Thursday, December 22, 2016

Solve For x: Maybe If You're Afraid of x, Don't Be a Cop



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Sunday, December 18, 2016

TBF



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Friday, December 16, 2016

Why Does the NCGOP Hate Democracy So Much?



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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Waiting on GOP Leadership, Not Holding My Breath



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Friday, December 9, 2016

Waiting For The Only (Wholly) New Who of 2016



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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Disinformation? Propaganda? Bad satire?



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Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Center Left's Skewed View



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Shorter DJT: "Stein's recount is a scam. Also, illegals stole millions of votes from me."



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Saturday, November 26, 2016

RIP Fidel Castro



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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Not This Time



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"If we fight like animals, we will die like animals!"

BBC Latest News - Doctor Who - The 2017 Series… Returning Writers, Cast Updates and More!:


Episode 9 of Doctor Who’s 2017 series is written by Rona Munro, author of the very last Doctor Who story of the show’s original 26-year run – the seminal and highly acclaimed 1989 Seventh Doctor adventure Survival.
Personally, I'd like to see even more Munros writing Doctor Who.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Listen to Supes



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Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Issue Dems Need To Take Up: UBI



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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Dark Is Rising

North Carolina Election results | abc11.com

Thoughts on last night's results after this sinks in ...


That's how my fellow North Carolinians voted for the direction of our country. Lies, authoritarianism, misogyny, bigotry, climate denial, and kleptocracy for the foreseeable future.

As disgusted as I am with the state and national number for Trump, it's the vicious and widespread left in-fighting that seems to be the primary source of my nausea since last night. But let's each of us start by looking inward and reckoning with our own accountability before we look outward. I'm serious on this, until I've seen folks hold themselves accountable, I'm not listening to any more of the shit they have to say about whose fault (other than their own) it is that we're in this mess.

Here on the ol' blog I railed against Trump, and on twitter, but on facebook I mostly avoided partisan discussion. I read, but didn't reply to the frequent posting of my Hillary-hating friends because I didn't want to poison the well. I think I should have done more. By trying to stay civil, not say anything when I couldn't say anything nice, not taking the time to give simple fact-based, evidence-supported arguments against the regurgitations from RW Bullshit Machine, I failed to hold my friends and family accountable for part in normalizing Trump's extremist positions. Practically speaking, this may be the only way I could have any real influence on anyone's vote.

Could I have done volunteer work, or contributed to a rival campaign? I didn't help someone who couldn't otherwise get to their polling station. I have a small car, and couldn't have taken very many. Might I have contributed to a groundswell of volunteerism by example? Perhaps my actions would have a more impact than the handful I votes I may have been able to facilitate, but honestly, I don't feel particularly bad about not doing more in that regard. Financially, I can barely get by month to month, I don't feel bad at all about not putting money into the broken campaign finance system.

Should I have voted for Clinton instead of Jill Stein, as many bitter HRC supporters have argued? Fuck that. I voted my conscience. I voted for the candidate I felt would do the most to combat climate change and support the progressive causes I believe in. If more people voted for the candidate that best represented their interests, we wouldn't be in this mess. You want to blame third party voters for your candidates lack of appeal? Knock yourself out for all the good it does. Stein voters did not sway this election nationally, here in NC, or anywhere else that I know of. Certainly not Florida. (Will come to back to the Gary Johnson vote shortly.)

After reviewing my own failings, I feel like I'm ready to identify the entities and institutions most responsible for the consequences of Trump's victory: Trump himself, Trump voters, the Republican Party, the mainstream media, the DNC, Wikileaks, James Comey, the Electoral College, and those who smeared Bernie and his supporters during the Democratic primary process.

Trump himself is often vilified, but I don't generally see it in the context of blame assignment for expected impacts of his policies. I get that he's more the object of that discussion, rather than the subject, but it's worth noting that the person most responsible for the harm Trump has already done to political culture -- not to mention the people he's assaulted and screwed over -- is Trump himself. He should accountable, whether it's in court for his crimes, or in terms of votes when it comes to his policy outcomes.

Trump voters, of course, are the reason he won the election. And by "Trump voters," I mean "white people." Chicken shit, entitled, bigoted, misogynist (and yes, I include white women who voted for Trump in all these categories, deal with it), morally retarded, ignorant-as-fuck white people. I hear all the pleas for understanding, and understand where they're coming from. It's a good place, no doubt. What I can't get over is the fact that Trump voters had another choice in Bernie Sanders, someone who understood their economic fears, the impact of neoliberal capitalism on their lives, and they rejected him for the guy who assaults women, hates American values, and happily stokes their fear of "the Other."  Over half (Trump and Johnson voters) of the people who voted for President in 2016 voted for a complete asshole, and there's no escaping that makes them assholes. (And, right now, I'm not much of a fan of the other half of the country right now either.)

For all the recriminations against third party and non-voters from the "left", it seems like a lot of folks are incapable of understanding what votes are, how they work, and how they are earned by candidates. Now, I'm not saying I don't understand how a vote that *could* have been one for candidate, when cast for another, hurts the first candidate's chances of winning. I don't dispute how numbers add up; I dispute the premise that votes "belong" to one candidate or another, and that a voter has somehow sinned when they cast their vote for the candidate they feel best represents them without regard to how that may affect the final tally. If your position is: only the candidates the corporate media say are legitimate are actually legitimate; well, have different understandings how representative democracy is supposed to work. Don't tell me I'm some ideological fantasist. I live in the real world. I work and pay taxes. I accept the reality of the human role in climate change. I live in a small town, but have gay friends and family, and I worry for the civil rights of my fellow Americans and for the safety of my daughter in world where rape culture is white-washed as boys-will-be-boys good times. I understand the consequences of a Trump administration. What I understand, that I think you don't, is that the Democratic party won't change if they know they can count on your vote. The Democratic party does not fight for social justice, equality, or for poor and working people to anywhere near the degree it ought to. If we want political representation that does those things, then we need to advocate, agitate, and vote for it, or WE WILL NEVER GET IT. A political party that fights for the future of a all humanity is worth fighting for.

