Gingerbread men decorated with icing. (Have you seen the gingerbread ninja men? AWESOME!)
Leche flan. It's not a traditional holiday food but it's one I associate with New Year because my aunt always made it for New Year's Eve at her house when I was growing up.
Noodles. Again, not a traditional holiday food. Everyday is noodle day in my opinion! But you can't celebrate the holidays without noodles. You have to have some. For good luck and long lives. It's not complete without noodles.
...the truth of the matter is I don't really associate any particular food with the holidays. Growing up, our holiday celebrations were kind of a mash-up of Filipino and U.S. American and everything kind of got jumbled up along the way. A friend of mine was trying to arrange a holiday dinner and he asked, "What do you traditionally eat for Christmas?" and I got huffy and said, "I don't know what you mean by 'traditional'!" Because I don't.
But I associate these three things with the holidays, even if I also eat them at other times of the year, and they are my favorites.
This post is part of the December posting meme. Tell me what to write about during December! A couple days are still open!
What is your favourite linguistic fact/analysis/puzzle? (cactusonastair)
So I was going to make a big post here picking out at random a deeply nerdy thing I like -- chain shifts! One of my favorite kinds of phonological process! Or perhaps some weird area of English syntax (I am fond of coordinate structure constraint violations and other places where A' movement basically breaks and dies) but I decided I should probably pick something everyone could appreciate.
Regina noted that this is "MrGiraffe's birthday so... tell me something about birthdays. Like them? Hate them? Have a special birthday story? Go crazy."
This is a really hard question! I'm actually not a birthday person, though I do share a birthday with Livia and almost with Kass Rachel, which always makes me happy. (Aries unite!) I feel like increasingly my birthday's become a non-event, though that's not per se a bad thing.
I think about it sometimes, how the whole idea of birthday cake was: hey, special day, you get cake. And the truth is, thank God, I can pretty much have cake any time I want. In fact, I have to pay money NOT to eat cake, or to work my cake off my ass on the treadmill. And you know, there's just no way a person can deserve that. I listened to a thing on NPR the other day which was saying that the effect of the recession on young people seems to be that they're more likely than older people to believe in luck: they got a job out of luck, etc. And that that feeling makes them more sensitive. (Surprisingly, they seemed to feel it was a bad thing overall, that in fact, they were likely to be cautious savers, for instance, but thereby not to put their money in the market and possibly likely not to have enough: in other words, that they'd be risk averse in a way that was long-term bad.) But I think its sensible to believe in luck, and I'm optimistic actually that maybe the luck-generation will be able to construct some social policies that are a little kinder and less smug and assured about who deserves what. My mom used to say to me, when I was a kid, you have no idea how lucky you are that when you work hard, you get something: most people work really hard and get nothing. While I'm babbling about this, the other thing that someone once said to me that I've always thought was profound about work was that there are three things a person can get from a job: money, prestige, or a love of the work, and most people get none of those three.
OK, look, Regina, you asked me about birthdays! It wasn't a fannish question! This is what happens when people ask me nonfannish questions! I'm going to MAKE this a fannish question: I have hardly ever written any stories about birthdays! I did a weird little one in DS that comes to mind, Until Midnight, and a weird TS story about Blair's actual birth day (Star of the Magi) but I don't think I've ever really done any birthday stories!
(Now, masturbating parrots and sentient dolphins, I can do you for...)
You may or may not have heard about the online practice of celebrity fakes. Website after website, one can find images of the most famous in some of the most hardcore pornographic poses. One of those sites, Celebrity Fake, constructs a complete archive of thousands of celebrities organised by name and country of fame. So what’s going on here, and why aren’t we seeing any law suits?
Miley Cyrus, along with other Disney alumni such as Selena Gomez are remarkably prominent and are linked to the most popular on the site’s home page; but the sheer number is unbelievable. Cyrus is found in 432 of these fake pornographic poses.
