December 14, 2011

Do Not Eyeball the Bear

We have established stories/narratives. The invasion of Iraq. Often these stories are used to reach an end the people in power already know and want. We are seeing that now with the mounting pressure to “do something” about Iran. It is a dangerous place! We hear. They want nuclear weapons. Nevermind that America, Russia, and China already have nuclear weapons. Nevermind that during the Cold War we came again and again to the brink of destroying ourselves. That’s not the story.
The story is that Iran is a bad place run by bad people and nuclear weapons are bad things so we have to stop them. We do - the good guys. And anyone who says otherwise is, clearly, a bad guy. Which is where I bring up: the Senate voted to allow executive power to indefinitely detain American citizens. They did this because “we are at war” and when at war sometimes hard things must be done. You have to fight the bad guys.
The bad guys, however, are American citizens. You and I. The established story here is that Iran is a bad guy, and people who don’t want to invade Iran might be bad guys, because terrorists are bad guys, and maybe this isn’t all connected but it probably is with a big capital-e Evil. Got that? That’s the story. Now I’m going to talk about movies.
Kill Bill is the traditional revenge movie. The Bride goes on a rampage of revenge, and in the end succeeds. She at times seems just as bad as the people she’s after - she was one of them, until recently - but she turned her back on it, and is killing bad guys, so she’s a good guy. The Bride is how we see ourselves. Maybe not great - certainly not saintly - but on the side of the righteous.
We are actually closer to the plot of Old Boy. And we’re not Oh Dae-su, either (he’s the guy taking revenge for being kidnapped and held captive for what, ten years? A long ass time). We’re the captor. In Old Boy, Oh Dae-su is released after a lengthy captivity, and seeks revenge. He hurts a lot of people. He finds his captor. And he discovers why the captor did this to him. Sorry for calling him the captor, I looked it up on Imdb, but I can’t tell which was the bad guy (I am awful with names).
The bad guy did all this to Dae-su because, when both were young, Dae-su saw the bad guy fucking his own sister, and told his friend - not out of malice, but in an offhand way. He didn't see the bad guy (then just the sister-fucking guy) again, because Dae-su moved away. The sister killed herself. The bad guy dedicated himself to revenge. This is a disruption of an established story. It’s why the movie initially upset me so much. I expected an established story of revenge, and I got a disrupted story. Think of America in this context with Iran and Iraq. Recently there was a survey that discovered most Iraqis and Afghanis did not know why America was there. They did not know what 9/11 was. Our apparent revenge meant as much to them as the bad guy’s did to Dae-su - taken for a slight that Dae-su (representing the Iraqis, Afghanis, and hopefully not the Iranians) did not remember. The bad guy took revenge for something the hero didn’t actually remember. The whole goddam movie is about him trying to find the reason for his suffering.
This, as I said, is a disrupted story. It’s an uncomfortable story (with a lot of incest, besides). Disrupting an established story can feel akin to killing god. We know our stories, we like them. But after so many years at war, after the financial collapse, many people do not accept the established story. They don’t accept that we must go to war with Iran; nor that the “boom and bust” cycle of capitalism is the best thing for America. And that so many don’t accept the established story tastes bitter to those who do accept it. It's the comfort of the established story against the change of the disrupted story.
I don’t want to pull self-righteous bullshit here. I am often wrong. I may be wrong about the threat Iran poses, or about the financial reform I’d like to see. But I look. I examine the stories I hold near and dear, even about myself. Because you can’t move past the limits imposed by the established story, until you tear it down, disrupt it, and see the larger story - possibly the real story, possibly just another well-entrenched story that must be torn down in turn - until you are willing to destroy the things you believe, with no doubt, to be true.

The Civil War link: (

December 3, 2011

The Ineffable Montgomery Watson

Really I just wanted this post to have a fancy-sounding title. Watson Montgomery does not sound fancy at all.

I had a hard time with this one, but once I got going (as I said I recorded the main rant twice, trying to cut down the second time [and it's still overlong] because talking about human nature is tricky, goddammit) I found myself ranting in my less-self-conscious haze of semi-facts and undeserved confidence that is KEY to producing these podcasts. I've not mentioned them before, which is stupid of me, but several friends have blogs you should be aware of.

