Thursday, 31 July 2014

Dawkins Go Home: The Hypothesising

I guess it wouldn't feel like a proper week if Richard Dawkins hadn't said something obnoxiously unpleasant. Unlike his earlier comment (which, now I think about it, was also this week) that Muslim scholars should be called "scholars" because actual scholars read more than one book, though, this one is at least worth tearing down, rather than noting that when Christian people are horrible Islamophobes they at least get to drink communion wine whilst they're doing it.

Trigger warning here, though; Dawkins thinks he's making some noble stand against those who don't want to discuss rape, which rather means I'll have to essentially discuss it as well, in the most general and I hope least affecting terms I can.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday Talisman: Taking It Easy

It's the Magus today. I love the Magus. He might want to acquire the Crown of Command and rule all the land, but he'll be buggered if he's going to stand up to do it. You have to respect that level of unrepentant apathy.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Soy-Protein Purple Isn't People!

"Greetings, glorious liberators!"
The SFX Forum's "best companion" discussion has reached the Sixth Doctor.  This is actually a really difficult one, more so than it might at first appear. As I said at the time:
On the one hand, I much prefer Nicola Bryant to Bonnie Langford, and even my unashamed love of "Terror of the Vervoids" doesn't stretch so far as to arguing it's even in the top three Colin Baker stories. Moreover, more so than with any other Doctor's run, there is almost nothing here to distinguish a good companion story from a good story full stop; the best companion stories are where their almost completely superfluous roles happen in an interesting story rather than a dull one.

So all of that should make me plump for Peri. Except... say what you want about how little Langford actually offered as Mel, at least she wasn't essentially being treated as a psychologically and occasionally physically abused woman. At least she wasn't fridged in a particularly nasty way (I don't just mean in terms of how unpleasant her fate was, I mean the fact that's immediately twisted into evidence against the Doctor, as though her death matters most in terms of how much harder a job the "real" hero now has to escape his fate). Watching Peri is hard. Ignoring Mel is easy.

But I think the very fact that Peri is often treated so despicably by the show is why we should choose her in one of the moments she was treated best. We can't just shuffle past so sad and mean-spirited a period, we have to separate what went right from what went (so, so) wrong, otherwise how will we learn to do better?

As I say, then, I'm really just picking a story which is at least fairly good, and in which Peri isn't either strangled or pointlessly killed off. "The Two Doctors" is out because I don't have the energy for more racism after "Talons...", which really only leaves me with "Vengeance..." and "Revelation...". The former has the better metaphor, but since we're talking about Peri I'll go for the latter purely because the Doctor is at his least abrasive here (for that season, at least) and, if we're going to focus on how Peri could have been so much better used, I'd rather we discussed it in an episode where she's allowed to wrap up properly.
Which I stand by, in the main, though in retrospect I probably should have plumped for "Mysterious Planet" (not having seen in it in twenty years probably didn't help there).   Still, "Revelations..." is what we plumped for; the usual witterings are below the fold. As predicted, I could find little to say on Peri herself, though in large part that's bnecause the story actually relies on our main characters getting very little to do.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

"Amazing" Is A Strong Word, But...

Just three months after the sequel dropped I've finally sat down and watched Amazing Spiderman; how with it am I?

(Spoilers after the jump)

Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday Anger

This is the saddest story you'll read all week not connected with a terrible plane crash or boys being murdered on a beach (via LGM):
Debra Harrell is currently in jail because she let her 9-year-old daughter play, unsupervised, in a public park. Almost everything about this story (which I noticed courtesy of Lenore Skenazy) is horrifying. Harrell works at McDonald’s. Her daughter used to tag along and stare at a screen at her mother’s workplace during the day. She asked to go to the park instead, was discovered to be without an adult, and her mother was arrested.
(Harrell has now lost custody of her daughter.)

The article goes on to note - entirely correctly - that this a transparent case of helicopter parenting, and part of a more general trend of obsessing over paedophiles despite actual cases of child abduction being mercifully extremely rare.

I don't think we should ignore the broader picture here. The appalling treatment of Harrell isn't happening in a vacuum, it's the inevitable result of conservative public policy, which states the following:

1. Working class people should not be allowed access to abortion;
2. Working class people should not get financial support for their children;
3. Working class people should not be allowed access to cheap childcare services;
4. Working class people should not be allowed a guarantee of working hours known in advance to allow them to put together a workable routine.

(Note that I'm not saying Harrell would have wanted an abortion, I'm just pointing out the degree to which the system is borked in general.)

The end result of these three policies is a system in which working class people either refrain from having sex entirely, or they accept there will be times when no-one can look after their children.  Now we learn that unless on those occasions they literally keep their children at their jobs at all times without any form of activity to keep them busy they will be arrested.

5. Working class people should not be allowed to decide for themselves when a child is old enough to look after themselves in a public place, and whether endless days of staring at the wall might be a problem in itself.

This isn't an issue free of sexism; I find it hard to believe a father would be thrown in jail over this.  This isn't an issue free of racism; I find it hard to believe a white mother would be thrown in jail over this.  But at it's heart, this is about the right-wing belief that we should give the poor nothing but our judgement.

Somewhere a Coca Cola executive is thinking how to use this story as proof the world needs fewer unions. Somewhere a Daily Telegraph writer is putting together another piece on how much the UK could learn from US Republicans. Somewhere Iain Duncan Smith - ironically the worst "fit to work" call the Tories have made in power so far - feels a stirring in his loins and doesn't know why.

And somewhere a woman learns to live without her daughter because she thought letting children play in parks is a nice thing for them to do.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Original Sin

(Being a discussion of the sixteenth arc of Lucifer. Spoilers from jump, you lovely people.)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Compare And Contrast

I'm having trouble deciding, so I figured a comparative list of advantages would be smart.

Amazon Prime:

  • Not hideously expensive, allowing a greater proportion of my wages to go on booze and Chinese food;
  • Lets me watch loads of Grimm and Parks and Rec for free;
  • 10 million subscribers can't be wrong (well, they can and almost certainly are wrong, but they're clearly not unhappy);
  • Sign-up rates are incredibly impressive, so joining makes me look cool;
  • Allows me to further decrease any real contact with the outside world;
  • Chunky "play button" logo reminds me of VHS, thus calming my increasingly burned-out technophobe mind.

But on the other hand:

Optimus Prime:

  • Is a motherfucking boss.

This is so insanely hard, people. I NEED HELP!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Friday, 4 July 2014

Friday 40K: 70% Done, 100% Evil

First up in our fortnightly update of my painting table, here's a picture of my growing scenery collection.  The manufactorum I've shown you before, but I've added a pair of ruins I've drybrushed using the same paints, and I've also dug out a trench I acquired from a wargaming convention I was at, ooh, nine years ago now, I think.

But enough with the inaminate objects! You're here for interstellar killers, I can tell.  So how about these, then; I've added two more Chaos cultists to my growing squad, for a total of seven. Just three more and the squad, and my Chaos combat patrol, will finally be finished. I'll probably celebrate by painting some Eldar. I've always fancied some Iyanden forces about the place.  Nothing like a wee bit of necromancy... in space.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Long, Lonely Shuffle

Another installment in the "best companion ever" series; this time I hardly got around to talking abiout the companion - in this case Turlough - at all.  In my defence, that's because "Mawdryn Undead" has so much going on under the hood that it was inevitable that I'd get more than a little distracted.