Saturday, July 28, 2012

Star Trek is its own grandfather

My children are Trekkies, because I raised 'em right.

My sister the Episcopalian priestess, would tell you that I ruined their childhoods, because they are Trekkies. Inured them to violence or some such crap, by allowing them to watch the original series.

(No, really. She said that. Of course, having met her children and seen what she has allowed them to watch since making that statement, I'm pretty relaxed on that subject.)

On the other hand, I suspect the brain damage of my children has a genetic component.

I like to watch random things on Netflix as I do dishes. I am currently getting crap from these same children (and from the fiancée of my absent son, since he isn't here to give me crap on his own), for rewatching Star Trek: Enterprise.

They have all the complaints of the small-minded. "It breaks continuity! The Federation cannot meet the Ferenghi and Borg in this series! They said in the other series' that the Federation had never met these species before!"

Sit down and listen, you little bitches.

The most recent movie rewrote the personal history of Captain Kirk, all the way back to his birth. And brought in the Romulans, who the Federation wasn't supposed to know about. And you liked that movie.

And thirteen years (in this timeline) before that (when my youngest child wasn't even nine), in Star Trek: First Contact, they rewrote history back to Zephram Cochrane and the development of the warp engine. In another movie that you liked. By bringing in the Borg.

In fact, all the way back to the original series, the Enterprise screwed up the history of Earth (with episodes like City on the Edge of Forever and Assignment Earth) to such an extent that there are no continuity problems that can't be explained away with one of the various theories of time travel that the Star Trek universe can't seem to keep straight.

Fuck the haters. Watch what you like.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

...As if one dries/The streams from off my face.

Almost a year ago, a young woman named Savannah Dietrich (now 17) went to a party, drank too much, and passed out. That's not, perhaps, the smartest behavior, but it's not something she should have to pay for the rest of her life.

While she was unconscious, two other teenagers, Austin Zehnder and Will Frey, raped her, took pictures, and emailed them to friends. That's a crime, and should be punished.

But the boys struck a plea deal last month, pleading guilty to felony sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism. Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for next month. But one other legal action was taken: Ms Dietrich was hit with a gag order, telling her that she couldn't talk to the press or reveal the names of her attackers.

The punishment for that could be six months in jail (not 100 days, as the video below claims) and a $500 fine, probably more than the boys would have received: juveniles tend to recieve lighter sentences, and their names aren't released to the public - apparently in the theory that they never learned that rape is wrong.

But Ms Dietrich decided to fight back. She tweeted their names to everyone she knew and opened her Facebook page to the public; she followed the court order to the point that she never revealed what the proposed sentencing was, but said that it was "a slap on the wrist."

Thanks in part to the public outcry, charges against Savannah Dietrich have been dropped. The judge has managed to muzzle the press, though, so while we know the name of Savannah Dietrich, the names of her attackers, Austin Zehnder and Will Frey, are nowhere to be found on the mainstream media. What the judge hasn't been able to control, though, is the internet.

It doesn't take much to google their names, where you can discover that they play lacrosse for a community team. You even get to see what these two douches look like.


There are some stories that need to be told. Over and over again. Until society stops trying to blame the victim.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The continuing destruction of our Mother Tongue

So, here's the thing. I understand that English is a living language: it grows, it evolves, it changes over time. But the thing is, there's evolution, and then there's mutation. Or to be more accurate, there's evolution, and then there's de-evolution.

(Are we not men?)

I've noticed an unfortunate tendency for internet slang to creep into language. When it's written, that's fine. But actively pronouncing the letters to WTF or LOL is more than a little stupid.

Think about it: "What the fuck?" Three syllables. "Double-you tee eff" Six syllables (five if you cut it down to "dubya.")

On top of which, you've gone from a brief exclamation of shock to actively considering what you're going to say, and choosing the one that makes you look as much like a douche as possible. Good choice.

Worse, though, is when someone tries to actually pronounce them: there doesn't seem to be any agreement on whether LOL (Laughing Out Loud) is pronounced "lole" or "loll." I've heard both.

