See, you can’t judge a book by its covers.
See, you can’t judge a book by its covers.
Hi, I’ve had reports of a suspicious pop-up style advert appearing when accessing this site using a phone.
It looks like other WordPress sites are having a similar issue:
There is an older report on the same forum that sounds very similar: https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/spam-ads-showing-on-iphone-from-my-website?replies=5#post-2962624
The advice there was:
‘These ads specifically are likely caused by adware running in the Safari browser. Google “iOS pop ups” and you’ll find many reports of this happening on a variety of websites, not just WordPress.com. Ads like this have been showing up on iOS since at least 2014 from what I can find, but it appears to be on the increase in the past few weeks.
Set your device to airplane mode and force-quit Safari. Restart Safari and completely clear the browser cache and history. Then disable airplane mode. Based on the articles I could find about this issue, that should stop the pop-ups from appearing.’
More generally, if there are legitimate but problematic adverts showing on the blog then, unfortunately, I don’t have control over them. The site is a free site hosted by WordPress and they decide what adverts get shown to who and I won’t necessarily see the adverts you see.
There are complex ethical questions about using adblockers in terms of free internet services, late-stage capitalism and the tragedy of the commons but none of the ad-revenue of any ad that gets put here goes via me or to me, so don’t feel guilty about any impact on me personally if you use an ad-blocker.
In other news, the Grammarly add-in is working again so expect fewer typos and more commas!
By Susan Triceratops
This week I take a look at the world of love:
I want to add a bit of a love story plot to my zombie survival novel. Is that a good idea?
What would a triceratops do?
Great question Romeo!
In triceratops culture we make a big distinction between what mammals might call ‘romantic love’ and ‘erotic or sexual love/lust’. For a triceratops sex is largely perfunctory and does not form the basis of long term relationships. For us ‘herd love’ is paramount – something not unlike mammal notions of camaraderie, or team-bonding but deeper, more heartfelt and closer emotionally to mammalian romance.
So would I include a love story in a zombie survival novel? You betcha! A group of survivors learning how to be tough in a world full of remorseless yet stupid predators? That’s practically soap-opera for a triceratops. You may not believe this but your average T-rex was either an idiot or a drunk or both. They weren’t zombies obviously but surviving in the Cretaceous was not unlike living in a zombie apocalypse but with more cycads and proto-flowers.
I can’t think of a nicer story than those survivors bonding, coming together as a herd and every so often releasing armoured shabby terror on the idiot predators around them.As they used to say: love is stampeding at a T-rex till it stupidly runs off a cliff. Happy days, happy happy days.
I wanted to make an animation of a saddle-shaped surface world but it took too long to render and the reason for making it passed me by.
This post is a conclusion but because the book itself is so dull I’m forced to borrow a funnier example from Mr Day’s blog.
As I’ve discussed previously, Day takes the term rather silly term “SJW” and proceeds to suck out of it nearly all meaning. While still resting on visual stereotypes of the ‘Social Justice Warrior” as strident, rainbow-haired feminists, his main targets for the accusation of “SJW” are just ordinary everyday people in neutral to right-leaning settings. Because he needs his minions to be paranoid and in a constant struggle with “SJWs” then SJWs need to be everywhere. So as a kind of re-incarnated witchfinder general, Vox proceeds to find not only reds-under-the-beds but SJWs in evangelical churches or rightwing publications or anywhere and everywhere his target audience might engage in human contact.
How absurd can he make this? Well, to my surprise, there are limits and poor Vox actually had a bit of a backlash from his comment section the other day.
Now note, this is a topic around which I have zero (possibly negative) interest – the hiring of a coach for a college football team.
