trochee: (Default)
Apropos of my post earlier this week regarding the opportunities for moral reflection in videogames: WorldChanging's Regine DeBatty posts a summary of subversive videogames -- they subvert both the politics and form of videogames.
The main public for these games is neither teenagers nor kids, but adults. Moreover, the rules of these games are not the ones you would encounter in a commercial games: the aim is not to attract as many game addicts during as much time as possible; to captivate with an aesthetics as realist as possible or with the most original design; to attain as much identification to the hero as possible; to be the most competitive on the market; to satisfy the ego of the teenager that still lurks in each of us by killing what moves on the screen... the aim is not to win. The aim is to subvert and parody preconceived ethics and aesthetics; to generate reflection.
Worth a read.
trochee: (resolute)
The Fantagraphics blog points out the latest Tilting at Windmills, which discusses the monopoly-disaster that the comics industry is spiraling into. For those not familiar with the comic publishing world, there is exactly one major distributor (Diamond), which has been slowly squeezing out all the other distributors. Now that it is essentially a monopoly, its service starts to decline, which is actually threatening the comics retailer -- ultimately, the source of Diamond's business! Self-defeating in the usual short-term horizon way. argh.
I have to say that I’m very afraid that the only real solution would be for the Justice Department to reopen their investigation of Diamond (as I understand it, the matter was put into abeyance rather than formally closed), and to break Diamond into two or three competing companies. Otherwise I can’t see how it could even be possible for a new national advance order competitor to get started.

... Heck, checking right now, Diamond doesn’t have a single copy of Maus on hand, in any format. No need to stock the Pulitzer Prize winner, right?

... Diamond has effectively frozen out any chance that any new competitor could enter the market at this stage. Which means that there’s no market forces to encourage Diamond to address their pricing and stocking issues. But if you want to sell comics, you have to deal with Diamond, there’s no way around it.

Seems oddly similar to my experiences with Qwest today -- shoddy website, lousy customer service, but monopoly-driven incentives to the customer to go with their products, even when they're not ideal. Diamond Comics joins Qwest and Microsoft on my list of monopolies to go after when I become Attorney General.
trochee: (angry)
more evidence that Big Dubya is Watching You. [via a locked post by a friend].

Hope that Google can beat this subpoena.
trochee: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] debunkingwhite posts about Captain Confederacy (now published on blogspot), which I remember from being a kid in Atlanta.

There's some controversy there (and elsewhere) about whether it's a racist comic.

In my opinion, it's a transparently dystopian, anti-racist piece of SF -- it's set in an alternate present where the Civil War ended in separation, and Jeremy Gray is the actor hired to play Captain Confederacy, a media symbol for the Confederacy. Over the course of the comic, he comes to doubt his handlers and the role of being a blue-eyed blond white guy being the media-created hero of a racist culture. (Captain America anyone?)

The discussion on [livejournal.com profile] debunkingwhite is also valuable, [ETA: and includes a link to this interview with CC's writer Will Shetterly].
trochee: (linguistics)
[livejournal.com profile] caracola starts a discussion that includes the statement "ASL has no sign for tact". This statement struck me as suspiciously snowclone-ish, and I'm curious if anybody might know about such a sign in ASL.

Some of my friends here might have resources that have more information. Any ideas of where to look? Anybody know the sign?

To complete my jargon and topic list: social networks (how), sign language (what), and snowclones (why)!
trochee: (pedant)
Hey [livejournal.com profile] beckyb and the other faculty who read this, you might be interested in a paper mentioned on WorldChanging: "Teaching Societal and Ethical Implications of Nanotechnology to Engineering Students through Science Fiction".

They had them read Neal Stephenson, among others. (the WorldChanging reviewer also suggests Linda Nagata, which I agree with.)

Also, Gratuitous Icon Post thanks to [livejournal.com profile] chr0me_kitten!
trochee: (resolute)
I've just joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Can't figure out why I didn't before.

Read their Deep Links and miniLinks updates, and join them, especially if you're sitting on some extra cash -- they're a valuable force for protecting the digital rights of everyday people. Their outrage at the latest Diebold scandal is right on the money.

Also they're going to send me a cool hat.
trochee: (resolute)

Carla Speed McNeil has decided to move Finder to web serialization, with the trade paperbacks still coming out once or twice a year. This move echoes the Studio Foglio decision to publish Girl Genius on the web, with periodic collections on dead-tree.

So far the Light Speed Press website has no news about this, but it was quite clear from the notes in the back of the latest (last!) pamphlet Finder (the first in the Five Crazy Women storyline, which I was skeptical about but have totally fallen in love with now that i've read the first one).