No-one is spared and very few are sacred: there are 182 images of Princess Diana, 36 of 50-something film actress Annette Benning, 195 of the tennis star Maria Sharapova.
In listings for Australia, Cate Blanchett is reformed in 124 poses; Julia Gillard, six; Kylie Minogue, 524; Libby Trickett, three, and so on for more than 150 famous Australian women.
Googling the phrase “celebrity fake porn” returns 37.3 million sites; “celebrity porn” generates 170 million; and “celebrity porn sites”, 60.5 million.
The phenomenon is hard to fathom and intriguing to analyse. First of all, one would expect that the circulation of false images of very famous people would generate a torrent of lawsuits.
Famed individuals have spent years constructing their public personas and built fortunes related to their public identities so one might think those same individuals would be outraged sufficiently to generate suits and litigation. For decades, scandal and celebrity magazines have been pursued by celebrities with some success.
Impersonation is generally prosecuted by stars and these images are putting their face on someone else’s body and thereby producing a form of impersonation. Recent examples where stars have prosecuted impersonators include
Tom Waits successfully suing Opel – a GM-owned car manufacturer, for using a sound-alike gravelly voice to accompany their television commercials
Lindsay Lohan unsuccessfully suing E-Trade, a financial services company, for a baby called “Lindsay” in their 2010 Superbowl-released commercial who was called a “milkaholic”
In Australia, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is advancing with some success in suing Zoo magazine for publishing a photoshopped lingerie-clad image of her in a rather bizarre, tasteless and obviously humorous campaign to find the hottest asylum seeker.
But it’s difficult to find any lawsuits against fake celebrity porn sites. One of the key reasons might be the awkward position celebrities inhabit in the public world. In most legal jurisdictions (though not all), it is permissible to parody or satirise a public individual and this allows the use of an identity in this way.
The famous impersonators such as Rich Little – “The Man of a Thousand Voices” – were seen as entertainers. The brilliant 2009 brilliant parody of George W Bush interviewing himself by Will Ferrell (below) is certainly worth protecting from litigation. Celebrities operate with slightly different rules in terms of the privacy of their identity – to a degree their personas are in the public domain.
Two other factors make litigation difficult:
1) images are generally owned by the photographer or the agency and it is at least partially up to those people to be initiating legal action and thus celebrities may not be the starting point for any lawsuit.
2) perhaps it is just embarrassing for celebrities to draw attention to celebrity fake porn – after all it is their face that has been used and to draw further scrutiny might be seen as further sullying reputations and images.
From a legal standpoint, the websites make it very clear that the images are fake and this makes advancing a defamation case more difficult and even makes American first amendment defences possible to fail.
In this way, it is different to an emerging online issue generating legislation and legal action – revenge porn, which is much easier to establish its defaming qualities because of its claim to truth in the images distributed.
The end-result for the celebrity would be an inordinate refocus on what they would not – presumably – want people to associate with them.
A growth industry
As this legal inertia continues, there is no question the universe of celebrity fake porn is expanding, partially driven by user-generated content.
There are many YouTube videos guiding individuals to use Photoshop to make celebrity fakes. Other YouTube videos provide point-by-point instructions in how Photoshop can be used to remove clothing from an electronic image.
This uploading of Photoshop production techniques of celebrity fakes by “amateurs” is encouraged by the key sites; moreover, these sites also encourage users to “request” new celebrity subjects to be made into celebrity fakes.
It’s important to note that celebrity fake porn is potentially major entry point into online pornography and serves to link many pornography sites as users move through images. In other words, celebrity fakes do what celebrities do at red-carpet events: they attract attention and that attention is valuable for both the website and those linked to that website.
In that sense, they merely replicate the way the online advertising and promotional economy operates.
That brings us to the last two key questions: what is the particular fascination with celebrity fake porn and why now?