Hogue's: Which I enjoy because Hogue writes in a clear, simple style that is... um, good. I's not so good at describinating. It would be better, if it had more than two entries. HOGUE.

Goodly James's: He mentioned in a recent post that he is looking for short play ideas, so drop one in if you've got 'em. I did. It is reprehensible. (Fun fact: this blog may be the only thing that keeps Evil James from breaking free to rule the earth).

Someone I don't know, but it's good: Probably the best all-around blog writer I've mentioned.

Go forth and read these. Since I cut my rants short (as much as I am capable of doing) I'll post the notes I wrote on nature vs. nurture, and the oblique stories. If someone has a better term than "oblique" (ye can write it but say it and you sound kinda like an asshole) lemme know.

I'd edit these but, y'know, I already edited the podcast once.
The notes:
Harry Potter in nature vs. nurture debate. Are we born a certain way? Or does our upbringing and experience determine who we are, or is it a combination? It seems like it has to be one way or the other. Are you born a little evil and then turn good? Are you tugged at, constantly, evil nagging at you to go ahead, just blow something up for Chrissakes. Do serial killers have one puny angel on a shoulder saying they should probably put the knife down?
This goes back to Calvinism and predetermination. That’s with a C not a G. Galvanism is for a discussion on Frankenstein, not religious or sociological bullshit - though, since Frankenstein played God, Galvanism could sneak a foot in the door, if I wanted it to. But no! Calvinism was a branch of Christianity that believed in predetermination, that everyone born was determined, at birth, to go to heaven or hell. The individual had no choice in the matter, though supposedly good works would expose someone as being predetermined for heavenly bliss (and evil would show ye were meant for le Devil).  So everyone was good or evil, by virtue of what afterlife they got, at birth (which is still technically better than Catholicism that, thanks to original sin, labels every brand new mewling shit-factory that we call children as EVIL, all capitals bitches). And we’ve kinda been debating it ever since.
We like to think that people are born one way - good or evil - and that we can tell who is good and who is evil. We can’t, obviously - John Wayne Gacy was well respected by his neighbors. Does that mean no one is born one way or the other? Then it must be nurture! His parents abused him,  he killed a dog one day and never got over it, his peers abused him, whatever. The nurture side definitely has stronger contentions for legitimacy.
Which is where I bring up Harry Potter.
Harry Potter was left in an abusive situation for 11 years, after some asshole tried to kill him. We know this because, when Harry mentions even strange dreams, his uncle screams at him. Also they lock him up in a cramped, spider-filled broom closet. The beatings are implied (Dudley beating Harry is explicit) but there. So why is Harry a good kid, and not setting the neighbor’s cat on fire with his mind? Also, Dumbledore is a dick for leaving Harry in this mess.
Is it his nature? If so, what must this nature be like, to weather all the abuse? Harry is in a home in which everyone hates him, resents him, and hurts him. But he’s a good guy. Draco Malfoy, who has everything (including, we discover by the last book, loving parents, so don’t give me that shit)  is a real dickweed. Both boys are predetermined to fulfill certain roles, indicating that nature is paramount in determining character. But there is Harry’s scar to consider. It does more than piss off Voldemort. It protects him from evil, including evil in himself. Evil thoughts are not allowed in Harry. The bastard can’t even pull off an unforgivable curse right, though he tries so hard. And in the middle of a war he refuses to kill, instead preferring to disarm, even against Voldy-Satan-Hitler himself. Something, not nature is keeping Harry “good”.
Let’s look at the Joker. He’s evil, he knows it, he has a reason. In talking with Jeremy we discussed the idea that the Joker exists within everyone, an idea Jeremy originally posted on facebook. We came to the conclusion that maybe the Joker is like a virus, or a gene - a gene, that exists in everyone, only awaiting the correct set of circumstances to release it. It needs that because people, born neither good nor evil, cannot choose one extreme or the other without justification; we need cause, we think, so that when we behave as evilly as does the Joker, we think we can point back and say “this is it! This is why I did it! I’m not really a monster! Or if I am, it’s beyond my control! Something MADE ME THIS WAY”. We need this justification, before turning evil (or, in Harry’s case, before being so fucking good we won’t even kill to save our friends, which again is caused by his scar).
Pull back and look at the Joker. He commits horrible crimes. He explains the joke: terrible things happen everyday, and are accepted. When something terrible and unexpected occurs is when people get upset. That’s his point, his grand joke.
And he has no reason for it. No justification. Because, while we require justification on this side of madness (whether good or evil) once we’re there, we know the reasoning doesn’t matter. Joker gives several origin stories, each worse than the last. He says that this is why he is the way he is. All of the stories are lies. That’s the joke. That’s what Batman comes to understand. Joker, evil, knows that there is a cause for it - something that wakes up that malignant gene. And Joker, evil, knows that the cause doesn’t matter. It just is. Harry Potter is the same way. He is good because his opposite, Voldemort is evil - and when he marked Harry, with the scar from his mother’s protection, he marked Harry as good. And once that gene, good or evil, is woken up, fiction suggests that there is no turning back from it - not until death.

