Goodbye Caine. And Fuck Cancer.

One of our best bloggers and commenters, Caine, has left this life.

This caught me completely and totally by surprise, because I, for some reason, thought she was winning her battle with cancer.

Anyone remember her rats? She’s the one who made me realize just how adorable rats and mice can actually be.

She was a tough commenter and blogger. She was tough in the backchannel, as well. But it was never in a way that wasn’t deserved. And she was so sweet, and so kind, and so friendly to those who deserved it…

I know you can’t read this, Caine, but I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss your wit, your rats, your friendliness, your words… rest in power, Caine.

And my condolences to Rick and everyone affected by her passing.

I wish I had something with which to raise a toast to her.

And fuck cancer.

Banning Plastic Straws is Ableist

Since I just wrote a series on ableism, I guess that makes me an expert now, even though I’m not disabled… right?

Obviously not. That’d be absurd. The experts are all the people who’s articles I linked to and quoted from. And I wish to do that again, because there’s a new movement going around that has some very ableist consequences that a lot of people just straight up aren’t considering or don’t seem to care about. That movement is the one to ban plastic straws.

First let’s start off with the fact that I’m an environmentalist. I’m not perfect… I’m still an omnivore, and I drive a 2008 Scion rather than a hybrid or fully electric car (because I can’t afford either of the latter ones, even though I want one)… but I try to reduce my carbon footprint where I can by driving less, following the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), and so on. So you’d think I’d be the first one to support a ban on plastic straws.

There is a serious issue, here, however. Plastic straws (and, indeed, a lot of plastic stuff) are extremely useful to the disabled community. Plastic straws are more flexible and more sanitary (from a use perspective) than any of the reusable options. They are also sturdier than paper straws, which are not all that waterproof and can dissolve and thus break in liquid. People with mobility issues, or muscle control issues, need those plastic straws.

Now let’s talk about why…

[Read more…]

Rock Isn’t Innovative Anymore

From reading my blog, my tastes in music should be obvious. I like Progressive Rock, Classic Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Blues, Folk, and even some experimental stuff. But my tastes tend to be rather limited. I like guitar in my songs… and not just guitar, but, at least most of the time, guitar solos. But even with those, I’m picky. I don’t like “look at how fast I can play” odes to toxic masculinity (let’s be really… straight speed is basically “look how big my dick is”). I don’t mind speed, but only as one technique in a guitarist’s arsenal of techniques. And considering that David Gilmour is one of my three number one all-time favorite guitarists, speed isn’t even the most important technique, in my opinion (though he did have it to a point, he barely ever used it).

To be fair, no guitar isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. Emerson, Lake, & Palmer is another of my top 10 bands of all-time, and they only had guitar sometimes, with most of the leads being taken by Keith Emerson on keys, while the guitarist, Greg Lake, favored playing the bass guitar, instead. But even then…

Perhaps it’s because I’m a songwriter, but I don’t really listen to music as an escape. I don’t like going to clubs (too many people, too loud, not enough personal space), and I hate dancing (because I’m really, truly, honestly bad at it… I promise you… you don’t ever want to see me dance… you’ll have nightmares). So I’m not listening to music for the rhythm. I also don’t listen to music as background for something. The best time I have listening to music is, in fact, when I can gather a small group of friends, we can pour some drinks, grab some snacks, turn some music on, and sit and discuss it. I only got to do this rarely (and I haven’t done it in a long time… I miss it), but I have done it with Jimi Hendrix, ELP, Led Zeppelin, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Chantel McGregor, Anna Calvi, Living Colour, and Steven Wilson.

And this means that most of today’s mainstream music, including Pop, Rap, Hip Hop, R&B, Top 40 Rock, New-Age, etc isn’t my jam. I don’t hate them… I realize music is subjective, and I absolutely acknowledge the monster talents that can exist in these and other mainstream genres (Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar are just two of many, many examples [yes, I genuinely believe that Kendrick Lamar deserved that Pulitzer for “Damn”]). But, overall, when I look for music to listen to, I look, basically, for guitar-driven Rock… whatever that may mean. In short: I’m absolutely a music snob of sorts. (I still have trouble with Metal, though… I don’t like 80’s Metal at all, and I have a lot of trouble with the harsh growls and screams of heavier, darker Metal [some Prog Metal, and most Death Metal, Doom Metal, Black Metal, etc], despite the fact that the music in these genres is often incredible.)

