magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
...and obviously rather old, judging by the date on the Scalzi post. Still, worth sharing.


John Scalzi has written an eloquent, elegant, and brilliant post up on Whatever: Things I Don't Have To Think About Today.

[...] Today I don’t have to think about the people who’d consider torching my house of prayer a patriotic act.

Today I don’t have to think about a pharmacist telling me his conscience keeps him from filling my prescription.

Today I don’t have to think about being asked if I’m bleeding when I’m just having a bad day.

Today I don’t have to think about whether the one drug that lets me live my life will be taken off the market.

Today I don’t have to think about the odds of getting jumped at the bar I like to go to.

Today I don’t have to think about “vote fraud” theater showing up at my poll station.

Today I don’t have to think about turning on the news to see people planning to burn my holy book.

Today I don’t have to think about others demanding I apologize for hateful people who have nothing to do with me.

Today I don’t have to think about my child being seen as a detriment to my career. [...]


And Patrick Nielsen Hayden sums it all up:

Spot on. The essence of privilege isn’t wearing a top hat and cackling yar har har while lighting expensive cigars with $100 bills. The essence of privilege is not having to worry about the crap that the unprivileged do.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
I did something amazing today.

I didn't get as much sleep as I needed, woke up tired and hungry and cranky and finding it hard to concentrate, missed one bus and almost missed the one after it, got in, sat down to work, rammed my head against this apparently-unsolvable problem which I'd been wrestling with since Friday, and then immediately got set off by three or four unrelated things filtering down to my from the internet. All this before about 9:30, so, yeah, I was ready to have a really awful day where nothing went right and I couldn't focus on anything and I was stuck in a horrible mood all day. None of that is the amazing part.

The amazing part is that I gave myself 15 minutes – a 15-minute song, actually – to close my eyes, meditate and regroup at my desk, and remind myself that I didn't have to take responsibility for the things that were making me seethe, that I had inroads on how to solve the problem in front of me, and that I had tools like a pad of paper and a pencil to help me organize thoughts and work through them. And after those fifteen minutes I opened my eyes and I got to work, I engaged myself with my immediate universe, and I made progress.

And I felt better.

This is significant because, while I've been working on meditation and mindfulness for a while, this is one of the first times I've been able to use it to pull myself out of that bad a mood. And it worked.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
You know what? I have a headcold right now which is making it difficult to think about anything coherently, let alone put it into words, but it seems to me that the works people turn to in order to laugh, or to cry, or to get inspired by, or to masturbate to, or to fill an otherwise empty time are works which get remembered. If they're not remembered in specific detail, they're still remembered in favorable generalities, or why else would people make a habit of turning to them? The person who reads through en entire shelf of pulp novels, each one pretty much the same to an outside perspective, is getting something from those novels. The novels are filling a need.

And because they fill a need, or just because they comprise a present and recurrent part of the consumer's life, they converse with the consumer's worldview. People get inspired by a football play or moved by an anecdote in Reader's Digest, and those are real effects on real people. If you're good at matching a need to an audience, you can use those vehicles to make real changes.

You can use movies to liberalize attitues toward homosexuality. You can use photo galleries (link NSFW) to alter standards for physical attractiveness. You can use video games to educate children as to how to avoid landmines. You can use moments in softball games to teach lesson abut grace. This is true despite the fact that you'll have no difficulty finding people who will dismiss, out of hand, how seriously film or art or video games or sports should or can be taken.

Intended audiences derive meaning from what's produced to entertain them. By accident or design.

Which is why I balk when people dismiss the impact things like fiction – even fanfiction – can have, or when people say that no one should care what messages are put in movies, because they're just movies, after all. The implication is that things like racism or sexism or ableism or whathaveyou doesn't matter if it's shown in these things, because they matter so terribly little. Because of course the constant omission of the voices of people of color in literature doesn't contribute to the creation of a single story, and the fact that Edward is a vampire and thus clearly fictional means that a generation of young women readers won't grow up to romanticize stalking and other sorts of potentially dangerous behaviour.

Statements like "It's just fandom." "It's just TV." "It's just for fun." assume that people segment their experiences in such a way that those experiences don't ever cross over, ever inform each other. They assume that we gain and learn nothing from those things. And they assume that those things occur in a vacuum, sealed off from the rest of our experiences of the world, whether we're the consumers or the creators.

Human endeavor comes out of human experience and feeds back into human experience, whether or not it's supposed (or assumed) to. In many ways it's completely involuntary, as familiar scents trigger memories or, as Chimamanda Adichie recounted, our opinions of others fill themselves in on a paucity of facts. It's why watching our media, our art and our entertainment, can be such a valuable diagnostic tool as to the lives and opinions of the people – and why working to improve that can feed back and improve society as a whole.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
How many people are socialized into a position where they feel that they have to survive on the scraps of affection left over from other people's "real" relationships?