Oblique stories - the Magicians, by Lev Grossman, and Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling.
These stories contain protagonists who seem to be the heroes, but they are not. The witch and Martin, in the Magicians, are the main players, hero and villain respectively. Similarly, in the last three Harry Potter books, Harry remains the protagonist, the person through whose eyes we see, but the heroes shift to Dumbledore and Snape, and the villain is obviously Voldemort. Harry is playing out a role crafted by the bravery and skill of Dumbledore and Snape; he is a pawn, a brave pawn, but not a player and therefore not a hero. He is taking actions determined for him by others. The same thing occurs in the Magicians. The kids, assholes, hedonistic jackasses, are sideliners. They are there to be used by the real players. This works, sort of, in Harry Potter, though it makes the last book, in which we find it all out, kind of a drag. It does not work in the Magicians. The book does a good job of portraying stuck-up, bullying, worried, gifted kids thrust into an ominous world, but it sucks as a story. It’s boring, and the reader has no reason to care whether the kids succeed - which kinda happens in HP too. Who cares if Harry wins out, it’s Dumbledore and Snape who have held the real cards this whole time, we wanta know what happens with them. In the Magicians, I wanted, after the end, to know about the war between the time witch and her corrupt brother Martin - instead we stick with the fucking kids. Christ, I wish they had died. Oblique stories, stories that look at the real hero only from an angle, just do not work for me. At least Rowling saved that shit for the last book, and as a last minute revelation - though that’s a kick in the teeth. “Hey Harry! Nothing you do matters! My plans within plans can proceed without you! And wasn’t it funny how I left you with your dick aunt and uncle for 11 years?” Fuck YOU, Dumblydore.

November 26, 2011


Wabash beat the living hell out of Depauw. Must make for an awkward post-game meeting. "Well, they didn't win by as much this year. Maybe next time we can score twice." Especially bad when the Dannie fans leave at halftime. C'mon kids! They're your goddam team, stick around. I wanted to give the po' bastahds a hug.
Of hatred.

Multiple links tonight.
The woman sentenced for lying on her food stamp app:
And the of-course not nearly as bad ex-vigilante psychopath who extorted money at gunpoint:
And he got a $100 fine! And probably thinks it's unfair (seriously, read what he says to the FBI when they finally arrest him). I know it's long, but combined these two cases make our justice system look like the Three Stooges. It doesn't matter if Moe fucked up, Curly still gets bopped on the head.

About the Occupy Wall Street idea:

The True Democracy Act
1. Tie congressional salaries to the average American income ( - $174,000 vs. $50,000 (

2. Limit campaign spending to $1 million (
or less, with a donation cap - once $1 million is raised the candidate may no longer accept donations.

Reform starts at home. If candidates cannot handle their own salary and run effective campaigns without massive amounts of money, then they should not be in Congress. Plus this frees up corporate money to create more jobs!

