Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cracked Tackles Racism and Sexism in Film

I sometimes a read Cracked. I tend to stay away from Cracked for the same reason I like to stay away from TV Tropes - I value my time, and I find that if someone links me to Cracked or TV Tropes, I can pretty much sign off on a few hours of my life easily. If I'm bored and I can't find anything to read online, however, I will certainly take a spin down the rabbit hole. I've actually learned some things from Cracked - but only because I was able to go back and double check the sources (okay, call me anal about it. I don't care - I don't like using Wikipedia as a primary source. I prefer to use their sources, which they've so neatly categorized as the bottom of the page for me).

I keep an eye on racism and I talk a lot about racism at length. As I get closer to releasing my novel, I find myself keeping a close eye on the discussion of race in the media. I always find it interesting when, in what seems to be the sea of sewage and  nerdy white-boy American privilege that is the Internet, something rational and sensible raises it's head. It's even more interesting when that something is on a rather large site like Cracked, which is actually part of that nerdy white-boy American privilege on the Internet.

Thus, we arrive at two Cracked articles - 5 Old-Timey Prejudices That Still Show up in Every Movie and Hollywood's 6 Favorite Offensive Stereotypes.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

This is Absolutely Amazing

I can't muster full commentary on this, other than how absolutely incredible this video is.

Listen in awe as Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, trashes the shit of this TEA Bagging ignoramus.

Full video found here.

"So be proud to be an American, rather than a wanker whipping up fear"
- Michael D. Higgins

Why can't we have politicians like this guy? Why?

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Third Position of Centrism

In the United States, there is this mythical existence called "centrism." If you listen to our media, or our political parties, there's always a call for bipartisanship. There's always this idea that, if you call the right out for being the frothy fucking liars they are, then you've got to be "balanced" and reassure the population that the leftists are just as bad. You have to appeal to this mythical centrist unicorn; this rare, neigh invisible creature that exists less as a corporeal entity and more as an idea that is aspired to.

It isn't an idea we need to aspire to reach. Centrism is not a good thing. Being middle of the road doesn't make you more "mature", and it doesn't mean you put anymore thought into your positions than someone on either extreme of the political spectrum. A centrist is someone who hasn't decided anything, doesn't believe in anything, and doesn't take a stand for anything. A fence-setter - that is, someone who always answers poll questions like "Do you think the sky is blue" with "undecided" - is a centrist. I'm not saying you need to be an extremist, I'm just saying that centrism is not a state to aspire to. In a way, centrism is every bit as dangerous as extremism.

Centrism is not revolutionary. Centrism is reactionary. Centrism is a toxic, destructive force - it is not "capitalism with a human face." It's "corporatism with a Citizen's United mask".

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why I'm Voting for Satan

Apparently, Rick Santorum isn't running against Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich. He said so himself, which likely suggests why he's going to loose. Instead, Santorum is running against the father of all lies himself - himself Satan.

I don't care who he's running against, that's who I'm voting for. Go ahead and pony Carpathescu up here. I'll vote for the dude, so long as he ain't Santorum. Hell, if anything, I know for certain he's got a better grasp of geography than 90% of Americans, because knowing Burma isn't in Africa is EVIL YO. But, in fact, I can make a very strong case why you should be voting for Satan and the Antichrist, not least of all because he isn't Santorum.

Monday, February 20, 2012

World Building Part 2 - the Governing Agencies

In the first post, I took a long look at the way in which I set about starting to build a fantasy world, and explained a little bit about the history that I have with the genre. As is to be expected, I like my fantasy forward thinking - progressive, avant garde, and one where the rules are internally consistent to my specifications. Works where one pines for the good ol' days, when the good king John ruled from the throne and the monarchy made sure the trains rain on time by keeping a highly stratified society in which the shit flowed down hill but not much else is not something I aspire to. There are plenty of different government styles, and as I start to build my worlds, I look to those. Any society that has an autocratic ruler is not likely going to be one that I aspire to by any means.

Far too often, I think, the government style of a fantasy world gets overlooked. "Let's just throw a king or pope or some other autocrat in there and get it over with, and move on." The problem with this is that you end up with so many examples of autocracy the entire genre begins to look anti-democratic. Not helping matters is the notion that heroes can only be "chosen ones" and are "much larger than life." Heroes in fiction aren't necessarily supposed to loom larger than life. Heroes in fiction aren't necessarily supposed to be leaders, nor are they supposed to be demi-gods who discover that they're the lost king. They don't necessarily have to be one of a select few who can wield magic/psionics/whatever.