The Republican party was a largely passive, when it wasn't encouraging, host for a white nationalist parasite. Sure, there were a few who made tepid, and not always backed up, criticisms of Trump, but the GOP set the stage for Trump, or someone like him, to rise to power.

The DNC betrayed us all by sabotaging Bernie's campaign. Wikileaks conveniently failed find anything worth sharing about Trump, no doubt pleasing Putin in the process. The mainstream media just played along to tease more profits out of a horse race. Hillary supporters started using FLOTUS's "We go high," line, but they sure as fuck didn't in securing Hillary the nomination. The EC burned us in 2000 and has done so again. It is a perversion of democracy to make one vote count more than another. The idea that it protects anyone is outdated, if it ever did what it's supposed to in the first place. Oh, in the dispirited winding down I nearly forgot about Comey's FBI playing the EMAIL! game. Law enforcement in this country is a fucking disaster.

Look, I know I lost steam, but all the think pieces are out there. All the takes, so hot. I just came out to say, "Fuck me? No, fuck you. You fucks. We all got what we deserved."

Related: "Fuck Everything and Blame Everyone."

Edit: And one more thing. When you're attacking "third-party voters" as if Johnson voters and Stein voters could have tipped the scales towards Hillary, you're conveniently forgetting who the fuck Johnson voters are, and that Libertarians are just as closely tied to white nationalism and all that shit, as "mainstream" Republicans. They were never going to vote for Hillary, so stop pretending there is some equivalency between supporters of the Libertarian and Green candidates. Stein's vote was so small, it couldn't have saved our sorry asses anyways. Johnson voters, if anything, should be thanked for not voting for Trump like they (mostly) otherwise would have.


The Children Are Our Future



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Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Real Trump Demographic May Not Be What We Think It Is

Trump claims, nonetheless, to be the “voice” of the marginalized, and media portraits of working class people who support him have bolstered that claim. The conservative intellectual Francis Fukuyama gave a pure distillation of the common wisdom in an interview with The Ezra Klein Show recently: “The Trump candidacy represents the forgotten white working class that has been underrepresented in American democracy over the past generation,” he said. “So they’re getting a voice.”  
That's wrong on two levels. It isn’t primarily the white working class that has propelled Trump’s rise. And his supporters are far from forgotten or ignored.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Laika



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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Richard Burr, United States Senator (But Hopefully Not For Much Longer)

Richard Burr Says Shooting Hillary Clinton Is Hilarious, Judicial Obstruction Is Awesome | News
And if Trump loses, and Burr loses, then oh well. Give it about three years tops before Burr helps form Burr, Bayh, and Lieberman Global Intelligence Consulting, or does something similarly dystopian in which he can make real money and have a bigger say over policy without being forced to pander to voters anymore.
There's a splash of cold water for those of us hoping a Deborah Ross victory will reduce the amount of harm Burr is able to inflict on the country as a Senator.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Apropos of my recent "Vengeance on Varos" post ...



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Thursday, October 27, 2016

"[No] legislature ... has ever done so much, so fast, to restrict access to the franchise."

North Carolina Reckons With its Jim Crow Past - The Atlantic

In North Carolina, spending on state races increased by 20 percent from 2008 to 2010, an investment poured mostly into Republican campaigns. Almost all of the independent money spent on state races in 2010 came from conservative millionaire mega-donor Art Pope, his family, and allied groups, who spread over $2 million across 22 races. Of those 22, Republicans won 18, creating GOP majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction. Only this time, Republicans were focused on restricting the electorate rather than expanding it.

My Ballot Has Been Cast


First day of early voting here in Fuquay and there were a ton of us out to vote at the first opportunity. I arrived before the polls opened and waited for an hour more once they did. The line had doubled in length by the time I left. You can see a portion of it behind me.

No angry mob of Trump supporters, no signs of impending violence. No reason not to vote. You might want to bring a thermos of coffee if you're out early. (For some reason, Dunkin' Donuts doesn't have a presence in the parking lot and this mystifies me.)

Regarding media hand-wringing over the prospect of violence, I suspect Tom may be on to something here:



In case you're curious, I did write in Jill Stein on my ballot. My sense is HRC will carry NC, perhaps handily. Even if I were inclined to take a "strategic" anti-Trump approach, I would have been comfortable not voting for HRC expecting it not be particularly close. Even if the polls suggested Trump had a narrow lead, I would have voted my conscience though. Stein is, simply put, the candidate who best represents me. Her positions are, largely, my positions. She best represents my priorities and values. I know she is not going to win. But, I think progressives need to make themselves count. I guarantee Jill Stein would be the first choice of more than the 4% or so of voters who answer polls if we didn't didn't self-regulate in line with how corporate interests want us to vote. Until we all vote our consciences, we are choosing to be under-represented. That should stop. That's why I voted the way I did.

The Jujutsuffragettes

The Suffragettes Who Learned Martial Arts to Fight for Votes | Atlas Obscura
And that’s where the Bodyguard stepped in—in between their sisters-in-arms and members of law enforcement, their mission to keep these prison breaks as long as possible. The women of the Bodyguard were extremely fit, willing to risk their health, safety and freedom, and almost always single, since it was considered unfair for mothers to be thrown in jail. They came from the ranks of the most radical suffragettes and studied jujutsu in a network of secret locations, using codenames and whatever subterfuge necessary to keep their activity private from prying eyes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bigots: "How dare they call us 'deplorable'?!"


