Monday, July 30, 2012


I like the superhero genre.

On the surface, this is no surprise. After all, at a glance, superheroism and transhumanism have a lot in common. Superheroes are a cut above "the rest" of the population, and are stronger, faster, and smarter and have powers and abilities that we can only dream about. They can do things that no person today can do. Transhumanism has similar goals; future humans may be stronger, smarter, faster and healthier than humans today, and they have seeming superpowers - the ability to think faster, the ability to see through several wavelenghts of the electromagnetic spectrum unaided, the ability to communicate "telepathically" courtesy of computers and a wireless network that they are intimately wired into, the ability to smell like they want, perhaps change their facial features and look like things that aren't even really human. Some of the more popular superpowers exist in nature and can be replicated no problem; flight can be accomplished with wings (so long as you have suitable air pressure and gravity that's not too high), which can be attached or perhaps even grown. Seeing in the dark unaided may be one of the first superpowers that humans achieve naturally; growing up, infravision was a trait of the near-human races like Elves and Dwarves in AD&D, and that's something we may accomplish. Immunity to diseases, defeating cancer, and the ability to remain young and "pretty" (for a certain value of pretty; different people find different things attractive and there's no one uniform image of what "beauty" is, no matter how much the media wants to convince you otherwise) for longer periods of time and even biological and perhaps digital immortality - all of these things are possible, but they're further down the road and for now, exist only as "super powers" in comic books and spells inside of fantasy stories.

That's on the surface. Under the surface, there's something more insidious going on. And this is where we run into my major problem with the superhero genre in specific, but fantasy in general (fantasy less so, because I'm sure there are fantasy stories that deal with the democratization of magic and how common it is, and how much it changes lives for the better - the "steampunk" sub-genre in general seems to aim for this, if not always get there. However, urban fantasy is really bad for this, by virtue of the existence of a "masquerade".  People can't have these toys, because only an unelected few are 'mature' enough to use them. It plays into the same emotions that conspiracy theories, like 9/11, Oklahoma City, the JFK shootings, Atlantis, ONI, Roswell, and to a lesser degree, Birtherism, which is based more on militant ignorance and stupidity than the above emotions, among others, play into - regret, paranoia, fear and cynicism. A more practical reason is because it keeps up willing suspension of disbelief, but these are still emotions being tapped into at the cost of keeping up that suspension). 

Transhumanism is when you take all of the marvels I detailed above and make them available to everyone. The basics - smarter, faster, healthier, stronger, the ability to control your biological sex and reproduction cycles,  "prettier" (again, for a certain value of pretty), and biological immortality - should be made available to everyone with no cost, while the additional stuff treated, like night vision, wings (if possible, and I don't see why not) and others treated like cosmetic surgery. The thing is, transhumanism is us taking this technology and setting it up so that everyone has access to it, regardless of economic level, class, race or biological sex.

The Superhero novel does not do this. The genre does not propose taking these great powers that make superheroes strong and figuring out why it works, and then giving those powers to the common man. Nowhere do scientists try to figure out why Superman is like he is, and synthesize some sort of genetic treatment that can make everyone like that. The closest that I'm aware we come is when Lux Luthor does it, and as we all know, Luthor is a villain.

My personal philosophy is transhumanism. But I like the superhero genre; and because of this, there's a fair amount of cognitive dissonance that comes along with that. I recently made a post about my take on the Dark Knight Rises; it was made shortly after the movie, so I hadn't had long enough a time to let it sit. As I have, and I've gone back and looked at the genre, and read some comments surrounding it, it's only served to crystallize my opinion of the genre.

Superheroes are answerable to nobody. They go around and they exact their own law - sure, it's the law as we know it, but they only follow that because they chose too, not because someone makes them. Superman could tear down the entire United States government and conquer the world. The fact that he doesn't, though, doesn't make it any more possible. They have these powers, these smarts, this technology, that they continually tell the rest of the world that "[we're] not ready for" yet, making them the arbiters of this secret knowledge, not unlike the old wizard who sits in his tower all day and hordes knowledge, rather than sharing it. Pop quiz: dragons are villains because they horde treasure. So why aren't superheroes villains because they horde the knowledge of their power, and their own technology?

Why, oh why, can they get away with "you can have it because you're not ready yet"?

Why, oh why, can they get away with flying around and enforcing their law on little people who aren't half as powerful as they are, operating outside of the boundaries of the police?

Why can they do this stuff, and is there any way to change this genre - salvage it - so that it's not so anti-intellectual and anti-progress?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Being Poor

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is wincing when people tell you that you're voting against (their) best interest when you vote democrat, because you're "poor and uneducated". And they tell you this while they stand in front of a range rover at a political campaign stop, to donate large sums of money to the politician who thinks he's one of us because he only has two car elevators instead of three.

Being poor is not going out because you don't have the money for gas, and spending another day alone.

Being poor is stress put on your mind until it breaks, and then people blaming you for not being strong enough to carry the world, with them sitting around and doing nothing about it.

Being poor is understanding that your vote is split: either you vote for the corporatists who will occasionally pretend to care about you and do moral things when convenient or you vote for the ones that hate you and blame you for everything that's wrong with society. 