Take for example Human Black Box. Chloe, Zira, and Anjali all look larger than life to us right now, but that's because they live in a world where it's possible. The thing to remember is that they're relatively normal, and in some ways, inferior, to others in their world. Chloe, Zira, Anjali and the other characters in HBB are otherwise normal people in this society. The thing is, technology has advanced society so much that even normal people are on a level playing field with the heroes of old fantasy and mythology. For instance, in a recent Eclipse Phase session I had, the players sleeved inside of modified Olympian morphs and reenacted the myth of the Calydonian boar hunt. While something like that is still a bit beyond the capacity of the average individual - the Olympian cost an arm and a leg and the creation of the boar pod that housed the AGI role-playing as the Calydonian boar was itself tremendously expensive - the stuff is there for them. They, for the most part, are not particularly wealthy. They have average occupations, if they have one. They were able to sleeve into a body and relive a tale form Ancient Greek mythology, and in some ways, even outpaced the mythological heroes. Normal people, outpacing mythology. This is what equality and transhumanism is about. Making that technology available to everyone so everyone can do it is what being technoprogressive is about. While it's hard to directly mirror the philosophies in fantasy, the values can carry over with a little work.

Because I can't rely on technology in my setting, and having magic as is usually presented skews the power structure away from the average folk - with industrialization not really helping - I have to keep this in mind. The normal person is where I start when I build a world, because I don't expect my heroes to be much more than them.

Selecting the government style and setting the world up for the average person ensures a world that's deeper and more expansive than one that's built around the heroes first. It also requires a lot more work, but it's not something that's impossible. Selecting the government style first also determines, in subtle ways, what kind of economy you're looking at. Because the economy is scarcity-based, with some things more scarce than others, I'm going to be looking towards the "classical" economic theories, rather than some new, bleeding edge economic theory for a society that's passed the scarcity-level. It also determines in subtle ways the levels of freedom that your average folks - and by extension, the heroes - will have. So with all this in mind, I set about trying to determine what kind of governments I was looking at.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Replacing Human Black Box this week...

Human Black Box will not be posted this week - I'm hoping to get around to posting it next weekend. It's not that I've gotten behind - far from it - it's just that I haven't had the time to post what I have. And tonight, I've got something else on my mind, so next week HBB will resume.

Having said that, I do have a piece of fiction prepared for you. Or, rather, part of a piece of fiction. See, I'm about this close self-publishing (where this close means I'm waiting for the proofing copy, and once I've got that and I'm happy with it, I make it public. Which means sometime before my birthday in June my novel will be for sale). I've been working on this particular novel, and this particular series, for about 6 years now. Now that I've got a starting point I'm happy with, and I've gone through and proof-read multiple times and had multiple other people proof read, I'm going to publish the book.

Tonight, I'll be posting a chapter from that novel, for your enjoyment.

Please note that the material in this post is not under the Share-and-Share-alike license that the majority of my blog falls under. This material is under copyright to me.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sieg Heil

Women were not expected to work in Nazi Germany . In Weimar Germany there had been 100,000 female teachers, 3000 female doctors and13,000 female musicians. Within months of Hitler coming to power, many female doctors and civil servants were sacked. This was followed by female teachers and lawyers. By the start of the Second World War, very few German women were in full time work. However, such was the skills shortage in Germany, that in 1937 a law was passed in 1937 which meant women had to do a "Duty Year". This meant that they could work 'patriotically' in a factory etc. to help the Nazi's"Economic Miracle". The marriage loan was also abolished in this year.

As housewives and mothers, their lives were controlled.Women were not expected to wear make-up or trousers. The dyeing of hair was not allowed nor were perms. Only flat shoes were expected to be worn. Women were discouraged from slimming as this was considered bad for child birth. Women were encouraged to have a well built figure as slim women, so it was taught, would have problems in pregnancy…….Women were also discouraged from smoking - not because it was linked to problems with pregnancies - but because it was considered non-German to do so.

