Sunday, October 24, 2010


Nearly forgot I ever made this thing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Drugs, Redux

In light of the whole Michael Phelps brouhaha, I'm going to rehash (heh) my feelings on marijuana once more. The way I see it, there's two major problematic things with the way this all is going down:

1.) A 23-year-old smoked pot. Stop the fucking presses. Steroids or anything that's actually performance-enhancing would be a real, newsworthy issue, sure... but pot, in the off season no less, really shouldn't be seen as a career-ending moral failing or whatever. He's a spectacular athlete, and by every account I've ever heard a fairly stand-up guy; all that was true BEFORE this debacle and it's still true NOW. As far as bad behavior by role models goes, this one's pretty tame. Moral panic is, as usual, uncalled for.

2.) There's no mention anywhere in this of prosecution. Now, don't get me wrong, I certainly don't WANT Phelps to be prosecuted for pot use, as that would turn silly brouhaha into flat-out tragedy and farce. But, the fact that it's nowhere near the table highlights the point of my previous post: pot prosecution is entirely discretionary, and the discretionary habits of prosecutors follow the classical lines of privilege. Famous white dude gets different treatment than a poor black dude would. And that's fucked up.

Monday, February 2, 2009

On Hitchens

I'm generally at odds with nearly everything that comes out of Christopher Hitchen's mouth, except his thoughts on atheism (and even then, there's some disagreement). However, there's two things, two very important things, that I will give him credit for.

1.) When unequivocally smacked upside the head by reality, he will publicly, openly, and loudly admit that he was wrong. Witness his advocation for restraint and lack of torture after himself being waterboarded, a departure from his general hawkishness in the Iraq war. Witness also his realization that the more hawkish candidate in the US was just not running a serious campaign after the selection of Palin.

2.) He's a smarter bloke than his dumbass brother.

(I'm permalinking to what is currently his latest blather, but a glance through the archive tells me there normally should be stupidity a-plenty on his front page on the Daily Fail.)


So, I'm a San Diegan. We lost to the Steelers a coupla weeks back. I spent 5 goddamn years in Central PA with both Eagles and Steelers fans, which instilled in me a mile-wide streak of contrarianism (I also root for the Red Sox as well as the Padres... here in NYC). So, while I care little and less about AZ, I had, had, HAD to root against those #%#@%$@ Steelers.

If I put aside my tribalism for a second, I have to admit... holy crap, they deserved this. Much as I would have been all happily schadenfreudey if they hadn't gotten that twinkletoes touchdown, and lost by less than that challenged-and-overturned TD->Field Goal thing in the first half... that was a good game, they were the better team, and they deserved it just for that run by a man who was obviously not built to run, but, perhaps... was born to run.

Oh, and the halftime show was fucking awesome. Bruce's rocked a few shows before, that much was obvious from the first words out of his mouth. Though the attack-a-camera-with-your-crotch move was a little much...

And now we get to the things I really wanted to talk about this morning. Commercials! Some of the commercials were pretty darn good, some were meh, and some were just plain facepalm. So, without further ado, here were some of the ads I found most memorable, and my reactions to them:

Transformers 2: This gave me a tingly feeling in my lower bits.

Race to Witch Mountain: Well, this actually looks surprisingly good. Maybe they're NOT futzing with my childhood too badly this time.

Bridgestone: O! How delightfully clever and droll! Ms. Potato Head is a NAG! And then her mouth goes flying away! And Mr. Potato Head is pleased, although the angry eyes come out, but it's worth it because that annoying bitch is finally quiet! How edgy! How original! How my eyes hurt from rolling!

GoDaddy: Damn, I'm almost insulted more as a Comp Sci than as a woman. I certainly am much less inclined to buy their product. PROTIP: Insulting your potential market on several levels ("hey, you fat slob nerds just wanna look at nekkid hawt chicks all day!", "hey, no female geeks exist! If they do, they're weird and abnormal!") can actually lead to lower market share.

