Sep 24

YA again

So true.

What do these critics and academics even mean when they call adult literature serious? This descriptor gets thrown around but never defined. Were I to make the same reductive assessment of all adult literature that the genre’s critics make of YA fiction, then the serious novel would be about a middle-aged person struggling with career collapse and sexual frustration. I don’t want to belittle these topics, but they’re only serious to sexually frustrated middle-aged people, coincidentally being the same narrow demographic that adult literature seems to serve. And they clearly don’t read as many books as their kids.

It amazes me that supposed experts in critical theory, textual analysis and semiotics cannot for the life of them recognize the use and societal relevance of large-scale allegory and metaphor in works of sf or YA. It’s almost like they, say, are a little biased. But that couldn’t be, right?

Do read the Guardian piece, though. The conclusion is just great.

Sep 24

Contraria contrariis curantur

Truly free speech is equally imperiled at different times and in different ways because both the Left and the Right hate it when it assails their goals and ideologies.

On balance, I think the Right is worse — as is typical — but pretending the Left isn’t often just as eager to ban speech that displeases them doesn’t stand up to historical scrutiny.

Free speech is more often now constrained by corporate action than by the government directly, and this is something we are told we should not be concerned with.

“It has nothing to do with free speech if the First Amendment wasn’t violated!” as it is usually said.

I hear this from people on the Left more often than the Right, but it is widespread across the political spectrum.

But tell the worker fired for attempting to organize a union that their right to free speech was not violated. Or tell it to someone who gets canned for a mere blog post.

It’s a-ok, apparently, if a corporation does it according to most people.

I’m always a bit shocked at how willing people are to accept authoritarianism and neo-fascism as long as it is couched in the right language, framed by the right key words.

Sep 23

Wastin’ time


I’m tired of explaining to men that the feminist movement will, in fact, benefit them as well as women. I’m tired of trying to hawk gender equality like I’m some kind of car salesman showing off a shiny new sedan, explaining all of its bells and whistles. I’m tired of smiling through a thousand thoughtless microaggressions, tired of providing countless pieces of evidence, tired of being questioned on every. single. damn. thing. I’m tired of proving that microaggressions exist, tired of proving that I’m unfairly questioned and asked for proof. For a movement that’s centered around the advancement and empowerment of women, why do I feel like I’m supposed to spend so damn much of my time carefully considering how what I say and do will be taken by men?

I’m a man and I agree with this and the entire piece. If I were a woman, I’d probably be a radical separatist because it seems like the majority of men just don’t get it.

I’m not a feminist ally because it’s stylish, because it’ll get me laid (trust me: it really doesn’t, quite the opposite!) or because I have any daughters or because I have a sister.

I’m an ally because it’s only right that women get an equal shot at life, at achieving their dreams, at the pursuit of happiness.

Wasn’t there something about that in our constitution somewhere?

Sep 23

Speaking of networking

For one project I’d ordered a very expensive piece of networking gear (a Riverbed Steelhead, if you must know).

The UPS delivery driver arrived to deliver it and was carrying it in his arms. Which was fine, but he was curious about what it was.

I said, “It’s a Riverbed, a piece of networking gear that makes networks operate faster.”*

He said, “Sounds expensive. What does something like that cost?”

“About $30,000 for the one in your hands.”

“Holy shit, if I’d know that I’d brought it up on the hand truck!” he said as he handed it to me.

Yes, Riverbeds are expensive. Also worth it if you need one.

*Not quite technically true, but there’s no way to explain what a Riverbed really does in a casual conversation with a busy driver.

Sep 23

Data caps

Sure, let ISPs charge for data after going over your soon-to-be mandatory data caps – but at the going rate.

That’d be about half a cent or so for gigabyte, and that includes a tidy profit for the ISP.

Hell, let them charge a cent per gigabyte. That’d give them about a 120% profit, including all infrastructure, personnel, operational, maintenance and other costs that an ISP incurs.

But no. They want 10,000%+ profits on this.

And no, I’m not exaggerating. I’ve provisioned enterprise-level bandwidth (custom fiber runs), and installed enterprise-level $25,000 switches to support it so I know exactly how much real bandwidth costs.

Sep 23


There will never be a TV show like Lost made again.cast-of-lost

No matter what you think of it there won’t be, can’t be, another show with its scope, its ambition, its odd mélange of sf, fantasy, sitcom, mystery and with its peculiar zaniness and odd sincerity.

In the future there might be shows with similar themes but they won’t have the budget or the audacity to pull off what Lost did, nor the excellent cast that budget entails. Despite its flagrant and at times annoying excesses, what do you think the chances are of any other show “tricking” so many people who claim to hate sf and fantasy into watching just that for so long?

As I said, it will never happen again.

2X14_HurleySawyerI first saw Lost  accidentally.  Like Firefly, I had not planned to watch it as I thought it sounded terrible. I caught the tail end (tail section, heh) of one episode while waiting for another show to come on, back when I still watched a show or two on an actual TV.  (Imagine that.)

I was instantly captivated, completely sucked in after only two minutes. Never have I been engrossed in a story so quickly.

