December 10, 2012

So, unlike most of the rest of the world, I actually like the Star Wars prequels. I also sort of think much of the hate they get was inevitable, that being a later set, there was nothing that could have been in them that anyone would have liked. It’s also sort of the “cool” thing to say they’re bad.

Very common complaint was that the famous villain-turned-good Darth Vader, known well already as some badass in a big black robot suit, appears as not only human but… an emotional being! And… young! Especially in The Phantom Menace, because – oh noes! – he’s a child! And the presence of children offends people.

Okay, so, aside from the horrifying realization that Darth Vader was ever young, there’s also that he was a good guy and human. That he spent all of Attack of the Clones and the first part of Revenge of the Sith stupidly in love with Padme. And with it came the cheesy dialogue. Even after he turned evil, still with the cheesy dialogue. And he was whiny and demanding.

That’s all true. But here’s what gets conveniently ignored and forgotten… All six movies have cheesy dialogue, from all characters!

Also, Anakin was whiny and demanding? Alright, let’s play a little game. Imagine all of pre-Dark Side Anakin’s dialogue being said by Darth Vader, with James Earl Jones’s voice. And vice versa: imagine all of Darth Vader’s original trilogy dialogue being said by pre-Dark Side Anakin Skywalker, by Hayden Christensen.

Funny, I’m sure which one sounds whiny and demanding is a little less clear now. Original trilogy Darth Vader is in that big dark mechanical suit and much older, so of course his dialogue will be construed as menacing and badass, while that of young human Anakin, even if the same damn words, will be construed as some spoiled brat whining about something.

In the original trilogy, yes, Darth Vader is still demanding. Much of that owing to him being, you know, evil. And the evil guy in charge. And he’s even still whiny. It just doesn’t seem so since the whininess is usually accompanied by a choking.

Of Marriageable Age

December 9, 2012

Child marriage. It’s a gross human rights violation. Little girls being betrothed to men two or three times their ages because their fathers signed a form.

And then you get the stats about it. Where they list the percentages of people in a certain location who are married below a certain age.

Except that age is 18.


I don’t think so.

Don’t expect me to believe a 17-year-old choosing to enter into an equitable marriage is the same thing as an 11-year-old being sold to her 35-year-old cousin to be raped on her wedding night and forbidden from learning or having a career or doing anything other than serving her husband and pumping out tons of babies. Just… no. The latter is the one that is, you know, actually a serious human rights violation. The former is just someone well past puberty entering into an “adult” lifestyle sooner than people feel comfortable with.

And that’s not something that just gets solved with a “make sure no one under 18 can marry!” law. Age restrictions don’t cure anything. In fact, the aforementioned 11-year-old girl’s situation is pretty obviously bad in ways that go lightyears beyond her age. She’s in a society where it’s seen as acceptable to treat women that way at all. Making that all begin seven years later would mean her body is more ready for the baby-making, but that’s about the only difference. The fact that marriage in that society means being a husband’s property, and thus regularly raped and forbidden from outside activities, is a serious fucking problem which needs to be addressed head-on, and in doing that, the marriages of early-pubescent girls will likely stop, or at least there’d be no profit for anyone in it.

But if that’s too complicated, at least stop using 18 at the age under which marriage is a Serious Problem. At least lower it to 15 or something, and quit acting like marriages of girls who are only “children” because society says so are something to shriek about. And if marriage is so daunting that someone who entered into it has ruined their life or chances or something, the problem there is with the marriage itself, not the age.


December 8, 2012

Oh, would you look at that! It’s those silly December holidays again…

Chanukah: Ah, sundown at last! Time to light the menorah.

Christmas: Hiya, Chanukah!

Chanukah: Ugh. You again.

Christmas: Whatcha doin’?

Chanukah: What I always do on my first night. And each of the seven nights afterward. Lighting the menorah.

Christmas: Ooh, candles! Yay!

Chanukah: Um, yes, that’s right. Candles.

Christmas: I’ve got candles, too! Hang on. *rushes away* *about a minute passes* *rushes back with two long candles* Here they are. They’re red and green. My colors!

Chanukah: Uh huh. What are they for?

Christmas: These? Well, these candles seem like they’re for a dinner table. I’ve got more, though. Big fat ones that are red and glittery. Ones shaped like candy canes or reindeer. Little gingerbread-scented votives. Those old-timey ones that went on the trees before the electric lights were invented. And there’s of course those ones that go into those wreaths that Scandinavians like to wear on their heads for some reason.