Although there have been precursors to celebrity pornography with magazines such as Celebrity Skins or nude profiles of very famous celebrities appearing as far back as Marilyn Monroe in Playboy, Vanessa Williams in Penthouse or Paris Hilton more recently in FHM, the nature and dimensions of celebrity fakes are quite different.
As with most pornography, the fabricated graphic images presented are generally of women, with less than 5% of all the images being of male public personalities. The target audience – given the images of famous men predominantly resemble gay male pornography – appears to be male.
It is also different to the regular and tired phenomenon of what used to be called the “sex tapes”, immortalised by Rob Lowe in 1988 when a videotape was leaked of him having sex with two women, and expanded through the activities of drawing attention to what would be described as scandalous and sometimes illegal activity.
This practice has been expanded and utilised to maintain the attention of the celebrity press by icons such as Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian. To a degree, Miley Cyrus’ efforts at defining herself as an adult and not a child through her videos, her twerking, and her provocative comments are at least part of this same construction of scandal and attention-seeking that is ever-present in contemporary entertainment culture.
Celebrity fake porn is in some ways much more mundane and ordinary. It is clearly a play in the world of private and public. What it allows its audience to do is to move what is part of the public world and migrate it into a private world. This migration is more than the tawdry use of pornography for sexual pleasure.
It represents a form of possession of a public figure, a fantasy belief in the capacity of complete revelation and exposure of the public personality. This is its tonic for the user.
The images themselves are very often obscene and degrading in their graphic bodily detail and this identifies a further form of possession and ownership that is heightened because of the fame and value of the personality.
Because porn still represents something hidden and perhaps undiscussed publicly, celebrity fakes remain an underworld. But online culture in its capacity to distribute and its encouragement of user generation, produces a different form of public culture, a culture that presents new challenges to protecting one’s image.
Note: The author would like to thank Professor Andrew Kenyon for his insights into the legal implications for public figures.
P. David Marshall does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
An unfortunate consequence of Holden and Ford’s decision to cease manufacturing cars in Australia is the negative impression that all local manufacturing is similarly doomed. Yet there are plenty of local manufacturers that are doing well. We just don’t hear much about them.
Can we learn their secrets for success? Can these ideas be promulgated throughout the industry and help arrest the overall decline in manufacturing’s contribution to employment and the economy? Can we build new industries to fill the void left by the exit of Ford and GMH and can we do it quickly?
Our manufacturers can compete globally
One clear feature of many successful local manufacturers is that they tend to operate in niche markets. But being niche doesn’t mean they are necessarily small. Cochlear Limited, for example, makes the bionic ear: a highly specialised, niche product that provides hearing to the profoundly deaf. In 30 years of operation the company has grown to employ 2700 people worldwide with 800 manufacturing employees, many of whom are based in Sydney.
On a smaller scale, but with a similar upward growth trajectory is Røde Microphones - a private company that makes high quality microphones for the world market. The company employs around 200 people and recently doubled its Sydney based manufacturing facility. Strong export growth over the last decade has also been seen in scientific and medical instruments and pharmaceuticals. These examples demonstrate that Australian firms can compete globally.
A close connection with customers who seek customised products is one of several competitive advantages that can be exploited by Australian-based manufacturers.
Mining equipment manufacturers, for example, work closely with mine operators to design, manufacture and maintain bespoke mining equipment. Here it is essential for the makers to go on site, understand the problem and collaboratively develop solutions through regular communication with the customer.
Defence contractor Thales Australia manufactures a range of systems in regional centres including the Bushmaster troop carrier designed to meet the specific requirements of the Australian Defence Force. The company recently announced export sales to Jamaica.
Australia’s natural resources provide opportunities for the development of mineral products, processed foods and forestry products. We are geographically positioned on the doorstep of the growth economies of Asia. There are many reasons to be positive about the future of manufacturing in Australia.
One key requirement for a sustainable manufacturing is the capacity of firms to innovate. Many of the successful local manufacturers heavily invest in R&D.
