Spoilers, as always, within.
Charles Krauthammer would like us to show China and Russia whose dick is the biggest, like we used to back when we were led by real men and not Socialist chicks:
Nor for the private sector to get us back into orbit, as Obama assumes it will. True, hauling MREs up and trash back down could be done by private vehicles. But manned flight is infinitely more complex and risky, requiring massive redundancy and inevitably larger expenditures. Can private entities really handle that? And within the next lost decade or two?
Neil Armstrong, James Lovell and Gene Cernan are deeply skeptical. “Commercial transport to orbit,” they wrote in a 2010 open letter, “is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope.” They called Obama’s cancellation of Constellation a “devastating” decision that “destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature.”
“Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides,” they warned, “the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity.” This, from “the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century.”
Which is why museum visits to the embalmed Discovery will be sad indeed. America rarely retreats from a new frontier. Yet today we can’t even do what John Glenn did in 1962, let alone fly a circa-1980 shuttle.
First of all, Chuckles, are you seriously admitting that private enterprise isn't the answer to everything? Did you miss your dose of the Stupid Pills? Did they accidentally slip you a placebo? What the CHRIST is going on up there?
For what it's worth I'm a total space nerd and think we should launch all sorts of shit up there not to show off but to find the aliens so I can finally live my dream of inhabiting Babylon 5, but you can't do that while simultaneously lamenting government spending on everything everywhere all the time, opining that every time the national mint prints another penny God kills a kitten, and other wingnut truisms.
Also kids, on their iPhones, and there's nothing but Kim Kardashian out here, and it's just made everything suck all the time:
To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet. Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of theU.S. House of Representatives are communists.
What the tits do "the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet" have to do with Allen West being a jackass? Allen West has been a jackass as long as he's been alive. I think I can authoritatively state that if he had to mimeograph his idiocy and hand it out on street corners, he'd still be saying stupid shit all the time. It's not like the Internet caused him to lose his damn mind.
Look, I get that the thing is supposed to be funny, hee hee, an obituary for facts, but it pushes a larger narrative in traditional journalism, which is that we were once all sober and thoughtful people, and then along came Google and screwed it all up.
If your beef is with the mendacity of politicians, as the author's seems to be:
Though weakened, Facts managed to persevere through the last two decades, despite historic setbacks that included President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, the justification forPresidentGeorge W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq and the debate over President Barack Obama's American citizenship.
Facts was wounded repeatedly throughout the recent GOP primary campaign, near fatally when Michele Bachmann claimed a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease causes mental retardation. In December, Facts was briefly hospitalized after MSNBC's erroneous report that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign was using an expression once used by the Ku Klux Klan.
But friends and relatives of Facts said Rep. West's claim that dozens of Democratic politicians are communists was simply too much for the aging concept to overcome.
Then there's a very simple solution: STOP COVERING STUPID SHIT. If you think Allen West's utterances are ridiculous, as many thinking people do, then make the grown-up editorial decision to not run his nonsense. Stop returning his press interns' calls. Send his press releases straight to the recycle bin. You are not helpless in the face of all this, as your passive-voiced academics seem to think you are:
People unable to understand how science works began to question Facts. And at the same time there was a rise in political partisanship and a growth in the number of media outlets that would disseminate information, rarely relying on feedback from Facts.
"There was an erosion of any kind of collective sense of what's true or how you would go about verifying any truth claims," Poovey said. "Opinion has become the new truth. And many people who already have opinions see in the 'news' an affirmation of the opinion they already had, and that confirms their opinion as fact."
Um, NO. Opinion did not "become" the new fact. An erosion did not "happen." This did not just fall from the sky. There are any number of insane print publications and conspiracy scandal magazines out there that for decades have been publishing stories about aliens among us and celebrities being Cleopatra in past lives and shit like that, and we were perfectly content to ignore it until it started to occur to media executives and odious "consultants" that there was a buck to be made there.
If TMZ hadn't been started, we would have ended up here anyway, courtesy of some other easy excuse for not being the grown-ups we wanted to be.