This is not socialism. These are public servants. Their job, which they asked for, is to serve their constituents and promote the common good. By averaging salaries much higher than the average American income, and accepting donations that allow them to overcome the power of the vote, they are striking against democracy. By leveling the campaign field, and reducing salaries, more money is freed up for other purposes - cutting the fat that Congress complains so much about - and the vote increases in power. This creates a more democratic electoral process.

By limiting the amount in donations a candidate can receive we limit corporate interests in our politicians. They will be dependent on the people. By tying the salary to the average American income we ensure that their interests are tied to ours - that they serve the majority, as they were elected to, and not the wealthiest minority.

I said I wanted to hear what you thought, so comment, goddamit. If you disagree, good, tell me why. If you agree, good, tell me why. I want the Occupy movement to spark real change in our electorate, and this is one way I see to that goal. I don't hate capitalism; I think we need to use it better. Work in your own self-interest (but try not to be a dick; and, oh, your self-interest does not include lower taxes for corporations and CEOs making record profits.)

November 9, 2011

The Devil's greatest trick was a frontside 360 airwalk

Two disclaimers: I do not know skateboarding terms; I ramble, and may not make as much sense as I'd wish. This combination may result in a Cthulu-like trance in which I spout the tongues of madness that wakens the damned.

The links!
The hell one:

The AMA:

The swamp-assed universe!:

I am going to Monon this weekend. I will report back with Wabash's victory and scorn for Depauw. This will probably be my last year that I go (and drink) as it is the last senior class I know; the rest are all fraters that joined after I left the house. I know a few, and godspeed to each of them (and the house as a whole) but I'm trying to grow up inch by inch. Unfortunately, in my case, that is a lot of inches.

September 14, 2011

Insane laughter is not optional

The mad science link:

This'uns for Jeremah:

August 26, 2011

Just imagine Boehner, but with boobies

Note: the quality of this recording is of even higher quality than usual. Because I remembered how to turn up the volume on my speaking portions. Also, I haven't listened to it yet (don't believe in that fancy quality control).
I talk about a lot of stuff, and I wanted to talk about even more. I cut it short (or as short as I am capable of) however.

I did want to elaborate, if I may, on the victimized politicians. It bugs me that they cry to get their way, like spoiled children. It bugs me that there seems to be less and less thought in legislation, and more and more "what can I get out of it?" attitudes. Here's the thing that bugs me most: according to Fox News, about half of Americans don't pay any taxes. That's po' folks for ya. Half of Americans. Now I'm not a doctor, but that is a pretty big number. Gosh-darn big. And whether it's factual or not, there are a lot of poor folks in America. More than there are rich. The reason you see rich folks getting their way is because of money. Money talks, said the cliche. What talks louder than money, or should, in a Democracy? Shitloads of people. So if you really want to be heard, to get the things you want, you need to be loud. You need to be kind of a dick. When Mitt Romney claims corporations are people, you tell him to shut his whore mouth. Because he's not saying it for you - he's saying it for the people who subsidize his campaign, the people who will own his left nut should he get into the White House. Obama has done this as well, trying to deliver on a few of his promises while refusing to turn down the money.So why do they get to cry and claim it's for the average American? According to their actions, they despise the average American. It's time to start talking, half of America. It's time to stop taking the bullshit, and at least trying to be louder.

Late Facts: The Firefly episode I bring up, with "Mrs. Reynolds" playing the victim? I forgot to mention she tries to murder everyone on the ship. Kinda important plot point. 

August 2, 2011

Do Not Trust Robin Williams

Here is the link to the Star Wars blog:
Didn't have time to say it (spent too much on Williams being a murderer) but I think Star Wars is fantasy, as is much of what we think of as science fiction. Terminator: is there any science there beyond "robots, totally"?And time travel? The Matrix? They mention computers and then it's just kung-fu nerds' wet dream. Serenity? Reavers could easily be a stand-in for orcs. There are certain allowable things that differ in genres - what happened to River usually doesn't happen in fantasy, for example - but it's just an expectation, not a rule. I would like to read fantasy in which a government kidnaps and brainwashes kids to turn them into psychic assassins. The line between the genres is so thin I'm not sure it's there at all, or if soft sci-fi is just fantasy, in space. Even robots aren't safe, as fantasy has golems (mechanical constructs with a penchant for rebelling against their creators).