Cochlear Limited engages with over 100 universities worldwide and has located its headquarters at Macquarie University. Thales Australia is a founding member of the Defence Materials Technology Centre and supported work at the University of Wollongong on automated welding systems that was part of the recently awarded 2013 Eureka prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia. Røde Microphones has developed innovative marketing strategies to introduce its products to the music industry and was awarded the 2013 NSW Premier’s Export Award.
Innovation comes in many forms and can include technology, management and marketing strategies and the greater use of design principles to enhance product value. These activities are not always mutually exclusive - the introduction of new manufacturing processes like robots or 3D printers can require modifications to the business model, for example. The research sector is beginning to appreciate these interconnections and form interdisciplinary teams such as the University of Wollongong’s Global Challenge Program in Manufacturing Innovation.
If innovation is so important, how can it be made more efficient? Steven Johnson’s book “Where good ideas come from” (2010, Penguin, New York) has identified the conditions that favour innovation.
Essentially, it’s all about getting people together from diverse backgrounds with ready exchange of ideas and information; to provide time to absorb and process the information and “connect the dots”; and look for innovations in what Johnson calls the “adjacent possible” – that is, the introduction of new ideas that are a small, logical step from existing practises. These innovations are the most easily recognised and easily implemented with immediate effect. In this respect, it’s clear that clusters of like-minded businesses benefit from being physically located in close proximity to one another.
MIT recently released the findings of its study (Making in America, 2013) into the state of manufacturing in the US and highlighted the need to accelerate ideas to products. Again, focused activities and collaborative networks are identified as a successful innovation strategy.
Are we doing enough to foster innovation and growth in Australian manufacturing?
The Manufacturing Excellence Taskforce Australia (formerly known as the Manufacturing Innovation Precinct) established by the former federal government aims to establish networks between manufacturers and research providers, but it’s too early to assess the impact.
What we need are forward-looking governments that are willing to invest in developing new niche, manufacturing industries and provide support for existing SMEs to grow.
While there are examples of these processes occurring organically, central governments have a role to accelerate the process and overcome the barriers to innovation like access to capital, skills, facilities, R&D costs and uncertain outcomes.
In both Germany and China, the state has had a significant role to play in supporting advanced manufacturing growth. Our universities and other research agencies like CSIRO are generating great manufacturing-related research outcomes but, ultimately, governments are needed for the necessary investments to get these good ideas translated into industries.
Geoff Spinks receives funding from the Australian Research Council.
Chris Gibson receives funding from the Australian Research Council.
I rewatched Star Trek: Nemesis. Paramount must have just signed a new deal with Netflix, cause the Next Gen Trek films have been completely unavailable for a couple of years, but are now back, so I seized my opportunity. I've been meaning to rewatch it for a while cause, well, Tom Hardy.
No, I'm not spoiler cutting this. It's too old for a spoiler cut.
Keep in mind with this movie: 1 - I've only seen it once before, in theaters. 2 - I genuinely liked it the first time. I really did. I definitely thought it had problems, but overall I enjoyed it a lot. Probably just cause I liked seeing my TNG peeps again. And I liked the costumes and the music. 3 - Though I've only seen it once, the soundtrack was one of my staples for a couple of years, so I know it note by note. Which gives this weird dissonance, rewatching it, cause I'd entirely forgotten large portions of the film, but I knew exactly what was coming cause I knew the music. 4 - Also, this is really embarrassing, but I was absolutely convinced that the actor who played Shin Zon was Asian. I can't even say why. I blame it on the lighting. (That actor is, of course, Tom Hardy, so...this is why I never attempt to identify peoples' ethnicity, cause clearly I'm like that guy in the elevator who asked me if I was Japanese and then didn't believe me when I said I wasn't.)
