Dangerous obscurity


Let us pause, for a moment, to consider the wisdom we might glean from Twitter. Or, as Mark Sample puts it:

The new 7th edition of the MLA Handbook *still* does not know how to cite videogames.

No, really, that’s actually someone’s real tweet. But here’s the thing: It’s not crazy. One of my favorite dialogues on freedom takes place between a nano-enhanced supercop and a black Australian bartender named Isaac at a Triad-operated nightclub in Hong Kong amid a nanotechnological plague, in the video game Deux Ex.

Continue reading

The Canon – Brown’s Life Against Death


Excerpt: Life Against Death, by Norman O. Brown

… it is a Freudian theorem that each individual neurosis is not static but dynamic. It is a historical process with its own internal logic. Because of the basically unsatisfactory nature of the neurotic compromise, tension between the repressed and repressing factors persists and produces a constant series of new symptom-formations. And the series of symptom-formations is not a shapeless series of mere changes; it exhibits a regressive pattern, which Freud calls the slow return of the repressed, “It is a law of neurotic diseases that these obsessive acts serve the impulse more and more and come nearer and nearer the original and forbidden act.” The doctrine of the universal neurosis of mankind, if we take it seriously, therefore compels us to entertain the hypothesis that the pattern of history exhibits a dialectic not hitherto recognized by historians, the dialectic of neurosis.

____________________

Brown, Norman O. Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1959.

Oh, big surprise


But … Lithuania? That was always my first question about this story. And I was probably late to it. It seems to me I picked it up only a couple weeks ago.

The CIA used at least two secret detention centres in Lithuania after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the US, a Lithuanian inquiry has found.

The report by a Lithuanian parliamentary committee says that in 2005 and 2006 CIA chartered planes were allowed to land in Lithuania.

It says that no Lithuanian officials were allowed near the aircraft, nor were they told who was on board ….

…. Poland and Romania hosted similar CIA “black sites”, media reports say.
In Lithuania, at least eight terror suspects were held at one centre on the outskirts of the capital Vilnius, the investigation found.

It was formerly a riding school and the suspects were reportedly held there between 2004 and 2005.

In August this year, US media reports claimed that Lithuania, Poland and Romania all hosted secret CIA interrogation centres.

But the parliamentary report appears to absolve Lithuania’s political leaders of responsibility for any human rights violations that may have been committed by the CIA, the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from Moscow.

It says even the president was unaware of exactly what the US intelligence service was doing.

The only thing that’s really surprising about this is that it was Lithuania. Not that any ancient legend says they are the paladins to lead us to new enlightenment, or anything like that. But I don’t know. Is it unfair to mutter something about the Soviet experience? You know, like, you’d think Lithuania, not even twenty years out of Soviet reach ….

Okay, that’s probably not fair. There are also rumors of similar sites in Poland and Romania, so maybe they’re just calling on some of Europe’s surviving old-school bonebreakers.

Hired goons. Why not? There will always be a market for cruelty.

Bad news on drugs


Phillip Caputo offers us a thing or two about Mexico and the War On Drugs:

Photo by Julian Cardona.TO CLARIFY THE CRIME. Of the many things Mexico lacks these days, clarity is near the top of the list. It is dangerous to know the truth. Finding it is frustrating. Statements by U.S. and Mexican government officials, repeated by a news media that prefers simple story lines, have fostered the impression in the United States that the conflict in Mexico is between Calderón’s white hats and the crime syndicates’ black hats. The reality is far more complicated, as suggested by this statistic: out of those 14,000 dead, fewer than 100 have been soldiers. Presumably, army casualties would be far higher if the war were as straightforward as it’s often made out to be.

Continue reading

Stop reading now


Just start with this:

There is irony here.Seriously, nerd-men. Are your weenies so teeny that you have to get threatened when women’s sci-fi/fantasy is successful? Are you going to give the girls noogies out on the playground after lunch? There are plenty of legitimate reasons to hate Twilight; cooties is not one of them.

Seriously, that’s quite a tantrum Paul Constant pitched last month in response to an article posted at MovieLine. Now, in the first place, the title, “7 Threatened Fanboy Responses to New Moon“, should have been all the warning anybody needed to steer clear.

Continue reading

Personal indulgence


So, yeah, congratulations to Mexico City, and all, on the whole gay marriage thing. And, look … I know. Really. I do. But I can’t help myself.

