Saturday, February 28, 2015

Clear Eyes, Full Heart ...

Awakening to Cultural Studies

Leonard Nimoy’s death reminded me of a moment in college. I don’t remember what year it was, but I was talking with a student who was writing a paper—or was it a senior thesis?—on Star Trek. The thesis was about how the show’s representations of race filtered and processed various anxieties and aspirations of the Cold War, particularly ideas about civil rights in the US and decolonization abroad.
 Remembering this conversation reminded me of one of the critical aspects of my college education: realizing that mass culture was a thing, something to be studied, analyzed, approached with the same critical eye that you would bring to a literary text or historical event.
I don't recall a moment like that, where I stopped thinking about pop culture one way, and started thinking about it another, but it's worth reminding ourselves each time we find ourselves liking a TV show, a movie, a commercial, a politician, a policy, the status quo, etc. without knowing why that someone else probably knows full well why. The tastes we indulge uncritically are the ones that tell us the most about our prejudices; it's worth examining them, if only to understand how those beliefs make us exploitable.

When we are exploitable, it's a safe bet we're being exploited. (Nature abhors a vacuum.) Exploitation is just another way of saying we're allowing someone to take advantage of someone else without accountability. Injustice thrives in the absence of accountability.

Things matter. It's often the things we think don't matter that point us towards what's really the matter.

So what I'm saying is, if you think Mr. Spock doesn't matter, that's (as a profoundly wise friend of mine might say) another sadness ...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Another sadness ...

Spot on, this:

the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few

2014 In Film. | Ghost in the Machine

2014 In Film. | Ghost in the Machine

My #1 is GitM's #3, and I haven't seen his top 2 yet ...
It's the post I look forward to every year. (But I'm not accustomed to waiting until February, Mr. Murphy.) Need to whip your Netflix queue into shape? Look no further.

Deny Monorail

RIP Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83 -

For many of us, this will feel like a piece of our childhood, our fandom, and our shared embrace of a particular vision of the future (the seeds of which we want to cultivate in ourselves) has been gutted. But we'll react with stoicism, knowing that Mr. Nimoy has been, and always shall be, our friend.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New ☆ Tweet from tcarmody

Blogged with IFTTT (If only they put the real twitter embed, looks like I'm going to have to come back and update these manually. ~sigh~)

Twitter Angst Over #thedress

FCC Votes for Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality: A Free and Open Internet | The White House

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The A.V. Club Goes A-to-Z on The Best Animated Series Ever

The best animated series ever, from Adventure Time to whatever The Zeta Project is | A.V. To Z | The A.V. Club

Doing the list this way forces you not to consider the best 100 ever, but to make hard choices to include worthy entries that might otherwise not crack such a list.

What caught my eye was the spot-on selection at H and the format break at C to include Cowboy Bebop. The rest of the list looks pretty solid. If  I'm going to nitpick, R looks like a miss. The Ren & Stimpy Show never did it for me. Rurouni Kenshin or Robotech probably would've taken that slot on my list.

Actually, going with a separate anime list might have made this a little easier. By including any, they've opened the door the argument several more letters are off -- Muppet Babies vs. Macross?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Non-Fiction Books Everyone Should Read Infographic

Non-Fiction Books Everyone Should Read Infographic

Any additions or substitutions to recommend? I'd probably make room for, off the top of my head, Delusions of Gender and Letter to a Christian Nation ...

Bad Ass Women in History

For example:
Ellen Craft (1826 – 1891)
The freedom afforded various historical badasses by men’s clothing becomes even more literal for Ellen Craft, a fugitive slave who escaped the United States with her husband, William Craft, by dressing as a white man and posing as her husband’s master. In an incredibly risky move out of an as-yet-unmade multi-Oscar-worthy epic, the Crafts planned an escape to Canada, cutting Ellen’s hair short and booking separate passage on a train and steamboat to get them out of the country. In order to avoid having to sign her false name on any travel documents, Ellen, who could not write, put her arm in a sling. Upon arriving a free woman in Canada, Craft (along with her husband) became a passionate advocate for the abolition of slavery, attending public lectures with her husband about their escape and eventually co-authoring a book: Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; Or, The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery. After many years spent in England raising a family, Ellen returned to the US a free woman, and, with her husband, founded a school for other freedmen.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Novel or Concept Photo Album?


emoji review of gif novel

New Fav February 20, 2015 at 03:44PM

from Twitter


New Tweet Fav from @flickchart

from Twitter


New Fav February 20, 2015 at 07:56PM

from Twitter


Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Kill" is probably a little strong.