You know what? I'm at the point where I just don't give a damn about this place anymore.
Hitler's outspoken anti-feminism drove large numbers of women to join left-wing political groups. In October, 1933, the Nazis opened the first concentration camp for women at Moringen. By 1938 the camp was unable to accommodate the growing number of women prisoners and a second one was built at Lichtenburg in Saxony. The following year another one was opened in Ravensbruck.
Call Godwin. Go ahead. At this point, such comparisons are applicable. We're looking at the rise of cryptofacist government that seeks to do ferociously restate the "rights" of old White Christian men, who society would be better off without. This is Virginia. This is Oklahoma. What they tried to do in Mississippi they couldn't do they did in Oklahoma without even having the population vote on it. The same in Virginia.

Sic Semper Tyrannus

Hypocritical fuckers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cinderella Sundays

World News Daily has an education part. I did not know this. The fact that I find it immensely hilarious suggests that I would've been better off learning this before, in that laughing derisively at stupid people building and beating on strawmen and losing to them lowers your blood pressure.

I am educated as a teacher. A secondary school teacher - with a major in English and a minor in history. One of the reasons I've been reluctant to come out and admit that is because I know that my posts are usually riddled with typos (I don't usually line edit before I post; I usually have just enough time to post and then fly away, catching any egregious error that Java didn't underline red by proofing it first). I am a certified teacher, though; I could step into a classroom today and with full confidence teach either of those subjects. I've done it before when I was working as a substitute teacher - I tend to run a very orderly, very structured environment that is usually teacher-centered. Not the best case scenario, especially since today student-centered learning is the big thing, I just don't have the management skills to handle 40 kids in a student-centered environment. I like to think this is less my problem and more the fact that there's 40 kids in the room, but that, and the majority of this paragraph, are not remotely related to the post.

Anyway, my point is this: I am a high school teacher, teaching grades 6-12 in English and history, although I've subbed/worked in K-Adult in every subject that you can imagine, from AP Calc (a scary experience considering the only maths I can do efficiently above basic math is geometry, and the only way I do basic math is by counting on my fingers) to Auto Body Repair. The fact that World News Daily has an "education" section is laughable. Coming from an actual teacher with more collective classroom experience than most anyone who would ever write for the WND "edjukashun" section - it's a fucking joke.

This article is a perfect display of that. No, it's not English. There's some history, but the majority of it is Science. Or, rather, "science", because if it comes from WND it's not just wrong - it's wrong approved by the "standards" of WND!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Maybe it's because I know the difference...

Climate does not equal weather.
Climate does not equal weather.
Climate does not equal weather.
Climate does not equal weather.
Climate does not equal weather.
Climate does not equal weather.
Climate does not equal weather.

Climate doesn't equal fucking weather.
It's snowing where I live at. That means it's time for the tired old jokes and staid old conspiracy theorists to step out snidely laugh, arrogantly cocking their head and going "Aha! Well, if it's global warming, why is there snow?"

"Because it's winter, asswipe?"

Climate does not equal weather.
Climate does not equal weather.
Climate does not equal weather.

Weather does not equal climate, either

Weather - the various moving parts inside of your engine.
Climate - the entirety of your engine, including all of it's moving pieces.

You cannot tell if something is wrong with the whole engine if all you're looking at is the right cylinder third one down.

Climate does not equal weather
Climate does not equal weather
Climate does not equal weather
Climate does not equal weather
Climate does not equal weather
Climate does not equal weather...

Stupid, conceited American. It's global warming. That means the entire globe. America is not the fucking globe.
What happens in the United States is not indicative of global climate change, you jaded, stupid jackass.
I keep hoping if I repeat this enough, it'll sink in. Someone will realize "hey, you know, you're right."

I might as well be living in the same world that these global warming denalists are living in, since any world where that can happen is just as removed from reality as the world they live in.

Climate does not equal weather
America does not equal global
Snowing in your backyard is not indicative of global warming
Heatwaves in your backyard is not indicative of global warming
Global warming is global
You'll notice that it's shaped like itselfAnd that in being global, it isn't just restricted to America, which is about 1/8th of the globe in landmass*.
Climate. Does. Not. Equal. Weather.
America. Does. Not. Equal. Global.
The. Bold. Punctuation. Is. In. Hopes. It. Will. Sink. The. Fuck. IN.
Okay, I give.
You win.
I'll just set back and laugh at how stupid, conceited, and moronic you are.

* estimate based strictly off of eyeballing its position in relative to a sphere and dissecting the sphere as such. This estimation includes all of North America, including Canada, Mexico, and Central America.