“We are so happy,” said Temistocles Villanueva, a 23-year-old film student who celebrated by passionately kissing his boyfriend outside the city’s assembly.

Because “Temistocles Villanueva” is probably the coolest name I’ve heard all year. No, really, just … say it to yourself a couple times.

Temistocles Villanueva.

Temistocles Villanueva.

Temistocles Villanueva.

Say it three times fast.

Okay, I’m done now.

Paul Reiser, Greg Evigan, and Staci Keanan in My Two Dads“They have given Mexicans the most bitter Christmas,” said Armando Martinez, the president of the College of Catholic Attorneys. “They are permitting adoption (by gay couples) and in one stroke of the pen have erased the term ‘mother’ and ‘father.'”

And, really, I thought it was the gays who were supposed to be melodramatic to make you cringe. Come on, Señor Martinez. Didn’t you ever see Greg Evigan and Paul Reiser in My Two Dads? Quite obviously, gay marriage isn’t the worst thing in the world for a child.

Aynal adventures


A couple paragraphs worth reading:

But much as Rand craved appreciation for her work (as sadly reflected in the worshipful eyes of The Collective and her bitterness about every negative book review she ever received), it’s hard to imagine that she would have been terribly happy about its current appropriation by a motley assortment of conservative populists, who mix quotes from The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged with Christian Scripture and the less-than-cerebral perspectives of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. In her own view, Rand was nothing if not a systematic philosopher whose ideas demanded an unconditional acceptance of her approach to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, psychology, literature, and politics.

Rand’s famous intolerance should not be dismissed as simply the psychological aberration of a flawed genius. She feared, for good reason, what lesser minds might do with the intellectual dynamite of her work when divorced from its philosophical context. The prophetess of “the virtue of selfishness” made rigorous demands of herself and all her followers to live self-consciously “heroic” lives under a virtual tyranny of reason and self-mastery, and to reject every imaginable natural and supernatural limitation on personal responsibility for every action and its consequences. Take all that away–take everything away that Rand actually cared about–and her fictional work represents little more than soft porn for middle-brow reactionaries who seek to rationalize their resentment of the great unwashed. This is why Rand was so precise about the moral obligations and absolute consistency demanded both of her fictional “heroes” and her acolytes. She hated “second-handers,” people who borrowed others’ philosophies without understanding or following them.

Continue reading

Sci-Fi writer vs. U.S. government … hmm ….


A not so fun little story to keep an eye on. Carolyn Kellogg explains that earlier this month,

Peter Watts; photo by Dan BrooksHugo Award-nominated Canadian author Peter Watts was returning home from a trip to Nebraska when he encountered U.S. customs agents at the border between Michigan and Ontario. His rental car was stopped, and then something happened — Watts says he was pepper-sprayed and attacked, while agents say he became aggressive. Watts was arrested and charged with assault.

Turns out that even a former marine biologist turned science fiction writer can have friends in the right places. Cory Doctorow, who writes science fiction in addition to contributing to BoingBoing, and science fiction writer John Scalzi, who maintains the popular blog Whatever, blogged about Watts’ troubles, encouraging people to contribute to Watts’ legal defense fund.

Canadian publishing magazine Quill & Quire notes that Doctorow is not the only one in Watts’ corner. Toronto bookstore Bakka-Phoenix is not only accepting contributions on the author’s behalf, it’s selling out of his books. And author David Nickle was integral to spreading the word and bailing Watts out of jail.

Certainly there is more to come of this sad tale.

Where he lays his head is home


Wow. Okay, so I’ve had this one sitting around for a while. Ted Wilson reviews The Manchester Village Motor Inn“:

Ted Wilson Reviews the WorldIf you ever need a place to stay while your lawyer and the bank are figuring some things out, I don’t recommend the Manchester Village Motor Inn. For one thing, they make you witness a robbery when checking in. The robber is armed, will seize your wallet and refer to you as “bitch-face.” This is an incredibly traumatic way to begin one’s stay. Then you have to call 911 yourself and even check in a few guests before the police arrive because the desk clerk is in tears and afraid to get off the floor even though the gunman is clearly long gone.

See, the thing is that I have this folder on my desktop called “Today”, and, well, yeah. November 24. I’m sure there’s something older in there if I look.

And I’m sure there’s wisdom in there. If I look.