This is particularly important (if anything about this rant qualifies as "important") in that, based on its internet usage, "LOL" actually seems to mean "I think this is funny, but I have nothing to say about it."

On a barely-related note, in Dutch, the word "lol" means "fun" ("lollig" means "funny"); likewise, in Welsh, "lol" is a word meaning "nonsense." Because there's no such thing as coincidence.

Other terms are finding other ways to slip into IRL usage. ("In Real Life," in case you missed that one.) "LMFAO" (Laughing My Fucking Ass Off) has become the name of a "musical" group (if by "music," you mean "a drum machine, a couple of looped notes pecked out on a keyboard by a drunk pigeon, a little sampling from talented musicians, and the stupidest lyrics ever recorded - and I include the lyrics to I've Got A Loverly Bunch of Coconuts in that list.")

I mean, there's no better way than this album to say to the world, "If we weren't close relatives to Barry Gordy, we wouldn't have careers."

However, do I have a point to this little diatribe? Yes, yes, I do. I believe that what I'm trying to express can, like everything else on the internet, be best expressed by cats.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Republican Logic

Now, remember, children. Here's how it works. This is something you should make fun of.

This is something you should not make fun of. Ever.

Two terms for you to look up: "active sport" and "riding bitch." (Incidentally, don't make fun of their ridiculous, elitist equestrian activities, either. It makes them cranky.)

Are we clear on that now?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Talking to the Man, Once Again

So, every so often, I like to reach out to my governmental representatives (OK, and sometimes I like to reach out to other people's representatives, but let's not worry about that now...).

So, today, I sent emails to my guys in the Senate and the House. (Both good, noble men fully worthy of my support. So far.) And, because I'm lazy, they were identical except for the greeting. (I've mentioned that I'm lazy, right? Because it's true.) And it went like this.
Dear Sen. Bingaman, (or "Rep. Heinrich," depending)

The Republicans are now trying to spread the lie that the penalty that's imposed under the Affordable Care Act for not having health insurance is a tax. You should probably get out in front of this, and for one good reason.

If it's a tax, they can repeal it through the reconciliation process.

Fortunately, this is easy to rebut. Justice Roberts didn't say that the penalty is a tax: what he said was, it was legal for Congress to levy a penalty in exactly the same way that it is legal for them to apply a tax.

And if you go to his opinion (all 150 pages or so), Roberts comes right out and said that it isn't a tax.

Page 11:
Before turning to the merits, we need to be sure we have the authority to do so. The Anti-Injunction Act provides that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessmentor collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the per-son against whom such tax was assessed. 26 U. S. C. §7421(a). This statute protects the Government’s abilityto collect a consistent stream of revenue, by barring litigation to enjoin or otherwise obstruct the collection of taxes.
Translation: "We can't rule on it if it's a tax. We're ruling on it. Think about it." Page 12:
According to amicus, by directing that the penalty be “assessed and collected in the same manner as taxes,” §5000A(g)(1) made the Anti-Injunction Act applicable to this penalty.

The Government disagrees. It argues that §5000A(g)(1) does not direct courts to apply the Anti-Injunction Act,because §5000A(g) is a directive only to the Secretary of the Treasury to use the same "methodology and procedures" to collect the penalty that he uses to collect taxes. Brief for United States 32–33 (quoting Seven-Sky, 661 F. 3d, at 11).

We think the Government has the better reading.
Translation: "This guy says it's a tax; the government says it isn't. We agree with the government."

So, later on, (page 35) when he writes "The same analysis here suggests that the shared responsibility payment may for constitutional purposes be considered a tax, not a penalty," he isn't saying it's a tax, just explaining what part of the Constitution applies (which is why he phrased it "may for constitutional purposes be considered").

You need to keep them from taking over the argument by rewording reality. Go out on the floor and explain, on the record, in simple words, that life doesn't work like that.

If you want to get the attention of the media, apologize that reading is so difficult for our Republican friends. Or explain that things like this are why the Texas GOP is trying to ban critical thinking.

Or maybe explain that, if they're so upset that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional after all, they should consider getting on anti-depressants. After all, admitting that you suffer from depression isn't going to count as a preexisting condition any more.