A Different Drug Problem

Sometimes, I see things posted on Facebook that seem like they're just there to poke at me. Today is one of those days. While looking through my FB news feed, I saw a picture that one of my family members posted. I clicked on it and read through it, and facepalmed. The wonderful thing about social media is that information can spread quickly through it, and you can learn a lot. The downfall of social media is that misinformation can spread quickly through, and you get taught wrong.

This is a case of the later.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Because I Don't" Isn't a Good Enough Answer

Homophobia and bigotry take many forms. Stupid, usually White, usually Male, usually wrapped in an excess of body fat and usually in utter denial about reality, removed from anything remotely resembling a logical argument or objective reality but quick enough on the draw to accuse the other side of these very same flaws.

This isn't to say that all homophobic bigots are White, or even Male. Case in point - Karen Handel, the recent ex-Vice President (*punt* get the fuck off my cloud) of Susan G. Komen. Handel is a former Senator from Georgia - so if that doesn't practically spell the upcoming problem in large, neon pink letters and hang a billboard-sized sign around it, I'm not sure what to say.

Komen is notorious for recently earning Planed Parenthood something along the order of a metric shitton of dollars for defunding the organization. Also, they're known for those pink ribbons and giving the illusion of caring about women's health. Of course you can't care about women when you're part of the Pro-Coathanger Brigade. It's stupid to even hold the illusion that you do.

Now, there are some parts of the internet that think Handel had something to do with it. After all, she's only a typical anti-life, anti-human repulsive salsa of dried enemas and garbage - you know, the typical Right-winger - but the cynic in me doesn't feel that she acted alone. Sometimes I love to tell the cynic to go over in the corner and play with blocks, but today, I can't help but think that hie's right. I suspect that the rest of the board at SGK had something to do with it. Which is fine; I can't think of a more expedient way to basically cut your own throat than doing something like this. And they helped PP along the way - everybody won!

Except, of course, for Handel, who stepped down from her position and decided "You know what? Screw this, I'm not taking this severance so I can go strike a martyr pose on television and pretend like I was persecuted by SGK and those mean old bastards in that Liberal Media."

Handel is a piece of work. She was interviewed NBC 11 (live in HD!), and much to my pleasant surprise, the interviewer asked something that resembled tough questions. Handel is a rampant homophobe in addition to be an all-around pleasant person - observe:

Monday, February 6, 2012

World Building: Part 1 (the Meta-backstory)

This is going to be a totally different post from the types of posts that I've done in the past - it doesn't relate to transhumanism, politics, or science fiction in any sense of those words. Rather, this is purely a gaming post.

I'm a GM, and a rather prolific one at that. My biggest issue as a GM is that I'm good at making worlds. Not so good at following through with them. World building is something that I enjoy doing; it gives me peace of mind and it lets my imagination come to the fore. When I game, I'm usually a science fiction GM, but in the past, I've been known to blend genres (something I love doing) to create totally new settings. It may surprise some readers to learn that while I've attacked fantasy in the past, I do build fantasy settings. One of the reasons for this is because I want to fix what I see as the flaws in that genre.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Proselytizing to Deaf Ears

Some people can't read. You'd think with the internet being as text-driven as it is, reading would be a valuable skill. Even for those of us who don't have good reading comprehension, you would imagine that would entail trying to go that extra mile to make sure you don't look like a massive asshole when you jump down someone's throat for something they never said.

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case.

For an explicit point, I give you Froborr's post, The Problem with Proselytizing, made on January 16th, 2012.  This particular post has rocked the boat in a lot of ways, and drew any number of trolls who don't seem to care to read, or don't want to read, to the Slacktiverse.

I was, tentatively, part of that discussion, but I didn't make my voice known immediately. Let me say I had the same visceral reaction to it seems a lot of atheists, especially in other parts of the internet, had. Despite that, I support the piece now more than ever - especially given all of the silencing criticisms leveled at it, and at the Slacktiverse community as a whole, and the fact that, y'know, I went back and read the damn thing.

Human Black Box: Follow the Money (part 1)

For this next segment of Human Black Box, we leave Chloe and Zira (and their adventures on Mars, the Christbot, Dr. M&M and the strange cult-like atmosphere of the New Hope Village colony - possibly), and catch up with an old friend - Hotaru, now going by a different name with a different identity - living on Luna. Thus far, she's enjoyed the life of a transhuman teenager denied to her because of the Fall, but we know that can't last...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Evoluted off the Island

I suppose I should be thankful that they at least call it "Evolution" rather than Darwinism, but this is like being thankful your dog dragged its ass across the hardwood kitchen floor, rather than the carpeted dining room floor.

