Commentary 6

O-hisashiburi de arimasu. And a random thoughts post.
  • Binbôgami ga! is finally getting an anime; it's about this girl who's too lucky (and is sucking up the luck of everyone around her), so the gods send a misfortune/poverty god to take some of her luck. Hijinks ensue.

    I'm curious to know how the hell the editors (it runs in one of the Jump family of magazines, average age of the readership is 17) let them get away with that many menstruation jokes. I don't really mind—I have two sisters and my mother teaches NFP—but I don't come from a culture with a gigantic blood-taboo.
  • I recently read two of the New 52 comics (in collected form), and, uh, apparently we were misled. They've barely touched their continuity. Admittedly I read the GL and Red Lantern ones, the little bit of a Batman one I also read did have some more significant changes, but honestly, people were making a mountain out of a molehill.

    I suppose Ganthet returning to the Guardians' quasi-hivemind is something, but then again, I was always surprised they let him get away with founding the Blues in the first place. When half the stuff the Guardians ever did was designed to prevent the proliferation of spectrum-powers—i.e. stave off the War of Light—one of their number who personally creates a battery for one of the other powers is lucky to get off with just having his emotions stripped.
  • Also, it's too bad the animated GL series made Atrocitus so one-dimensional; I like him better as the tortured anti-villain he is in the comics. And I suppose it's too much to ask that he be allowed to use his divination (drinking someone's blood, spitting it on the ground, and using the shapes as omens); there goes their TVY7 rating.

    Is that "hematemesiomancy"?
  • Am I the only one who thinks they should've held off another year on making a second Avatar series? Korra isn't bad, but it ain't nearly up to the original's standard (and the original wasn't, I regret to inform its fans, near as good as it might've been). Plus, personally, I much preferred the first series' tech-level; going to the Taisho/early-post-Qing era was a bit too much of a skip.

    Personally I think I would've gone with a prequel, not a sequel—maybe explore one of those other avatars. And I don't know if I mentioned it here, but being the Avatar is, from a Buddhist standpoint, one of the calamitous rebirths that halts one's progress toward salvation. Then again, the hanzi around the title (降世神通) mean "world-descending god-passage"...because the Avatar is a god. So (if I mentioned it), I was wrong; being the Avatar isn't the eleventh calamity, because "being reborn as a god" was already listed as one of the ten.
  • Incidentally, though the "there goes our TVY7 rating" issue would come up, I think Azula should've done Eagle Claw. It's a variant of Northern Shaolin, and it's always used by villains in wuxia films. Plus, their trademark eye-plucking becomes awesome (from a certain point of view) when you combine it with firebending. Just ask Envy (then again, "snap of the fingers" is an even cooler way to get fireballs than throwing Northern Shaolin kicks).

    One of the characters in something I wrote does Shaolin Eagle Claw, and, at one point, she and her brother combine "attempting eye gouge only to have it blocked by a palm-sweep" with the Three Stooges "attempting eye-jab, catch it on the blade of the hand" bit. Because, as Jackie Chan has demonstrated, kung fu and classic slapstick is like chocolate and peanut butter. Or oil and vinegar.
  • Also—I speak with the authority of one whose total time reading shonen manga probably reaches multiple weeks—in that last fight, Zuko should've achieved lightning-bending. He should've redirected Azula's lightning, she mock him for throwing away his one chance, and then he throw lightning of his own at her. It could come from the serene ferocity he learned from the dragons.

    Then again, I admit that my version does partly stem from my preference that Katara have no screen-time nor story-role, since she's sorta the worst character ever, and all. And yes, I am including Batmite in my calculations when I say that.
  • So, this comment, quoted on Superversive. The quote being criticized actually contains a truth, but states it poorly. The fact of the matter is that anyone who isn't committed to their dreams (or what they say are their dreams), is just going to go about it halfheartedly, and the world doesn't need more halfassed halfhearted half-work.