As soon as I could I watched the earlier parts of the first season.

So many good things about that show. Yes, I am still upset that Kate was not the leader, as guv7was the original plan for the show. That would’ve been more interesting as she was a better character than Jack. It’s also the first show on a major American network I recall seeing where a full half of the cast was not white. That has not happened since as far as I can tell, by the way.

Every show has its flaws and so did Lost. Like other great works, however, it rose above them and somehow coalesced into the strangest show ever that appealed to any sort of mass market. How it managed to do that I don’t know.

About the ending, I thought it was fine.  The best that could have been done. To me the journey is what matters. And what a hell of a fine journey it was – though I wanted to throw my TV out the window when Shannon died. Talk about character development done right.

And best line from the show? Undoubtedly when Frank Lapidus after realizing that all of the former Lost-ers are on his plane says, “We’re not going to Guam, are we?”

Sep 22


Sarcozona has noticed the lack of coverage of the climate change march by the mainstream press.

Not surprising – during the run-up to the second Iraq war, the massive demonstrations against that invasion involving millions of people all around the planet went nearly unreported.

These sorts of things, despite the climate march at least being partially co-opted by corporate interests, do not please our corporatacracy so reporters are not assigned to cover such actions. If implicitly anti-corporate and anti-government (these days the same thing) marches or demonstrations are reported at all, the reporters are likely instructed to minimize the story and the crowds present.

Not a formal conspiracy – just corporations looking out for their own interests and that of their sponsors.

CNN as sarcozona pointed out half-truthed their way into underestimating the crowd severely.

But it went beyond that, though. Let’s look at some images.

One image from a less-biased source giving an idea of the true scale of the crowd:


Yeah, that’s a lof of people – you can’t even see the end of them.

Now let’s look at just one example of the images CNN used in the video at the top of this article:


Hey, I think I see a difference!

Note that all of the portrayals of the march in the CNN video consisted of these relatively-tight shots of sparse crowds, interspersed with on-the-street reporting. The example I’ve chosen is the widest shot of them all. There were NO wide-angle shots of any sort of the entire massive throng of people, which is highly unusual.

I was a US Army photojournalist for five years. My job wasn’t reporting the truth (though I think in total the journalism done in the Army was more truthful than that done by mainstream media) – my job was to report the truth that made the Army and its units look good.

So I know a little something about how to avoid lying in a story while still only telling the truth that those in charge want told.

What CNN has done is an absolutely textbook example of that. Nothing in the CNN story is a direct fabrication. “Tens of thousands of people” is not incompatible with 300,000+ people. In fact, 300,000 people is tens of thousands. But if you think that figure is usually employed that way, I’ve got some rocks painted gold that I’d like you to buy for actual gold prices. What CNN did is like saying, “The US contains hundreds of thousands of people.” Not wrong. Just bewilderingly shady.

Likewise, showing only medium and close shots of the crowd isn’t mendacious, just highly misleading.

It’s all a textbook example of how to not quite lie while utterly concealing the truth.

Update: This drone footage while fairly low-quality gives a pretty good idea of the number of people marching.

Sep 22


Movies could use more magical realism, as found in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Magical realism rarely works that well in novels. At least I don’t think so. Most of the time it just obfuscates the narrative though sometimes it can be executed well. (Don’t even talk to me about Carlos Castaneda, that putz.)

Movies, though, are often dreamlike by their very nature, just by dint of the contingencies of the medium itself. Adding some elements of magical realism to films does them justice, often.

Or another thought: movies make reality seem more dreamlike and unreality seem more concrete.

That’s the consequences of humans being such visually-oriented animals.

But do watch Beasts of the Southern Wild if you have not — I should have added it to this list, but forgot.

Sep 22

’Rents Rants

Becoming a parent seems to make most people into some sort of weird pseudo-human that causes them to consign to oblivion everything that happened before they decided to grace the earth with their crotchsplosions.

I don’t understand why. Having a kid takes no particular skill. It just takes fucking and then waiting.

When I was a kid — and this wasn’t uncommon at all — kids were not centered in adult life. Not like they are now. At the time it made me unhappy, but then again I was an unusual kid.

This is another relative-large social shift in my lifetime that I don’t really understand the genesis of, nor the dominance of the underlying weltaunshauung. I’m not even going to speculate on how it developed.

This article covers some pretty good annoyances typically heard from those folks, though.

Indicating to these people that having kids is the only way they will reach some higher level of understanding is both inconsiderate and rude. I don’t know what the alternatives to these statements are. Maybe just cut anything that starts with “When you have kids…” out of your repertoire all together. It makes you sound like their mom anyway.

I don’t have any problem with people having kids. I just don’t believe it makes you a saint, a better person than me, or qualified to dispense unwanted advice. That’s all.

Sep 21

Emma Watson UN Speech

It’s really good to see so many openly feminist extremely famous women out there now – Kristen Stewart, Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson among them.

You might not think it matters (but you’re wrong). These “mere actresses” like it or not are thought leaders and will influence many millions of women and men who pay attention to them.