What I was most bothered by, the first time I saw it, was the blatant, enormous, entirely unnecessary retconning of the universe. We have decades worth of Trek canon, hundreds of hours of the show, but no, we're going to invent Remus! The planet that Romulus has always been in conflict with that no one's ever mentioned before. And a whole new type of radiation no one's heard of before! (Cause christ, there just aren't enough technobabble types of radiation in this universe already.) And Data has YET ANOTHER twin brother android we've never encountered before! (Where did Shin Zon find it? Who cares!) And Picard has ANOTHER extremely rare genetic disorder that's never been mentioned before! Speaking of, the thing that bothered me the MOST on my initial viewing, was that we'd seen a young Picard before--in "Rascals"--and he had hair, and looked nothing like Tom Hardy. I wouldn't have minded this contradiction, since there's the whole hand wavy, my nose and jaw have been broken a lot, I look different, thing, except that Picard PULLS OUT A PHOTOGRAPH from the Academy days that shows young him is Tom Hardy, bald and all.
On second viewing, I'm forced to admit that this movie is pretty shit.
Problem one - It thinks it's an action film. Reboots aside, Trek is not an action franchise. TNG was not an action show. And these actors? Not action stars. They were also kind of long in the tooth at that point to do anything but tongue in cheek action. But this movie is full of long, loving shots of dune buggies driving around, throwing up plumes of dirt, and firefights, and flying a fighter through the corridors of a space ship cause exciting! It's really...not good. I mean, more than half of the screen time is spent on action, using a cast of actors whose primary experience acting "action" was sitting in chairs while the camera shook and the props guys threw crap at them.
Problem two - The plot holes, they are legion. Why do those people on the random planet with B4 start shooting at them? Where the hell did Shin Zon find B4? (Shin Zon's entire plan sucks, btw. Lure the Enterprise to the neutral zone with the hopes that they'll pick up the signal from one android on a planet half the galazy away...) Why, if Shin Zon needs Picard alive in order to heal himself would his crew IMMEDIATELY start shooting at him when he escapes? Why, if Shin Zon NEEDS PICARD TO LIVE, does he waste so much time dicking around talking to him instead of strapping him down and taking his blood first thing? Why does Shin Zon suddenly have the capability of holographically projecting himself into Picard's ready room to talk to him? (This one is so egregious, they even have a line of dialogue about it: "Don't look for my holographic projectors; you won't find them." So...how did Shin Zon get holographic projectors into Picard's ready room in the zero times he or any of his crew have been there?) Why, seriously, why is there a mind rape of Troi scene? That serves no plot purpose at all. It doesn't even serve a character purpose. And it's really painful to watch. Why does the doomsday weapon take seven whole minutes to warm up? That seems like a terrible design. (Just--stay there! I'm going to kill you! In...five minutes! Don't move!)
But for all that, the core of this movie is still a Star Trek idea. I mean, it opens in a senate chamber. You can't get more Star Trek than that. And the idea itself, though so clumsily handled, is an intriguing one. I totally buy that the Romulans would create a clone to try to infiltrate Starfleet, then there's a regime change and that program gets iced. But there was so much more they could do with it. Presumably Shin Zon would have been taught all about Picard's life, if he was meant to replace him. Instead of being a mustache twirler, he could have been a conflicted mess of envy and anger about Picard--wanting to be him and destroy him. And you could have had some truly interesting tactical battles between them, since Picard is supposed to be a brilliant strategist. They tell us Shin Zon is one, too, but we don't see it. There's a real missed opportunity to see him out think Picard, and vice versa. For both of them, thinking that they know and could anticipate the other could be a real disadvantage. I mean, even in the ludicrous fistfight they get into in the film (that old Picard only credibly wins cause Shin Zon is on death's door), Shin Zon was raised a lot rougher than Picard. He should have much better fighting skills. It's all a waste.
Instead it's a lot of "I am your mirror" nonsense. And let's not forget the final FU to the concept the movie is trying to get across, that experience and choice make identity, not anything else: Data has a whole speech about how he is a different person than B4, despite their similar construction. But then, at the end, when B4 starts singing "Blue Skies," we are meant to think that Data is living on through him. Which just entirely blows up the "different person" idea. I mean, it's not exactly a happy ending if Data reasserted himself in B4 and eradicated the other android's identity.
