July, 2016


29
Jul 16

The Big Lie of Our Time May Elect Trump

One of the great problems of our time is a particular big lie. The lie is that there is “a liberal media”. Of course there are some outlets that are more liberal than others, just as Fox News and many online sites are hyper conservative. But on the whole, the media is reactive; on the whole it simply presents national discourse. It’s not liberal, it’s not conservative. Occasionally something is suppressed, but not much. Mostly it’s just the media. American media *on the whole* is too chaotic, too protean, to be liberal or conservative. But tonight…it may not matter.

In the last few days, at the Democratic convention, there was much that was moving. A Muslim father whose Muslim son gave his life to protect other American soldiers. Michelle Obama’s outpouring of sincerity. People again and again pointing out how Trump has hurt the small businesses he subcontracted, how he has shown that nothing is important to Trump but Trump. Obama’s great speech, Hillary Clinton’s strong, rational speech–but the problem is, the speeches won’t be heard by the general populace, not as they might have been in an earlier era. They won’t be heard, because someone–Karl Rove, and others–convinced many blue collar struggling voters, that there is a “liberal media” that lies.

They don’t listen because they don’t hear–they have trained themselves not to hear. They do not step outside the anti-liberal echo chamber. They do not listen to the other side. And *you cannot argue with a person who refuses to listen to your argument.* They don’t hear about the times Trump demeaned women–and bragged about seducing married women–and wrecked businesses for the sake of his own. They do not receive the information. They are told that “the liberal media” is spreading it, so they stop up their ears. And that big lie might be enough to elect a neo-fascist demagogue to be President of the United States in 2017.

The only way out is to register more voters. To get the vote out. That’s our real hope.


15
Jul 16

Trump Loves Terrorism

Major Jihadist/Isis-inspired/Sharia-fueled/al Qaeda directed terrorist attacks are fodder for Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign. He’s simply had good luck with timing, in that regard. I’m sure he’s delighted when the attacks happen, as much as he cries crocodile tears in the media. “So tragic. Huge, huge tragedy. Tremendous, tremendous tragic-ness. I’m going to change all this, I’m going to get tough on these guys, it’ll be spectacular…” As the attacks increase, often carried out by people who were naturalized citizens of the country in which the attacks happened–the USA, Turkey, Spain, France–there will be calls for more and more preventative measures, which can only be achieved through draconian pro-active “assumption of guilt” moves on the part of military, police, and intelligence services. These moves, carried out against whole communities of Muslims–first constrictions of their rights, then massive across-the-board loss of all their rights–will lead to anger and subsequent radicalization of young, previously moderate Muslims. Round and round we go…
All this will please Isis and its compatriots on two levels. They want to radicalize the young–and they want polarization with western civilization. It is an acknowledged part of their plan to encourage an apocalyptic confrontation. They want a caliphate, but not a peaceful one. The caliphate is only a step to what they suppose will be fulfillment of a bogus prophecy.
As we have more attacks, some of them with great loss of life, here in the USA, and in Europe, we’ll see a state of fear induced in formerly tolerant, liberal people; the tolerant will become intolerant. They will solemnly express regret at the necessity of martial law. They will hope that liberality can someday be restored. But “for now, round up the Muslims.” I approve of none of this; I simply predict that it is coming. Fear–and in some ways it is a not unjustified fear–is like a red-hot furnace that can turn the previously hardened metal of character into something soft and pliable. People like Trump can then manipulate its shape. Traditional, right-wing Christian politicians, too, will use the growing heat of fear opportunistically. I am not sure how to avoid what now seems inexorable to me–but I am sure that if Trump is elected we’ll surrender to the worst in our ourselves, all the sooner. We’ll plunge headlong into some form of theocratic martial law…


12
Jul 16

Screwtape looks for new Ways to Make us Waste Our Lives

“We’re running out of ways to get people to waste their lives! Suppose they realize they’re mortal, suppose their denial fails and they realize they don’t have time to play Candy Crush and stare at pictures of celebrities and ogle monkeys riding zebras on their phones? Suppose they realize that, speaking of monkeys, internet porn is ‘Welcome to the Monkey House’ time? Some of them…are starting to spend more time outside! It must be stopped!”

“You worry too much, Soulquid old boy!” Screwtape insisted. “They go outside…and stumble about staring into their phones. They ignore their children in the park while they check their Twitter feeds. We have them doing all this while driving! The misery they create with car accidents is delicious!”

“But Screwtape old demon,” Soulquid spat, actually emitting a blackened stream of soul-based chaw, “Sometimes they glance about and show an interest in something other than the electronic narcissism we prepared for them…”

“Oh what’s a glance or two! We’ll soon have them back on track! You see–we have now introduced games played outside, like Pokemon Go. The player is only technically outside when theyr’e playing these ‘Geo AR’ games, Mixed Reality games–the player does move physically about a bit, outside, but they’re still staring into the screens! The hypnosis is unbroken! And of course there’s advertising in the game and many other ways we can enter their unconscious minds while they play! … Soulquid, old fellow *do* cease to spit your soul chaw about, I’ve just had my hooves shined.”


