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Saturday, June 09, 2012

A Bag-Free Future

Canadians...they're so sensible. This infographic imagines the horrible world of plastic bag bans and it's hilarious! It goes from the most paranoid Libertarian claptrap to roughly where I'm at on the subject. First the Libertarian:
"Oh, it starts with plastic bags, believe you me. Then they'll take your cars, your beer, your machine guns, etc. Next thing you know you can be arrested for simply fantasizing about plastic bags or looking them up on weird plastic-bag fetish websites. They will take your freedom, friend. Big Brother uses cloth bags only."
And then...me:
I mean, I guess we'll have to carry reusable bags. Or stores will have paper bags or whatever. So, yeah.
(You gotta read that with a Ricky voice.)

Come to think of it, why haven't we gone to the plastic bag standard? The amount of gold mined by humans throughout history couldn't fill an Olympic swimming pool. But plastic bags are 1% of California's waste stream...

Fine Line

Added to my list of things to stop doing:  Reading Alyssa Rosenberg's blog.

Which is a shame, because I've come to like her blog very much.  Our interests and politics are quite similar and often I finish reading something of hers and come away thinking, "Huh, never saw it that way."

But the gender sorting is getting old, and the more I think about it, the more annoyed it makes me.  What do I mean by gender sorting?  This kind of thing:
I wonder if part of the challenge here is that while male action heroes are heightened version of ideals and traits men are already supposed to aspire to—strength, decisiveness, acting as protectors. If you’re going to put women in those roles, you’re both having female characters take on male-affiliated traits, and then heightening them.

And that raises the question of if action heroines are supposed to be role models, what, overall, are they supposed to model?
It's not a bad question, per se, but who said action heroes have to be role models?

I grew up with action heroes. Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones were among the first, but then I graduated to Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and even Steven Seagal. Seagal is a joke now, but there was a time when he was the penultimate bad ass. He broke bones!

And this is where I break from the didactic school of entertainment. I don't believe that stories must have some moral lesson. I don't believe characters must represent a certain population or demographic. I don't think an entertainment meant to idle away the hours must serve any other purpose aside from...entertaining. Part of the reason is that moralistic stories can be preachy, "representative" characters can be caricatures. The other part is that it's more interesting to leave room for interpretation.

Which is why I strenuously disagree with this:
...[M]ore thoughtful movies about what femininity brings to the table in fraught situations would make for more interesting storytelling, and more nuanced role models.
Maybe, but I think this all depends on how you define "more thoughtful" and "what femininity brings to the table."

In this case, it's just assumed that "femininity brings to the table" nothing but good things. Anything bad or undesirable...that's just the sexism talking. There's the "good" femininity, Hermione Granger for instance, and then there's the "bad" femininity of Kate Capshaw in Temple of Doom, shrieking and crying about getting dirty and breaking fingernails. To be "more thoughtful" means that you celebrate Hermione and sneer at Willie Scott, which I'd argue is actually less thoughtful, since it denies the reality of different personality types.

It's shocking, I know, but "bitchy" women really do exist in the wild. Last I checked, Jenna Jameson is a real person and was at one time a sex object. Is Madonna really a bitch, or is Madonna even real? Can a real woman be as trashy as Courtney Love or Lindsey Lohan? As airheaded as Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears? Obviously not, as those are not real women. [Eye roll.]

Humanity has a wide spectrum. Demanding one set of cliches over another isn't the sign of enlightenment.

_____________________________________________________________________

One of the reasons why this topic has preoccupied my thoughts lately is that I'm toying with a story idea, a play actually, about a group of corrupt cops torturing a drug suspect. And every time I think about it, doing the work to flesh it out, there's this voice in the back of my mind saying, "Where are the women?" And it's not my enlightened non-sexist credibility speaking. It's more of a feeling that there's a bunch of sexist women who refuse to see anything male-oriented.

And that's sad.

Friday, June 08, 2012

This Really Exists

If the dead cat helicopter did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.

