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: (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].

Non-Zero

Jan. 16th, 2006 11:25 am
trochee: (pedant)
I've been reading Robert Wright's Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny, recommended by a friend who's an "old high AI" person (she thinks, for example, that relational databases are a good model for thought and truth, which I find frustrating).

Anyway -- Non-Zero is a 300-page book with a one-paragraph premise: that human culture (and biological evolution as well) has a stochastic trend towards greater levels of organization, because non-zero-sum parts of the world require collaboration to harvest the (relatively) positive cells in the matrix. While it's an interesting premise, I think it would have gained substantial strength from distillation into a 30-page pamphlet instead, and it doesn't seem to present an argument that would convert those not already very close to the idea of collaboration and cooperation. The evidence presented is anecdotal and handwaving, and seems to thrive on three or four example tribes (the Shoshone of the scrub desert and their rabbit-catching insta-mini-government "rabbit bosses" get a little too much screen time, but nevertheless we learn no additional details about the form of their society).

Wright argues that this model justifies cultural evolutionism, which was rejected in the 20th century as a form of thinly-disguised racism and a justification for imperialism. I am uncomfortable with this argument, since Wright's own model bears little in common with the theories of cultural evolution that the cultural anthropologists of the 20th century so opposed. Wright then assumes that Margaret Mead and Franz Boas would be opposed to his proposal, but many of their objections to 19th and 20th century "cultural evolution theory" do not apply to his proposal. Nevertheless, Wright positions himself as the radical upstart, when it is not at all clear that he is upsetting any applecarts at all.

Wright's writing style has an occasionally off-putting contrast between form and content: while Wright clearly wants to be taken as seriously engaging with the questions of cultural evolution, he also occasionally drops into arguing with sarcastic analogy or jokey colloquialism. While the informality is occasionally welcome, it belies his attempt to be taken seriously -- argument by buddy-ness is not convincing.

Overall: ([livejournal.com profile] blackwingedboy take note) don't spend your paycheck on it. If you're interested in cultural evolution questions, skimming this as a survey isn't a bad idea. But it's not a serious introduction to the subject, and its overall argument can (as above) be summed up in a page or two. Despite Bill's interest, this is what libraries are for.
trochee: (Default)


Who says the NYT has no sense of humor?
trochee: (angry)
The comics industry and "blogosphere" is getting a bit of a shakeup as it enters the second half of the 20th century: finally, the shit has hit the fan and the industry's troglodytic sexism has finally been scooted out from under the stove. (It is currently -- metaphorically speaking -- ugly and unbowed in the middle of the kitchen floor.)
Lea Hernandez does a rundown.
trochee: (resolute)
Look!.

Also, an right-on rant pointing out that Ged still isn't brown.

(whoops, this was supposed to go in [livejournal.com profile] emerald_citizen. Now it's cross-posted.)

aaaaargh.

Dec. 30th, 2005 03:02 pm
trochee: (angry)
yanked from [livejournal.com profile] tsenft and [livejournal.com profile] debunkingwhite: [livejournal.com profile] wespeakenglish.

aaaaaaaa. as [livejournal.com profile] tsenft said: "this is why they hate us."

I want to smack every single person on that community.
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)
okay, it's starting to piss me off.

many have noted the difference in captioning between pictures of white people taking food from grocery stores in New Orleans [finding] and pictures of black people doing the same thing [looting].

In every dialog I've read, somebody jumps in to point out that the captions were written by different people, and some of them were from AP, and some were from AFP, or derail the conversation ("how brave the TV crews are"," "I contest the race of the participants", "It's all the media's fault", "perhaps it was an honest mistake").
The most offensive responses from defensive white folks run along the lines of "OMG how dare you [point out racism/write a letter]; it's talking about race that keeps racism alive", "unless Black folk explain why they [didn't leave town/stole beer] we can't call it racism" -- note that POC have to explain the actions of all POC in this one.

But none of these "explanations" [note scare quotes] hold water. [fuck off, I'm too irritated to find a better metaphor.]

Why the hell is there so much resistance from snotty whitefolk to the possibility that there is racism here? Lord knows, we don't have a race problem in this country and I don't know what people are thinking, casting aspersions like this. [/sarcasm] As these show, it doesn't matter who wrote them, it's still part of the institution. And it's not even accurate to attribute it to AP vs. AFP.

To repeat myself from a locked discussion: It can be institutionalized racism, without anybody ever having the thought "I dislike/don't trust/hate black people." That only the snarky bloggers noticed it, and it goes unnoticed and/or excused by white folks, is what makes it racism.

If the captions were reversed, us white folks would have noticed. AFP vs AP is a difference, but why do we need to stretch so far? This stuff is part of a culture-wide institutional assumption of guilt for POC [er, people-of-color] and assumption of innocence for white folks. Let's acknowledge it and stop fucking trying to explain it away.

I think I'm going to resubscribe to [livejournal.com profile] debunkingwhite.
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: (resolute)
I have nothing to add to what [livejournal.com profile] slit said here.
trochee: (bithead)
heh. The number one search company is poaching from the number one operating systems company. And the Beast is pissed.

Now don't fight, people. There are enough of us NLP people to go around. And some of us won't insist on becoming a minor emperor to switch.

Nice to know there might be a job for me when I get done.

My impression is that MS has been playing catch-up on search for a long time, and this won't help them.
trochee: (resolute)

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

An accomplished diplomat who can virtually do no wrong, you sometimes know it is best to rely on the council of others while holding the reins.

From [livejournal.com profile] seaya

trochee: (silly)
So [livejournal.com profile] anthrochica said:
I am also making my way through a book of Paul Krugman's essays, which is very soothing, in a macabre apocalyptic way, but it's like self-medicating reading, an article before bed, you can't just rush thought that.
To which I responded:
There's a postmodern song in there somewhere. Aw hell, I'll write one:

Krugman and Whiskey
warning: doggerel )
thank you. thankyouverahmuch.
apologies extended to both Elvis and Johnny Cash.

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