Don’t you dare break my heart, Al

It’s hot out there, and today I had to run some errands, only not “run”, more of a sweaty amble, and I ended up over-extending myself a bit. You see, I noticed while my wife was away last week that we had no family memorabilia on display, and as I get older, I’m gradually forgetting what they look like, and what their names are, and all that sort of thing, and as I looked up from my laptop one evening to this wide blank wall on the other side of the room, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t a normal human being have pictures of their kids right there?” And then I thought, “Am I a normal human being?” and then “Do I want to be a normal human being?” and pretty soon I was having one of those philosophical arguments with myself in an empty house, which was a bit embarrassing.

So I decided I would put up some family photos, just to shut myself up.

I ordered some frames, and went through our digital photo collection, and picked out an assortment, and today I ran (“sweaty ambled”) out to the Thrifty White Pharmacy, where they have one of those fancy Kodak photo machines. Load in your digital images, punch a few buttons, and out pops your enlargements to the size you want. They’re nice. Also popular. It seems their is always a line backed up waiting to print out their photos, and do you know who always has lots of photos they want to print? People with families. And they bring their kids with them, which always seems beside the point — you have your little hellions jumping up and down and crawling all over you all the time, why do you need photos of them? Unlike me, who has been abandoned by his children, and is in peril of forgetting their names (I’m joking. I’d never forget Dweezil, Moon Unit, and Diva Muffin. It was entirely to end that stupid argument with myself.)

Knowing the likelihood of delays, however, I wisely brought a book along with me. That book was Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken, Giant of the Senate.

In case you’re ever traveling through Minnesota (I don’t know if it works elsewhere), I have to tell you that this book is a magnificent ice-breaker. So many women walked up to me and asked, “What do you think of that book?” or declared their love of Al Franken, which meant, of course, that they approved of me and my excellent taste in humor and/or politics. These were all women who had offspring pogoing by their side or dismantling the greeting card rack or just moaning in boredom, but that was fine, since all I was doing was killing time with conversation. Alas, though, I had to lie to them. I told them I was enjoying the book.

Which was only half a lie! Really, I’m thoroughly enjoying the wit and humor, the dedication to progressive politics, the jabs at the many cretinous personalities in the Senate, the decent humanity of the man. It is a delightful read.

As I read it, though, I noticed that I was…admiring Al Franken. There was respect. I had this feeling like finally, someone was saying and doing the right things. Most places in this country, you’re looking at your local politicians and wondering how that thing crawled out of cesspit and got itself elected, but here in Minnesota we at least got ourselves some decent senators to give us a tiny glimpse of hope.

I knew what that means, though.

Al Franken is going to break my heart someday. He’s going to get caught with his hand in the pocket of some slimy corporate assweasel — like Jared Kushner. He’s going to be tempted into a dalliance with some flirty 19 year old Hitler Jugend. He’s going to die in a flaming jet crash. He’ll bury the hatchet and become good buddies with Ted Cruz. It’s inevitable. All of my heroes disappoint me needlessly. It’s one piece of evidence that there is a god, and that god’s primary joy in its immortality is to notice when I’m feeling a faint flicker of hope in someone, so that they can strike them down with a thunderbolt of ignominy.

So I feel like I’m betraying the guy when I say I’m finding his work admirable and his goals laudible. It’s like painting a big bullseye on his back, and then waiting for the ineluctable betrayal.

Don’t you do it, Al. I bought your book. Stick to your principles. Live a long life and do good.

The cynic in me is still bracing himself for doom, though.

The water in Flint, Michigan is still poisonous

I wonder if the problem is the administration of that city is packed with incompetent racists? Nah, that can’t be. Here’s one of those administrators with his own entirely rational explanation for the Flint water crisis.

Flint has the same problems as Detroit—fucking ni**ers don’t pay their bills, believe me, I deal with them, Phil Stair, sales manager for the Genesee County Land Bank said on May 26th during a conversation with environmental activist and independent journalist Chelsea Lyons in Flint.

You may gasp in disbelief, but there is a recording of the conversation. That’s his argument.

Read the whole thing.

Corruption in Flint runs deep; as do the racist undertones of its officials. Government officials, both elected and appointed, have a habit of blaming Flint’s problems on the poorest and most vulnerable. In reality, the families trying to get by in a dilapidated city suffer through rate hikes, water shutoffs and tax liens while the taxpayer-funded employees get raise after raise after raise.

