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Rant meme - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Rant meme
Anyone want me to rant about anything, fannish, political, or other?

Fair reminder warning: I am moderate to conservative politically.
53 comments or Leave a comment
mincot From: mincot Date: May 5th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Take a look at my most recent journal entry -- about the note that was left on my car --- and feel free to rant all you please.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
So you have an anti-war bumper sticker on your car, and someone said that you cause war.


You know, there is an argument to be made that showing an unwillingness to fight invites an attack from people who think it cowardly, but it's a long and involved argument, requiring a lot of citations, and it's far from flawless. It certainly doesn't fit on a freaking cocktail napkin, and is not meant to be advanced when there's no opportunity for open debate.

And the whole "people like you...", no matter what side it's coming from, makes me want to smack someone. Especially when it's on the reactive side of anything, which we are in this case. We were attacked, we've had a few reactions, and you know what? Neither side over here caused it. If you want a person who causes war, how about the person who, I dunno, sends a bunch of guys to hijack planes and fly them into buildings? Is that too radical an assignation of blame? You can have all the pacifists in the world gathered around on a hilltop, and you're not going to cause a war without someone saying, "Whoa, let's attack!" And guess whose fault that makes the subsequent attack!

Bumper stickers aren't really meant to start debate, honestly--you rarely see them long enough to properly talk about it. And as anti-war bumper stickers go, yours is mild and reasonable. You don't have Bush with a swastika or some claim that the CIA blew up the Twin Towers. You just have a philosophical position about war itself. Differing philosophies and religions... man, that's more or less what we do here.

As a pro-war con, I apologize.
ladyvorkosigan From: ladyvorkosigan Date: May 5th, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if you've noticed this as a fandom trend or if it's just me, but I get really frustrated by the extent to which communities like fanficrants pick on young writers in public for the mistakes we all made at that age (although we didn't necessarily put them on the Internet) - I feel like it must create a really discouraging environment for new writers.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'd be a bit of a hypocrite to rant too much, as I'm a member of deleterius and fandom_wank, but sure. I'm up for it.

I think there's a fine line to be walked, and the reason the frustration communities spring up is because the young writers are getting way too much encouragement elsewhere, to a point where they're not getting any criticism and honestly believe they're writing perfectly. If other people at those sites are anything like me, the complaint is less about the content than about the insufferable attitude--yeah, I wrote Mary Sues as a teenager, but when someone called me on it, I got embarrassed and improved. The comms, I think, exist because people aren't willing to do that.

Do I think that it creates an unwelcoming atmosphere? Maybe. I don't know. I don't know how welcoming it needs to be, honestly. They aren't really meant to be workshopping communities, just places to vent frustration. If they were supposed to be workshopping and working with the author, then yeah--that would be the world's worst approach. When you're trying to help someone get better, you have to be patient and explain what's wrong, and why it's wrong, and make suggestions about how to fix it. But the comms aren't really there for the authors.

I guess I really don't have an issue with it, to tell the truth, though I do wish in cases like fanficrants that they wouldn't pick specific fics, just take on issues that are driving them bats about fics they're reading--things that are mistakes made repeatedly, not one time oopses--and talk about them in a general way.
From: mbs_bookworm Date: May 5th, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, shopping. Clothes shopping?


Here's something--we know that statistically, the average size of American women is around 12-14. It may not be healthy, or it may be perfectly healthy (and it's still smaller than I am), but whatever it is, it's the average size. So why in the name of heaven do retailers buy what seems to be seventy percent of their stock in sizes 2-8? You'd think it wouldn't even be good for them financially! Then you get the other thirty percent, where most Americans are located, and you have scanty pickings which have usually already been picked over if you don't get there first thing.

And the prices! I was wandering through Lord and Taylor the other day--it's a dry shortcut in the rain--and saw an absolutely beautiful skirt... for $150 on sale. Hello? Even if I had unlimited money, I wouldn't spend $150 on a freaking skirt. How often are you going to wear it? And why are people willing to spend that? It's only for the designer label (Ralph Lauren in this case); it's not even made of expensive material. If fewer people were willing to spend that, then maybe clothes would come down out of the stratosphere.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: May 5th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
A rant on Slytherin fangirls, maybe?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oo, that'll get me in trouble. :)

Okay, okay... where to start...