July 24, 2011

Admit It

I've decided to vote Republican in the next election. For one reason that has nothing to do with policy (foreign or domestic) or any issues. Well, sort of. I'm voting Republican because, deep down, and I suspect many people feel this way, I want to see what happens if the villains win.
It's a sad truth that the villain rarely gets anywhere in fiction. Audiences won't stand for it (see below: we consider ourselves the good guys), and it doesn't sell so well. Watchmen was an awesome thing among comics, but it took a long time for it to be adapted to the big screen (and even then we had to have an anti-government, pro-rich folks boner so big it rivals Dr. Manhattan's). Even in V for Vendetta, a movie about a terrorist, we needed to have him be the good guy for it to sell. Moral ambiguity upsets our stomachs.
But the same is not true in real life. We re-write history to paint ourselves in a good light, but current events let you assign hero and villain roles as you wish. Each political party considers themselves the good guys, or Batman, to our troubled nation. I, however, see them thusly:
Republicans: Joker
Democrats: Stupid safecracker who shot one guy, then couldn't figure out that maybe the Joker would kill him too, despite having just fucking shot a guy on his team!
And while I love Batman, I, like most of us, paid my ten bucks to sit in the theater and watch the Joker blow shit up for two hours. The problem is that Joker loses, while the Republicans have demonstrated an ability to engage in base and vile villainy, and still pull out a win. So, when a villain in real life can win, and you've never seen that (not really) in fiction, the temptation becomes too much, and you must vote for them. Just imagine if one of those groups of people on the ferries had blown the other group up; or if Batman hadn't figured out the Joker's plan to switch doctors and clowns, or if Harvey Dent had killed Jim Gordon. It would be terrible, and awesome, to watch. And if I can't see it in the movies or books, I'll settle for real life. 

July 2, 2011

Space Satan Whispers in Our Ears...

Digital Morality

I’m a big fan of Nietzsche. He cuts through a lot of what I see as bullshit, to strike at the heart of morals. I mentioned last time that no one sees him-or-herself as the bad guy, though we can recognize when we fuck up. We all make our own morality, even if it entails only slight changes to whatever is usual near you.

I am not a fan of Ayn Rand (actually I think she was an insufferable twat) so when I play Bioshock and Andrew Ryan starts screaming at me “A man chooses! A slave obeys!” I prefer to see the connection to Nietzsche rather than Rand (although Ryan’s super-capitalism-whatever falls within her ballpark).

Bioshock is a fun first-person shooter that asks an interesting moral question: is it okay to kill kids (like, if you really need to)? While I don’t like kids (they poop and don’t clean it up) I’m against killing them. I guess it’s just how I was brought up, which may make me old-fashioned. That said children give you superhuman powers (maniacal laugh sold separately) makes me go, “ehhh,” but I’m still firmly on the anti-child-murder side.

But the real interest isn’t in the moral choices themselves, but what they mean. Spoilers ahead, but this game is pretty old now, so if you haven’t played, you probably won’t. Jack (the character you play) is closer to a Big Daddy than a real human. He was constructed from a stolen fetus, and is actually Andrew Ryan’s son (with his hooker mistress, a lady who got the decidedly short and shitty end of the stick). Ryan, the guy you’re trying to kill for most of the game, is the enemy of Atlas, aka Frank Fontaine, who has programmed Jack to respond to a certain phrase, “Would you kindly?” that makes Jack do whatever he wants. He uses this phrase all the time, and it’s not until after the reveal (when Ryan forces you to kill him [he figured it out] to prove a point) that the player sees how neatly they’ve been led along.

This brings me back to the kid-killing. You kill kids for superpowers. Or, you can save them to get fewer superpowers. Atlas is pro-murder, but - and I just noticed this on my last playthrough - he never uses the command phrase to force you to kill. That decision is left in the player’s hands. (One explanation is the dev team wanted moral choices so didn’t force you, but that’s the less interesting idea, so fuck it). The player is put in a place that seems beyond good and evil, and presented with a choice that means survival or death; can he, or she, ignore the conventional morality and make the hard (evil) decision? Is it possible, because Jack thinks (for most of the game) that he is human, that Atlas was unable to force this sort of monstrous decision to the conclusion he preferred?

