Page 3 of 156

Why Vice is Writing About Astrology

Apparently it’s 1971 or something, because Vice UK has a whole subsection of Astrological blather. It’s tongue-in-cheek, but also not:

But that’s not what brought me in. What brought me in was this exercise in Making Astrology Woke: Why Straight Men Hate Astrology So Much.

Astrology give Teh Marginalized a means of control and order in the cishetcarnophallocentricpatriarchy, you see.

To understand your and others’ personalities, to try to predict the future: ultimately, it’s grasping for control, when we have none. Women and queer people are drawn to astrology because it offers community and refuge, something to lean on during a time in which religion has taken a backseat. In a heterosexual patriarchy, cis-het men arguably have less to seek refuge from.

Do you ever notice how paragraphs of this kind can be, and regularly are, written about almost anything? Today it’s Astrology, yestrday it was Yoga, tomorrow it will be the new Woke edition of the I Ching. Always with the same rhetorical point: this new thing is better because the Right Sort of People are doing it, and the Wrong Sort are the ones who disparage it, because that feeds their Wrongness. We’ve gotten to the point where the derpy advice columns that have been sitting in the back of your newspaper for a century and more are being turned into a badge of #thestruggle by trowelling a pile of Frankfort School Crit-Theory manure all over it. Welcome to 2018.

What does my horrible self think of astrology? Not much, by which I mean, I don’t think about it a lot. Astrology is a means of organizing random data to create a map of your persona with concomitant suggestions as to when you should do stuff.

Is it valid? Shrug

Is it harmful? I can see if you took it way too seriously, it could be. I don’t know how many people do.

To me it’s like Jungian archetypes or Freud’s id, ego and superego: a heuristic of human impulses and needs. If you find it useful, go nuts. Just don’t expect anyone else to go for it in the same way.

And if you insist on making a shibboleth out of it, don’t be surprised at how those in the out-group react.

A good discussion of the most modern of complaints: the University-as-therapy and the concomitant eradication of Free Speech.

Apart from its intellectual content and institutional structure descriptions, The Coddling of the American Mind makes being a contemporary college student in some schools sound like a terrible experience: Life in a call-out culture requires constant vigilance, fear, and self-censorship. Many in the audience may feel sympathy for the person being shamed but are afraid […]

via The Coddling of the American Mind — Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff — The Story’s Story

We Don’t Actually Want Another Civil War

A rare political post that I’m throwing up because it touches upon an area I just finished writing about.

Larry Correia takes the world’s dumbest tweet by a Congressman, and drops a hydrogen bomb of truth on it, and makes the rubble bounce.

Last week a congressman embarrassed himself on Twitter. He got into a debate about gun control, suggested a mandatory buyback—which is basically confiscation with a happy face sticker on it—and when someone told him that they would resist, he said resistance was futile because the government has nukes.

And everybody was like, wait, what?

Not a new statement. Whenever this comes up, proggies love to retort that the armed populace of the US could not possibly resist the U.S. Military. This is, sadly, a meme among them.

It’s dumb for a number of reasons, most obviously the fact that a high school senior today has never known a time when the U.S. Military has not been actively engaged against insurgents in Afghanistan, and by all accounts, we are not getting anywhere. Afghanistan is Vietnam with a lower body count (and according to some authors, we actually made some progress in Vietnam after Westmoreland left in ’68. But whatever):

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Barack Obama launched over five hundred drone strikes during his eight years in office. We’ve used Apaches (that’s the scary looking helicopter in the picture for my peacenik liberal friends), smart bombs, tanks, I don’t know how many thousand s of raids on houses and compounds, all the stuff that the lefty memes say they’re willing to do to crush the gun nut right, and we’ve spent something like 6 trillion dollars on the global war on terror so far.

And yet they’re still fighting.

Extrapolate that to the resources necessary for the U.S. Military to conquer North America, and some 20-30 million (if we go with the low estimates) of gun owners. Keep in mind that it took the better part of a century – from Fallen Timbers to Wounded Knee, for the U.S. Military to take North America from a variety of Indian nations, all of whom stepped out of the Stone Age no sooner than their first encounter with Europeans. I recently went horseback riding with some Blackfeet in Montana, and they told me that until the early 18th century, no Blackfeet had ever seen a horse. The Indians fought back with every weapon they had at their disposal, at a massive disadvantage in population and firepower, and it still took decades to defeat them. And they weren’t even unified. The Apache, Comanche, Iriquois, Dakota, etc., each fought their own individual war against the invader. And they each went down hard.

