Spoilers Ahead

November 6, 2012

I am not voting for either of the two major party candidates for president this year.

It goes without saying, actually, that I won’t be voting for Romney; the man has demonstrated that he’s dishonest and evil. To say nothing of the fact that he’s in a transparently false religion, which he seems to want to force on people. (And his running mate actually manages to be a worse person than he is.)

But I won’t be voting for Obama, either, despite being a registered Democrat who has in past elections only voted for Democratic presidential candidates, and I’d like to go on record with the reasons why, before the election is over, so that one way or another I can refer back to this article afterwards.
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On Bechdel’s “Are You My Mother?”

October 19, 2012

I am just now reading Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother, which is (at the moment) her latest book. Bechdel is, in my opinion, one of the greatest living American cartoonists, so getting a copy of this is a treat. (I had seen a pre-publication blurb, but no notice that it had actually been published, so it was a surprise to see it in a bookstore.)

I’m having somewhat mixed feelings about the content. Don’t get me wrong; I’m enjoying it — I would rather read a hugely insulting one-page cartoon by Bechdel (or the other cartoonists on my short list) than a hundred pages of material by lesser cartoonists. (Come to think of it, although I am unaware of any cartoons by Bechdel which I find insulting, I have read every book of hers which I have owned more than a day at least twice, while I have never made it all the way through the treasury of New Yorker cartoons my parents gave me as a gift a few years ago.)
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Why Libertarians Are Fools, Part MMCMXVII: Violentacrez and What’s Sauce For The Goose Is Sauce For The Gander

October 17, 2012

For those who haven’t come across the story yet, “Violentacrez” was an anonymous account used on Reddit for all sorts of vile behavior, some of it deliberate trolling (attempts to make people angry and be disruptive) and some of it sincere (if still vile). A journalist/blogger/whatever at Gawker named Adrian Chen discovered, by simple investigation, the real-life identity of Violentacrez (Michael Brutsch of Arlington, Texas) and wrote an article which exposed that identity. (You can read that article at http://gawker.com/5950981/unmasking-reddits-violentacrez-the-biggest-troll-on-the-web, but in summary: Violentacrez spent years trolling and posting borderline-illegal porn; he failed to protect his identity well enough to keep it from anyone who cared to investigate; Reddit decided to grant him authority over shady sections of their site to avoid having to cope with it themselves; Chen managed to dig up his name and published it; Brutsch has been fired from his job at a payday loan and pawnshop holding business; Brutsch is 49 and has a seriously ill wife and a teenaged child, and will lose his health insurance and possibly get in trouble on his mortgage because of his job loss.)

Right now, you will find self-proclaimed Libertarians writhing in frenzy over this state of affairs. Which is utter, utter foolishness, as nobody who has ever had to deal with a Libertarian (meaning the big-“L” political persuasion, not people who are merely civil libertarians, another kettle of fish entirely) will be surprised to hear. Read the rest of this entry »

Pineapplegate and The Sad State of American English

May 26, 2012

When I was in high school, I took Advanced Placement English in my senior year.

(A note for those not familiar with the American education system as it existed in my time: high schools often provide “Advanced Placement” courses for students who are capable — at least in theory — of college-level work. These courses end with concentrated standardized examinations to determine how well the students understand the subject material. Some colleges and universities will allow students who do well in these tests to receive course credit, or to skip basic courses in the tested subject areas. Common subjects for AP classes include Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, and English.)

Towards the end of the year, when the examination was drawing near, the teacher spent a day of class time giving us some examples of what we might expect on the test. For the most part, everyone in class did well, and we moved quickly. We pulled apart poems, explained symbols, traced references… and then we hit a blank wall.

The teacher had given us a brief work, dating from (as I recall) sometime around 1900, or at least written in a style which could pass for the work of that time. I have long since forgotten the precise authorship and title, but the topic was the (disgraceful) history and behavior of an aristocratic family. Nobody in the class could make anything of it. The teacher gave us an embarrassingly long time to offer an explanation of the purpose of the essay, and then began the time-honored process of asking leading questions.

Finally, someone in the class stuttered out that the piece didn’t seem to make sense, and suggested that it was perhaps intended to be humorous. Upon confirmation from the teacher, the dam broke. Suddenly, everyone in the class was falling all over themselves to list the jokes.

Our teacher was somewhat disappointed that we did not immediately see the humor in the piece, but, he admitted, humor was something with which AP English students always have trouble.

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Play it again, WordPress.

January 15, 2012

Sorry if you were expecting either brilliant polemics (not, I realize, terribly likely) or the key to deciphering the horrible psychological trauma which most people assume must underlie my terrible attitude. You won’t find either one here, at least for the moment.

Although I may someday have something to say and use this medium to communicate it, for now this blog was created in an attempt to get WordPress to correctly report my ownership of this account so I can use it to post comments on other blogs.

[Edit: Okay, I’ve written something else and published it. And it’s a polemic (probably not categorizable as “brilliant”) and involves my youth and is therefore potentially a key to deciphering any horrible psychological trauma I may have suffered. And yet thanks to those qualifications I still have a better track record than, say, Harold Camping. Yet he get tax deductions and I don’t. Life is truly unfair.]