Bye Bye Barnaby

Barnaby Joyce, the deputy prime-minister of Australia, occasional beetroot impressionist and the man who threatened to kill Johnny Depp’s dogs has been ruled ineligible to be an MP by the High Court https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2017/oct/27/politics-live-high-court-citizenship-joyce

Ooops.

For earlier coverage see here https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/stealth-kiwis-takeover/

The short version being, a senator of the Green Party resigned from the senate because she discovered she was accidentally a Canadian and the Australian Constitution requires MPs and Senators to have no ties to another nation. Shortly after another Green senator resigned for similar reason. The Green Party was much mocked for this. However, it then emerged various other MPs/Senators may have had various levels of eligibility for citizenship. This created a kind of domino effect constitutional crisis which ended up in the High Court. The biggest name being Barnaby Joyce a man who has traded off a fare-dinkum Aussie country bloke image for his whole career but who was (inadvertently) eligible to be a Kiwi.

The Green Party haven’t quite brought down a government but they’ve come pretty close, just by being nice and following the rules.

Tanya the Realism Mage

After reading some complaints about modern SF and fantasy I’d really like a fantasy magic-user character called a realism mage. I assume this has been suggested before but I won’t let that stop me explaining myself.

Essentially they only have one spell and it is called “Enact realism!” Whenever they cast this spell, whatever they cast it at becomes more realistic. The more often and the more powerfully they cast it, the more realistic the target becomes.

Imagine the realism mage (we’ll call her Tanya because that sounds suitably mage like) encountering a dragon:

Dragon: I fear no mortal!

Tanya: Enact realism!

Dragon: Eeek! I’ve lost the capacity for flight! Just for that I’ll burn you alive with my fiery breath.

Tanya: Enact realism!

Dragon: Um, well it seems that without a overly complex backstory about methane glands, that I can’t actually breath fire and…

Tanya: Enact realism!

Dragon: Eeek! I’ve collapsed in a heap due to my skeleton not being able to actually support my vast weight.

Tanya: Give me all your gold or the next spell will rob you of your intelligence.

Dragon: eep.

As an RPG character Tanya is way overpowered even though her only power is to make things more mundane.

Here’s the thing though. There are people who think Tanya can make ordinary people disappear. They think if a non-white character appears in an epic fantasy Tanya could make them vanish. Well not only can Tanya NOT make such a character vanish she really wouldn’t want to. She can’t make women vanish or trans people vanish or gay people vanish or disabled people vanish. Sure, she can make hobbits and trolls and goblins vanish. She could bring the USS Enterprise to a stop and leave the crew floating in mid air. She could incapacitate or just plain obliterate the Death Star. She can collapse the climate of Westeros or lay waste to the geography of Middle Earth. Her power has almost no bounds.

But she can’t make poverty disappear or a monarchy intrinsically noble. She can’t make people not love people that their peers think they shouldn’t. She can’t sort humanity into neat geographical packages based on their appearance with no one ever wandering out of the scheme. She can’t make gender simple or sexuality straight forward. She can’t make a war have no civilian cost nor can she make it intrinsically enobling.

 

 

McEdifice Returns: Chapter Sort of Pulpish Cover

truecrimemcedifice

By Sir Timothy Talking-Cat-Doyle and Straw Ellery Queen Puppy

McEdifice and the Case of the Paper Sabotage

War veteran turned ace photocopier maintenance operative, Chiseled McEdifice was on a stake out. He’d been commissioned by the beautiful yet mysterious Ms. Qzrrzxxzq, Director of Post-planning Process at the firm of Spindle, Spindle and Gatefold, to discover the identity of the copying saboteur. The timely printing of important reports had been repeatedly delayed due to the copying paper being crumpled, made damp, or stolen.

