

Friendly Assistant #2: Can I help you, sir?

SS: Yes.  As I was saying, you guys were kind enough to transfer my data to a new hard drive not long ago, but the CD drive no longer works.

FA#2: Oh.

SS: ...Yes.  And I was wondering if you could fix it?

FA#2: Well, we're not allowed to do that kind of thing in-store anymore.  We'll have to send it away.

SS: Really?

FA#2: 'Fraid so.  Should take about a week, cost fifty quid.

SS: Fifty quid?

FA#2: Fifty quid.

SS: I'm finding it hard to understand why you expect me to pay for a repair that only became necessary after you got your hands on my PC.

FA#2: Well, do you have an agreement with us.

SS: Meaning?

FA#2: Do you pay us every month?

SS: No.

FA#2: Then it's not our responsibility.

SS: It's not your responsibility to do the job you say you'll do after I give you money?

FA#2: That wasn't the job you paid for.  You paid for the hard drive.

SS: Yes, because the CD drive was working when I gave it to you!  How is "Don't break anything" not implicit?

FA#2: I'm saying we did the hard drive job.  Think of it like in a garage.  You come in, pay us to fix a wheel, we fix a wheel.  But then you want your suspension fixed: that's a new job.

SS:  Fine.  If this a garage, then this is what happened:  I came in, paid you to fix a wheel, and whilst you were fixing the wheel, you set the car on fire.  And now you want me to pay to borrow a hose.

This goes on for some time, and ends in stalemate.  No money changes hands, but I still can't access by back-up CDs or listen to "Ashes & Fire".  Balls.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Lies Of Leonidas

This is a very interesting article by David Brin, in which he essentially tells Frank Miller to go fuck himself. Obviously, anyone telling Frank The Dark Knight Strikes Again Miller to go fuck himself is entirely welcome, because Frank Miller going and fucking himself is literally the most aesthetically worthy thing Frank Miller can still be considered capable of.

It's the specific reasons David Brin suggests Frank Miller go fuck himself that are worthy of note, though.  The news that 300 is about as representative of the actual Battle of Thermopylae as Plants vs Zombies is of horticulture during a pandemic can hardly be considered surprising.  But I think Brin is dead right when he suggests there are different categories into which fiction which is at least nominally historical can be placed.  There are various ways one could do this, of course, but let's consider the following four:
  • Striving for as much accuracy as is feasible (Changeling, Cry Freedom, Zodiac)
  • Not really interested in accuracy (U-571, Evita)
  • Actually goes so far as to invert the truth
  • As above, but for specific political ends (Jud Suss)
There's definitely grey areas between each of those, of course, depending on how one defines "political ends", what one does and doesn't consider "sufficient" accuracy, and of course how well a film tallies with your own personal opinions of historical events and figures (you'll have a job finding a Republican who thinks Road To 9/11 lacks accuracy, for instance).  Nevertheless, they do give us a framework with which to operate upon.

Assuming Brin's description of the surrounding history is accurate (and it quite closely to what I dimly remember from primary school - I suspect Jamie might have more to say on the issue), then I think there's ample evidence that 300 has failed the tests necessary to place it in either of the first two categories.  The important questions are this: has the film, as Brin alleges, actually fallen into the fourth class, and become propaganda, and does it really matter if it has?

Regarding the first question, I can certainly see an argument - Miller clearly hates the idea of people protesting against dire economic conditions when they should be signing up to fight Al Queda, which certainly ties in with 300's contempt for any form of civilian (even those willing to fight) in comparison to career soldiers.  The moral of the tale (such as it is) must surely be that we need as many batshit-insane heavily-bronzed murderous motherfuckers on hand as we possibly can for the day we're attacked by brown people riding hijacked planes prehistoric rhinos, and any form of civic consideration in the meantime is just going to get in the way.  Well, that, and that those who advocate peace are traitors and rapists.  It may not be a slam-dunk, but it's certainly a plausible case.

The second question is harder to answer.  Should we care?  We're not required to like the politics of a given artist, or even the art itself, to enjoy it (though of course there's a difference between disagreement and taking objection to).  And, like all such films, it's hard to expect anyone who knew nothing about the second Persian invasion of Greece to care much upon learning that it didn't happen the way Miller and Snyder have told them it did.  There's also the fact that the narrative bookmarks itself as propaganda, by having Dilios telling the story of Thermopylae to fellow Spartans he is specifically trying to encourage and inspire ("Leonidas was a bit shit but the Athenians really saved our arses!" isn't likely to lead to same swelling of one's martial pride).  And to be entirely frank, just how much intellectual damage can be done by a film which is bursting at the seams with painted-on abs?

