Isn’t every reboot and reinterpretation just fanfic anyway?

They are all just attempts to view a story through a new lens – this is how we process culture.

http://glamdamnit.tumblr.com/post/55713093884/my-sister-asked-if-the-events-of-the-labyrinth

Originally spotted here:

http://io9.com/this-amazing-labyrinth-fan-created-backstory-just-blew-978028657

Should this dude have just written his own original story? Maybe. But we do seem to love a new take something old. It’s no secret that humans crave novelty, but there also a strong need for a thread of the familiar to clue us in on how to interpret what we are seeing. Consider how much people enjoy remakes. And remixes. And makeovers. And cross-overs. It’s like, “Ok, I am really familiar with this character, but what if they were in this situation or what if they met this person? Or what if we took this story and made it darker and edgier.”

I would guess it has to do with the underlying mechanisms we use to model new situations based on previous experiences (such as dreaming or fantasizing). Or the way in which we work backwards to try to figure out something that has already happened – by speculating on what may have happened and comparing against evidence/experience currently available to us. We are essentially checking to see how tightly or loosely it “maps” to what we already know or expect.

I wonder if something about the novelty to familiarity ratio determines how “good” something is perceived to be. Or how well it maps back to what you compare it to. That has got to be something that would be entirely based on the individual. Possibly on how willing they would be to re-evaluate a concept they are using as the basis for understanding novel concepts.

For example, if my beliefs are heavily steeped in religious tradition, I might be unwilling to accept new information that contradicts what I understand – the new information does not map tightly enough back to my own beliefs. If my beliefs say “do not try to reinterpret your beliefs”, it will probably not occur to me to try to map back the other way using the new information to reinterpret . . . basically everything that constitutes my understanding of the world.

Also, if I too readily abandon my beliefs in favor of novel information, I become sort of naive or not very trusting in my own understanding. I might be more willing to try to acknowledge every single idea as valuable and believe you should never tell anyone they are wrong. My head would be a constant swirl of re-evaluation, and I might never get anything done because WHO EVEN KNOWS WHAT IS WORTH DOING?

Is this basically the difference between conservatives and liberals?

I have an opinion on the royal child.

Royals, I am disappointed in you for not using your wealth and influence to to craft a genetically modified heir.  Like lizard eyes or telekinesis or wings or something.

Like, if you took the child to the palace balcony, held him aloft over the masses all Lion King and shit, and fire began lance out of his eyes at anyone who dared to look directly at him, that can go on the news.  As it stands, it’s just another shitting, squalling infant. Those are everywhere.

Your family keeps appearing in channels I go to for actual news. I sought no knowledge about your baby, that knowledge was inflicted on me. If I have to know about this shit, I feel that I am owed entertainment value commensurate with the attention drop required to power your sense of self worth.

And don’t act like I have suggested something horrible. “Keeping the bloodline pure” was still genetic engineering, even if it was just code for “my cousins are hot”.

Whore’s Uniform

This is not about all men. This is about men given to a particular kind of attitude toward women.

I think this is something that stuck with me, because the first time I saw it, I thought he had a point. Because I thought it was a good point, I shared it with others. In the process of doing that, I realized how stupid it is.



Yes, I realize this was a bit of standup comedy, and maybe I shouldn’t take it so seriously. However, part of what makes comedy good is the commentary it provides – a keen sense of the difference between the way society tends to understand things and the way things actually are. It is a way of understanding things from a different perspective. In this case, it seems like a perspective that makes a very comfortable transition to the one held by this guy – The Death of Pretty.

The whole concept of a “whore’s uniform” is basically bullshit, because the definition of whore’s uniform is dependent on factors ranging from the overall existing standard to the personal tastes of the individual making an evaluation. Now, I think what these two men are trying to describe is something along these lines:

wu04

But maybe they meant this:

wu06

So the problem is essentially this:

If the standard is a skirt that just hits the top of your knees, a miniskirt marks you as a whore.
If the standard is ankle length skirts, a skirt that stops at mid-calf marks you as a whore.
If the standard is a burqa . . . well, you can probably see where I’m going with this by now.

