What I’m Reading, December 18, 2014

Katniss Everdeen, Thank You For Your Service, Ben Adams, Overthinking It, December 15, 2014

The individual experience of a veteran is as diverse and varied as any other institution with millions of members – prior to serving, those who served in the military come from all walks of life and backgrounds. During service, the experience of each service member varies widely, from a desk job in Washington DC to driving a warship through the Pacific to humping a rucksack and a rifle through the Taliban-controlled mountains of Afghanistan. And after leaving the military, veterans can be seen in all facets of society, making art, starting businesses, Overthinking things, etc.

But it is far too easy to leave this individuality behind and force the modern American* combat veteran into one of two competing narratives: the Courageous Hero or the Downtrodden and Broken Victim. In the Hero story, the veteran was born waving an American flag, traveling stoically across the sea to do battle with a distant enemy and returning home unbowed and unbroken; in the Victim story, the veteran was exploited by forces beyond his control, forced into the desert, subjected to unthinkable tragedy, and is now a hollow shell, subject to either crippling depression or psychotic breaks.


As with Katniss, veteran stories of heroism and victimization aren’t necessarily wrong. To be sure, many veterans have in fact accomplished any number of heroic deeds, sacrificing themselves for their fellow soldiers and civilians caught in the crossfire. And to be sure, many veterans have in fact been victimized by combat, coming home either not at all, or with wounds both physical and mental.

But in the stories we tell ourselves, the actual living, breathing, veteran frequently becomes just a stand-in for an undifferentiated mass of Veterans.

Gun nuts’ racial duplicity: How Ferguson and Garner undermined their Second Amendment crusade, Amanda Gailey, Salon, December 15, 2014 Continue reading


I’ve Been Misquoting “The Wire,” and I’m Sorry

I don’t know how long this has been going on, but I have been attributing the line “This shit’s chess, it ain’t checkers” to Stringer Bell on the HBO show The Wire.


I was wrong, it’s actually a line delivered by Alonso Harris in the movie Training Day:

Continue reading


Long Break from Regular Blogging

I had to go AFK for a bit because of hand and elbow surgery, but that was now more than two months ago, and I’ve been back at my regular writing job for a while. My lack of regular blog updates might have upset my reader(s), so I am committing to [trying to] do better.

In the meantime, I found this GIF of Olivia Munn saying “boobs” in an Imgur folder:

That’s in honor of the series finale of The Newsroom, where she played Sloan Sabbith and was awesome.


What I’m Reading, December 16, 2014

The Comic-Book Guys Quivering in Fear of Cosplay, Noah Berlatsky, The Atlantic, December 10, 2014

The backlash to cosplay is in part guys trying to keep girls out of the male clubhouse. But in this context it can also be seen as feminized guys panicking at yet another in a long line of demonstrations that the male clubhouse isn’t all that male to begin with. You could argue that cosplay’s associations with fashion actually make it more highbrow than comics—the New York fashion runway and the New York gallery scene are more kin than either is to low pulp superhero comics. Cosplay is appropriating superheroes for art, much as pop art has done—and some in comics fear the results.

But they shouldn’t. The truth is that cosplay is not a continuation of pop-art denigration by other means. Instead, it’s an antidote. Pop art’s self-conscious manipulation of comics is only possible, or painful, in a world where comics defines its legitimacy in narrow terms. Lichtenstein is only an outsider co-opting comics if you insist on seeing Lichtenstein as something other than a comics artist himself. Cosplay—like the Batman TV series before it—could be a way for fans to be the pop artists: to cast aside the wearisome performance of legitimacy for a more flamboyant, less agonized fandom. Once you stop neurotically policing boundaries, the question of whether comics or superheroes are masculine or feminine becomes irrelevant. If superheroes and comics are for everyone, that “everyone” automatically includes people of all genders, wearing whatever they wish.

The Real Story Of Apollo 17… And Why We Never Went Back To The Moon, Andrew Liptak, io9, December 12, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, December 15, 2014

Comfort Food: No one brings dinner when your daughter is an addict. Larry M. Lake, Slate, November 8, 2013

Friends talk about cancer and other physical maladies more easily than about psychological afflictions. Breasts might draw blushes, but brains are unmentionable. These questions are rarely heard: “How’s your depression these days?” “What improvements do you notice now that you have treatment for your ADD?” “Do you find your manic episodes are less intense now that you are on medication?” “What does depression feel like?” “Is the counseling helpful?” A much smaller circle of friends than those who’d fed us during cancer now asked guarded questions. No one ever showed up at our door with a meal.