In a world built to deny the traditional rules and morals, your cynical heart can run free. You can get all up in Rand’s philosophy that doing what is best for you is somehow best for everyone (hint: it’s not) or you can take a look at the Nietzschean subplot and determine, free from former constraints, what it means to be moral in a world that has gone shithouse rat-style crazy.

June 3, 2011

Who Loses in Two Girls, One Cup?

What is the nature of a fight between good and evil (or if you prefer, Good and Evil)?
That’s right, bitches; it’s gonna be one of them talks.
Let’s get this out of the way: there has never been a real fight between Good and Evil. Not one that has been recognized by both fighters, at least. There is not someone who thinks “I am the real evil bastard here. I am doing this because fuck that other guy, and his stupid kids.” And this is usually mirrored in fiction, especially fantasy and science fiction (horror can go either way; in IT, the monster is an evil from beyond time and space, but that’s not really fair to it, no one’s going to even give a shit about it’s side of the story. On the other hand, in Bite, by Richard Laymon, the good guys are a couple of murderers trying to get away from a slightly worse murderer. Really, in horror, it all depends on where you’re standing, and blocking out the possibility of the other guy’s story is important. Crazy ghost Japanese lady in the Grudge is scary right up until we learn her momma put some hoodoo on her. Then it’s retarded).
A Song of Ice and Fire is my main example that, although we may sympathize with some characters more than others, everyone can be a real fucker. Spoilers for the first two books ahead, beware ye.
Ned Stark is the recipient of my sympathy in A Game of Thrones. This despite the first act I see him perform is chopping off someone else’s head. The Lannisters are the villains. At least they’re supposed to be; don’t get me wrong, they can be crazy. Joffrey is a thirteen year-old psychopath, but he was raised by psychopaths. It’s hard to blame a kid for being a crazy little shit when he was raised to be a crazy little shit. But how much better is Ned? He’s a cold, brutal man, by necessity, given where he lives. He is offered a bitch job as the King’s Hand, which he doesn’t want. Catelyn, his wife, insists that he take it, because she is afraid it will bring their loyalty into question if he doesn’t (kinda like turning down a promotion at work, except your boss decapitates you). Then a letter comes that points at some dirty dealings by the Lannisters, who are next in line to the throne, and uh-oh! It’s time to fuck shit up.
Which is exactly what happens.
Book two is all about the war that ensues after Ned is killed by Joffrey (read the book, willya? It’s too long to explain). The hostilities begin because Catelyn, displaying an overabundance of “what the fuck is wrong with her?!” kidnaps a Lannister brother, whom she believes tried to have her son killed. Granted, the Lannisters began it by tossing her son out a window (read psychopaths, above), but no one had any evidence for it beyond the word of one asshole who is, if anything, more sleazy than the Lannisters.
A Song of Ice and Fire goes out of its way to remind us, throughout Thrones, that though we may sympathize with the royals and nobles, the people really getting fucked are the ordinary people; their homes are destroyed, their lands burned, their sons killed, their daughters raped, and then killed. Ned Stark could have let it go at any point; he even tried to, by warning the Lannister queen that he knows a bit about her evilness (which prompts her to trap and kill him). He does this because he understands the lengths to which a person will go to protect their children. If he could let it go that far, why not all the way? I get that they’re assholes, but the lives of a bunch of common people who have no stake in the outcome of the throne weigh more heavily than Ned’s sense of honor.
Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf, is hated by most of the cast. Jon Snow, a bastard, who similarly has no place in this society, is the only one to empathize with him (seriously, Tyrion’s family, with one exception, all hate him). Tyrion is actually a good guy, at least as good as Ned, though considerably smarter about how he achieves justice as the King‘s Hand; for instance, he is not beheaded by the end of book two, whereas Ned  doesn’t make it through book one. Despite this, Tyrion is universally reviled, because: Everyone sees themselves as the good guy; the bad guy is the other, the boogeyman. Tyrion is, on sight, recognizable as the other. And everyone else?
That’s for next time, in a talk about why they see themselves as the good guys, what it means when we don’t see both sides, and how this plays in videogames.

