Saturday, September 9, 2017

The First White President

Ta-Nehisi Coates is on fire here. Epic in scope, eloquence, and truth.

But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies.
The First White President

I only wish I could use the word "eldritch" with such potency.

There is a scene in 12 Angry Men where one of the jurors goes off on a racist rant. The other men freeze him out: they turn away, cross their arms, frown, and refuse to speak to him. That was a model of racial awareness for its day, but the problem is it remained the model.

We passive beneficiaries of white maleness can no longer follow that model. We have to stand up and engage; we have to confront; we have to actively combat. The men in that room should have spoken back. They should have argued, condemned, shouted, and then had the racist thrown off the jury.

We can't tolerate Uncle Bob saying racist things at the Thanksgiving table anymore. We have to speak up: "You're wrong, you're racist, and you have to leave now. And you can't come back until you understand the most important thing of all: you are wrong."

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Portal

OK, it's played for laughs, but man, I wish they made real movies like this:

The Portal

Amazing production values for a short. Makes me remember why I love fantasy.

Edit:

Ask and ye shall receive!

Riftworld Chronicles

How did I not find out about this until now?

Double edit:

ARGH! It's only the pilot episode. They're still trying to swing a TV deal.

There is a scene in this pilot, involving the classic "hurt comfort" scene and a trash can, that is deeper and more morally significant than anything in TV fantasy outside of Game of Thrones. Other than that, it's mostly tropes and cliches, but the leads are so appealing I don't even care. And that one flash of veritas gives me hope they could do something actually interesting.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Crazy Conspiracy Theory Day

So, on the face of it, Trump's threat to bomb North Korea if it so much as looks at us crosswise seems... weak. A rational person would have put out an obvious and hard deadline, such as actually launching a missile or test, rather than merely looking like you might. A smart person would never have boxed themselves in on a bluff they didn't want to be called on. A mildly competent person would not have promised to start a war over imaginary weapons of mass destruction, particularly after having spent so many years complaining about the last one.

Despite all that, is mere incompetence and narcissistic nilhism really sufficient to explain this latest move? Particularly as it comes on the heels of President Xi of China's visit with Trump, which apparently included an education on Asian geo-politics. (So nice of China to educated our President for free! I'm sure they did it entirely out of the goodness of their hearts, with no ulterior motives at all.) And following the impulsive attack on Syria, it looks doubly suspicious.

Here's my idiot conspiracy theory for the day: Xi put Trump up to it. Now Xi is sending more diplomats to NK to tell them, "The Americans are insane - they might do it! You need our help to defuse the situation." They are playing good cop/bad cop, and they tricked Trump into being the bad cop.

If it works - great! The Chinese get to squeeze NK a little more, peace gets restored, and things go on as before but with China in a better position. If it fails - it is entirely on the USA. Trump either backs down from his empty threat or worse, carries it out. We get either massive collapse of international prestige or an actual war that will kill millions. Either way the USA is made a fool; in all cases China's position is only improved.

This, my friends, is the work of a Great Negotiator.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The South shall rise again... and it has.

Why do Republicans persist in this idea that poverty is a function of laziness? They seem unable to perceive the institutional structure of the modern economy. All ideology aside, this seems odd.

In 1861, a Louisiana journalist wrote an article [Edit: more complete text here - complete article] explaining 10 reasons why non-slaveholding whites would nonetheless fight for slavery . His most salient point, of course, is #4:
The poor white laborer at the North is at the bottom of the social ladder, while his brother here has ascended several steps, and can look down upon those who are beneath him at an infinite remove!
wherein he explains that the class differences between rich and poor whites are masked by having a class below the poor.

But what finally struck me was #5:
The non-slaveholder knows that as soon as his savings will admit, he can become a slaveholder, and thus relieve his wife from the necessities of the kitchen and the laundry, and his children from the labors of the field. . . . 

In the antebellum South, poverty really was a function of character, because any man who worked hard could eventually afford a slave. And once you had a female slave, you could literally breed yourself a fortune. This is the Libertarian dream writ large; that the privileged can profit by exploiting the vulnerable with the full force of the law to support them. (Libertarians have no problem with slavery as long as it's "voluntary," meaning once you can starve a man into submission, you can own him for the rest of his life - and his children as well.)

As I have written before, Republicans focus so much on gun ownership and the need for any man to defend himself and his loved ones at a moment's notice because of the threat of a slave revolt. The honor culture was a response to a slave-state, just like it was for the Spartans.

Thus, to understand Republican ideology is quite literally the same task as understanding Confederate culture. That's all it is; the entire Conservative movement in America is merely the extension of the Confederacy. It is only a matter of time before the official Republican party platform calls for the return of chattel slavery - solely to solve the budget crisis, of course.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Doggy deceit

Another note for the Orion's Dog files (my SF work-in-progress). Dogs can lie


Yahzi was accomplished at lying. I saw him try to blame a crime on the cat once. He'd trick other dogs into having a fit and then act innocent. On a camping trip he wanted a sandwich I was eating; when I didn't give him any, he started staring off into the distance; when I stared the same way, he made a lunge for the sandwich.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

On the Milo tour bus

A fantastic article, proving that some journalists can still write:

On the milo bus with the lost boys

The best paragraph (out of many):

What happens to the Lost Boys in that story [Peter Pan] if they ever start to build memories and change, if they ever started to become adults?

They skipped this bit in the Disney movie, but, in the books, Peter kills them.