So does that let 300 off the hook?  It's too ridiculous and divorced from reality to be taken seriously as propaganda?  Would it make a difference if Miller had written about three hundred Space Spartans fighting off an alien horde on the planet Thermopylae IX (cf. Heinlein's Starship Troopers)? 

I admit I haven't made my mind up yet, but it's certainly all food for thought, as we all sit around waiting for the violent self-fucking Miller so obviously deserves...

Monday, 14 November 2011

Old Man River

Fevre Dream is very intentionally a novel of two parts, to the point where I'm not entirely sure why Martin didn't make the split more explicit.  Having said that, I think doing so would have made the main problem with the novel all the more explicit: the break in the action robs the story of almost all of its forward momentum.  The narrative manages to claw itself back into full gear, but only just - pretty much the very instant we're back at full speed, the main story ends, and we're left with only a brief epilogue to round things off.

Which is a real shame, because for most of its run, the book is very good indeed.  As is common with Martin, the narrative is third-person limited; our windows into the story are Abner Marsh - a spectacularly ugly but formidable steamboat captain, and Sour Billy Tipton - a depraved slave master with eyes on rising above his station.  Abner is a nice creation, dogged loyalty and grim determination warring constantly with a volatile temper and knuckle-dragging masculinity.  Sour Billy is somewhat less interesting, a fairly standard sadistic bastard, but his observations are critical to the novel, and are interesting enough in their own right.

It's the basic theme that's the real winner here.  Using the unthinking, endless erosion of the Mississippi River as a metaphor for the immortal power of vampires is an inspired idea.  The river itself is constant, but by gouging out new channels as it erodes it surroundings, it ends up changing itself.  The same is true of Martin's vampires - they cannot change themselves, but by the gradual accumulation of their actions, they find themselves changed from without, and not simply because mankind is desperate to kill them whenever possible.

Contrasted with this are humans like Abner.  Their surfaces are as changeable as that of the Ohio - calm or turbulent, pale or cloudy or dangerously dark, or even frozen entirely, but underneath it all, they are the same river.  Part of the point of the arresting stop partway through the book seems to be an attempt to drive this home as explicitly as possible, which is a shame, because it was working exceptionally well as subtext, and isn't well-served by the sledge-hammer approach.

That gripe aside, however (I'd say this issue reduces the book from a four and a half star work to one that just scrapes four stars), the constant intertwining of stasis and change provides the perfect backdrop for what is, at heart, perhaps not the most original vampire tale one could imagine, and combined with the vivid atmosphere provided by the moonlit river and by Martin's descriptive skill, it's a story well worth reading.  Especially since the ending, if rushed, is solidly built, both surprising upon initial encounter and completely obvious upon reflection.  Martin has proven already with A Song of Ice and Fire that he's more than capable of seeding sufficient clues into a tale to make the reader slap themselves when they finally figure out what's going on, and Fevre Dream pulls off the same trick.

Plus, it's a full-length Martin story that has actually ended.  That's worth celebrating in itself.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

What Happens Tomorrow

I remember a lot of people raving about Let The Right One In when it first came out three years ago, and having finally gotten to see it, I can see why.  It features two very impressive child actors - Kare Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson -  in what can't have exactly been easy roles (Leandersson, in particular, manages to maintain the balance of vulnerability and danger playing a lonely twelve-year old serial killer demands), who manage to carry the film more or less entirely on their own.

This is important because, the occasional tweaking of the vampire myth aside, this is a film almost entirely about how lonely it can be to be a child.  Oskar is almost entirely disconnected from his parents, his father by distance, and his mother by, well, I'm not entirely sure what, but there's definitely some kind of problem (one wonders whether Oskar took his father's side during the split).  Eli, for her part, has only Hakan for company, a loyal assistant who nevertheless has become too old to help her as well as she requires.

(Spoilers follow)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Advent Of Destruction

After I returned from voluntary exile on Arran, I stopped in to visit lyndagb and James, along with their gorgeous spawn.  In between games of "Who's phoning Thea?", it was brought to my attention that I haven't passed judgement on the season finale of Doctor Who.  Even my Supernatural post wasn't so tardy. 

We therefore jump in our SIDRAT (what? They're much more reliable!), and consider the conclusion to Season 6.  Spoilers, obviously, follow.

Actually, and sorry for all the effort you went to clicking on "Read more", there's really not a lot to say.  By my lights, this was by some distance the least irritating season closer since the show returned, but that's faint praise, given that a) it didn't include a Bill and Ted temporal get-out clause in order to disguise having written oneself into a corner, and b) it wasn't written by someone who holds their audience and logic itself in equal contempt. 

