Vote for the Best Meme of 2011:
Rebecca Black’s “Friday”
First World Problems
Occupy Wall Street
X All the Y!
Nope! Chuck Testa
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I have obtained the greatest tea set in the history of ever.
They look as confused as I felt when I saw them: Owls are not cups.
Who would drink tea from an owl? Who?
Here they are taking a bubble bath:
Who? Who would make an owl tea set?! Who?
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow stood puzzling and puzzling.
How could it be so?
It came without ribbons!
It came without tags!!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!!!
He puzzled and puzz'd 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store?
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I don’t think I’ve ever read a definition for art that wasn’t stupid. Generally speaking, when a person constructs a thought-machine of this kind, what they’re actually trying to do is determine what isn’t art. I have always been white trash, and will never cease to be so; what that means is that I was raised with an inherent distrust in the Hoity and a base and brutal urge to dismantle the Toity. This is sometimes termed anti-intellectualism, usually by intellectuals, when what it is in truth is an opposition to intellect for intellect’s sake. The reality is that what “is” and “isn’t art” is something we can determine with a slider in our prefrontal cortex.
If this thought-machine had any purpose other than to create a world with less art, I could cut it some slack. But it doesn’t. Its entire purpose is to rarify art, controlling expression thereby. The aperture must be cinched, and quickly, before someone creates a cultural product without elite imprimatur. Its effete and its fucking disgusting.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Mathematical problems have right or wrong, correct or incorrect, answers as a result of mathematics being a formalized structure of definite abstract rules. Within a system, such as basic arithmetic, we can define “2”, “3”, “5”, “+”, and “=” in such a manner as to create a context wherein “2 + 3 = 5” is correct. In saying that this is correct, what we mean is that it follows the rules. We could construct a different system of rules wherein “2 + 3 = 5” is incorrect if we modify the definitions of those symbols. The meanings of the symbols, and the rules by which the symbols are arranged, result from people, because people are the ones who made this shit up in the first place.
There is no inherent metaphysical relation between the goofy-ass symbol of “2” and some intrinsic meaning within the fundamental structure of reality; mathematics is not a manifestation or mirroring of reality. It is a tool, constructed by human beings, for getting along in reality. One never encounters the perfectly mirrored ontological referent for “two”, “2”, “II” out there in “the world”, but rather one understands the various things into which one bumps in terms of that abstract symbolic representation of a concept.
I realize this is a problematic notion for some, as they maintain that 2 is, supposedly, easily found in situations of grouping. So, think of it this way: Have you ever encountered a triangle in reality? Have you ever encountered a slice of pizza, a corn kernel, or even a component of a bridge that was a triangle? I contend that you have not. They might be vaguely triangular, or kinda approximately triangular, but one never bumps into actual triangles. Because, at the very least, triangles only exist in 2-dimensional Euclidean space, and you’ve never been there.
The meanings of mathematical statements are found in a realm of abstraction; triangles occur in 2-dimensional Euclidean space. We apply these abstract notions to reality, but the reality to which these symbols are applied is neither abstract, clear, nor distinct; we do not live our everyday lives in 2-dimensional Euclidean space. Life is very messy, mathematical abstractions are very neat and tidy, and so we understand reality in terms of our abstractions in an effort to simplify the vague generalities of reality with which our minds have difficulty coping.
We good? Alright. Now, let’s talk about ethics and morality.
You might be surprised to learn that ethical and moral norms are akin to the norms of mathematics: They are abstractions that are not found in reality, but rather are applied to reality by persons. In the same way that we never bump into a triangle, we never bump into good. Rather, we apply our abstract notion of good to vague situations that seem to kinda jive with our conception, or definition, of goodness. Similarly, we never bump into wrong, but find ourselves in vague situations to which we apply the label “wrong”.
We define the moral “wrong”, or bad, in the same way that we define “triangle”. We conceive of an abstract realm of definite clarity and posit ethical and moral norms within that realm. So, we get “killing is wrong” or “infidelity is immoral” or “lying is bad” up and running in our realm of abstraction, then attempt to live our lives by applying these abstractions to our everyday existence. Everything works fine, for about two seconds, and then we find ourselves in Nazi Germany, hiding jews in our attic, only to be confronted by a stormtrooper at our door who asks, “Are there any jews in your attic?”
Gosh, wouldn’t you know it? Our clearly defined rule of “lying is bad” just doesn’t fucking work anymore because life is far more vague, messy, and ambiguous than the ideal realm within which we fabricated the childishly simplistic rule! Unless, of course, you contend that the correct action is to tell the Nazi the truth.
In the same way that life is not the sort of thing that contains triangles, life is not the sort of thing that contains absolute, clear, discrete instances of moral rightness or wrongness, ethical correctness or incorrectness. These are notions that arise from a realm of abstraction, a realm of mental conceptions.
There are times when these abstract terms may be utilized within life: A 2nd grader can write “2 + 3 = 5” and the teacher can write, “correct” without encountering any sort of ontological or epistemological dilemma. A pupil may tell an instructor, “Cheating is wrong!” and receive a preferable grade. But when we go beyond the naivety of the classroom and find ourselves mucking about in the vagaries of reality we find that our simplistic arithmetic understandings of reality do not jive with our experience.
Two cups of popcorn plus two cups of milk does not equal four cups of popcorn-milk.
Saying, “Yes, there are jews in my attic.” to a Nazi is not morally praiseworthy.
Shit be complicated.
Human beings construct abstract conceptual tools to get along in the world. But we have to remember that there is a distinction to be made between the abstract concept and the world. There is a distinction to be made between a triangle and a slice of pizza. There is a distinction to be made between our conceptions of moral and ethical norms and the everyday situations within which we find ourselves while living our lives.
This is why, when confronted with a decision between multiple options, there is no inherently “wrong” decision. One can define option-A or option-B as the “wrong” option, but that wrongness is not found in reality. Reality is not the sort of thing that has wrong decisions; “wrong” is something that occurs in our mind, in our conceptual toolbag of abstractions.
Just like a triangle.
It’s easy, and comforting, to pretend that life is a realm of black and white, of definite right and wrong, correct and incorrect. But when we progress beyond the mentality of a six year old, and perceive reality as it actually is, we begin to understand that our moral and ethical norms are akin to our mathematical tools: They are shit we made up. We constructed math because we wanted reality to be knowable, controllable, and so we subjected reality to a system of abstraction that is easily understood. We constructed morality and ethics because we’re terrified of the fact that you can smash my skull with a rock while I sleep, and I can smash your skull with a rock while you sleep. So, best to construct a moral rule that renders “skull smashing” to be wrong and really, really, hope that no one ever questions why they follow it.
This is not to say that morality and ethics are stupid or useless. Rather, I’m trying to communicate the idea that morality and ethics are like mathematics: They are ideals that help us deal with reality, rather than mirror reality. They are tools for our mucking about in our lives. Sometimes different situations require different tools. Sometimes we’re dealing with Euclidean triangles. Sometimes we’re dealing with non-Euclidean triangles. And sometimes we’re dealing with slices of pizza. We employ different abstract tools in different situations. So, it makes sense that we would employ different abstract rules for morality and ethics in different situations.
