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Generic Confusion

When you leave, my blog just fades to grey
Nu ma nu ma iei, nu ma nu ma nu ma iei

News? Check. Politics? Check. Music? Check. Random thoughts about life? Check. Readership? Ummm.... let me get back to you on that. Updated when I feel like I have something to say, and remember to post it.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

One step against mass shooters

We live in a society that values fame above all.  People want to be known for something.  At least, they do, until they grow up, and accept the responsibilities of an adult.

Years ago, I wrote the following in a blog post about a series of young adult books that taught the wrong lesson:

Here's an important life lesson that should be communicated to children at all times. Your role in society will probably be something that no one will want to write a book about, or translate to film. Despite that, your life will be successful. You will have a job, good friends, a special someone, a home, a community, interests, and hobbies.

The essential point is that few people will become famous, and children need to learn that as part of growing up.  But this post was written years before YouTube, which allows a much larger number of people to become famous.

Now, what happens if you don't even have the talent to become YouTube famous?

Hopefully, you learned from watching your family, your friends, and the prominent members of your community that none of that is necessary to be successful.

But for those who don't learn that lesson, especially boys who come from broken homes with absent fathers and no strong male figures in their lives?

The mass media is still willing to make them famous, if they commit an act of suitable evil.

But they don't have to do this.

What if the latest mass shooter was referred to in all media coverage by the serial number 20180214-FL-A?  What if, instead of putting the shooter's picture on the broadcast, they instead used an image reduced to block pixels that make an Atari 2600 image look like a Rembrandt portrait?  What if, instead of making a person famous, they treated him like the non-person he was?

What would the next potential mass shooter think?

Friday, February 02, 2018

Analyzing Monsters, Inc.?

One of the things you can't avoid on the Internet is alternate takes about popular media.  One I saw recently was how the classic animated film Monsters, Inc. wasn't a goofy children's tale, but a scathing warning about an evil corporation profiting from forced scarcity!

Sure, you can read it that way, if it fits your politics.  But I can create even more hot takes!

It's a warning about government bureaucracy:  See, Monsters, Inc. is a power plant, so they're a public utility, either a government function or regulated by the government.  Their resistance to looking for energy sources other than children's screams?  It's because it's government work.  No monster will ever get in trouble for doing things the way they've always been done, and no monster is going to stick his neck (or necks) out to take a chance on something new.  Why risk the pension, the corner office, the executive secretary, the reserved parking space, the whole personal fiefdom?

It's a warning about forced societal roles:  Big monsters scare.  That's what they're supposed to do.  Little monsters act in support.  That's the way society is supposed to function.  And some monsters are more than happy to profit off of this arrangement.

See?  Isn't forcing everything to fit your preconceived notions fun?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Privilege redux

I saw someone complain about attractiveness now being described in the language of privilege.

I say, bring it on!  Because, to paraphrase The Incredibles, when everything is privilege, nothing is.

I am privileged to have good teeth.  My teeth came in straight, and I didn't need braces.  Now, having crooked teeth in the U.S. today is a marker of low socioeconomic status, and you might have people judge your intelligence negatively as a result.  And that's a real disadvantage.

But then ask yourself this question: when you're interviewing for a job, what's more important, straight teeth, or having a college degree?

Once every advantage and disadvantage is treated the same, people might just be able to make a reasonable analysis of their own advantages and disadvantages.  For example I would identify my own biggest advantages as intelligence (able to pass college and professional examinations without spending 16 hours a day on the task) and health (physically able to work, rarely getting sick).  My disadvantages are things like height, appearance, and athletic ability.

The subjects normally considered privilege, like skin color, are far less important.

One advantage of calling everything privilege is that someone might actually learn that privilege is bunk.  Imagine a classroom talking about privilege, and filling in the following sentence:

"In 2018, a person who is [    ] is effectively unable to work as [    ]."

In 2018, a person of average physical ability is effectively unable to work in athletics.
In 2018, a person of average height is effectively unable to work as a model.
In 2018, a person of average appearance is effectively unable to work as an actor or McKinsey consultant.
In 2018, a person with an introverted personality is effectively unable to work in sales.
In 2018, a person who is nonwhite is effectively unable to work as... what, now?

Friday, December 29, 2017

Dirtbags. Dirtbags everywhere!

Following the breaking of the Harvey Weinstein story, we've seen a lot more people coming forward to accuse men and women of abuse, in a variety of industries.  One thing I noticed is that a lot of these accusations are against people in industries where leaders and prominent figures are often younger: Hollywood, high tech, Internet journalism, tech journalism, television journalism, and the like.  And these tend to be people with liberal personas.

Here's my interpretation for why that is.  A person in their 30s or 40s experienced the impeachment of President Bill Clinton when younger.  During that time, they saw a man accused by many women for improper behavior, including rape, finally put on trial once incontrovertible evidence of his abuse came out.  And they saw how the media and activists responded.

The people who claimed to care for women supported Bill Clinton unconditionally.

People in their 40s also had the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as a comparison.  Unproven bad language?  Guilty!  Proven workplace harassment?  My hero!

So the worst people learned a valuable lesson.  Say the right things, support the right causes, contribute to the right politicians, and the left will not only excuse any behavior, they will offer to fellate you.  That's the lesson learned by men who view women as objects that exist only to please them: Just claim to be a feminist, and you can get away with any behavior.

