Sunday, September 28, 2008

This made me angry. "I'm a man trying on make-up, oh noes, I hope this doesn't make me lose my balls AND become an gay!"

This made me happy. Many of yesterday's lots were withdrawn after failing to reach their reserve. Collectors who recently paid six-figure sums for Banksy's subversive and cheeky stencilled works will also be nervously looking over their shoulders after experts claimed his poor showing yesterday meant the bottom had fallen out of his market... Other dealers were less forgiving. "He's just destroyed his own market," one said. "These works are cast iron Banksy. There is no doubt about it. Banksy's people object to Vermin and refuse to authenticate them themselves. Maybe he wanted to do it on purpose. But they are bad business people and very difficult and awkward to deal with."

I'm sure Banksy will be weeping at the prospect of it all being over.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fuck your noise Deborah Orr. Because no heterosexual sex has ever happened outside.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How can an individual episode of a television show be a metaphor for the franchise in it's entirety? That can't be right. I've just watched the sixth episode of the fifth season of Stargate Atlantis, The Shrine, and it blew me away. In it Doctor McKay contracts funky space Alzheimers, slowly losing his mind and intelligence until, in order to give him one more day with his faculties returned before he dies, the team find a source of radiation that, wouldn't you know it, allows them to cure him. Set over about three weeks, the episode is interspersed with clips from a daily video diary that McKay makes to keep track of his degeneration and we see him slowly forgetting more and more, and reacting to his situation in a number of ways, humour, abuse, embaressment, anger and fear.

The reason it seems like a metaphor for Stargate in total is that watching the entire thing has been like watching a dear family member succumbing to senility. All right, so the first season of Stargate wasn't so good, but over the next three or four years it started to specialise in some intelligent and solid script-writing. But then, around about series six, it started changing. One season started with a clear mandate, to save Earth from what was threatening it this time round, the Stargate team had to find an ancient city. They then proceeded not to do this for the rest of the season until the finale, when they suddenly found it and defeated the big bad. Only for him to return at the end of the following season so he could be defeated again. By now the stakes were so high that entire episodes would be spent being completely trashed by the enemy, only to just about survive at the end of the episode, only to do the same the following week. Nabbing a couple of Farscape escapees managed to slow but not stop the rot. And with Atlantis, what admittedly limited promise we had in the early days has now turned into a revolving door of mysterious illness, Wraith and Replicators, an enemy that were good before they were defeated in some fifty different episodes.

But this episode, using standard Stargate Atlantis plot #4, is a little different. It's become something between a truism and a joke that actors play terminally ill or mentally divergent characters to win awards but David Hewlett really does deserve something for his work this week. Dr McKay is something of a limited role, this week Hewlett got the chance to show what he could do and his portrayal of McKay, near the end and reduced to almost nothing, is heartbreaking. Despite the fact that we know that McKay will be fine before the credits roll he commits totally and I don't think anyone who appreciates drama would fail to be moved.

But once the credits roll, we know that it will probably be back to the same old shit next week and that this will probably prove to be a moment of the old genius in a sea of mediocrity. And I'll keep coming back, because even if it doesn't recognise me any more, I feel a duty to the old franchise for the times it did make me happy.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

This Will be Both Anticlimactic And Brief

Apologies, work has been crazy-busy this past week and yesterday was Open House 2008 so I've not had as much blogging opportunity as I might normally have.

Following on from here..., Miss Andrea said:

All oppressed groups have one thing in common: their desire to be treated with all the respect and rights which should be given to all humans.

But the desire to be treated as a gender is not what all other groups demand -- doubly important when considering that gender itself contains unequal power dynamics. By demanding to be treated as category of gender, transsexualism is significantly divergent from the norm, who all seek full humanity.

I'm asking, "if the demand is fundamentally different, then how is it possible that the way society approaches transgenderism should be identifical to how society approaches all those other groups?"

And the only reasonable answer is: it shouldn't.

Btw, I'm not "erasing the transsexual's existence" and have no wish to do so. I understand that the need to switch genitalia and/or gender roles is a NEED of certain individuals. I am merely pointing out that the way transfolk would have society frame the entire issue is not accurate.

I'm asking you to think about how an accurate framing would effect society's approach to transgenderism.

And unsurprisingly I disagree. Transwomen (and with Miss Andrea it is always male-to-female transsexual women, except when it's sometimes some small subsection of that) wanting to be seen as a gender being completely different from all other oppressed groups only works if you consider 'female' as having absolutely nothing to do with the sex of the body, the sex of the mind, the role of the body in society and the rolls of different genders in society. No-one is talking about theoretical shapes that exist only in ideaspace here (though I've sometimes felt I'm a isosceles triangle in a man's body) so trying to pretend as though we are is not useful.