Image via IndyWeek
I’m standing outside the state Capitol, attempting to ascertain what’s on the minds of Franklin Graham’s disciples as we approach Election Day, when an old man wearing a cowboy hat lets me know who’s in charge.
He calls me a “fucking sodomite” and tells me he hopes I “burn in the fires of hell.”
But wait. I’m married, I tell him. To a woman. I have kids.
“Well, then, you’re a sodomite lover,” he snarls.

Vengeance on Varos - "I think he needs more than water, Peri. Eh?"

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Vengeance on Varos - Details

Season 22, Story 02 (Overall Series Story #139) | Previous - Next | Index

Peri, we feel the same way about Season 22.
"Fifteen Million Merits," the second episode of Black Mirror is ostensibly (per wikipedia) a "satire on entertainment shows and our insatiable thirst for distraction," an assessment I don't agree with, but I was struck by how much its world-building proceeds from "Vengeance on Varos." I don't mean to say anyone involved in Black Mirror cares, or even knows, about Doctor Who's lamentable 22nd season, only that it's a straight line from Arak's and Etta's living room in 1985's dystopian future to Abi's and Bing's lives in 2011's dystopian future. Saward & company hadn't lived through the turn of the millennium and the ascent of reality TV yet, but they were onto something.

The Black Mirror episode tacks, I think, towards blaming the politics of mass distraction on the distracted. It's better television than what DW was managing, but DW has the virtue, in this case, of being more radical. It ends with a question, and what could be read as a dawning realization ... where Black Mirror feels far more cynical. Now, that's a real surprise, as mid-80s Doctor Who, until its demise, felt like little more than an exercise in cynical brand exploitation with a side of all-but-incoherent philosophizing.

As a youngster I loathed "Vengeance." The flaws I remember all too well are still evident, but I'm more inclined to excuse its terrible acting, unsubtle writing, and even its didactic tendencies, because it at least is willing to wear its anger on its sleeve. Even if it's pretty much incoherent on the subject. BM, on the other hand, deployed its superior acting and writing in the service of satire that fails give a baddie as blameworthy as Sil.

I disagree with the consensus on this one: it's not better than "Attack of the Cybermen." It is merely the second-best story of Season 22. Or, put another way, the second prettiest turd in the sewer.


Odds-n-ends:

  • On what level, if any, does the infamous "Forgive me if I don't join you" line work? Is it a critique of Bond and Schwarzenegger? Is it mere apeing?  How is that a Doctor line?  It can't be, can it? Could it have worked if delivered sadly? Delivered smugly, it's one of the most un-Doctorly lines in all the series. That later incarnations of the Doctor disavow the War Doctor, but not this one, doesn't jibe.
  • Jason Connery, Sean's son, later plays Robin Hood in what I remember being as dreary a take on the legend as ever was made. His acting must have improved though. It being notably dreadful isn't one of the first things to come to mind about it, at least.
  • The opening scene, Jondar (Connery) being tortured on TV, doesn't only present violence as entertainment as a moral failing, the voting aspect makes it a political commentary as well. 
  • "That is what our secret payments to you are for." Clumsy Expository Writing 101
  • The set up isn't half-bad. A one-resource world, at the mercy of capitalist exploitation, where the militarized government doesn't serve its citizenry (militarized as it is primarily against its own people), but members of it have to stand for sham elections -- this remains relevant.  
  • The Doctor materializes into a liminal space in the sick society ... a starting point from which he is able to turn the weapon on the security force. By the end of the first episode though, he is subjected to a series of psychological attacks while being broadcasted as entertainment to the Varosians.  The Doctor's dramatic cliffhanger "death" is given in-episode direction by the Governor, who decides when to cut the coverage so episode 1 puts us in the viewers' seat. OK, I admit, it's somewhat well conceived. Our experience mirroring the viewers' can't help but force us to identify with them. 
  • The diapered cannibals are ... lamentable.



Additional Resources:
Tardis Wikia Entry
Wikipedia entry
chakoteya.net transcript
Eruditorum Press's Commentary podcast
Wife in Space post
Me: Do you think the programme is having its cake and eating it by criticising violence and showing so much violence at the same time?
Sue: That’s a bit deep, isn’t it? You’re not writing one of your essays now, you know. I don’t mind it personally, I just don’t think it’s appropriate for younger children.
AV Club review
It’s really no wonder, looking at season 22 with 2012’s hindsight, that this was all a terrible idea that would wind up nearly destroying the series. “Varos” gives us a Doctor who is a foolish, abrasive clown, and almost totally lacking in the charm and larger-than-life qualities that made his earlier incarnations tick. Indeed, those very qualities are savagely parodied by every aspect of his character from the bipolar yaws between arrogance and pathetic whining to the fact that his candy-colored costume only makes sense as a caustic satire on the Doctor’s own eccentricity. And that’s not automatically a bad way to go—a bumbling Doctor could be comedy gold if written the right way. I’m just not sure what producer John Nathan-Turner and script editor Eric Saward thought they were getting out of destroying their own show by making its central character such an unpleasant person to be around, or by making the show as a whole so grim, bleak, and ugly. 
TV Tropes page


Coming soon to a theater near me ...