    Also? We've tried it the other way, it gives you the self-esteem movement, participant trophies, and Occupy Wall Street. Far be it from a Shonen Jump fan to diss dreams, but the other two themes that magazine is built around are friends and hard work (yes, even Binbôgami ga!). A dream you don't have to work for isn't much of a dream.
  • Finally: there is an article (I'm not gonna link it) by some feminist blogger or other, about the creepy prevalence of rape-tropes in geek culture. Which is a criticism I myself have frequently made, and something that really needs addressing. Anyway she made a number of good points, but ended with a footnote to the effect that the "cultural assumption" that "all women have vaginas" is "problematic". Which, uh...someone plainly needs to watch Kindergarten Cop again.

    I have a refutation, by the way. People always try to cite various Native cultures, where there are men who live as women, in support of this idea. But...when First Man and First Woman quarreled (because First Woman thanked her vagina for the food First Man had caught, since she said he only did it so he could sleep with her), and the sexes separated, the men who lived as women went with the men. That is, not having vaginas, they were not women.

    As in all things, reading up on Navajo mythology prevents a great deal of stupidity.


Das Rollenspiel

Random ruminations and reflections on roleplaying, chiefly of the icosahedral variety, and that, chiefly pertaining to my personal campaign.
  • I like the juxtaposition, in Skyrim, of the Empire's Renaissance-level tech with the Nords' Migration Era material culture and sensibilities. That Stormcloak officers wear bearskin cloaks makes me inordinately happy. So in my campaign, the pantheon worshiped by the humans is a number of totem animals. And class training (I use the gestalt-character idea from the 3.5e Unearthed Arcana) is provided by initiation societies, many of the initiates wearing the skins of their totem animals. They have two societies that train barbarians—one gestalt barbarian-bards, the other barbarian-rogues—and their totems, and the skins they wear over their armor, are polar bear and wolf, respectively. I'm probably going to come up with another society of paladins (eagles, maybe), but the current one I have is all-female, gestalt paladin-fighters, and worships She-Bear, the totem animal of protection and motherhood.

    The elves and dwarves are also gestalt classes, but worship more elemental things—the elf pantheon is headed by the Trunk Father and Root Mother, gods of the world-tree and all of nature, while the heads of the dwarf pantheon are Mother Earth and Father Fire. Both of them have both clerics and druids in their priesthoods (and druids don't regard other societies' druids as comrades—there's no secret druidic language in common to all of them, in my setting, though they can use Sylvan for most of its purposes). The elves' druids, as I mentioned, become treants rather than elementals, and their other gestalt class is barbarian. Also, elf paladins gestalt with sorcerers, while dwarf ones are also clerics.
  • I like gestalt characters, but it creates some interesting social issues. Basically, I decided, a setting with gestalt characters has three tiers rather than just the usual two (made up of people in NPC-only classes, and people in PC-classes). Exceptional people in every society are gestalt classes, then there's a second class of adventurer classes like fighters, clerics, and sorcerers (I think certain things, like paladins and druids, only happen in their gestalt combinations), and then finally there's the NPC classes of commoners and experts (warrior and adept having been replaced by their PC-class equivalents).

    Or at least, that's how it works for humans. I think the goblin and ogre races (the former including hobgoblins, the latter including orcs) have very few gestalt characters, since they lack the social organization necessary for that sort of cross-training. Meanwhile the demihumans only have gestalt and PC-classes, to reflect the fact that they've got multiple human lifetimes to train. One thing I always preferred about the original D&D is that the NPC elves have the stats of PC elves (who at that stage were basically fighter-mages). In my setting, every dwarf goatherd or elf hunter is a full-fledged fighter or ranger, not a commoner.
  • I use a mix of 3e and 3.5 e—which mix I call 3.25e, because I'm a nerd. See, there's things I like in 3.5, like how call lightning doesn't need a pre-existing storm. But I don't like the 3.5 monsters getting huge hit-point boosts, essentially neutering the entire Evocation school (since it didn't make the spells more damaging to match), and I'm on the fence about the "mass X" versions of spells. On the one hand, I see the use of it. On the other, it just seems like it was added in along with the explicit miniatures-rules, which were a blatant sales gimmick (I express ranges in feet, punk, not squares—and you're lucky I don't do it in yards, I learned on 2e don't let's forget). There are just elements in the 3.5 rules that presage the dark age that was 4th Edition.

