Sarah Hoyt Reminds us Why “ChiCom” is a Lovely Slur We Should be Using More Of…

I really didn’t think the Drama(!) of this year’s Hugos could get any thicker. I thought they’d have their awards, and some Puppies would win, and some Puppies would lose, and everyone would claim victory, and I’d go right back to not caring about the Hugos.

Dear Sweet Lord, was I wrong. The Hugos have gone full lightning-rod.

An amid the fallout of everything, some maleducated nitwit decided to have a go at Sarah Hoyt for the use of the word “ChiCom”. Which is a Cold War abbreviation of Chinese Communists, one that has fallen into unuse since Nixon went to China and the Cold War ended.

It is of course great fun to point out the massive idiocy that assumes “ChiCom” must be racist because it refers to Chinese people. There’s enough layers of historical and linguistic ignorance to make a tiramisu. But far better than that is the useful reminder of how irretrievably wicked the Maoist regime was (is?). Which you will find if you click the link. Orwell’s worst fantasy’s had their expression during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and Hitler’s Holocaust was exceeded nearly by an order of magnitude. But we ignore all of this for the same reason we ignored Stalin during the Second World War – it was useful to do so.

So I’m planning on throwing “ChiCom” around a lot. For the lulz, as it were.


B.B. King, Zero 7 and Jupiter One: Music Links for the Weekend.

A Study has confirmed what we already know to be true: We stop caring about popular music sometime in our thirties. Men drop out faster than women do, apparently.
Which means the last band I got into will probably be the Black Keys. I’m okay with that.

B.B. King, RIP. His first recording was in 1949:

Looks like I’ll be listening to Live at the Regal sometime this weekend.

They let you make any old stuff on the YooToobz. I was farting around with Google+ yesterday, because Facebook is getting increasingly on my nerves. That led to farting around on my YouTube channel, and in the space of about an hour, I made two videos. The first was done with my laptop’s MovieMaker, using any old images I happened to have on hand, with a Zero 7 tune from my iTunes as audio:

The second I made entirely on YouTube, using b-roll footage and music that was under their Creative Commons License. I slapped some filters on it, timed the transitions to shifts in the music, and Voila:

The band is called Jupiter One. It has a nice feel to it. I don’t know why it’s called “Riot”, but it is. Enjoy.

Why Aging Tommen doesn’t Bother Me: A Game of Thrones Pondering

There’s a nice fat Tumblr post here serving up all the dudgeon about the fact that the show version of Tommen Baratheon has been aged-up sufficiently to consummate his marriage with Margarey Tyrell (in the books, Tommen is only eight at the time of his succession, and so Margarey manipulates him in other ways). The gist:

So we’ve got a thirteen-year-old and an adult in her mid-twenties, having sex. Having sex as a means for the adult to coerce and manipulate the child.

This is abusive.

I’m not going to waste my time arguing about statutory rape, or plain old rape, or sexual abuse, or the difference between those terms or their applicability to this situation, because it really doesn’t matter. No matter what you call it, this situation is CLEARLY not an healthy expression of sexuality and it’s CLEARLY a case of a character, a child character, being exploited.

I don’t want to make light of child abuse, but I feel a strong need to explain why few of us are bothered by this, at least, not in the way this writer is. Yes, on every level, Margarey and Tommen’s relationship is unequal. And negative consequences will proceed therefrom. But here’s why I’m not worked up over it:

  1. This is exactly what happend to Danaerys. Dany was a child-ish bride, too; married off at her brother’s order to a man of an alien culture who cared very little about her at the time of their wedding. It was a relationship of unequals, and it was physically much rougher than Margarey and Tommen. In other words, the show established early on that in this world, this sort of thing simply happens (as it did in the medieval world it’s based on, when royal children were considered old enough much earlier). It’s hard to start making Strong Principled Objections at this point.
  2. Tommen gets manipulated either way. I know it seems infintely worse to manipulate an adolescent with coitus than to manipulate a boy with kittens, but in either case, Tommen is a child-king stuck between two queens, both of him want to keep him under their thumb so they can rule in his name. In either case, a minor is having his feelings used to to exploit him. Sure, one is sexual and one is not. The difference is not small, making the question “But why switch from giving a child kittens to sleeping with a young teen?” a legitimate one. But here’s some insight into that…
  3. Tommen Baratheon is DOOMED.  “Gold shall be their crowns, and gold their shrouds…” There’s more than enough evidence in the books to suggest that Tommen will not live to see manhood, that he will die horribly (my money’s on being devoured by Viserion. Why Viserion? Seems right somehow), probably in his mother’s presence. There have been very few bright spots in Tommen’s life. He lost his “father” at a young age, was abused by his brother, watched that same brother die at his own wedding, and is now a King in name only, being pushed about by his elders, and he’s regarded as either an abomination or a usurper by his remaining rivals through no fault of his own. He had thus far displayed no capacity for even understanding his political situation, let alone dealing with it.