Why The Power of the Daleks is the holy grail of lost Doctor Who episodes

Image via the Telegraph / BBC

... the story is talked about with hushed reverence by fans today
[not to mention critical analysts like Dr. Sandifer, whose take on the story sparked my intrigue -- cm] with a particular frisson emerging from the fact that the Daleks are pretending to be meek servants in a human colony on the Planet Vulcan. Their creepy chant of “I am your servant” is one of the great coups de theatre from the early days.
The "I am your servant" line is featured in a weaker installment of the new series, am genuinely eager to see the story that inspired it.


NCGOP Doubling Down on Racist Vote Suppression Tactics

Old times there are not forgotten | Hullabaloo
The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit may have overturned North Carolina's 2013 omnibus voter suppression law. Judges may have ordered officials to reinstate a week of early voting which the court determined had been cut specifically to hamper voting by black voters. The court’s intent may have been to return to the status quo pre-VIVA. But that doesn't mean Republicans in charge of the state's 100 county boards of elections will take that lying down.
Early voting is shortened this year in my town but I'll be out dark and early tomorrow morning to queue up to be among the first to vote.


It Don't Mean a Thing

Hell Is Hot: How Squirrel Nut Zippers Accidentally Sold a Million Records | Music Feature | Indy Week
Twenty years later, the swing music revival of the late nineties remains a perplexing hallmark of the decade. For a few years, bands that swung made a forceful showing on mainstream radio. Leading the pack was Carrboro's Squirrel Nut Zippers, who cloaked raucous rock in fast-and-loose hot jazz arrangements. Its ebullient songs were as inspired by the Pixies as they were by Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong.
~Remembering when Swingers felt so profoundly relevant, cool, and deep. So ... money.~


Friday, September 30, 2016

Blogger's Digest

Need to clean out the to-be-blogged-about items I've got building up in feedly. Prefer the one-post-per-link-or-subject approach, but the backlog is too daunting. So, it's a digest post. Possibly the first of several?

Friday, September 23, 2016

"Pitch" and the history I didn't know ...

Fox’s "Pitch" Is Not Pure Fiction | New Republic


I'm not going to say the fact that three women played in the Negro Leagues is the most interesting thing to come out of watching, then reading about, Fox's Pitch because the show was better than I thought it'd be. Not without problems, but better than the mess it might've been.

Will give this one a few more episodes to see where it goes. A primetime network drama about baseball is something I want to like, and it doesn't hurt that it's premise gives it a myriad of interesting directions to go in.

Related:
Toni Stone
"Peanut" Johnson
Connie Morgan



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Reading lately ...


I've been slow to check out the Kindle First selections that are starting to back up in my "to read" queue, but it's largely because I've been grabbing some recent Hugo award winning authors I was asleep on. N.K. Jemisin and Ann Leckie have woke me up. The Puppies, and their attempts to game the Hugos in the name of patriarchy and white nationalism for the last few years, have overshadowed, to some degree, how good the winners have been.

On the non-fiction side, Haidt's The Righteous Mind was an intriguing read -- perhaps supplying the science behind what many have argued is the insufferable arrogance of the New Atheism. (Mind, it doesn't make a case for the existence of a deity, nor does it suggest government and religion should be intertwined; rather, it puts the case for religiosity being more than a manifestation of a parasitic, viral meme in terms rationalists will be open to.)

Long time Tryptic Cryptic / c-i-e favorite Kevin Murphy has co-authored a new book, The Past and Future City, which will be released in October. The review call it "an articulate call to action that should be of interest to scholars, community organizers, and policy makers in municipalities across the country." Neither scholar, organizer, nor policy maker myself, I plan to read it because the case for historic preservation is one that ought to made for, and by, the citizenry at large.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Starcher Trek!



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Thursday, August 18, 2016

NCGOP taken to the woodshed by The Wire creator David Simon



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Friday, July 29, 2016

And Wisconsin, and Texas, and ...



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"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" Or Bust

Major League Baseball must permanently retire ‘God Bless America' - NY Daily News

[It] embodies great things about America, but also our worst things: self-righteousness, forced piety, earnest self-reverence, foam.
It's not the national anthem so, no, I won't stand, won't remove my cap, and certainly won't sing along. (The Yankees, not surprisingly, are the absolute worst about this. Kate Smith's version scrapes the inside of my skull. I'd sooner stand for "Jeter Bless the Bronx" than listen to that mess ever again.)



Thursday, July 28, 2016

way down down down in this subbacultcha


We should not still be talking about Harambe. When I say “should not,” I don’t even mean that it’s morally wrong to joke about Harambe. (Though more on that in a moment.) I mean that, as a running joke, Harambe should have had a shelf life of maybe two weeks. The meme should have died shortly after the animal did. 
But it didn’t.
If @NCGOP didn't do Harambe, it's only because they were beaten to it. Wetting their pants while trying piss on Tim Kaine is about all they're capable of these days.



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bernie Smash



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I'm not #ImWithHer, but I applaud Bernie for trying to fix the machine from within. I don't think it's going to work, but in terms of taking steps toward that goal, he did about as well as he could have last night.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Durham's Duffer Bros. On "Stranger Things"

Two Brothers Funnel Their Nostalgia for Eighties-Era Durham Summers Into New Netflix Series Stranger Things | TV | Indy Week

Image via Vulture
Fans of the era's genre films will spot plenty of visual and narrative homages in Stranger Things, from the synthesizer-driven score and the Stephen King-style title card to the presence of eighties mainstays Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine in major roles. There are shout-outs to movies such as Poltergeist, The Goonies, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Less Than Zero, and to pop-culture touchstones from X-Men comics to Dungeons & Dragons.
More, if only slightly, than a mere nostalgia machine, Stranger Things aimed to subvert at least one horror trope -- the sexually active teenager will be murdered -- and possibly a second if we consider the wealthy, entitled sport/prep boyfriend has no redeeming features. (The latter, I suppose it could be argued, wasn't crying out for subversion.)