Oh, but that was when we had an emaciated army, underfunded and undermanned? Sure. But Correia reminds us not to be to sure of that high-tech, all volunteer military, to say nothing of the cops:

The problem with all those advanced weapons systems you don’t understand, but keep sticking onto memes, is guess who builds them, maintains them, and drives them?… Those drones you guys like to go on about, and barely understand? One of the contracts I worked on was maintaining the servers for them. Guess which way most military contractors vote? Duh. Though honestly, if I was still in my Evil Military Industrial Complex job when this went down, I’d just quietly embezzle and funnel millions of DOD dollars to the rebels.

This is what prompted me to come into this, as someone who just finished writing a novel that takes place in the Civil War, especially Sherman’s March: in 1861, the U.S. Military had about 16,000 men and 1,100 commissioned officers. Of those, about 20% defected and joined the Confederacy. Of the 200 West Point graduates who came out of retirement, nearly half joined the Confederacy.

How long did it take to defeat the South again? 4 years. Despite the fact that the North had over double the population, five times the railroads, and virtually all the industrial capacity. Despite the fact that of the southern population, one-third were slaves who were by definition (until the very end) banned from military service. Despite all of that, it took the advanced, industrialized, highly populated section of the country 4 years of bloody conflict to crush the agrarian, thinly populated half. And that was only because at the end those West-Point-trained Southerners honored their commitments to peace. That’s right, that was after four years of conventional warfare. The Confederates didn’t even try a guerrilla insurgency.

So how many current members of the U.S. Military are right-wing enough to have a real problem with firing on civilians in support of the abrogation of the 2nd Amendment? Wanna bet it’s higher than 20%? How many Robert E. Lees join the rebellion this time? How many Apache attack helicopters do they take with them? How many Abrams tanks?

Hell, how many nukes? Do you know where we keep all of our land-based missiles? That’s right: out in flyover country. When I was a kid, the running gag held that if Montana and the Dakotas seceded from the Union, they would instantly be the third-largest nuclear power on earth. I don’t think they have as many missiles now as they did in the 80’s. But they still have some.

How hard would it be for the governors of those states to order their respective National Guards to take over the missile silos? How many guys inside the missile silos would help them do it? And how many cities would they need to wipe out to win the war?

Two. New York and Washington. Game over.

Now, of course, it might not break down like that. War is never as clear in reality as it seems at the outset. But that’s my point. The scenario in which the 1.3 million members of the U.S. Military are going to be able to contain a guerrilla revolt by a group an order of magnitude larger than them, and within the country they draw their logistical support from?

That’s not gonna be over by Christmas.

The Novel Ain’t Dead. The Industry Has Just Changed.

That’s the upshot of this article at Quillette. While midlist authors are seeing their income shrink, the upper-crust is doing even better: the number of seven-figure advances has increased even as the number of five-figure ones have decreased.

What this means is that the publishing industry doesn’t want to invest in small potatoes anymore – they want profits. So be it. What this means is that authors who once populated the midlist – who got $10k advances and typically made another $20k from sales – are going to find themselves migrating to self-publishing, crowdfunding, and other means. And that means the level of class struggle and agita between self-published authors and trad-published ones are going to increase, even as both get better off.

Fasten your seatbelts.

(Hat tip: The Story’s Story)

Someone Hold Dan Akroyd Down and Make Him Stop Babbling About Ghostbusters 3

Let. It. Go.

For over two decades there was talk of a third Ghostbusters movie, but that particular phantasm never materialized. Instead we got 2016’s Ghostbusters, a reboot of the property with an all-new cast that suffered all kinds of controversy and ultimately failed to be a hit at the box office. That seemingly killed another Ghostbusters in that continuity, but perhaps it opened the door for a true Ghostbusters 3. In fact, Ghostbusters 3 is currently in the works according to Dan Aykroyd, who said:

The same nonsense he always says, it’s being written, he’s hopeful, he thinks Bill Murray will want to, blah blah blah.

Don’t.

Just don’t.