Lying is neither right nor wrong, correct nor incorrect, good nor bad. Lying is the act of knowingly deceiving another. The moral or ethical value of a lie depends upon the moral or ethical ruleset by which that lie is assessed and the context within that ruleset is employed. Are you deceiving a Nazi? Are you deceiving a friend? Are you deceiving a stranger? In each of these cases deception occurs, but in none of these cases did a good, bad, moral right, or ethical wrong occur. Because good, bad, moral right, or ethical wrong are labels we apply to actions when we subject those actions to our ethical or moral rulesets.
And since we made all of this shit up in the first place, we can change it at our leisure.
Which, by the way, is a truth that Jeff Winger discovered as a child:
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
It seems to be the case that people are confused about the definitions of can’t and won’t. I think this confusion is problematic. By using these terms interchangeably, or in the wrong way, one creates a psychological problem for oneself by conceiving of one’s situation incorrectly. So, this rant isn’t about clarity of language so much as it is about psychological, mental health. Once we understand the difference between can’t and won’t, we can employ these terms correctly and deal reality as it actually is. In order to understand the difference between can’t and won’t, begin by considering these two sentences:
(A) I can’t have a baby.
(B) I won’t have a baby.
Ponder those for a moment. What is the difference between A and B?
CAN’T indicates an impossibility. If I can’t do X, then it is impossible for me to do X.
One can translate any utterance of “I can’t X” with “It is impossible for me to X”.
WON’T indicates a lack of willingness or volition, a choosing otherwise. If I won’t do X, then I am unwilling to do X.
One can translate any utterance of “I won’t X” with “I am unwilling to X.”
Now that we’ve squared away those definitions, let’s test what we’ve learned by considering these pairs of sentences to determine the sentence in each pair that utilizes the term can’t / won’t correctly:
(A1) I can’t have a baby, because of my hysterectomy.
(A2) I can’t have a baby, because I am a busy lawyer.
(B1) I won’t have a baby, because of my hysterectomy.
(B2) I won’t have a baby, because I am a busy lawyer.
A1 and B2 are linguistically correct statements. A2 and B1 are wrongheaded nonsense. Let’s assess each sentence.
A1: A1 correctly indicates an impossibility. A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of a uterus. A uterus is required for having a baby. It is impossible for a woman who has no uterus to have a baby. Therefore, it is correct to say that hysterectomy woman CAN’T have a baby.
B2: B2 confuses impossibility with unwillingness. Since some lawyers have babies it is incorrect to state that it is impossible for a lawyer to have a baby.
B1: Since a hysterectomy renders an individual incapable of having a baby, it is incorrect to say that hysterectomy woman won’t have a baby. While there is no baby to be had, the lack of a baby does not result from a lack of desire or willingness. Instead, the lack of a baby results from an impossibility of there being a baby.
B2: B2 correctly indicates a lack of willingness. It is possible for a lawyer to have a baby. Therefore, the won’t in B2 correctly identifies a lack of willingness instead of a lack of possibility.
Having assessed the definitions of can’t and won’t via these examples, we now understand the difference between can’t and won’t, and the situations in which each term can be correctly utilized. Can’t indicates an impossibility whereas won’t indicates a lack of willingness.
The Moral "Problem":
One nagging problem for the can’t / won’t distinction is the mistaken thought that a relation exists between morality/ethics and possibility. Some individuals, for example, would argue that a Christian can’t eat shrimp, because of Leviticus 11: 9 – 12. The attempt is to smuggle ethical or moral considerations into one’s conception of possibility. The argument goes like this: Even if a Christian could perform the physical actions require to consume shrimp, the belief in Leviticus would render this act to be impossible.
Which, you know, is moronic.
The answer to this problem is to ask why shrimp consumption is impossible under the Christian schema. When the Christian replies, “It is impossible because the Bible says ‘thall shall not’.” one can calmly remind the Christian that “shall” is a version of “should” and Should Is A Funny Word. The Bible’s shall does not undermine one’s ability to consume shrimp but rather it elicits an emotive response that causes an unwillingness to consume shrimp. This lack of consumption is based on an emotive response and so it falls under the purview of won’t. Remember our translations:
“I can’t X.” = “It is impossible for me to X.”
“I won’t X.” = “I am unwilling to X.”
If a person insists that their ethical or moral code creates an impossibility, rather than an unwillingness, then you may calmly reply: “So, your ethical / moral code is like having a hysterectomy, only instead of your uterus being removed, your physical ability to chew and swallow shrimp has been removed?”
If they affirm that claim, then we walk away. Slowly. Without turning our backs on them. Because they are fucking crazy people.
I think it helpful to clearly understand the meanings of the words we use, and understand the impact our linguistic utterances have on our understanding of reality. If an individual continually says “I can’t X” then that person is reinforcing the notion that X is an impossibility. But if we assess X, determine that it is not impossible, and begin to say “I won’t X” instead, then we can begin to deal with one’s actual relation to X, rather than one’s confused and mistaken understanding of the situation.
The only problem lies in discerning possibility. But that is for another rant.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I’m playing Skyward Sword at the moment, and while I haven't finished it yet, what I really want to talk about is the Zelda series.
I fear that the series, as with many others, uses each iteration to make strictly mechanical changes of the sort where the locations and setting are different, the player gets to try new or modified abilities, the game is in 3D instead of 2D, etc. I expect this is so because of the emphasis on fun, which probably requires a certain level of novelty and variety to really work. If it were enough to just keep giving you the same swords and bows every time without also throwing in double hookshots and remote controlled bugs, then it would make better financial sense to just replay an old Zelda game instead of buying the new one.
The problem is that a large part of what differentiates one Zelda from the next really just boils down to what tools he’s using to solve dungeons and kill bosses. Sure, there is always at least a barebones story to justify taking Link around the world, but that story is largely the same every time. I don’t know that I’d necessarily care about that if, as with Mario, the fundamental story was kept at a superficial or silly level.
After Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time, though, it sure looked like Nintendo was wanting to tell a story with a little more weight. I reckon that was about the time when they started to build a mythology around Hyrule, they began to flesh out Ganon as a character and experimented with who Link and Zelda really are. Yet as cinematic as those games are, and as relatively complex as the characters may be, I’m not convinced that Nintendo has ever felt the need to go any farther towards doing something truly good with what they have. The mid-to-late ‘90s Zelda is apparently as deep as the mythology is prepared go, while the toolset Link uses goes ever deeper.
That isn’t to say that the story in each game is interchangeable, nor that I have ignored or disliked the tweaks Nintendo is making to the relationships between characters and the particulars of the plot here and there as time goes on. But I think that’s just another way of making mechanical changes in the same way that adding a new tool is mechanical. It keeps things fresh and fun, sure, otherwise there really would be no reason not to just replay the old games, but I can’t help but wish that they could find a way to elevate the series from a franchise based on amusement and finally reach some kind of payoff for the narrative groundwork they started laying two decades ago.
As it stands, they've got a reasonable adventure outline, a villain who is often sympathetic, and a heroine who has shown herself capable of participating in the adventure. Link is still a bit intangible as a hero, but they could give him a personality easily enough, I should think. Wind Waker surprised me with its emotional punch, though I wouldn't say the series consistently does that right. On the whole, I think the stories are competent and well-crafted, they're just missing a narrative that brings all of these things together in a way that communicates something more meaningful than "be a good person and not a bad person".