The said post is here (archive version but close to current) https://web.archive.org/web/20171128211816/http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/11/sjw-veto-at-ut.html
Observant readers will spot that the blog post title is “Social Media Veto at UT”, whereas the URL title is “sjw-veto-at-ut”. Use of Google cache reveals the former version:
The “SJWs” were “shrieking” over “Greg Schiano” because:
“Schiano has a controversial reputation, in part due to his time as Penn State’s defensive backs coach in the early ’90s under former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence for sexually abusing young boys.”
Even Vox concedes that:
“I’m not a particular fan of Schiano, as I wasn’t impressed with his performance in Tampa Bay”
So a lacklustre coach with a tarnished reputation receives an unwelcome reaction from fans of a sports team. Where among that does a rant about “Social Justice Warriors” come into it?
I’m reminded of Dr Ben Goldacre’s description of UK Tabloid the Daily Mail:
“The Daily Mail, as you know, is engaged in a philosophical project of mythic proportions: for many years now it has diligently been sifting through all the inanimate objects in the world, soberly dividing them into the ones which either cause – or cure – cancer.” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/dec/08/cancer.dailymail
Vox is engaged in a similar exercise in extreme ontology to divide each and every fuss about something into either an example of
Unhappy with how Marvel is directing it’s comic books? Well, the great fascist sorting hat says that is an anti-SJW crusade regardless of what your opinion is or that you are objecting to how a major corporation is acting.
Unhappy with the choice of coach for a college football team because of his past association with a convicted child abuser? Well, the great fascist sorting hat says that is lunacy and you must be one of them evil SJWs.
You can retrospectively sort of work out why one and not the other but it is hard to spot in advance.
As it happens, this particular example finally managed to fall within the margins even for Vox’s comment section – with several of his minions befuddled about the taxonomic status of this particular kerfuffle. Vox eventually changed the first paragraph.
One commenter trying to unravel which is which:
“The thing we need to watch for is that this wasn’t an SJW mob. This was a #GG-style consumer/fan revolt, which the Sports Media is trying to run a narrative that it was a SJW mob. This might be either a strange blip or a watershed moment, but this is something we need to watch closely. Is this a cover tactic to appease the Left? Is this tactic to hide the #GG approach? Is it just Sports Media trying to cover that the UT fans weren’t happy for quite legitimate reasons?”
Or, you know, it could have just been people objecting to something they didn’t like rather than part of some grand scheme.
And thus we end with a moral: Anti-SJWs Always Live in a State of Intellectual Anxiety and Ontological Angst. Hmm could be snappier.
By Timothy ‘Last Gasp’ Cat and Straw ‘Stick a Fork in It’ Puppy
“Has our whole relationship been a lie?” asked McEdifice, as Betsy finished recounting this backstory in the cathedral just so everybody could catch up.
“No Chiseled! I still love you its just that I’m now the most powerful demonic entity in this dimension! Our wedding vows are a sacred compact, Chiseled. You must join me as my husband and BECOME KING OF THE SPACE VAMPIRES!”
“NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!” said McEdifice.
“Yes,” said another voice as a figure stepped out of the shadows. It was Simon Popwhistle! Head of the Project-Initiation Gantt Chart Oversight Enabling Team at Spindle, Spindle and Gatefold!
“You?” said McEdifice.
“I just said so, didn’t I?” said Popwhistle.
An uncomfortable silence descended over the cathedral. Commander Clench looked at his shoes.
Betsy’s ethereal voice spoke up: “I think, Popwhistle, that we are waiting for you to explain to McEdifice why you are here rather than being tortured in a Human Resources dungeon.” [more twists after the fold]
There are two original series Star Trek episodes featuring the flamboyant con-man Harcourt Fenton Mudd: Mudd’s Women and I, Mudd. I’ve picked on the weaker of the two because I’m looking at episodes that connect with Star Trek: Discovery. In this case my least-liked Discovery episode, whose name I don’t have to hand because on my own list of episodes I re-titled it “Episode 7: Seriously WTF Discovery Scriptwriters”.