Ghostbusters was a good movie. A classic, even. Ghostbusters 2 was… enh. The cartoon was a cartoon. The reboot bombed. We don’t need another Ghostbusters movie. We don’t need to “save” the “franchise”. It’s not a fucking fast food chain, it’s a movie. Just one movie that was entertaining in 1984. The rest of the dreck that’s been built around it is forgettable and unimportant. Another movie is unnecessary and would accomplish nothing but spark unending debates and wearisome attempts at drollery by idiots on social media. 

The time and money spent on whether determining whether another Ghostbusters movie could be better spent on creating a genuine and new piece of entertainment that could itself become memorable and rewatchable over and over again. 

One of the obstacles preventing Ghostbusters 3 from happening over the years has actually been Bill Murray, who never seemed particularly interested– feeling that there was no way to live up to the original.

If this is true, then the world owes Bill Murray a debt of thanks. I’ve seen some people – like the Red Letter Media guys – blame Bill Murray’s intransigence for the existence of the reboot. That’s nonsense on stilts. Ghostbusters, but With Girls was fated to happen the day some idiot at Sony figured out he could shill some Pepsi and Papa Johns Pizza that way. They ran with it because reboots generate their own press, and controversies generate more. Because existing IP’s are the golden ticket for getting movie audiences in the door, right?

Right?

Bill Murray is right. No more Ghostbusters. No more dumb sequels, unnecessary reboots, and nostalgia pieces. Make something that doesn’t suck. Make art, you monkeys.

maxresdefault

Quick Review: The Outlaw King

outlaw-king

What the wags have called Braveheart 2 came out this week on Netflix, and being a medievalist nerd, I was all about it.

It is a more accurate film that Braveheart in several respects. For one, it gives us the real struggle Robert the Bruce had in claiming the throne of Scotland. None of this sudden Hollywood climax decision with a full army at his back for the Bruce: he had to claw his way to power, bearing a crown no one respected, hiding in the heather from his own countrymen for a number of years. For another, it’s depiction of Edward I of England is probably truer than the cartoon villain Braveheart gave us. If you loved Patrick McGoohan’s moustache-pulling (and who doesn’t? “The trouble with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots!” that’s A+ movie-villainry right there), you might not like the merely iron-fisted politician this film gives us. But Edward I of England wasn’t a cartoon, he was a real man, a puissant ruler and crusader, a man who struggled to restore royal authority after the turbulent reigns of his grandfather John and his father Henry III, and largely succeeded. Call out his excess in this if you like. Say that his cruelty to the Scots crosses the line into wickedness – I can’t refute it.  But he was a man, and not a devil, and this movie does him the courtesy of making that real. You may not recognize Stephen Dillane – Stannis Baratheon from Game of Thrones – in the part, but you will appreciate him.

However, when it comes to Edward II, I think the earlier film got it right:  the second of the Three Edwards (for a century, from 1277 to 1377, the King of England had the same name) seems to really have been a dilettante who had neither capacity nor wish to charge into battle at the head of an army. We see the younger Edward’s weakness in Braveheart, his terror of his father, and silent yearning to be utterly unlike him (a yearning that made him a poor ruler indeed). In this film, the younger Edward is just a bad chip off the old block.

The film doesn’t run the length of Braveheart, so it can’t spend the time building and enriching the emotional life of the characters. We don’t quite see Robert’s emotional motivation to rebel in the same way we saw William Wallace’s. Chris Pine holds more back than Gibson does, preferring to act with his eyes in something of a slow burn. How well he pulls that off is for the viewer to decide.

Bottom Line: it’s both less thrilling and less fanciful than Braveheart. It runs close to the truth, and is never boring. Worth a watch.

It’s Only Words, And Words Are All I Have

This is the pure truth. Stylistic choices are not Divine Commands.

Mad Genius Club

We are writers.  That means our tools of the trade are words.  Most of us — but not all — are more fascinated with words than we should be.

So, why is it most writing books say nothing about words, except perhaps for telling you things like “eschew all adverbs” (they’re wrong) and for the more extreme “eschew all adjectives” (they’re even more wrong) and for the idiots who imbibed the aesthetic without understanding it (older kid had an English teacher who suffered of this) “avoid pronouns.”

Because they really can’t tell you much about what good writing is at the word level.  Because it’s a matter of personal taste and a matter of fashion.

View original post 1,756 more words