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It turns out that God hates the UK. Who knew? Yes, Fred Phelps's tech-savy grandson has helped him create a definitive list of why God hates the UK and, wouldn't you know it, it's all about the bumming. What seems odd in all this is that God has been half-hearted in expressing his dislike of the United Kingdom's supposed relaxed attitude toward the gays, or perhaps he's been so angry that his punishments have actually travelled back in time to affect the UK before homosexuality was decriminalised.

If you want to find out why God hates your country (hint: It may have something to do with man-on-man action) check out">God Hates The World, although you might have to wait until Fred works out how to spell most of the countries.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I've just watched God on Trial and, if you haven't, you really, really, really should. Go to your Torrents oh my brothers and sisters! Set in Auschwitz as a cabin of condemned Jews wait for some of their number to be taken to the gas chamber they decide that all they have left is the power to put on trial the one they hold responsible for them being there, namely God. By allowing the Nazis to seek the destruction of the Jewish race, has God abandoned his Covenant with those he called his 'chosen people'?

While finding it a piece of piss to fly my flag in Atheism County when it comes to any organised religion, I find it difficult to do so absolutely outside of religion and personally. Sure, this is not a question of whom to bend the knee to or doff the cap, I can't understand why any Supreme Being would show any interest or need for my love, respect or fear and, if ze has any interest or concern for it then ze comes up far short of Infinite (although as it's only the religious types that try to curry favour with hir by describing hir in such terms). This is the entirely personal problem I have with Skepticism, Richard Dawkins, the Brights and that whole cabal. Sure I trust science to save my life and not crap like homoeopathy, but seeking to silence all the stories under the belief they have no value is wrongheaded. A plague o' both their houses.

I don't claim to know what God is. Us reflected back through our own history in the glare of the Eschaton? Sure, why not. An ancient robot servitor of some alien race designed to cultivate intelligence? If you like. A vengeful old Jew who really doesn't like it when the poofs and blacks forget their place? If we must. However, I find it easy to keep my ruminations private and not let it leak out into my professional or daily life, so can only conclude that those who are unable or unwilling to show the same restraint insist on expressing themselves on the grounds that they are deeply afraid that they are wrong and lack the faith to wait until they die to see who was right.

Anyway, back at God on Trial. The set is simple and the acting first rate, Stellan Skarsgård as the judge, Jack Shepherd as the elderly Jew who continually seeks to have the proceedings brought to a close out of fear of the blasphemy and Anthony 'National Treasure' Sher as the elderly rabbi that has the final word. The last scene, in which modern day visitors stand reading the memorial in the gas chamber, surrounded by the naked ghosts of the Jews waiting for their last shower, is extremely well-shot and upsetting. Many of the arguments in the 'prosecution' against God are those against his existence but in the end it remains balanced as it addresses that oldest imponderable, if there's a God, why do bad things happen?

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

If you want to be reassured that the Large Hadron Collider hasn't destroyed the world yet, even though it's not going to be used until next year, check the LHC webcams.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Evolutionary Acceleration Research Institute Ready to Start "Squirrel Smasher"

Dallas, TX – Scientists from the Evolutionary Acceleration Research Institute (EARI) announced that the first test of the Giant Animal Smasher (GAS) will begin on December 19, 2008, the 41st anniversary of the premiere of Dr. Dolittle.

...Biologists from around the globe hope the GAS will unlock the secrets of the so-called "Darwin particle" that could unlock the secrets to life.

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The Director of Education for the Royal Society believes that Creationism should be taught in British school science classes.

...[I]t was self-defeating to dismiss as wrong or misguided the 10 per cent of pupils who believed in the literal account of God creating the Universe and all living things as related in the Bible or Koran. It would be better, [the Rev Michael Reiss] said, to treat creationism as a world view.

Back in my day, we didn't get taught 'world views' in science lessons, we got taught what could be proven and left that sort of stuff to our Religious Studies lessons.

But, despite roping the Koran in there, Reiss is really asking for special exception for Christianity, as most pleas for Creationism to be stuck where it shouldn't go are. But if we were to bring in Creationism then we really should be fair and teach all the different types of Creation 'Theory', then all the beginning of the world theories of all the other world religions, then any other theories people have. Once the kids have gone through all that they probably won't have any time left for the Periodic Table or fun with sodium.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

One Day Like This a Year Would See Me Right

Elbow won the Mercury Music Prize last night. My general opinion of awards is that they don't matter until someone I like does or doesn't win one. Most bands win the Mercury and then disappear into the wilderness for an indefinite amount of time (Portishead, Pulp, Roni Size) so here's hoping it doesn't happen to Elbow. Mind you, I think The Seldom Seen Kid was the contract-fulfilling album.

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Turn Me Up. A campaign to allow bands to put out albums that are quieter so that listeners turn up the volume if they want it louder. It's all about how if it's engineered too loudly then that distorts the quality of the audio. Check the links to newspaper articles at the bottom.


OK, Miss Andrea posted this, to which I replied thus, to which she then replied via my comments thasly (posted here because comments on my blog disappear after time has passed):

I know lots [of transpersons], oh way more than that, no more than that even.