Not a classic, but if a summer read is a thing, then I'd call this a serviceable summer series. Flawed, but not fatally. For example, Winona Ryder didn't really get a chance to shine until the back half of the series, but her character finally got a little room to breathe, so she wasn't completely wasted. Did the "upside-down" parallel dimension make sense? No.

Black Mirror and Les Revenants have been languishing in my queue, think I'm going to finish them off before I finally give Breaking Bad a try.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wow, We Are A Fragile Species (Vocal Fry Edition)

Can a Woman’s Voice Ever Be Right? -- The Cut:

Image via nymag.com

The public sniping at women’s voices reflects a deeper cultural anxiety about whether they have a right to speak at all. Classicist Mary Beard points out that this anxiety is historic, written into our cultural DNA. She writes, “Public speaking and oratory were not merely things that ancient women didn’t do: they were exclusive practices and skills that defined masculinity as a gender … the tone and timbre of women’s speech always threatened to subvert not just the voice of the male orator, but also the social and political stability, the health, of the whole state.” This is our cultural inheritance, and its patterns play out on Twitter and the floor of the House of Representatives alike: “Women, even when they are not silenced, still have to pay a very high price for being heard.”

He Doesn't Want To Be President, He Wants To Be Able To Say He Won The Presidency

How Donald Trump Picked His Running Mate - NYTimes.com:

Image via Jezebel
... [A]ccording to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy. 
 
Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply. 
In a way, it's almost a relief. But then, even had it been Kasich, it would have been a terrifying prospect in and of itself. That it's Pence makes the prospect even worse.

It's like I've been saying all along. Trump doesn't want the job, isn't committed to anything except being an entitled asshole. (And being racist.) That he's the nominee simply highlights the fact the rest of the Republicans are entitled assholes genuinely committed to a radical ideology that will unmake the country. They were all just as bad, and in at least Cruz's case - worse, and the Republican base (at least the segment that isn't genocidal-for-Jesus) could smell it on them.

So, last night Christie played attack dog for Trump by indicting Clinton in the convention's kangaroo court. ("Guilty!" the mob shouted, "Lock her up!" they chanted.) Now that he's not going to be VP, it seems clear he's angling for a top cabinet position. My guess is State, based on how he focused on Clinton's foreign policy disasters. (And yes, she has been and will be a disaster.)

With Christie, I don't know. Does he really mean half of what he says, does he have any kind of principles beyond screw-the-enemy? If Trump can't win, and recent polling data still indicates he won't, is it even worth the bother of speculating about?


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Here Comes The Argument (For The Lesser of Two Evils)



Here's a snippet from the linked post, it's worth reading the whole thing, but the root of my disagreement with LaBossiere is in this bit:
In the upcoming election, I intend to follow my principle. While I voted for Sanders in the primary and prefer him over Hillary, I think that a Trump presidency would be vastly worse for the country as a whole than another Clinton presidency. Hillary, as I see her, is essentially a 1990s moderate Republican with a modern liberal paint job. As such, she can be counted on as a competent business as usual politician who will march along with the majority of the population in regards to social policy (such as same sex marriage and gun regulation). Trump has no experience in office and I have no real idea what he would do as president. As such, I am taking the classic approach of choosing the lesser evil and the devil I know. If I was voting for the greater evil, Cthulhu would have my vote. 
It might be objected that my approach is flawed. After all, if a person votes based on a rational assessment of the impact of an election on everyone, then she could end up voting against her own self-interest. What a person should do, it could be argued, is consider the matter selfishly—to vote based on what is in her interest regardless of the general good. 
This approach does have considerable appeal and is based on an established moral philosophy, known as ethical egoism. This is the view that a person should always take the action that maximizes her self-interest. Roughly put, for the ethical egoist, she is the only one with moral value.
Does it leap out at you, too? For me, it's the reduction of voting for the candidate who best represents your values, whom you believe would make the best President, to an ethical egoist position. Altruism vs. ethical egoism here is a frame, not an entirely worthless one, but a frame that is hung over the argument to facilitate clubbing together would be Green or Libertarian voters with Ayn Rand and her philosophy for morons. (Sure, it actually applies to the latter group, but it denigrates the motives, aspirations, and beliefs of Greens and other progressives.)

If we consider the morality of voting for a third party candidate from deontological or utilitarian (consequentialist) perspectives, it's suspiciously convenient (though, of course, not impossible) with this framing that a vote for the Clinton can be cast as a virtuous action either way; not to mention suspiciously convenient that a principled vote for a candidate who is not merely a lesser-of-three-evils option, but a "good" option, then doesn't seem to have a philosophical leg to stand on.

So, let's remove the frame. My counterargument is that a vote for a third party candidate who best represents not only my own views, but who best represents the views of a majority of Americans -- views which I think most ethicists agree are generally "better" than dehumanizing, wealth-concentrating, warmongering, environment degrading, etc. -- is, at least from the deontological perspective, a more virtuous vote, than the one for the neoliberal candidate (or the fascist buffoon).

That we shouldn't consider voting for the best candidate a ideal normative action requires we bring in some consequentialist notions based on cynical assumptions: "a third party vote is wasted", "the mass media doesn't recognize a candidate as viable, therefore she is not viable", "if you don't vote for the lesser of the two evils, you increasing the risk that the greater of two evils will win and make things worse than they otherwise would have been", "it's selfish to vote for the candidate who best represents your values", and so on. Now, some of those are harder to dismiss than others, and I'm sure many will find no fault at all with the one that says if you don't vote for the lesser of two evils, you're effectively supporting the evil, which -- by logical necessity, I think -- would make that voter actively evil.