Budweiser: Hate your beer, but damned if the horsey commercials weren't awesome. Fetch the giant stick! A heartwarming story of immigration! The relentless pursuit of True Love, wherever it was taken to! All too fucking cute. :-)

Bud Light: Your commercials would be funny, if I could look past the fact that you're trying to make "our beer tastes like water!" into a SELLING point! "Drinkability" my ass!

Doritos: Argh! These were awesome, with that one exception! Why, yes, causing a woman to be naked and exposed in public is TEH FUN-NEE. It's not like, say, finding yourself naked in public is nightmare-worthy, or that she'd have trouble getting to where a change of clothes was, or that her day and schedule is absolutely ruined ten ways from Sunday... no, all that matters is that the dude saw hawt chick flesh. Bah.

Sobe: If I had to pick one commercial, this would probably be my favorite. The football-players-doing ballet was quirky, but didn't seemed played up for homophobia (although the gender narratives behind football and ballet contributed to the humor of incongruity, it almost seemed a subversion of it. But maybe I'm optimistic.), the lizards were cool, and it all kinda melded into a kaleidoscope of amusement and colors. Hmmm. In a bit, I'm gonna go search the internets to see how many David Icke fans FLIPPED THEIR FUCKING SHIT at the end with the human-reptilian shapeshifting thing.

Well, that's it for my reactions to the Bowl. Sigh... and now I gotta face all those Steelers fans I've talked shit to. Dammit!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


So, I was reading a Greenwald article over at Salon today. It's a good article, well worth the read, about some of the more facepalm-worthy aspects of our criminal justice system. His main point is how we have completely different levels of enforcement for the different classes in society. As part of this argument, he mentions the weirdness of our drug laws, particularly with regards to marijuana, and, well, that prompted me to go off on this tangent right here:

There is no goddamn reason marijuana should be illegal.

Now, I'm a bit of a social (not fiscal, though) libertarian, and I'm generally against government outright-banning of things that cause no harm to others. So, I'm in philosophical favor of pretty much all drugs being legal and subject to licensing, regulations, and quality control. But, I can certainly see an argument being made that coca-derivatives and opiates and especially meth cause enough damage to not be available to the citizenry. I don't *agree* with that argument, but there's a reasonably valid argument to be made.

That valid argument does not exist for marijuana.

Marijuana is far, far less toxic than either alcohol or tobacco, and quite possibly has less detrimental effects than caffiene does. It's also not chemically addictive, unlike tobacco or opiates. The high is obviously associated with lack of productivity during the period of effect, but, well, so is alcohol. Getting high also doesn't induce anywhere NEAR the level of violence (except to the food budget, of course) or other crazy-ass behavior that alcohol can. I love me my booze, and I homebrew when I can, but Demon Rum is far worse for society than Mary Jane is. Frankly, outside of moral panics, OMG DRUGS!!1! , and its association with "the wrong kinds of people" (read: brown, hippies, or both), I've never seen any reason it should be demonized at all.

I'd brought up this topic in class a few times, and gotten the weird-ass response of "well, but would you want your professors or fellow students showing up high? No! So we shouldn't legalize marijuana, or everyone will toke up all the time." This 'counter-argument' obviously ignores the general role of social mores and the threat of censure in policing behavior. After all, alcohol is legal, and yet (ok, except for around House Party Weekend) folks don't show up to class or work drunk. If they did, they'd be fired or kicked out of class or just generally shunned. If anything, being high would be *less* acceptable than being drunk, given the social hangups about it, while drinking is grandfathered in under centuries (or even millenia) of acceptability.

Oh, and to bring it back to Glenn's original point, marijuana criminalization is one of the issues that really does highlight class and racial divides in this country. It's illegal, and prosecutable, but most everybody (including cops) doesn't really thing of it as that bad. So, suppose you're a random teenager with a stash of pot that is somehow seen by a neighborhood cop. Whether you're arrested for that, or let off with a warning, is ENTIRELY due to that cop's reaction to you.