Oh, to the Data thing, in the theater the first time I figured out early on we were doing Wrath of Khan, so knew Data was going to bite it. I wasn't surprised by that. And the only reason I think we didn't get the "Data miraculously lives on through his memories implanted in B4" storyline is that we didn't get another movie.
Also, J.J. Abrams totally stole the intership space jump from this movie. Only in this movie, you jump cut from taking off to landing and don't spend enough time for me to run from the theater to the bathroom and get back with them dodging around obstacles (yes, that's how long it is in Into Darkness).
Hey. Today has been a comedy of errors. I slid my car off the road (go, Iowa winter!). No one or no thing was damaged. Then I had to tell my boss I was filing a grievance at work (more like a clerical error, but still, it must be done.) And then, you know how Bryon gets sick like once every 500 years? Well, today's that day! So, tonight I've been working like two people. I loves me some snow scooping!
Have I mentioned that I never want to go back to being single? Because never mind the loneliness. The workload alone just sucks!
On to another topic. How did this week's dieting go?
Better in most ways. More exercise. Less food. Still came in behind about 11 points.
How's about those stats?
Beginning Wii Weight: 223.8 (My heaviest ever after this summer.)
Wii Weight on 12-10-13: 213.8
Total: 10 pounds LOST
Notes: My lowest was 312.3 on the weekend, which is mostly because I get up late, and that affects the weigh in. Still, with a bit of luck...I did indulge in Zoey's pizza last week, the best pizza in town. I had 3 slices, which might account for that 11 points over.
Weight Watchers on Initial Weigh In: 224
Weight Watchers on 12-10-13: 216.4
Total: 7.6 pounds LOST
Notes: Again as far as Weight Watchers is concerned, the movement has been steadily down.
So...we're into the Christmas season and we're into the cold season, and these are my main challenges for the foreseeable future. Last night, dutifully, I recorded this comfort food Japanese surprise binge. Mmmm...Oyakodon, but who knew that it was *that* high cal? I do...now.
And I gave in to the Puppy Chow that's been calling my name from the campus coffee shop for three days. I was actually surprised at how good a deal it was...about 4 points for 2/3 a cup. There's chocolate, and there's peanut butter and sugar, but apparently, those babies are still mostly Chex.
I still have about 20 points left in my pool. That's not bad, but I clearly need to slow down on the indulgences. I still have five more days this week before the next meetings, and for one of those days, I'm off to a really tasty Italian place.
There will be no Weight Watchers meetings when the college is closed. These reports will continue during that time, although there will only be Wii weight. If I can stay steady over Christmas, that will be a win, but I am going to try to actually continue to lose and exercise. These are the habits I need.
It does help with your exercise when you're pretending to be single, though. I'll give it that.
See you guys maybe Friday. Tomorrow I gotta place a few students, check A LOT of exams, and figure some grades.
dine asked what sort of holiday traditions bell and I have developed together!
The answer is, not too many yet that are completely our own. We do a lot of things with my family, since they're so close. Generally my parents buy a tree with my nephews, because the boys are the perfect age to be very cute about it. (Last time I went, my oldest nephew C. was two, and when he saw the tree get wrapped in twine, he volunteered to go through the twine-wrapping machine.) Every year my mom makes a gingerbread house and everyone who wants to can help decorated--it kinda gets oversaturated with decorating candy, but that works all the better when it comes time to eat. On Christmas Eve, we eat a sort of snacky dinner--no main dishes, just the sides that would be treats any other time of year. Lots of finger foods! Very yummy. And the gingerbread, of course. Christmas Day we do floor hockey in the afternoon, and a more traditional dinner with turkey and fixin's in the evening.
Those are all really fun things but they're mostly other people's things, and things that have been passed down in my family. It's great to have traditions but I think bell and I are trying to come up with some stuff that can be ours.