Actually, I would settle for a Zelda game that uses that same message, but does so with some subtlety. I have to admit that I don't yet mind hearing the same kinds of stories endlessly so long as I have to do a little work to interpret them. It's great that Nintendo is working hard to keep making Zelda fun, I just wish they would put forth a little effort to make it interesting as well. What I really want is a Zelda game where thinking about the story is rewarding, perhaps even more so than thinking about playing the game.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
WoW turns 7 on November 23, 2011. If you log in between November 20th and December 3rd, you can get an achievement and a little novelty item.
I think Kyle is the only one of you who still has an active account. So, yeah, log in for your achieve!
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
In terms of tactics and outcomes, I mean. Not to denigrate talking about arguing in terms of volumes and pointing vehemences (measured in magnitudes of Evil Monkeys. That's valid too, in quantifying arguments. So we can get Unified Growl Theorems and such.
But.. We needs more Post-Game Analysis too.
Posted by Roscoe at 3:02 PM
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
MMO-champion has a blue post on the homepage addressing problem that has been lurking in the background of WoW since the first expansion: For how long will stat / damage numbers continue to increase? It's an interesting problem, and I wonder what others think about the situation and how they would solve it. Blizzard offers two solutions:
1) Mega Damage: Damage and stats would continue to increase at exponential levels, but instead of a fireball doing 6,000,000 damage, it would do 6 MEGA DAMAGE.
2) Item Level Squish: Reduce all stats in the game (characters, mobs, bosses, gear) to more manageable levels.
1 seems like a silly solution. Why not just display the 6,000,000 damage number if a character does 6,000,000 damage? 2 seems sensible, but creates a problematic aesthetic for the gameworld. We already have the problem of greens replacing purples every expansion. Now we'd have another reversion of progress by lowering the numbers every few expansions. Right now with all of my stats I have, say, +7,000 to spell damage. It seems weird that a new expansion, offering progress and increase to my character, would also revert my numbers to put me at +700 or +70 spell damage.
The number reversion solution also creates an interesting compression problem at the lower end of the game. If the lowest level mobs in starting zones have, say, 50 health do we compress them down to 5, to keep them in scale with the high-end boss health decrease? If so, wouldn't this create a problem after two or three world-wide stat compressions?
Something to think / talk about if it interests you: If you created a game that utilized stat increase as a game mechanic, then how would you deal with the exponential increase in stats over time?
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Growing somewhat tired of continual arguments with the Occupy Wall Street folk. So, here's a way to summarize my position / critique: How is this not song not an exact instantiation of the Occupy Wall Street fuckhole's position?
All we gotta do is
All we gotta do is
All we gotta do is...
Fucking faggoty hippy fucks.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Steve Jobs, Apple's Co-Founder, is dead at 56. The world has lost an icon, a visionary, a giant. A man whose foresight, technological know-how, and creativity gave us...
A one button mouse.
Because in a world full of mice with two buttons, Steve Jobs had the wisdom to ask, "Wait, what if we offered consumers a less intuitive, less useful, less convenient interface?"
And his vision became the mantra for an entire brand of computers, aimed at idiosyncratic dipshits who were too fucking retarded to make basic modifications to their registry.
Tis a shame that he died before introducing the no-button mouse.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
The cult classic television comedy about the travails of the rich, zany Bluth family, cancelled in 2006 after three seasons, will produce nine to ten new episodes and a movie, it was announced at The New Yorker Festival on Sunday.Source
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
You owe it to yourself to spend an hour watching this episode of Louie. And if you don't get it afterwards, then you need to read the A.V. Club Review to understand what you missed.
A low-budget comedy show on FX really doesn't deserve to be this good, or tackle these sorts of issues. But Louie continually meanders its way to heartfelt emotional truths via dick jokes, silliness, and in this case, ducklings.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
It's apparently gender week here on EOIAS. Yesterday I started things off with a rant about the problems of Ablowing Chaz Bono. Today I continue my tradition of not providing positive cases with a rant about Australian Passports.
Two weeks ago I read an article about the addition of Gender-X as a category to Australian Passports. Now that I’ve stewed the concept for a while, I present my reflections to you, my six quazi-loyal readers.
Australian passports will now have three gender options — male, female and indeterminate — under new guidelines to remove discrimination against transgender and intersex people, the government said Thursday.
Intersex people, who are biologically not entirely male or female, will be able to list their gender on passports as "X."
Transgender people, whose perception of their own sex is at odds with their biology, will be able to pick whether they are male or female if their choice is supported by a doctor's statement. Transgender people cannot pick "X."
Hurrah! A change to our long-entrenched conception of gender! We have tossed aside the shackles of cultural norms and embraced a brighter, better tomorrow wherein everyone is respected and recognized for who they are. Finally those whose life experience renders problematic our binary categorization shall find a new hope for recognition, a new possibility for normalcy, by marking, effectively, “other” as their gender.
Wait a minute. Male…Female…Other… Why, that almost seems as if it’s compounding the problem, rather than solving it.
“But wait,” you gasp, “you suggest that this change is problematic? This is change! We love change! We can believe in change!” Yes, yes, I know that you love change, gentle lambs. But gather, if you will, around aunt/uncle _J_ as (s)he explains how a half-assed, kneejerk reaction by unthinking, uncritical bureaucrats might actually be an instantiation of dumb that retards progress, rather than an instance of amelioration. Let’s start with the three main problems.
Problem #1: Gender != Sex.
Note that Gender-X is a new gender option that provides persons who are biologically intersexed or transgendered with a new means of self-identification. See what they did there? They collapsed sex and gender into one category. But this is problematic, cause it’s incorrect.
The term “sex” refers to biological states. Sex-male or Sex-female is determined by sexual organs, chromosomes, hormones, or various other biological features. One may objectively discern another’s sex by inspecting biological traits, in a sense, in most cases.
The term “gender’ refers to culturally constructed general ideas, such as notions of masculine or feminine, which serve as categories into which various traits are placed. These categories are usually posited onto children, but then become a means of self-identification in the construction of one’s self-narrative.
Gender-X problematically collapses these two drastically different notions into one category. Imagine an individual who identifies as gender-male and sex-intersex, either because they were born with a vagina and seek an upgrade, or were born with a unique genital arrangement, or something along those lines. Given the passport options, suppose that they chose “male” as their gender, since they are gender-male. Well, this does not account for their intersexuality. Alright, so suppose they select Gender-X, given their intersexuality. But now they have violated their own sense of self, since they are gender-male.
Holy shit, we’ve a problem.
Problem #2: Requires a doctor’s statement.
According to the article, a transgender person requires a doctor’s note to justify their selection on the passport form. If gender is actually a personal choice, or personal feeling, or something along those lines, between culturally constructed categories, then why is a doctor required to justify, or lend credibility to, a transgender person’s selection? If I’ve a vagina, but identify as gender-male, why do I need a doctor’s note to select “male” on the form? This seems to place an undo burden onto transgender people.