    WotC, back when they weren't just the miniatures-selling arm of Hasbro, and still had a lot of TSR vets on the staff, went to quite a bit of trouble to playtest 3e. 3.5e was, by all accounts, significantly more hastily-assembled. Why? Money, dear boy. They needed to sell us another set of rulebooks; if you didn't buy adventure modules (yes that's still what they're called, I don't care what they say) or campaign settings, and went third-party for your miniatures needs, well, they basically only got $90 of your money, when you bought the three core books. I don't know what the profit-margin was on nigh full-color books, but if college textbooks are any indication $30 per must've been damn near at-cost.
  • So I was watching the new My Little Pony with my sister (I only watch that show socially), when I noticed Twilight Sparkle is a wizard, Rarity's a sorcerer, Fluttershy is a ranger, Rainbow Dash is a druid, Applejack is a fighter, and Pinkie Pie is a bard. That last one, provably—her song about laughing at your fears is demonstrably a use of bardic music to counteract a magical fear effect.
  • I realized that a very simple path around the OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame problem is to have them A) be friends with the elves, and B) have them be just as nature-minded/druidical as the elves, just in a manner appropriate to their different environment. Come to think of it, maybe (despite my love of Glass equipment in Elder Scrolls) I won't have my dwarves make stuff from red-glowing volcanic glass...but from some kind of fungus.

    Of course, then again, both my elves and my dwarves are an unusual riff on the standard versions, by means of being genuinely inhuman—both are pure carnivores, nocturnal, and take on an elemental appearance (wood and lightning with elves, fire and stone with dwarves) when they use certain powers (barbarian rage, for one).
  • Speaking of tropes, my world handily averts the FiveRaces. My dwarves and elves are both a mix of High Men with Fairy. The humans are Mundane, and the halflings (they're just pygmy humans—think I'll use Cantonese for their language, i.e. have it be a variant of "common") are Mundane with a small dose of Cute. Everyone partakes equally of Stout, since this world is in the midst of an Ice Age.

    As for the FantasyAxisOfEvil, I play things a bit straighter; only the ogres (including orcs) are Savage, while the goblins (including hobgoblins) are a mix of Savage with Crafty. The remnants of a fallen human civilization are Humanoid mixed with Eldritch and Fallen. An evil subrace of dwarves that deliberately "dig too deep" in order to find things to make pacts with, and a subrace of elves who live on big river-barges and practice piracy, slaving, and elf-sacrifice, are Fallen mixed with Eldritch.
  • Speaking of, the Ice Age? Yeah, it's magic. Deliberate, too, by the good guys. Nothing like keeping large quantities of your world's water locked up in glaciers to tip the scales when a sea-faring empire is threatening the balance of your world. Ice Ages have a tendency to drastically change coastlines, and seafaring civilizations don't do too well when all their ports vanish in the space of a few centuries.

    I got the idea from Navajo and Hopi myth; in Hopi myth, for instance, witches were the reason the previous world had to be abandoned. In my setting, there were two worlds before this one; the elves destroyed the first with lightning when goblins and ogres began to rampage out of control, and the dwarves destroyed the second with fire after the evil elves and dwarves woke a whole passel of Eldritch Abominations. That fallen human empire I mentioned, decadent bunch that they were, is why the elves and dwarves caused the Ice Age in the current world.
  • I always hated that humans are portrayed as all-rounders; in my toying with statting-up of my SF story's settings, humans have a favored class (Rogue) and get bonuses to hit with thrown weapons, as well as a bonus relative to other races in dealing with reaction engines (since nobody else uses those anymore). I don't remember if I took away their bonus skill points, but I probably should've—compared to the other species, whose evolution fast-tracked to sapience by virtue of being pack-hunters from the get-go, the leggy hairless apes are half-assing it.

    In my D&D setting, while humans still have their D&D traits, they don't have a marked advantage over the demihumans; as I mentioned, all elves and dwarves are members of PC classes if not gestalt classes. Because seriously, people who live that long don't sit around with their thumbs up their butts. Humans also have a more specialized eco-niche—they only live on open terrain, with the dwarves owning the hills, caves, and canyons, the elves having the forests, mountains, and rivers, and the goblins and ogres getting badlands and swamps. Sure, demihumans don't much mind humans passing near or through their territory, but that's mostly because both they and the humans know humanity doesn't have a chance in hell of taking any land from them.
  • I have expressed my distaste for half-orcs, since they're largely an excuse for adolescent numbskulls to indulge in rape-fantasies (or soap-operatic melodrama, which is almost as bad). Increasingly the same goes for half-elves (seriously, fellow nerds, have I told you lately what a disgrace you sometimes are?).