If you didn’t find that very useful, I made this non-intuitive graphic to help.

HOOOOOOOERS

The brain is (in part at least) a comparison engine. It is tuned for noticing differences. When something is different – when it stands out against a backdrop of uniformity, we want to examine it. We want to know what the significance of that difference is. We want to know what it means.

Meaning is important to us – it is how we learn to interpret and navigate the world. It is also how we reconcile our impulses with the world.

You are born into the world wanting things. The world abruptly begins to tell you which wants are ok, and where and when it is permissible to satisfy them. This is important to us, because we are conditioned to be social creatures. We look for social cues from others of our own kind to let us understand how to satisfy our urges without stepping on someone else’s toes and getting banished from the village.

However, the impulses we have do not self-regulate. The old wyrm coiled at the center of your brain does not want its fair share. It just wants. Forever. So you reign it in most of the time, while keeping an eye out for when it it’s ok to  . . . indulge.  We are always looking for the special occasion – the little mini-vacation from dealing with the stress of considering others. When is ok to eat or drink to satiety? When is it ok sleep in? When is it ok to not work? When is it ok to express the fullness of my emotional state?

What situation makes it ok to see to my urges without bothering about how other people feel about it?

Sexual urges are no different – except in this case, you are not merely using up resources, such that another person cannot use them. You are not merely burdening someone else with an unfair share of work. You are using a person directly as the resource which satisfies your urges.

I get the impression that the difficulty some men have with women is inability to reconcile then notion of a woman as a person with rights, and the feeling of a woman as a resource capable of satisfying an urge1. If a man has strong sexual urges towards women, and also understands that you must generally respect the wishes of other people, then he is likely to try to find the situation where a woman can be considered not in terms of her person-nature, but in terms of her resource-nature. When is she saying that she is not to be respected as a person? What signal can I look for that tells me I am free to indulge.

Restrictive dress standards do not exist to protect women from objectification. They exist to protect the right of men to objectify some women.

Suppose you are an average male who is attracted to women. Let’s suppose also, that you have something in your system of beliefs that causes you to have a negative attitude about sex. Like you think sex is really bad, or something terrible will happen to you for wanting it or thinking about it. You are still subject to these desires even though you also feel that it is bad. You may feel a twinge of anger directed at the perceived source of your frustrations. Around that same time, your mind is furiously working out a way to relieve the stress your body is under in a way that won’t provoke so much cognitive dissonance that your mind breaks. You probably begin to see all the little ways in which females must be intentionally trying to manipulate you into feeling this way. And what right does she have to make you feel this way, after all, without expecting anything to happen to her? Why should she be so powerful?

Designating someone else as not deserving of respect is a psychological get out of jail free card for people like this. It is a way to carve out a place in both the mind and society where it is safe and acceptable to feel what they are feeling without the negative emotional state that occurs when you have the sense that you have done something wrong. The more restrictive the standard, the greater freedom there is for a man to interpret a garment (or lack thereof) as an invitation to use her as a resource, rather than respect her as a person. It makes it feel like the woman has given consent simply by not adhering to the standard. Or it removes a man’s sense of guilt because he was provoked into a reaction that “couldn’t be helped”2.

And if you feel that all of the above is reasonable, again, do be aware that interpretations vary on what slutty is.



 
 

 

 

1I also get the very strong impression that, when these sorts of men say that women have too much power, they are referring at least in part to resource control. As in, women (people) have too much control over women (resource).
2This probably also explains a lot of the homophobia that seems prevalent within the same demographic. Not just the dudes who hate the object of their own closeted desires either. Some straight dudes just have a very violent reaction to being evaluated (sexually speaking) by another dude. I suspect that the reason may lay in their own understanding of the weight of the male gaze. There is an implicit moral judgement within it. As if a gay man is saying “I am looking at you because you have done something wrong, and because it’s your own fault, I can use you.”
But honestly, wtf do I know. I have a vagina.
I obviously pulled a bunch of pictures and shit from the internet, so I don’t want to claim them as my own. However, I forget where I got most of them, so I will just credit Internet.

nnnhhrrr, hrrmble muurrmble frrmble YOO ESS AYYYYayay!