Goin Down Now

Reading about how Obama didn't make a blow-job joke, this scene from Four Brothers came to mind. Of course, my favorite part is the "You're goin down now!" But watching it again, there's a lot to love.
I love how the guy sics his dogs on a guy with a gun, then has the temerity to say "Yo, don't shoot my dogs, man," as if he hasn't thought this one all the way through.

 I love how he says, "Bite his ass," as he's climbing out the window.

 I love how Tyrese blinds Marky Mark with the fire extinguisher.

 I love how the guy is actually rappelling down the side of the building. This guy thought of everything! (Doh! Except for that meat cleaver.)

And finally, I love how Marky Mark says "He ain't dead. He's just fucked up." Hilarious.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Search and Replace

This cracked me up. Some fly-by-night publisher is selling cheapy versions of (public domain) Tolstoy e-books. Only they screwed up....
The Nook version of War and Peace had changed every instance of “kindle” or “kindled” into “Nook” and “Nookd...”
But it wasn't some clever branding strategy. Nope, seems like it was just old-fashioned laziness.
Rather, it’s likely that Superior Formatting Publishing ported its Kindle version of War and Peace over to the Nook — doing a search and replace to make sure that any Kindle references they’d inserted, such as in the advertising at the end of the book about their fine Kindle products, were simply changed to Nook.
Classic! The linked piece brings up a good point:
Today another incident casts into relief the contingent nature of electronic books — how readily they are not only deleted or censored, but altered.
But I don't think it's so alarming that the book was altered. I mean, if you think about it, nothing was really altered, per se. This is a typo, a big stupid computer-assisted one, but a typo nonetheless. What gets me about this story is that it's yet another example of the kind of lazy greediness that infects this country like a disease. This outfit wants to charge you a buck for a book they can't even be bothered to proofread.

Who Gives a Shit?

Enough with the memoirs. Shortly after I got my Kindle Fire, I saw an ebook from a guy I used to work with on Amazon. At first I was jealous. This dude's book showed up in the top results of the search, had reviews, and was apparently selling pretty well. Meanwhile, I can't seem to find the time and energy to bring anything to final draft form. And clearly...I'm better.

But then I realized that this dude's book was his memoir, a self-published memoir, no less. And worse, it's a "how I became sober" memoir. That took away some of the sting.

Any idiot can write a memoir and upload it to Amazon, but unless you want to write only memoirs, you can only do that trick once. What are you going to do? Publish a second memoir?

If your name is Anthony Swofford, yes. Swofford wrote Jarhead, a memoir of his time in the Marine Corps. It was even turned into a movie.

And he's such an interesting dude that he's given us a sequel filled with "brutally honest stories about his family, random sex, hard drinking and his difficult relationship with his father, as he tries to cope with life and post-traumatic stress."

What, no mention of his Texas-sized ego? Two memoirs by the age of 41, the second one about banal subjects like sex, booze, and daddy issues. (As if no one's ever mined those subjects before...) Who do you think you are, the most interesting man in the world? Forrest fucking Gump?

There are way more interesting people telling way more interesting stories.

Sexism by Any Other Name

Maybe I'm too sensitive, but nothing brings out my inner misogynist than nonsense like this:
The other week, Esquire magazine announced a new editorial imperative -- to run "Men's Fiction." We thought they already did this -- in fact, we thought they were a MEN'S MAGAZINE -- but apparently, that's just not enough. Men's Fiction is "plot-driven and exciting," they explained, as opposed to other fiction which is... well, you can fill in the blank.
Oh, get off it, lady.  It's just marketing.  Fiction has always been categorized, usually poorly and by people who proclaim their preference is better than yours.  Those people should be ignored.

Read what you want.

The post linked above has comments.  This is the best:
So hilarious. Of course if it mocked women's fiction, it would be sexist. 
Absolutely goddamn right. There is a fine line between feminism and sexism.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

I'm Causing More Family Feuds Than Richard Dawson

And the survey said...you're dead! (Nothing against Richard Dawson...it's a line from a Wu-Tang Clan song and it's appropriate.)