Watch Justin Bieber Kill at Ping-Pong -- The Cut

Any media coverage of ping pong, even if disgraced pop baby men are the subject, is going to catch my eye. Ping-pong, ESPN, ping-pong ... you have a duty you are shirking.

On Double Standards

Shabogan Graffiti: Do You Ever Just Feel Tired?

By the way, I do just want to make one observation about the Left reaction to Chapel Hill. If you're on the Left, or a liberal, and you're condemning the Chapel Hill murders, and decrying the double standards of the media, and you're not also at least occasionally speaking out against the wholesale slaughter of Muslims and Arabs by Western governments (chiefly but by no means only the USA), and the support given by Western governments to regimes that violently oppress Muslims (i.e. Saudi Arabia, Israel), and the double standards of the media on these subjects, then guess what... you're a fucking hypocrite! Congratulations!
Depressing that the local news one of our best bloggers has on his radar is about a vicious crime, but glad to see someone bringing needed perspective. If you've been here before, you've likely noticed that "atheist" is one of the one of primary modes I self-identify in when giving my (unsolicited) opinions. It might surprise you then that I haven't commented on how the media have picked up so joyously on this murderer's atheism as an excuse to tut-tut atheists in general for not taking care of their radical extremist problem. I'm just tired. It seems to me if you're talking about this story as first as a problem of Islamophobes as a subset of atheists, and atheism in general, then you've skipped over the problem with the bloodlust of the NRA and the fact it is criminally fucking easy for these damaged men to get their hands on guns in the first place.

And it's along those lines that I'm so fatigued with the other "big news" in the same cycle as this: the Brian Williams "scandal" over his self-aggrandizing exaggerations about a that helicopter came under fire in his general vicinity, which his story-telling eventually placed him in. For this he is suspended without pay for six months and has to earn back the trust of the American people as consumers of what passes for journalism. And yet ... and yet ...

If you are talking about this helicopter story like it matters, and not talking about how so many journalists and pundits and news analysts failed the American people with regard to the whole War On Terror and WMDs and What Have You, how many journalists abdicated, and continue to abdicate, their duty to investigate and inform about the most important matters of American policy, then you're a fucking hypocrite.

Music for the mood ...

I think of the things that matter
And I think of the things that don't
Whatever it is no matter
I hate feeling the way I feel
I hate feeling the way I feel today 
I wish I was high
Brighter than nothing
Smarter than nobody
I've wasted away

We have the technology ...

Raleigh man gets bionic hand ::

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I'm an Anti-Braker #Satire #ButYouKnewThatBecauseYouAreNotAnIdiot

So I talked to my Mechanic about taking the brakes off my car and I was disgusted by how poorly he treated me. He accused me of being ignorant, when I was the one that looked up how much rotational torque brakes can put on your rotors. He didn’t even know how much torque a rotor can take before being warped!!! He said “rotors are designed to be compressed, that it isn’t actually a problem” just completely dismissing me. 
Then he had the NERVE to say that my personal choice had consequences, that I would affect everyone around me. Well I’ve had it with him, I’m looking for a new mechanic. The problem is that so many mechanics are bought and paid by the automotive industry that ALL of them are insistent about my car having brakes. Most of them won’t even look at my car for other reasons, saying that a brakeless car could cause damage to their shop and other cars. 

Sue Bird Watch

Somehow, I forgot to make a note of this commercial when it debuted last year. The first :26 are a skippable, it's at the :27 mark when Sue finally appears.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Galaxy 4 - "Oh, we have a small number of men, as many as we need. The rest we kill. They consume valuable food and fulfill no particular function."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Galaxy 4 - Details

Season 3, Story 1 (Overall Series Story #18) | Previous - Next | Index

Image via No Complications

Don't think I'm going out on a limb guessing not many of us have seen "Galaxy 4," either when first broadcast, or its reconstruction. I don't have the special edition of "The Aztecs" with the official reconstruction on it, and that's probably the form of this I should be writing about. But, for now, I'm using the LC reconstruction in combination with the transcript to cover this story.

