Tuesday, 25 November 2014

#Ferguson

Jesus, this is ugly.

Note I don't say this has become ugly. It was ugly from the first moment this all started.  From the first bullet.  From before the first bullet, when a police officer saw two black kids walking in the middle of the road and decided "That shit has got to stop!".

It's clear that there can be no justice for murdered people of colour in a society where a sizable number of people - perhaps even a majority, depending upon where you're standing - simply will not accept that the loss of a life requires answering for if the person who took the life was white and the person who gave their life - had their life stolen from them - wasn't.

Note that I don't say it has become clear.  It has been clear for hundreds of years, and there's no sign of it changing, not really, not completely. I remember what they did to Rodney King in '91.  I remember what they failed to do in '92 to those who did what they did to Rodney King in '91. I remember the Spitting Image sketch of twelve men in klan robes insisting the video be played in reverse to demonstrate how quickly the cops helped King to his feet after making sure all those dangerous batons were removed from nearby. That was the first moment I realised just how terrifyingly horrible the world is. It's not a feeling that goes away.

Too many people want to believe this is about a tragic misunderstanding and a cop that was in fear for his life. Bullshit. At best, at the absolute limit of my capacity for empathy, I can believe the problem lay not just in Darren Wilson's attitude - you don't get to claim self-defence when shooting someone in the back unless you're watching him run towards a Sherman tank, and Wilson's own testimony that he only used the gun because he finds carrying a taser uncomfortable means that at best Michael Brown is dead because Wilson didn't like a non-lethal weapon pressing into his hip - but in his training. Perhaps it genuinely hasn't occurred to Missouri (and I'll not be able to watch Defiance ever again without thinking the show is a desperately na├»ve image of racial harmony compared to the actual Show Me State) that its police officers should consider that a job in which you get to carry a gun isn't a job where you get to start shooting because you're a little panicked?  Cops in the US are pulling their guns in situations soldiers are trained to keep their weapons down.  Cops in the US are pulling guns in a job which results in a lower rate of homicides than fast food workers. That results in a lower rate of homicides than in the general population.

Think about that. You're less likely to be murdered in the US if you become a cop, and that's before we add in all the civilians the cops themselves murder and we're told it was all just an accident. @mightygodking has pointed all this out. @ShaunKing has pointed out vastly worse. You simply cannot believe this was a tragic accident, as free of antagonists and guilt as a sudden earthquake, unless you desperately, completely want to.

Unless you want to sleep better, because you get to sleep better. Unless you want to tell yourselves everything is fine, because you get to tell yourself everything is fine. An unsourced quote is barrelling through Twitter right now: "White privilege is the ability to be outraged by the Ferguson decision, rather than terrified by it". Which is true, of course, but even so I can't help wishing a lot more of those who share my skin colour could even be stirred to be outraged here. Not least because the UK has its own horrors to atone for on this subject.

I still believe a future lies ahead of us where military-minded all-but unaccountable thugs kill just as many white people as black ones.  I just no longer believe we're necessarily walking towards that future.  Instead, here we all are, one half of us treading water and the other half drowning, slowly, one by one, as the water turns ever more obviously the colour of spilt blood.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Saur-dom And Grr-Morrah

Via bspencer at LGM and through her to Origami Isopod, it is very difficult not to love a world which contains works of literature like this:


This reminds me rather too much of the time in 2003 in which I foolishly predicted no porn could exist involving dinosaurs, and my friend gleefully showed me a video she'd found of a woman orally pleasuring a velociraptor.  Naturally, the footage originated from Germany.  Rule Thirty-Four should really be called Rule Vierunddrei├čig.

Beyond my nostalgia, though, so many questions clamber to the surface here. Like, did Hunter Fox write a story about billionaire dinosaurs and conclude it needed some gay sex to spice things up? Or did this start out as standard man-on-dinosaur porn but then Fox realised his human protagonist could never be forced into homosexuality by a t-rex of limited means?

And is this whole thing a gambit by the Christian Right? You know, those people who are convinced gayness is spread by scheming gays waiting in cupboards to leap out at passers-by and gay them up with their homosexual wiles? Because since those people don't believe in evolution either, the existence of gayness now must imply the existence of gayness ever since the expulsion from Eden. Clearly then there has always been dinosaur gayness. Indeed, the disappearance of dinosaurs from the world rather suggests they got the Old Testament treatment, wiped from the Earth for spending all their time cavorting in gay orgies beside in tar-pits and the occasional volcano.

But what if, as this book posits, some of these gay dinosaurs survived, using the innate gay-based cunning they use to understand fashion and know how to dance in time and with a minimum of flailing, and began to seduce strapping American men? How would these reptilian spiders lure human flies into their gay webs? Actually, I might have lost control of this metaphor. But in any case, the answer is easy. What does any self-respecting right-wing American homophobe assume is the ultimate aphrodisiac?  Money.

This, of course, is how this book can boast the greatest first line to any novel's blurb throughout human experience:
The year is 2014 and dinosaurs have gained control of the world economy due to exceptionally accurate stock predictions.
I will never need another book throughout the course of my life.