Consequently, when I saw the marriage-consummation scene, my thought was, “well, at least he gets to have this.” One moment of happiness, one moment of enjoying being king, before all the forces arrayed against him slowly, and then quickly, tear him to pieces.

Horror Movies: A Mood, or a Series of Tropes?

Since Scream, there’s been an expectation of a certain level of meta-horror film, a film that turns the tropes upside down. Parodies of the genre have become almost old hat.

Films like Cabin in the Woods and Funny Games are of a piece with this idea, that the “genre is dead” and that deconstruction is necessary and possible, that we can talk our way out of this.

Nope. The essential message of Cabin in the Woods is that we enjoy visiting false visions of terror onto ourselves, in order to stave off the real thing. And while it’s useful to ruminate on why that happens, ultimately it defies explanation.

For example, I recently put Wolfcop into my Netflix list. I don’t remember doing that, and when I spotted it there when flipping through the list with my wife one evening when the kids were in bed. We both vigorously denied having put it in the list before deciding to watch it.

It was precisely what we expected: a rather silly, but competently shot B-movie. We both enjoyed it. And while the script had a couple of MST3K-level moments (wife: “Apparently everything happens in the local honky-tonk at 10:30 in the morning.”), we were more impressed with the visual mood the film created when it was moving from plot point to plot point. What it lacked in script it made up in cinematography and mood.

A sense of doom and foreboding is not something civilization loses. Horror is a means of dealing with it. It will always have an audience, no matter how earnestly nerds intone otherwise.

Nigeria Army Rescues 200 Girls and 93 women from Boko Haram


Unexpected good news is the best kind….

Originally posted on American Infidels:

By Ben Ariel
Soldiers from multinational force fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria
Soldiers from multinational force fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria

Nigeria’s army has rescued 200 girls and 93 women during a military operation to wrest back the Sambisa Forest from the Boko Haram Islamist terrorist group, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

“Troops this afternoon rescued 200 girls and 93 women from Sambisa Forest. We cannot confirm if the Chibok girls are in this group,” the army said on Tuesday, adding Nigerian troops had also destroyed three camps run by the terrorists there.

Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls near the northern village of Chibok in April 2014, causing an international outcry.

Diplomats and intelligence officials say they believed at least some of the girls were being held in the forest about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Chibok, although U.S. reconnaissance drones failed to find them.

Nigerian forces backed by warplanes invaded the vast former colonial…

View original 137 more words

The Game of Thrones Celebration Post de Jeur

It’s such fun as a cord-cutter, having HBONow, watching GoT like a real show, instead of bingeing it a year later.

It’s also sort of fun as a book-reader, now that small divergences are leading to major divergences. Pretty much all of Brienne and Podrick’s current arc did not happen in the books, and this is largely due to a certain character no longer being present. Jaime and Bronn’s current show arc didn’t happen in the books. Sansa and Littlefinger’s arc may bear some rough estimate to what happens in TWOW, but I’ll have to wait until next year to know. I’ve stopped minding this and decided to enjoy the surprise of it.

So we’ve got stuff from the fourth book and stuff from the fifth book, which are supposed to run concurrently, getting possibly overtaken by stuff from the sixth book, which isn’t published yet.


It’s also fun to completely nerd out with deep, New Criticism-level readings of the existing books. If you’re the sort of person who’s ever thought the words “Game of Thrones? You Mean ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’?” then you should definitely check out A Winterfell Huis Clos, which analyzes the Winterfell scenes from A Dance With Dragons.  Just be prepared to hand in your nerd card, because this guy has out-nerded us all. The layers of meaning and the significance of minor characters we don’t even recall will Keanu your mind.

As it Turns Out, People In Jail Commit Real Crimes

McArdle on not being stupid about de-incarceration:

We’re hampered by the rampant perception that all we need is to wise up and stop incarcerating people for simply possessing drugs, something many of us feel shouldn’t be a crime at all and certainly shouldn’t merit prison time. At the event I attended, someone who has actually studied the matter closely pointed out what experts know and most journalists apparently don’t: Relatively few people are in prison for simple possession or for other minor crimes. The shock in the room was palpable.

Yup. As it turns out, the U.S. has a violence problem, and that violence problem drives the desire to build prisons, as anyone who was paying attention during the 1980’s and 1990’s, when the three-strikes, mandatory-sentencing laws were put in place, should remember.

So what is to be done?

We have the tools to incarcerate less — maybe not down to western European levels, but much less than we do. Those tools include “swift and certain” programs such as HOPE and 24/7 Sobriety, which use monitoring and small but immediate punishments to reduce the rate of reoffense. They also include GPS ankle monitors, which enable law enforcement to keep offenders off the streets during high-crime hours while still enabling them to be home with their families or commuting to a job.

This has a level of creepiness to it, in a Big Brother/Minority Report kind of way. But it’s still not as bad as prison. And if it works, we should take a shot at it. Otherwise, we should expect more of the same.