Stephen Colbert schooled Fox News hard: Comedy, Bill O’Reilly and the exposure of right-wing patriotism lies, Sophia A. McClennen, Salon, December 12, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, December 11, 2014

Fox and Friends had a sad over the DOJ mentioning white privilege at Ferguson talk, Robyn Pennacchia, Death and Taxes, December 9, 2014

Co-host Brian Kilmeade felt that by even acknowledging the fact that white privilege exists, the Department of Justice was “taking sides,” when it was supposed to be neutral. And the neutral position is that white privilege does not exist. At least for the co-hosts of Fox and Friends. Who are all–by sheer coincidence, I’m sure–white people.


How is it taking sides to discuss the very real fact of white privilege? There are sides in this? How are there sides?

It’s like a small child closing their eyes and telling everyone “You can’t see me now! I’m invisible!”

You know, this, and the way they talk about “pulling the race card” and “race baiting”–it’s as though they’re thinking “We simply cannot let black people find out about racism, or they are gonna be so pissed.” or “Maybe if we pretend racism and white privilege don’t exist, all the black people will think they’re just imagining it, and then we can all pretend that everything is just fine.”

[Emphasis in original.]

One University Found a New, Awful Way to Talk About Jennifer Lawrence’s Nude Photo Leak, Jordan Valinsky, Mic, December 9, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, December 10, 2014

The years of Obama-bashing have helped bring racism, sexism, and all the other “-isms” of hate out of the shadows, Ken, Down with Tyranny!, December 6, 2014

Last night I indicated that I meant to come back to Ian Welsh’s post yesterday, “In Light of Eric Garner,” in which he urged us: “Understand this, if you understand nothing else: the system is working as intended.” He argued that the Staten Island prosecutor case who succeeded in getting the grand jury to bring no indictment in Garner’s death —

made the decision that the system wants: police are almost never prosecuted for assault or murder and on those rare occasions that they are, they almost always get off.

Donovan did what the legal system wanted him to do.

As for the police in question, well, they did what the legal system wants them to do, as well.”

Where are several points here I wanted to come back to.






[Emphasis, links in original.]

How to Talk to a Skeptic About Rape Culture, Rants and Rambles, March 29, 2013 Continue reading


Can You Teach an Old Judge New Tricks?

Judge Richard Posner is indisputably one of the most renowned jurists of the modern era, and deservedly so. Even he gets things wrong , though, and when he does, well, I’ll let Cory Doctorow explain further:

Speaking at a Georgetown law cybercrime conference, 7th circuit judge Richard Posner made a series of conscience-shocking, technologically illiterate statements about privacy that baffle and infuriate, starting with: “if the NSA wants to vacuum all the trillions of bits of information that are crawling through the electronic worldwide networks, I think that’s fine.”

Posner went on to say that privacy is “mainly about trying to improve your social and business opportunities by concealing the sorts of bad activities that would cause other people not to want to deal with you.”

On the idea of default full-disk encryption, he added “I’m shocked at the thought that a company would be permitted to manufacture an electronic product that the government would not be able to search.” Continue reading


I Just Found a Huge Plot Hole in “WarGames”

WarGames, the 1983 film about the Cold War and dangers of technology starring Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, Mustache Coleman, and the guy who always plays someone grouchy, is on one of the HBOs this morning, and I realized something: If David’s mom serves David’s dad raw corn-on-the-cob for dinner, and he doesn’t notice until he bites into it, why did the butter melt when he spread it on the corn????

IMG_5535.JPG Continue reading


What I’m Reading, December 9, 2014

The Second Coming of Walter Winchell, Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station, December 4, 2014

Abdul Rahman al Harbi’s life was destroyed by Glenn Beck.

He was wounded when the bombs went off, but the injuries inflicted on his life by the murderous Tsarnaev brothers are nothing compared to the damage done by Glenn Beck’s lunatic greed.

Al Harbi filed suit against Glenn Beck, The Blaze, Mercury Radio Arts and Premiere Radio Networks for defamation and slander.

Instead of owning up to his mistake, Beck attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed.

True to form, the man who touts “personal responsibility,” who pilloried media personalities for waging a campaign of defamation against Iva Toguri, that man argued even though every word he’d ever said about Al Harbi was a proven falsehood before he said it, Al Harbi was a “public figure” and therefore Beck should be able to say whatever he liked without consequence. Never mind the fact that Beck himself was the one personally responsible for making Al Harbi a public figure in the first place.

The judge didn’t buy it.

Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris ruled the suit brought by Abdul Rahman al Harbi could go forward.

[Emphasis in original.]

Not the Ducks! -Push Back Against Doctors, Avicenna, A Million Gods, December 7, 2014 Continue reading