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Back in the 1980s, there were a number of prominent television evangelists, with large followings and the ability to solicit significant donations for their ministry.  But many proved to be not who they claimed.  On camera, they could always be seen, with their perfect families, making ostentatious displays of piety.  But off camera, they were sampling the seven deadly sins and violating several of the Ten Commandments.

Today, in Hollywood, we're seeing just how corrupt the industry is, with many accusations of serial sexual abuse.  These are people who ostentatiously displayed their own piety, mouthing the right platitudes, supporting the right causes, donating to the right politicians.  But off camera, they were harassing, sexually abusing, sexually assaulting, and raping men, women, and children.

If you think of everyone in Hollywood as a televangelist, it all starts to make sense.

But the Hollywood sexual abuse scandal is far worse.  No one had a reasonable expectation that a specific televangelist was a secret sinner, save for the Biblical notion that all men are sinners.

In Hollywood, there's the casting couch.  Say those two words, and even people not in the industry know what you mean.  But for someone not in the industry, it is possible to imagine that only happens with sleazy producers at the fringe of the industry.  But it's coming out now that everyone knew.  Everyone knew; they all had agents and publicists, and a Hollywood-obsessed media that would give them camera time; yet no one spoke.

So take any Hollywood fundraiser over the past 50 years supporting women's issues, or one for a politician supporting those causes, and you will find it was filled entirely with abusers, or the "Hollywood everyone", the everyone who knew.

There's a reason for this.  I've read about what could be called "Hollywood nice".  In an industry that's all about people and connections, actors of various levels or tiers will mingle.  Two people may have a friendly interaction, but the minute one sees someone who can help her career, she can dump the other person and try to ingratiate herself with the higher tier person.

If it would help his or her career, an actor would condemn thousands of people to abuse.

It makes me wish for the days when the worst offenders were these original televangelists.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Political Correctness, defined.

In the aftermath of the presidential election, where one of the possible explanations for Trump's victory was as a reaction to extreme political correctness, I saw a lot of posts on social media which rather obviously tried to change the meaning of political correctness.  It is not political correctness that stops people from using racial slurs, spouting racial stereotypes, or making racist jokes.  It is common decency.

Let me cite an example of a racist joke: "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent."

People who think political correctness has gone overboard are not trying to bring back jokes like this one.  In the real world, the person who made this comment (then-Senator Joe Biden) was rightfully criticized, and he apologized, although he saw no real world consequences (he was still considered a viable presidential candidate, and won election as vice president).

Before I provide my definition of political correctness, let me introduce you to a recent card from Magic: the Gathering's latest expansion.

The latest Magic world, Kaladesh, has a setting inspired by steampunk, but with an optimistic outlook.  The free flow of aether created an energy revolution that led to a time of great invention.  And this setting allowed the game to introduce a type of card they'd long desired to create, vehicles.  Vehicles are normally artifacts, but by tapping creatures with power X ("crew X"), vehicles become artifact creatures with power normally greater than X.  In the first set of the block, Kaladesh, vehicles had mana costs that roughly scaled with their power.

The second set of the block, Aether Revolt, introduced this evolution to vehicles.  Unlike previous vehicles, it's both big and cheap, but still very difficult to crew.  You can cast it early, but it won't attack for a while.  But it works with the set's new keyword, improvise, which lets you tap artifacts to help pay for spells.  And there are combos, with several other cards that can turn vehicles into creatures.  It's realistic in Draft to get this card and Siege Modification, which creates a 10/11 creature with first strike on turn 3.  That threatens to win the game by turn 4!

The card is an excellent design, appealing to the Timmy and Johnny demographics, working well in draft, and can be played in a Constructed deck that, while not top tier, can win games in a splashy manner.

So what does this card have to do with political correctness?  Look at the power and toughness when Consulate Dreadnought is animated: 7/11.  In terms of game design, 7 power is a good place, threatening to kill in three turns, and 11 toughness suggests a creature that will rarely, if ever, be beaten in combat.  The stats also are a callback to Inkwell Leviathan, a popular old card often used in Reanimator decks.

The numbers still don't strike you as offensive, do they?  Well, the other inspiration for the Kaladesh block is the Indian subcontinent.  So, to find offense, you'd have to link several things together.  You'd have to look at the card, which shows just a ship (no people, no convenience store), focus on two of the four numbers on the card (not its casting cost or crew cost), and link it to the stereotype that people like Joe Biden like to cite.

And as an example of political correctness, here is someone who found offense.  And he got an apology, though no offense was intended.

The most important thing for the designers and developers who create Magic: the Gathering is to make the best game play possible.  The numbers on the cards (casting cost, activation cost of abilities, power and toughness of creatures) have to be carefully balanced, lest they create an unfun play environment.  It is absolutely essential that the designers and developers not be constrained by someone finding offense in the numbers.

So here is how I will define political correctness.  I'll use language the far left should understand.

Political Correctness is finding offense where no offense is intended, and no offense could reasonably be inferred.
Political Correctness is the privilege of demanding others listen to your expression of offense.
Political Correctness is the power of forcing another to apologize for an offense they didn't make.

(As another example, I find the stereotypical Bond villain, a psychotic wealthy white businessman, to be offensive.  But no one believes they need to care what I think.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Snarky comment, locked and loaded

In case of President Donald Trump, break glass and post everywhere:

Democrats have little to fear of the actions Donald Trump will take.  They can find solace in the way they've opposed the increasing unitary power of the executive while they've held the Oval Office, and there's an experienced news media with a laser-like focus on monitoring the government for any excesses and wrongdoing.