I wrote Ms. McNeil: )

UPDATE: Lightspeed Press now has the beginning of issue #38 online! And I feel almost famous, since I got a response from Speed herself.

trochee: (resolute)
I am reminded by a friend (in a locked entry) of how great is the Peggy McIntosh essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Read the whole essay here [or PDF]. Some of the most thought-provoking parts:
I did not see myself as a racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth. )
Sad but true that this is just as relevant as it was in 1988. No progress yet, as far as I can see; even more headway into this particular delusion. And of course the same things can be said for being male, masculine-presenting, straight, anglophone, and born into an educated upper/middle-class family. [and right-handed too, as [livejournal.com profile] _dkg_ might point out.]

And it seems particularly relevant in discussions like this one or this one when we consider what it means to be car-less, power-less, and hungry and thirsty in New Orleans this week.

[Update: This Alternet article was recently posted on the same subject (found via [livejournal.com profile] debunkingwhite). The comments from "liberals" reading an unashamedly left website and still resisting the thought that white people have responsibility for racism make me nauseous.]

trochee: (Default)
I'm the 'Wit', apparently )

Apparently I'm much also much less spontaneous and vulgar than other 30-something men (or more complex and clean, depending on how you read this). the stats relative to other guys my age )

trochee: (resolute)
I have nothing to add to what [livejournal.com profile] slit said here.
trochee: (Default)
I don't have cable, or a land telephone at home these days. I've kinda liked it that way. When I feel like vegetating, I read a book or listen to the radio. But I wouldn't mind watching movies (or television shows) I liked, especially if I don't have to go to the video store and pick them out -- the work of doing the selection at that moment when i want to vegetate has been a barrier. And I have some money to do it, especially since I'm not paying for cable, or phone, or internet at home.

So I like the idea of Netflix, where I can add movies-i-want-to-see to some online queue that magically (and for a small fee) drops movies-I-said-I-wanted (or TV-I-said-I-wanted) in my mailbox, so they're there when I vegetate. $18 per month seems quite reasonable, actually.

But [livejournal.com profile] firinel and [livejournal.com profile] marnanel have been having real trouble with them recently, and somebody said they were teamed up with Walmart these days (ick!) -- so are there any other competitors in this business? or does Netflix have the market locked up with a patent?
trochee: (Default)
what's that John Updike story? you know, the one with the middle aged guy, who has an affair?

Sometimes, I just wish that the dragon flying the spaceship would crash through the roof: it might be tacky, but it'd liven things up a bit.

That bit above is from one of my lab mates, and came from a discussion I had with him. The other day [livejournal.com profile] redredshoes pointed me to a rant about genre that (despite its raging misogyny) provoked some interesting questions about whether "science fiction" should be even trying to maintain itself as a separate genre. One of the main points (I can't summarize them all) is that there's plenty of good material that calls itself SF, and plenty of bad material that calls itself SF, and that the criteria for distinguishing them aren't so different from the criteria we might use to determine good vs. bad mainstream ("realist"?) fiction.

William Blake is plenty fantastical, but considered mainstream, Catch-22 doesn't get shelved with war fiction. That's because it's not "war fiction", goes the core of the argument. The really good stuff transcends the genre, and genre fans shouldn't be even trying to defend the genre. Recognize that good writing -- good art crosses boundaries anyway, and circling the wagons to pretend that Death of Superman is somehow worthy of the praise that Love and Rockets garners, because they're both comics, for goodness' sake drags L&R down into the muck with underpants on the outside. Never mind that L&R uses superheroes, robots and rocketships occasionally, or fantasy, crime, sex and violence occasionally -- it's still not the same as cheapshot crime fiction, factory-grade pornography, or "I could never marry someone so stupid".

One example of good, genre-crossing fiction I came across recently might be "Spacetime for Springers" which seems to me to be fundamentally a short story by any measure, and essentially free from genre, despite being written by Fritz Leiber.

I've started reading Gibson's latest, Pattern Recognition, which is set in the present (roughly) in a similar genre-ignoring way, and avoids the pitfalls and traps of trying to predict the future, which (as above labmate above commented) always seems to turn out as a period piece of the time of writing.

My favorite example of this is actually from Gibson's classic, Neuromancer, when I read it back in the 80s, where Case escapes black ice hack-protection software by hitting the Escape key.

Oh, it can't be an accident that the main character of Pattern is named "Cayce"; Gibson even goes out of his way to have her explain to an obsolete-hardware otaku that it would ordinarily be pronounced "kay see" but here it's definitely "case". Hm.

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