Additionally, by treating transgender as something for which a doctor’s note is required, a relation has been made between transgenderism and the medial profession. This relationship leads to the notion that transgenderism is medical, is a disease, is an illness, is somehow at all the purview of a medical professional. And it probably isn’t that sort of thing.
Finally, in the paragraph discussing the need for a doctor’s note, we find this statement: “people whose perception of their own sex is at odds with their biology”. See what they did there?
Problem #3: Gender-X reinforces difference and non-compliance.
'X' is really quite important because there are people who are indeed genetically ambiguous and were probably arbitrarily assigned as one sex or the other at birth," Pratt said. "It's a really important recognition of people's human rights that if they choose to have their sex as 'indeterminate,' that they can."
When we add to male and female a third option of X, that option, as a nameless, featureless X, reinforces the sense of difference, non-compliance, and non-belonging. It maintains the standard of normalcy at male and female, and dumps everyone else into the bland, ambiguous realm of X-ness. Instead of engaging the nuances of gender and sexuality, the X bundles together everything that is else. It is akin to a form that states:
Pick your Race: [ ] White [ ] Black [ ] Other
It’s essentially enforcing the sense that there are some who belong, those whose boxes are definite, and some who do not belong, those who exist outside the standard bifurcation. While male and female articulate what a thing is, in most cases, Gender-X simply states that the entity in question has no is-ness, or has a really complicated is-ness with which we can’t be bothered.
Those, I think, are the three main problems.
The mistake in treating this as an instance of amelioration is that Gender-X does not actually improve the situation; Gender-X does not make things better. It collapses sex and gender into one thing, which further confuses the issues. It invokes the medical profession, casting this all within an unhelpful, fallacious context. The category, itself, is a vague, non-descript proclamation of elseness rather than a nuanced articulation of the particular, unique aspects of the individual for whom the passport serves as identification. All they have done is allow people who do not fit into the traditional, binary categories to proclaim that they do not fit, provided that they have a doctor’s note, and do not mind that “Gender-X” may not at all apply to their unique situation.
You might count the recognition of the problem as progress; at least the issues of intersexuality and transgenderism are being recognized. Unfortunately, this is not actual, genuine recognition. Gender-X does not belie a nuanced, caring understanding of the plight of many people or take seriously their self-narratives. It deals with the problems by dumping those problems into a hollow new category. It provides a non-solution, which may be its most grievous and hazardous aspect.
The addition of Gender-X purports to deal with the issue; it kind of stands in the place of a solution: We don’t need to deal with transgenderism or intersexuality any more, because we added a third box. Chaz Bono has a third box, if Chaz Bono wants it, and so now Chaz Bono ought to quit bitching. Gender-X is to transgenderism and intersexuality what 40 acres and a mule was to slavery. Yes, we captured you, broke your spirit, treated you as property, and forced you to do our manual labor, but here’s a mule and some infertile land. We square? Well why aren’t we square? We gave you a fucking mule / non-descript gender category! God, there’s just no pleasing you people, is there?
Gender-X is what happens when we do not take seriously the real issues, the genuine problems, in our conceptions of sex and gender. We recognize that these reified binary categories of traits are problematic. We solve this problem of reified categorization by…reifying a new, third category.
My, aren’t we clever.
This all, of course, leaves aside the question which ought to have been nagging at you throughout this whole rant: Why the piss-fucking-hell do we need gender on a passport in the first place?
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sex and Gender arguments are good for the same reason that abortion arguments are good: People really, really care about these issues. And, usually, that care translates into an impenetrable veil of emotion that clouds any semblance of reason. So, while the arguments descend into nonsense quite quickly, it is a passionate, visceral, argumentative nonsense with raised voices and finger pointing.
You know, fun.
So, when “Dr.” Keith Ablow starts discussing Chaz Bono’s inclusion on Dancing with the Stars, we know we’re in for good times.
Now, I should say that I am not entirely opposed to Ablow’s “position”. You see, as an individual with a faculty of reason, I can discern some problems with the notion of transgendered persons: they do not play nicely with our binary categories. Transgender invites ambiguity and subjectivism / relativism into our clean division between male and female. We’ve had these categories for quite some time, most languages contain the division, and a vast majority of persons fit neatly into one or the other. With that recognition, I can agree, to a point, with Ablow when he says shit like this:
It is a toxic and unnecessary byproduct of the tragic celebration of transgender surgery that millions of young people who do watch "Dancing with the Stars" will have to ponder this question: Maybe my problems really stem from the fact that I'm a girl inside a boy's body (or a boy inside a girl's body). Maybe I'm not a tomboy; I'm just a boy!
Yes, inviting that possibility is potentially hazardous; allowing unformed, uncritical minds to ponder the option that they can craft a self-narrative contrary to the norm invites a problem into our organized, ordered society. Little tammy was born with a vagina and has a Barbie Playhouse, but maybe she really wants a weiner-dong and some G.I. Joes. Providing children with the option means that some might take it, and that can be argued to be problematic, if only because an increase in gender ambiguity might eventually require that businesses provide more bathroom options than two.
Additionally, disolving cultural norms usually dissolves culture. Or, at least, particular aspects of culture. While some changes are beneficial, it is usually good to ponder the consequences of significantly retooling the organizational structures by which human beings self-govern. For example, do you really want to wait until your child is thirty to ask it what gender it feels like, and so name it accordingly? I mean, we can’t name every child “Pat”. But if we take seriously the notion that gender is a self-narrative, that every person gets to decide who they are, then we’ll probably have to rethink how naming works.
That is a trivial example, but it does show one possible consequence of dissolving our gender categories. When we invite ambiguity, we’ve invited ambiguity, and ambiguity destroys binary categorization, which is a fairly significant feature of reason; it’s kind of how we think.
So, in that respect, I can go along with Ablow: Letting an eight year old decide what gender it wants to be is probably not the best idea. Unless, of course, you are comfortable with your child’s gender being “Batman”.
But here’s where I part ways with Ablow:
We really don't know how these behaviors influence people when they are mainstreamed and celebrated. But I would say during the very vulnerable times when kids are forming their identities, as well as their sexual identities, yes, it's possible that if someone is celebrated and lifted to heroic proportions like that of a civil rights leader that someone who is somewhat uncomfortable with his or her gender might say, "You know what? I'm going down that road." And that is a very tortuous road that we know very little about. And it's still the subject of tremendous debate.
Here’s the problem: “someone who is somewhat uncomfortable with his or her gender”. Ablow recognizes the reality of the situation, that there exist people who are uncomfortable with the gender they have been assigned, and he blows right past it. Ablow has moved from, “Chaz Bono might cause children to self-describe as Batman” to “Chaz Bono may help someone.” That’s no longer invoking a genuine, rational discernment of a problem; that’s just being an asshole.
If persons actually do feel uncomfortable with their gender, and they genuinely struggle with self-description within our cultural binary categories, then we need to be sensitive to that. And if Chaz Bono can invite a conversation between parents a children about gender, about sex, about self-identification? How can that possibly be detrimental to the structure of society? How is that conversation, in itself, problematic?