I don't talk about transmen because it appears that transwomen are much more vocal.

It isn't really about transfolk at all, from my perspective, though I am concerned about the level of harrassment suffered by transgendered. The whole situation is frought with anxiety for them and I really do sympathize. But there's only so much space and time for discussion, and the transfolk are handling the harrassment issues on their blogs so I really don't need to use my blog space for that.

It's mostly about any non-trans man being able to acces woman-only safe spaces merely by claiming to be trans. But there's also a minor annoyance to me personally because (since I do know so very many) that no matter how long they've transitioned, they never quite "get" the horror of sexism. The internal conflict just isn't the same and it can never be -- no matter how young a transchild starts her journey, her primary conflict will always be about being accepted as her gender, whereas a born girl's conflict will always be about running away from gender roles. Not sure what the transfolk assume I mean when I say that, it's just a simple observation of fact.

So now that I've answered your questions I hope you'll answer mind because there's a few things I don't understand and I'd like to. Pardon, probably not going to ask this the right way.

How does the desire for gender recognition equal the desire for full humanity? Many transfolk seem to think those two are the same and I can't figure out why.

I must admit, I don't understand this. I don't understand why the 'desire for gender expression' should equal the 'desire for full humanity' and who says it is or isn't. Part of my bafflement is based on a view that through reading her blog I have of how Miss Andrea views the transgender community that has no relationship to how I view the community. I don't know if this has something to do with her picking which parts of the community she wants to talk about or maybe I just lack the smarts to understand what she is saying. It seems to me that part of the argument is that while she as a female-born-woman chose a lifepath that (and here we have a gross simplification to avoid getting sidetracked into a seperate semantic argument) is not 'stereotypically female' (and I'm airquoting wildly here) she sees some male-born-women choosing to present as closer to that 'stereotypically female' (airquotes) role and she thinks that's bad. It's the burqa argument basically, while women in most of the world seem to think it's a symbol of oppression that needs to be cast off, there are some British Muslim women who are reported as saying that they are taking to wearing it because they see it as a symbol of freedom.

I hesitate over the any non-trans man being able to acces woman-only safe spaces merely by claiming to be trans bit because I doubt I can formulate an answer that doesn't make me look uncaring about the value of safe-spaces for women. There is the issue of what that woman-only safe space is and why the man is trying to access it, miss Andrea and her friends have tended to go for this 'non-trans man' being an abusive husband, people on the other side of the argument have tended to go for pre-operative rape or violence victim. I would suggest that any place that isn't actually able to tell the difference is probably not a very safe space for anyone. I get to be glib about safe-spaces because I'm a white middle-class straight-acting male and of course I know that it's not the case for everyone else. I'm just dubious about whether there's a real likelihood of a man wearing a frock in order to try and get access to his wife who's in a battered woman's shelter and whether it's worth trying to linking this to trans-women's access to women-only safe spaces. You might as well say that the man used a car to drive to the shelter so let's ban cars, or he eats shredded wheat so let's put Ian Botham on trial as an accessory to violence.

But there's also a minor annoyance to me personally... that no matter how long they've transitioned, they never quite "get" the horror of sexism. As though 'the horror of sexism' is a universal to all female-born-women of all countries in the world that, should they get together in one big meeting, they'd be able to agree on an exact definition that satisfied everyone. As though the definition of a woman is 'a unit of flesh for the dealing with the horror of sexism'. And there's a contradiction in what I see as Miss Andrea's argument, that transwomen are both trying too much and too little to be like 'real women' (airquotes!1!).

OK, that's enough airing of my misunderstandings and misapprehensions, so I'll leave it there for now. I welcome comments to educate me where I misunderstand things, I will just say that if anyone posts comments I will probably reply to them by seperate blog entries later on. If you don't want that then best to communicate with me by email which I'll assume is private unless you say otherwise. Abuse will be either ignored or posted to be laughed at, no matter how it arrives.

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So the Large Hadron Collider didn't destroy the world in an infinitesimally small chance of creating a black hole. Well, that's just terrific. That means we're still left with hoodies, the ruined housing market and brown people on the street. Aah, Daily Mail readers, not about to let their stupidity get in the way of displaying their ignorance.

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Monday, September 08, 2008


I've been waiting impatiently to see this since I realised I'd missed my chance to see it on the London stage. While I know that the point of a trailer is to make a film seem exciting this looks like it's going to be a blast.

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Palin for President!

[via pretty much everyone I know on the intarwebs who doesn't think that choosing some deranged church looney on the sole grounds that they don't have a Y chromosome (and whats more, have you heard all the Fundie Christians start praying that McCain has a heart attack and dies once in office as President, how fucked up is that?) is a sensible basis for selecting a running mate.]

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For Linkmachinego, here's an Alan Moore documentary from the end of the 80s that covers Swamp Thing and Watchmen. He does sound like Richard O'Brien at times though.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

If the world could vote?

If the world could vote?

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