    In my setting, the only races that can interbreed are humans-halflings, orcs-ogres, and goblins-hobgoblins...because those aren't different races, just different branches of the same races. Some evil mages indulge in experiments with hybridization that create half-orcs and half-elves, but those are the fantasy equivalent of test-tube babies.


AI to Ai to Ai

"Meeting AI, and Love" (AIと会いと愛). Thoughts upon des personnes artificielles. Also, post #400!
  • It's surprising to me how few manga and anime use robot characters for the "kuudere" type (the seemingly emotionless girl who gradually warms up), despite it being an obvious match. They far too often just go the straight eager-to-please girl route, which, while certainly a valid interpretation of the concept of AI (especially for service-'droids designed for the general public), is just less rewarding. Maybe that's just me, though; I have a bit of a kuudere fetish.

    But I think the kuudere idea makes sense for AI, from a science-fictional standpoint. See, emotions are cognitive shortcuts, basically pre-loaded sets of hormonal instructions so your brain doesn't have to manually send operating parameters to your endocrine system. And a "smart" AI, one that learns from its actions, would be quite likely to develop emotions for much the same purpose, to take computational load off its processor while interacting with humans. All it would have to do to avoid emotional behavior resulting in danger (and it would know this) is to always give higher priority to its "safety space" programming than to its emotion programming (that humans can't do that without effort could be an interesting plot element in its own right).
  • How come we only ever—even back to R.U.R.—use robot stories for class-allegories (or occasionally race-allegories, generally rather ham-handedly)? Come to think of it I wonder if it's possible for a robot story to not be at least somewhat leftist—can you make a Libertarian story about sapient entities that are treated as property? Somehow I doubt it. Unless it was to be in favor of exploiting the AIs—the difference between Libertarians and Conservatives is the latter deny the leftist oppression-narrative, pointing out that capitalism benefits both employee and employer...while the former simply decide to posture as Marxism's version of Anton LaVey.

    Ayn Rand always glossed over the question of the working class—and capitalism really does have something to say for itself, go read Thomas Sowell, or for that matter Frédéric Bastiat—by the simple expedient of pretending "entrepreneurs" can actually accomplish a damn thing without a small army of employees. Again, Dagny Taggert couldn't lay one damn inch of track, sorry.

    But race- and class-stories, aside from being overdone in every other medium, aren't the only or even the best themes you can explore with robots. You could make some doozies about bioethics, IVF, designer-babies, and just the concept of personhood generally. Of course, "you treat people like dolls" is the major statement those sort of stories have to make, and there's a multi-million dollar reproduction-boutique industry, with at least hundreds of thousands of clients, that prefers not to be reminded that their business model was borrowed from the Build-A-Bear Workshop.
  • I keep looking for something from D&D 3E that I can use as a fantasy equivalent to AIs. I might have to buckle down and use the @#$%ing Warforged from @#$%ing Eberron, which setting I consider unworthy to serve as toilet paper (sorry, but if your divine magic is powered by "faith", you should be beaten to death with the complete works of Søren "Clap Your Hands If You Believe" Kierkegaard).

    I might just use the stats of the Medium Animated Object; magically-animated dolls as characters has a long and glorious tradition in our literature, and seven of the greatest characters in anime (not to mention any other medium) are precisely that (well, six greatest characters, and Canaria). I'd just have to come up with a special version of the spell that creates a mind for the object (presumably it has to be cast on a mannequin)—probably it actually binds an "Outsider" to the object, or maybe...

    As I write this, I have hit on the answer. A combination of animate object and simulacrum, with a specially-made statue standing in for the snow that forms the simulacrum's body—basically it'd be the fantasy version of mind-uploading AI. I guess it'd come under the "Craft Wondrous Item" feat? And, presumably, at least as hard to make as one of the better golems—the resulting magical android wouldn't be as strong as one, but golems don't have minds.
  • What's with people in stories resenting robots? Even the ones that only act according to programming, I mean. Then again, there really are people in this world whose behavior around guns (sometimes also swords) is only explicable—that is, not completely without cause—if you assume that they're attributing moral agency to weapons.