Which raises the question: why even? With some of the lost stories, we have reason to believe we're missing something -- think "The Power of the Daleks" -- but, unless I've missed it, I don't think anyone is arguing that "Galaxy 4" does anything special or would illuminate some aspect of the aspect of the series' mythology if it were recovered. Not that its reputation is for being terrible ... here's Sandifer on it, for instance:
So, to recap, we have a pioneering female producer being replaced with a male producer whose first decision is to sack the female lead for being too uppity. Knowing that, it's really hard to watch this story, in which the matriarchal society of the Drahvin is painted as uncritically and completely evil, without wanting to drink heavily and read feminist literary theory. 
Which is the biggest problem with Galaxy 4. It's not that it's bad - it's perfectly watchable. It's just that it feels lazy and sloppy all at once, which is an awkward combination.
Without a compelling reason, why would even a fan of the series seek out the reconstruction or read the transcript and try to imaging what it might have looked like? For me it's like doing the homework. Trying to figure out why the series made such an impression on me as a kid and continues to capture my imagination as an adult means being thorough, because you never know when a line of dialogue is going to make a connection happen, or when a future episode may drop a visual or auditory reference on the sly that you won't notice unless you've heard the sound the Chumblies make. (For instance, Al at No Complications mentions in his post there's a Drahvin ship in the gathering above the Pandorica.)

There's also the potential you'll be surprised how some neglected scene resonates with you. Here's a bit that lefties might be able chew on ...
STEVEN: Ugh. Does Maaga eat this?
DRAHVIN 1: No! She is our leader.
STEVEN: Well, then I'll have some of what she eats.
DRAHVIN 1: You cannot. It is food for our leaders only.
STEVEN: Well, that hardly seems fair, does it?
DRAHVIN 1: Fair?
STEVEN: Yeah, I mean that, you know, she should have special food, and you have to eat this?
DRAHVIN 1: It is food.
STEVEN: Does Maaga have other special things?
DRAHVIN 1: She is our leader and has leader's things.
STEVEN: What leader's things?
DRAHVIN 1: Her gun.
STEVEN: Her gun?
DRAHVIN 1: Her food. A leader's gun can destroy anything.
STEVEN: What, even the Chumblies?
DRAHVIN 1: Even the machines.
STEVEN: Well, then, you know, surely it would be better if you all had these guns. Well, then you wouldn't have to fear the machines.
DRAHVIN 1: There is only one gun. Maaga has that gun, as she is leader.
STEVEN: You could take it with you when you went on patrol.
STEVEN: Doesn't it seem right that you should? 
It's entirely possible I'm going to make too much of this but, eager as I am to talk about fairness when the opportunity arises, this looks like an invitation to do so. Sure, Steven's working an angle and would make this easier if he stuck with the food instead of seizing upon the gun as what the Drahvins should be taking for themselves; but, let's just look at his question in terms of to whom it is addressed: a collection of genetically engineered soldiers used as drones by the Drahvin ruling class. Asking the Drahvins to consider fairness, and whether they deserve it, is a revolutionary act. The Drahvins considering it is also a revolutionary act.

The Drahvin society invented for this story is almost certainly a thrown together bundle of sci-fi tropes and not a sophisticated allegory skewering the patriarchy by inversion, so the dangerous nature of the questions, "Are you treated fairly? Shouldn't you be? What are you going to do about it?" is denatured. When the world we live in is at or approaching historic levels of inequality of wealth and opportunity; hearing those questions posed to a group of exploited women, all other context be damned, ought to make us ask, "Why aren't more contemporary shows slipping these sorts of questions in?"

If "Galaxy 4" leaves one asking for at least that, expecting more family-geared popular entertainment to prompt those sorts of legitimate, vital questions, and -- more importantly, asking them of one another and of our policy makers -- then it's worth the time spent seeking out a way to watch it and worth our time reading and writing about it.


Friday, February 6, 2015

"We will need writers who can remember freedom."

Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. 

LeGuin on Bookchin

Ursula K. Le Guin on the Future of the Left | Motherboard

What all political and social thinking has finally been forced to face is, of course, the irreversible degradation of the environment by unrestrained industrial capitalism: the enormous fact of which science has been trying for fifty years to convince us, while technology provided us ever greater distractions from it. Every benefit industrialism and capitalism have brought us, every wonderful advance in knowledge and health and communication and comfort, casts the same fatal shadow. All we have, we have taken from the earth; and, taking with ever-increasing speed and greed, we now return little but what is sterile or poisoned.
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