The Insane Scenario Unfolding Before Our Eyes

Jamelle Bouie calls it as it is:
When Republicans win, they do their best to rig the game in their favor (see: GOP governors and the sudden concern with voter fraud). When they lose, they do their best to sabotage government, and keep Democrats from implementing policy.
Yep, that would be an accurate assessment of the last 4 years, I think. A useful reminder:
Under a Republican president, the United States endured eight years of disastrous economic stewardship—arguably the worst of the post-war era—that nearly led to a second Great Depression. In response, voters elected a Democratic president and gave him huge majorities in both chambers of Congress. Rather than work with the new president, Republicans ran to the right and promised to defeat this president by any means necessary. They abused institutional rules to block nominees, and imposed a de-facto super-majority requirement on all legislation. Republicans rejected stimulus, the automobile rescue, a climate bill built from their ideas, a health care bill built from their ideas, and a reform bill designed to keep the Great Recession from happening again.
Then the Republicans won the house in 2010. Bouie resumes the accounting:
Once in command of the House, Republicans pushed hugely draconian budgets, risked a government shutdown, and nearly caused a second economic collapse by threatening to default on the nation’s debt. This reckless behavior depressed the economy, prolonged the recovery, and destroyed trust in the nation’s political institutions. The Speaker of the House has even promised to do this again, if Democrats don’t bow to his demands for greater spending cuts.
Yep, yep, and yep. But what's this insane scenario unfolding before our eyes?
The GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, denies the depth of the recession, unfairly tars Obama for job losses incurred at the beginning of his term, and falsely blames the stimulus for sluggish growth. His alternative to the problems of slow growth, high inequality, and stagnant wages? Juiced-up versions of policies that led us here in the first place: larger tax cuts for the rich, more deregulation for Wall Street, greater restrictions on labor, deeper cuts to social services, and less help for our most vulnerable citizens.
Yep, that is, indeed, crazy. And that's without mentioning the GOP's stance on gay marriage, bombing Iran, or building a border fence!

Doug Bruce - Out of Jail

Doug Bruce,which Wikipedia calls "a convicted felon,[9] conservative activist and former legislator in the U.S. state of Colorado," is out of jail.  Surprisingly, he didn't like it too much.

This cracks me up, though:

Bruce complained that inmates were overcharged for phone usage — 50 cents a minute — and food in the commissary was five times market prices.

He survived by drinking low-fat milk and oranges because the food, which he helped serve when he first worked in the kitchen, was inedible. As a testament that the food was bad, jailers refused to eat the same food and were given a different menu. He said they only had to pay $15 a month for the meals.

He said the new, state-of-the-art jail's plumbing and heating was defective and would generate multiple code violations if the jail was inspected. The temperature in the gym was only 55 degrees, he said.

Bruce said the basketball gym he exercised in by doing 100 laps a day, was only a third the size of a normal gym.
Doug, you're a Republican. A small government, no-new-taxes kind of Republican, no less. This is the kind of jail you and your party have been working towards: dehumanizing, usurious, abusive, inadequate. This is the place you want to send all the pot smokers and illegal Mexicans. I guess it's easier to dish it out than take it.

Why I'm Pulling for the Celtics

Purely selfish reasons.

The only Nuggets game I went to this season was against the Celtics.  If the Celtics make it to the Finals, that means that I managed to see in person two of 2012's championship basketball teams, NCAA and NBA.

You know what that makes me?

Cooler than you.  (hehe)

Gaylord

Gaylord Hotels, the hotel company that's been shaking down the city of Aurora and the state of Colorado for free land, tax breaks, and special favors, has sold out to Marriott for $210 million, which is $90 million less than the freebies Aurora was prepared to give them.

These two paragraphs pretty much sum it up:

As Gaylord Entertainment Co. executives pushed for tax incentives for a 1,500-room Aurora hotel in recent months, they also were exploring options that ultimately would make it less likely the project would get built.