"American society has lost confidence that there's a single alternative," she said. "Anybody can express an opinion on a blog or any other outlet and there's no system of verification or double-checking, you just say whatever you want to and it gets magnified. It's just kind of a bizarre world in which one person's opinion counts as much as anybody else's."
You know, maybe I'd be a little more inclined to chuckle at this shit if I hadn't been in journalism before blogs, and heard countless glib assholes arguing with me about how "you can't believe everything you read in the paper." People were bitching about media bias during the Lewinsky thing, they were bitching about media bias and general up-fuckering during the first Bush administration, they've been bitching about this stuff since Joseph Pulitzer was actually running a paper. This is not new.
What is new is we've decided that a preponderance of news outlets we have access to has given us the excuse we've always wanted to just fucking give up, and we're taking it hard.
Spoilers below the cut, but first, this from last week:
The impressive young actress Sophie Turner plays Sansa with the thousand-yard stare and flat-affect voice of an abuse victim living from beating to beating. Sansa gets a lot of grief from fans of the show and the books alike – she's stupid, she's insipid, she's prissy, she's gutless. Bullshit. She's doing what she needs to do to survive, as the episode's opening scene demonstrates. She instinctively plays to Joffrey's narcissism and cruelty, convincing him to spare a drunken knight's life while dropping enough "Your Grace"s on him to make him think it was his idea. If she'd been less courteous, like the other Starks would have been, she'd be dead.
It's easy to underestimate certain characters on this show whose arcs are more traditional. Arya is easy to cheer for, right? She's kickass. She doesn't want to sew. She wants to fight! She breaks down stereotypes of highborn ladies! She's everybody's favorite and don't get me wrong: I love that angry, filthy little chicken-rat like she's my own flesh and blood. Ask me who I most identify with, and I'd say Arya in a heartbeat. Sansa and I would not have been friends as children. Sansa would not have deigned to step over me in the street.
But there's a problem with Arya fanclub (and to a lesser extent the Tyrion fanclub, which is a whole other post) where I'm not sure we all understand that being an underdog doesn't make her virtuous. The same way Sansa being pretty and a capital-L lady doesn't make her suck. They're doing the same thing, trying to become who they are while staying safe enough to grow up. They're just doing it differently.
When we start seeing these characters as roles instead of people, instead of actors in an ongoing power struggle, we lose what we're meant to be looking at. There's a reason the show starts with that rotation, with the sun, sweeping over the map: See it all, see how it turns, all at once.
That's Rory McCann's audition for Sandor Clegane, in which he tells Sansa the story of how he was maimed, instead of having LIttlefinger tell it. This is the part of the story, that started tonight, in which he becomes my favorite character. Him, and her.
TV spoilers below. Let's try to keep book spoilers out of the comments, too, for those who are doing this as they go.
You have to be KIDDING me. I know I like 'em old and scruffy, and that's not exactly the Justin Bieber set's cup of mead, but I wouldn't touch Littlefinger with the tip of my umbrella. Viserys really should be disqualified from any ranking like this based on the first damn episode, and Loras Tyrell, man, I'm not a dude so not his target demographic, but REALLY? He makes the list (along with characters who could charitably be referred to as Guy In The Back In the Crowd Scene Number Four) and the The Old Bear doesn't?
What about Ser Barristan the Bold?
At least Jory's on there. Stannis Baratheon doesn't even make the cut, and he's played by perhaps the most beautiful human being on the PLANET. I've always had a soft spot for Stannis, on the basis of he's usually right even if he can never make himself stop being an asshole about it, and when I heard they cast Stephen Dillane I knew all those chickens I sacrified to Ceiling Cat had not been in vain.
(So there's this show that's coming back on on Sunday and I'M A LITTLE BIT EXCITED.)