Do not praise the heroes of slavery

If you know anything about Robert E. Lee, it’s probably a mythic image, constructed by apologists for the Confederacy. He’s a heroic figure mounted on a horse, and at least in my head, his story is narrated in the honeyed voice of Shelby Foote, and he spins a story about a noble, courtly, gentle man, beloved by his troops, who only made the decision to lead the southern army because of his strong principles and love for his native Virginia.

He’s defended even now.

Nevertheless, I do not believe Lee deserves only censure and denunciation. I am not an expert on Lee, but to the extent I have read and learned about his life, I cannot object to the admiration many believe he earned as a man of dignity, honor, reserve, and duty. He was a devoted husband and father, an accomplished engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, a hero in the Mexican-American War, a competent superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and a man who earned the esteem of his contemporaries because of his competence, his accomplishments, his seriousness of purpose, and his overarching aura of personal dignity and honor. His superior during the Mexican-American War, General Winfield Scott, stated that Lee was ‘the very best soldier I ever saw in the field.’

That’s the standard myth. Maybe you ought to take a clue from the phrase I highlighted, and look to people who are experts on Lee. Maybe you ought to be suspicious when a human being is so thoroughly deified. This is why you have to respect honest historians, because they expose the truth. Lee was not a good man.

Lee’s heavy hand on the Arlington plantation, Pryor writes, nearly lead to a slave revolt, in part because the enslaved had been expected to be freed upon their previous master’s death, and Lee had engaged in a dubious legal interpretation of his will in order to keep them as his property, one that lasted until a Virginia court forced him to free them.

When two of his slaves escaped and were recaptured, Lee either beat them himself or ordered the overseer to “lay it on well.” Wesley Norris, one of the slaves who was whipped, recalled that “not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.”

He may have respected his men, but only when they were white.

Lee’s cruelty as a slavemaster was not confined to physical punishment. In Reading The Man, historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s portrait of Lee through his writings, Pryor writes that “Lee ruptured the Washington and Custis tradition of respecting slave families,” by hiring them off to other plantations, and that “by 1860 he had broken up every family but one on the estate, some of whom had been together since Mount Vernon days.” The separation of slave families was one of the most unfathomably devastating aspects of slavery, and Pryor wrote that Lee’s slaves regarded him as “the worst man I ever see.”

Reminder: the Father of our Country, George Washington, and his wife Martha, were also horrible people who kept slaves, but they weren’t quite as vile to them as Robert E. Lee. We praise them all with faint damns.

In summary, then, rather than the courtly gentleman, he was a terrible racist who treated human beings like animals. Worse than animals; we don’t condone abuse of farm animals, but he was a man who thought his black slaves needed brutal corrective discipline.

Lee had beaten or ordered his own slaves to be beaten for the crime of wanting to be free, he fought for the preservation of slavery, his army kidnapped free blacks at gunpoint and made them unfree—but all of this, he insisted, had occurred only because of the great Christian love the South held for blacks. Here we truly understand Frederick Douglass’ admonition that “between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.”

But then he lost his war. He was ‘punished’ for his treachery by being allowed to return to private life, and was even rewarded by an appointment to the presidency of a university. Surely he was chastised and softened his views? No, that’s not how psychology works.

Publicly, Lee argued against the enfranchisement of blacks, and raged against Republican efforts to enforce racial equality on the South. Lee told Congress that blacks lacked the intellectual capacity of whites and “could not vote intelligently” and that granting them suffrage would “excite unfriendly feelings between the two races.” Lee explained that “the negroes have neither the intelligence nor the other qualifications which are necessary to make them safe depositories of political power.” To the extent that Lee believed in reconciliation, it was between white people, and only on the precondition that black people would be denied political power and therefore the ability to shape their own fate.

Lee is not remembered as an educator, but his life as president of Washington College (later Washington and Lee) is tainted as well. According to Pryor, students at Washington formed their own chapter of the KKK, and were known by the local Freedmen’s Bureau to attempt to abduct and rape black schoolgirls from the nearby black schools.

