Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
September 27, 2018
Brief thoughts on the Kavanaugh sitch
Category: Current Events … Linkage … Serious

So I'm following the Kavanaugh drama, and I'm seeing Dr. Ford's testimony heralded as a turning point in the national conversation about sexual misconduct/harassment/assault against women... and I wish I were as optimistic about that. I mean, certainly Ford's experience has inspired a lot of women to share their own stories, and I'm glad these women feel empowered to do so and hope they get the support they deserve. But I'm also hearing the familiar dismissals of those accounts (and from high-profile elected officials like the President of the United States) and I don't expect Ford's testimony to prevent Kavanaugh from ascending to the Supreme Court. I hope I'm wrong on that. We'll see.

In other related news, re: this Daily Show segment about Kavanaugh's supposed virginity -- can someone explain to me what makes it (particularly the latter bit with Dulcé Sloan) funny? It's clearly going over my head. I mean, I get the "lol virgins are lame" joke, to the extent that that's the entirety of the joke -- but sometimes it's possible for an audience to interpret a joke in a different way, or at least to find it funny for reasons not necessarily reducible to mean-spiritedness and/or prejudice. (Frex, I think some of the cartoons about a Trump/Putin romantic relationship work on an absurdist level, even though I acknowledge that homophobia -- or misogyny, to the extent that those cartoons feminize Trump -- might explain the amusement of some audiences, and therefore I understand why gay people might find those cartoons offensive.) I'm just curious about the possibility of an alternative explanation for the humor here.

-posted by Wes | 3:13 pm | Comments (0)
May 30, 2018
Belated thoughts on Roseanne’s Muslim episode

So... Roseanne.

I'd been meaning to post about the Muslim episode that aired on 5/8, since I watched that a few weeks ago -- and I guess this is as good a time as any to comment on it! It was... odd. Like, on the one hand, it presented the Muslim couple in a mostly positive light. Although they were on food stamps (not that there's anything wrong with that, but I imagine many conservative viewers have a different opinion, even though Roseanne's family on the show receives the same assistance), they were friendly and helpful neighbors (despite being woken up by Roseanne and company at 2AM) and loving parents. And they were baseball fans, so hey! VERY AMERICAN!

On the other hand, Roseanne's ignorance in this episode was pronounced, mostly played for laughs, and never truly examined or unequivocally rejected. The episode began with her spying on her neighbors and speculating about their terrorist plots, her every utterance punctuated with a smattering of laughter. Later, when the family's internet service was disconnected (because the Conners couldn't pay the bill), they sat around trying to guess the Muslim neighbors' password: Roseanne cleverly suggested "deathtoamerica123." Cue laugh track! (more...)

-posted by Wes | 6:05 pm | Comments (0)
May 15, 2018
RIP Tom Wolfe
Category: Ancient … Current Events … Serious

With the news of author Tom Wolfe's death, my first thought was, "Hey, didn't I do a comic about him way back when? I think I did!" And then I looked the comic up and... holy crap, lol. But I think that was a pretty common humor template back then: point out a potentially ludicrous thing, explain why it's potentially ludicrous, and punctuate the discussion with a desire for the perpetrator of the potential ludicrousness to die horribly. I still remember a bit on Garfield and Friends -- yes, Garfield the orange cat -- that ended with Garfield muttering, "People who sing like that should be dragged out into the street and shot." Again, this was on Garfield and Friends. Rating: TV-G. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 3:28 pm | Comments (0)
March 11, 2018
Xi Jinping: China’s President for Life
Category: Current Events … Linkage

From BBC News: China's Xi allowed to remain 'president for life' as term limits removed

So I am obviously (thankfully?) not a Chinese citizen and don't entirely understand Chinese culture, but this seems insane to me. The video in the article struck me as particularly unsettling -- whereas the folks questioned kept saying that the change exemplifies China's democratic nature, it seems like a move away from democratic norms to me. (Not that China is at all "democratic" according to our definition of the term, but whatever.) The voting results: "two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes." Can you imagine that kind of consensus with respect to any issue in the US?

I also want to blame Trump for this -- note that other countries have used his election and subsequent performance to condemn the idea of Western-style democracy, because in such a democracy it's possible for the people to elect a buffoon. I wonder about the extent to which China's move to allow Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely stemmed from observations of the chaos of our current executive branch. And, of course, Trump praised the change and jokingly (I hope) suggested that we should give that a try. He would.

But maybe Xi Jinping is such a capable and selfless ruler that it will be better for China and the world at large for him to remain president for life. I don't know. Time will tell.

-posted by Wes | 5:00 pm | Comments (0)
February 23, 2018
NYT: Frederick Douglass vs Scientific Racism

This opinion piece in the New York Times -- "Frederick Douglass's Fight Against Scientific Racism" -- is decidedly worth reading.

Of course, "scientific" racism persists in 2018, as one repeatedly learns after delving into the comments of any of the laudatory articles Trump links on his Twitter feed. The final paragraph, which quotes from one of Douglass's final speeches, also rings true today: on more than one occasion I've heard (well-meaning, I hope/assume) white people of my acquaintance who, in noting the depressed state of many minority communities, have wondered why "they" continue to struggle and asked what should be done about "them."

And for readers who haven't seen the movie yet (note that I'm not attempting to shame you for not having seen it yet; apparently that's a thing happening elsewhere on the interwebs), forgive me for the spoiler -- but Black Panther concludes with an especially relevant quote on that point. In a speech to the United Nations, the titular character remarks, "More connects us than separates us -- but in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one tribe."

It's a sentiment that runs counter to much of our current political discourse, what with "BUILD. THE. WALL!" serving as a rallying cry for our current commander in chief, but it is a sentiment that we would all do well to adopt.

-posted by Wes | 12:44 am | Comments (0)
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