Friday, July 18, 2014

Uneven War

In all the horrible news of the plane shot down and Israel's ground offensive, I feel hopeless and without words. Jon Stewart at least was able to point out the absurdity of Israel claiming that the civilians in Gaza should evacuate. "Evacuate to where?" indeed.

I can only refer to this article on Daily Kos to combat the Israeli propaganda coming out of the mainstream media. Apologists for Israel say, "What if Canada or Mexico sent rockets to attack the US? Wouldn't we have the right the fight back?" They miss the point. Palestinians don't have their own separate country or have rights to citizenship in Israel. Palestinians are fucking blockaded and starved and then massacred. Ask yourself instead, "What if the Native Americans on the reservations started launching rockets at the US in revenge for stealing their land? What if the poverty, unemployment, and Third World conditions made them revolt out of despair and helplessness?" In fact, the American Indian Movement did try to take action in the 1973 Wounded Knee Incident, but justice is not easily won. But at least some people at the time could sympathize with the oppressed people and see that the issues were complex. Not so with Israel, where everything's always Hamas's fault, even the death of little boys on the beach.

I wish there was something I could do, besides watch in horror. When will the international community be able to do something instead of going through the sham of the peace talks that always fall apart? I thought the UN recognition of Palestine was going to help somehow.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Back to Court

Well apparently the Conan Doyle Estate is stubborn enough to appeal to the Supreme Court, (and try to get out of paying Les Klinger's legal fees). We'll see how this turns out. They're still trying to run out the clock until the rest of the Sherlock Holmes stories fall into public domain.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rant

Oh fuck it. As if the Supreme Court's ruling on Hobby Lobby wasn't bad enough in itself, now religious leaders want an exemption so they can discriminate against LGBT employees. Obama's executive order only applies to federal contractors as I understand it, so if you're a church or whatever and don't want to comply, then just don't be a federal contractor any more. I mean sure, you lose a potentially lucrative government contract, but that's how it works. You comply with the federal law, including any extra hoops you have to jump through to compete, then you might get the contract. (I've worked for more than one business that has federal contracts, and every year we have to go through mandated training to remind us of our responsibilities to maintain our compliance with said contracts.) So tough luck if you don't want to be a federal contractor under the new rules.

And as for fucking Hobby Lobby, which is not in any way, shape, or form a church--Fuck you! If you wanted a special religious exemption, you shouldn't have become a corporation. You should have become a church! Why should the bosses get to dictate their employees' medical decisions that have nothing to do with them? Why is there no pleasing these insane fanatics? This is why the Citizens United decision makes no sense. A corporation isn't a person. It shouldn't have the right to "deeply held religious beliefs" or to the rights of a natural person. If the corporation doesn't get taxed at the same rates as a natural person, doesn't go to jail for crimes like a natural person, and doesn't have campaign contribution limits like a natural person, then why should it have rights to religious beliefs? Fuck! I used to be curious about Christianity in college (I was raised Buddhist) but the more I learn the more I hate these stupid evangelicals that try to shove their beliefs on other people! Why can they never learn to leave their private religion in their churches and homes instead of everywhere in our faces! This is not a fucking Christian nation! Where's your "love thy neighbor" courtesy and humility?

What a shitty week. How about a fucking Independence Day from religion, huh? That I'd welcome.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Magic and Alchemy

I just watched a season 2 episode of Wonder Woman featuring Ed Begley, Jr. aka Stan Sitwell from Arrested Development. It's amusing, for Ed plays Harold Farnum, an eager fanboy and magician who wants to help Diana Prince in her investigation. There's a huge conference of magicians taking place at the hotel where Diana is meeting an oil prince. Most of Harold's magic tricks don't work, and he gets captured by the villain to use as bait for a trap, but Harold at least successfully constructs a carbon-arc torch in the hopes of escaping his prison cell. (But Wonder Woman just yanks the door open with her super-strength.) "Diana's Disappearing Act" is full of stage magic and mimes and a sinister magic shop. The villain is Count Cagliostro, a descendent of an Italian family that Wonder Woman apparently battled in the 18th century. They've always been magicians and swindlers, and the current Count has a scheme to turn lead into gold.

Harold has a crush on Diana, and wants to be her expert consultant on magic. She tolerates him and even refers to him as a "boy" at one point, though he's clearly not that young. Maybe everybody seems like a child to her since she's over 2,000 years old. I liked seeing all the various tricks performed, and Harold says that magicians refer to their art as "conjuring" since "magic" can also mean witchcraft. My recording blacked out for a few minutes in some kind of glitch, so I'll try to see if I can get the episode on Netflix or iTunes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Klinger Won Again

The appeals court has ruled on Klinger's lawsuit against the Conan Doyle Estate. The characters of Holmes, Watson, etc are public domain as long as they are based only on the first 50 stories. The last 10 stories remain in copyright, and are considered "derivative works" of the original, earlier stories. So you only need to pay a license fee if you use material featured only in the last 10 stories. (If you read the PDF, the judge makes interesting arguments based on Shakespeare's characters changing in different plays, and well as the Star Wars movies being chronologically out of order.) Now we'll just have to see if the Conan Doyle Estate is stubborn enough to appeal the ruling yet again.

In the meantime, I finally broke my writer's block on Far From Over. I keep trying to login to Fanfiction.net to add the new chapter, but I can't get in. You can read it on AO3. I guess I'll keep working on the next chapter.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Maleficient

On lighter subjects, I saw Maleficient earlier and enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm actually a huge fan of Disney's Sleeping Beauty film, yet I did not mind the changes to the plot, even if it meant that "Once Upon a Time" was not sung until the end credits. I was a little disappointed that Maleficient changed her servant into a dragon instead of herself, but the battle with the dragon in the castle was good, and I no longer feel the need to see the final Hobbit movie this December. Peter Jackson has milked the franchise too much.

I find it strange, though, that some movie critics didn't like Maleficent. They complained about her character not being a villain anymore. Why? Disney's recent hit Frozen also turned the traditional villain into a sympathetic character whose motives were misunderstood. Everybody loved that film and found it empowering, and enjoyed the fact that the sister's true love saved the day. That's what we got in Maleficient too. Why isn't it great for kids to see that good and evil are not black and white after all? That people can change for better or worse, being both hero and villain? I think that's great for today's complex world.