If It Looks, Feels and Smells Like Shit: Response to “The Misandry Bubble”

•February 3, 2011 • 5 Comments

It was pointed out to me that the author of the targeted article doesn’t perfectly fit the WEIRD profile.

He is, in fact, “merely” EIRD.

I’m lazy. Go ahead and mentally subtract all “W”s from any WEIRD references I make.

There was a comic made some long time ago by webcomicker John Campbell of Pictures for Sad Children, vitriolically shredding at the concept of transhumanism. The body of his criticism is fairly off the mark – on technicalities, at any rate. It’s no real secret, for example, that the development of communicative technology tends to self-propagate rapidly – cell phone towers and even laptops are finding their way to villages that even the bleedin’ Red Cross can’t reach. It’s also no real secret that increased computational power and sophistication is pretty much the bedrock to modern science – and even, from a screwy angle, to modern philosophy, given the crucial role of cybernetics and computer-aided neurology in the further understanding of the human mind.

Not to mention that, as Charles Stross (he of the bleak dystopian futures of vicious and vile mind-children and the lesser eldritch threats to sanity) has to admit, on balance, the technologies and efforts of the modern world’s done a lot more good than harm.

All that said, Campbell’s expressed attitude towards transhumanists might still be depressingly accurate. His rhetoric against the privileged white demographic that tends to espouse transhumanism is proven time and time again when clowns like this one open their damned metaphorical mouths. The Futurist’s post on “The Misandry Bubble” would, in a just world, be written as a parody of white privilege – the fact that a quick Googling demonstrates that it’s being taken seriously

Well, I guess it’s only fitting that, after having attained 100,000 visitors recently, I hop back into the fray of the western monocultural noosphere:

If it looks, feels and smells like shit, you should probably stop holding that shit so close to your nose. And, man, The Misandry Bubble is full of shit. Here’s why…

Continue reading ‘If It Looks, Feels and Smells Like Shit: Response to “The Misandry Bubble”’

Slowpoke Music Review: “Pinkerton” – Weezer

•January 6, 2011 • 2 Comments

Pinkerton - Weezer

Yeah, yeah – the album’s fifteen years old now, and I’m late to the game. I only got around to it just now, okay? I suppose it’s a comment on the quality of the album itself that a complete outsider, with no emotional connection to the band, no real investment in the music scene, and have only vaguely heard that the album exists and that it was noteworthy, decides upon first listening that it’s worth making a public note about it.

So here’s my TL;DR verdict:

It’s not bad. Continue reading ‘Slowpoke Music Review: “Pinkerton” – Weezer’

Happy 2011

•January 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Holy shit. I’ve not been posting much, but this blog has nonetheless managed to survive into 2011.

Here’s hoping it’ll survive longer yet.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

– Neil Gaiman

Copied completely without his permission (oh me, oh my, what a pirate am I…), but somehow I don’t think he’ll mind…

Winter’s Melancholy: Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu Review

•December 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I… I forgive you, Kyoto Animation.

I was amongst those that felt that season 2 of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu was something of a travesty. The character design change irked us (too damn cutesy), and the eight episode long “Endless Eight” Groundhog’s Day arc was… unbelievably bothersome. At one episode a week, that was two straight months of the same plot run over and over again – and, no, animating each of them from scratch did nothing to lessen the absurdity of it all.

But this makes up for it. In fact, this… this is the perfect capstone to the entire series.

Don’t make another episode. Don’t make another special. Let it stop here, amidst the snowdrifts of a late winter’s evening. Let it end with “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya,” because there can be no better, no more beautiful an end.

Continue reading ‘Winter’s Melancholy: Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu Review’

Thin As A Silicon Wafer: Tron Legacy Review

•December 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Don’t get me wrong – I liked Tron: Legacy. I even liked it as a 3D spectacle, and I actually do not like the industry’s faddish usage of 3D all that much. It does help that the film was deliberately optimized for the platform, even learning a few key lessons from James Cameron’s “Avatar” (ie: focal points – don’t fuck with ’em).

But a 3D spectacle was all it was.

It’s a popcorn film. It may very well be the Popcorn Film of 2010. I would not be terribly surprised if it won some major technical awards – the film is jaw-droppingly pretty, just oozing with style and glamor. Packed with a rather… different flavor of Daft Punk than DP’s fans are used to (they take many, many cues from Hans Zimmer, and the film is all the better for it), and you have a visual and audio extravaganza that does an excellent job of ending the 2010 movie year on a high technical note.

It’s just that there was barely any story into it.

Oh, sure. AI revolt, father/son relationships, etc. There was some plot to it. But mostly there were lost opportunities. More commentary on big software corporations and the punks that hack them; more to do with “clean” and “scruffy” AIs. Or even just some demonstration of why it matters that there’s self-developing AI. Actually, more demonstration and less talk would go a long ways. A significant part of the film is spent talking about, rather than showing, the things that drive what scant plot exists.