My Facebook friend RP pointed the way to this repulsive piece in Slate about how, just how on earth, we will ever explain to anyone younger than 40 that the world sucks:
That Mockingjay will eventually become a movie is one of the safest bets in Hollywood. With Hunger Games, Lionsgate is hoping to unleash the next great young adult movie franchise, filling the void left by the $7 billion Harry Potter series, and Twilight, which has already earned $2 billion and wraps up with a final film this fall. The studio (which also produced the Twilightfilms) has already announced its plan to render the book trilogy as four movies. At some point, then, the producers are going to have to figure out how to make the depressing and chaotic finale into a film (or films) with broad appeal and a PG-13 rating. How will the producers satisfy Collins' 20 million or so readers, along with millions more curious newcomers, with what is essentially a war movie, and, more troubling, an unmitigated bummer?
Children, naturally, being notoriously sheltered from violence. Children who would never ever endanger each other for the sport of the rich. Children whose deaths are so much more moral, because at least we don't televise them for our entertainment.
Mr. A and I hit a midnight screening of the film, unable to wait for a sedate daylight matinee, and so we were the oldest people in the sold-out theater not toting a minivan full of teenagers. When the opening credits rolled the cheers about busted the roof off, and these were young women, girls primarily, packed six deep in the popcorn line.
They were leaning forward in their seats for a story about a young woman their own age who takes an entire political system designed to dehumanize and punish, and tells everyone involved in creating it to go right to hell. To take all their neuroses and all their needs and all the ways they've made young people something for their own amusement, and shove it up their privileged, entitled, arrogant asses.
The imagery was terribly violent and upsetting: the Reaping, with its deliberate echoes of draft boards and concentration camps; the fighting, filmed like a contemporary war documentary in nausea-inducing shaky-cam verité. Teenagers with their necks snapped, teenagers with knife wounds, shot through with arrows, blown up in explosions, turning on one another. Overcome with fury, weeping with fear, singing out in laughter in even the direst of straits. One of the most upsetting scenes in the entire film is, of course, about an act of kindness, because it's so alien amidst all this.
Forget any parallels to Occupy, though they're there. Just think about how adults talk about teenagers generally. Just think about the drumbeats for every war that ever was: How "we" in the person of some 18-year-old who signed up because college is a forlon hope or to feed his family or to get out of some burned-out hellhole must defeat "the enemy" and how the minute one of those actual 18-year-olds says if it sounds so awesome to you let's switch places, they become that enemy themselves. It's not too much of a stretch, from there to here.
Who fights our wars? Who signs up for our armies, full of pride about representing their countries? Who dies in the bombings, who is blasted to pieces by mines? Who runs the drugs? Who packs the crates and ships them off to blow a crater in someone else's life? Who comes home burned, broken, sorrowing, scared of his own shadow? Who comes home in a box, the flag draped over it intended to give some kind of comfort?
We're fighting two wars in this country right now, do we really think it's so strange a thing, a story about the aftershocks of conflict and the effects on those who had least to give and most to lose? A story about the sacrifice of the young and innocent, about what happens when people become abstractions amidst The Rules?
Do we really think that will be so hard to understand?
Your Sunday night video of AWESOME:
The first time I saw this I totally missed Catelyn's OH WE ARE SO FUCKED NOW face.
Epic First Draft drinking crack-vanning VERY SERIOUS PROFESSIONAL REPORTING is planned.
All right, you circus animals, we's shaking stuff up around here.
With regret, we bid adieu to Virgo on Wednesdays. She's done a great job and I'm sorry to see her leave, but she kept chewing through the leather straps and digging under the electric fence. That shit isn't cheap and we need every dollar to feed Tilly.
In all sincerity, thanks for your work here lady, and don't be a stranger.
And we have a new guest poster on Tuesdays: Southern Beale! Everybody show her where Tommy's Haz-Mat suits are and try to keep the ferrets from stealing her shoes -- for the first week or so at least. As I tell people who've been to my house more than once, "You're family now, so get your own damn beer."
Frequent commenter Filkertom is busking over at the Great Orange Satan. I tell everyone I know about this song:
Santas, unmask yourselves.