So you might be surprised to find that I kind of agree with Steven Wilson, here

[Read more…]

Turns Out Pixar’s Toxic

Note: Trigger Warning for discussions of sexual harassment and assault, especially for Cassandra Smolcic’s article linked below, which I am going to quote from. I will quote the less triggering stuff, but even still, the warning applies. And if you do choose to read Cassandra’s entire article, this Trigger Warning applies even more, as she discusses what happened to her before she got to Pixar, and it’s…. disturbing. That said, I do recommend reading Cassandra’s article; just keep this Trigger Warning in mind if you do.

Earlier this month, John Lasseter left Pixar and Disney amid “vague” accusations of sexual misconduct (note: I don’t think they’re so “vague”, personally… and I believe them).

John Lasseter, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ chief creative officer, will leave both companies by the end of 2018, following revelations last year that he sexually harassed employees, according to The New York Times. Lasseter has been on a leave of absence from the studio since November, when he first acknowledged what he worded as “missteps” that left his employees feeling “disrespected and uncomfortable.” In the months since, media organizations and entertainment industry critics widely speculated on whether he could return to Pixar, or whether Disney would force him to resign.

“I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them,” Lasseter wrote employees in a memo in November, when he started his six-month leave of absence. Not coincidentally, the memo and Lasseter’s decision coincided with the publication of numerous misconduct allegations by The Hollywood Reporter, which published its story on Lasseter as part of dozens of others accounts of harassment and assault that came to light during the beginning of the #MeToo movement last fall.

Cassandra Smolcic, a former Pixar employee, published a tell-all in Medium’s Be Yourself on June 27, highlighting the frankly disturbing reality of what it was really like working there as a woman…

[Read more…]

Let’s Talk About Ableism and Intelligence – Part 3 – A Challenge

Content Note: This series discusses ableist slurs. Many of them will be used in full. You are also allowed to use them in the comments only if it’s for the purposes of illustration and discussion. That is, you may use the words to talk about them. You may not use them as slurs in the comments. This note will be repeated on every post in this series.

So I think I’ve done a pretty decent job of laying out my argument. I strongly believe that “stupid” and it’s associated terms, as well as “crazy”, “insane”, etc are quite ableist, and that we should consider dropping them from our vocabulary.

What I thought would be fun is to offer a challenge to all of you. It’s based off of Ania’s own challenge she proposed back on her blog in 2015…

I have a challenge for all of my blogger friends. I want you to try and go one month without using the list of words below. For one month, in your blog posts and public opinions, I want you to not use these words. I will explain why. I will give you a reason, and regardless of whether you agree with me or not, I want you to try. For me.

I want to bring that challenge forward again, and extend it to everyone reading this, as well. Read Ania’s post. Read my last two posts. And, at the very least, consider giving it a try. For one whole month, drop every ableist slur from your vocabulary. Find other ways to say what you mean without resorting to these easy, lazy slurs. Then get back to me.

Why does it matter?

[Read more…]

Let’s Talk About Ableism and Intelligence – Part 2

Content Note: This series discusses ableist slurs. Many of them will be used in full. You are also allowed to use them in the comments only if it’s for the purposes of illustration and discussion. That is, you may use the words to talk about them. You may not use them as slurs in the comments. This note will be repeated on every post in this series.

So, the last post in this series was basically about the history of intelligence and the IQ test, and began the argument for why “stupid” is, indeed, an ableist slur. I want to continue that argument here. There is a very strong (in my opinion, anyways) case to be made for dropping “stupid” entirely from our vocabularies.

But before I do that, I want to say this:

I cannot tell you what to do. I can’t police your language and I have no interest in doing so. I am simply putting forth an argument for why I have dropped words like “stupid”, “dumb”, “deaf”, “blind”, “crazy”, “idiot”, “moron”, etc from my vocabulary as slurs against people. I will even put forth an argument for why using “stupid” as a slur against actions or ideas is… well… iffy at best. It’s up to you to decide whether I’ve put forth a good argument, or at least my sources put forth good arguments.

