Saturday, January 13, 2018

English- What Can We Learn From the Election in Alabama?

A democratic candidate won the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when the latter accepted the office of US Attorney General under President Trump. Doug Jones is the first democrat to win a senate seat in Alabama since 1992 (just before the Republican party's transformation to the southern fascist party of the US was finalized). It's a very surprising victory; what can we learn from this? There are reasons for hope and caution.

There's hope: Sessions retook his seat in the 2014 election with 800k votes, 97.3% of the total. Jones won with 650k votes, 50% of the total.

There's a problem: 630k people voted for his opponent, Roy Moore. I have a little respect for the 20k people who voted for anyone else (Republicans who couldn't support Moore, perhaps), no respect for Moore's 630k supporters.

Moore is a pedophile who for years stalked, harassed, and assaulted girls aged 14 to 19. The number of accusations against Moore means that fact can't be questioned. Nevertheless, 630k people think that he's the best man for the job.

The president of the US, in his first year in office, in a state incredibly solidly under his party's control, threw his weight behind another candidate for the position and lost, and then the candidate preferred by the Republican voters on the ground lost. In the last thirty years, this is an unprecedented result.

So there's reason to hope. Donald Trump's shitstorm of a presidency and the choice by Republican voters of literally the *worst* possible candidate made possible the election of a Democrat in Alabama.

But we can't hope for too much. This combination of factors only prevented 25% of Republican voters from voting for Moore. 75% still prefer literally any Republican (including a pedophile) over any Democrat (including a US attorney who put KKK murderers in prison). No matter how terrible the actions of the Republican party or its members, their voters will still support them.

Finally, we have to look at Doug Jones's strategy. Like those of Clinton and Sanders in 2015/2016 and the Democrats generally, Jones’s strategy ignored black voters, at his peril. Black voters know that the Republicans are the party of fascism and racism, but this means that they won't vote Republican, not that they'll vote Democrat. Even so, they turned out and won the election for Jones. We need to inspire, we have to inspire, we *must* inspire black voters. And women voters. And hispanic voters. And LGBT voters. The US needs a leftist party that has a program that includes everyone, that has a plan spelled out. The Democrats, the conservative party that offers nothing more than not being the Republican party, aren't enough.

Spanish - ¿Qué podemos aprender de las elecciones en Alabama?

Un candidato demócrata ganó el escaño en el Senado dejado por Jeff Sessions cuando este último tomó el cargo de Fiscal General de los Estados Unidos bajo la presidencia de Trump. Doug Jones es el primer demócrata en ganar un escaño en el senado representando a Alabama desde 1992 (justo antes de que se finalizara la transformación del partido republicano en el partido fascista del sur de los Estados Unidos). Es una victoria muy sorprendente; ¿qué podemos aprender de ella? Hay razones para la esperanza y la cautela.

Hay esperanza: Sessions mantuvo su escaño en la elección de 2014 con 800.000 votos, el 97,3% del total. Jones ganó con 650.000 votos, el 50% del total.

Hay un problema: 630.000 personas votaron por su adversario, Roy Moore. Respeto en alguna medida a las 20.000 personas que votaron a cualquier otra persona (Republicanos que no pudieron apoyar a Moore, tal vez), y ningún respeto a los 630.000 partidarios de Moore.
Moore es un pedófilo que durante varios años ha acosado, hostigado y asaltado a niñas entre 14 y 19 años de edad. El número de acusaciones contra Moore hace que este hecho no este en duda. No obstante, 630.000 personas piensan que es el mejor candidato para hacerse con el cargo.

El presidente de los Estados Unidos, en su primero año en el cargo, en un estado increíblemente afianzado bajo el control de su partido, recomendó *otro* candidato para la posición y perdió, entonces el candidato preferido por los votantes republicanos sobre el terreno perdió. Es un resultado sin precedentes en los últimos 30 años.

Así que hay razón para la esperanza. El cacafuego de una presidencia de Donald Trump y la preferencia de literalmente el peor candidato posible por los republicanos hizo posible la elección de un demócrata en Alabama.