And that isn't even the best of Fox's books.  That title surely must go to this:


Michael Bay just became irreversibly impotent and he doesn't know why.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Not Dead, Just Resting (Well, Not Resting, But...)

Apparently my absence has begun to cause concern. Fear not, I am well, simply unbelievably busy, balancing a high-stress job that I'm still getting the hang of with moving stuff from our old house to our new one every night.

Besides, what is there to talk about? Last week's Who? I'll probably discuss that, but I wanted something else to come first; it seems like Capaldi's newest role is all I talk about these days.  The US midterms? Well... do I have to?

Yes, I should be furious. And I am, at the back of my mind. I mean, people are literally going to die because of this Republican wave. They'll die coughing and retching because state governors would quite literally their citizens die than a Democratic initiative gain traction, and they'll die hungry and cold because the Republican Senate won't so much as look at a jobs bill until Obama is rotting in a jail cell for the unforgivable crime of winning presidential elections whilst black.

Really though, it's hard to be angry when I'm this depressed. This result was too inevitable for me to feel anything else.  It's not like any of this is a surprise.  This was the midterms; most people stay home and a horrifying proportion of those that do head for the polls are just annoyed that one man has had the effrontery to be president for six whole years in a row (the fact that this time that man is black just makes everything so much worse; the Magic Negro trope has an awful lot to answer for).

This one impulse seems to eclipse all others. To eclipse cause and effect. To eclipse the most basic processes of common sense. Rick Scott has the morals of a shark, the petulance of a toddler, and the face of that lizard chick from V. He was re-elected. Scott Walker alternates between screwing the working class and selling off his state wholesale. He was re-elected. Sam Brownback has reduced Kansas to a mortally-wounded laughing stock, gushing blood as his conservative experiment sends the state's economy into a dive even a kamikaze pilot might balk at as too steep.  He was re-elected.

The flipping of the Senate may be even worse. Four years after America voted in the most venal, preening and unhinged Congress of the last, well, ever, the considered decision of the country is that it's worth adding a little extra stupid to the mix. After six years of unprecedented obstruction, after
six years of trying to stop people getting cheaper healthcare, of stopping crumbling roads and decaying bridges from being repaired, of stopping the unemployed having hope for new jobs, of stopping Americans who arrived in the country as toddlers from feeling they might have a place in their adopted country, the Republicans are given the reins of power. Because it's year six, and everyone's sick of the guy in the Oval.

If there is a surprise here, it's in how little the Republicans even felt the need to try this time around. Not that they had much choice. Senate Republicans could trumpet only how proficient they had become at refusing to do their damn jobs [1], and their comrades in the House could point only to how many times (Fifty? More? I lost count) they voted to repeal the ACA, like toddlers telling their parents they've decided mealtimes should no longer include vegetables.

The Republicans ran on nothing.  The country decided nothing was enough.

Except not really.  All the country decided was to stay home. The Republicans didn't so much much get handed the keys to power so much as saunter passed an inattentive doorman. The country didn't so much cut its nose off to spite its face as not bother keeping their eye on the approaching psychopath armed with a scalpel because there was a new game out for the X-Box One, or whatever.

It's tempting at this point to trot out the hoary cliche (hoary cliche being itself a hoary cliche at this point, of course) that you get the government you deserve. Which is true for every apathetic white guy who stayed home [1] because "both sides do it" or "all politicians lie", obviously. The problem is that everyone else got the government those idiots deserved, too. That's where the schadenfreude rather comes up short.

Regular readers will know what I'm going to blame all this on, of course: the media in general, and the Little Brother Theory in particular. For those new to the idea, the Little Brother Theory states that the Republicans can get away with things the Democrats could never come close to, because the Republicans are the little brother, and it's the Democrats job to be the sensible elder sibling who has to forgive their younger sibling for not knowing how to behave. It is this asymmetry that prompts journalists and op-ed writers who otherwise give every impression of being able to tie their own shoelaces to claim that, yes, a high-ranking Republican just claimed the president was an unhinged dictator working to bring Sharia law to the United States, but the president in turn suggested the official might be more interested in attacking him than governing, so really, aren't both sides equally to blame?

Never has the Little Brother Theory been more appropriate. After six years of screaming themselves sick in the longest and most damaging temper tantrum in recent memory, America seems to have finally given in, like an exhausted parent, and handed the bawling child a bag of candy because FINE OK JUST PLEASE SHUT UP!

Except of course that this particular child didn't demand candy. He demanded a flame-thrower. And now he has it. And whilst frankly large sections of the US were on fire anyway, it doesn't follow that there's no more damage to be done.

This is America. There's always someone else to sacrifice. There's always somewhere else to burn.

[1] The only aspect of this cluster-cuss that has me curious is whether the Democratic Senate minority will now become as trigger-happy with the filibuster as the Republicans have been in recent years, or whether they'll hold fire, figuring the President will veto anything the GOP Congress sends his way in any case.

[2] I'm sure lots of white women and people of colour may need a stern talking-to over this as well, but I don't get to be the person to do that.