One thing bell wants to do is have more lights around--silver and blue. Maybe candles, or maybe strung lights. I am 100% behind this plan; it sounds very pretty. Except we haven't done it yet; hmm. Maybe this year we should go shopping for this kind of ornament on Boxing Day, so that we have it ready for next time!
We don't have a tree because we don't really have the space, plus the cats would probably eat it/climb it/destroy it. But I'd like to have something spruce-scented and natural around the place. Maybe a wreath?
Another tradition I think would be good would be more Christmas baking. We could give tins of cookies as presents to people. bell has a book she loves with 52 cookie recipes in it (one for every week of the year), so I'd like to explore more of those and see how they taste! So far we love the oatmeal-chocolate ones very much indeed.
I think we've done better at creating traditions that aren't exactly linked to holidays. We tend to go out on the 15th of the month, as our monthiversary. Since I have reading week in February, we've done anniversary celebrations then that involve hiking, dog-sledding, skating, and eating way too much awesome food in Banff.
Anyway, I guess the answer is, we're still working on it! bell thinks it's crazy-awesome-weird that we will have been together for four years on our next anniversary. I agree, but it really feels like we're just getting started. I think when we have kids we'll see our traditions develop out of how we want their Christmases to feel. I think we'll come up with some good ones!
sineala asked about my favorite Classic Who stories and why I love them. I've divided it up by Doctors, because there was no way I could pick just one or two stories for all of Classic Who. Or even all I've seen of it, which is the Second, Third, Fifth, and Eighth Doctors, most of the Fourth Doctor episodes, and a few of the First and Sixth.
soukup asked: Tell me about what kind of spiders live in your apartment.
I'm afraid I rarely suffer an arachnid to live in my apartment. I do my very best not to hurt or frighten arthropods when I am in their home (i.e. the outdoors), but all bets are off when they're in mine. I have the occasional silverfish problem in my current place, and I realize that being kinder to spiders would solve this issue, but I just am not willing to share my shower with another creature, and unfortunately that is where the spiders like to live.
There was a black widow camping out over the dumpster out back until this last cold snap, but I believe the last spider that actually appeared inside my apartment was a hobo spider. I freely admit that I filled a cup full of water, used said water to knock it from its perch on the ceiling of my shower, and then washed it down the drain without remorse.
Your disenchantment is a threat to our socialist faith.
--E. P. Thompson
Some quick notes on the passages from Postwar which I alluded to in the last post. In terms of the atheist style, a couple of examples should suffice. The first is Judt looking at the impact of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago on socialist intellectuals of Europe, and particularly Paris:
Communism, it was becoming clear, had defiled and despoiled its radical heritage. And it was continuing to do so, as the genocide in Cambodia and the widely-publicized trauma of the Vietnamese ‘boat people’ would soon reveal.256 Even those in Western Europe—and they were many—who held the United States largely responsible for the disasters in Vietnam and Cambodia, and whose anti-Americanism was further fuelled by the American-engineered killing of Chile’s Salvador Allende just three months before the publication of The Gulag Archipelago, were increasingly reluctant to conclude as they had once done that the Socialist camp had the moral upper hand. American imperialism was indeed bad—but the other side was worse, perhaps far worse.
At this point the traditional ‘progressive’ insistence on treating attacks on Communism as implicit threats to all socially-ameliorative goals—i.e. the claim that Communism, Socialism, Social Democracy, nationalization, central planning and progressive social engineering were part of a common political project—began to work against itself. If Lenin and his heirs had poisoned the well of social justice, the argument ran, we are all damaged. In the light of twentieth-century history the state was beginning to look less like the solution than the problem, and not only or even primarily for economic reasons. What begins with centralized planning ends with centralized killing.
