Sunday, 19 April 2015

Shabcast 4

Normal shabcast service has been resumed after the unplanned emergency anti-fascist edition from earlier this month (though you may be hearing more from Phil and myself on the issue of the Hugos and the nazis).  

This episode of the Shabogan Graffiti podcast is the long-awaited continuation of my mammoth chat with the lovely Josh Marsfelder, writer of the ridiculously good Vaka Rangi blog.  A slightly disjointed episode this one, but you're getting all the good bits.  The bits I chopped out are mostly me being inconsequential.  What's left is mostly Josh being eloquent and passionate about TNG, Trek generally, Dirty Pair, aesthetics, fan fiction, slash, Mary Sues, singularity archetypes, and all sorts and manners and conditions of interesting stuff.  We also do a bit of violently malevolent hating on Wesley Crusher... which should be entirely acceptable to all right-thinking people.  

You'll love it, trust me.  Hardcore nattering, with no fascism to ruin everything.  Paint a bulls-eye on your heart right now.

ADDITIONAL:  Umm, I've actually added the link to the new episode now. 


Also, here are links to all my previous audio stuff:

Shabcast 3 (the emergency anti-fascist Hugo-awards edition with Andrew Hickey and Phil Sandifer)
Shabcast 2 (First part of interview with Josh Marsfelder)
Shabcast 1 (Interview with Phil Sandifer)

'Mind Robber' commentaries (I join Phil)
'The Rescue' commentaries (I join Phil)
These are best listened to while watching the stories, as long as you've seen them once before.  If you're very familiar with the stories, you can listen to them on their own.

Pex Lives Frankenstein podcast (I join Kevin and James, and Gene Mayes)
Pex Lives TV Movie podcast (Myself and Josh join Kevin and James)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Reviewing Doctor Who Episodes Without Having Watched Them: 'Listen'

This is, of course, another episode that all the usual Moffatistas praise to the skies.  Well, that's fair enough.  All the Moffaty things they love are here.  Again.  And what on earth could possibly be wrong with wanting to watch exactly the same things over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again?  I mean, Moffat makes lots of money writing the same things over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, so obviously repetition is good, right?  Stands to reason. 

Also, such is the religious devotion that certain people have to this man that nothing thrills them more than yet another episode where Moffat sticks his hand up Doctor Who's arse and rearranges its guts to his liking... or (perhaps a better metaphor) meticulously works his way through a library of classics, scribbling 'Steven Moffat is cleverer than the person who wrote this' over every page.  And he is, obviously, because he gets big viewing figures and makes lots of money from being a Whovian capitalist.  The definition of artistic success, clearly. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Public Service

Might as well put this up too...

Been watching a PBS documentary about the Scottsboro Boys.  The narration does everything it can to infantilise the Communists who got involved, to downplay their contribution, to chalk it up to cynical opportunism, to suggest their involvement did more harm than good, etc. 

The basically accurate account of events makes it clear, however, that it was the involvement of communists (and other people who got involved because communists made the case an issue) which ultimately led to the Scottsboro defendants getting even the meagre amount of justice and freedom they did. 

Towards the end, the narration says “not protests or marches or newspaper articles but simply time itself” brought Alabama to free most of the defendants… which, if you stop to think about it, is an absolutely out-fucking-rageous thing to say.  As if just waiting for a while would’ve freed the defendants by itself.  As if the Alabama ‘justice system’ would’ve seen the light eventually even if nobody had ever kicked up a ruckus about it.  As if the Alabama racists didn’t need to be opposed and fought and exhausted and embarassed into submission.

The message is clear: don’t fight injustice, or protest about it, or write about it, or do anything that could be considered political agitation.  That’ll just make you a cynical opportunist doing more harm than good - like the Communists.  Just shut up and wait.  Time and the system will heal all problems.  Then we can look back on it all nostalgically, with a sense of our own modern-day superiority, and call what happened a ‘tragedy’ (the title of the documentary is ‘Scottsboro - An American Tragedy’).

Also been looking at another PBS documentary about what a humanitarian Herbert Hoover was.  This is the guy who basically tricked loads of people into contributing to a charity scam.  People donated to his fund to relieve starvation in wartime Belgium.  But he charged the Belgians for the food and denied relief to areas that couldn't pay. 

He pulled a similar trick with the Russian famine after the Civil War.  The documentary refers to this as a natural disaster exacerbated by the policies of the Bolsheviks.  Of course.  But the famine was the big deal it was, and the Bolsheviks were forced to take some of the measures they did (some of which were disastrous) because the famine came after (and partly as a result of) the Russian Civil War, which was basically a West-sponsored attempt to unseat the new Bolshevik government.  The Americans and the British (largely owing to the agitation of Winston Churchill... who was rather fond of using famines as political tools) not only invaded Russia themselves, but also sponsored the invasion of Russia by a bunch of counter-revolutionaries who were essentially proto-fascists.  They rampaged through Russia using tactics that put the much-more-talked-about 'Red Terror' (which was defensive) in the shade. 