What I’m not doing, here, is demanding changes to laws that would violate anyone’s free speech. I’m not saying that these words should be illegal. I’m asking that you really think about what I have to say. I do strongly believe that these words are ableist, and as such I strongly believe it’s a good idea to try not to use them. But I can only speak for myself.

And so…

[Read more…]

Let’s Talk About Ableism and Intelligence – Part 1

Content Note: This series discusses ableist slurs. Many of them will be used in full. You are also allowed to use them in the comments only if it’s for the purposes of illustration and discussion. That is, you may use the words to talk about them. You may not use them as slurs in the comments. This note will be repeated on every post in this series.

There’s a few slurs most people agree shouldn’t be said. For example… it’s largely agreed that white people don’t use the n-word, just as it’s largely agreed that straight people don’t use the f-word (not “fuck”). And the r-word is largely considered inappropriate for polite company as well, now, although its use is still ubiquitous in some places (like YouTube comments, for example). Some slurs are a bit more controversial, such as gendered slurs, although I’ve no doubt my readers will largely agree that female-gendered slurs are bad, at least when used by dudes. But there are certain slurs that are so ubiquitous, even the most social-justice-minded of us will defend their use, insisting that they aren’t slurs at all.

I was like this, as well, for the longest time. The slurs in question were slurs that I used all the time. It took me a long time to consider how the entire idea of intelligence, and associated slurs like “stupid”, “idiot”, “moron”, “dumb”, “dumbass”, etc were extremely ableist. In fact, when I first set up my blog at its old home, one of my statements was “I love making fun of stupid people”. This got a response in a comment on a post I put up called An Open Letter to the Secular Community and its “Leaders”

[Read more…]

Quick Blog and Personal Update (That Ableism Post I Promised)

I can’t remember exactly how long ago it was, only that it feels like it was in 2016, when I promised a blog post about ableism and words like “stupid”. Of course, that never materialized, but I kept posting here about how it would be “soon”.

In one blog post I put up a tiny bit more recently (back in August of 2017), I talked about how I actually had a private deadline. No one will believe it, but that deadline is actually approaching. It’s Monday.

Yeah, I did honestly give myself that long.

Why?

[Read more…]

Defending Star Wars and Cinematic Universes

I did not grow up with the original Star Wars trilogy. I grew up with the much-maligned Prequels. And you know something… I maligned them, too. Hell… I maligned them not very long ago, twice, on this very blog. But I went back and watched them recently and… you know what? They aren’t actually as bad as I remember them. Hayden Christensen is still whiny, Jar Jar Binks is still annoying (he would have been such a better character if he had turned out to be a Sith Lord), Count Dooku came out of nowhere (likely to make up for the fact that Jar Jar was no longer a Sith Lord), and some of the CGI was bad even for the time it came out…

But Jake Lloyd actually did a pretty decent job with young Anakin, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi were awesome, Yoda was amazing, the turn of Palpatine into Sidious was incredible, Darth Maul was phenomenal, Queen Amidala was actually a good character and Natalie Portman played her really well, Mace Windu was just plain cool, and the story was really, really good over all.

Yes, I’ve seen the original trilogy, of course, but I simply don’t have the connection to Luke Skywalker that so many have. However, I am a Star Wars fan. Not a big enough fan to have read and collected the lore or seen the maligned Christmas special and that stuff, but a big enough fan to have watched (and enjoyed) both the Clone Wars and Rebels animated TV shows, and a big enough fan to have been excited by Force Awakens, Rogue One, Last Jedi, and Solo. And as I sit here today, people are still fighting over whether or not Last Jedi and Solo were good films.

You want to know what I think?

Both Last Jedi and Solo (and Rogue One and Force Awakens) were amazing films.

[Read more…]

And…

I’m officially 31 as of 1:28 pm.

Today.

It’s my birthday, I guess…

Yay me?

Tomorrow (Wednesday), I embark on a drive down to Georgia (from New York), where I’ll spend a couple weeks or so…

I need a job, by the way. Anyone know of anything?

[Read more…]