Because we could all use some inspiration:
These two high school students, Kate and Janelle, are seniors in the arts program at Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School (PCVS), located in downtown Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Earlier in the fall, district school board trustees voted to close the old (founded in 1827!) downtown fixture next year and move its highly-regarded Integrated Arts program to larger more modern Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School. The decision to close down the much-beloved PCVS sparked protest after protest in the community but it didn't seem much of anything was going to reverse the trustees' decision. A few weeks ago, just trying to draw more attention to efforts of their peers and the community at large to keep the school open, Kate and Janelle recorded their video, using the reverb in a PCVS stairwell to make Neko Case's already-atmospheric Star Witness sound even more haunting.
It worked. The video started getting forwarded around, someone tweeted it to Case, she re-tweeted, the video went viral, the story got blogged, re-blogged, and picked up in the media. To paraphrase Margaret Mead, thoughtful, concerned citizens (and teenage girls singing like angels) for the win!
On Monday, more progress: the Ontario Minister of Education appointed a special facilitator to review the policy and process behind the school trustees' decision to close PCVS. Follow the PCVS story here.
Tomorrow's the last day to get your SS gift into the e-mail.
We'll do a thread on the 22nd where the Santas can reveal themselves!
You know what we need right now? Some fun.
I'm serious. It's dark outside, it's getting cold, everyone is tired and it just never fucking ends. The Internet got really bitchy sometime in October and it hasn't stopped yet. So we are taking it upon ourselves to cheer everybody the fuck up.
FIRST DRAFT SECRET SANTA, BITCHES.
Here's how this is gonna work. You send me your e-mail address by December 10th. I match you up with somebody else who has sent in their address by December 15th, and by December 20th you send that person a small e-gift.
SMALL. $25 upper limit. We are not trying to break anybody's bank with this, and these days nobody has any goddamn money anyway. So send an e-mail gift certificate, or buy someone an e-book, or a membership to a group or magazine, or make a donation in someone's name to their favorite charity.
Then on December 20th we will have a thread where everyone can say thank you and squee about their presents and reveal themselves.
Send your email address to athenae25 at yahoo dot com by midnight on December 10th, and we will hook you up.
You are all going to be in the holiday spirit if I have to beat it into you with a figgy pudding.
Tell me something nice that happened to you recently. I think we could all use a little sunshine.
Me, I had a bunch of really great people give my blog presents all week.
Bucky is so happy you all donated so that he could afford this fine, fuzzy sweater.
In all seriousness, thank you all for supporting the site. I know that this is the worst economy in the history of the world, and so it means a lot to know that you think what we do here is worth your time and your generosity. You've made it possible for us to keep the lights on another year, to keep doing what we're doing, and we couldn't be more proud of our community of readers.
Onward to what looks to be the weirdest election of all time.
All right, we're down to it. If you've appreciated a crack van or two over the past year, hit the tip jar. If you've laughed at a story, reacted with anger or sorrow or joy, if you've come away from this place having learned something (even if it's just how awesome Jude is) hit the tip jar. If you want to see a ferret wearing a wee turtleneck sweater tonight, hit the tip jar.
Yes. I'm pimping the pets. Come on, you knew what I was like before this, you had to.
We're getting close to our fundraising goal, which means it's time to pull out the big guns. I don't want to give away the surprise for tomorrow, but it involves Bucky. And knitwear. Hit the tip jar if you haven't yet. And thank you to all those who've contributed so far!
Shirtless Hugh Jackman. Whatever I have to do to make you hit that tip jar this week, I'mma do.
I watch a lot of television, less than I used to but still more than a lot of grown-up type people would consider seemly. I love great, meaty, meaningful groundbreaking TV, but I also have a weakness for the crap stuff. When I first read about Canadian scifi/fantasy series Lost Girl, I figured it would be crap but I thought I'd give the first episode a shot. Eight hours later, I'd watched the entire first season.
Now, don't get me wrong, Lost Girl is no Masterpiece Theatre either. First and foremost, it's just fun. I'd go so far as to say delightful even, which is a good thing for series about a badass and snarky (Canadian) bisexual succubus named Bo.
