Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Game of Thrones

I don't have anything too particularly interesting to say about Game of Thrones lately, except that I kind of hate the characters they've created to be Robb and Jon's love interests. I mean, it doesn't help that they're only in scenes with Robb or Jon, who were already characters I was wishing the show could just forget about already. Has either shown an ounce of personality this whole time? But now they've gone and inserted these uninteresting, implausible women to share screen time with them...and damnit, I want that screen time back and replaced with one of the Lannisters.

One of the best parts of the series, in my opinion, is the way that it handles womens' roles in a medieval setting. Between Cersei, Sansa, Margaery, and even Myrcella you have a pretty broad theme going on with the reality of arranged marriage, the variety of ways that different characters adapt to the limits of their autonomy, and how they manage to scrounge some power and influence regardless. Even Daenerys, who most of the time is also a character I wish would just toss her screen time back into the pot and get out of the way, is cool to watch as she negotiates the possibility that she could make a strategic match for herself with the guy from Qarth, if she chose to, since her royal lineage is the one thing that his money can't buy otherwise. In contrast, I feel like Florence Nightingale of Westeros and that Eskimo girl ought to be prancing about in comic book style leather bikinis (maybe Eskimo girl's could include a fur cape, for realism) based on the amount that they represent any kind of realistic depiction of the kind of dilemmas that women would face in that kind of society. They're nothing but foils for the already boring male characters they're meant to attract, and it shows, and I'm really hoping they die next episode. (That's the one good thing about the show, if you really truly hate a character, there's at least a 50/50 chance they'll die soon...if only that didn't also apply to the ones you like).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Prep School

So it turns out Mitt Romney was kind of an asshole when he was younger. I mean, I actually have pretty mixed feelings about the whole anti-bullying fervor that's so prominent right now. I'm not a fan of bullies by any means, but I also feel like it doesn't take much courage or introspection to be against one thirteen year old kid beating up another thirteen year old kid, and that it's kind of telling that that's the kind of anti-gay discrimination that we've decided to fixate on. Plus, based on my own memories of middle school...relationships between kids are complex. Sometimes it's the kid throwing the punch that's been picked on the most, and sometimes mockery is a type of self defense too. Or it's a type of flirtation. Or it's who knows what. It doesn't really seem like a situation where a zero tolerance policy is applicable, and the kids I knew at least would be hard to divide up simplistically into victims or perpetrators. 

On the other hand, there is nothing particularly complex about a gang of guys pinning another one down to cut his hair. I don't think it even particularly matters if Romney thought the guy was gay. This was the 1960s after all, long hair was a big deal back then, and it seems just as likely that Romney was showing off his political intolerance. Mostly though I think it shows a sense of humor that's surprisingly lacking in empathy towards other people (or animals...nobody would know that story about the dog if he didn't think it was hilarious).

Anyways, I wasn't going to vote for him anyways, so it doesn't really matter.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I've been brooding most of the day about the idea that the problem with same-sex marriage is that it undermines the "ideal" that children should have a mother and a father. First of all, I'm starting to really hate the concept of ideal when it comes to raising children, period. The idea that anybody is either able or willing to approach child rearing from the standpoint of carefully researching what is most close to being perfect and then following it is ridiculous. First of all, most people would have to conclude that neither their or their spouse's genetics should be involved in the process...forget the studies that show that this, that, or the other thing can have a slight downward effect on IQ, to get real results you need to be willing to swap out prospective parents. I'm also fairly sure that any parent genuinely concerned with maximizing their child's safety needs to be willing to do things like give up car travel and move away from high or even moderate air pollution areas. Or on the less serious side, there's baby names. People have no end of opinions about the doom and misery that await a child whose parents give it an unfortunate name...unless that name is the last name. If it's not optional, then suddenly we remember that somehow, we all eventually learn to deal with whatever less-than-ideal hand life deals us, and our children will too.

But getting past the fact that I really, really need to take a break from pregnancy books for a while (and taking for granted that I actually see no reason two same sex parents are less ideal for a child than two opposite sex parents), why, exactly, would you obsess about the non-idealness of a choice that most people aren't even going to consider making? I think this guy (Andrew Cherlin) might have a very good point...raising children in wedlock confers status, and the thing about status is that it needs to be denied to some people in order to retain its worth. At least, looking at it from that perspective makes more sense to me than trying to understand it as some kind of bizarrely selective concern about the welfare of other people's children. Their goal is not to use the law to coerce others into what they consider better lives, I think most people - even those who I wouldn't call particularly rational otherwise - realize that that's unrealistic. We're talking about people who want to be congratulated for the way their personal preferences and good fortune already coincide with "ideal," who are used to being congratulated for it, and who resent whatever minor extent that might be taken away in order to make the world fairer for others.

(Blah blah blah obviously you can't assume that the whole 50% or so of the population that is against gay marriage is against it for the same reason. You can pretty safely assume that there are a wide variety of reasons out there...but this one I hadn't really thought about today, and the more I think about it the more significant I think it is)