Friday, May 20, 2022

William Beckford, Vathek, an Arabian Tale (1787)

I had really wanted to read this for a long time.  Seems like a fun bit of Orientalism, maybe.

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Saturday, April 30, 2022

Mario Vargas Llosa, Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (1973)

So the Peruvian army has a problem: their troops stationed in remote areas are sexually frustrated, with few women around, rape is commonplace, and generally the whole situation is bad for morale.  Captain Pantoja isn't really interested in this, but he is extremely dilligent and devoted to the army, so he is assigned to create a "Special Service" of prostitutes to try to ameliorate the situation.  This is made even more difficult for him by the fact that he's not allowed to reveal his ties to the army, and he's not allowed to tell his family what he's really doing.  Seems rough, but in fact, due to his conscientious nature, he succeeds beyond anyone's wildest dreams.  It's probably not much of a spoiler, though, to reveal that everything does not end up going wholly according to plan.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A Soldier Dreams of White Lilies

 I'm glad that pro-Ukraine sentiment is as nigh-universal as it is.  Sure, there are some right-wing Putin-apologist shitheads, but the message doesn't really seemed to have spread to the vast majority of people.  There's a bank around here that now says "Pray for Ukraine" on its electronic sign.  If you think a dang bank would ever put up a sign that they feared was going to cause any controversy whatsoever...well, I disagree.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Wendy Walker, The Secret Service (1995)

Wendy Walker is slightly hard to find online just because there's a thriller author of the same name who has a bigger internet footprint.  I don't resent her!  That's fine!  I hope her books are good, even though they're not likely to be anything I would want to read.  Still, the Wendy Walker in question here DID manage to score,  In a sense.

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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Ivan Franko, Fox Mykyta (1905)

Franko was a Ukrainian poet, the author of a poem about Moses that I recently saw an opera based on.  Well, there's also an opera based on THIS, and I found that there's an English translation/retelling of it, so I decided to check that out.  I haven't seen the opera yet, but I have read this, so I thought I would note it here.

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Friday, February 25, 2022


 I sometimes play a picross game called Pictopix that lets users create their own puzzles.  Here's one that came up recently:

And from OperaVision:

Go watch it!

Even if it sometimes might seem performative, I think it's important to make one's commitment to human rights loud and visible.  I mean, it's too early to really know anything for sure, but I feel like this is the most fucked-up thing (not counting atrocities like the Rwandan Genocide) that's ever happened in my lifetime, and the most likely to lead to dire geopolitical outcomes.  There would be something ironic about nuclear war having been avoided during the Cold War, allowing everyone to relax a little, only to all destroy ourselves a few years later in a completely different way.  Like a spy who carefully avoids a gauntlet of death traps only to trip on his shoelaces and fall and brain himself.

Friday, February 11, 2022

The Offer

 I've looked at some of your work, and I think you'd be a really great fit for our organization.  You're a free thinker with the ability to forcefully express your ideas.  Now, before we go any further, I'd like to put all of our cards on the table.  It's important to be honest with things like this.  From reading your work, I have a general idea of your politics, and I know what you're thinking: we're an organization devoted to spreading right-wing propaganda, and this is in square opposition to your principles.  And I admire that, but I also think you possibly might have a slightly mistaken view of who we are and what we do.  Listen: I don't consider myself particularly right-wing.  I've voted for Democrats in every Presidential election since I was old enough to vote in '92.  What we're about, in fact, is viewing the geopolitical sphere with a healthy skepticism and providing our readers with the information they need to critically assess facts for themselves.  You don't need to change who you are to work with us; you just have to be willing and able to question narratives, left or right.  I know we've been in the news a lot lately for supposedly being climate-change deniers, and frankly, I find that to be unfair and embarrassing.  I can't speak for everyone who works for us, but personally, I'm not a denier at all.  I just think it's important to be able to view the full contours of a problem.  Hey, we're people, you, me, and everyone; we have the tendency to follow familiar orthodoxies without necessarily thinking them out.  Let's make it very clear: working with us doesn't mean that you have to abandon your ideals.  Far from it; your ideals are a big part of why I like you.  And that's what it come down to: I think you're a person who has strongly-held principles but also recognizes that we all have blind spots that sometimes need to be further investigated.

500k a year with full benefits, and possible bonuses for television appearances.  In addition to everything else, you'll be living very comfortably if you come onboard with us.  Honestly, from my perspective, this looks like an extremely easy decision.  What do you say?