Being poor is understanding that the middle class will join you soon enough if they keep voting like they are. The only mobility in the United States is down, not up.

Being poor is understanding why negative stereotypes about the rich are not only acceptable but perfectly normal, and why it has nothing to do with envy and everything to do with hate for the lazy fuckers because they expect you to carry them everywhere and then applaud themselves for walking to the damn door after you finally carry them to the stairs.

Being poor is knowing the "self-made man" myth is bullshit.

Being poor and educated about history is when you look back at all of this, and all of the contents of the post linked, and realize that yes, maybe Robespierre and V.I. Lenin did have some good ideas.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

I made a post a while back about my concerns over the movie, The Dark Knight Rises. I just got back from watching the film, so here's my take on it. So, here's the warning: Spoilers ahead. I will discuss most of the major plot points and twists, so if you have not seen it yet, do not read this post beyond the break.

I will say I liked it. I was okay with the movie; it set wrong with me, though, and below the break, I'll elaborate on why. However, I do recommend seeing it, because it really is a well directed movie. So, without further ado, let's dive in.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Scattered Thoughts

It's been a while since I posted, and while I don't have anything of any real substance today (I've been trying to disentangle to novel ideas in my head and it's not working because they're so similar, but so incredibly different, which is where most of my time and effort has gone), I do have some scattered thoughts to share regarding some interesting stories that have come down my way.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Judeo-Christian Mystery Religion

This has been making its rounds on the Internet for a sometime now, and I've been waiting until I got a free moment before I comment on it.

Texas has a new Republican platform. And it's everything we've come to know and love from these motherfucking shit-for-brain idiots on the right. If you thought the Iowa platform was bad, boy howdy, you ain't seen nothing yet...

With this, the Republicans have finally struck a blow at the reality and in the process, created a gaping singularity of stupid that is slowly draining the collective IQ nationwide.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Higgs Day!

Today is the 4th of July. It's also 108 degrees outside with head index factored in. I hate this holiday, because this is twice now this day has screwed me out of money; when I first started working summer, I worked Saturdays. Well, what day was the 4th of July last year? A Saturday. I lost 6 hours. So I told myself that wasn't happening again, so I piled most of my hours in the week in the summer term. I didn't work Saturdays this term. Guess what day the 4th fell on? That's right, and I lost 7.5 hours this time around. When you're only working 30 hours a week, that shit hurts. Paid holidays? What the hell are those? I work part time, I don't have or "deserve" any workers rights or paid time off. I don't even get sick leave; I just have to miss work and not get paid for it. As far as I'm concerned, this isn't a holiday. This is a day that screws me out of making money that I need to survive, and as such, this day can just FOAD (made worse by the fact I'm not going to see a paycheck for the entire month of October, so I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to make it through; the last pay check I get is in the middle of September, the next is on Halloween). I'd be happier if we never celebrated it. The birthday of this country means exactly nothing to me; this country doesn't care about me, so I don't give a damn about it. I'd rather be a British citizen. At least then I'd be partially taken care of and know I wouldn't have to shell out almost 140 dollars a month for crappy healthcare because ADHD is a "preexisting condition".

Anyway, more importantly than that, though, today is also the day that CERN discovered what might well complete the standard particle theory model. For the longest, the model that predicts electrons, neutrons, and other particles and their behavior, has been incomplete. We've been missing piece. The piece that we've been missing is the thing that gives particles their mass. That particle is called the Higgs boson.

Today, CERN/ATLAS announced that they may have found the Higgs boson.

For once, I'm not behind the curve in science news. That's a feat, trust me.

Now, they're not sure whether or not this is the Higgs boson. It might, in fact, be something all together different. However, it has all of the Higgs' traits, and matches the particle closely (they're almost certain it's a boson, at least, because it decayed into two photons, like bosons usually do). Part of me is pretty sure they've found the Higgs. However, part of me wants to believe they found something else. Finding something else might act as a major shakeup in the standard particle model, sort of like what happened with the Laws of Optics when metamaterials were discovered. We've got a ways to go first, but this is definitely a break through in physics, so keep an eye out for more information in the future months...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Root For Her Like You Would A Male Character

This is probably the most frustrating thing about being genderfluid. I identify as a guy when I'm not identifying as a woman or something in between, and identifying everything from X -10 to X +10 with a little bit of Y and in some cases, Z, thrown in, I don't like to think I have a wider perception than most people. It's not that hard to understand people. You shut up and listen. That's how this works. Guys have an irritating tendency to dominate the conversation anyway (of course, if you've ever met me in person, you know I have a tendency to dominate the conversation, too - partially because I don't like silence and can't stand it. I'm also a bit of a motormouth and can talk really fast if I get a good enough cadence going). I will listen, though.

It boggles my mind why so many guys don't understand this. Shut up for just one second and listen. This is not rocket science. And maybe, if you listen to women talk and hear what they have to say, and learn that they're not all one large group of people, stuff like this can stop happening.

Laura Croft attempted rape will make players want to "protect her".

I don't know about you, but this is incredibly offensive to me. So offensive, in fact, let me count the ways: