Sunday, March 12, 2023

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao...

 I'm doing language cafes at a high school for Ukrainian refugees here in Tallinn, so they're on my mind a lot lately.  Obviously, you don't need to physically be around them to empathize with them, and I don't want this to sound like some sort of ridiculous hipster-ish "I care about the refugees on a much deeper level than you," but, I mean, it's only human for people to be especially moved by things that are personalized for them.  There's currently a photo display of refugees in the town square:

It is extremely moving, or such was my experience.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Don't buy the monster's videogame! What the hell is wrong with you?!?

 People call JK Rowling a "TERF," but even that is giving her too much credit, I feel.  I mean, okay, it's not really giving her credit, but she likes to talk about what a feminist she is and how she cares about women's rights and supports abortion and same-sex marriage and all, but the fact is, she uncritically supports and refuses to distance herself in any way from the most nightmarishly hard right people there are--people who would strip women of all rights and force all gay people back into the closet at best--as long as they hate trans people as much as she does.  Actions speak pretty darned loudly, Joanne.  

The point is, she's a horrible person, and we live in a time where gruesome, evil monsters are literally trying to whip up a genocide against trans people.  So don't buy her fucking game!  What the hell is wrong with you?!?  This is the no-brainer of no-brainers!

Or so you would think.  But when you point out this extremely obvious moral calculus--moral arithmetic, let's say--you get a whole lot of dumb pushback.  So let's have a top-five list of disingenuous "it's fine to buy this woman's game" arguments.

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Thursday, February 02, 2023

Lady Stardust sang his songs of darkness and disgrace

 Look, I know I'm an idiot, but after gay marriage was legalized nationwide, I kind of figured the US was done with official bigotry on a widespread level.  Obviously, I underestimated the number of us that have a desperate need to fear and hate.  The current anti-trans panic is incredibly horrifying.  Obviously.  I don't need to say that, but I feel I ought to say it, so I am.  Solidarity is important even if individually it doesn't seem likely to do much.

I try to fathom transphobia, and I'm not going to say I can't do it.  It's easy to see how trans people would seem threatening to some, threatening as they do the stability of our gender norms.  Still, it's not THAT hard to get over--is it?  I'm not even sure when I first became aware of the very concept.  I vaguely remember a friend in grade school saying something about "sex changes;" that was probably it.  I likely thought this was a sort of silly idea, but I definitely didn't have any violently adverse reaction, and when I realized that this was a serious thing and not just a joke, I took it in stride.  As anyone would, if they haven't been carefully taught.

Well, obviously, many people have been, and many people who may or may not have been are all too willing to exploit their hatred for power.  The first thing I always wonder when the topic comes up is, is it really possible that you lack the metacognitive awareness to realize that people who spread fear and hatred of marginalized groups are never looked back on as the good guys by history?  Unfortunately, I then am forced to concede that this is a naive question.  Homophobia remains, and the legal status of gay marriage is not nearly as set in stone as I'd thought.  Anti-Semitism is resurgent (look, or rather don't look if you don't want to be profoundly depressed, at junior neonazi Nick Fuentes and his fanbase).  Islamophobia never even temporarily abated.  And as for good old-fashioned racism against black people...just look at Ron DeSantis and his merry band of fascist thugs.  So...yeah, they don't realize that history always judges bigotry harshly because they don't judge bigotry harshly, or at all.  Well, that's true for many of them, at least.  For others, it may just be "sure, racism et al is bad, but this is different."  Sure, sure, it's always different, innit?  Blech.

Gawd, we are SO proficient at hating one another.  Look, if you have ingrained bigotries, that's okay as long as you recognize them for what they are and make an honest effort to overcome them.  But if you're just wallowing in them, you are officially The Worst, and society would be better off if you would fling yourself off an embankment and lie there until you're eaten by vultures.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Christine Brooke-Rose, Between (1968)

I was not kidding when I said I was going to follow up the Freddy marathon with "some bristly, avant-garde fiction."  I've been neglecting Brooke-Rose, but she's still one of my favorites, and here's the third book from the Christine Brooke-Rose Omnibus.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy and the Dragon (1958)

So...there is Crime in Centerboro: people's stuff is getting stolen, and businesses are being forced to pay protection money.  People suspect Freddy and, no joke, some of them want to lynch him.  Jesus, Brooks.  What are you doing?  Well, they figure out the gang's deal.  It's led by some random dude named Jack who barely appears and gets literally no dialogue (he's briefly seen disguised as a headless horseman, hence the cover).  Well, they stop him.  And his gang.  The “dragon” is a Chinese-dragon-type contraption built by Uncle Ben to help this kid have a circus—the same kid who appeared in another book way near the beginning of the series; I can't remember.  We also meet Percy, the cows' father, who's all rude and stuff until Samuel Jackson the mole, hiding underground, poses as his conscience and gets him to change his rude, rude ways.  It's pretty silly (and there's essentially no father-daughter drama, if that's what you're after).  Anyway, that's about that.  Oh yeah, did I mention the barely-there subplot where there's a kitten who wants Jinx to teach her to purr and this is like one paragraph and then it's very briefly mentioned again at the end and that's ALL?  Doesn't feel like Brooks' heart was necessarily in it, though that may just have been his body giving out.  This was published posthumously.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy and the Flying Saucer Plans (1957)

Okay, staggering towards the finish the spite of the “flying saucer” right there in the title, you wouldn't really call this “science fiction” except incidentally.  This is actually...I suppose a “spy novel,” if anything.  The idea is that after people saw how powerful the Martians' flying saucer was, everyone wanted to get their hands on it and the Martians just got sick of it all and fucked off back to Mars.  But Uncle Ben, being a genius, has written up plans to make one of his own to provide the US with, I suppose, a Space Force avant la lettre.  But oh no!  Foreign Spies want the plans for their own nefarious purposes!  So to get rid of them, our heroes concoct a scheme where Freddy pretends to steal the plans, only actually he steals fake plans and lets the spies steal them.  Is he worried about his reputation?  Well, “any good American would sacrifice his reputation to get flying saucers for his country.”  All right then.  This is made difficult by the fact that there are actually spies from tons of different countries (I believe seventeen is the number specified), and they're all trying to stop one another, so it's hard to get the plans to just one.  But Freddy does, only to have it revealed that, oops, Ben actually gave him the REAL plans.  JESUS CHRIST, Ben.  So now we gotta get that back, which for some unclear reason involves Freddy disguising himself as a gypsy woman (hoo boy).  It should've been revealed in the ending that the “real” plans still didn't work.  That woulda made the whole thing admittedly kind of funny, if trolly.

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Friday, October 28, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy and Simon the Dictator (1956)

Aside from one passing reference to that time they tried to go to Mars, there is no mention here of the science-fiction stuff.  Men from Mars?  Never heard of 'em! 

So SOMEONE is riling up the animals against their human overlords.  The book tries a bit to create suspense over who, but...come on, man.  That title.  Simon is aided in his efforts by Herb Garble, the most-recurring villain in the series, who keeps trying to ship Freddy to his uncle's slaughterhouse in Montana.  Anyway, a lot of animals, wild and domestic, DO rise up against humans.  Can the loyalists stop them?  What do you think?  There's also a parallel plot where Mr. Camphor is being convinced against his better judgment to run for governor of New York.

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