jmatonak: (Default)
I am a little fuzzy on the whole "good/bad" thing. I admit this freely, and I'm not being sarcastic. I have personal standards of "good" and "bad", but they're quirky and not always consistent.

One of my biggest problems with genre fiction is a tendency to excuse horrible things that a hero does because they are wearing a T-shirt that says "hero"- or, as I believe they'd put it over at TVTropes, holding the hero ball. It's not the excusing as such that bothers me- I am certainly capable of special pleading on behalf of characters I like. The thing that bugs me is some variation on. "it's okay to treat character X that way because character X is just an orc/a vampire/a Dalek/whatever." Deception, abuse both physical and mental, petty cruelty- all excused because the target is "bad." It absolutely drives me up a wall. Almost inevitably, we are later asked to hate the villain characters even more because they have the gall to treat the hero characters exactly as the heroes have treated them.

I prefer to read about, sympathize more with, and even admire more, characters who don't try to excuse their assholery with this kind of rationalization. I would much rather hear "yeah, I lied to him, and I'd do it again" than "I lied to him, but it's okay because he's bad."

A related complaint is this: I don't like it when heroes spit in the soup. If someone invites you over to dinner, you don't go into their home and then spit in the soup. You just don't. It doesn't matter if someone is a complete monster, in personal action as well as species. By accepting their hospitality, you've agreed to put that aside. (The same goes for offering them hospitality.) In particular, there is one scenario guaranteed to get me rooting against a hero faster than any other.

As happens, a hero and a villain are teaming up, to fight against a greater threat or just because the author thinks that would be cool or whatever. There's some downtime, while the truce is still in effect. The villain makes some idle, polite chitchat- the key here being that it's not a veiled threat or a deliberate attempt to needle the hero. It is, honestly, just making conversation. "I hear the Mets are gonna suck this year." And the hero gets all snippy and starts going "we're not friends, you suck, I am super super better than you."

That's when the little voice in my head starts rooting for someone to fuck the hero up, really really badly.

(And then there's the one where the hero gets all mad at some character who gives him a boner, just because she [heteronormative bias!] disturbed his equilibrium. But at this point, I should just do a post on how much I want to see Harry Dresden get the full Prometheus.)
jmatonak: (Default)
The word "Allah" is the Arabic word for "God." Muslims use this word to refer to the "God of Abraham." Arabic Christians use this word to refer to God- "Allāh al-ʼAb" means "God the Father", and that construction is used to distinguish Christian from Muslim.

I don't know this because I am some great scholar. I looked up "Allah" on Wikipedia, that's all.

I am posting this because every time I hear someone say, "They don't worship God, they pray to Allah!", I want to slap the taste out of that person's mouth.

There is plenty of room for doubt and mystery in pondering what god, goddess, or whomever there might be. If you are an atheist, a pagan, or whatever, good on you. But I never again want to have to sit through a conversation with my ignorant neighbor, who thinks that to refer to God in a language he doesn't speak is to refer to a different God.

Jesus Christ.

Moron DOMA

Jun. 12th, 2009 09:58 pm
jmatonak: (Default)
This is a comment I posted in [ profile] digital_eraser's journal, extensively revised because I am really getting pissed off here.

Marriage needs defending. Because if the law doesn't *force* heterosexuality, it will die out. )

Legal hackery: not just for torturers anymore!

ETA: The sarcasm quotes around the word "marriage" in the congressional report on DOMA are a particularly classy touch.
jmatonak: (Default)
So the Department of Justice filed a brief that amounts to a defense of DOMA in federal court on Thursday. A married gay couple wants federal benefits; I assume it's because one of them is a federal employee. More here.

A letter I sent to the White House )

Looking at it now, I feel I was too reasonable. What I've seen of the brief is shameful, and the idea that the DoJ "must" enforce it is horseshit. I suspected it was, and now I have proof. This is just crap piled on crap. Epic fail is too mild.

The President does a lot of stuff I agree with, and I admire him. But not for this. This is bigotry and bullshit, and he should know better.
jmatonak: (Default)
... being in a union is a deal with the devil. You are not exposed (for better or worse) to market forces and so you have no incentive to sharpen your skills, move into management, pay attention to what's going on around you in the labor market, etc. Maybe it works out for you, maybe you get screwed. Also, I have a brother in law who is an airline mechanic - another industry with poisonous management-labor relations. The stuff he tells me with a straight face about the causes of the problems in his industry are unbelievable.

Anonymous Megan McArdle commenter who said this? Fuck you. No, really, fuck you.

