media

Thoughts on Ed Champion and his Detractors

So Salon.com, one of the three heads--along with tumblr and jezebel.com-- of the cerberus guarding the left wing of the outrage porn industrial complex, has published a hit piece on Ed Champion over some nonsense flame war crap between him and some people who dont like him. Im not going to link to it, because linking to outrage pornographers only encourages them, but you can probably find it if you want to read it. I suggest you pass, you wont be missing anything.

I honestly dont know whats going on with Ed or what the whole mess is really all about. I dont really much care about any of that. Near as i can gather, the current mess is a rolling boil that got started when Ed pointed out in a detailed essay this summer (of 2014) that author and editor Emily Gould sucks. That this was news to anybody, or that any one would be shocked to discover someone holds such an opinion of Emily Gould, is moderately surprising. I was previously under the impression that the conclusion that "Gould sucks" was the inevitable result encounter with her media output. See, for example, this video of Gould being insipid across the table from Jimmy Kimmel doing a Larry King impression on CNN 7 years ago: http://youtu.be/2-avakrRUaU I also understand shes engaged to the guy from n+1. And i mean, what more do you need.

ETA 8:12 PM PDT: iI mention this because I see an element of hypocrisy in a group of insiders rallying to the defense of a person who has grown her own career through the exploitation and criticism of celebrities. Why is it okay for Gawker to post whatever it hears about celebrities and post libelous pictures of them but it isnt okay to excoriate the author of a book who works hard building her own celebrity based on such yellow journalism? I would suggest, strongly, that it isn't; the people engaged in it, particularly the ones at significant publications, should be ashamed of themselves

Open Letter To Lawrence O'Donnell

Dear Lawrence O'Donnell,

I have been a regular watcher of the last word with Lawrence O'Donnell since it first came on the air. I have found your unapologetically left wing views on any number of subjects refreshing and insightful. But after the show on Monday March 26, I feel like I will be unable to watch in the future. For me, you have damaged your credibility and lost the moral high ground that you once possessed as a result of taking principled positions on issues based on facts and passionate advocacy.

I recognize that the Last Word is more an opinion show than a news program, but that doesn't alleviate your responsibility either to get the facts right or to be respectful of areas where the facts are not known. Your treatment of a lawyer engaged in representing his client, making personal attacks and challenges to his character for presenting his client's version of events, and of a journalist who reported a story you did not like, by misrepresenting her story as presenting as fact what were clearly flagged as reports from a law enforcement source in the story, were unprofessional and tacky. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I have followed the Trayvon Martin case closely since it first came to my attention a couple of weeks ago, and I am very dismayed by much about the case. I'm saddened that a young man can be viewed as suspicious and killed because of his race and attire. I find the application of Florida's stand your ground gun law horrific. My heart breaks for Mr. Martin's parents and I am furious at the apparent ineptitude of the Sanford Police department to conduct a reasonable and professional investigation of the shooting culminating with the arrest and charging of George Zimmerman. And I am sincerely disturbed that the issue has been drawn into yet another left/right crypto-racist condemnation of the President and liberalism by the despicable likes of Newt Gingrich and the right wing press.

Rebranding the Filibuster

So, the senate is broken. Long gone are the days of Jimmy Stewart valiantly seizing the floor of the Senate to oppose corruption in Mr. Smith goes to washington. The fact of the matter is that the filibuster is a bad rule, it has always been a bad rule, and it is time for it to die. The House of Representatives gets by just fine without a filibuster. The history of the filibuster is rife with abuses, such as Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats famously reading the contents of a DC phone book into the congressional record in order to block civil rights legislation aimed at ending Jim Crow. Rachel Maddow thinks that what the campaign to kill the filibuster really needs is a rebranding. I tend to agree. It's a complex parliamentary rule that the Senate can change if it wants to quite easily, but nobody really understands it and it sounds weird.

I think the British have the right idea here. Their parliament can use what's called a "guillotine motion" to cut off a debate when opponents to legislation that will pass an up or down vote resort to the kind of delaying tactics currently being abused by the Republicans in the US Senate. Rather than talking about ending the filibuster, it's time we gave the Senate a sharper guillotine to cut of the heads of Republican obstruction tactics.

Go vote for my suggestion here:

http://msnbc.newsvine.com/_question/2010/02/12/3888141-the-filibuster-challenge?pc=20&sp=2620#c12346439

A Real Solution to the Piracy Problem

Given that I recently went off on a bit of a rant about Cory Doctorow and his repeated failure to propose a workable solution for the problem of online piracy, I thought I would take a few minutes and suggest a possible solution that I think makes a bit of sense and wouldn't be that hard to institute. It has the benefit of also being a solution that fits with Bono's criticism of piracy that Doctorow used as his jumping off point on Twitter for his usual mindlessly didactic self-repetition.

The fact of the matter is that copyright of certain kinds of intellectual property is complicated. It is particularly complicated for music and with the rise of DVD sales and streaming video on the internet is poised to become much more complicated for visual media as well.

Why I Hate Cory Doctorow

First, yes I've read his books. Well, some of them. Well, part of one of them. I got fed up and stopped because it was stupid and poorly written. But that's neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that I hate Cory Doctorow, I hate Boing Boing, and it's time somebody called Doctorow and his cohort of yes-men what they are: a bunch of assholes.