What subscription to that belief fails to recognize is how much it leans on a host of other assumptions, which I don't think even those people who take that position would agree with. The major networks and big newspapers don't get to decide what candidates are viable based on how it benefits their bottom line to align with the oligarchical agents in our society. That's a power determination that the internet and social media have long since undercut. It is easier today than it ever has been to find the strong arguments and dismiss the blatantly self-serving propaganda of the super-wealthy elites. A refusal to consider a third party candidate as viable, unless it's a Ross Perot-like approved option of the rich, is nothing more than a mix of intellectual laziness and moral cowardice. "Oh, the rich say this person can't win, so they are going to ignore her? I guess I might as well accept their judgment over my own," says the sucker born every minute.

Put another way, I don't think "you shouldn't vote in your best interest, and in the best interest of the country, because most people won't" makes sense. Rather, that notion reinforces the "most people won't" when any position we take ought to be voting in the best interest of the country. (Or, if you're feeling selfish, voting based on self-interest alone.)

Until people make their voices count, they won't count. I don't owe anybody my vote, and I am thinking of the greater good when I vote for the candidate who shares more of my values than any of the others. It's not my fault she "can't win," it's yours, LaBossiere and your ilk.

Now, I could be wrong. Maybe Stein would be an ineffective, or bad, President. But I'm not convinced of that by arguments based on cynical acceptance of the plutocratic definition of viable candidates. Convince me Stein is wrong on foreign policy. Convince me she's wrong on energy policy, on civil rights issues, on women's health issues, on wealth inequality issues ... go ahead. I'm waiting.

If we get Trump/Pence in 2016, then we deserve the fucking disaster that's coming.

If we get Clinton/Kaine, then the mitigated disaster that's coming is what we deserve. Enjoy your endless war, continuing concentration of wealth, private prisons, surveillance state, corporate welfare, and new trade treaties. I'll continue to speak against them, to vote against them, and remind you what you voted for when you do, too.

Anticipated questions/objections:

Did Nader cost Gore the 2000 election?
No. Gore cost Gore the 2000 election. Also, the Supreme Court. Also, Clinton, whose Administration was more moderate Republican than progressive. Had Clinton/Gore been more progressive than NAFTA and DADT, we never get into the mess Bush left us. Had they been more progressive, Gore would have been able to steal Nader's thunder; he could have co-opted the message with credibility and won those voters over. He didn't try, and wouldn't have been credible if he had.

Don't I care Trump could win if I don't vote Hillary?
Of course I do. A Hillary Presidency would be better than a Trump, no doubt. But a Stein would be better than either. I'm voting the way I think people should vote, hoping they eventually will learn because I want change, a bold new direction, an end to Citizens United, and much more. I don't believe Hillary wants those things.




Friday, July 15, 2016

#TeamValor Representin'



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Yeah, I've been playing. It's just Ingress with retro-pop culture gloss instead of a hard sci-fi one, but it gives me an excuse to sing "Ji--i-i-i-gglypu-u-uu-uu-ff" randomly.


Turning Up Like a Bad Pence

cryptonaut-in-exile: Mike Pence, C-Street twat, blowing hard on the dog-whistle today.


For all the nods of assent the choice of Mike Pence for running mate by Donald Trump is receiving, it's worth recalling what the C-Street Republicans stand for, in addition to evangelical sex scandals. It's been a number of years since I've bothered paying attention to Pence (the leading link is from November, 2010,) not looking forward to listening to more of what he has to say.






Friday, July 8, 2016

2016, You Really Are Something

Dallas Police Officers Killed By Snipers: What We Know Friday : The Two-Way : NPR

Image via NPR
A coordinated sniper attack in Dallas killed five police officers Thursday, in a bout of violence that didn't end until the last of at least two snipers who had fired on police died in a parking garage. Police say at least four people were involved in the attack; they have three suspects in custody.
I'm afraid to read the comments, or look at twitter. The hot takes must be flying.

This was inevitable though, wasn't it? Not justifying, not endorsing ... just observing. The police have been waging a war on dark skin since ... forever? ... and if they can't solve their racial issues, if *we* (white people, generally) can't solve *our* white supremacy problem, then shouldn't we expect violent opposition from the oppressed?

It feels horribly old-fashioned, and perhaps inadequate, but I still cling to the idea that the Rule of Law is the answer. Yes, there is a problem with the law: there are too many low-level offenses that basically criminalize the state of being poor, of being black, and that needs to change. But even with bad laws, the fixes would happen if applied equally; if white parents had to deal with their kids going to jail for pot smoking, for example, the way black parents do, you can bet your ass things would change.

If police crack down harder now, because of this, I fear these won't be the last police to be hunted down and killed.

So, yeah, I guess I have a hot take: serve and protect, or there will be more blood.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The UK's Post-Brexit, Post-Cameron Future



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"Don't Worry," I Said. "Trump Can't Win," I Assured Them ...



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... but is it impossible I've underestimated how eager neoliberalism's most vulnerable (the elderly, the working classes clinging to or losing sight of the standard of living their parents and grandparents enjoyed) are to accept the scapegoats the fascist end of the elite spectrum are foisting on them (immigrants, the non-whites, non-Christians)?

Sure hope young people (and old lefties like myself) will be out voting for their future in every town, county, state, and national election, before the crazy old racists take advantage of the mess of the neoliberals are making of things.