    Now, any robot that either lacks free will, or can have its free will circumvented under certain circumstances, is not what anyone remotely rational—that is, not batshit insane—would be resenting. They'd resent whatever yahoo programmed the robot, or circumvented its free will. I don't care how devastated some fictional country was by mechanized armies, nobody would be stupid enough to have prejudices against robot soldiers that remotely mirror those people have against other people. People might find the sight of the mech-armies terrifying, they might prefer to have them banned, but they would not behave toward them in the manner that, say, Serbs behave toward Turks, or Poles toward Germans.

    This device's overuse is what Jeff Cooper was talking about, when he coined the term "hoplophobia". Fundamentally there's no difference between this idea that people would resent robots (if those robots were in no way acting of their own will) and the idea that those few, possibly apocryphal, tribes that try axes for murder are the norm of the human race. Even I give people more credit than that, and I'm a gargantuan misanthrope.
  • And if it comes to that, how horrible would a mechanized army really be? Android soldiers don't rape, they don't loot, they don't even have to raid the silo or stock-pens to feed themselves. Those are the things people resent in wars; anyone with emotional maturity exceeding that of a damn third-grader knows that people die in battles. Seriously, read history—it's not, primarily, the directly bereaved who resent soldiers, it's those who are victimized by them in other ways. The actual fighting is a contest with rules every human knows instinctively, including that "getting killed" is the main lose-condition; only people whose minds have been deliberately warped, by themselves or other people, don't understand that.

    Of course, it's doubtful any healthy civilization would ever use large numbers of android soldiers, or, for that matter, much in the way of drone-strikes; there's too much temptation to play god when one can smite with impunity. Automated weapon systems of any kind, aside from the issues of them being hackable and jammable, are probably at least a temptation to immorality (if not actually immoral), unless used in direct support of flesh-and-blood troops. If you don't have to commit actual people to military operations, you're vastly more likely to get trigger-happy in your foreign policy.
  • I forget where it was, but a while back I read a thing about how Terminators make no sense as battle-bots—though the infiltration-models make sense, it's later revealed that huge swaths of Skynet's forces are just fleshless Terminator skeletons, and that's crazy. However, the alternative the writer described—essentially a mechanical centipede that moves "too fast for the eye to follow"—suffers from a much more basic problem. Namely...can you miniaturize a fission plant enough to power that? (Also, just as with alien life, more limbs means more processor-load and more power-drain; four is a good compromise, especially for anything that'll have to manipulate tools.)

    See, a major issue for bots is power supply. The robots in my books very seldom move any faster than zledo (which is to say, no faster than jaguars with Marine training); though they can keep up with highway traffic for very short sprints, it drains their power rapidly. A robot that moves twice as fast as a human is going to have to use twice as much energy as a human, assuming it masses the same as a human—as with spaceships, thermodynamics is a harsh mistress, who knows no forgiveness and brooks no argument.
  • Mass is another issue for androids. If they're as light as humans—and they'd have to be roughly to the same scale, just to interact with human environments safely—they're probably going to be made of materials roughly as resilient as bone and tendon (which are, I hate to tell you, actually crazy resilient—we still can't make prosthetics that are quite up to bone's structural performance).

    That's good news for writers, since it means fight-scenes with them are "man vs. other-man-hopped-up-on-something-scary" rather than "man vs. avatar of a battle-god", but it's bad news for the realism of most robot fiction—most of our bots are just unrealistically strong for their weight. Data, for instance, would only be able to use the strength he's displayed by bypassing his operational parameters; flouncing around with that kind of strength 24-7 would just put unnecessary stress on his actuators, put people in danger, and foreshorten his battery-life.


Comentario 2

  • I was thinking a while back about the TSA and the full-body scans and strip-searches. And it occurs to me, that the Wat Tyler Rebellion, according to legend, happened because agents of the King strip-searched Tyler's wife. That is, medieval peasants—and this was the the bad, late part of the Middle Ages, the thing jackasses in later eras read back into the better times before it, the true Dark Age (worse than the one Charlemagne ended) that started some time between the ascension of Philip the Fair and the Black Plague—did not put up, nor expect to be asked to put up, with something the so-called citizens of a so-called republic are simply expected to put up with, without being asked.