Normally it's not something that I feel like wasting too much time on, the hate of all things Doctorow. I mean, live and let live, right? If people want to waste their time on his weird brand of egomania, that's fine. I'm not going to worry about it. Just like I don't worry about that douchebag from Wired who wrote the Longtail book justifying the hegemony of global capital or nutjob libertarians like Eric S. Raymond advocating for creepy lifestyles dedicated to polyamory, computer programming, and owning guns. By and large the creme de la creme of geek nobility are fairly safely ignored. Although I have written elsewhere of the danger of confusing "geek chic" with "being cool," usually these people are no threat to anyone or anything I care about because the things they care about (file-sharing, Linux, web pornography, SF fandom, memorizing monty python sketches) are not things that I give a damn about one way or another. Occasionally tho, these people cross over into my real world life and I'm reminded that they are out there, festering, and are even occasionally presenting the danger of being taken seriously by real people. That, my friends, is a possibility I find absolutely intolerable and so am setting aside my usual Laissez Faire approach to The Doctorow Problem to outline in detail why it is that I can't fucking stand the the man.

Starfuckers Inc.

On the issue of Roman Polanksi:

First off, let me just say that this post is inspired primarily by the gaggle of idiot starfuckers defending Roman Polanski on the usually much more sane Huffington Post. I wouldn't feel so compelled to say something about this if it wasn't becoming quite clear that there is a sizable and perhaps growing constituency of starfuckers in the wider world who are willing to accept all manner of innuendo and half truth in the defense of Polanski. As best I can tell there are three basic arguments that are being advanced to excuse Polanski:

1.) He had a hard life/He's Paid his Debt/The Victim Has Forgiven Him/Time to Move on

2.) He's made some great movies and doesn't that count for something.

and most pernicious of all

3.) The girl lied about her age, her mom put her up to it, didn't you see what she was wearing, she totally was asking for it

I intend to take each argument in turn and demonstrate why it's ridiculous. In so doing, I hope to show that all of this ultimately just boils down to the cancerous crypto-starfuckery that plagues American culture.

The Facts
In 1977, Roman Polanski plied a thirteen year old girl with drugs and alcohol, photographed her in the nude, committed an oral sex act on her without her consent, then repeatedly raped her vaginally and anally. These are the facts entered into evidence by the prosecution against him as can be read in the victim's deposition taken at the time. Smokinggun.com has done the public service of posting the relevant portion of the grand jury testimony as a PDF here.

The Minority View

Just for the record, on 9-11-2001, eight years ago today, a bunch of religious nuts flew airplanes into buildings in the united states and crashed one plane in a field somewhere in pennsylvania.

Today, eight years later, the world is the same as it was on september 10th 2001 with the following exceptions:

1.) Air Travel is a much bigger pain in the ass than it used to be

2.) roughly 10,000 americans have died who might not have otherwise.

3.) The US has further pissed off the folks in the middle east by waging a war in Iraq for going on six years now, and has still failed to put down the dogs who supported the attackers 8 years ago in Afghanistan.

4.) roughly a million iraqis and afghans have died who might not have otherwise.

5.) lots of assholes are using the eleventh of september and the deaths of all those people to advance their political cause

6.) we all have to spend the eleventh of september talking about how we felt about it.

I remember how I felt about it. It was horrifying. It was beautiful. I couldn't look away. The attack was an act that was awesome, revolting, compelling, brutal, despicable, unfathomable, moving, and many other things.

I remember how I felt afterward, as we got done mourning the loss of innocent life as all around me came a rising tide of jingoism.

I remember how disgusting it was to see the terror my fellow citizens felt turn them into mindless flagwaving drones of an overreaching government hell bent on turning the tragedy of September 11th into a vehicle for it's own twisted political agenda.

Now, finally, I think we're back to normal.

In two years it will be the tenth anniversary.

After that I hope we don't have to talk about it again for a good long while.

Go Buy

in

The complete Bat Segundo show DVD's. Every show from Mr. Segundo, a mere $50.

Genre Fiction, Best Of and Media

Michael Peterson's latest comics column in The House Next Door, which is a fascinating analysis of comics as cartography, contains this aside:

The Best American Comics was established three years ago as a counterpart to other "Best American" collections of prose writing and has largely maintained the same roster of talent in each annual edition.

...

I was digging through some old notes in preparation for this installment on an especially bitter night in 2005, after attending a gallery opening here in Chicago hosted by cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, editor of a Yale anthology of comics very similar to the "Best American" books. The gallery featured the same few folks; I hurled out some invective that evening, some of which I'm inclined to retract and some of which is still true today:

Brunetti is part of that society of cartoonists that holds our most public faces—Spiegelman and Ware, Chester Brown and Seth and Joe Matt, Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine and the rest of those who hold Schultz and Crumb as the binary star which we should orbit. They're the ones that sit at the Big Kids Table, and at this point, we're resigned to it. They're married to our roots in the daily and Sunday strips, and for many, that form is what informs their every creation, a view that cannot be disentangled. The comic book as a unit is the stuff of old pulps. To stray too far into genre territory, other than as an ironic metaphor, is to obfuscate your message and resign yourself to obscurity.

This all reminded me quite a lot of my own questioning of genre's acceptance by the mainstream critical world. After all this site was practically founded as a reaction to the predominance of quotidian, autobiographical, realist fiction in the "literary" world, exactly the kind of fiction that dominates both the Best American Comics and (usually) the Best American Short Stories anthologies.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the critical estimation of works in verious media, as judged by some well-known "best of" lists.