Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Most Racist Field-Trip EVER

"Modern Family"

So ephemeral and I were casting about for a television series to waste our time with so as to be somewhat in the pop culture loop and I'd heard good things about "Modern Family" (it being a gay-friendly show with two married, adoptive gay parents).

I have to admit that in that respect it's mostly okay. (Although the gay couple do more bickering and fighting than the other two families.) But I notice that, once again, American television networks have made a television series populated by individuals who earn something like salaries in the top 15% of earners. (Plus the super-rich father character played by Ed O'Neil.)

They do this because advertisers want to reach that demographic, so networks make shows that appeal to that demographic. The rest of us can strive to mimic their lifestyle if we want, but as far as advertisers are concerned, we're dweebs and geeks compared to the cool kids in a high-school pecking order.

Totally unrealistic. And the episode where the real-estate agent dad who wants some smartphone on the first day? Sickening product placement.

There's a little bit of cultural chauvinism in the show, but some of it appears to be self-mocking, so I give that a pass (mostly).

Here's some stuff:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Teddy Ruxpin & Divorced Dads

I have two sons. One is 20 the other is 5. When my first son was around 5 he ended up with a second-hand book from Teddy Ruxpin adventures. Teddy Ruxpin had been some cheesy toy from the mid-1980s. A battery-operated talking bear. Ronald Reagan's deregulation of advertising had allowed toy companies to create products and essentially market them with accompanying cartoon series (see: "Consuming Kids" for more information.)

When I was in college, some of the other lads in my class came up with putting a pornographic cassette tape inside a Teddy Ruxpin doll, giving him a cavalcade of filthy and erotic phrases to say. I still remember Chad coming up with the closer for the commercial:

"Teddy Ruxpin; he'll take you to your limits, and then he'll take you beyond ...." (And then there was to be a close-up shot of Ruxpin's face with his eyes rolling back inside his head.)

Ahem. Anyway, ... so my first son had this book and then it was still sitting on the shelf when my newest came around. So we read it. (He thinks the scribbles on one page that were there when we got it were done by him!) Then, YouTube comes along and, knowing that Teddy Ruxpin (the toy) isn't a threat anymore, I decide to look for the Teddy Ruxpin cartoon for him to watch. The cartoons were made in the late-1980s to accompany the marketing campaign for the toy.

They're actually okay, if you're not hoping for much. The story lines are coherent, the writing has a few jokes for the parents, enh, there are worse ways to entertain the 3 to 4 year old crowd.

But one thing I noticed is that someone involved in the plotting and writing has a lot of issues with the sufferings of absent fathers. It turns out that old Teddy Ruxpin himself was raised by his mother (and a wonderful job she did!) because his father was an explorer who disappeared when he was a toddler. It turns out his father's memory had been erased after he was captured by the bad guys. He escaped from the Ying Zoo and fled to an island in the middle of Leekee Lake where he's referred to by the locals as a mysterious hermit. (He hides from other creatures and they only see him occasionally.) Him and Teddy end up together and develop a friendship before either of them figure out their real relationship to each other.

Eventually, he gets his memory back. The family is reunited and there are celebratory songs sung about "Teddy and his dad."

That storyline on its own wouldn't have made me think about the subtext of divorced dads who miss their kids. But, combined with the story of Jack W. Tweeg (Teddy's more bumbling nemesis) it's kinda hard to miss.

Jack W. Tweeg is a half-Troll half-Grunge who lives in a tower with his monstrous henchmen (Bounders) and who is trying to perfect a futile recipe to turn buttermilk into gold. He is also jealous of the genuine inventor Newton Gimmik and tries to steal his plans and his discoveries. Here's the thing; Tweeg's mother is the troll side of him. She kicked out Tweeg's surf-grunge father when Tweeg was just an infant. Tweeg is pathetically devoted to trying to please his mother by being evil and rotten (as she is). It's his mother who signs him up for M.A.V.O. (the "Monsters and Villains Organization) which ends up causing him no end of trouble as they have onerous membership dues and compel their members to lie, cheat and steal in a bigger way than Tweeg is capable of doing.