Bernie Sanders rolling over for the neoliberal Hillary shouldn't disappoint me, pragmatically I'm sure it boils down to lesser-of-two-evilism, but he should have taken a principled stand and broken from the Dems, or encouraged people consider Jill Stein. (But it's ideas like that which make it likelier I'll turn into Don Quixote than a political analyst for MSNBC.)<>br />

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Laws of Robotics Applied to Comment Spam Filtering



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Sunday, June 5, 2016

RIP Muhammad Ali

Juan Cole: Sufi Boxer Muhammad Ali’s Last Fight Was Against Extremism and Politicians’ Islamophobia - Juan Cole - Truthdig

Muhammad Ali, far from being pugilistic with the pugnacious Trump, gently called on all US politicians to distinguish between a fringe of misguided extremists and the actual teachings of Islam, which Mr. Ali saw as uniting humankind in love. In the end, the man who was known for boasting about how hard he could hit demonstrated that he wasn’t interested in childish polemics. He conceded the problem of extremism, but asked for understanding of the mainstream Muslim tradition of 1.5 billion human beings.
The Greatest has passed. Only Jackie Robinson comes close to approaching Ali's legacy as a principled sportsman whose influence reached far beyond the sport at which he excelled.

Ali was the first subject of the first project I can remember doing in elementary school. We were asked to show one of our heroes, so I made a collage magazine and newspaper clippings about Ali, this was in the mid-70s, when he was both the famous sportsman in the world, and -- in some circles -- the most reviled. I was a skinny, poor, intensely shy white kid and Ali was everything I wanted to be: eloquent, principled, defiant, courageous, supremely talented, hard-working ... and, as he would say, pretty. While I had, and have, nothing but love and respect for my uncles who fought in Vietnam, Ali is no less a hero for the stand he took against the war.

We need more Muhammad Alis. Big Papi always makes me smile; the UConn men's and women's basketball programs have produced scores of players I admire and watch every chance I get; Pedro Martinez and Ted Williams still inspire me; but none of them are Ali. None have had the impact on the world outside of sport that Ali had.

Baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and the world, need a gay Ali, an atheist Ali, a socialist Ali, a feminist Ali. I keep hoping someone like a Tom Brady will step up, a Steph Curry, a Big Papi ... but for the good those guys do through charitable works, and I'm sure they do a lot, we are already united in wanting to cure childhood cancer. The world needs a bucket of cold water over the head to wake up to the fact judges letting privileged white kids who rape off easy is the worst kind of institutional misogyny and white supremacy, to wake up to the fact perpetual war and empire can be ended, and we can be just and humane with each other. We need, as the kids say, to get woke.

We need another Muhammad Ali.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

You Know Nothing, Munro. (Polanyi Edition)

Reminded at least once a day that -- for as much as I think I've read, as well-rounded (if not particularly scholarly) as I try to be across disciplines -- I still have huge holes in my reading. Humbling. But there it is. Add to the reading list and soldier on ...


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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

GOP Think They're Klingon, But Are Ferengi



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Monday, May 16, 2016

@scalzi Wants In For Kevin Smith's Buckaroo Banzai Show. Don't We All?



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Coming Fall 2016, Timeless


First thing I noticed in the comments were a barrage of, "this rips off El Ministerio Del Tiempo," accusations. My initial reaction is, what time travel to fix/save history show isn't a rip-off of previous time travel to fix/save history shows? But, it looks like there was a pitch to adapt that NBC turned down before green-lighting this one, and the plot around the lead history saver's role and the composition of her team may be the elements ganked.

Didn't find EMDT on streaming sites, but it's available through rtve.es (without English subtitles), but with a transcript to facilitate translation.



Friday, May 13, 2016

Would It Though?



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Friday, May 6, 2016

Slick Visuals For Your Pop Music Nostalgia Session



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On Clueless Elite Media And Why Trump Tweets Like Third Grader Who Should Be Held Back

Not so funny now, is it?


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Sadly, the ones they weren't laughing at were just as fucking nuts, and no pundit could bring themselves to acknowledge it.

Related: This Salon piece that looks like trolling, but could prove to be an accurate diagnosis. It's not that he that he talks like a (belligerent, racist, paranoid) third grader, it's that he's got less cognition than one.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pearl Mackie (@pearlie_mack) Announced As New Who Companion

Here's the announcement:


She's wearing a Prince t-shirt there! Don't know when this was filmed, seems likely it would've been before the terrible news broke, but either way it's perfect. (Nice to see some new footage in the announcement, but it stings a little that we're still a long way off from new episodes.)

Always afraid to look at what the tweeps are saying, you never know when the MRA/Racist Egg Brigade is going to shit in the pool, but a quick glance shows nothing but warm welcomes and well wishing in response to her first tweet since the announcement. That's tremendously encouraging.

I haven't seen her in anything before but just the brief clip, the glowing reviews I'm reading from those who have seen her, and the fact she reads like a lovely person make this an exciting announcement.



Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince Is Gone, But I'm Looking For A Purple Lining To That Cloud Today

Off on a tangent, the deaths recently of Prince, Merle Haggard, David Bowie, Phife, and a few others, have me in the mind of appreciating all the more that the world still has two of my favorite performers in it, and still working into their 80s: Willie Nelson & Tom Baker.

Prince's death impacted more than Bowie's, but if I'm honest, I respected more than actively enjoyed his music the last several years. Like everyone else, I loved the 2007 Super Bowl half time show (hence the #shadowboner tag I've used occasionally since that night), and the George Harrison hall of fame tribute. I don't doubt Prince's last albums are great, but seeking them out wasn't important to me like his earlier ones were. That's partly true of Willie as well, though he put on a great concert last summer; and Tom's Big Finish audios are a shadow of his time in the role back in the 70s. But, I'm still listening to both, and hope to listen to lots more.

