Speaking as an activist for social change, I expect very little from…

As an activist, I understand all too well that…

As an activist, who thought for the first 25 years of her life that she was going to be an artist when she grows up, I have serious (vegan)beef with…

In the past 4 months, I’ve taken a visible role in the campaign to get…

As a woman who is active in fighting violence against women and gender-based discrimination in my community, there’s another aspect of…

I write this article not only for…

I write this article as an appeal to…

I write this article as…

I write this article as an opening shot…

As a person surfing the internet, I was surprised to learn upon a fourth rereading, that between the lines, this article makes sly reference to the controversy surrounding the Red Hot Chili Peppers recently performing in Israel. Trust me, it’s in there if you look closely.

Unintentional comedic highlight (emphasis mine):

You book some tour, receive some award, get an event invitation. “They love me! They really love me!” you think. Or maybe “Woah, cool! I always wanted to go to Murmansk!” All of a sudden, out of nowhere, you start getting letters from Arizona: “Dude, we’re trying to have a picket line here, you’re seriously treading on our turf! Boycott racism!”

Murmansk? Arizona? Israel? Palestine?

Your turf?

/s/MC

I’ve noticed people over a certain age, namely boomers, seem to use the ring function on their cell phones disproportionately compared to the generations that have followed, who prefer to set their phones to vibrate. I believe the latter is the correct preference. Carrying a phone on one’s person means the vibrate function will provide sufficient alert for incoming calls and messages and is far more discrete, and thus polite.

An unrelated anecdote: I was once in a movie theater seated several rows behind an older man who it was apparent wasn’t quite right. He came into the theater carrying a plastic shopping bag full of items that he wasn’t going to need while in the theater. At one point during the movie, his phone rang. He answered, got up, and paced back and forth in front of the screen while having a conversation. Someone in the theater shushed him, causing him to stop, cup his hand over his phone and snap back, “I’m on the phone!” I got a good chuckle out of that. Perhaps someday, when I’m being an ass, I’ll come right back over the top with rebuke that jumbles the hierarchy of etiquette.

/s/Mohammed Chang

Isn’t very good. It’s Atlas Shrugged bad, maybe even worse given the medium. If you’re making a television show, you control what the audience sees. You control what is in frame and you control the focus. You also control what the audience hears. This gives you the ability to show, instead of just telling. It’s a unique, defining feature of the medium that Sorkin largely ignores.

A show is genuinely preachy if you could zap a character from the show, mid monologue, onto a pulpit, and nothing would seem out of place. Compare how often this would be possible for characters in The Newsroom to those from genuinely good dramas like The Wire and Breaking Bad.

I was dozing off towards the end of the show on Sunday night when suddenly the fictitious newsroom sprang into action when news of the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords broke. After spending the last few episodes only going after members of the media and politicians right of center, coupled with grandstanding about giving the proper weight to facts over perceived fairness and exposing lies to create a more informed electorate, I sat up and waited for the show to avoid mention of all the politicians and members of the media who were left of center that tried to tie the actions of a paranoid schizophrenic to the violent political rhetoric of their political opponents (no such tie has been discovered, and the paranoid schizophrenic got quipped down after asking Giffords a stupid question at a town hall meeting long before anyone in Arizona would have heard of Sarah Palin).

Not to disappoint, Sorkin had the son of the station owner try and pressure the team into following the lead of several other networks in piggybacking a lone source into reporting Giffords’ death prematurely, but the team held firm and were vindicated when confirmation of her admittance into surgery came forth. I still could be surprised next week, but I’m not really part of the choir, so I’m unsure of how many more lectures I’ll be content to sit through.

/s/Mohammed Chang

A big pet peeve of mine is when pundits of all stripes describe an event as important prior to history actually showing it to be so. Check out this paragraph from a Matt Tiabbi article, emphasis mine:

But USA v. Carollo marks the first time we actually got incontrovertible evidence that Wall Street has moved into this cartel-type brand of criminality. It also offered a disgusting glimpse into the enabling and grossly cynical role played by politicians, who took Super Bowl tickets and bribe-stuffed envelopes to look the other way while gangsters raided the public kitty. And though the punishments that were ultimately handed down in the trial – minor convictions of three bit players – felt deeply unsatisfying, it was still a watershed moment in the ongoing story of America’s gradual awakening to the realities of financial corruption. In a post-crash era where Wall Street trials almost never make it into court, and even the harshest settlements end with the evidence buried by the government and the offending banks permitted to escape with no admission of wrongdoing, this case finally dragged the whole ugly truth of American finance out into the open – and it was a hell of a show.

Here’s the first paragraph:

Someday, it will go down in history as the first trial of the modern American mafia. Of course, you won’t hear the recent financial corruption case, United States of America v. Carollo, Goldberg and Grimm, called anything like that. If you heard about it at all, you’re probably either in the municipal bond business or married to an antitrust lawyer. Even then, all you probably heard was that a threesome of bit players on Wall Street got convicted of obscure antitrust violations in one of the most inscrutable, jargon-packed legal snoozefests since the government’s massive case against Microsoft in the Nineties – not exactly the thrilling courtroom drama offered by the famed trials of old-school mobsters like Al Capone or Anthony “Tony Ducks” Corallo.