First off, I do think that there's nothing inherently evil about being ambitious, or about being pure-blooded (the anti-Slytherin "icky pure-blood" attitude doesn't do much for me either), but, and I'm not sure how to put this delicately, Slytherin House doesn't exist outside the HP canon, and within the canon, whatever is virtues in the past, what we have seen (in or out of the Harry-cam) is not attractive. It's not just being pure-blooded and respecting the traditions, though I expect some started that way--the house is infected with virulent xenophobia, and that is not a morally neutral trait. One can be proud of one's own heritage without, you know, wanting to remove anyone who doesn't share it. And there's no evidence that other pure-bloods aren't proud of their heritage. Ernie MacMillan seems to know his family tree pretty well, and Neville Longbottom has made no disparaging comments about his ancestors. And yet both are willing to accept Hermione as a talented and brilliant witch, despite coming from a different background. So what's the difference between them and the Malfoys? They're all old pure-blood families, and all related to one another according to the Black family tree, but only the ones in the current Slytherin atmosphere go off the deep end about "mudbloods."

Also, looking at the power structures we've observed, look at the way people treat their subordinates. Frankly, just for the sake of my own skin, I'd rather be on Dumbledore's side than Voldemort's. He's not a nice guy with a handful of unusal, out-of-the-mainstream beliefs--he's a violent psychopath who encourages xenophobic tendencies, tortures his own people, and encourages them to go out and do the same to others. We see this even when the Harry-cam isn't turned on him.

Now, if you want to make the argument that not all Slytherins are Death Eaters or Voldemort fans, that's a whole different subject, and I'm actually right there for that. Heck, I'm even all over the idea of Regulus being R.A.B., not just because it makes sense but because it's a hell of a redemption plot. But most of the Slytherin fangirling I've seen has not involved the idea that Slytherins can also be good; it's been trying to argue that those we've seen are and the good guys aren't, and that is not a morally tenable position.
chibisophia From: chibisophia Date: May 5th, 2006 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Television?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, television, the vast wasteland, the glass teat...

Which does occasionally have some good stuff on it. I'm not with the people who think that television (because of its ZOMG!Commercials, usually) is incapable of doing anything good. We've seen good, quality programming on TV.

Just not much of it.

And a whole lot less of it of late.

I admit to being addicted to AI. It's embarrassing, but hey. We all deserve a guilty pleasure. And House is well-written as drama, if kind of laughable as a workplace scenario.

But with the AI knockoffs, stupid reality shows, gossip programs, Judge Whoevers, and badly written and produced soap operas (not to mention the well-produced but still badly written ones) and all of the "pushing the envelope" that seems to be the stick people measure "courage" by, it's damned difficult to find anything good. Even good shows get trapped in the morass of it all.

You want a good TV show? Take good characters, give them a job to do, and make them interact in interesting ways related to the plot. You will never, ever run out of episodes. Just ask Law and Order. The moment you go to ground is when you start in with some endless arc and start depending on it--that's when you get into the Sam and Diane problem--they were dependent on the tension of the arc, so they could never resolve it, and therefore they had to turn to the ridiculous to keep going. They never made a plan for where to go after the arc closed, and therefore had nothing set up. Sigh.

And the envelope-pushing... sheesh, is there even an envelope any more?
volandum From: volandum Date: May 5th, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
General expectations to have read/seen/heard things?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sympathetic to the intimidating nature of trying to read every single thing in the world that I ought to read, especially because I find some of it boring as hell. I cannot, for the life of me, get into the the great Russian novels. I've tried and failed. But that doesn't excuse me from knowing at least what they are.

People should at least have some idea of the literary traditions they're entering, even if they aren't becoming writers themselves. To grow up in America without knowing Twain closes the door on all sorts of cultural allusions and discussions. To not know Moby Dick (though I confess, I've yet to make it through the actual tome; I do at least know what it's about) means missing out on even more of them. You might be able to live without Alcott (if you're a guy, anyway), but on the whole, it's part of a whole tradition of children's lit in this country. And anywhere in the western world, you should know Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet. And frankly, if you don't have a good idea of what's in the Bible--both Hebrew and Christian--you're going to miss at least half of what's in the art, music, and literature of the west. As the world gets smaller, some knowledge, at least, of non-western texts and practices should also be mandatory, because it will enter the culture.

But of course, that wouldn't leave much time in school for putting condoms on bananas, so I don't have high expectations.
leapin_jot From: leapin_jot Date: May 5th, 2006 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not so much a rant as a discussion, but how about metered poetry vs. unmetered?