Pero no podemos esperar demasiado. Esta combinación de factores no impidió que más del 25% de los votantes republicanos votara por Moore. El 75% aún prefirieron cualquier republicano (incluso un pedófilo) sobre cualquier demócrata (incluso un fiscal de los Estados Unidos que puso en la cárcel algunos asesinos en el KKK). No importa cómo terrible sean las acciones del partido republicano o de sus miembros, los votantes van a apóyarlo.

Finalmente, tenemos que observar la estrategia de Doug Jones. Cómo las de Clinton y Sanders en 2015/2016 y la de los demócratas generalmente, la estrategia de Jones ignoró, arriesgáandose, los votantes negros. Los negros saben que los republicanos son el partido del fascismo y del racismo, aunque esto indica que ellos no van a votar a los republicanos, no significa que vayan a votar a los demócratas. Aún así, ellos se presentaron y ganaron las elecciones por Jones. Necesitamos inspirar, tenemos que inspirar, debemos inspirar a los votantes negros. Y a las mujeres. Y a los hispanos. Y a los homosexuales. Los Estados Unidos requieren un partido de izquierdas que tiene un programa que incluya a todas las personas, que tenga un plan especificado. El partido demócrata, el partido conservador que no ofrece nada más que no ser el partido republicano, no es suficiente.

French - Que pouvons-nous apprendre de l’élection en Alabama ?

Un candidat démocrate a gagné le siège sénatorial quitté par Jeff Sessions quand ce dernier a accepté le poste de Procureur Général des États Unis sous la présidence de Trump. Doug Jones est le premier Démocrate à obtenir un siège sénatorial en Alabama depuis 1992 (juste avant que la transformation du parti Républicain en parti fasciste sudiste des États-Unis ne soit finalisée). C’est une victoire très surprenante ; que pouvons-nous apprendre de celle-ci ? Il y a des raisons d'espoir et de prudence.

Il y a de l'espoir : Sessions a été réélu lors de l'élection de 2014 avec 800.000 voix, 97,3 % du total. Jones a gagné avec 650.000 voix, 50 % du total.

Il y a un problème : 630.000 personnes ont voté pour son adversaire, Roy Moore. J'ai un peu de respect pour les 20.000 personnes qui ont voté pour n'importe qui d'autre (des Républicains qui ne pouvaient pas soutenir Moore, peut-être), aucun respect pour les 630.000 partisans de Moore.

Moore est un pédophile qui pendant des années a traqué, harcelé et aggressé des filles âgées de 14 à 19 ans. Le nombre d'accusations contre Moore signifie qu’on ne peut pas douter ces faits. Néanmoins, 630.000 personnes pensent qu'il est le meilleur candidat.

Le président des États-Unis, pendant la première année de son mandat, dans un état quasi-complètement sous le contrôle de son parti, a pesé de tout son poids en faveur d'un candidat pour le poste et a perdu, et puis le candidat préféré des électeurs Républicains locaux a perdu. Durant ces 30 dernières années, c'est un résultat sans précédent.

Alors il y a des raisons pour espérer. Le merdier causé par la présidence de Donald Trump et le choix par les électeurs Républicains du candidat littéralement le pire possible ont permis l'élection d'un Démocrate en Alabama.

Mais nous ne pouvons pas en espérer trop. La combinaison de ces facteurs n'a fait qu'empêcher 25 % des électeurs Républicains de voter pour Moore. 75 % d’entre eux préfèrent encore n'importe quel Républicain (y compris un pédophile) à n'importe quel Démocrate (y compris un procureur des États-Unis qui a emprisonné trois assassins du KKK). Aussi terribles les actions du parti républicain ou de ses membres soient-elles, ses électeurs vont néanmoins le soutenir.