    Then again, citizens of republics have historically been more given to lickspittle disregard for their own dignity in the name of brute creature comforts than the quaint cosplaying fetishists of the Renaissance and "Enlightenment" would have us believe. Panem et circi, medieval Venice, Renaissance Florence, Enlightenment anywhere—pretty much the biggest factor allowing the senates of those republics to be as jaw-droppingly corrupt as they more or less always were (and are), is that "citizen" is not actually a term to which any dignity actually attaches, save in legal theory.

    Personally I wish the history of this language were well-known enough that we could identify ourselves not as citizens, but as churls—freemen of our tribes, holding in our own right (not from a lord) but willing to follow our chieftains into battle if need be.
  • "Churlish" derives from "churl" because, basically, the thanes and earls (that is, warrior-nobles and chieftains, or barons and counts) had an elaborate code of courtesy, that the average freeman was quite out of his depth in—though, of course, still so formal and courteous he'd raise eyebrows at a diplomatic dinner-party (at least one held outside Asia).

    Basically it was the difference between "an officer and a gentleman" and the sort of person R. Lee Ermey plays.
  • I realized, why try reinventing the wheel coming up with languages for a D&D game? And no, I don't mean Tolkien. Do you know how many people think just using real-world names is a perfectly acceptable method? Look at the map of the world Warhammer Fantasy Battle takes place in sometime: "Cathay"? Really? "Araby?" At least modify it a little (and yes, I do mean Elder Scrolls' Nords and Bretons, who are exactly what they sound like).

    So I said, huh, let's apply a few sound changes, derived from the established portrayals of elves and dwarves, to two real-world languages I've got some practice in. My elvish is Japanese, and my dwarvish is Korean (trust me, Koreans are so much like most fantasy dwarves that if one of the Warcraft games had had a dwarf campaign, "Zerg" would not be what we call those people). Modified, though—does "Quonel wuthwaemas elnithamwel wattelwath" not sound elvish to you? Because it's just "Kono musume wa oniisan wo matteimasu" ("this girl is waiting for her brother").

    For my "common tongue", I use...Mandarin. It seems a poor fit at first, but then you remember all those vowels (i and e among others) that are pronounced with an intrinsic r-sound. Haudier Lir sounds like a vaguely Germanic fantasy name; it's actually the Chinese name Li Haojie.
  • People who run manga sites need to be slapped, sharply and often, for their miscategorizations. Just because a story is heavy on action doesn't make it shonen, and just because it's about people's relationships doesn't make it shojo. I've seen Naked Ape series—all of which are josei—tagged as shonen, and series that not only have more fan-service than a wind-farm's mechanic, they ran in Shonen Jump, tagged as shojo.

    Also, while apparently yuri and shojo-ai have a whole lot of overlap—even publishers themselves use the terms interchangeably—shonen-ai and yaoi have basically none. Shonen-ai (or BL, for "boy's love", as it's known in Japan), is about romance between dudes. Frequently whether the relationship is romantic/sexual or just rather-too-passionate friendship is left deliberately ambiguous. Yaoi, on the other hand, is gay porn for a female audience. Learn the difference.
  • And what's funny to me about yuri is, most of it's not about lesbianism; it's just got a "male gaze" viewpoint character who happens to be female. That's not the same thing at all, and if I see one more liberal Westerner mistaking this blatant exploitation for something their identity politics should approve of, I'm gonna rampage.
  • So in his last newspost, Tycho actually used the phrase "infantilizing chivalry". Snerk. No. See, the people in all the world who were biggest on chivalry were also the first people who ever said women were legal adults. All those chivalric romances were written for and sold to noblewomen. I'm pretty sure Tycho has read Dante—has he read Chretien de Troyes? 'Cause women have more control over the plot of "The Knight with the Lion" than they do over the plot of anything Joss Whedon ever wrote.

