Archive for the ‘pop culture’ Category


August 10, 2007

quite possibly the most effective weapon ever developed during the great blog wars (2003-….).


the banality of fantasy

August 9, 2007

(from Idealizing Fantasy Bodies, at the Iris Network)

i hate to admit it, but i play a fair amount of world of warcraft. i’m not ashamed that i enjoy the game – it really is a great way to connect with friends across the country – its just… i feel like i fell in with the wrong crowd. wow gamers are notoriously sexist. and homophobic (not only by player behavior – even game design and blizzard’s treatment of LBGT guilds plays a role).

i find it ironic that fantasy is often a conservative genre, playing with narrow concepts of history and tradition. history, to me, is a robust place, filled with forgotten possibilities. even supposedly simple traditions are the product of diversity that was pruned as a narrow approach won out. it is honestly a shame that these carryover stereotypes go unchallenged.

take the bodies of characters in world of warcraft. it is fairly clear that the designers chose to make models that fit ‘idealized’ human forms. bulky men. hourglass women. even the non-human fantasy races follow these roles – completely ignoring the diversity of body forms between males and females in the animal kingdom, or even the varying gender roles of men and women in human history.

if even our dreams and fantasies are so constrained, what hope is there for our lives?

can we talk about it yet?

July 23, 2007

warning: harry potter spoilers below. run in fear.



July 19, 2007

citation stealing as plagarism?

(to be fair, I went to Easily Distracted, to read savage minds, and only then went to language log, then jumped back to Easily Distracted’s comments).

commentary on commentary alone tends to distort and deracinate an argument. and the products of this process aren’t always appealing. [think of when ‘scary movie’ spoofed ‘scream’, itself a spoof on halloween et al. if you’re a lover of slasher films it is pretty clear that at each iteration, originallity and artistic value was substantially decreased as an intricate theme was distilled into its basest appreciable components. resulting in vastly too many sperm jokes in the last set of movies.]

where this really hurts is in the reproduction of ‘statistics’ as facts. take the comment in a recent ny times that “in the last 20 years, ‘about half of America’s economic growth has gone to the top 1 percent.’ ” the times is quoting senator edwards. senator edwards made that comment in speeches, but never appears to have attributed it. i don’t doubt the statistic.  or fault edwards for failure to verbally cite in a campaign.  but i do wish that news reporters would investigate these claims, to substantiate or deny them.

the same could probably be said of the history of philosophy, actually.

for those of you abroad…

November 16, 2006

… be thankful you didn’t get fundies as your host parents. i mean, talk about rude.

loose lips

November 2, 2006

as noted on atrios:

HANNITY: How important is getting Usama bin Laden in the war on terror?

BUSH: Well, it’s important, and that’s why we’re after him every single day. But so is getting Zawahiri important, and so is getting the number-three guy, whoever he is when they pop up. You know, we’ve got this guy, Zarqawi.

 as on may 5, 2005 we’d downed 6 no.3s …  so the president apparently thinks that the war on terrorism is international whack a mole?  or a matter of political convenience?  true insight into his character?

 and across the aisle, kerry sticks his foot in his mouth:

“Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

foot in mouth disease…  what he meant to say:

“I can’t overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.”

does a man who served his country in vietnam actually hate the troops, and a freudian slip exposes it for all to see?

of course not.  bush could not think something so shameful and be commander-in-chief.  i may vehemently disagree with his policies – to the point of finding many criminal – but no human being is that wicked.  john kerry, given who he is, could not intend to insult the troops.  (say otherwise, and you’re actually insulting a soldier, an irony i hope someone appreciates.)  both politicians stick their foot in their mouths, thats all.

we’ve all flubbed a line before.  enough times on the stage, you’re bound to misspeak.  in our high school performance of the crucible, john proctor said “the promise the stallion gives the girl, i gave that mare”.  bestiality in salem?  maybe, but not so much the point of the play.

john derbyshire notes that much of this outrage is fabricated, almost seeing someone trip and yelling “HA!”.  i have to agree, watching someone you dislike squirm is fun, and probably scores a couple cheap points, but… is it too much to ask that our parties act more like statesmen, and less like immature first graders?

i know this should be obvious – but the real problems here (no viable plan to eliminate al qaeda, no viable exit strategy for iraq, rising income inequality…) aren’t those the ones the parties should be fighting over, flubbed jokes on fund-raising tours?  isn’t the american public entitled to an apology, for the shameless immaturity of… well, every political campaign since i’ve been born?

happy dance!

October 27, 2006

new jersey’s ruling on gay marriage.

the State has not articulated any legitimate public need for depriving committed same-sex couples of the host of benefits and privileges that are afforded to married heterosexual couples

oh, snap

government is and has been in the “marriage” business for a very long time.  as andy notes in ezra’s comments, there are 1,049 federally regulated rights and responsibilities tied to marriage.  time to make that equal.


October 27, 2006

tucker carlson, speaking on the michael j fox stem cell research ad:

It’s a form of moral blackmail. No matter where you stand on stem cell research, I look at this ad and say I can’t disagree with Michael J. Fox. Because his illness is so sad it pulls on me emotionally so much that it feels immoral to me to disagree with him. And I think its unfair of you to run this ad for that reason…

…This is not a conversation about Michael J. Fox, his celebrity or his disease. It’s a question about stem cell research and whether its moral or immoral. [video+quote here]

in most places, we’d call that proof. if an argument convinces you that you’re wrong, you’re just wrong. thats it. (the strange feeling tucker carlson is now experiencing is called ‘thought’. yeah, it hurts, get used to it)

update: i’m not saying this is my ideal form of political debate. but – when does emotional persuasion become a check on rational proof? if reasoning leads to a conclusion wholly at odd with my values (ie, killing people is kosher) – that emotion serves as a valuable check. my reasoning – imperfect. and it can use all the help it can get. so, if you can’t disagree, maybe its because the other view is right.

those who oppose stem cell research have let their biases run amok. they’re sorely in need of some guidance. if an emotional appeal is the way to do that, so be it.

update2: amen:

What makes them mad is that you’re making a good argument they can’t trump with noise and bullshit and lies

world of warcraft tax

October 17, 2006

“There is a concern that the IRS might step forward with regulations that start taxing transactions that occur within virtual economies. This, I believe, would be a mistake,” Chairman Jim Saxton said today.


but really?  so… i log on to wow and kill a dragon.  it drops 2 gold, and i owe – what – 34% of that to the IRS in taxes, but if my annual income in one year is more than 30 geldars it goes on a graduated scale?  only the us government could come up with a way to require accountants in a game with elves, dwarves, and orcs.

thats supposed to be a joke in the onion, not actual government policy. 

battlestar galactica

October 8, 2006

reasons to watch battlestar galactica?

  1. extended exploration of the issues on the war on terror
  2. surprising role reversal when humans become the terrorists
  3. tim burke says so

i’d been wondering what all the hype was about, and now that i know… i’ll have to steal the remote from the roommate

just in case you thought press was free

October 2, 2006

Newsweek covers, as they vary by region…

(i’d have the picture, if only i could figure out flickr… just click to CT)

Via CT.

kill bill and the laws we ignore

September 18, 2006

i’m watching kill bill on TNT at the moment. i find it slightly hilarious that, in a movie created as an homage to violence, they find the need to edit out f— and p—y. really? the commercials said it was a movie where “viewer discretion isn’t just recommended, it is highly encouraged”.

so i’m expected to believe that, somehow, naughty words are worse than the slaughter of others.  this really is a farce.