There were at least two attempted lynchings by Washington students during his tenure, and Pryor writes that “the number of accusations against Washington College boys indicates that he either punished the racial harassment more laxly than other misdemeanors, or turned a blind eye to it,” adding that he “did not exercise the near imperial control he had at the school, as he did for more trivial matters, such as when the boys threatened to take unofficial Christmas holidays.” In short, Lee was as indifferent to crimes of violence towards blacks carried out by his students as he was when they was carried out by his soldiers.

Why were statues erected to this bigot in the first place? There’s always the danger of lapsing into a Whig view of history, judging people by our modern enlightenment rather than the by the primitive standards of their own time, but this was a traitor who fought for slavery at a time when people were willing to fight a bloody war to end that oppressive institution, in which 2% of the population would die, which says that he was not simply a man of his time. It was also a time when the views of those black slaves were discounted, and they clearly thought he was a monster.

If you want to believe in a real conspiracy theory, here it is: defeated Southern leaders engaged in a successful campaign to rewrite the history books and venerate the villains in the Civil War, and they’ve largely accomplished their goals. They don’t say “Hail Hydra”; it’s “The South will rise again.” They also don’t whisper it to only their confederates; they shout it out loud, proudly.

100 penises

As you might guess, this collection of photos is not safe for work, even though there is nothing particularly prurient about it. One hundred men stood in nearly identical poses, and were then photographed between waist and thighs, and there they are, a hundred weird-looking dinguses in an array.

What’s striking is how much variability there is. It looks to me like evolution has not been paying much attention to this feature: they all work well enough so the differences really don’t matter much. “Normal” is a word that covers a surprisingly wide range here.

Enough with this buggy hosting service

Freethoughtblogs is moving! We’re not getting much help with the bugginess from our current hosting service, so we’re packing up the ol’ collection of data and moving it to a new site. This’ll be mostly invisible and painless, but there might be a brief lockout tomorrow or the day after as the transition is made. The pattern of glitchy interruptions should end early this week.

In the wake of yet another terror attack

Juan Cole has sensible ideas about what to do. You respond by strengthening the bonds within your nation in positive ways. Lashing out against your own citizens because they share a skin color or religion with the attackers is exactly what the terrorists want, while responding with empathy and bringing together targeted communities frustrates their goals. Terrorist organizations like ISIL thrive on alienation — it’s how they recruit.

You know what is a truly, deeply terrible idea?

The alt-right, under the banner of Pepe the Frog, are raising money to buy boats to intercept refugees fleeing Africa and the Middle East for Europe. They want to block a humanitarian mission — these are people who are desperate and likely to drown, and the Right says, let ’em drown.

We want to get a crew, equip a boat and set sail to the Mediterranean ocean to chase down the enemies of Europe.

I think the “enemies of Europe” are the people who want to let human beings die, and are unable to see that rescuing people and supporting them is a way to make friends, not enemies.

Meanwhile, in America, jingoistic buffoons are staging a pro-fascism rally in Portland. It seems the prerequisites to being a “star” of that movement are to be loud and inarticulate, and wear a goofy, attention-grabbing costume: “Based Trojan”, “Based Stick Man”, etc., where you can see that another prerequisite is to use 4chan-style memes. These people are my enemies, who are aiding terrorists. Who are terrorists themselves.

Two comedians

Good comics challenge those in power. Hacks suck up to power.

Here’s a hack for you: Bill Maher. Bill got together with a Republican, Ben Sasse, and as privileged and oblivious white people are wont to do in conversation, yucked it up by mocking the black and the underprivileged, making light of slavery and using a word white people should never, ever use. I shall refer you to Damon Young, a Very Smart Brotha, for the definitive ruling.

Nigga and nigger are two separate words with two separate meanings and connotations, and White people — regardless of how “down” or woke” they want to be — aint allowed to say either. Sorry, y’all. (And by “Sorry, y’all” I mean “LOLOLOL not fucking sorry at all get the fuck out of here and go kick some gluten-free rocks.”)

It’s a really simple rule. And no, you don’t get an exemption when you’re kicking it back with a chummy conservative senator from a conservative state. Actually, that’s about the worst time you can feel free to get a laugh about black people.

Young has more to say.