Enfin, nous devons regarder la stratégie de Doug Jones. Comme celles de Clinton et Sanders en 2015/2016 et celle des Démocrates généralement, La stratégie de Jones a ignoré les électeurs noirs, à ses risques. Les électeurs noirs savent que les Républicains sont le parti du fascisme et du racisme, mais ceci signifie qu'ils ne vont pas voter pour les Républicains, non pas qu'ils vont voter pour les Démocrates. Tout de même, ils sont venus voter et ont obtenu l'élection pour Jones. Nous avons besoin d'inspirer, nous avons à inspirer, nous devons inspirer les électeurs noirs. Et les femmes. Et les hispaniques. Et les homosexuels. Les États-Unis ont besoin d'un parti de gauche ayant un programme qui inclut tout le monde, ayant un plan d’action explicite. Les Démocrates, le parti conservateur qui se contente de ne pas être les Républicains, ce n’est pas suffisant.

Português - O que nós podemos aprender da eleição em Alabama?

Um candidato democrata ganhou o lugar no Senado desocupado por Jeff Sessions quando este último aceitou o cargo de Procurador-Geral dos Estados Unidos na presidência de Donald Trump. Doug Jones é o primeiro Democrata a ganhar um lugar senatorial em Alabama desde 1992 (justo antes do que a transformação do partido Republicano no partido fascista sulista dos Estados Unidos se finalizou). É uma vitória muito surpreendente; o que nós podemos aprender com ela? Há razões para ter esperança e prudência.

Há esperança: Sessions ganhou seu lugar outra vez na eleição de 2014 com 800.000 votos, 97,3% do total. Jones ganhou com 650.000 votos, 50% do total.

Há um problema: 630.000 pessoas votaram a favor de seu adversário, Roy Moore. Eu tenho um pouco de respeito pelas 20.000 pessoas que votaram a favor de mais alguém (Republicanos que não puderam apoiar Moore, talvez), e nenhum respeito pelos 630.000 partidários de Moore.

Moore é um pedófilo que durante anos perseguiu, assediou e violou meninas de 14 a 19 anos de idade. O número de acusações significa que ninguém pode duvidar deste feito. Todavia, 630.000 pessoas pensam que ele é o melhor homem para o cargo.

O presidente dos Estados Unidos, durante seu primeiro ano no cargo, em um estado incrivelmente consolidado sob o controle do seu partido, apoiou outro candidato pela posição e perdeu, em seguida o candidato preferido pelos eleitores republicanos do estado perdeu. É um resultado sem precedentes nos últimos trinta anos.

Portanto há razão para esperar. A tempestade de besteiras que é a presidência de Donald Trump e a escolha dos eleitores Republicanos pelo pior candidato, literalmente, permitiu a eleição de um Democrata em Alabama.

Mas nós não podemos esperar demais. Essa combinação de fatores só impediu 25% dos eleitores Republicanos de votarem a favor de Moore. 75% ainda preferem literalmente qualquer Republicano (incluindo um pedófilo) a qualquer Democrata (incluindo um procurador dos Estados Unidos que encarcerou assassinos do KKK). Não importa quão horríveis são as ações do partido Republicano ou dos seus membros, seus eleitores ainda vão apoiá-los.

Por fim, nós temos que observar a estratégia de Doug Jones. Como as de Clinton e Sanders em 2015/2016 e a dos Democratas em geral, a estratégia de Jones ignorou os eleitores negros, com grande perigo. Os eleitores negros sabem que os Republicanos são o partido do fascismo e do racismo, mas isto significa que eles não votarão pelos Republicanos, não que eles votarão pelos Democratas. Mesmo assim, eles se mobilizaram e ganharam a eleição para Jones. Nós necessitamos inspirar, nós temos que inspirar, nós devemos inspirar os eleitores negros. E as mulheres. E os hispânicos. E os homossexuais. Os Estados Unidos precisam de um partido esquerdista que tem um programa que inclue todo mundo, que tem um plano divulgado. Os Democratas, o partido conservador que oferece nada mais do que não ser o partido Republicano, não são suficiente.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Introduction Script

English
Hi, my name is John. I’m unhappy, and have been for a while. I can’t fix the world, make people stop hurting, but I can talk to you every once in a while. That should help me, at least. A bit.

I’ll mostly be getting things off my chest, about politics and social justice, exploring leftist thought. And I’ll be doing it in multiple languages! Because I can.