When Tweeg meets his surf-Grunge (as in a surfing champion) father, he begins to feel relaxed for the first time in his life. His father teaches him to surf and Tweeg (after some initial mistakes) turns out to finally have a talent for something, and, even better, a talent for something that isn't scuzzy. But when Tweeg sees that his father has a collection of gold coins, his mother's training kicks in and he tries to steal it. He despises himself for what he's doing and then his father catches him. Tweeg ashamedly gives it back and slinks away. His father muses about how he's not mad but disappointed and how he would have simply given him the gold if he'd only been asked. He didn't care about it. There's a chance that he could call Tweeg back but he either waits a little too late or Tweeg simply can't face him anymore.

It's interesting watching this adult subtext in this show for wee tykes.

What's the point of this post? None. I blog because I'm a narcissist.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Westboro Baptist Church

So, last night we watched "The Most Hated Family in America" and, no surprise, I was appalled.

Now, I don't think that I was expecting any profound insights from a church with the slogan "God Hates Fags" as its main message. I was just surprised at what an uncharismatic, hollow, empty shell of nothingness that the cult's patriarch, Fred Phelps was.

In the whole show, Louis Theroux gets to speak with Fred Phelps twice. The first time, it's just after Theroux introduces us to a member of the cult who had, like Theroux, come as a documentary filmmaker to observe the Phelps family. This guy says that he'd been an atheist libertarian who had believed he was a genius who knew everything, but who came under Fred Phelps' sway due to his powerful mastery of scripture.

So, we see Fred Phelps make a crappy internet sermon where he calls that other Christian huckster, mega-preacher whatsisface, Billy Graham as a false preacher and a fag enabler. Then Theroux gets to talk to Phelps and asks him how many children he has. Theroux wanted to see if Phelps would give the number of his biological children or the number of children who are still in the church and excluding those who had left. Phelps calls his question stupid as does the ex-libertarian and the both berate Theroux for failing to take the opportunity to ask him about important theological stuff.

The second time, Phelps comes into his family's wacky chapel and delivers a shitty sermon about how God tricked bush II into starting the Iraq War so that the USA could get its ass kicked for being a fag-loving nation. Afterwards, Phelps grudgingly gives Theroux five minutes of his time, only to again call Theroux's innocuous opening questions "stupid" and then bluster his way out of answering anything else.

It was clear to me that this is a guy who is truly uncomfortable with having to think on his feet. A stupid, shallow man. Somehow, this white, Christian male found a stupid certainty in Christian dogma and set himself up as an authority to the only people who would ever listen to him: the children who he could brainwash at his leisure. Now he's the master of his own little kingdom and as long as he doesn't stray from its cozy confines, he'll continue to be the boss. He probably couldn't think his way through a night-shift as a security guard in the real world.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tim & Eric Interview

I've only watched 3 minutes of this so far, but it looks really good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hockey Royalty

So, back when they were saying there might not be a hockey season, I was sitting near two elderly ladies. One of them said she'd be glad if there was no hockey season. She hated it and she thought it was stupid. Then she started talking about Prince William's marriage with so-and-so (I forget).

Oh well.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oh That Miley!!

She's doing something. Or something. And she did something to her look.

Oh yeah. And 10 years ago, Colin Powell helped lie the USA into a war against a country that never attacked the USA and over a million Iraqis are dead as a result.

[Please note. I have nothing against Miley Cyrus. She's just a celebrity I picked at random to blather about when I was feeling hopeless once. I certainly don't hold her to blame for the invasion of Iraq.]

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stalin Documentary

A  monster yes. It's somewhat surreal watching Madeleine Albright and Zbigniew Brzezinski talking about his crimes though.
Such a world.