It’s apropos that he’d catch this heat — and possibly lose his show — for saying this word, as it provides a convenient intersection for two similar issues: White people vexed that they’re not allowed to say this word, and privileged White people — privileged White men, specifically — lamenting on how political correctness and “outrage culture” has made us too sensitive. Both issues are issues because of (some) White people’s unfamiliarity with the concept of “No.” Where they’re so used to being able to do and say what they want — believing they possess some sort of manifest destined dominion over literally everything — that saying “Yeah, you can’t do this one thing” contradicts their personhood and their Whiteness. “What do you mean I can’t do this one thing? I’m White! I can do everything! I thought the life-long “Do Everything” pass came with the membership package! I need to see a manager!“

I have two objections.

  1. This is Bill Maher. He’s kind of the epitome of neo-liberal white obliviousness. It’s a good characterization, but humility and respect for others ain’t how he got his show.

  2. “possibly lose his show”…I am laughing over here. He won’t lose his show! He’s a white male comedian with a reputation for “edginess”, which covers a multitude of sins! Also, it’s not as if he made a Republican uncomfortable.

But you know who is going to lose a show? Kathy Griffin. This one is more complicated.

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Ken Ham, black person who is a pale shade of beige

Ken Ham is claiming that he doesn’t see color — that there is no such thing as a white person or a black person, and that he, goofy Australian bible-thumper, is not white. A scientist (well, a competent scientist) would say that the conventional clustering of traits associated with being black or white is artificial and does not align at all well with genuine biological groupings, but that is something different.

There is no genetic sequence unique to blacks or whites or Asians. In fact, these categories don’t reflect biological groupings at all. There is more genetic variation in the diverse populations from the continent of Africa (who some would lump into a “black” category) than exists in ALL populations from outside of Africa (the rest of the world) combined!

There are no specific racial genes. There are no genes that make blacks in the USA more susceptible to high blood pressure, just as there are no genes for particular kinds of cancers that can be assigned to only one racial grouping. There is no neurological patterning that distinguishes races from one another, nor are there patterns in muscle development and structure, digestive tracts, hand-eye coordination, or any other such measures.

But at the same time, the cultural construct of race is very real and has devastating effects on people. You cannot deny that American black people are socially handicapped by the color of their skin, just as American white people have benefitted immensely from history and policies that favored them.

… if you look across the USA you can see that there are patterns of racial difference, such as income inequalities, health disparities, differences in academic achievement and representation in professional sports. If one thinks that these patterns of racial differences have a biological basis, if we see them as “natural,” racial inequality becomes just part of the human experience (remember a book called The Bell Curve?). This fallacy influences people to see racism and inequality not as the products of economic, social, and political histories but more as a natural state of affairs.

OK? So it’s complicated. There are lineages that generate real genetic groups that do not correspond to folk notions of race, so the biological justifications for discrimination are bullshit; but race is also a categorization used to give one group privileges and another oppression. You don’t get to deny the existence of discrimination by race, just as you don’t get to claim biology gives you an excuse to deny the social effects of racist history.

That’s what Ken Ham and other people are trying to do with the color-blind fallacy: they want to sweep away the historical blame for biases and claim that no, they aren’t the recipients of all kinds of advantages from our racist history. There’s no legacy of oppression that we need to correct. We’re all the same! Except that some people just happen to get stopped more often by the police, are more frequent victims of police shootings, have inherited a history of poverty, and are targeted for voter suppression. But other than that, they’re all the same!

Ken Ham has a long and oblivious history on this issue. Here’s an opinion piece he wrote last year on this topic. It starts with a grain of truth and just gets weirder and weirder.

From a genetic standpoint, today’s scientists have abandoned the word “race” for humans — and so should everyone else. I urge President Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others to abandon the word “races” and use “people groups” instead — to emphasize we are all one race, one blood and one family, and get away from any racist connotations.

It’s a fact of science that all humans are the same basic color, just different shades. The main substance in our bodies that determines skin color is melanin. There are no truly “white” people or “black” people. Humans have different shades from light brown to very dark depending on how much and the type of melanin. It’s a fact that all humans are colored people. (By the way, albinism — a lack of the pigments — is a rare condition that can occur in all people groups.) I challenge the president and others currently weighing in on race matters that we are all colored people — just different shades of brown.

Note what’s fundamentally off about this piece: he’s telling black leaders, and only black leaders, to stop referring to race because he is actually the same color as they are. He isn’t; yes, all humans use melanin primarily as the pigmentation molecule, but we also are able to perceive difference in skin color, and we can and have chosen to use those differences to oppress certain groups.