It should also be noted that after five years of being disappointed by the new series (though in fairness Season 5 was a massive improvement on what had gone before), I've made the conscious choice to watch the show in as dispassionate a manner as possible, viewing it as a weekly curiosity rather than the continuation of what was for much of my childhood unquestionably my favourite show.  Has Doctor Who improved over the last two years, of have I simply stopped caring?  It's difficult to say.

Still, we all bring something by way of baggage and training to any show we return to, so perhaps it doesn't matter all that much. "The Wedding of River Song" was fast-paced, funny, and gave us as many answers as we could have possibly expected (again, this is training: Moffat will feed us tidbits at the end of a year, RTD will explain it all, but it will be shit and make no sense).  It seems from looking at the explosion of internet traffic that followed the finale that for the majority of people, whether or not one enjoyed the finale was almost perfectly correlated with whether or not one considered the Doctor's escape from certain death a BS swindle.

Personally, whilst I completely understood why so many people were annoyed, I was OK with it, because as convenient as the Tessalector's sudden arrival was (and how come it was suddenly able to fake the Arton energy that surrounds a regeneration these days?), this mattered less than the realisation that the Doctor was planning to fake his own death.  Compare that with, say, the Season 4 finale, in which the Doctor suddenly claims he doesn't have to change his form if he doesn't want to so long as there's a severed hand around and that hand can then turn into him so he can fuck Billie Piper.  At least Moffat's dodge was motivated by coherent characterisation, and not the apparent desire to write a show's slash fiction into the programme itself.

I suspect, in fact, that I would have forgiven much worse under the circumstances, because Moffat was doing exactly what a good showrunner should: finding the most interesting and entertaining way possible to fix a serious problem with the narrative.  That problem, of course, was the evermore ludicrous "lonely God" angle to the Doctor's character, that was fascinating when it was nodded to during the McCoy yeas, and absolutely unbearable when RTD took it and, like everything else, smashed it into our skulls with a mallet.  Moffat is not blameless himself (witness "Forest of the Dead"), but he saw a problem, and now he's fixed it, and managed to have fun doing so.

All in all, then, it was a pretty good conclusion.  The real problem now is where to go next.  If the Doctor is now believed to be dead by the universe, what's going to happen the next time he fights the Daleks?  Is he going to have to wear a disguise? ("I wear a Groucho Marx mask now.  Groucho Marx masks are coo - wait, forget I said that").

I hope not.  Indeed, I hope the Daleks remain in blissful ignorance of his survival from this point on.  Not just because their latest designs are utter shit, but because I love the idea that the scions of Skaro have believed since the beginning that they only had to weather "The Oncoming Storm" until he hit his eleventh incarnation...

Friday, 11 November 2011

Friday Redheads

Well, it might be auburn, actually.  I've been making an effort to increase my painting speed, which has dropped precipitously in recent months.  Here's the first miniature off the production line (aside from a few extra Ultramarines who will doubtless show up at some point) the cheeky Rogue from Talisman's Highland expansion.

(I apologise for the photo not being particularly brilliant - I'm having trouble getting it to do what I actually want it to.  All the rest are worse, if you can belive it.)

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Thank God We Have White Guys To Explain How Women And Black People Should Act

I don't have enough time (though I certainly have sufficient vitriol) to tear apart this horrendously inaccurate and occasionally creepy National Review article on the subject of Herman Cain's recent troubles over multiple charges of sexual harassment  Fortunately, Charles P. Pierce has done a lot of the work already, with his characteristic flair.  It's particularly impressive to watch someone argue that contracting a disease with a 30% chance of survival should count against five women alleging sexual harassment or sexual assault against them.  Presumably, if that number had fallen to 10%, he could have gotten away with chasing them into the bathrooms and slapping their faces with "little Cain".

One thing I did want to pick up on, though, was this quote here:
Cain, who has not as of yet actually been accused of engaging in sexual intercourse with a female subordinate, finds himself in the "sexual harassment" labyrinth, from which there are few paths out in the present era.
This is indicative of the confusion that lies at the heart of much of the white noise that endlessly hisses away throughout these free-for-alls: the Puritanical inability (or refusal) to comprehend that sexual harassment and sexual intercourse aren't remotely the same thing.  Indeed, it's pretty difficult to manage both of them at the same time with the same person.  The majority of this article - when it isn't busy trying to persuade us that it's actually the people in power who are the victims of all those hot little pieces of pert young ass - is the lament that for some reason, it's harder to get away with telling women they won't be hired if they don't put out than it is finding people who want to sleep with you, and then sleeping with them.