Hung out at the nursing home this evening with my mom to watch fireworks. On tv. Because fuck everything about downtown Columbus this evening.

It may be that something of the atmosphere was lost by not being downtown1, but the fireworks were unimpressive. I wanted to say it was just explosions set to music, but that implies more attention to detail than was given in this case. It was just explosions while at the same time music was happening, with no apparent relationship between the two events.

After a ten minute patriotism megamix2, the music stopped, and a generically enthusiastic voice booms out “Now it’s time for the grand finale, brought to you by Marathon Oil!”. At which point the pyrotechnicians presumably just started blasting skyward whatever rockets and snap bangs they could lay hands on as quickly as possible. The end result of this was a cloud of smoke illuminated here and there by the now hidden display.

 

Artistry? Fuck no. This is ‘murrca. Excess.

 

Before the fireworks there was Master Chef eliminations3, Big Brother4 and we watched Egypt collectively fire their president. People getting voted off the Island left and right tonight.

 

 

 

1And drunk.
2God Bless The USA might be the perfect patriotic song – especially for rallying a sort of generic patriotic fervor that has no specific direction. Lines like “Cause the flag still stands for freedom/And they can’t take that away” call out to your identity and suggest that someone means to take it from you. It provokes a defensive mindset with the threat of the ever-present “they”. The others. You know the ones. The ones that are not like you. The ones that hate you just because they are jealous of how awesome you are, and freedom and shit.
3Macaroons are apparently the litmus test of the baking world.
4The fact that my schizophrenic mom likes the show Big Brother makes me smile my small “I shouldn’t be smiling at this” smile.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_in_the_USA_(song)

It’s not that there isn’t enough. It’s that there are so many who cannot pay.

Spotted recently, loitering in the vicinity of taxes and healthcare reform:

embarrassedmillionaires

I used an image quote because I never stopped to appreciate how awesome John Steinbeck’s hair was. Also, the look in his eyes sort of reminds me of this sloth who is flabbergasted at what unrelenting asshats people can be sometimes.
 
The words of others are wide open to interpretation (most especially in their absence), but I suspect this is in the ballpark.

“Look, fucktards, unless you have like, eleventy billion dollars*, all the socialesque programs and high-earner taxes probably won’t be affecting you.  You are not wealthy, and you probably never will be. You are not in the same socio-economic class of people whose right to decadence you are defending.”

Those who strive for the power that obscene wealth brings do not wish to assist you, that is anathema to them. And I am not talking about wealth in the sense of abundance. Wealth in this context is not a bountiful land of plenty with enough for all who are willing to put in an honest day’s work.

 
Wealth in this context is money.

 
Money is the thing which governs access to the resources people need. There may in fact be abundance, but without the tokens representing units of purchasing power, it is out of your reach.
 

Money obscures the relationship between the needs of the people and the actual available resources. Keeping the focus on the money can make it feel as though a shortage of money is synonymous with a shortage of resources. This notion grants money unwarranted influence, because so many people fail to understand that it is a made up thing.
 

A promissory note was shorthand to facilitate people actually getting what they needed when barter wasn’t working out. It used to represent something else of value that was perhaps not immediately accessible or just really inconvenient to carry around. Like, “You give me some food, or a place to stay, and I’ll give you this note that says you can have this something else which is held in trust by a mutually acknowledged third party.” It was understood that, in exchange for some item, you were effectively handing over the deed to some other item of approximately equal value.

 
A dollar (for example) is now just a note. It basically represents how awesome everyone else in the world thinks America is. It is a permission slip backed by popularity that you use to gain access to resources which may or may not actually be scarce. If it is just a stack of tokens used to move resources around, then perhaps we should try to understand that it is a bad idea to let a few greedy processes sit on the whole goddamn stack. Otherwise, money ceases to be a useful tool for the people to get what they need, and becomes a useful tool for the powerful to remain powerful. Money becomes a metric by which you may evaluate the amount of control you have over your fellow man.