In spite of its too-short first season, the show picked up a cult following, along with a 22-episode second season, which starts on Canadian TV this Sunday. The good news stateside is that Syfy has picked up both seasons. The bad news they still haven't announced a start date. That shouldn't be too much of a problem for anyone with an internet connection. The entire first season is on YouTube and I doubt it will take long for season 2 eps to show up.
I don't think I've read an article about the show that didn't mention Buffy, so let's get that over with. Yeah, it definitely owes a debt in that direction, but in a good way, a very old-school S1-S3 monster-of-the-week way. Except with hardly any vampires, less moral philosophy, and a lot more grown up sex. Female-centric girl-power-yay! show? Check. Badass but vulnerable heroine trying to find her way? Check. Cheeky sidekick who gets all the good lines? Check. Broody non-human love interest? Check. Wise mentor with a mysterious past? Check. Love triangle? Check...sort of. There IS a love triangle with Bo in the center. The aforementioned broody dude, Dyson (a policeman who's also a shapeshifting wolf) is on one side. On the other is a woman, Lauren, a human doctor.
The coolest thing about the Bo/Lauren (aka Doccubus) ship, aside from the fact of a canon same-sex relationship for a lead character in a hit show, is the total absence of anything remarkable. Bo's got a boyfriend and a girlfriend. No big. All the angst and drama, and there is plenty on all sides, is about other more important plots and monsters stuff. That said, there was a lot more Dyson/Bo in season 1 than Lauren/Bo. Not surprisingly, gay lady fans made their voices heard, and TPTB have already answered just as loudly, promising to balance things out with more Lauren/Bo this season. Go dyke geeks!
That response isn't surprising. Show creator Michelle Lovretta is a self-described fangirl, and it shows:
The amazing thing about genre fans is that they take ownership of a series, create their fanfics, their compilation vids, debate lore amongst themselves, come to panels etc. Genre fans tend to be a creative and inquisitive bunch, so in a pretty unique way — if you’re lucky enough to create a genre show that fans embrace, and we’ll have to wait and see if we fall in that category — your stuff will mutate and expand and be out there in the universe beyond the ways you yourself have created. It’s trippy and fun and what i love as a writer AND a viewer of this stuff. Yeah, I’m the starting point: I created something in my head. But it ceases to be a one man show the moment you’re in development: then there’s the writers, actors, producers, directors, crew, network, website/motion comic peeps etc, creating something new. …and now, it’s finally over to those fans who choose to feel some sort of ownership of the world and make it their own.
Speaking of all things nerdly, do we need a Dance with Dragons thread? Has everyone else finished devouring it yet? Or should I give it another week or so?
Now, of course, Minnesota Republicans want to make libraries fight it out over the grants that bring authors in, because ... "it removes the feeling of entitlement."
Adrastos sends over this nice takedown of the recent negative reviews tonight's Game of Thrones (Galactica-style discussion threads to follow because HOMG) has gotten, in particular this assy one in the Times in which a woman lectures other women on what they like:
It says something about current American attitudes toward sex that with the exception of the lurid and awful “Californication,” nearly all eroticism on television is past tense. The imagined historical universe of “Game of Thrones” gives license for unhindered bed-jumping — here sibling intimacy is hardly confined to emotional exchange.
The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.
First of all, Lord knows women can't be interested in political intrigue and swords and stuff. Those are BOY things! Ms. Bellafante is sure those strange girl nerds exist, but she's never met one who'd actually go out in public! All normal girls have to have some hotties takin' they clothes off for our simple lady brains, because a plot, particularly a plot that involves MEN and POWER, is just so not interesting to us.
We can't relate to men as fellow people, or share any qualities or experiences with them through well-told stories! There are no universal human values men and women can share! Everybody knows women can only relate to other women, and our book clubs only include novels by ladies about lady things, like true love, and menstruating.
You know, I started reading fantasy and sci-fi based on stuff my Dad would hand me, and my best female friend from childhood was obsessed with Tolkien, and never once did it occur to me that these stories were supposed to be inaccessible to me because of my inconvenient girl parts. I used to think of my childhood as conservative, but looking back it really was remarkably unburdened by the kind of patriarchal bullshit Ms. Bellafante is reinforcing here by saying that girls can't relate to courage, loyalty, feats of arms, and need some pining princesses to get us hooked.