It's almost as if in Hanson's deranged mind Cain deserves credit for the fact that he's too unattractive to have managed to commit adultery.  "Sure, he kept trying to get his subordinates to fuck him, but no-one's even suggested he was ever successful."  Of course, the true giveaway as to what's really going on here is this:
Monica Lewinsky[s] ... subordinate status in an asymmetrical relationship with her putative boss should, in terms of doctrinaire sexual harassment, have made her a victim and the president a predator, irrespective of her eager consent. 
Let's take a moment to let that sink in: "doctrinaire sexual harassment" shouldn't take into account whether both parties were eager to get their freak on.  I'm not particularly interested in defending Clinton's actions in general, but the above quote is a flashing warning light - this is an article about how extra-marital sex and sexual harassment both have "sex" in their names, and sex is icky.

Until these people pull themselves together and start making distinctions between behaviour they find appalling as observers, and behaviour people find appalling as victims of it, we're going to have to face this nonsense every time. Moreover, until they reach enlightenment, Hanson and his ilk are going to continue to remain hilariously unaware of their implicit sexism: "Why is horndoggery more acceptable just because the woman's into it"?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Hypocrisy Two-Step

I read Steve "The Machine" Benen's defence of Elizabeth Warren against some typically unhinged conservative attack lines this morning, and it got me thinking.

A narrow and pedantic point, first: I don't think Rick Manning actually is using the word "hypocrisy" incorrectly.  To be sure, the charge of hypocrisy he is levelling against Warren is total bullshit, but that's because he's straight-up lying about what Warren has actually said and done.  If I called George Osborn a hypocrite for decrying domestic violence despite him holding his extended family captive in a windowless basement so he can drink deep from their arteries in strict rotation, it wouldn't be the word itself that would be the problem, but the invention of a mode of behaviour out of whole cloth.  I'm not saying Osborn doesn't have an underground lair filled with emaciated thralls kept alive merely to provide him with an alternative to consuming back-benchers live on camera, I just assume they'll be no-mark peasants, rather than members of his Secret Barony of the Ebon Heart.

However, both Benen (and Krugman before him) are right in the wider context that any attempt by a wealthy American to actually suggest wealthy Americans should use that wealth to stop the country falling apart and all the peons starving to death is immediately condemned as being a hypocrite.

Obviously, this is a feature, not a bug.  It's the second stage of Operation: Plutocrats Uber Alles that's always and everywhere underway, but is close to total success over in the States.  Stage one, of course, was to ensure that meaningful political participation in the US is all but impossible without being a millionaire oneself (or being close friends with a whole mess of them). Stage two is to ensure any millionaire with interests outside their economic bracket is labelled a hypocrite, and hence discredited.  Watching media outlets like Politico pretend not to understand this as they help out their obscenely wealthy overlords is endlessly frustrating, but it's not particularly difficult to work out what's going on.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Supernatural Supreme

So I heard tell that various peeps across the internet were dissin' up Supernatural Season 6 during the first half of its run, and I decided to jump right on that and offer a full-throated defence a mere three months too late.  Punctuality is not how I roll!

Well, there's that, and the fact that the sixth year of the show is really something that has to be viewed as a whole. Frankly, I'm not sure I'm particularly happy about that fact: I'm on the record (so, so many times) as feeling a little disappointed that this series has become so wrapped up in its year-long stories that the only time we take a break for something different it's invariably a "comedy" episode, which don't always work as well as people think ("The French Mistake" isn't funny, it's just several dozen people shouting "We can take a joke!" straight at the camera), and can become rather irritating in bulk.  Like the X-Files before it, this show needs a string to its bow besides "mythology" episodes and taking the piss (though admittedly Supernatural does both significantly better than its spiritual antecedent).

In any event, I might not necessarily be entirely happy with the direction the show took somewhere around Season 3, it is what it is, and that has to be recognised.  And, viewed in its entirety, I think Season 6 is probably the best year the show has put out since Jeffrey Dean Morgan stopped showing up for work.

From this point on, spoilers are abroad.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Walking In Circles

It's been a little while since we talked about any comics over here, so let's fix that with a look at The Walking Dead.  Specifically, Volume 13: "Too Far Gone", since I've finally gotten hold of the seventh hardback volume this weekend.

Spoilers for the entire run up to this point - and likely by extension, the TV show - after the jump.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Friday Compare-And-Contrast

Further proof today that those claiming the Tories and Lib Des have become indistinguishable now they're in power together have gotten it badly wrong, Animal Farm quotes notwithstanding.  Yes, they're both willing to throw away confidential documents without reference to security or basic common sense, but only the minority partners will recycle whilst they're doing it.