    No, I'm serious. Ywain undertakes his quest 'cause his wife won't let him back into his house. He fights a giant because a girl asks him to. He then has to fight one of his friends because they're opposite champions in a lawsuit-by-fight—namely, that girl's sister is keeping her from her inheritance (quick, what's it mean when women inheriting property is taken for granted?). There's a reason a medieval poet wrote that nothing in nature acts except to please women—women ran their entire world. Chivalry was a part of that—a deliberate ideological program to prevent men from using the trump card they've always used in every other society, and explicitly without equating women with children.

    See, there actually was an approximation of chivalry in Japan and pre-Joseon Korea, born of the combination of a transcendent existential soteriology (in this case, Buddhism) with the existence of a warrior-caste, just as in the West. Only, Confucianism being around (just as the non-Latin West was still Roman), both the samurai and the hwarang were supposed to spare and defend women, as children, because both were the non-combatant wards of their society's only legal adults. Seriously, look it up—bushido equates an insult from a woman to one from a child, thus a samurai loses dignity by being provoked by it. You don't find that in chivalry; a society where women have property and political power in their own right can't claim they don't know better when they insult people. Women weren't beneath a duel, the way peasants were (unlike in Asia, where a warrior could kill a peasant in a dispute and actually pretend he hadn't just committed murder); they were above it, the way priests were.
  • And before any idiot says a word about pedestals, I cordially invite you to read High Medieval French literature. If the medievals were a patriarchal society that put women on pedestals, then so are the Navajo and the Hopi, who portray women the exact same way. (You've read Native American literature, right? And no, Sherman Alexie doesn't count.) And Navajo and Hopi women owned all the property and decided when to go to war.

    It will come as a shock to you, but the social mores of the Victorians or the 1950s were not the norm for the human race, and they were not the thing that literate people mean when they talk of chivalry. Those societies (especially the former) did, at their best, retain some chivalrous ideals, but all mucked up with their Renaissance and Reformation ideas about sex and class. Even so, there was a reason those people were shocked by Russian or Prussian treatment of women (to say nothing of that outside the nominally Christian world): they still retained some habits from a society whose women had more rights than their Byzantine sisters.
  • Also, Tycho complains in today's post about the new Tomb Raider being "explicit disempowerment fantasy". Uh, yes. That's the people who called chivalry "infantilizing", Tycho—that they're tiptoeing as close as they can to the "Rape As Backstory"/"behind every badass woman there's a rape she had to overcome" trope without actually using it, is entirely consistent. See, the academic-feminist view that shits all over chivalry, is a fundamentally Marxist paradigm: and the revolution must always arise from the oppressor.

    It isn't un-feminist that so many heroines only rise to their power due to having something done to them by men (see also every heroine Joss Whedon ever wrote). It is purely feminist, in the academic sense of that word. There are no Hero(in)es of the Revolution without class-enemies to fight. Maybe you should read some Simone Beauvoir, the mother of all modern feminist theory. Women aren't even people in the Beauvoir school of feminism, they're essentially inanimate objects. Remember whose philosophy Beauvoir followed (and may have ghostwritten large portions of)—and what she let him do to her.


Am Politik II

Thoughts on politics.
  • Periodically I will get caught up in debates on conservative websites with their resident leftist trolls. It's always funny to me, because the little creatures come in with the assumption I'm one of the well-meaning ignorant folks who make up the bulk of the conservative movement—to its credit, generally, but not in arguments on technical points of economics.

    Let's just say it's ill-advised to debate what is or is not socialism with someone who comes from three generations of European leftist intellectuals. Incidentally, it's not whether or not a program is governmental, nor what sort of a tax-rate it's funded by. The determining factor in socialism is putting the means of production in state hands.
  • John C. Wright is infuriating. Roughly two-thirds of the time he is quite insightful, correct, and frequently very funny—and the other third he is so stupid you want to punch him until teeth stop flying up. I'm also quite at a loss as to how he and Mark Shea can be friends, since they are shallow partisan hack vapid ideologues—both of them far too likely to identify the Catholic faith with their quaint political fetishes—of diametrically opposite ideologies. The words "bigot" and "chauvinist" were originally coined for hacks like them, yet neither of them seems to notice that the other is the precise sort of person they otherwise utterly dehumanize.

