Some stuff Ampersand is reading today

  • So anti-feminist and former “positive incest” advocate Warren Farrell is running for Governor of California. So if you’re convinced that the most pressing issue in this election is discrimination against men, or perhaps if you just think that incest is frowned upon more than it ought to be, here’s your candidate. (Via Trish Wilson, of course).

  • Speaking of Farrell, he’s one of the candidates whose views are given in the Likely Story’s “Virtual Online Debate.” I note that Farrell’s opinion that “a pregnant woman should notify the father immediately [of her pregnancy]; if either wishes to care for the infant-in-process, then the fetus must become a child” is another way of saying “women should only be allowed to have abortions if they can get the father’s permission.”
  • Mark Evanier is an outlaw, man, an outlaw!
  • Speaking of Evanier, nothing I’ve read today has given me more pleasure than his ongoing summary of the obscure Dick Van Dyke comic book. Be warned, though: he does give some of the gags away. Some people really dislike it when gags are given away.
  • The Slacktivist discusses “The Javert Syndrome” – the theory that police become so attached to the guilt of “criminals” they catch, that even proof positive of innocence cannot change their mind. He suggest therapy.
  • I’ve been watching a lot of Farscape lately – I just got through the end of the second season. What I like about this show, I’ve decided, is that it’s simply far more grotesque than most shows in the “have starship – will wander” genre are. I like grotesque.
  • The Right Christians talks about “the importance of ‘some'” – that is, that it’s importance that when progressive criticize Christians, we make it clear we’re criticizing certain conservative Christians, not all Christians – many of whom are, or should be, potential progressive allies.
  • How to explain American Foreign Policy to your Child. As Half the Sins of Mankind points out, the child in question is “implausibly well-informed.”
  • An interesting BBC article on the struggles of Iraqi women to be free now that they’ve been freed.
  • Another, better link listing last meal requests on death row. I have no idea why I find this so interesting… but I note that cheeseburgers are the most popular meal of those about to die. Via the similarly fascinated Lumpley.
  • Speaking of Lumpley, he also let me know about a new role-playing game, Universalis, which looks very interesting – an approach to role-playing (or, in this case, story-telling) mechanics quite unlike anything else I’ve seen.
  • Easily Distracted argues that superhero comics, to remain interesting, must begin to account for how strange superhero universes are… “To make them more real, they’re going to have to accept and embrace and evolve the unreality of the setting and all the humanity it contains, not just of the main characters. If superheroes can teleport to the moon, maybe fewer ordinary people would be on the subway. If a villain kills a hundred people, maybe he’ll be executed.” He’s correct if we’re talking about old-time readers, but I think superhero comics are instead set up to perpetually attract new readers, who are more thrilled by the unrealistic stuff that has gotten old to Easily Distracted.

    In the end, I think his post of a few days later - in which he writes, “find someone with a firm, distinctive, original grasp of what entertains, amuses, delights and inspires, give them some money and stand back and watch what happens” – is a better guide to producing great superhero comics, or great anything else.

  • Claude Steele’s classic Atlantic article on “Stereotype Threat” – reporting on his research showing that Black students perform below their abilities on tests where they, as Blacks, would be expected to do worse than white students – is something I’m linking to just so I can find the link easily in the future.
  • Greg’s Digital Retouching Portfolio is just fascinating – particular for seeing how women’s bodies – even the bodies of professional swimsuit models - are “touched up” to be good enough to show in advertisements. No one human qualifies as beautiful, apparently. Via Feministe.
  • Trish Wilson rips apart “Marriage Initiatives.” Go Trish!
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20 Responses to Some stuff Ampersand is reading today

  1. 1
    anthony says:

    two things:

    1) i was that informed as a child, but my parents made me that informed, let me read the paper, and answered my questions.

    2) thank you so much for the link to christians, as a progressive catholic, it hurts deeply those who mock the church, and i continue to feel isolated from the left.

  2. 2
    PinkDreamPoppies says:

    You’re not kidding; the final meal requests are fascinating in their own weird way. I know that people are generally on death row for some pretty good reasons (even though I personally oppose the death penalty) I found myself oddly touched by small and/or bizarre requests like, “One cup of hot tea (from tea bags) and six chocolate chip cookies,” “Asked that final meal be provided to a homeless person,” or “Told officials he wanted to fast.” The request for a birthday cake was also interesting.

  3. 3
    Tishie says:

    I’m sure you know, but there are many similar studies on gender in the vein of Steele with similar results.

  4. 4
    Alison says:

    Fascape… simply far more grotesque than most shows in the “have starship – will wander” genre are. I like grotesque.

    In that case you should check out ‘Lexx’, the Canadian/German co-production which is like Farscape’s grotesque shadow.

    Hmmm… It’s a bit of an acquired taste though.

  5. 5
    Trish Wilson says:

    Thanks so much for the links, Barry. :) There has definitely been a lot for me to write about lately.

    Hey, I know why you found “last meal requests on death row” so fascinating. It’s because they’re grotesque. I was seriously into Farscape until the last two seasons. My favorite characters have always been Zahn and Kreis. I even have a special place in my heart for Scorpy. I wasn’t into it to the point of becoming a “Bring Back Farscape” zealot. (However, I was a “Don’t Cancel ‘The X Files'” zealot ten years ago (my God, that long ago?), and we won!) Farscape definitely rocked. Why it was cancelled and tripe like Scare Tactics and Lexx remained on is beyond me. Sci-Fi has no taste at all.

  6. 6
    Lynn Gazis-Sax says:

    I note that Farrell’s opinion that “a pregnant woman should notify the father immediately [of her pregnancy]; if either wishes to care for the infant-in-process, then the fetus must become a child” is another way of saying “women should only be allowed to have abortions if they can get the father’s permission.”