Read more... )
jmatonak: (Default)

Extraordinary rendition sucks. Invoking "national security" to excuse crimes sucks. I am so very, very disappointed right now.
jmatonak: (Default)
God bless Claire McCaskill. I wish I could vote for her.
jmatonak: (Default)
I am so very, very tired of how people who face disagreement in the media whine about their "right to free speech". I believe in free speech. What I do not believe in is the right of anyone, at any time, to say anything they like without fear of disagreement and with no possibility of any assertions they make being questioned.

If you don't like child porn, and you say so, and someone comes along and disagrees with you, both parties have spoken. Freely. If your opinion is unpopular and you feel shunned because of it, that is not "taking away your right to free speech."

The "right to free speech" is sometimes invoked instead as "First Amendment rights." What people seem to forget is that the First Amendment restricts government action ("Congress shall make no law abridging...") and not the actions of private persons or corporate entities. If you go to a private company's message board and post something that gets you banned, that's not "a violation of the First Amendment." And I personally reserve the right to ban people from posting comments on my LJ entries if those comments are obnoxious.

Finally, if "the media" fact-checks your assertions and they are wrong, or if the press asks you questions you think are unfair, you have to eat it. The only First Amendment issue here is the freedom of the press, and if your tendency to say stupid things gets you in trouble that's your problem.
jmatonak: (Default)
If some jerk uses the Emoluments Clause to keep Hillary Clinton out as Secretary of State, I will be extremely pissed.

If the Supreme Court even entertains the ridiculous argument that Barack Obama is not an American citizen, I really lack the words to express how angry I will be.

I had a bunch of factual probably-errors in the rest of this post about precedent. I hate when I make these kinds of mistakes, but I do. I recommend consulting a non-wiki reference. The errors have been cut, leaving fact-free ranting. Call it my Thin Rush Limbaugh impression.


Nov. 25th, 2008 09:05 pm
jmatonak: (Default)
Okay, I am going to say one more thing about the the auto industry bridge loan/bailout/money thing, and then shut up.

None of this is the UAW's fault. A union that secures good working conditions, decent health care, and a certain amount of job security for workers is doing exactly what it should, and the complaint that American auto companies can't compete because the damn unions are making management pay for health care is disgusting and shameful.

I believe in extremely careful supervision of management in exchange for the money. The people using this as an excuse to bust some unions need to be slapped around.

The UAW isn't perfect, and they may need to take a hit on this one. Let's not confuse regrettable necessity with justice. Blaming the unions for this crisis is the opposite of justice.
jmatonak: (Default)
Paul Krugman can shoot off his big bazoo as much as he wants, but if it were up to me, I'd let the auto industry go tits-up. And laugh about it.

Every twenty years or so, the auto industry gets a bailout. And they always swear that this time they'll learn to build a decent fucking car and not let chimps make their business decisions anymore, snickering behind their hands all the while. And Congress falls for it every single goddamned time. It's the rankest kind of corporate welfare.

Frankly, if a million jobs are in danger, I think giving each of those million people $25,000 is a more sensible use of our money. Despite what everyone seems to think, a smarter car company (there are lots of teeny companies trying to make a better car, but the "Big Three" like to squash competition) will come along and fill the empty spot in the economy.

We will never get true technological progress in this country if we don't let companies fail, especially when those companies are big.
jmatonak: (Default)
I've been reading a lot of libertarian blogs. (I know, that means I did it to myself as far as the headache things go.) They all make a big show about how evenhanded they are, and then sit there and say how Obama's gonna get out of Iraq instantly and screw everything up, and particularly how he's gonna take everyone's money and give it to people who just don't wanna work, God bless 'em! (Sorry, a little Ned Flanders snuck in there.)

If you are going to assume every word out of Obama's mouth is a lie, please don't tell me how "evenhanded" and "nonpartisan" you are. If you mean that, over the long term, Obama's stated policies will impoverish us all, say that. But:

Whiny Blather )

I could go on and on, and that's kind of the point. Partisanship is great. Just own it.


Oct. 16th, 2008 12:50 am
jmatonak: (Default)
Did that reptile Senator McCain really make sarcasm quotes while he talked about the health of a pregnant woman, or did I just imagine that?

I want to go off on a tirade using language like "she's not just a fucking incubator", but I will instead say this.

It is better to save one person than lose two people. It is my understanding that emergency personnel like firefighters are trained to make the conservative, risk-averse choice in situations like this- if two people are dying, and you can save one, but not both, you save one. And, I would imagine, you live with the consequences of that for the rest of your life. (If I am mistaken about this aspect of emergency response training, I welcome correction.)

Even after putting aside the question of "personhood" as it applies to the unborn, that's what we're left with. To behave as though this agonizing moral choice is some sort of cheap tactic- to use smarmy sarcasm quotes and eye-rolls about the "health" of the mother- is inhuman.