Are you a white, well-dressed, generally "All-American" (and what a messed-up descriptor THAT is) kid, perhaps relaxing after a rousing game of tag football in the park with your similarly middle-class friends? Well, maybe you go home with a warning. No sense messing up a good kid's life with a frivolous drug charge.

Are you brown or black, wearing "ghetto" clothes, maybe kinda "thug" looking, smoking a joint to finish off a pickup game of basketball? Urban decay! Moral failings of the youth of color! Zero tolerance, lest the menace engulf us all! Plus, that's just what you can be gotten on, obviously you're up to no good anyway, so it was just a matter of time. Good thing they got you in time.

Now, I've actually never had pot myself. This wasn't for lack of opportunity, or even really a lack of desire, but until this past year (and my GPA shooting to fuck and damnation) I had the ambition of working in national security, and didn't want to bother with the potential issues with getting clearance. But if I *had* taken a drag back in college, it would have been with the reasonable assumption that nobody would fucking care, even if folks in 'authority' knew. My bosses would *facepalm*, and maybe verbally smack me upside the head, but there'd be no real disciplinary action. The admins I knew in the housing office would pull strings to let me off with a warning. Lots of folks, obviously, don't have these assurances.

Ultimately, our drug laws are an excercise in hypocrisy. It's outlawed, but everybody does it. Everybody does it, but very few are prosecuted. Very few are prosecuted, but they get mandatroy minimum sentences. Holy fuck. This shit is insane!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let's try this thing again!

So, yeah. I'm a lazy fuck. It's been a while.

How 'bout that Inauguration, eh? :-D

Friday, April 18, 2008

Today in Pictures

From the BBC: "In Katmandu, Nepal, Tibetan nuns flee from pursuing police officers during a demonstration against Chinese rule in Tibet."

I'm completely unfamiliar with the immediate backstory of this image, and the quoted blurb is all the BBC provides. At first glance at least, though, I'm finding the image of (going out on a limb based on the whole Buddhist nun thing) unarmed female protesters versus masked, uniformed, male (from what I can make out, at least) soldiers to be a pretty powerful one. Thoughts?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

On Trolls

This post was inspired by a comment thread over at Shakesville (the actual post is unrelated, but also good). nightshift66 and Kate Harding questioned where, exactly, the trolling impulse comes from. I'm compiling and reposting my responses here.

Why do trolls go trolling?

Some trolls are True Believers, who want to spread their personal gospel. These tend to be argumentative, but don't purposefully try to be offensive (although they may well succeed at it unintentionally). Classic examples of these are ideologues of either conservative or liberal varieties that wander into the blogs of their enemies and proceed to wage war.

The majority, however, are simply doing it "for the lulz". There's a dark humor in getting people worked up over what amounts to (in the troll's mind) absolutely nothing, along with a general sense of power. Combine internet anonymity with a sense of entitlement, boredom, and aspects of internet culture that flat-out *encourage* doing nasty shite simply "for the lulz", and you get trolls. They're a small percentage of netizens in general, but their effect is... disproportionate.

I believe it's related to why I read and Fundies Say the Darndest Things. Humor can be found simply in watching people make fools of themselves, and the definition of "fools" is entirely subjective. I personally only watch free-range folly, along the lines of Kent Hovind's "arguments" against evolution and random cranks building ostensible warp drives, and eschew considering valid emotional responses as 'funny', but I can see how the same impulse can lead into trying to create such 'foolishness' in the form of just getting riled up in general.

This is why I love Shakesville's troll comment policy. Instead of responding to the troll, giving them the satisfaction of 'amusing' righteous anger, the troll's comment is rewritten and the ridicule is turned back on the troll. For example:
I eat my own poopy!

[This comment has been replaced by the moderators with a paraphrase as per the Shakesville Comment Policy.]