The connection is a simple one. Harry Mudd has been introduced as a recurring character in Star Trek: Discovery as a kind of continuity with the original Star Trek. With the episode I, Mudd in particular, Mudd gains control of the Enterprise (in a manner of speaking) and the end of the episode, Kirk uses Mudd’s wife Stella as an ironic punishment for Mudd’s actions. Both these elements are used in the Discovery episode.
I’ve yet to re-watch “Mudd’s Women” but I’m not looking forward to it based on what I could remember. I, Mudd though is a very, very bad episode. A quick precis of the plot.
McCoy confides to Spock that he finds something odd about a new member of the Enterprise crew. Sure enough, shortly after this exchange, the new crew member begins to sabotage the ship. After attacking key areas of the ship (a secondary control room, engineering) the dodgy crew member has gained effective control of the Enterprise and has set it on a new course. Kirk confronts the man on the bridge where he reveals that he is an android called Norman. He assures Kirk that he means no harm but any attempt to regain control of the Enterprise will lead to it being destroyed.
Days later the Enterprise reaches its destination – an inhospitable uncharted planet. In structure on the planet is Harry Mudd who is now the self-elected king Mudd the First. the population is all androids, let behind by an advanced race from another galaxy that died out thousands of years ago.
After various events, the androids decide that humanity needs more asseritve looking after and decide to keep Mudd and the Enterprise crew on the planet, while they take the star ship and basically conquer the galaxy.
Kirk, Spock et al defeat the androids by doing wacky stuff and throwing contradictions at them in a way that might not have been a cliche at the time but now, well, it is just sad.
It is worth distinguishing between Mudd as a misogynist character and the extent to which Mudd-centric episodes are themselves misogynistic but the difference is slight. In this episode, Mudd has persuaded the androids to build large number of beautiful women robots who are there to serve Mudd (sex, naturally, isn’t mentioned but is implied). In addition, Mudd has had an android version of his wife created, which he keeps in a vestibule. Every so often he activates the wife-android so he can tell it to shut up. This, like most of the episode, is played for laughs but the joke falls very flat (as does most of the humour).
The ironic punishment for Mudd at the end is that he is left with the now re-programmed androids including multiple copies of his wife-android. Mudd’s crimes here are unclear – they mainly stem from his early characterisation of the actions of the androids as being under his command as king. However, the android Norman is revealed to be effectively in command.
It boggles me that this episode is one that seems to have inspired Discovery’s writers. The take-over the enterprise plan and the wife-as-ironic punishment elements bookend both the original episode and the Discovery episode and while the core stories are different (Discovery running a nearly good time-loop plot) the intention looks very much like a shout-out to a classic episode. Is I, Mudd regarded as a particularly classic episode among Trek fans? If so then I’m mystified.
The other unintended (I hope) connection with Discovery is the mile-wide plot holes. The Androids (and Mudd) need the Enterprise to leave their planet…but Norman somehow must have left the planet, traveled to Federation space, infiltrated Star Fleet, and got a crew assignment to the Enterprise before the story even begins. Also, in this process he needs to have not discovered that humans can behave illogically (even though his motive is to learn more about humans) AND he is also the central control computer of all the androids who somehow had to manage while he was gone.
I don’t want to bash this episode too much – it was a product of its day after all – but when planning a new Star Trek series it would be better used as an example of what not to do. Nor can I fathom why they brought Mudd back as a character – certainly not as comic relief because the new version of Mudd is a cynical monster, with all the same failings as the original but none of the charm. Perhaps that was their thinking? They looked at the 60’s version of Mudd and thought ‘actually this person is actually a terrible person, so let’s bring him back but make it more obvious that he is a terrible person’? Maybe, but I still don’t see why they would bother – who would that be for? Die-hard trek fans are hardly going to be delighted by Grimdark Mudd and viewers less concerned about the canon aren’t going to appreciate that being returned to his wife is a suitable punishment.
Next Time: Trouble With Tribbles!