The person on the ground makes the call. Sometimes, you save the mother and let the baby go, because that's the best that you can do. Anyone who can sit there and make that kind of smarmy little joke is, at best, morally blind.
jmatonak: (Default)
Apparently, some of my fellow Californians are confused. They seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that "legal gay marriage" means a pair of homos (or chick-homos) can barge into ANY CHURCH and demand to be married, and said church will have to marry those two homos in defiance of GOD'S LAW lest thugs with guns come and SHOOT EVERYONE OMG.

This is ridiculous. A church, a private association, has the right to tell any heterosexual couple seeking to marry to get bent. Any court that has held otherwise did the whole court thing wrong. Similarly, if it is against your creed to allow pairs of men or pairs of women to marry, you cannot be compelled to perform those marriages.

At this time, the rights and privileges of marriage are correctly extended to homosexual couples under the California constitution. Amending the state constitution to forbid gay marriage will not be the single worst sin ever committed, but it would be a grievous moral lapse and a completely unjust exercise of "tyranny of the majority."

That being said, I will be the first to say that specific churches should not be forced to perform ceremonies that are against their creed. That's common sense.

I am also willing to legally define marriage as being between two humans, if anyone's knickers are still in a twist about that.
jmatonak: (Default)
A Congressional REPRESENTATIVE is hard at work. The Treasury SECRETARY enters.



SECRETARY: I'm seriously, you guys. Due to the packaging and selling of financial instruments designed to shift risk to those least able to bear it, the economy is fucked. We need hundreds of billions of dollars, pronto, or a bunch of paper debt and the stupid rewrite of the bankruptcy law we did will KILL US ALL.


SECRETARY: Also, I want to disburse this money as I see fit, and I don't want to be subject to any kind of administrative oversight, or even judicial review.



By the way, I think it's cute that Sec. Paulson thought Congress could make him immune to judicial review. It's really precious. I think what he meant was some kind of assertion of sovereign immunity whereby he could not be sued. The phrase I heard, though, was "not subject to review", which, frankly, is impossible given the last *two centuries* of Supreme Court decisions. But, you know, it was a nice try. Asshole.

Please, if I missed an important detail here, so inform me and rip me a new one. I'm praying on bended knee I missed something crucial.
jmatonak: (Default)
I want to play by Wall Street rules. It sounds fun.

1. When you win money, keep it.
2. When you lose money, get it back from the taxpayers.

Still cranky about this one.
jmatonak: (Default)
I can't read right now. I'm sorry for not keeping up with everyone's journals properly. Something about my Big Medical Fun has rendered me even more unable to concentrate than usual. It's like being stoned, without the fun.

Politics is making me grumpy and moody. This is the cycle of political life.

Republicans promise to "shake up Washington."

Republicans win.

Republicans go on an orgy of deregulation and tax relief for the rich because "government is bad."

Whatever industry the Republicans deregulated *last* cycle goes belly-up.

Because "there is no real choice", the government (which, recall, is bad) bails out the industry that just failed.

As a consequence of this bail-out, the same people who were getting tax relief face minimal risk, thus essentially living in the government-supported world they are always against at election time. Because that's not hypocritical at all.

The Democrats win a midterm election. This step is optional. When it occurs, the Democrats make no headway on extending government support to most of us instead of just a few. I have no idea why.

Because/in spite of the big bailout, the economy goes tits-up for a while. Republicans point to this as proof that government is bad, for some reason. Note the further contradiction here with the claim of "no other choice" that supported the bailout.

Obviously, it's time to shake up Washington and get those lazy politicians off our backs!

And away we go.

How does this work more than once? How many huge bailouts do you need before you realize you could just spend the damn money on social programs instead? Why do the people getting slapped around by economic "policies" that boil down to "steal money and keep it" keep voting for them and against "steal money and spend it"?

Is it really that everyone secretly thinks they'll be rich and wants to keep all the hypothetical money they'll never really get? Really?

Word around the water cooler is that dynamic heroine Sarah Palin will save the country with her peppy smile and can-do attitude, much like the guy who was exactly the same as that but too liberal. Of course, one difference between her and Obama is that Obama will be senior to the cranky old guy looking over his shoulder and will actually get to, you know, do stuff. Except he won't, because it's a year divisible by four, and it's time to get to work and "shake up Washington."

I realize deriding Sarah Palin as "Caribou Barbie" is sexist tripe. I hate her fair and square, for words that came out of her own mouth. And, yes, I am bitter because the Republicans have become charismatic again. Because I know what will happen when the charisma does its job. And because the magic shaking mantra only works for the party that's going to crush most of us again.
jmatonak: (Default)
I am sad. It hurts.

All evening, every single noun I've heard has reminded me of some past shame or failure or something. I shouldn't have to go through this, because no one should.
jmatonak: (Default)
Chaos gets a bad rap.

I may have posted this before. :)


jmatonak: (Default)

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