Good on Tiabbi for writing about a trial that he feels both important and under-reported, but he lays on the prediction too thick after he spends most of his introduction pointing out how few people care about said trial.

If you look for it, you’ll see (in print) and hear (especially on talk radio) a never ending stream of watershed events being identified, meanwhile things nearly always chug along as before. Oh, this time those guys overplayed their hand, and the people won’t stand for it.

I like to make even money bets for rounds of beer with friends of mine, and being aware of confirmation bias is a great way to drink on the cheap. If people want a given event to play out a certain way, especially if your wager is small, they’re very inclined to take bad odds.

I bet an Irish ex-pat friend of mine a round that Ireland wouldn’t make it out of the group stages at Euro 2012. The Irish were in a group with Spain, Italy and Croatia. Spain are the defending Euro and World Cup champions, and they and Germany were the heavy favorites before the tournament began. That realistically left the remaining three teams in that group playing for one place in the round of eight. Of the four teams in that group, Ireland have the fewest number of players currently plying their craft in one of Europe’s top leagues (the top divisions in England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France). My friend spent much of the lead up to the tournament talking about all the ways in which Ireland could advance out of their group. I bet him a round that Ireland would not. He accepted. The Irish lost all three matches in the group stage of the tournament and exited having scored only a single goal.

I’d also gladly bet Tiabbi a round that in five or ten years (his choice), the result of United States of America v. Carollo will not have become a watershed moment.

/s/MC

John Scalzi has dropped a “controversial” post over at Kotaku that’s currently being debated loudly around the web. The title tells you all you need to know:

Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

Having come up with a click-worthy headline, Scalzi apparently decided the article would write itself. It certainly looks like auto-writing. As he tries to make his point (white males have it easy) via a clumsy RPG metaphor, his point (straight white males are never allowed to complain about anything) continues to unravel, especially once he realizes that we “players” don’t get to “roll up” our own characters.

Oh, and one other thing. Remember when I said that you could choose your difficulty setting in The Real World? Well, I lied. In fact, the computer chooses the difficulty setting for you. You don’t get a choice; you just get what gets given to you at the start of the game, and then you have to deal with it.

After spending most of the post telling white hetero males how in this “Real World” MMO, we’ll have all the advantages like faster leveling and more attribute points, he doubles back on himself and gives it all up for “fate” rolling up better characters for some (white males) and shitty characters for everyone else (anything other than white hetero males).

Somehow John feels that those of us who’ve been granted SWM status should be “grateful” simply for having the easiest path through life. There’s a little discussion towards the front end of the post that strongly suggests that simply being white, male and straight loads you up on “privileges,” which are obviously of the zero-sum variety.

For every “privilege” handed out as a birthright (in John’s mind), someone else is denied. Hence: the “underprivileged.” Some have. Some don’t. In John’s scenario, the default setting in the Western world is loaded with privilege to the detriment of all the other “players.” Flip these innocuous sounding statements around and you get a phrase like, “Tough break being born black. You’re fucked.”  Any sort of personal initiative and responsibility is waived and all blame shifted to Mighty Straight Whitey, who has bogarted all the good shit in Life:The Game.

As an added bonus, check out this statement:

The player who plays on the “Gay Minority Female” setting? Hardcore.

Seriously? Gay female is the “hardest?” Unless I’ve been completely misled by pretty much every guy ever, lesbians are anything but stigmatized, and certainly not to the extent that homosexual males are. For one thing, porn is about 3/4 lesbian. For another, everyone who has ever been to a club anywhere has had the chance to watch drunken females make out with each other.

Turn that makeout session into a couple of guys and you possibly have a brawl on your hands, or at the very least, some bigoted behavior. With females, it’s everyone get your cellphone out and take a picture because it’ll last forever.

The thing about white guiltists is that they only take the worldview when it suits their point. Normally, all races and creeds would be (over)considered in an effort to point out our narrow-minded and privileged ways, but Scalzi has a white male ax to grind, hence he frames it as the “Western world.” However, this faux MMO he’s building his Karen Carpenter-thin premise on encompasses the ENTIRE world.

With that in mind, the most difficult setting is “Female: Islamic Nation,” where your “character” can be raped into forced marriage and the threat of “permadeath” is omnipresent. “Male:Islamic Nation” is probably the “easy” setting, unless a caste system is in place, which nerfs your character significantly. (Sadly, it further nerfs the already underpowered female character, in which case you’re probably better off rolling up some sort of livestock with actual intrinsic value.)

But we don’t get to talk about the world, because John has nothing more than a headline. Everything else on the page is simply bad rhetoric and worse metaphors trying like hell to fit the 9-word narrative.

/s/CLT

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