So, hi! Nice to meet you.

Spanish
Hola, me llamo John. Estoy infeliz, y he estado asì desde un rato. No puedo reparar el mundo, ni hacer que las personas dejen de sufrir, pero puedo hablar contigo de vez en cuando. Eso tiene que ayudarme, al menos. Un poco.

Principalmente voy a soltar cosas, sobre la política y la justicia social, y explorar el pensamiento izquierdista. ¡Y lo voy a hacer en múltiples idiomas! Porque puedo.

Bien, ¡hola! Mucho gusto.

French
Allo, je m’appelle John. Je suis malheureux, et j’en suis depuis un moment. Je ne peux pas réparer le mond, ni faire que les gens arrêtent de souffrir, mais je puis parler avec toi de temps en temps. Ça devrait m’aider, au moins. Un peu.

En grande partie, je vais m’enlever des poids, sur la politique et la justice sociale, et explorer la pensée de gauche. Et j’en fais en multiple langues ! Parce que je peux.

Alors, salut! Enchanté.

Portuguese
Olá! Chamo-me John. Eu estou infeliz, e tenho estado por um tempo. Eu não podo consertar o mundo, ni fazer que as pessoas deixam de sofrer, mas eu podo falar com você de vez em quando. Isto me deberia ajudar, ao menos. Um pouco.

Na maior parte, eu vou desabafar-me, sobre a política e a justícia social, e explorar o pensamento esquerdista. E eu o farei em múltiples idiomas! Porque eu podo.

Bem, olá! Prazer em conhecer você.

German
Allo. Ich heiße John. Ich lerne Deutsch, aber ich kann noch nicht das sprechen. Entschuldigung.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

Disappointing. Very disappointing.

Honestly, the only good part of the movie was Wonder Woman, but I think even she may have been tainted by Snyder's vision of superheroes.

Let me get the comic-fan nitpick out of the way, after all, it's kind of minor. Batman kills. A lot. He tears around Gotham in the Batmobile, taking down LexCorp's armed guards, blowing up cars and flipping them over and generally not giving a damn who he hurts. And in the second of his two fights (far too few), he deliberately kills someone in a scene lifted directly from The Dark Knight Returns (more on which later).

My more serious beef is that the movie kind of sucks.

When my brother and I went to see Deadpool, the trailer for BvS:DoJ came on and I said "I'm gonna see that, but I'm not really invested." When the trailer for Captain America: Civil War came on, "Now that, I'm invested in."

I think that really highlights this movie's failure, the distinction with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The MCU has spent a decade and a dozen films (and half a dozen tv shows) building up their universe and their characters. But BvSDoJ just throws us in and expects us to be okay with it.

Now, throwing the audience into a story, in media res (as the foincy people call it), is a fine technique. And this movie shows us quite well that Batman has been operating in Gotham for twenty years. The problem is that it doesn't actually bring this together well with Clark. Clark being concerned about Batman like it's suddenly a new story just doesn't make sense in that context. All that would have been necessary would have been one line from Perry White: "The bat's been doing his thing for twenty years; Gotham loves him. Shut up and cover a new story, you jackass."

Instead, it seems like Snyder was desperate to build up the tension and make it plausible that Batman and Superman would fight. So Superman is suddenly interested in a 20 year old story and Batman is an easily manipulated ... fool? Coward? Psycho?

And speaking of psychos, fucking Lex Luthor. Instead of being a criminal genius, he's a giggling, mad, child.



PZ Myers let me know that Snyder is a fan of Ayn Rand. Knowing that, a lot of this movie falls into place. Particularly the heavy reliance on Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Miller's Batman is a psychopathic manchild, and he hates ... pretty much everyone. Oh, the "he" in that sentence refers to Miller and Batman both. For Miller, it seems every city is permanently stuck as Times Square 1983.

A lot of people call TDKR a masterpiece that, along with Alan Moore's Watchmen, brought comics back into maturity and relevance. I disagree. I think it's the prequel to his Sin City, which is "Imagine if millions of people were trapped in Times Square 1983. All the men are violent psychopaths, and all the women are whores".