“… why is it always innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?”
Varys, A Game of Thrones

April 17, 2011

So Say Most of Us. I guess. I'll get back to you.

Spoilers for Battlestar Galactica may be present.
If you've ever interacted with science-fiction in any way you've encountered robots who don't know they're robots, robots who do know, and hate humans, and humans who might be robots, and hate robots. Phillip K. Dick started it (probably) with "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", which was made into Blade Runner (a more dramatic and catchy title), which inspired stuff like Battlestar Galactica. The good one, not the original. Satan inspired the original.
There's a reason it gets used so often; identity issues seem to go hand-in-hand with being human. It also gets to couch sensitive subjects (like: slavery, war, murder, etc.) in more comfortable terms. It's okay if your coworker is one of those dickbeards who call Cylons toasters, and thinks they should all be killed; your toaster won't rise up anytime soon, and he's not saying anything bad about anyone who actually exists. Hooray for all!
But sci-fi rarely answers these issues, in part because there are no ready answers. A hundred years after the Civil War, Alabama was just getting around to admitting African Americans might be people. Today, we still have organizations like the KKK, "Southern Heritage" is used as a thin veneer to celebrate racism in some places (and in others to actually promote the good things about a state), and Huckleberry Finn is being watered down at the same time some organizations are trying to pretend slavery didn't happen (in addition to other abuses of non-white people). How can a fictional book/show/movie say for certain if we will ever get along with our robot overlords, when most of us can't get along with one another?
This naturally brings up more disturbing questions. This'un is asked in the miniseries of the new BSG, by Commander William Adama, at what was supposed to be his retirement speech.
"You know, when we fought the Cylons, we did it to save ourselves from extinction. But we never answered the question "Why?" Why are we as a people worth saving? We still commit murder because of greed and spite, jealousy, and we still visit all of our sins upon our children. We refuse to accept the responsibility for anything that we've done, like we did with the Cylons. We decided to play God, create life. And when that life turned against us, we comforted ourselves in the knowledge that it really wasn't our fault, not really."
If you wondered, that question is never answered. throughout 4.5 seasons, the characters, main, support, and enemy, are unable to provide a definite answer as to why humanity deserves to survive. This is after the Cylons nuke a several trillion population down to 50,000.
Throughout the show, the characters seem determined to prove why they shouldn't survive. Not that they're stupid; humanity wins at evolution. But Adama asks why we should survive, when another life form - the Cylons - are just as advanced as we are, just as intelligent. But robots. A distinction that, in the show, matters as much as the color of skin. Not that the characters see it that way. For most of the show, the majority of humans and Cylons despise each other, and in the end, though some reconciliation is made, the two groups are separated.
The writers of this show had 4.5 seasons to answer a fairly basic question: why are we, as a species, worth saving? During the show the humans fight, kill, and betray one another. They also love, forgive, and try to be better. The president tries to force an abortion on a captured Cylon, then later kidnaps the baby and gives it to someone else to raise. The doctor (there's basically only one left) objects, but obeys. They leave a ship behind that had a tracking device on it, and it is destroyed by the Cylons. They almost commit genocide, and fail. They don't decide genocide is bad, one of the characters particularly sympathetic to Cylons stops them before they can unleash a plague. By "them" I mean the main characters, the leaders. The support also fucks up royally, and mention is made of the people we don't see behaving... well, like people. Murderous, thieving, lying, cheating, people. These are the protagonists, trying to prove humanity deserves a second chance.
Do we?

April 12, 2011

Santa is real, and he and Jesus fight crime

If you get into the comments (and I can't blame you if you don't, it turns into a real circle jerk) they start bitching about women pushing "chick-lit", describing it as "novels for fat lesbians with cats" (classy), and ousting "real manly-man's fiction, rar!". But the article bitches out fantasy writers who do take a hyper-masculine, super violent approach, but don't end with a snuggle and say "everything'll be all right."
So: fantasy that focuses on personal relationships=bad. Fantasy that doesn't give the warm-fuzzies=bad. Tolkien and Howard, two admitted, admirable masters= good and super dead and done to fucking death.