(Much as I've recycled this "joke", in fact).

This calls for another Friday song, naturally.  Something nice and relaxing, and tangentially related.  Emphasis on "tangential", I assure you, but if we can't agree that we should be recyling air, then who would be?

(Maybe conservative white males, actually).

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Valid Comparisons

Just a brief (well, not really) note on one aspect of the struggle for gay rights in America, because once MGK is missing the point [1], then it's a fair bet other people are as well, and an interesting signal is getting lost in the noise.

George Takei is in MGK's sights for sarcastically noting that the ten weeks Kim Kardashian managed to be married before filing for divorce is clearly proof that what would really demean the entire institution would be letting gay people get hitched. MGK's stance is that since KK is pro-gay marriage, calling her a hypocrite over this is spectacularly unfair.  My stance (along with several other people) is that Takei's point has nothing to do with whether Kardashian is a hypocrite, and everything to do with hypocrisy in general.

And that's what needs to be focused on.  How can a society which is willing to allow two people to get divorced after less time married than "Umbrella" was at number one also hold that marriage is so sacred an institution, so foundational to society, that it needs to be legally protected from people not treating it the "right" way?

That's a question I'd like to ask every single American politician who stands opposed to gay marriage (as, presumably, would this guy). Would they favour a legal minimum on the amount of time between tying the knot and filing for divorce? (One might already exist, of course, in which case you could ask whether they'd favour it being longer than the average HBO season).  How long a period of time would be necessary to avoid demeaning marriage to the same extent as allowing two people of the same gender to devote their lives to each other? Ten weeks?  Ten days?  Ten minutes?

For that matter, would they favour making adultery illegal?  I'm pretty sure Newt Gingrich has slept with more women than Portia de Rossi since their respective wedding days.  I've not seen much support for putting playin' away back in the statute book.  We'd rather just tut about it and get back to our lunch, thanks.

It would be nice to force politicians to take stances on these things.  Much like abortion, these incoherent positions can only come about by pretending to not understand the logical endpoint.  If two men getting married damages marriage as a concept, then so does cheating on your wife whilst she's dying of cancer.  If abortion is murder, then women who have them are accessories and co-conspirators, and need to locked up.  Let's see how those ideas poll, shall we?

We can go further, and link this into another desperately aggravating argument regularly trotted out by those in power: "what we did wasn't technically illegal, so what's the problem?", as though legal and illegal were the only measures of one's behaviour in society. The truth, of course, is that (very roughly speaking) behaviours fall into one of six categories: encouraged, approved of, shrugged at, disapproved of, discouraged, and illegal [2].  Leaving aside the fact that not everyone will agree on what goes where, and what should go where, and the fact that society itself is more clear on some issues than on others, all of these arguments are based around the idea that anything they want discouraged should be illegal, and anything legal they do should be approved of. 

Justice by solipsism, basically.  Everything else that comes out of their mouth is just a smoke-screen for that fundamental fact.  Why they want it is irrelevant.  What would logically follow from what they want is irrelevant. 

All that matters is that what they want, they must have.  And if they can't have it all, because no-one is going to get elected by promising to bring back jail sentences for cheating on your wife is going to get themselves elected outside of Georgia (and maybe Utah; I've never completely understood the exact circumstances in which it's permissable to double dip your flesh celery over there), then they'll at least make sure the groups they can beat up on without consequence are going to feel their wrath.

Why else do you think they bristle when you call them bigots?  It's not about their bigotry, it's about society's bigotry allowing them to be insufferable fuckers selectively on issues for which they'd rather be insufferable fuckers across the board.

[1] Actually, to be fair, I'm sure he does get the point, he's just focussing on defending one celebrity over a snark attack by idiots on Twitter by pretending they're aping another celebrity, who in fact hasn't said what MGK thinks he has.  I don't have any problem with "people are idiots on the internet!" posts, but I think they should be fairly labelled as such, rather than conflated with other, more intelligent positions.

[2] If people wanted to argue that "approved" and "encouraged" are essentially the same thing (and the same with their opposites), then I might not argue too hard.

Crazy Like A Fox!

This is interesting.  I had no idea Fox had links to ALEC.  Certainly shifts the balance still further away from "compassionate Conservatism" and towards "labour-hating wannabe plutocrats [1]" as regards Cameron's crew, huh?

[1] A word I got wrong last week due to being so drunk I confused it with autocrat.  Let this be a lesson: only play Cranium on at most one bottle of wine.