 

Further, money loses all meaning if we ever reach a point where there is just . . . enough. For everyone, everywhere, enough of whatever we were previously willing to spend money to get. Money is only useful if resources or distribution methods are limited. If money ceases to be useful, professions that revolve around managing money will similarly cease to be useful. People who are powerful because they wield vast wealth will cease to be powerful.

 

Those that gather power to the detriment of all others do not want to give it up, and they do not want you to join them. The whole point for them is use the power they have to shape the world to their liking. They like you right where you are. Why? Because personalizing the world to your taste is a large task, and plebs are fucking needed.

 

But I digress. My original purpose here was to point out that, if we are going to call on Steinbeck to highlight issues of economy and society, there are far better quotes. (All from The Grapes of Wrath)

Regarding tweaking resources for the sake of profit.

“Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people come for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges if they could drive out and pick them up? And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges… A million people hungry, needing the fruit – and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains.
And the smell of rot fills the country.
Burn coffee for fuel in the ships… Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them…
And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates – died of malnutrition – because the food must be forced to rot.”

 
Regarding the disconnect between the elite and common society:

One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car creaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a single tractor took my land. I am alone and bewildered. And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another
family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squat on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each other. Here is the anlarge of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here “I lost my land” is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting grows the thing you hate–“We lost our land.” The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first “we” there grows a still more dangerous thing: “I have a little food” plus “I have none.” If from this problem the sum is “We have a little food,” the thing is on its way, the movement has direction. Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are ours. The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the side-meat stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the children listening with their souls to words their minds do not understand. The night draws down. The baby has a cold. Here, take this blanket. It’s wool. It was my mother’s blanket–take it for the baby. This is the thing to bomb. This is the beginning–from “I” to “we.”

If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin, were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into “I,” and cuts you off forever from the “we.”

 

Regarding . . . I’m not entirely sure. The limits of man. Dawning understanding that you have been taken for a fool. Indignation. Revenge. All of the above.

. . . and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

 
I am deeply grateful to the teacher who assigned this to me as summer reading. It altered the way I viewed the world. It made me angry and sad in ways I had not yet experienced. I guess that was the point. Well played, 10th grade American literature teacher.
 
It also prompted one of the first conversations I had with my grandfather where he made no pretense at behaving as an authority figure, and I managed to listen without being an impudent little shit. I feel like it has to be some mark of adulthood when you are able to consider your parents (or grandparents) as actual human beings on their own terms, and not just who they are in terms of you.

 

*estimate
http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-taxes.php
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/economy-politics-must-serve-man-pope-tells-g8-president/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/03/01/how-will-obamacare-affect-your-tax-bill/
http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-03-25/business/fl-strawberries-rot-20100325_1_parkesdale-farms-berries-farmers
http://www.milkeninstitute.org/publications/publications.taf?function=detail&ID=38801012&cat=PBriefs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_money
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodity_money
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_money

WWAD

I tend to think of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in terms of the three laws of robotics. Or at least I always thought similar caveats were implied. So, given this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

My interpretation would be:

Ok, humans have been around long enough now that it has become obvious that we are more or less the same. Most people can look at another person and know they are of a kind, driven by the same urges and feelings. But it’s like 1776, and we don’t know why that is so, God. That given, there are a few thing that we just have to agree to be cool about.

  1. We each have the right to life. This is predicated upon non-interference with rule 1 (in the immediate sense).
  2. We each have the right to liberty. This is predicated upon non-interference with rule 1.
  3. We each have the right to pursue happiness. This is predicated upon non-interference with rules 1 & 2.

Association

Every time I see someone post about gay marriage, I reflexively glance down at my desktop statuary.

Don't hate the hobbit love.

 

Gandalf would have married the shit out of some hobbits, regardless of gender.  He’d get massively blazed and just wander the shire binding people in matrimony according to his whimsy.