Chanukah: All just meaningless decoration.

Christmas: Meaningless?! They’re fun and give light. I’m a Winter Solstice celebration, so Yule and all that other stuff had candles to light up the darkest days of the year.

Chanukah: But not part of the whole birth of Jesus thing. Because it’s not like you can include any Jews, right?

Christmas: Oh, don’t start with that! Jesus isn’t excluded. The midnight church services like to light candles while singing Silent Night. Jesus brought light, so to speak. It’s a metaphor, you see.

Chanukah: You’re really reaching, aren’t you! But you’ve accomplished your goal. Today is my day, and yet, though you are two and a half weeks away, you’ve made it all about you. Haven’t I made it abundantly clear I’m not merging into you?

Christmas: Loud and clear. You might even say… *lowers sunglasses* Midnight clear!

Chanukah: Get out of here!!! :doitnow:

Still Not a Laughing Matter

December 7, 2012

I hereby decree…

Sexual assault of men is still sexual assault!

Male victims of sexual assault have a way of being completely forgotten, especially if their assailants are female. But they exist. And it’s still sexual assault regardless of genders. Anyone working against sexual assault who’s worth their salt knows that.

Trouble is, many people who do know and voice that have a way of saying shit like “why are we worried so much about female victims?” Proceeding to resent feminist anti-rape activists. And this is a totally wrong way of looking at it.

Because the reason sexual assault of men gets treated as unimportant or even as a joke is still the same gender stereotypes, that men are supposed to want and enjoy sex all the time and women are supposed to refuse and not enjoy it. And that men are never supposed to refuse. And if they did refuse, they aren’t being masculine enough. Or that he must really have wanted it. Or he must be lying. Because the idea of a man, who’s supposed to be strong, being overpowered and taken advantage of by a woman, who’s supposed to be weak (and thus “supposed to be the one who gets raped”), just doesn’t compute with people. It also assumes sexual assault must be “forcible”, ignoring she could also have drugged him or blackmailed him.

It’s dangerous also to send women and girls the idea that nothing we do counts as sexual abuse toward a man. That it isn’t just as wrong for us to disrespect his boundaries and to touch him inappropriately and to pressure him into things. Combining that with the message that it is not possible for men or boys to be victims of this behavior (or that when they are, it’s not serious and actually just funny), and you have a troublesome situation indeed!

Sexual assault of ANYONE, by ANYONE, is a serious crime and violation. That isn’t to say rape culture and the objectification of women isn’t a major contributor. But they are still all symptoms of the same disease, the same rigid gender binary. And, simply, one very evil individual deciding he/she has complete rights over another’s body and will thus act accordingly.

And ridiculously pitting one kind against another, saying one is worse than the other, saying one gets too much attention, couldn’t possibly be less productive.

The Need to Learn

December 6, 2012

If you’ve seen some of my recent posts, you know I’m all about school reform and questioning the idea of compulsory schooling in general. There are people doing the same in all corners, including the unschooling community, doing so for their own different reasons. My reason is simply the rights of the student.

However, with many voices on this subject, you get many talking points. And as with any collection of talking points, you get some that are just plain stupid.

For the moment, I’ll focus on one.

“Why do I need to learn X? When am I ever going to use it?”

I admit it. That drives me up the damn wall. Well, truth be told, there are some times it’s a valid question. My brother is in third grade, and just like I had to in third grade, they’re making him learn cursive handwriting. He told me this and I was like “WTF? Why?” Come on, have you seen anyone write in cursive? There are some. And it is annoying as shit, because you can’t fucking read it. Not as quickly and easily as printed letters anyway. That seems to be one of those things they only continue to teach and require because adults just like the idea of children learning it, probably out of some ridiculous nostalgia.

But that is an exception, and there are a few others. The anti-school crowd, however, has a way of taking the “need to learn” idea to strange new levels. As in, they question the “need” to learn things like math, history, and science! Or at least certain portions of them.

“Why would I need to know algebra?!”
“Who needs to know the structure of the cell?!”
“How could I need to know about the French Revolution?!”