Sex and Gender are very, very complicated issues. For most people, living within a fixed social category shall never be a problem. But for others, who struggle with self-identity and genuinely suffer in the attempt to feel normal, why not offer role models, offer conversations, offer an ounce of care? The conversation is difficult, but that does not mean that we should refuse to have it.
Because in addition to reason, human beings have empathy; we care about how other people feel. And that, unlike gender, is probably not an evolutionary mistake.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
7:25 – Bryan Magee:
It leads philosophers into a situation where, as soon as anyone makes an assertion of any kind about that world, what you then do is examine the assertion. And you get straight-away into the examination of statements, the analysis of propositions, an analysis of the relation of the terms of the propositions to each other, it’s logical form, so on and so forth. And philosophy soon, can soon seem to become, on that basis, about language. And, indeed, it would be true to say, wouldn’t it, that a lot of non-philosophers have acquired the view that philosophers are only concerned with language, and sometimes this is put, disparagingly, that “they’re only playing with words.” Can you give some explanation of why that sort of prejudice against philosophy, which is very widespread, is misplaced?
8:08 A.J. Ayer:
Well, a great deal of philosophy certainly is about language insofar as it distinguishes between, um, different, uh, types of utterance and analyzes certain types of expression. I think the main, I mean I would make no apology for this, but beyond that I think the answer I would give is that the distinction between being about language and being about the world isn’t all that sharp. Because the world is the world as we describe it. The world is the world as it figures in our system of concepts. And in exploring our system of concepts you are at the same time exploring the world.
Let’s take an example. Suppose now one is interested in the question of causality. Now, uh, we certainly believe that causality is something that happens in the world…I...I...am bitten by an anopheles mosquito, I get malaria, and so on; one thing causes another. And one could put it by saying: What is causality? And, uh, this is perfectly respectable, important, traditional philosophical question. You can also put it by saying: How do you analyze causal statements? What do we mean by saying that one thing causes another? And, in fact, although you look as though you’re posing a purely linguistic question, you’re answering exactly the same questions philosophers have always posed, only putting it in a different form. And we think, or most contemporary philosophy, a rather clearer form.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Diablo 3 shall not be released in 2011:
With every game we make, the temptation is always very strong to launch as soon as possible. However, we didn't put so many years of work into Diablo III to release a game that was almost ready. The beta test is going very well, and we look forward to making the most of the extra time we're taking to deliver an experience that lives up to our vision for the game and the expectations of our players.
Here's the thing: Diablo 3 will never be "ready", where by "ready" we mean "complete". Soon after release, Diablo 3 will be patched, modified, changed, fixed, enhanced. Soon after that first patch, there will be another patch. The game will be continually changed over time.
I mean, for fuck's sake. Diablo 2 was released in 2000. Diablo 2 was last patched on Marched 23, 2010. Diablo 2 has been patched for ten years; it was released when it was "ready" and was continually re-readied and re-completed for TEN FUCKING YEARS!
I can understand delaying a release in, say, 1993, when patches were considered to be a huge hinderance and evidence of a flaw in the game. But it's twenty-fuck-eleven, and we all know how game development works. A product is created, sold, and then patched over time.
So, why can't we have what is considered to be the Beta, released as a game, which is then patched by whatever dumbass tweaks Blizzard intends to make over the next few months?
If Blizzard intends to never patch Diablo 3, to release the game as one perfect, complete whole? Then I can understand delaying the release. But since that isn't their plan, and the fucker shall be patched for years, why the fuck bother delaying it?
As far as I can tell, this is just Blizzard saying, "We want to market it some more." And that's fine, but I wish they'd say that. Though, they've been marketing it since June 28,2008, and you would think three years would be enough.
Monday, September 19, 2011
1:22 - "Data is a toaster!"
I had no idea this existed. For a couple years now whenever people talked about artificial intelligence or robots or whatnot I reduced them down to toasters. And apparently there is precident for that reduction in Star Trek.
Summary: Providing both DVD and streaming options was really, really complicated for these two guys. So, they decided to divide the services into two different things, to make their lives easier.
Now, you might be wondering if this division is in any way beneficial to consumers.
And to that they say, "Fuck you."
Saturday, September 17, 2011
We need a new [chat], I am reading about the axiom of reducibility, hence our new [chat] topic:
Thus a predicative function of an individual is a first-order function; and for higher types of arguments, predicative functions take the place that first-order functions take in respect of individuals. We assume then, that every function is equivalent, for all its values, to some predicative function of the same argument. This assumption seems to be the essence of the usual assumption of classes [modern sets] . . . we will call this assumption the axiom of classes, or the axiom of reducibility.
It's just that simple.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Kotaku has a post about a new Evangelion game. It seems to be a sound game...but after watching the video I have no idea what the fuck is happening.
Here's the trailer for the game:
Can someone who speaks moonspeak translate it, please?
It seems to be clips of the series as backdrops to...i guess circles and lines that indicate a need to click...and maybe points are involved. It seems like another installment in the tradition of the Evangelion Pachinko game theme: Evangelion Games that have nothing to do with piloting mechs or being suicidal teens who masturbate over topless co-workers.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, I'm brewing a rant about the virtue of Eva games that are not about those themes.
Even if you don't give a shit about Evangelion, which indicates that you have no soul, the comments on the Kotaku post are worth a read. It starts with an instantiation of the rare and elusive "this series is stupid because it contains clichés and I am completely oblivious to the fact that those clichés only exist because this series invented them" post. Those conversations are always fun.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
09/13/01: Remembering the Day We Forgot the Lessons of the Day We Had Sworn We Would Always Remember
I cannot embed the video from gawker, so you need to follow this link to watch the promo for:
09/13/01: Remembering the Day We Forgot the Lessons of the Day We Had Sworn We Would Always Remember
It is delicious.
Monday, September 12, 2011
First, the guy asks "who is she?" and crazy-bitch-in-a-dress replies "New Downy Unstoppables". Does this mean that crazy-bitch-in-a-dress is New Downy Unstoppables? If so, why is she holding the container in which she resides? Or is this like a beer commercial, in which utilization of a product results in the appearance of women? Given the structure of the question and response, we have to conclude that crazy-bitch-in-a-dress is New Downy Unstoppables.
Second, crazy-bitch-in-a-dress proclaims that she is "here to shake up your fresh." Yet she then proceeds to shake the container of Downy Unstoppables. Are the Downy Unstoppables "your fresh", if so, how is "your fresh" in that container? Also if so, if she is Downy Unstoppables, and "your fresh", which she shakes, is Downy Unstoppables, then would she not need to shake herself? Or is she simply proclaiming that Downy Unstoppables shakes one’s fresh, and she then provides a sample of shaking via her shaking of an unrelated thing?
Third, "like a cheerleader on espresso." Is this a comment on energy and exuberance? Espresso has less caffeine than coffee, and many other beverages. Cheerleaders offer a fake, staged energy. Is New Downy Unstoppables a genuinely energetic cleaning aid, or a staged cleaning aid intent on getting knocked up after binging on wine coolers?