You don't get points for doing the bare minimum required to sound intelligent, even if you're nothing of the sort.

I mean, what the hell? I expect high-quality, intelligent, intellectually stimulating literature when I go digging around WhirledNutDaily. Don't you? When I find something on that respectable bastion of intellectual insight like this, I can't help but comment. When you're barely meeting World News Daily's standards, something has gone really wrong. Like, grown adults in furry sex-toy studded rubber dinosaur suits wrong.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Since When did Being a "Weather man" Make You a Scientist?

When the hell did being a "weather man" give you the ability to comment on shit you don't understand, that isn't even your purview of study? Someone get Dunning-Kruger on line one.

In theory, weather people are called meteorologists. Meteorologists don't study the climate - that's the job of Climatologists. Instead, meteorology is an interdisciplinary approach to studying the atmosphere. It, along with climatology, atmospheric physics, and atmospheric chemistry, make up the atmospheric sciences. The difference between meteorology and climatology is that meteorology studies short-term events, while climatology studies long term events.

Climatologists are almost universal in their agreement of global warming, and that hey, this is happening. You know - sorta like those inconsequential Brown people in the South Pacific who are loosing their homes due to sea level rise.

Meteorologists, on the other hand, are not.

NASA's made the facts pretty clear, but for a profession where it seems the only real requirement is having nice hair (because being right certainly isn't one of them), a fair number of weather people/meteorologists haven't quite adapted to this.

Let me state that while it sounds like I'm dissing meteorology I'm not. Any field of study is an important one, and the ability to predict short-term weather phenomena with a degree of accuracy is a very important one and one that needs to be respected.

But then, engineering is also a field that needs to be respected. So is being a medical doctor. The fact that you're part of the field, however, doesn't make you immune from making your field look bad when a bunch of you start saying stupid shit.And it does start to reflect on your profession after a while, and if enough people step up and start saying stupid things, it makes you wonder why you can be trusted.

So, why shouldn't I take seriously what some meteorologist (actually, let's be more correct here - weatherman/woman, because in some ways they're not the same thing) has to say on climate change?

Simply put, weather is not climate. Climate is not weather. Climate is the thing that drives the weather; climate is the engine and weather is the reactions within that engine. When the engine starts misfiring, we here in the engine might notice hiccups, but nothing too serious. At least, not until it's too late.

By the way, the current trends are suggesting anywhere from a 1mm/y to 3mm/y rise in sea level, meaning that we'll see anywhere from 1m to 3m by the end of the century. However, there are significant uncertainties here - for instance, a rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet could raise the sea level by as much as 7m (~21ft). the Western Antarctic Ice sheet could be anywhere from 5-6m (~15-18ft). In any case we wouldn't have to worry about Venice being wiped off the face of the planet, because New York may very well take its place. A rapid heating of the earth (possibly caused by a methane burst created by a large expulsion of frozen methane under the ocean's surface, thawed and bubbling to the surface, have the potential to cause extinction events in any measure) could trigger this massive thawing and then it's time to break out the water wings!

1m doesn't sound like a lot. That's only 3.3 feet. Until you realize that you're not taking into effect storm surge. Katrina? Please. There will be days when we're begging to have mild hurricanes like Katrina back. This increase in water is going to have a wonderful impact on the way that the oceans work, and because the oceans drive the climate, this stands a chance of becoming a feedback loop of dramatic proportions (see: thermohaline cycle, and why it may not be here in the future).

Oh, and the extreme weather it'll bring! It'll be fun! There will be cookies. And cake.

So, I reiterate - when the hell did being a "weather man" make you a scientist? And why the hell should I take you seriously, as a weather person, when you run off at the mouth about climate change?

Climate =/= Weather.

I wouldn't go to a dermatologist if I had internal bleeding.

I'm not going to a meteorologist if I think there's something wrong with the climate.

I'm gonna go to a person who knows what the fuck they're talking about. Which universally excludes anyone on FOX news, among other places.

And yet, somehow, deep in the faith of Global Warming Denialism, this has become truth. I don't believe my stomach is bleeding because my eye doctor told me I was fine. These people are bought and paid for by big coal and oil, who, like all companies, can't see the forest beyond the trees. Unregulated capitalism is the engine that will likely destroy humanity. And it'll do it far more effectively than any transhuman technology or AI ever could.