And this movie lifts scenes and quotes whole-cloth from TDKR. The scene where Batman kills someone (which Batman famously doesn't do), for one, and the entire fight between Batman and Superman (albeit with the addition of a spear tipped in kryptonite), and the bit where Batman randomly starts talking about his parents. That quote comes straight out of TDKR, and makes no sense here.

As Snyder is a Randroid, it starts to make sense that his heroes are violent psychos that don't actually want to help anyone. Superman was perfectly content to stay sequestered from the world and not help anyone until Zod showed up and threatened him. Batman isn't shown fighting criminals; he's focused only on taking down the man he views as a threat. And Wonder Woman, it turns out, pulled a John Galt and retreated from a world that didn't live up to her standards.

A Randian hero is just a jerk who wants to remake the world in his own image, rather than someone who really wants to help. And that's probably why I don't much care for Snyder's heroes.


This movie at least did what Man of Steel utterly failed to do, and prepared us for upcoming movies. I'm just not very excited about them. Whoop de do, Darkseid is coming. Maybe they'll bring in someone other than Snyder.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Dead Rising 2 vs Mirror's Edge

I'm an achievement hound. I don't consider a game truly finished until I've gotten all the achievements. I'm even doing this for Dead Rising 2, a game with which I have a lot of complaints (mostly about its depictions of race and gender, its hackneyed story, and its mediocre gameplay... frankly, everything but the fact that it never freezes or crashes).

However, I'm never going to get all the achievements for Mirror's Edge. As with Dead Rising 2, I have a lot of complaints about the game, all stemming from gameplay and none about the story or representation. And there's nothing hackneyed about it! I love everything about Mirror's Edge except actually playing it. It was a great attempt, a beautiful innovation, and I'll never be able to, by my lights, finish it.


Dead Rising 2 is kind of crap all around. It feels like the game is trying really hard to be sharp social commentary about... something. A mall that's also multiple casinos, zombies still standing in front of slot machines, a gameshow about killing zombies... But it all falls flat, not least because everything the enemies are doing, you the player are doing. The dialog is flat, the villains predictable, and the depictions are racist and sexist all over the place. I came close to hurting myself several times I rolled my eyes so hard.

By contrast, Mirror's Edge doesn't try too hard with its story. In fact, like the environmental style, the story is minimalist. You're presented with a world and only the bare bones of the full story are laid out. You're a small player in a much larger situation. It's a story begging for a sequel, and it's getting one. Unfortunately, they're sticking with what was, for me, the only thing about the game that was disappointing. The actual gameplay.

I love the Assassin's Creed series, so you know I love me some city-hopping parkour nonsense. Problem is, Mirror's Edge is first-person, so you can't see your feet. That's kind of a big deal when you're running around jumping off rooftops. Mostly because when you can't see your feet you often don't jump off the rooftop and instead just fall off it. Or you jump off it and don't land on the next one over. The game is all about timing your jumps and slides and stuff; it would be great but that timing is hard when you don't actually have a body. I really want to love the game, but it ends up being incredibly frustrating every time I pick it up.

With the first game, they didn't solve the myriad of obvious problems facing a first-person parkour platformer. Maybe this time they will. Not holding my breath, though.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Where does the flame go when the candle's out?

Someone you love has died, and you're looking at her body. She looks like she's sleeping, like she could just wake up. Where is she?

She isn't. The person you loved has gone. The person you loved wasn't a physical object. All that is left of the beautiful, vibrant person you knew are the ripples she left in passing. You have your memories, you have your love, your grief, but she is gone. The physical thing before you used to be her dearest possession. Now it's not.

The person you loved was not a physical object, she was the result of physical objects. She was a process, she emerged from a collection of physical objects, she sprang into being from their interaction. Their motions created her, continuously, moment to moment, and when they ceased to cooperate, she ceased to be.

Your loved one was not the molecules of her body, she was their reaction. She was not the cells of her body, she was their cooperation. She was not an object in motion, she was the motion itself. And now that motion has ceased.