Part of the trolling impulse is also a half-immature, half-Forbidden Fruit response, where trolls are gleeful at saying inappropriate things purely because they are inappropriate. It's the same sort of humor as Dead Baby jokes, which are only funny insofar as they are completely horrible.

If anyone with a strong stomach (trigger warnings everywhere; NSFW by the love of Ceiling Cat; rape, racist, sexist, fatphobic, homophobic, you-freakin-name-it jokes abound) wants to observe trolls in their own habitat and hear their logic, the 'safest' way to do this is to go to the Encyclopedia Dramatica (Not Safe For Work, I tell you again!)** pages for "lulz" and "troll".

**I do give ED props in that they actually get and lambast (surprisingly enough, given their target audience of basement-dwelling internet nerds) the classic Nice Guy syndrome. But overall the site is very good at its goal, which is to reveal in exquisite, high-resolution detail the mindset, zeitgeist, and worldview of 'Anonymous'... which is a large collection of very, very sick fucks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The First Dorky Post

I went to the D&D eXperience convention and got to play 4th Edition, and at some point I'll blog about that. Short version: I had a good time, and liked the changes in 4.

This post, however, is about something about 3.5 which has bugged the everloving crap out of me since I rolled up my first character, a barbarian, 5 years ago.


Ok, let's talk about what your character does when, say, they're grappled or entangled. If they're a sneaksy one, they can use the Escape Artist check, related to Dexterity, and wiggle their way out. If they're a strong one, they can use a straight-up Strength check to force their way out. From a intuitive what-really-happens perspective, as well as from a game balance perspective, this makes perfect sense.

Now, then, say there's an NPC your party wants to get information out of. There are two ways to do this, Diplomacy and Intimidate. In an intuitive understanding of character actions, you'd expect the glib-talking high-charisma sorcerer to be good at Diplomacy, and the big-axed high-strength-and-constitution barbarian who doesn't need to say much to be good at Intimidate. You'd also expect that, from a game mechanics standpoint, one action would be easier for the sorcerer (ie, tied to Charisma) and the other would be easier for the Barbarian (ie, tied to Strength or Constitution).

You'd be wrong, of course. They're both tied to Charisma. So an exceptionally soft and squishy sorcerer is, in a mechanical sense, SCARIER than the huge looming barbarian who cleaves through goblin armies like a hot knife through butter and could CERTAINLY do lots of bad, bad things to the NPC in question with their giant battleaxe.

Obviously, I do not accept this.

The Abortion Post

Here's my personal take on the issue.

Just so y'all know, I'm adopted.

According to the records, my birthmother was 18, and my birthfather was in his forties. According to my mom (who, while she has always been open about where I came from, may be trying to paint a prettier picture of things), she was the babysitter for his 9 year old son, things got out of hand, and she "went to visit an aunt" with only her mother and the guy knowing (and, supposedly, him supporting her financially throughout all this).

This wasn't a life-or-death situation. She chose not to abort me and to give me up for adoption. Yet whatever I accomplish in my life, I could not, would not be so fucking selfish as to DEMAND that that 18 year old girl give up 9 months of her life, her education, risk her life and well-being, undergo the permanent bodily changes of pregnancy, go through labor, give up her born child, in all likelihood suffer horribly every Mother's Day and my birthday for years, have to hide her burden from the family it was kept secret from....

All that, just for the potential, not reality, of my life. I wouldn't have known any different. And it probably would be better for her (possible) other kids if she didn't have me floating in the back of her head. Again, I'm not selfish enough to be glad she made this choice. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy my life (although reading political blogs and slogging through classes sometimes makes it difficult, heh) , and, no, I don't have any sort of self-loathing regarding all this. I'm here, and I'll do the best I can during my time on Earth. But I have a lot of empathy for that poor girl, and I wouldn't hesitate to council another girl in the same situation to do what is best for them.

This is why I'm pro-choice.