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Assange Journey

Wikileaks, headed by Julian Assange, revealed the hideous atrocities of the USA in Iraq and elsewhere.

Right on cue, the liberal corporate media went into its traditional (and stupid) attack mode. "Assange has blood on his hands!" said the blood-soaked US government, on the specious grounds that the leaks might have compromised some US quislings. "Assange has psychological problems!" brayed the media whores at the orders of their psychopathic masters.

Mainstream media and political figures called for the arrest, imprisonment, torture and execution of Assange for "treason" and other spittle-flecked ravings.

Then, Assange was accused of sexual assault in Sweden.

Then, CounterPunch hosted articles by a writer who said that one of Assange's accusers was CIA and that the charges were bogus. The Swedish prosecutor had an axe to grind and was twisting this in partnership with the USA in order to defame, discredit and destroy Assange.

I myself, upon reading the article referred to the charges as "bogus."

That made female participants on the discussion board EnMasse uncomfortable and they told me so. I apologized but tried to say why I felt the way I did in this particular case of what seemed "he said, she said."

It turned out that the CounterPunch writer was a sexist, anti-Semitic nutbar.

It also turned out that some of the details as presented by him, turned out to be true, revealing murky abuses of process by the Swedes.

Assange was questioned. Released. The charges were re-opened. He asked to be interviewed again. He was met with silly delays. He went to England. The Swedes called for his arrest and extradition to Sweden.

Assange's charges eventually became crystallized as his having had sex with one woman that at least began when she had been sleeping and not having used a condom (when this had been requested) with the other woman.

The response of some male defenders of Assange (such as George Galloway who said that all he was guilty of was "bad sexual etiquette") rightly came in for condemnation.

The debate became "Is Assange in danger of being placed into diplomatic limbo and extradited to the USA for torture and permanent imprisonment, or is he a rapist who is using his celebrity status to avoid justice."

All this time, the charges against him appeared to me to be a "he said, she said" thing. I very much wanted Assange to be innocent. If only to spit in the eye of the imperialists. There was enough bizarre behaviour on the part of the Swedes to make the idea of a plot against him sound plausible.  If he was rendered into the hands of the US government, we'd never hear about the sexual assault charges anyway.

I didn't know that in his statement to the British court against his extradition to Sweden (which he lost) that Assange admitted to the charges against him, which (as you'll see) are much worse than "bad sexual etiquette." Assange does not contest raping those women. He only (stupidly) argues that since they submitted, it became consensual.

Emmerson went on to provide accounts of the two encounters in question which granted — at least for the purposes of today’s hearing — the validity of Assange’s accusers’ central claims. He described Assange as penetrating one woman while she slept without a condom, in defiance of her previously expressed wishes, before arguing that because she subsequently “consented to … continuation” of the act of intercourse, the incident as a whole must be taken as consensual.
In the other incident, in which Assange is alleged to have held a woman down against her will during a sexual encounter, Emmerson offered this summary: “[The complainant] was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her … [she] felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration … [she] tried several times to reach for a condom, which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. [She] says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly.”
As in the case of the first incident, Emmerson argues that subsequent consent renders the entire encounter consensual, and legal.
Assange might be a hero to some. But hero status is not a free pass to rape. All oppressions must be resisted. It's as simple as that. I said as much long ago.
Oppression is oppression is oppression. Whatever the roots of oppression: whether economic exploitation, or sexism, racism, militarism, or any other form of domination, they are to be targeted by the anarchist critique.
I am no longer a defender of Julian Assange in this matter.

Friday, February 1, 2013

thwap the Online "Activist"

For reasons that will be a big secret for now, the old thwapster thinks he's going to take an indefinite break from online "activism" I can't see wasting my time bloviating on the inter-toobz about how this or that atrocity is a shitty atrocity.

The phone lines are open though. You're free to submit your own suggestions as to how we might be able to actually change the general abysmal course of Canadian politics in actual meat-space. In the meantime:
See here and here.