This goes beyond being anti-school. This is anti-intellectualism. This makes the subject matter itself out to be some sort of enemy, when what’s supposed to be the problem is the coercive mandatory nature of how it is being taught. Not to mention that some reasons I’ve seen from these people as to why certain (all?) subjects are “useless” are really fucking stupid.

I could go into why these subjects are in fact important, that even if they aren’t mandatory school subjects one should still learn them some way or another. History is important because to move forward as a society and human race, it helps to know where we’ve been. Developing good math skills has advantages just about anywhere. And scientific literacy may save your life some day, as that is what governs things like health and nutrition, among much more. And I’ll throw in language skills, so that people will actually be able to understand you, saving you and others much frustration.

Should someone stand over you and force you to memorize and practice these subjects under penalty of jail? Hell no. But that doesn’t mean learning these things isn’t still a good fucking idea anyway!

And even if it being a good idea is questionable, why exactly is extra knowledge being treated like a bad thing?


December 5, 2012

I hereby decree…

Snape was an asshole.

Alright, if a warning is still needed five years later, the following contains Harry Potter spoilers.

Okay then…

Severus Snape was an asshole and deserved what was obviously an awful death by Nagini the snake.

Oh, what’s that? He was a selfless hero?

Maybe. He might have actively tried to save Harry’s life a couple of times and was integral in Voldemort’s downfall. But it doesn’t change the fact that he was an asshole.

It doesn’t change the fact that, having saved him or not, he still treated Harry like shit for several years. Ron and Hermione, too.

Okay, Snape was butthurt that James Potter bullied him at school and married the girl he was in love with. I can see how that sucks. But treating their son like crap about it, their son who never did a thing to him except be James Potter’s son, is inexcusable.

And yet, at the end, we find Harry has given his second son the middle name “Severus” and was telling him that the man his middle name comes from was the bravest man he had ever known. Snape hands Harry a memory strand as his last action, and suddenly Harry forgets everything else and decides Snape should be ordained as a saint or something.

It’s an interesting philosophical thought, though. Recognizing someone for having done something heroic despite that person having in general been a total vindictive asshole. One might call it forgiveness. But this goes beyond forgiveness. This is reverence. Reverence by the main person to whom this otherwise hero was decidedly awful. And it wasn’t even for-his-own-good awfulness. None of the other Hogwarts professors were anywhere near as disrespectful and downright cruel to Harry as Snape was (well, except for Umbridge, of course!). And that’s even considering the two who turned out to be active Death Eaters. There was no reason for it. I mean, sure, he was helpful and heroic and brave and all that when it came to taking down Voldemort. But why be a jerk to Harry? Because he was sad and heartbroken about Lily?

And even then, that didn’t explain why he was nasty to Ron, Hermione, and Neville. And to anyone who wasn’t in Slytherin for that matter.

Come on, Harry, should have named him Albus Remus instead.


December 4, 2012

So I’m checking out some Christmas songs on YouTube. As a general habit, I click the Show More on the video description, not to read more of it but to hide the top comments. But sometimes I still see them. And my brain cells suffer for it.

Without fail, for a number of Christmas songs, the top most-liked comment will be something along the lines of “What a beautiful song! Let’s keep the CHRIST in CHRISTmas!” It might elaborate more than that, perhaps going into the commenter’s deep deep faith and how happy they are that the artist performing the song chose to step away from their usual music to honor Jesus at Christmas or something (even though many singers and bands who do Christmas songs, even the nativity ones, aren’t necessarily Christian).

*sigh* *hangs head* *removes glasses* *pinches bridge of nose*

Are these people for real? Yeah, yeah, I know. YouTube commenters. I should be glad they weren’t plugging Ron Paul or calling the uploader or singer any number of homophobic slurs. But it of course goes well beyond YouTube. It’s old fashioned Christian self-righteousness, with extra insecurity!

It’s really obnoxious. It’s a seemingly innocent comment that’s obviously meant to say “fuck you, non-Christians! don’t get your filth all over our holiday!” Though it’s not meant necessarily for the non-Christians (who tear apart that sentiment handily). It’s said to score points with their fellow Christians with the same obsessive clinging. And it works.

Let’s proselytize by telling people they aren’t celebrating this holiday exactly the way we want them to, because we think we own it, and that means they are wrong wrong wrong!