Fourth, "Toss these little scent-boosters in before you wash!" Ok, now I'm really confused. I thought the product was crazy-bitch-in-a-dress, Downy Unstoppables. But now we are told that the container, which was previously shaken, actually contains scent-boosters. Are scent-boosters different from Downy Unstoppables, or crazy-bitch-in-a-dress? Or are "Downy Unstoppables" the scent-boosters, the crazy-bitch-in-a-dress? What, exactly, is the product and what is the referent for Downy Unstoppables? Am I to purchase the bitch, the scent boosters, or Downy Unstoppables?
Fifth, "The fresh scent will last until you're ready to wash again." How do they know the time schedule upon which I wash my clothing? Is this a guarantee of freshness until anyone would be ready to wash again, or, rather, is this a statement that upon the removal of the fresh scent, one will wash again? The latter seems to be an empty statement: "Smells fresh until it no longer smells fresh, thus prompting a rewashing." Any product, presumably, meets that criteria! So, to be a novel idea, it must be the case that the use of Downy Unstoppables results in a fresh scent until such a time as "you're ready to wash again." But what if I only want to wash my clothing once, ever? Is this everlasting freshness?
Sixth, "ooo!" Did crazy-bitch-in-a-dress, Downy Unstoppables, just get off by sitting on the washing machine? Is this to say that Downy Unstoppables offers an orgasm of freshness?
Seventh, "And this fresh scent will last?" Note that crazy-bitch-in-a-dress, Downy Unstoppables, does not answer the question. Instead, she states, "It's like you shoved a rainbow up your nose," which, I thought, was a tagline already reserved for cocaine.
Eighth, "I should go." But, wait! Our clothing was just washed, resulting in a fresh scent, and yet after this one smell crazy-bitch-in-a-dress, Downy Unstoppables, "should go"? Does that mean that the scent, too, must go? Or does this indicate that Downy Unstoppables leaves after washing, yet the scent remains?
Ninth, "New Downy Unstoppables; the fresh!" Wait wait wait. First we were told that crazy-bitch-in-a-dress is Downy Unstoppables. Then we were told that the little scent boosters are Downy Unstoppables. And now we are told that Downy Unstoppables is "the fresh"? What is this, "the fresh"? And is "the fresh" some third thing, or the same as the little scent boosters, and crazy-bitch-in-a-dress? How can one product be a crazy-bitch-in-a-dress, scent boosters, and "the fresh"? Is there no freshness without Downy Unstoppables, or is Downy Unstoppables one form of the fresh?
Tenth, "Too feisty to quit." I'm not sure that I want feisty anywhere near my clothing. Additionally, how can fresh be feisty? If Downy Unstoppables is too feisty to quit, then why were we previously told that "the fresh scent will last until you're ready to wash again." As this statement implies a termination of the fresh scent, how can the product then be proclaimed to be "too feisty to quit" since it, obviously, quits?
Eleventh, I just recognized crazy-bitch-in-a-dress. Oh…god…Amy Sedaris is Downy Unstoppables? Amy Sedaris is The Fresh?!?!
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
The beta client for Diablo 3 was leaked over the weekend. Diablofans.com has a post of the datamined information, including installation screenshots, player titles, runestone effects, sound files, storyline, etc. The most interesting information, though, is this:
The beta client expires on 12/5/11, which seems to suggest a release date.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
It's really quite amazing that this happened.
The backstory, if you care to know, is that a few years ago Dane Cook was accused of stealing jokes from Louis C.K. You can visit youtube to find clips of the specific jokes. While the jokes cover admittedly non-unique situations, the sentiment is that Cook stole them. This is the reasoning for the claim:
1) Dane Cook is not funny.
2) Joke X, spoken by Dane Cook, was funny.
3) Joke X is similar to Joke Y.
4) Joke Y was spoken by Louis CK prior to its being spoken by Dane Cook.
5) Therefore, Dane Cook stole the joke.
So, that's a thing that happened. People accuse Dane Cook of stealing a joke, and he gets shit on for a few years. Fast forward to this episode, wherein Louis CK has Dane Cook on his show, Louie, to talk about the joke stealing.
Now, in the galactic scheme of things, joke stealing may not matter all that much. But the fact that they took the time to address the issue on television, allowing each side to air their position? That is quite nice.
That being said, in an earlier episode this season (Joan) Joan Rivers guest stars, and she calls Dane Cook an asshole. Since this is all scripted, we've moved from having Joan Rivers call Dane Cook an asshole, to Dane Cook guest starring and speaking his piece on the "controversy".
Given that situation, it seems reasonable to take this all as a PR stunt, insofar as everything done in the entertainment business is a PR stunt. But even if it is a PR stunt, I can appreciate that this episode happened. Dane Cook and Louis CK sat down, cleared the air, and then discussed how envelopes are terrible gift-giving devices for 10 year olds.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Back in 2007 I made this post of a list of numbers indicating the results of 100 goldfishes of my T1 deck. Kyle then made this post which contained an actual, useful table of those results since I was too fucking stupid to do it myself. That's the backstory.
Half an hour ago I made a neat little spreadsheet of my goldfishing results, because 3:30 in the morning is a good time to learn Excel. I'm posting that information here, because I want to.
Total "games": 216
Average Win Turn: 3.314815
Total wins for each turn:
Turn 1: 6
Turn 2: 58
Turn 3: 71
Turn 4: 51
Turn 5: 17
Turn 6: 6
Turn 7: 2
Turn 8: 3
Turn 9: 2
Now that all the numbers are posted, here is the more interesting question: Which part of this situation is the most depressing / pathetic / awesome?
1) In 4 years I only goldfished 116 additional games.
2) In total I goldfished 216 games.
3) I recorded all of this information.
4) I posted this information on a blog.
5) I posted this information on a blog, at four in the morning.
Check back in 2015, when I shall have the results of 332 "games".
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
As anyone reading the past few episode reviews may have noticed, I support the theory that most episodes of Cowboy Bebop are about Spike, even the ones that seem like they aren’t. The exceptions to this rule are the stories that revolve around Jet or Faye (and to a lesser extent, Ed), which may involve Spike or support his story, but otherwise they belong to those characters only.
“Ganymede Elegy” serves as the first good example of such an exception by focusing almost exclusively on Jet and his past love, Alisa. Although certain details of this failed relationship closely resemble Spike’s own, the episode is largely about adults letting go of the past and moving on with their lives – a lesson that might end the show early if Spike were to learn it. It is also concerned with a symbolic stopping of time and its impact on ones ability to grow and mature, not unlike what we saw in "Sympathy for the Devil".
There are certainly similarities between Jet’s past and Spike’s, first introduced during the flashback early in the episode. It has all the rain, desaturated color, and implied heartbreak of the images Spike sees regularly, but without any of the violence, and with the addition of an odd pocket watch. Jet still carries the watch and, presumably, feelings for Alisa, judging by the way he rushes off to meet her when he finds out she runs a little bar called La Fin nearby on Ganymede.
Spike and Faye subsequently drop off their latest bounty without him, which prompts Faye to make a sarcastic comment about justice and duty, the sorts of virtues Jet chided her with as being definitively masculine in “Sympathy”. After Spike makes some remark in Jet’s defense, Faye adds something to the effect that it’s a mistake to believe that a woman from his past is still thinking about him. The official dub and sub disagree on who she means by "him", one saying Jet and the other Spike. Frankly, I think it is a mistake to choose at all. In the Japanese dialogue, she doesn't explicitly refer to either, a seemingly intentional decision because of how it works equally well for both of them. Regardless, not every woman thinks like Faye, as Spike immediately points out and Alisa soon demonstrates.