What are ways of repairing this (broken) social schema?
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Sagan-Man
They laugh now, but within 10 years the city's entire
criminal class will have quit to work on space research.


My adoration for various space programs, and for the larger natural universe, is somewhat hard to define.

I just watched Voyage to the Planets and Beyond for the first time today, and let me tell you, the adoration was there in spades.

At one point you get to listen to the radiowaves coming up out of Jupiter's natural processes. You get to listen to planetsong. I came perilously close to getting tears in my eyes.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
Grah, I'm angry today.

I'm angry because insurance companies consider domestic violence a pre-existing condition (and thus ground for exclusion from coverage), I'm angry because privilege is invisible and people have to lie with bigotry from people they like and love.

I'm angry because a popular show I didn't particularly care about sucks balls when it comes to racial issues and a popular show I actually enjoy is unconsciously knee-deep in racial and gender issues.

I'm angry because calling a good female athlete "secretly a man" or a transsexual or a hermaphrodite is perfectly acceptable and grounds for humiliating them or ruining their careers.

I'm angry because we live in a broken society, and the people with the most power and perhaps the most responsibilty to change that society don't see any need to change it.

But most of all, I'm angry because I don't feel able to transmute that anger into something productive, something reformative. I need to teach myself how to write again, without worrying overmuch about the end product before I get to the end. I need to learn how to harness rage in a way which retains its power and gives it direction.

I need to learn how to sing for our lives.
magistrate: The arc of the Earth in dark space. (Default)
'cause I really love Eleventh Hour. (The British version, with Patrick Stewart. I hear that they're making an American version, and I really wish they'd stop doing that. The British version is fine, guys, it's just fine.)

1) It's a pretty bold genre. Billing itself as science-based rather than science-fiction, it aims to produce shows looking at scientific problems as they exist today.

This is HELLA COOL.

I'm a sci-fi junkie, from space opera/science fantasy all the way up to Dragon's Egg-style hard SF, and I still think this is hella cool. Or perhaps that's why I think this is hella cool. Of course, it's subject to the lensing effect where the more rigorous they try to me, the more sensitive I am to things that don't seem *quite* right, but it's a show that tries, at least, and manages to make running around after scientific things pretty gritty and gripping. How many of my nerd buttons don't get pressed, there?

2) It's adorably idealistic about science, even when it's being gritty with its dark lighting and its (quite good, actually) dramatic music and cinematography. The main character, Professor Ian Hood, will stop to explain scientific concepts to his bodyguard in a way that shows passion and respect for the field and isn't at all hokey. (Or maybe it's a little hokey. Any time you have someone stand there and exposit, it's hokey. But it's hokey in a way that makes me think that the writers, the actors, and their expected audience really want to know about this science and are eager to share it.

I grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was adorably idealistic itself. It focused more often on social and political issues, but that sort of real care about real things in fiction is still my intellectual comfort food. (And then Star Trek slowly became less and less about the ideas and more and more about the franchise and the action, and... I died a little. But this! This is good! And I am grooving on it SO HARD right now!)

3) It's incredibly well put-together. I may complain about the official procedure and how a few of the incidental characters seem more useless/to know more than they should or that it really doesn't feel like appropriate precautions are being taken in this situation or that, but the plots are tightly-woven and well-layered and even if I can predict a twist or two, I feel rewarded. I caught two of the twists in episode 3 before, Kryptos, before they were revealed, and BOTH TIMES I reacted not with a groan but with a "You clever BASTARDS!". The ways in which plot elements are introduced and recur are an absolute joy to watch.

Add that with the direction, cinematography, and music, and WAH. I'm hooked. I love it. It's polished in exactly the ways I like it to be. (Though I will maintain that the lighting of the hospitals and clinics in the first episode was patently unrealistic, even if the visual effect was pretty nice.)

4) Patrick Stewart.

...what? I grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'm pretty sure I said this. And I ♥ Patrick Stewart a great deal from those days.

I had a conversation with my brother once about people who got into arguments about things like how Sisko (Deep Space 9) could beat up Captain Picard (The Next Generation). But that was the thing. Picard never needed to beat up anyone. There were other options available to him.

I love that this is the kind of person Stewart plays. In Eleventh Hour, he's the scientist. Science is the Cause for which they fight, and it's that which leads to the resolution. Science is worth fighting for. It's worth drama. It's worth having a show made about it, and Stewart infuses that role not only with the high notes of passion and drama, but with the sort of presence that says he believes that, too. And... ♥. Just ♥. ♥ forever.

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