This is a patent attempt to absolve himself of any vestige of white guilt, or any obligation to exert himself to correct it.

It’s a white guy telling black people, Hey, I’ll make you a deal: if you pretend my skin color hasn’t given me any advantages, I’ll pretend your skin color doesn’t give you any disadvantages. What a deal! It’s only fair!

And really, Ham has been going on about demanding that we ignore racism for a long time. Here’s an article from 2007 in which he asks, Are there really different races?. His answer is no, because the Bible doesn’t say it.

He also loves to quote mine biologists.

Darwinian evolution was (and still is) inherently a racist philosophy, teaching that different groups or “races” of people evolved at different times and rates, so some groups are more like their apelike ancestors than others. Leading evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould claimed, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.”

No, first of all, evolutionary biology does not teach that different races evolved at different times and rates. Racism teaches that, and some biologists try to justify racism with biology. That’s the point of that quote: it’s not that Darwin invented racism — medieval pogroms and colonialism and slavery all long preceded Darwin — but that after Darwin, racists believed that they now had biological arguments to defend their beliefs, and those increased once they found ways to abuse the Darwinian rationale. And he doesn’t seem to note the irony in citing a godless, non-Christian scientist who is berating bad abuses of good science.

Ham’s whole essay is a long, rambling mess, in which he tries to argue that because the Bible doesn’t explicitly endorse racism against dark-skinned people, Christianity is absolved of all guilt. Again, let’s just close our eyes to reality: let’s pretend there were no Christian ministers interpreting the Bible to justify slavery, or arguing that the Curse of Ham (no relation) meant that all Africans were condemned to lives of servility and inferiority.

Also bizarrely, he tries to argue that the old miscegenation laws had no religious basis: the Bible only prohibits Christians from marrying non-Christians, which is OK, but doesn’t use the language of race. Right. The Bible, which promotes the Hebrews as his chosen people and sends them marching across Palestine committing genocide, did not have any kind of ethnic bigotry in it because it does not identify the people by the color of their skin.

But, you know, I’m an old white dork arguing with another old white dork about the legitimacy of ignoring the history of racism and the real effects it has on people’s lives. Maybe I should shut up and get the opinions of black people (oh, excuse me, I mean people who have just a slightly different shade of melanin-tinted skin than I do, but which entail no historical and current injustices).

Sincere Kirabo:

Identity politics are a form of political engagement that highlights issues and perspectives relevant to shared aspects of an identity. “Identity” is based on cultural context, social history, and lived experiences. Harris’s assessment of identity politics is suspect for three reasons.

First, it’s impossible to ignore his appeal to “Homo sapien,” which is a sly way of asserting “all lives matter” in the face of noticeable, disproportionate treatment of groups of people. How fortunate must one be to utter this without a hint of irony? Within the context of this discussion, his statement is akin to declaring “I don’t see color. I just see people.” Just like the idea of colorblindness is an act of racial avoidance, so too is the belief that “We’re all just people.”

This sounds cool in theory, but we don’t live in a utopia where every conceivable human identity across all economic, social, and political class barriers is unappraised. Until that day arrives, one can’t ignore that some groups of people are less valued than others based on gradations of identity.

Sikivu Hutchinson:

At a recent teacher training I conducted on creating safe spaces for LGBTQI high school students, a teacher asked why it was necessary to “call attention” to issues of sexuality and difference when LGBTQI students were already marginalized? Shouldn’t educators just treat everyone with the same dignity and respect “regardless” of sexual orientation? Educational justice activists have long argued that the colorblind ethos of classroom instruction disingenuously ignores how the values and mores of the dominant culture indoctrinate us into binary norms. In her book Other People’s Children, educational justice writer Lisa Delpit argues that mainstream classrooms are structured around an implicit “culture of power” which disenfranchises students of color. Consequently, a “treat everyone with dignity and respect” approach that isn’t based on a critical consciousness about how the dominant culture works undermines intersectional identities. In the classroom, everyday assumptions about interpersonal and romantic relationships “invisibilize” queer students. Classroom discussions about traditional straight families headed by heterosexual parents and caregivers perpetuate the idea that good, normal family units are straight family units. Assumptions that everyone has been brought up in a conventional family structure based on a universal nuclear family norm that is uncritically faith-based, brand queer, foster, homeless and secular youth as other.