At the very least, Alisa still remembers Jet and their time together and seems pleased to discuss it at some length. As they talk about the recession and Alisa's boyfriend, Rhint, Jet puts the watch on the bar and tells her the story of how, after she left, he decided to leave Ganymede when the watched stopped running.
In doing so he introduces the stopped time motif, emblematic of the fact that Jet seems to think Alisa hasn't changed since he knew her eight years ago. He still worries about things like her financial situation and is shocked when she jokes with him about being married to Rhint and having three of his children. Ultimately, she avoids answering Jet's question as to why she left that day and ends the conversation by saying that she doesn't need time that has stopped.
Back on the Bebop, Faye is working on her tan after a nice throwaway line to Ed about how a woman's skin care is ultimately futile. Spike, meanwhile, is working on his ship, a job best left to Jet judging from the cartoonishly hard time he's having of it. As he's struggling, he gets a call from Jet's old cop buddy who lets him know that Rhint has a fresh bounty on his head for killing a loan shark.
While Jet is leaving La Fin, he sees Rhint sitting nearby, trying to light a cigarette with an uncooperative lighter held in shaky hands as he flashes back to the murder he committed. Rhint's nervous action and the jerky motion of the camera in his memory underline the difference between himself and Jet, who moves deliberately and calmly, even under stress. It is even reminiscent of the Bloody Eye trip Asimov had in the very first episode, with the slow yet jittery motion and eerie sound.
It also stands out from the long scenes in the bar between Alisa and Jet, in which the majority of the motion comes from the occasional shots of a drinking bird toy dipping into a glass of water or ice settling in a glass. It makes sense to have a bird like that in a bar, since it is constantly drinking, but it also exemplifies the regular, almost rhythmic motion that is characteristic of the mature characters in this episode.
This is at its most obvious in the remainder of the episode, beginning with the way Rhint sits on the floor of the bar in a mild panic after finding out he's wanted. Alisa decides that they should flee and they are soon pursued, first by Spike and later by Jet. Rhint fires wildly at Jet's ship from a fanboat that skitters over the waves as Alisa steers and Jet smoothly cruises over the water. Just before the boat is halted by the Jet's grappling hook, Alisa begins to stand in an arrestingly smooth motion that is soon replaced by the same panicky motion and wild shooting as Rhint in response to Jet slowly walking towards them back on land.
As he approaches, step by deliberate step, she finally explains why she left him. She felt like a child when they were together, since Jet made all the decisions and all she had to do was whatever he said. Alisa wanted to live her own life, even if she made mistakes, so she left. Now she runs a little bar on borrowed money in a bad economy, Rhint is likely going to jail because he killed her loan shark, and her solution to both of those problems is still the same as it was back then: run away.
In that way, Jet wasn't wrong when he assumed that time had stopped back on Ganymede. Alisa had become more self-assured, but basically she was just as prone to flight as she was back then. For her to grow up, she has to learn to stay, which is exactly what she does at the end of "Elegy". She is going to stick with the bar and wait for Rhint to be released, which shouldn't take long since the shooting is being considered as self defense.
In a similar vein, Jet can stop worring about Alisa and trying to protect her. She's grown up and with someone else and all he can do is let them make their own decisions. As he walks away from Alisa at the end, he looks at the watch, smiles, and throws it into the river, returning time to its normal flow.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
I assume you all know what is going on with the Starbucks Jonathan's Card thing. Jackass #1 puts his Starbucks card online so persons can donate to it and/or use it to purchase coffee. Jackass #2 finds a way to siphon money off the card and convert it into his own Starbucks gift certificates. Unfortunately, Brent Rose, over at Gizmodo, decided to comment on the whole thing:
...this still feels like a dick move. It wasn't his project to mess with. Besides, it's not a project about people buying each other coffee, it's about looking at human nature. If want your own art project / social experiment , then go and think something up yourself that doesn't tamper with someone else's.
Ok, Brent. Can I call you Brent? Here's the thing: Jonathan's Card is "an experiment in social sharing of physical goods using digital currency." If we accept this as true, then how are Sam's actions messing with the experiment? Given that Sam is a part of society, his actions are data related to the social experiment. Sam isn't messing with the experiment, or breaking the experiment, or tampering with the experiment. Sam is participating in the experiment.
If we can summarize this experiment as, "What happens when I put my Starbucks card online for people to use?" Then Sam's actions provide an answer: Sam Odio steals your fucking money. This is not an outlying bit of data or a statistical fluke. Rather, this is what happens. When a society gathers together to put their money in a collective pot, an industrious person steals the pot. It's why communism / socialism / being a nice person doesn't fucking work.
Now, Brent, I realize that you kind of address this in your post:
While there doesn't seem to be anything nefarious about this, siphoning money out of the original project just doesn't sit well with me. Although, if Jonathan Stark truly wanted an experiment in "social sharing," I suppose this kind of thing reflects the reality of our digital
But you seem reluctant to accept this as a meaningful piece of data. I recognize and understand why it would not sit well with you, but that does not discount the situation as meaningless to the experiment. I mean, you wrote it yourself: "it's not a project about people buying each other coffee, it's about looking at human nature".
Yes, this is an experiment that deals with human nature. And it provides a great insight into human nature: People are fucking assholes.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
While it does not happen very often, I sometimes make a mistake. The majority of these mistakes are fairly mild, involving life choices, money, or people’s feelings. But when I make a serious mistake, a mistake of meaning and consequence, I need to admit that I was, in fact, wrong.
Four years and eight days ago I wrote the lyrics to a song about why Psych is fucking stupid. I thought it was witty and mildly entertaining. I mean, come on:
This one time something happened
For reasons we don't know
So now he pretends to be psychic
Cause that's the premise of this show
That is kind of good. It succinctly summarizes both the premise to Psych, and why I dislike it. On that point, I maintain that I was correct; the premise to Psych is a bit shoddy. However, I must admit that I did make a mistake in calling the entire series fucking stupid, since the entirety of the series is not stupid. Is most of it stupid? Yes. Is a vast chunk of it stupid? Of course. But there is one saving grace to Psych. What is it?
Well, I just watched Season 4, episode 8. And in this episode Larisa Oleynik guest stars as a goth chick.
First, goth chicks are hot. Damn hot. Like, hottest of possible hots. Second, I’ve had a crush on Larisa Oleynik ever since she started turning into little puddles of mercury on The Secret World of Alex Mack. She was also adorable in 10 Things I Hate About You, that Taming of the Shrew knockoff. So, the combination of Mercury Puddle Chick with goth is something that pleases me. And Psych is the means by which it happened.
For that reason, I admit that I made a mistake. I officially cannot hate Psych, officially, since it provided me with Larisa Oleynik, dresses as a goth chick, wearing a dog collar:
It is important to admit when one makes mistakes. To make amends, I’d like to add two more verses to the song.
We’re now in our fourth season,
And since that’s kind of cool
Here’s Oleynik as a goth chick,
To make the fanboys drool.