And then I realize how sad it is. Because most of the people who express sentiment like this are so cloistered within their congregation or community. They’ve probably never actually met a non-Christian (outside of online flame wars, that is). Now, to be sure, this is NOT an “all Christians” thing. Not by a long shot. Plenty of Christians are perfectly intelligent. And they aren’t the ones I’m talking about here.

No, these are people who, when they express sentiment like this, are probably hoping this makes Grandma proud. Or would if she hadn’t died 60 years ago. In any case, it’s pride in that they’re pushing that they’re doing Christmas “correctly” (somehow). They’re probably waiting for a gold star and a cookie. Or, being Christmas, a star-shaped sugar cookie with yellow crystals. Or is that somehow not Jesus-enough?

Because what exactly entails “keeping the Christ in Christmas”, no one really knows, not even the people saying it. What would they have anyone do? Do nothing at Christmas except go to church and maybe have a nice meal? Boring. Are they worried that the nativity story might be forgotten? Yeah, not happening. It’s already in there pretty solidly. Hell, the story of Rudolph was invented by Montgomery Ward less than a century ago, and even that I would doubt anyone would forget anytime soon, so why on earth do they think anyone would forget the story of Jesus’s birth?

Well, the answer to that is paranoia. They have been conditioned to believe everyone is out to take away their crosses or something. There are countries where this would be a realistic fear, but chances are these people are in the United States, where this is not a realistic fear, being a country where a politician who states proudly that he is a creationist remains viable while an atheist barely stands a chance.

Or maybe they really aren’t even thinking that deeply about it. It might just be nothing more than, well, wanting that star-shaped cookie. Because they remembered Jesus and that makes them better than you. And that’s what Christmas is all about! 😛

Dear Tide Parents

December 3, 2012

Yeah, you, the parents in the Tide commercial griping about your college grad triplets being unemployed and living with you.

Fuck you.

While I’ll certainly agree they should be doing their own laundry, besides that, quit your bitching.

First of all, if they’re unemployed and recently out of college, chances are the alternative to living with you is homelessness.

Second, it’s hard to find a job immediately after graduation, especially depending on what they studied. I didn’t have a job for 14 months after I graduated, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. And I studied science! And even if they do have a job, depending on where they’d live, it’d probably take a while before they’d have enough money for moving out to be feasible.

Third, your idiotic complaining is just more “let’s make fun of millennials as being lazy and entitled”. There’s this cute little assumption that making these snide remarks about teens and twenty-somethings is somehow helpful, but it isn’t. It so isn’t. It’s rude. It’s bigoted. And it just makes you assholes.

So shut your cry-holes, “mature” adults!

The Disney Sigh

December 2, 2012

It is a special reaction. Where one must sigh in exasperation, shake the head, all while saying “oh, Disney…”

I had one of those moments the other day when I was watching Fantasia. Hadn’t seen it in a long time.

Then I saw the part of the Nutcracker Suite segment with the mushrooms. You know the ones. They have diagonal slits for eyes. The caps are really wide like those hats. They dance around in a perpetual bow with hands pressed together.


The same reaction as to the crows from Dumbo. Or the Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp.

Though it was the Pastoral Symphony segment, preceded by a description of that segment in which the word “centaurette” was used, that made me want to slap someone. -_-

Your Head Is a Stone Tablet

December 1, 2012

Now for an ancient predictive edition of…


Will you idiots shut up about the Mayans already? Seriously, this is actually worse than the Y2K bullshit. Or that crap from last year with the May 21 apocalypse because some fundamentalist radio show asshole said so. Or 11/11/11 of course.

I mean, I’m not sure what there is to even say. Yet people keep bringing it up. Not usually with much seriousness, but still. Why is this ridiculous stone tablet nonsense even getting an ounce of attention? Why are any doomsday predictions getting an ounce of attention? The jokes and memes that this December 21 thing must be true because of some random other occurrence (Snooki having a baby, Twinkies being gone, etc.) aren’t even remotely funny. Just mind-numbing.

Or maybe the mentions are for the purpose of making fun of it. Well, no reason to make fun of the Mayans really. And it wasn’t even really a prediction. It was more like the stone tablet ran out of space. And people interpreting the tablets freaked out. Or they didn’t, but plenty of others picked up on it and decided to freak. Something like that. And now we have to hear all these annoying allusions to it. To something that isn’t even anything!

If you people want the world to end so much, well, there are plenty of cliffs and bridges around. Try diving off them.