    Actually, he’s worse than that. See, where he argues that men should also be free from child support unless they choose to accept the babies they have conceived. I quote, “When a couple is dating, it will be argued that their implied contract is short term; that a woman who has a fetus in her womb does not have the right to change that short-term contract any more than the surrogate mother has the right to change the contract. A law that allows either sex to unilaterally change a short-term contract into a long-term contract breaks contract law. A law that allows only women to break it violates the 14th Amendment’s provision for equal protection of both sexes under the law.”

    So, he’s proposing a system in which the man’s rights altogether trump those of the woman and those of the child, and a man gets whatever he pleases; if he wants the child carried to term, all that “short-term” contract junk can fall by the wayside, and he gets to make the woman carry to term (per the candidate debate), but (per my link) if he wants to walk away from a baby that he had half the responsibility for conceiving, he can do that, too. Ugh! Either pro-life or pro-choice would be a position with more integrity than this one.

  7. 7
    ms lauren says:

    i’m with lynn on this one.

    susan faludi suggests in her book “backlash” that warren farrell’s stint with the national organization of women was more about being showered with media glitter for being a “male feminist” than it ever was about women’s rights. perhaps his enthusiasm waned when feminism lost all the media attention it had in the late 70s and early 80s, and his new stance runs contrary because it is controversial and offensive enough to gain new attention from the media.

    the downfall of his need for attention is that it is harmful to legislation that protects women, children, and legitimate fathers (not those who contrive quality time with their children for apprearance’s sake or attempt to gain control over their ex-partner’s new life).

    farrell’s run for governor is likely another bid for media time. consider some of his running mates: when was the last time you thought about gary coleman or gallagher? perhaps we should stop giving him (and them) attention.

    perhaps not. until i began reading trish wilson’s blog, i was unaware of his efforts to turn back all the laws pertaining to custody disputes. the links trish includes with this article astound me: genital caressing? positive incest? suggestions for stalking your child during holidays? beyond creepy.

  8. 8
    Linnaeus says:

    With regard to the last meal item, I’ve heard it argued that the fact that cheeseburgers (of both the single and double variety) are the most requested item is evidence for the heavy representation of working-class and poor people on death row. They don’t order filet mignon or pheasant under glass because they’re not familiar with those foods.

    I thought that might be a bit of a stretch, but it was interesting to think about it that way.

  9. 9
    David M. Chess says:

    On Farrell and incest: should there be laws against incest? Against, that is, incest that isn’t rape (forcible or statutory)? If a brother and sister, both above the age of consent, have consensual sex, should that be illegal? If it should, is it because there’s actually something wrong with it, or just because it’s too hard to tell that from nonconsensual cases?

    Farrell sounds to me like a jerk overall, but not because he’s soft on incest as such…

  10. 10
    Ampersand says:

    Well, as I recall, the kind of incest Farrell was talking about was parent-child, and he wasn’t particular about the age of consent. My read on Farrell is that he’s all about what serves the father’s interests.

    Given the power relations involved, I do think the kind of incest Farrell was talking about should be illegal.

    As for what you’re talking about… well, gross! But no, I wouldn’t want the police wasting time on arresting the main characters of Lone Star.

  11. 11
    Coalition of the Helpful says:

    Warren from the Penthouse article as quote by Trish Wilson:

    “… [M]illions of people who are now refraining from touching, holding, and genitally caressing their children, when that is really part of a caring, loving expression, are repressing the sexuality of a lot of children and themselves….”

  12. 12
    GeoX says:

    The very idea of ‘last meals’ is fucking grotesque; an attempt to place a veneer of civility on a fundamentally barbaric act. Glancing through that list made me slightly nauseous.

  13. 13
    --k. says:

    All due respect, Alison, and de gustibus, but LEXX is best summed up as “a German-Canadian sex farce.” –With sci fi. And granted, I only saw a few of the early episodes, and some scattered bits later on, here and there, but Farscape kicks its ass six ways from Sunday–and again, all due respect; de gustibus, de gustibus.

    Barry: Matt might have recommended this to you; for all I know, you might even have seen it. The anime series, “Now and Then, Here and There” is so far up your alley I keep thinking I’m watching a game you ran–right shivery down to the awful haircut sported by the mad King. Do get your hands on it when you get a chance.

  14. 14
    Vincent Baker says:

    Absolutely do check out Universalis. I’ve known about the game for a while and I was like whatever – it seemed like just some needless mechanics to do what anybody could do anyway. But I got to play it at GenCon and I couldn’t’ve been more wrong. The way the mechanics work to give value and like collaborative force to every player’s contributions took my breath away.

    If you only pick up one game this year – hell, this decade – make it Universalis. No kidding.

  15. 15
    ms lauren says:

    i finally checked out the list of last meals and have to say i was a bit moved by some of their choices. something about the idea is so grotesque, and yet so human. choice after choice of comfort food made me think of all the years down south with my family as a kid – i wondered what these men were thinking as they ate, if they could eat.

    i’ve long been an advocate of the death penalty, generally because rehabilitation isn’t as effective as one would hope. but something about this list served as a reminder that bad people are still people and deserve to be treated with as much care and respect as can be mustered.

  16. 16
    princess says:

    A German resident (born in Zürich) artist, Barbara Caveng, has structured the last meals of 16 people that were about to die. Her exhibition, Final Meals is chilling to the bone. You can (hopefully via link) see the pictures here, although the site doesn’t do them due justice (no pun intended).

    Where I saw the exhibition, at the art museum where this site is from there was also another exhibition: Lucinda Devlin’s Omega Suits, which are pictures from death chambers.

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