Jun 10

When a whole discipline is wrong

For some reason, classically-trained economists insist that there is no structural unemployment in the US economy despite the fact that it is occurring all around them.

It’s already been well-established that macroeconomics is the discipline least grounded in the real world, mostly due to its complete distortion by neoliberal thought over the last fifty years but lately this has been reaching new levels of absurdity.

Manually, it takes a team of painters 4.5 hours to do the first coat. The robots do it in 24 minutes with perfect quality. Boeing began using the machine in February. By midsummer, all 777 wings will be painted this way.

4.5 hours of labor, done in 24 minutes by robots. This isn’t even the future. This is happening right now. The future will just see far more of this, and it will begin happening faster.

Jun 09

Cesspool of misogyny

My partner is only dimly aware that the media landscape is a cesspool of misogyny and erasure of women’s experiences and voices.

I do most of the selecting of what we view because she just doesn’t have the patience to sift through all the dross and dreck. I make every effort to select a wide range of movies and shows that have as a feature some semblance of gender parity, and nothing that is beset with overt misogyny at the least.

She’s shocked when she sees programs and movies aimed at “normals” as it seems like they are from a different world.

I’m a little shocked, too, but I’m mostly immune to it as one just could not function as misogyny and dismissal of women is everywhere.

What we watch is like a world where women weren’t treated like rape candidates for having an opinion, a world where women get to have their own detective buddy stories.

I don’t do this out of some sense of nobility or to be some ridiculous white knight. The fact is I just can’t fucking watch TV shows and movies where we all have to pretend that women don’t exist. I just can’t do it. And I won’t do it.

I was absolutely thrilled in 2004 when Battlestar Galactica gender-flipped Starbuck and it was revealed the show would have just as many female main characters as male ones. I wouldn’t have even bothered to watch the show otherwise.

But damn, when I have to watch a TV show aimed at a more general audience, it is a trying experience. The culture is so broken it is hard for me to even think about it.

Jun 08

Paul

There was this kid in my creative writing class in high school. He was a stoner. Completely. He’d used more drugs by the age of 16 than a young Keith Richards. He was barely functional as a person and seemed by looks and demeanor to be about 60 years old.

He was also by far the best writer of any of us.

I’ve since lost it during my many moves, but he wrote my favorite poem of all time. I only remember fragments of it now. One part of it was the line, “The trees fell down/And the bugs arose.”

I’m not sure what made the poem so great. It was like an LSD-infused blend of Annie Dillard, William Carlos Williams and T.S. Eliot. It was unlike anything I’d ever read, and was completely original – it sang and soared and false-stumbled to mislead you, then lifted you to greatness on the next line.

I have no idea what happened to Paul. One of the last conversations I had with him went like this:

Paul: So I counted how many times the dryer went around when it dried my clothes.

Me: Wow…hmm. How many was it?

Paul: I forgot now.

Me: Paul, so you spent 45 minutes counting this and you forgot? OK then….

But that was Paul. Lost in his own world of drugs and who knows what else. Like many of my childhood friends, he is probably now in jail or dead. But he probably could’ve been the next David Foster Wallace if he’d grown up in different circumstances.

Jun 07

24

Why is 24 the only recent show to have used split screen frequently and successfully? It’s such a great stylistic tool and it’s really underused.

Is it because the technique was used in so many bad films from the 1970s? Or is it like subtitles to most people? I don’t know, but it should be used more.

(And no, I don’t think 24 is a great show. But it is an entertaining show, and that goes a long way.)

Jun 06

Shannon Hale to the Queen

I see that Shannon Hale agreed with me that the Slate article I wrote so disparagingly about yesterday is truly the slimy piece of witless asinine gutter crud that I thought it to be.

It takes a mammering fen-sucked canker blossom to write something as appallingly grievously repellent as what Ruth Graham wrote in Slate the other day.

Also, what she said here, too.

Jun 06

More old memories

My English teacher in high school hated me. And mostly for good reason, I think, though both of us could have handled it better.

It was AP English.

The wellspring of the problem was that I was more well-read and knowledgeable about most things than she was, and she liked to think of herself as an intellectual. So it really bothered her. Whereas, I didn’t give a shit either way, but I liked pushing her buttons.

She really hated it when I’d fuck around in class all day, and then turn in a better essay than all the other kids that I’d spent only 30 minutes writing. Partially because I’d already read the assigned book when I was, like, 10, but in some areas I can just play.

I actually didn’t and don’t think I was any better than her.

I was just trying to out-arrogant her.

I won.

Jun 05

Slated for dismissal

Slate has done one better than forums where commenters become trolls; now most of their actual writers are trolls.

That is one of the most profoundly stupid, delusional, childish and logically-inconsistent pieces I’ve ever read.

But even the myriad defenders of YA fiction admit that the enjoyment of reading this stuff has to do with escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia.

I’ve read 200+ YA books now in the past 10 years, and this isn’t why I read the genre – no, I read because the characters are more realistic, usually more interesting, and the plotting is far far better than the plodding pedantic nonsense most literary authors tend to foist off as worthwhile writing.

And this article as all such pieces written by whiny mossbacks denigrates anything that features any fantasy or supernatural themes, despite those being a way to explore more deeply or more fully the human condition.

I stopped reading Slate for several years for idiocy such as this. Looks like it’s time to do so again.

Jun 05

Maya

So since Maya Angelou died I’ve been taking a look at her works. I’d never really read much of them before.

Verdict so far is that her poetry is just not very good. It’s mawkish, maudlin and sounds like something I would’ve written in junior high. It’s surprisingly bad given then esteem in which it is held.

However, her prose is great. It’s everything her poetry is not.

I’ve noticed this in a lot of writers: if they write great poetry, their prose is awful, and vice versa. Why this is, I am not really sure.

Jun 05

Which witch fashion

Both Misty Day (Lily Rabe) and Zoe Benson (Taissa Farmiga) had spectacular outfits in AHS: Coven. Most of the best ones are on that site, though not all of them.

In fact, all the outfits for all the characters were great but those two castmembers particularly stood out. You can really have a lot of fun with witches and the costume designers this season outdid themselves. This outfit of Farmiga’s was one of my favorites. If I had that, and looked good in it as she does, I’d wear it even in summer.

image

Costume design is really an undervalued language of its own, and tells its own stories; the costume designers in this show were so good that if I’d just seen any one of the character outfits laid out on the floor I could’ve told easily which character they belonged to, even if they’d never worn them before.

Farmiga’s character as she embraces her witchhood gradually changes her dress from mainstream fashion to the above sort of raiments. Literally her story is told in her clothes, piece by piece. That’s skill, right there.