McEdifice had learned to tolerate much on this job, unsanitary coffee mugs, PowerPoint presentations, oddly unspecific meetings, people trying to fax their voicemail, but the one thing he would not tolerate is some low life interfering with the sacred integrity of his reams. He’d learned to respect the inherent beauty of 80 gsm 20% recycled white A4 150 CIE whiteness sheets, wrapped per ream and stacked into cardboard boxes or even the exotic almost heretical appeal of 20lb bond 98 TAPPI whiteness letter stock. McEdifice was a man of diverse tastes and eclectic in his appreciation of length/width ratios. If the gods had intended mankind to only copy using one paper size they would not have gifted photocopiers with that little side-tray thingy where you have to put those sticky label sheets…

Continue reading “McEdifice Returns: Chapter Sort of Pulpish Cover”

Review: Star Trek Discovery – episode 6

Episode 6 “Lethe” is the first ‘status quo’ episode or at least closest to it i.e. an episode in which the crew characters each interact to do a thing that (largely) leaves their relationship unchanged. Overall it worked with lots of hand wavey stuff.

The basic plot is that Sarek, Vulcan Ambassador/Spock Dad, needs rescuing by the Discovery. To do that:

  • Lorca has to break the rules and be a maverick star ship captain
  • Stamets has to wave his hand at science
  • Michael has to balance her Vulcan logic and human emotions
  • Tilly has to be helpful
  • Saru has to look worried
  • Dr Culber has to marvel over alien biology
  • And new guy Ash Tyler has to be a bit of an ace pilot action hero

The episode didn’t push the boundaries of television anywhere but it worked quite well. I think the series needed an episode like this in which there was a sense of a core crew doing there thing.

Visually though – wow. There were some stunning images, particularly near the start on Vulcan but also in dream/psychic sequences. Very nicely done.

Some spoilers after this, so here is a fold:

Continue reading “Review: Star Trek Discovery – episode 6”

A Bit of a Beale Follow Up

It’s a narrative cliche that people have defining supervillain or Batman moments when events shape their character from ordinary person to something more baroque. However, given some of the themes of my previous post about Vox Day, I thought I should just re-read the controversy around his father. I’ve noticed Vox rarely discusses his family other than his father, his wife and occasionally his son. I don’t think that is odd in itself as everybody is entitled to their privacy and, if anything, Vox not dragging his relatives into his own nasty politics is a good thing on his part. Yet…at the same time ancestry is a big deal in Vox’s ideology and his online persona.

So I thought I should re-read the legal case against Robert Bonine Beale – the business man, tax evader and tax-crank who is Vox’s dad.

There is an extensive description of the court case here http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-8th-circuit/1001682.html but the shorter version is that starting in the 1990s Robert Beale began engaging in some unwise tax behaviors with his company. In the early 2000’s he began having his company pay him as a consultant and also pay a shell company for management services. This was a device to enable the company not to withhold income tax from his salary. Robert Beale was already at the wing-nuttier end of the political spectrum had also come under the influence of fringe tax-protestors who had odd theories about tax. When the IRS caught up with Beale’s shenanigans he relied on these nutty theories for his defense. An added twist was an attempt by Beale and friends to have the judge overseeing his case arrested.

Now what I hadn’t realized was that Beale’s wife (i.e. Vox’s mother) co-operated with the IRS, divorced Robert Beale. Control of the company (http://www.comtrol.com/about-comtrol/management-team ) went to Beale’s wife and son.

http://www.startribune.com/dec-30-2007-ex-ceo-regrets-mission-to-take-on-irs/12916286/

http://www.twincities.com/2008/07/15/four-charged-in-bizarre-plot-to-halt-tax-evaders-trial/

Now when I say “son” I don’t mean Vox. There appears to have been a major family split, with at least one son sticking with his mother and Vox sticking with his dad (and then apparently fleeing to Europe).

I should note that the judge who Beale tried to intimidate was also a woman.

So while I doubt the aggressive misogyny of Vox’s writing stems from that moment (he was a right wing religious right extremist years before his dad was imprisoned) it is hard not to imagine that there is some extra stewed over hate there – an attempt to rationalize his father’s own absurd mix of irrational ideology and greed by blaming women who made better choices with their lives.