There was basically just enough plot to make the movie cohesive. And not a whit more.

That’s fine, quite frankly. Not every movie needs to be a nuanced discourse on the human condition. Some films might even suffer from it. Arguably, if Tron: Legacy tried too hard, it would’ve just been unfavorably compared to the Matrix – and it wasn’t as if the original had much substance to back its then-cutting-edge style either. Tron: Legacy is enormously enjoyable even without it, and I fully encourage anybody still waffling on whether or not to see it to go ahead and plunk down the extra $5 for the 3D version – you’ll be quite happy you did, especially when it comes to the lightcycle combat.

I just find it a bit regretful that the potential shown in the film’s going to be left to the fanfiction writers.

HOT RODS & HYDROGEN BOMBS: Redline Review

•December 10, 2010 • 2 Comments

Movie Poster

There are movies you watch for the thought-provoking narrative, the nuanced dialogue and the humanistic characters. Movies you watch because of the masterful emotional responses it elicits from you; the virtuoso symphony and weave of color and sound. Movies that are important in that barely describable, intangible sense that is nonetheless close to the core of human nature.

And then there are movies that are important because they’re a pure fucking joy to watch.

Welcome to the Redline.

Continue reading ‘HOT RODS & HYDROGEN BOMBS: Redline Review’

Foxconn Creeps the Fuck Outta Me

•November 24, 2010 • 2 Comments

The news of Foxconn International Holdings’ various employee suicides are well-known already. It’s pretty old, even. It’s one of the most embarrassing events to China, regarding their economic ascension – but it’s just embarrassing to them. And, presumably, just embarrassing to the companies that they ship their products to.

Quite frankly, they make me shudder in disgust. But that may just be because I still have a few tattered remnants of a soul left in me – such obsolete sentiments like “justice,” “fairness,” and the long-since outdated “morality.” Things like harassing your visitors make me shudder – outright employee abuse makes me want to take a quick flight to China, talk to a friendly Triad type, and maybe gun down a few policy-setting executives. It’s one of those few actions where you know you’ll make the world a slightly better place.

As it is, I can at least boycott products and companies that utilize Foxconn-made components. Unfortunately, that’s quite a few of them – but I can at least try. I don’t have a complete list, but I know of the big ones, at least. If anybody out there knows where I can get a fuller list, if only to know the horrific extent of their tendrils of influence, I’d be grateful.

The companies in question are:

  • Apple, Inc (famously)
  • Cisco
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Nintendo
  • Nokia
  • Microsoft
  • Sony Ericsson

Yeah, you see how this might be a rather difficult boycott to do? Especially in Silicon Valley? But, dammit, Foxconn creeps me the fuck out.

I have a few acquaintances living in China right now. Here’s some anecdote from the East:

Expat: …although yesterday on the way to the (already incredibly creepy) Foxxconn plant, I saw the toll booth guards tear six people out of a Toyota Corolla and start beating the shit out of them. In the toll lane. On a six lane highway. In broad daylight.

Expat: Flextronics is apparently not in the habit of stripping visitors of all forms of identification and consumer electronics, and also not in the habit of searching cars and persons whenever they enter “Foxxconn Kingdom”, a building, a floor, or a particular office, and also not in the habit of waving guns in your face if you have an iPad in hand that’s clearly of some age without paperwork explicitly allowing you to take your own goddamn property off the plant presumably signed by God himself.

Expat: And also not in the habit of building a million-inhabitant company town of completely identical low flat Social Realist buildings, or specifically denying suicides that may or may not have occured there.

Expat: Have I mentioned this is how they treat visitors.

Expat: I cannot imagine what kind of living hell it is for their employees.

Expat: Or, speaking properly, serfs.

Expat: As I said at the time. “I’ve faced down PSB guys and bluffed my way out without a passport. I’ve crossed the Laotian, Thai, Hong Kong and Canadian borders. I’ve flown through American airports. Foxxconn is worse than all of those.”

Expat: I’ve mentioned that Shenzhen reminds me of a cyberpunk city, like LA in Blade Runner or Chiba in Neuromancer. Visiting the Foxxconn plant made me feel glad to be home.

Expat: So, yeah. Sorry for going off on Foxxconn there.

Expat: They fucking deserve it and scare the crap out of me.

Expat: As near as I can tell, they are literally a cyberpunk-style cradle-to-grave zaibatsu.

 

I’ll grant you that this is all anecdotal. But the expatriate mentioned has no real reason to lie to me about Foxconn’s… unpleasantries, let’s call it. And isn’t invested in Flextronic himself (if he can even afford to invest in anything other than a plane ticket home right now). How much of what’s implied in his statement is anybody’s guess.

But amongst this thick haze of innuendo and dark whispers, you really have to ask yourself: do we really want to do business with these people?

Is it really necessary?