Second of all, "bed-hopping?" In the first installment of the series? I'm straining to remember any gratuitous sluttery, male or female, and as I just re-devoured the first book last weekend, the fact that I can't think of any (people screw, sure, but it's for the usual reasons: because they're trying to get something from someone, or because they like each other) makes me wonder if the show is going to add a few more layers to people's relationships. Maybe Loras will be EVEN GAYER than he so completely already is.
I will say this, though: Nobody's innocent and pure in this story. People you will HATE this year, you'll adore in ways that will make you slightly ashamed of yourself later. I said "devour" with relationship to the books above; I am not kidding, the next one comes out in July and it will be all I can do not to EAT it, because it's a good story, and you don't have to check your sexual equipment to appreciate that.
Come back later tonight for more nerd-ness. Ladies more than welcome.
Walking home from work last night, I spotted this in the window.
Listen to Scout and I talking Wisconsin on Susie's awesome radio show last night. Scout comes on about halfway through, so I suggest you start there.
I'll have something on Walker's massive assault on the people of Wisconsin soon, but for now, I wanted to throw this out there.
Froomkin at the Huffington Post (which I normally avoid like Dick Cheney avoids sunlight and crosses) has this little tidbit from the Tea Party Shitshow:
"We feel Obamacare is an albatross around the neck of our country. It's going to sink us," Stefano said.
To quote Cap'n Mal Reynolds up there, "The way I remember it, albatross was a ship's good luck, 'til some idiot killed it."
That is all.
BOOK LAUNCH PARTY: March 11, 7 p.m. at the Irish American Heritage Center's Fifth Province Pub, 4626 North Knox Avenue, Chicago.
March 10, 7 p.m.: Signing at Shinnick's, 3758 S. Union, Chicago.
March 6, 2 p.m.: Signing at McNally's Irish Pub, 109 W. Main Street, St. Charles
March 6, 6:30 a.m.: Listen to us on The Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan, WGN Radio.
March 5, 2 p.m.: Signing at Barnes and Noble, 1141 W. Webster, Chicago.
More as we get them set up!
Hey, so on Monday nights I'll be posting over at FDL while Watertiger, who usually does Monday late nights over there, takes a well-deserved break. Come on over and say hi in the comments.
What galls me about two-spacers isn't just their numbers. It's their certainty that they're right. Over Thanksgiving dinner last year, I asked people what they considered to be the "correct" number of spaces between sentences. The diners included doctors, computer programmers, and other highly accomplished professionals. Everyone—everyone!—said it was proper to use two spaces. Some people admitted to slipping sometimes and using a single space—but when writing something formal, they were always careful to use two. Others explained they mostly used a single space but felt guilty for violating the two-space "rule." Still others said they used two spaces all the time, and they were thrilled to be so proper. When I pointed out that they were doing it wrong—that, in fact, the correct way to end a sentence is with a period followed by a single, proud, beautiful space—the table balked. "Who says two spaces is wrong?" they wanted to know.
Typographers, that's who. The people who study and design the typewritten word decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences.
I always understood this as a holdover from times when (ask your parents, kids) we all used typewriters, and it wasn't until college AP Style drilled it into me not to do this anymore that I started noticing how many people still did.
(Is it April yet?)
This is what Shakespeare has to say about it:
...[T]he fixed sentinels almost receive
The secret whispers of each other's watch.
Fire answers fire, and through their paly flames
Each battle sees the other's umbered face.
...But I think we can do better. How about Churchill?
You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her.
Who painted the sky? You did. Who brings the sun up over the horizon, every day? With a fresh breeze, just at the darkest time of all? It is only necessary that you see it. We spent every day of that flight praying for more light. The dawn is your responsibility, every single day: Your only duty is to wake up tomorrow.
This isn't going to make much sense, but I didn't know how much I needed to read that until I read it, you know?