Gaylord announced Thursday that Marriott International would buy its brand and rights to manage its four hotels for $210 million, and the Nashville, Tenn.-based company would become a real-estate investment trust. It said it wouldn't proceed with the Aurora hotel as envisioned and that it is seeking a development partner for the project.
But after promising $300 million in incentives (90$ million more than the whole enterprise is worth!), do you think the city of Aurora learned their lesson when it comes to bribing greedy corporations into building hotels in your city?

 Nope.
Aurora officials plan to meet next week with a company interested in taking on the development of the 1,500-room hotel and conference center proposed by Gaylord Entertainment Co., which announced a major restructuring Thursday that could change plans for the project. Aurora Economic Development Council chief Wendy Mitchell said she's received calls from at least one company that might be willing to step in. She declined to name the company but said it is a national, privately held developer.
Seems to me that a national, privately held developer should be able to fund the project themselves. If they can't, the project isn't feasible. If it's not feasible, don't throw hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars at it.

Clearly the money is burning a hole in the city's pocket, and if so, I'd like to offer a suggestion:

Cut me a check. I will cash it.

Twice as Useless

When Mike Rosen isn't helping to defraud listeners of his radio show, he's stinking up the pages of the Denver Post with birther nonsense.  Backing up birther Mike Coffman, Rosen writes:
In fact, Coffman separated himself from "birther" activists who express certainty that Obama wasn't born in the U.S. On that matter, Coffman said, "I don't know." Neither do I. I'm not certain Obama's birth certificate is a fraud, but I'm suspicious.
Let me see if I can put this delicately.  

Then you're a fucking idiot, Mike.

At this late date, this is not a matter of "I don't know." You cannot appeal to ignorance anymore. It's right there in the official records, records deemed valid by any authority who ever viewed them.  These people know; they just cannot accept.

It's bad enough to scam your audience.  But to deliberately choose to be stupid?  That tells you all you need to know...

Useless I Say

I really need to stop checking in on the leading "intellectual" lights of the Libertarian movement.  My eyes hurt from all this rolling. Listen to them cry about the plastic bag ban in Los Angeles:

Plastic bags: faithful transporters of groceries, liners of wastebaskets, pickers-up of dog crap and inspirers of late nineties Hollywood screenwriters, now banned from grocery stores by the Los Angeles City Council. But why?

Reason.tv's Kennedy paid a visit to LA City Hall to find an answer to that question. Council members stood by the ban, despite being confronted with evidence that bag bans have no discernible effect on the health of the environment and make up less than 1 percent (pdf download) of California's waste stream.
And yet if Ralph's or Kroger or whatever chain decided they were going to ban plastic bags, guess who wouldn't be asking why?

Guess who'd be talking about self-interest and agency and NOT bitching about coercion? But beyond that, why cry about a plastic bag ban? Are you really that attached to your plastic bags? Where in the Constitution does it say we're entitled to a free and endless supply of plastic bags? Oh, it doesn't? Well then...

 I do love how the Reason people think that the "only 1% of California's waste stream" is a trump card of some sort. It makes you wonder, How much preventable pollution must we endure before we act? 5%? 10% If plastic bags were a larger percentage of California's waste stream, would Libertarians act? Do they need to be up to their ankles in discarded plastic bags before they recognize the downside of their "Life, liberty and the pursuit of plastic bags" freedom bullshit?

As it stands, I don't think pollution is the best reason to get rid of plastic bags. The cloth bags you can buy at any store these days are much, much better. They don't rip. They carry more. Their handles are more robust. They're reusable. By any measure other than cost and convenience, they're just better.

The smartest thing I ever heard about plastic bags was this: You're going to use this bag for a little while, a few hours at the most, and it's going to be around for the next thousand years.

Oh yeah, forgot about that part, didn't ya, Libertarians? Yep, those bags will be around long after your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren have great-great-great-great grandchildren. That 1% of California's waste stream? It will still be there long after the other 99% degrades.

Way to think smart, guys. Support waste. Fight against progress. All because the government told you no.