Except for the echo of that motion in you.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Behind a Veil of Ignorance

So, as per usual, I've been translating wikipedia articles into English, and I've been learning about John Rawls. So far he seems awesome (but dead).

Those of you who adore The West Wing may recall that the less-handsome replacement for Sam Seaborne mentioned to his unpaid, inexperienced writing staff something about a "veil of ignorance".

John Rawls came up with that.

Essentially, the principles and laws for a just society should be constructed from The Original Position, behind a Veil of Ignorance. Everyone would naturally want to set up a system where the king gets everything and then make himself the king. But the original position and veil of ignorance say that you don't know what position you'd be born into. You don't know your social class or economic status. You don't know what sort of abilities or talents you might have. You don't get to choose to be king.

Rawls argues that, from behind the veil of ignorance, everyone would instead set up a fair society based on two principles:

1) Everyone has access to the same extensive liberty, with that liberty being conditional on everyone else also having access to that liberty (that is to say, rights and liberties will always come into conflict and have to be balanced).
2) a) Any inequalities must be structured to give the greatest benefit to the least advantaged. (the principle of difference; for example, progressive income tax at the higher income brackets balanced with a negative income tax [or a tax credit] at the lowest brackets)
2) b) Everyone must have access to positions, offices, and opportunities (equality of opportunity)

Legislators and others in power should be guided by the original position and veil of ignorance in that they should set aside their own positions and privileges and structure society so as to accrue the greatest benefit to the least advantaged.

This just seems so darn sensible. How is it that not everyone is a socialist?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Migraine Story

I'm afraid of bread. Not all bread. Just some bread. I'm pretty sure it was the bread that caused it. I had the worst migraine of my life the other day.

I've had migraines before, but this one was special. It was very bad. How bad? I honestly couldn't say. Literally. I wasn't able to speak. It's called aphasia. On a side note, doesn't that just sound like the prettiest name for a girl ever?

You can see what I normally write like; I can bang this out in about five seconds flat. This is how I was writing the other day:

Very bad., nno0t sure hadio thingk don't knowk very bad migran 

think getting better geting better 

I think my hands are getting better. Very unpleasnt. My brain is like jellos. BUt not painfully anim ore. 

This is worst ever.

That took about five minutes of intense struggle. The reference to my hands was probably because, in addition to the trouble seeing and the inability to speak, read, or write, my hands and feet were tingling and somewhat numb.

Migraines can come with a wealth of symptoms. Mine always start with an aura, a halo in the middle of my right eye that makes it difficult to read or focus, that gets progressively larger. After an hour or so I'm in intense pain and it's best if I just crawl in bed and die for an hour. This time I also had the not speaking and the hands, and nausea, and a general malaise. I felt like an intense bag of crap. I also wasn't thinking very clearly. I'm glad I made it home safe (I was working at the library when it hit, and not anticipating how very bad it was going to get, I picked up a few things at the store on the way home. On the way out, the cashier expressed some concern about my well-being.).

In the end, I managed to sleep for quite a bit yesterday and took it easy today. Sneezing only made it feel like half my head was going to explode, not too much more.

Ever have wicked bad headaches and sensitivity to light/noise? Oddly sick for no reason with some mood swings? Take a quick look at migraines.  And maybe be kind to people who suffer them. They can be, as that quoted text above shows, debilitating even before the crippling pain starts.

Interesting thing: For years now I've been convinced that the episode that made me quit drinking was a series of seizures brought on by advancing problems of daily cycles of withdrawal/binge (because only an alcoholic drinks during the day...). I'm now convinced that it was just1 a migraine, and that I didn't notice all the other symptoms because of all the problems brought on by daily cycles of withdrawal/binge. Well, after that day, just withdrawal, slowly fading.

Remind me to tell how much fun withdrawal and addiction are some time.

Still, plus side; I'm sober.

Oh, and about the bread. Sometimes food triggers migraines. I once had a few very bad days because of a kind of tomato-basil flavored potato chip.



1 - "Just". Right.