Anthony Pinn has a whole book on this subject: When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer: Humanism and the Challenge of Race. He explains the way white supremacy wants to perpetuate the illusion that this is not a problem.

we look for ways to speak to this injustice, to force change to a deadly system because “Black Lives Matter”. We want everyone to know this, act on it, and establish new social-political dynamics that make this recognition a safeguard against abuse. Of course, in doing this work we fall back on strategies drawn from the civil rights movement — march, make noise, call attention to circumstances and challenge the moral consciousness of the nation. I, like so many, benefited from this 20th century strategy, but it can’t be denied that the fundamental logic of life in the United States hasn’t changed as a consequence of those civil rights movement efforts.

That is the genius of white supremacy: it mutates and transforms, and it gives up a little in order to present the illusion of fundamental change. It finds ways to blame victims for the violence perpetuated against them. No, white supremacy and its child, white privilege, are the source and the cause. There is a desperate effort to find something in the past of the victim that will justify murder as the safeguarding of order and wellbeing. Yet, nothing can sanction the murder of black men and women whose crimes seem ill defined at best.

You know, maybe the opinions of a guy who thinks the earth is only 6,000 years old aren’t the product of rational, evidence-based thinking.

Hey! Wonder Woman was all right!

For a comic book movie, anyway. There were inconsistencies that bugged me, but didn’t detract from the main story. Like, where is this mysterious island of the Amazons? We know that the good guy got there by stealing a Fokker E.III from the Germans in Turkey and flying out to sea, which puts it somewhere within about 100 miles of the Turkish coast in either the Mediterranean or Black Sea. But then they leave the island by sailboat, and after an overnight trip, are sailing up the Thames to London. Just magic, I guess.

It was also extraordinarily annoying that a major plot issue requires that Wonder Woman’s mother had, for mysterious reasons, refused to tell her important facts about her history that would have come in awfully handy in the climactic battle — instead, she gets them from the villain’s monologing.

Dr Maru, one of the bad guys, is seriously underserved. She’s terribly scarred, but there’s no explanation why she is making horrible poison gases. Her ending is unresolved; Wonder Woman refuses to drop a tank on her (again, mysterious reasons), and we don’t know what happened to her after that. Wonder Woman II?

The story is framed by scenes of Diana Prince working in a museum (?) in modern times, archiving an old WWI photo. That leaves an awful lot of story to be filled in, all of 1918-2017 (she looks awfully good for a centenarian), which promises opportunities for many interesting period pieces. Unfortunately, just before the movie started, we got to see the preview for the Justice League movie, which looks terrible, another dark, murky, grim ensemble story where it rains constantly and everyone is bashing bad guys at night. Please don’t chain the Wonder Woman story to that awful Snyderish mess!

I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that. There were things that annoyed me, but you can see that they were mostly peripheral to the story. Which is, basically, that Wonder Woman is a badass social justice warrior who hears about this big war in which millions of civilians are dying, and she decides she needs to leave her idyllic island paradise and end the war, which she thinks she can do, because her head is full of this mythic nonsense that leads her to believe that all she has to do is kill one Big Bad, and everyone will lay down their weapons (see maternally willful ignorance, above). She is instead going to learn that humans are miserably complicated, both good and evil, and that killing the monster she thinks is the sole source of evil isn’t going to solve every problem.

There is also much heroic charging of machine gun nests, batting away artillery shells with her shield, stabbing of German soldiers with pointy god-killer sword, crushing of snipers by hitting towers so hard they explode (hey, she’s pretty devastatingly brutal at points, so why the hesitation to smoosh Dr Maru? Probably because she has no problem slaughtering faceless mobs of men (misandry!) but sees a toxic mass-murdering damaged woman as deserving a little sympathy), and essentially turns combat into ballet with tracer fire and explosions.

So that was fun.

Undermining the comic book movie trope that beating the one big bad guy will solve all of the conflicts was also nice to see. There’s potential here for a series that contains some moral complexity, spiced up with explosions.

And, of course, the real treat was to see a woman acting heroically, with the men in this story scampering along behind, dazzled by her confidence and strength. That’s a stock role for a comic book story, but usually it’s filled by a heroic manly man.

Turns out a woman can be a hero, and do the job well. But you knew that all along.