Hoover took advantage of the famine to attack Bolshevik Russia.  He hated the new regime because it had cancelled deals he had planned in Tsarist Russia (along with a British capitalist partner) which would have made him one of the richest men on Earth.  His relief went largely to areas under the control of the White armies.  Even as they massacred Bolshevik-sympathisers, Jews (or just anyone who happened to, in their opinion, need to be made an example of) in horrific pogroms, Hoover's 'humanitarian' aid kept them going.  Hoover's aid sustained the Polish invasion of Russia.

Later, during the Depression, Hoover refused aid to starving Americans, and ordered MacArthur to send in troops against marchers, with deadly results.  Hoover, the great humanitarian, was motivated not only by his private business interests but also by a hatred of socialism (he equated any government aid with creeping socialism) and a fanatical devotion to capitalism.  He once said that the purpose of government was to create conditions favourable to free enterprise.

Fuck you, PBS.

Who's Jack Voting For?

Might as well put this up.

I consider it a moral obligation to vote against the current coalition, and to maximise any impact such a vote might have… which is why, despite the fact that I loathe and despise the Labour Party, I would vote Labour were I in a constituency where such a vote might conceivably contribute towards a Labour victory. 

As it happens, I live in a constituency that has been a solid Tory seat for generations.  Really, where I live they’d elect a dog turd if it had a blue rosette stuck on it.  In fact, when I look at the robotic, empty-headed drone and waste of clothes who currently ‘represents’ me in Parliament, I think they did.

The nearest possible challengers to the Tories in my constituency are the Yellow Tories, whom I am proud to say I have never voted for in my life, not even tactically, not even in 2010 when lots of ostensibly left-leaning useful idiots tried to bully me into voting LibDem, saying (ludicrously as I pointed out at the time - something which I have since very much enjoyed being proved right about) that doing so would block the Tories.

So I shall be free to vote some non-Labour, non-coalition option.  Green probably, since they’re usually the only thing on my ballot paper that looks even vaguely left-wing (despite my issues with their lack of connection to the working class or unions, and their record of selling out workers the moment they acquire even the sniff of power).

I would be perfectly within my moral rights to abstain from voting given this depressing scenario.  Even what I feel is my moral duty to vote anti-Coalition doesn’t fool me into thinking that my vote will mean anything.  Like millions of people who have been effectively disenfranchised by our rigged system and its varigated monopoly of neoliberal parties, I would be accused of ‘apathy’ by assorted finger-wagging smuggos if I abstained.  But abstention is a morally defencible option.  It just isn’t one I feel I can take at the moment.

So I shall hold my nose, vote Green (probably) and then go home and vigorously wash my hands in scalding hot water and bleach, feeling simultaneously dirty and relieved that I managed to do what I consider to be the least possible amount of evil.

Ain’t democracy inspiring?

Monday, 6 April 2015

Emergency Anti-Fascist Shabcast 3 (Hugo Awards)

Shabcast 3 was supposed to be the second part of my discussion with Josh Marsfelder.  (Here's part 1 of that discussion.)  But events have intervened.  Now, Josh and I will carry on our talk in Shabcast 4 (hopefully out quite soon... so you'll probably get two Shabcasts this month, you lucky blighters).  Shabcast 3, meanwhile, has been devoted to an emergency, hastily-convened discussion between myself, Phil Sandifer and Andrew Hickey on the subject of the recent right-wing incursion upon the Hugo Awards.

Download Shabcast 3 here (thanks once again to the Pex Lives guys for donating their bandwidth).  We do a fair bit of fash-lambasting, and Andrew especially gives lots of background to this particular issue, but we also find time to roam and rove a bit around some related topics, such as modernism and postmodernism and geek privilege and GamerGate and "what is SFF anyway???".

Andrew and Phil have both blogged about the Hugos issue (which is why I asked them to speak to me about it), and here are some more links...

Here's Charlie Jane Anders at io9.

One of the movers behind this business is the utterly reprehensible fascist shithead and 'fantasy author' Theodore Beale (AKA 'Vox Day').  Here's his entry at Rational Wiki.  And here is every post ever about him (there's lots of them) at David Futrelle's excellent MRA-watch blog We Hunted the Mammoth, cataloguing the man's career of saying vile, nazi things.  This is the guy who created a slate that swept the nominations at the Hugos, thanks to him organising his tiny gaggle of reactionary scumfuck fans.  Read, boggle and weep.

(Once again, here is the link to download or listen to our shabcast.  Special thanks to Phil and Andrew for joining me to do it at such short notice.)

NOTE 7/4/15:  I originally included a link to a Bibliodaze article about last years' Hugos.  Thanks to Phil Sandifer for pointing out my stupid mistake.