So the purple lining I'm finding in the cloud that hangs over 2016 is that the two guys who oriented my tastes around music (on Willie's part), and sci-fi (Tom's part) as much or more than any other performers during my formative years are still making the world better by being in it.

Willie's willingness to engage with music of all types, his outlaw/hustler/dare-I-say-proto-punk persona, his distinctive voice and guitar playing style, the poignancy of the songs he wrote, and the life he breathed into songs he covered ... these things all made it possible for me to hear music with more openness, more willingness to be challenged, and more patience for quirkiness. I firmly believe listening to his music has made me a better man. He has been a giant of American music and should be remembered not only for the songs he wrote and performed, but for how he served as an ambassador to the world for a distinctive strain of American fierce independence tightly coupled with the spirit of brotherhood.

Tom Baker's irreverence is a cousin to Willie's outlaw, but is another facet of that Coyote/Trickster-Verging-On-Fool archetype, a distinctly British one, perhaps. But of all the great Brits, he's the one that embodied a universal for me. There's a bit of John Lennon in him, a bit of John Cleese, something that -- because I saw him first -- made it certain I would be ready for Douglas Adams and Monty Python when I did encounter them. His Doctor is to me what "Imagine" is Lennon's fans, what the best Python sketches are to their fans, what HHGTG is to Adams fans. I'm fans of all those works and artists, but none give me the joy of watching Tom offer a baddie a Jelly Baby, or drop a line like, "You're a beautiful woman, probably."

Prince died far too young, and that sucks. But all the good ones don't die young. There are some who keep going, stay brilliant, and whose talent seems to be an inexhaustible well. They go up and down, wax and wane, make mistakes, can be assholes, but they are legendary talents and unmistakably brilliant performers ... when they are on, they peel back the veil and show us exactly how our imaginations can bend the cruelty of an indifferent universe towards joy in the face of suffering, and towards laughter in the face of evil.

Enjoy every day with the great ones, because nothing lasts forever.

Oh, and when the day comes, the black day that always comes, don't look for me to be coherent and to be able to compose a tribute. Those are the two that will break me down. I'll be hearing "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground" and unable to speak. I'll be watching "The Ark in Space," and "The City of Death" through a wash of tears. They are "only celebrities," not family, not friends, but they are woven into the fabric of my life. The music that played in my grandparents' house, the escape of a kid who couldn't figure out he fit into the world, and the way back in.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sinking Its Teeth Into Every Organ Of The Public Sector

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems | Books | The Guardian
Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt pointed out in Ill Fares the Land, Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course. Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.

The greater the failure, the more extreme the ideology becomes. Governments use neoliberal crises as both excuse and opportunity to cut taxes, privatise remaining public services, rip holes in the social safety net, deregulate corporations and re-regulate citizens. The self-hating state now sinks its teeth into every organ of the public sector.
We've dug ourselves a mighty deep hole. Instead of figuring a way out, we keep taking advice from the shovel salespeople who've set up shop at the top. (They don't even make the shovels -- they've figured out how to get us to make them, so they can rent'em back to us.)

The anguish I'm feeling is from so many Democrats, self-proclaimed liberals, who look at the candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and have chose Clinton, a neoliberal (or, a "centrist Republican" if we're settling on labels more accurate than "progressive" but avoiding the fancy ones) and aren't only resigned to her winning the Democratic nomination, but actively arguing for it, closing ranks around her platform of low expectations, hawkish foreign policy, and convenient acceptance of social causes she wouldn't touch just twenty years ago.

Sanders isn't going to win the nomination. Hillary will. (There's not going to be any indictment over emails, or Benghazi, or whatever the tinfoil hat brigade has out for her.) My fear is the #ImWithHer crowd are enabling Hillary's baser instincts, instead of using the Sanders campaign as a way to hold her feet to the fire.



Thursday, April 14, 2016

Geno & CD Know How To Develop The Talent They Recruit



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Was Time Ever About Anything Other Than Coddling Elites Though?



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The First First Lady Was A Real Piece Of Work



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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hawking, Zuckerberg, and Team to Launch #StarshotProject


image via spaceref.com

Tiny rockets are going to be sent into space to study the far universe in the most ambitious space exploration project in history.
 
Scientists including Stephen Hawking and backers such as internet investor Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg will send “nano craft” deep into space to explore the most remote regions that humans have ever seen, by far. The hugely ambitious project could reveal deep secrets of the universe and will allow people to photograph one of the most likely places to hold life on other worlds. 
The Starshot Project hopes to get the tiny robots out to the Alpha Centauri star system, 25 trillion years away. Getting there through normal means would take 30,000 years – but the new project hopes that using the tiny rockets will allow them to get there in just 20.
Wow. Just wow. This is stuff NASA should be doing, but OK, still, this is awesome.

Little computers lead the way. Little drones. Then more little drones, then more ... as we get better at, we can send ones that are a little bigger, and if we push a bunch of a little drones out there, maybe, just maybe, they can find the raw materials to start building things. Little things at first, then bigger things, gaining size and complexity ...

Mining, building, preparing. A space station could be waiting for us before we even get there. (And, if we can do that, maybe we can build a way station, something in between to reduce the risk in case we can't get all the way there in one shot.)

It may not be possible. But imagine what we could do if gave settlers a chance at a fresh start, a new world with a new constitution that at least avoids the mistakes of all the ones up to now ...

Things could better in a way they may never where we can't escape our own history.





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