And later on the impact of François Furet's La Révolution Française:
The political implications of Furet’s thesis were momentous, as its author well understood. The failings of Marxism as a politics were one thing, which could always be excused under the category of misfortune or circumstance. But if Marxism were discredited as a Grand Narrative—if neither reason nor necessity were at work in History—then all Stalin’s crimes, all the lives lost and resources wasted in transforming societies under state direction, all the mistakes and failures of the twentieth century’s radical experiments in introducing Utopia by diktat, ceased to be ‘dialectically’ explicable as false moves along a true path. They became instead just what their critics had always said they were: loss, waste, failure and crime. Furet and his younger contemporaries rejected the resort to History that had so coloured intellectual engagement in Europe since the beginning of the 1930s. There is, they insisted, no ‘Master Narrative’ governing the course of human actions, and thus no way to justify public policies or actions that cause real suffering today in the name of speculative benefits tomorrow.
I've allude to this sense in Judt's work before--the idea that there is no "Master Narrative," no ghost in the machinery of the universe, no arc bending toward justice. It is, to me, one of the most arresting aspects of the book. It's not that Judt is amoral or disinterested--his heart is clearly with the Left. But he greets his ostensible allies with ice-water vision. , which is to say he subjects his own ideological roots and his own ideological cousins to withering criticism.
Journalists, writers and thinkers are often hailed for their willingness to engage "the pieties of both the left and the right" or some such. Whenever I see that kind of language my eyes glaze over. A willingness to critique both sides isn't evidence of any particular wisdom--the critique could simply be wrong. (Journalists, in particular, make this mistake with alarming regularity.) False equivalence isn't nuance. And moderation in writing style isn't depth. But there is something to be said for real nuance. For trying one's best to see clearly. This book is not simply offering me more information, it's offering me a method of attempting to get clear.
Everything isn't what it should be. The lack of footnotes is a huge problem. (Sorry Dad. That one hurts.) Still I think Postwar qualifies as a "knock you on your ass" book.
Never before have the words "it's complicated" been more true. (And never before has this icon been more appropriate.)
Basically, I either love crossovers wholeheartedly or I hate them with a fiery passion. There really isn't much in between. I tend to prefer crossovers where Fandom A and Fandom B have always existed in the same universe, and I'm picky about stories where Fandom A is fictional in Fandom B until magic/science/whatever happens and then it's not. And I'm even pickier about stories where Fandom A and Fandom B are separate universes, because the laws of magic in each of them are completely different or because they have completely different alien species making contact with Earth at the exact same time or anything else along those lines, until Superboy-Prime punched reality (or, you know, whatever excuse is used).
I'm also very skeptical about stories where the two (or more) canons really don't mix. For example, it's hard for me to buy a crossover between The Dresden Files and something like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural because their mythologies are just so different. It's possible to write an awesome crossover between those fandoms, yes, but it takes a lot more for me to enjoy it than it would if I were reading a crossover between, say, Doctor Who and Firefly.
Fusion crossovers tend to be very hit-or-miss for me as well, but for those it's more about characterization carrying over into another universe enough that the characters are still recognizable. It's trickier to make certain the characters don't seem OOC when they're in a completely different world than the one you're used to seeing them in, just like it would be for a traditional AU.
When crossovers are well-written and, if need be, the crossover element explained in a way that doesn't make me want to punch things, I adore them. They often give an insight into both (or more, in some cases) canons that you wouldn't see if it wasn't side-by-side with something different, and there are some characters who are surprisingly awesome together when they get a chance to interact.
It's just... hard to pull that off, sometimes.
Out of curiosity, I checked my own stats on the AO3. I currently have 22 fics tagged as crossovers, out of the 405 stories that are posted there right now (the other 40 works are vids), plus I have five WIPs at the moment that fit into that category. (Admittedly, three of them are set in the same universe as the Crossover O' Doom, but still.)
Then I took a look at my bookmarks, where I apparently have 229 stories bookmarked. Please keep in mind that this is out of 5126 total bookmarks, plus that total includes "crossovers" such as ones between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Doctor Who and Torchwood.