And nobody is going to confront this bleary-eyed old fuck and tell him to knock it off, because he is an immortal motherfucking magic man that rolls up to your shit-kicking village riding on the back of the king of eagles.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Which seems like a really excellent reason why people should not have guns.

**EDIT**
Seriously, look at this shit. People are too ruled by emotion to be allowed to obtain guns as readily as they can. They are too willing to feel offense, and too ready to exact vengeance.

When people start actually thinking their way through conflict instead of feeling their way through it, maybe we can talk. Until then most adults should not have guns for the same reason children should not have them – they are not stable enough to handle the responsibility, and are probably not in a goddamn militia.

 

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/headlines/20130204-dallas-police-say-elderly-man-apparently-killed-couple-over-dog-droppings.ece
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/woman-critical-shot-brother-article-1.1255700
http://www.abc6onyourside.com/shared/news/features/top-stories/stories/wsyx_husband-shoots-wife-zanesville-after-fight-22107.shtml
http://www.kshb.com/dpp/news/local_news/Lenexa-restaurant-rethinking-allowing-concealed-carry-weapons-after-customer-shot
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-57566488-71/man-allegedly-follows-gps-directions-to-wrong-house-shot-dead/
http://www.capitalgazette.com/bowie_bladenews/news/local-man-shoots-wife-kills-self/article_0144e040-9b40-58ba-8ebb-e5a91e6829a0.html
http://www.wyff4.com/news/local-news/greenville-news/GPD-Pink-gun-mistaken-for-toy-3-year-old-killed/-/9654794/18380044/-/a9v5v3z/-/index.html
http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/02/01/4594288/cleburne-child-shot-in-stomach.html
http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/02/04/4599917/man-accused-of-killing-former.html#storylink=omni_popular

No God, Only Man

A few months ago, my father and I were discussing morality and whether it is necessary for a person to believe in god in order to be a good person (to have a moral center). I hold that no, it is not.

The concept of morality (much like law, rights and money) is man made. It is a fabrication to facilitate orderly existence among creatures that have evolved to be primarily concerned with their own immediate interests. Morality is not handed down by the god of any particular religion. Any rights that I have were granted to me by my fellow humans. And they were granted with the expectation that I will behave in kind.

You be cool. I’ll be cool. Everyone is cool.

Though you could make the claim that the urge to establish a moral code is natural to us – as a consequence of evolution. Evolution gave us the ability – the instinct – to “feel” for others. It is why laughter and tears seem infectuous. It is why you flinch when you see someone injured. It is why you can learn a task by watching it performed. It is a reflexive twinge that says “Here is a connection. Here is a thing like me. Here is symmetry.”

This is the basis for empathy, compassion and ultimately, morality.

On this foundation we may begin constructing a moral framework. It is because we are able to identify with other people that admonishments like “How would you like it if someone did that to you?” have meaning to us. And I intend here real meaning – as in understanding. Not “I know the definition of the words you uttered and how they relate to the other words in the sentence.” This is more like visceral knowledge – the way we understand what blue is, or what sour tastes like. It is that understanding that makes us see the connection between another person’s condition and our own. Without that understanding, all you have are rules with no real meaning attached other than obedience avoids punishment.

Now, it may be the case that a god or gods put this whole mechanism into place. It may be the case that, at the end of everything, we will find a very smug deity all “See what I did there?” and shit. That’s fine, but it says nothing about the necessity of belief in god, and so cannot really be used to support the argument that belief in god is necessary for morality.

However, if you do want to start from the assumption that a deity built into its creation a means by which the denizens of said creation might understand morality independent of a set of explicitly stated rules, is it not also reasonable to suppose that the deity might wish us to look to that deeper understanding?

For example, you might set a rule for your child like “Don’t punch your little brother in the face.” Certainly you want them to obey that particular rule, but you may also hope that they eventually grasp why it is in general a bad idea to go around punching people in the face.

If you never extrapolate past the rule to understanding the concept, morality has not yet come into play – you are an amoral creature. Simply following rules does not make you good, it makes you programmable.