6
Jul 16

WHO IS THIS GUY? (Flyer from a comic convention table)

WHO THE HELL IS THIS GUY?
THIS GUY, right here, SITTING AT THIS TABLE
It is …JOHN SHIRLEY, IS WHO.
John Shirley’s CREDITS INCLUDE:
The screenplay for the movie:
****THE CROW
(co-written with Dave Schow–Shirley here wrote the first four drafts)
His Television writing includes episodes of:
****DEEP SPACE NINE
****POLTERGEIST: THE LEGACY
****BATMAN BEYOND
Various eps of the new TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: Emmy nomination for best Prime Time Animation Script for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the new version).
He is WINNER OF THE BRAM STOKER AWARD from the Horror Writers of America for BLACK BUTTERFLIES++++++ and WINNER of the International Horror Guild Award
Writer of the graphic novel THE CROW: DEATH AND REBIRTH (IDW comics)
Author of NOVELS published by Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Warner…
S U C H A S
the cyberpunk novels CITY COME A-WALKIN and A SONG CALLED YOUTH …also Author of the novels DEMONS, CRAWLERS, SILICON EMBRACE, A SPLENDID CHAOS, BLEAK HISTORY, DOYLE AFTER DEATH, and… WYATT IN WICHITA
A L S O!
…Author of BATMAN: DEAD WHITE, author of HALO: BROKEN CIRCLE, author of the BORDERLANDS videogame novels and …videogame writing consultant for TELLTALE GAMES..And!
… author of the novel BIOSHOCK: RAPTURE


4
Jul 16

A Father and Son who made me forget the Drunken Darwin Award Nominees

We’re now living in Washington state where–for the moment–fireworks are still sold openly and legally: big banging ones that fly up into the sky and spray metallic multicolored sparkles. I like professional fireworks shows but the amateur neighborhood sort gets on my nerves. Fire risk and the noise–and our pets hate them. The cats run and hide under the bed, at the ceiling-shaking bangs from the neighbors; the dogs huddle against us, shaking. So I was glad when they finally dwindled to a few lonesome bangs a little after midnight.

This morning, walking the dogs, saw a dad in his backyard with his young son, perhaps five at most. The boy wore ear protectors against the noise of firecrackers, and goggles. Dad was sending up some form of bottle rocket that warbled as it ascended–then it gave out a great concussive bang in a little cloud of smoke. The father made his son step back before the rocket was lit, and seemed quite careful about protecting the lad. The boy looked radiantly happy. Never was a boy more pleased to be taking part in something with his old man. I was touched by the whole thing, and the scene makes it possible for me to forget the drunks and Darwin Award nominees for awhile…


1
Jul 16

VIDEOGAMES: DESIGN IMAGINATION FAIL, FAIL, FAILLLLL

Never mind what game inspired this (Halo 5) but, nowadays in many fps (and third person games) you get many fine qualities but also a big tendency to fall back on trite over-familiar crapola from decades ago. Yes we get wonderful graphics, wonderful action, good drama and actions and voices in cut scenes, good voice actors (That Guy from Firefly and Castle in Halo 5, among others), pretty good settings, generally good interfaces, good music, relatively few glitches and when there are some they try to get patches to you…many good qualities. BUT there are egregious old cliches built into the structures of these rather expensive games and few designers are thinking outside the box. FOR EXAMPLE, we still have “bosses” at intervals, adversaries who are big and harder to kill, and so very very familiar, no matter the details. They usually have the same sneering British diction.

We still have to go to series of devices and switch them off to cause some remarkably primitive super futuristic super high tech device to overheat (!) as if they were steam engines or something. Or you have to switch off a series of powering devices to cut off a force field, and fight your way to each switch, etc. Or you have to–fill in the blank–some other object in some very very familiar way.

Thankfully they don’t make you crawl through extraneous overly convenient ventilation passages as much as they used to. But you have to fly or drive through mazes, you have to shoot flying vehicles in a way that is remarkably like arcade games from 1990, in a somewhat fancier modulation…Oh and you have to build up inventories of something until you create a Thing…and for some reason though you often work for a gigantic powerful military force you’re dropped behind enemy lines with a shitty rifle and a shitty pistol and you have to scavenge better weapons that are lying about on the ground. The whole “find ten power gems to power your energizer blaster” or whatever is very very old…

I could list many more examples. What I’m suggesting is, we are still encountering archaicisms and a general failure of the imagination in game structuring and story.

Some games try to get away from this–RPG games TRY and though individual missions tend to break down to the same thing (like the dreaded building-the-transporter device in Fallout 4) you sometimes get more interesting variations with RPG…