April 1, 2011

Get ready for some Stupid

I have not played DA2 yet, so I can't respond to criticisms that the games sucks, is not hardkore enough (k intended, sirs and madams), or totally suxxors, lol.
Writing that last part killed me a little inside.
What I do know is that petitioner is angry about how gays are portrayed. He is likely gay himself (I don't typically get mad about fucking games that don't target me directly), and he feels the negative portrayal is firing-worthy.
Let's the back the crazy up a minute.
"This is the type of garbage that has people believe that gays shouldn't serve in the military. We are human beings that are the same as everyone else!"
The garbage that has people believe gays shouldn't serve in the military doesn't come from a game. It comes from insecurity, false facts, and general douchery. No one who has ever actually met a gay person believes that he or she will spend time in combat trying to get in your pants.
No, straight people are more likely to do that. Or at least pretend to do that. Let me explain. For four years, I attended an all-male school. For a while I worked in an all-male environment. In both places, I knew a total of three or four gay men. Yet there was homosexual innuendo all the time. Because straight people mess with each other. It's crazy, but saying "If you don't shut up, I will skull-fuck you," doesn't mean any real skull-fuckery will take place. We're just messed up, dudes. Women probably are too. I know that, in a single sex environment this sort of blatant - whatever, is rampant, whereas in mixed environments things are a lot calmer. By that I mean, I probably won't try to fake seduce a gay man (something I did - or said I did, when I remembered) when a woman is around. And I won't do it at all with someone I don't know well.
So, angry gay guy, think for a moment: you're playing a game with several gay party members, and in context their lives are constantly in danger. Does a pat on the ass or maybe even a smoochy face (anything short of them trying to fuck you, basically) really mean the game negatively portrays gays? Or is it that, in a relaxed, close-knit environment, we (straights, gays, bears, whatever) will fuck with each other in ways not dreamed of by God?

March 31, 2011

Are you the devil?

Early impressions of Amanda Hocking, the 26 yr-old independent author who made a shitload of money.

There's this line, from her book:
"Most likely, he was a damn sociopath,and for whatever reason, I found that endearing."
Which strikes me as retarded, lending credence to the reports that she's just writing Twilight-esque bullshit. Less paranormal romance; more paranormal bromance!

But there's this, from her blog:
"Platypi lactate and have venom."
Which strikes me as profound, and funny.
More to report as I delve deeper into madness.

Late Facts: If you don't know why the book line is dumb, consider A) way too many commas. She must have a hardon for 'em, which may not make sense. And B) sociopaths are neither diagnosed by teenagers, nor endearing. Unless you find Ted Bundy endearing (though judging by the success of Dexter, you might). 

March 18, 2011

The Constitution, by Ben Franklin

"Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of whores."

Washington: "Eh, Ben, it's... good. I don't want you to think I think it's bad.
Ben: Of COURSE it's not bad. What's wrong?"
W: Well, it's just this "pursuit" line. It's creepin', you know? You get me, Ben? It's too... Jack Ripper-y.
B: Umm... hmmm. But it's true. That's what we're founding on.
W: Well yeah, but maybe spruce it up, make it look real official. This isn't going in your goddam Almanac. This is big leagues.
B: What the hell does that mean?
W: Nothing, nothing. I love it. Gave me the best tomatoes I've ever had. Bastards're the size of my fists.
B: Goddam right.
W: But whattabout... "Happiness"? Yeah, I like it. "Pursuit of happiness", sounds real classy. And it means the same thing.
B: What about future generations?
W: What kind of fucked up future generations are we talking about? What well adjusted person wouldn't include whoring in their definition of happiness?

*I don't think this is part of the Constitution. It's probably the Declaration. I'd look it up, but this is a blog. Research is against my TOS. Plus, Futurama.

February 15, 2011

The Most Epic Thing

Sorry for the no updates. Unlikely to change. Meanwhile, may this tide you over.