    Wright, specifically, however, suffers from two problems. First is that he refuses seriously to acknowledge the intellectual vacuity of atheism; he will not admit that he was stupid when he was an atheist (hey, if it takes a miraculous vision before you know something me and Mortimer Adler reasoned our way to, you're probably not at the top of your game). He also won't admit that nihilism is the only logical position in atheist ethics; Stoicism is pure sentimentality. Then again he also lied about Nietzsche, claiming Nietzsche said Christians were cowards. This is Wright admitting he never read the man—Nietzsche doesn't say Christians are cowards, only dupes. It's non-nihilist atheists Nietzsche says are cowards, mostly because they quite obviously are, unwilling to face the ethical implications of a materialist (or otherwise "naturalist") worldview.

    Wright's second problem is that he is far too likely to evaluate an idea based on whether or no it pleases him, or his ego. Thus he pretends Ayn Rand was a coherent philosopher, and Nietzsche wasn't, purely because Rand is right-wing and he thinks (I use the term loosely) that Nietzsche was left-wing (he wasn't, nihilism knows no party). He also frequently talks as if classical liberalism were not the original leftism, especially the English variety (both Marx and Rousseau erred in large part because they went to England and believed the Stalinist lies of the Whigs), and as if there actually were an "English tradition of fair play"—which is a phrase that, fascinatingly, becomes a contradiction in terms simply by being translated into Irish, French, or Hindi.

    I admit I have personal issues with Wright. I got into it with his jackass Objectivist palsie-walsie over the fact that nobody who acknowledges "existence" as a separate concept is actually an atheist, since "existence" is God. Now, I didn't realize that Objectivists think "existence" is the same as "that which exists"—because they're idiots—but anyway it got a bit heated. Eventually I apologized to Wright. And he threw it in my face. First, he said that saying "when Christians say God, they mean the fact anything exists, so nobody who acknowledges Being is truly an atheist" is no less arbitrary than saying "when I say 'Santa Claus' I mean the atmosphere, therefore if you don't deny the air you believe in Santa" (it's actually like saying "when you say gravity you mean 'space-time curvature', even if you don't acknowledge relativity", which is admittedly very annoying to people like Nikola Tesla). Then he compared me to Richard Dawkins. Which, I mean, aren't handguns allowed at that point? What a dick.
  • And seriously, classical liberalism is the original leftism. Not just French, either—the Scottish "Enlightenment" and the English Whigs had more purges and ideological persecutions than the French Revolution at its worst. There is a logical progression from either British or Continental liberalism straight to Marx, and both the French Revolution and the various Marxist Revolutions are really just demonstrations of the question, "What happens when the ideas of English Whigs are adopted by people who are capable of intellectual consistency?"

    The American Founders were not, by the bye, classical liberals; they only dabbled in liberalism, and were fundamentally non-ideological. It's a little confusing because they used Enlightenment terminology to talk about their ideas, but they were, in actual fact, mainly concerned to re-assert the principles of medieval common law. Which principles, incidentally, were mostly shredded by the Reformation or the Hanoverian Succession. You know, the Whigs.

    All the worst things in this country's history, other than slavery (which was just a Renaissance thing) are firmly in the Classical Liberal tradition. E.g., brainwashing Indians in boarding schools—how's that any different from the English policies on the Irish language, or the French banning Basque?
  • So people are apparently displeased that "For Greater Glory"—a movie about the Cristero War—is specifically about Catholicism. Uh, yeah? That'd be because the whole thing was specifically anti-Catholic religious persecution, idiots. Tell me, would you object to a movie about China in Tibet being specifically about Vajrayana Buddhism?

    Incidentally, the US government gave large amounts of material, logistical support to the Mexican government in that war. This is why I can't endorse the American right's view of the world—up until the Cold War, America was not even usually the good guy in the world. And actually even in the Cold War, we were only the good guy relative to the monsters we were fighting.

    Remember when I said it was silly, for example, to call Henry Kissinger a monster? Yeah, I take that back. Kissinger rather infamously authored a memo suggesting we should put serious efforts into advocating population control measures in Brazil...solely so they wouldn't have the population-base to compete with us for oil. So, yeah, "monster" is actually putting it mildly.
  • Finally, I am of the opinion that anyone who does not acknowledge Hispanics as being from a Western culture should have "can't find Spain on a damn map" tattooed on his forehead.