Her brother’s Josh Malina,
Who was in the West Wing
She’s got dyed hair, a collar,
And a little nasal ring.
She also wears a corset
That’s shiny, tight, and black
To accentuate the body,
Of little Alex Mack.
Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill!
It’s kind of a non sequitur
To have her in the show
But it was for a reason
A good one, we’ll have you know
See, we added this here goth chick
To force _J_ to retract
His claim that Psych is stupid
Because he’s blessed with tact.
We’ll all now come together
All thanks to T and A
Of which we have some screenshots
So hip, and hip, horray!
Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill! Dule Hill!
Posted by _J_ at 2:54 AM
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Incidentally, the reason nobody seems terrorized by the fact that satellites are burning pictures on Earth is because almost nobody lives there anymore, and those that do have moved underground. Mankind has relocated over the last half-century to avoid the moon chunks that have been crashing into Earth as a result of the gate accident we also saw in "Sympathy". The people remaining under the Earth are seen as a little strange by the people who left for other planets, partly because they have become remarkably adept hackers as a necessary part of being able to communicate across space. In the scene where Spike decides to sit this one out, Faye isn't necessarily talking about all Earthlings when she disparages the hackers and otaku there, but considering that they have become a race of subterranean computer geeks who refuse to move away from home and have an unexplainable love of Japanese trash, she may as well be.
Enter Radical Edward, a weird and gender ambiguous young girl who is the prime suspect in the mysterious satellite laser doodle case. She is one of the Earth-bound hacker elite who uses an odd combination of video-goggles, hand gestures, and occasionally her feet to gain unauthorized access to computer systems. Her formidable technical skills and impish nature are both on display when she uses the controls from a homemade toy model of the Bebop to hijack and crash the ship belonging to the cops who come to arrest her. This kind of circumstantial evidence certainly points to her as someone who would take over the Star Wars defense just to draw a smiley face on South America, but she didn't do it, at least not yet. So even though the episode title would suggest that this is her story, her main purpose in the episode is to pursue the real culprit, which is how we get to the vastly more interesting MPU.
Through Ed’s sleuthing, we discover that MPU is an artificial intelligence trapped in an old spy satellite that has outlasted its purpose and is doomed to orbit Earth for as long as it continues to function. In order to occupy his time, MPU has been using the laser-equipped satellites he’s linked with to draw pictures of birds and other Nazca-looking designs on Earth. It isn’t much of a distraction, but he seems to be comforted by images from the past and helps him forget that his reason for existence was lost decades ago.
This depressing fact nicely continues the futility thread we picked up in the previous episode and gives MPU a connection to Spike that goes well beyond their mechanical eyes. Their connection is even reminiscent of the one between Spike and Roco in "Waltz for Venus", despite Spike and MPU having never actually met. Roco and MPU are both nevertheless joined to Spike by their sense of futility in a specific enough way that we can observe Spike through them.
When we see Roco’s life of hard work and risk-taking end prematurely in defeat and loss, we are also seeing a more fatal approximation of Spike’s life coming to a similar end. Spike survived, obviously, so when he claims that he has already died or that he is watching a dream he can't wake from, it's Spike's dramatically circuitous way of saying that his old life is over and nothing in the present matters to him. While we still don’t know everything about the life he left behind, we have seen enough of his flashbacks to understand that at the very least, Spike has firsthand experience in defeat and loss that have left him feeling not quite alive.
If "Waltz" lets us see Spike’s figurative demise in miniature, "Jamming" shows us what happens in the life that follows. Unlike Roco, whose life and goals were lost simultaneously, MPU continues to function long after his reason to exist disappears. As is the case with Spike, he now drifts through space with a longing for the past while using his limited resources to keep himself occupied without ever really finding any meaning in it.
I think this is the connection we need to finally understand why Spike is not only a bounty hunter, but an oddly dutiful-seeming one who takes on lost causes and impossible missions without much thought for rewards. He believes that his life is meaningless, but he doesn't give up or kill himself because some part of him believes he may be wrong. Whether that means he thinks he can get his past back somehow or if he can eventually let it go and start a new, meaningful life is the question to keep in mind from here on out. In the meantime, he's going to continue taking on exciting or interesting jobs just to keep himself going until he can figure it out.
The sad result of this kind of empty life is loneliness, a diagnosis Spike himself makes after Jet wonders what possessed MPU to start drawing on Earth. His theory is supported by the intrigue MPU shows when Ed promises him that he’ll have lots of friends on the Bebop if he agrees to let them download his programming. Granted, we don’t see MPU again, so it’s hard to call this offer genuine; perhaps it was just the most convincing argument a lonely kid could think of.
Judging from Ed’s offer of friendship and her desire for it herself – evidenced by the one condition for helping the Bebop crew being that she could become a member of it – friends are supposed to be the cure for loneliness. It’s the child’s cure, anyway. Spike isn’t interested in them, instead closing out the episode by complaining about his traveling companions as we look back at the smiley face Ed drew on South America.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
So, who is going to ensure that octogenarian Tea Partiers get their not-at-all-Socialist Social Security checks after the August 2nd deadline is not reached and the U.S. pulls a Rome, collapsing under the might of its own awesomeness?
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
I walked into Cowboys & Aliens with no expectations. I had been outvoted 3 to 1. It was not my choice. As we were walking out of the theater I turned to Sarah and Brian Jolly and said, "It of been worse. At least it was better than Indiana Jones 4. I could write pages about Cowboys & Aliens crimes. But there seems to be little point in that. Its plot makes very little scene. Things happen for movie reasons. Than the movie ends. Its that sort of movie.
I could talk about painful-orgasm face (Olivia Wilde) whose character only exists to play the titular part of the ampersand. I could talk about the only reason they had to be old-timey cowboys was in order to justify the tortured alien-ships-hog-tie-humans visual effect. I could talk about how the characters were so poorly drawn as to make it hard to tell them apart*. I could talk about all of those things. But its not the point. The point that these are problems that any wide release summer action film have. No one goes to see an action movie staring Bladerunner and Layer Cake with the expectation of seening deep meaningful story telling.
Here is the central problem with Cowboys & Aliens. The action sucked. There were four big action scenes. The attack on the town. The attack at the River Boat**. The attack on the gang's camp. The final batter.
1 and 3 are exactly the same with the added stupid "we're flying" thing. POF has flown before. Worst. The second was Spielbergian child torture. And the final battle was the same 3 stunts repeated endlessly. Despite being out maned and out gunned, the cowboys and indians don't seem to suffer any major loses. At one point the whole battle seems to come to an end while the character stand around and talk while their friends are being slaughtered. Inside the ship, POF and The Golden Compass seemly have no problems. The aliens just run and at them for him to kill. Its like the worst First Person Shooter ever.
I cannot wait for the sequel Cowboy and Alien. Worst.
* Harrison Ford's character was involved in 3 different wars. As a boy he was involved pre-civil war indian wars (which may or may not of been the Mexican-American War). As a Young man he fought for the North in the Civil War (maybe) and that fought in later Indian campaigns. Maybe. Its Unclear.
** Is this a reference to something? I think we are lead to believe that the aliens brought it there, but it is never clear.