...I know that's probably a weird thing to have an opinion about, but if you do, I'd be curious to read it. :P
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that unmetered poetry can be beautiful, but it looks too simple, and too many people try it without knowing what they're doing. Metered poetry is a challenge, an intellectual exercise--it's not as necessary for it to be emotion-driven as unmetered poetry. It's more like a pretty, picky dance routine, and I have all the admiration in the world for that.

I think people should always start writing in meter, and not try free verse until there's at least a strong understanding of how meter works. It's the way the human race learned poetry, and it's a better way than most for any individual to learn it.
buongiornodaisy From: buongiornodaisy Date: May 5th, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
American Idol!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, my deep, guilty, horrible pleasure.

I resisted in season one, and through most of season two, but it got me, dammit, it got me!

Seriously, as guilty pleasures go, there are worse ones than this. It's an actual competition, based on skill as an entertainer (not just a singer, but an entertainer), and the whole voting shtick is great for keeping people involved in it. There are some mega-talented people who audition, and I'm glad to see them. I'd rather see someone who survived the singingn rigors of an AI season to a pretty face picked out of a modeling agency and told to sing. At least AI forces contestant to stretch themselves for one year and expose themselves to kinds of music they might otherwise never have tried, and all exposure helps deepen art. (This business of "I'm going to be true to myself and never sing outside my comfort zone" is a lousy philosophy for anyone who's serious about his or her art. You can always go back to singing southern rock, but understanding country cadence and ballad melody can only make it better, because you'll have those tools available when you need them.)

That said, the voting often baffles me. Constantine Maroulis was one of the best flat-out performers they've ever had on that stage, but Bo Bice was thought to be more "authentic" or some such nonsense, and people were apparently just horrified to learn that he had played weddings. Um... correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't we know he had a band? And aren't weddings a pretty normal gig for a band? That Kellie Pickler got as far as she did on that "I am stupid, hear me giggle" shtick is just disturbing (and more disturbing when she showed up on Leno and seemed to still be doing it). I didn't get Fantasia at all, though that year didn't have great competition. This year, I very seriously don't get Taylor, who I find moderately talented but exceptionally annoying (almost to Pickler levels).

I always feel like they're pushing the wrong things in the publicity, and as to the judges' interpersonal stuff, I could care less. I just want to watch Simon snark. And I want some of whatever is in Paula's sippy-cup.
heidi8 From: heidi8 Date: May 5th, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
My query of the day: should CNN be covering Porter Goss's resignation from the CIA or Pat Kennedy's trip to rehab?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Goss story, at least, should be getting some coverage--it's pretty important. I don't think we need to know every detail, or that it's particularly sinister--sounds like normal bureaucratic shuffling--but when the head of a major government agency is about to be switched then yes, that's the public's business.

As opposed to rehab. That is not the public's business. I don't care if a Kennedy is in rehab. I haven't heard anything about his job performance being affected by this, or any complaints from constituents. Beyond his job performance, why am I meant to care whether or not he's taking too many stomach pills? If he's developed an addiction to them, he should certainly have it treated, but unless they've caused him to vote differently or act outside of the interests of his constituency, then it's no more my business than whether or not he's allergic to penicillan. If it had been an illegal drug and he'd been breaking the law to obtain it, there might at least be a case--I don't want legislators breaking the laws--but it appears to be something he was prescribed. We know from lots of other gossip--whether we want to or not--that the family is susceptible to addiction disorders. Is this really news to anyone?
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: May 5th, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I read somewhere that each country has the government its people deserve. Would you agree?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
In the world of democracies, yes, probably, at least when they've been established long enough for voters to know what they're doing. It doesn't necessarily mean "the government they agree with," but take the U.S. at the moment--we've got an obsession with drawing lines and doing cultural warfare. Frankly, as much as I personally dislike it, we deserve to have had two divisive presidents in a row, because we keep voting for people who will be as divisive as it's possible to be, and rewarding them for it with lots of campaign money and thunderous applause at their speeches. We're fighting our cultural battles and using the government as a lash to whip the other side with. We totally deserve to have ambitious powervores in there, and won't deserve any better until we get our heads together and start acting sane again. Thank heaven we have a built in four year cycle to remember to dose ourselves.

The U.K., Canada, the various western European democracies, Australia... we're all in the same boat, I think. We don't have anyone to blame but ourselves when our governments are sucky, and we know it, and campaign to do better next time. The countries that are starting to pull themselves together are starting to get better governments, and I think are doing well, all told (at least once you accept that every government ever in history will be filled by, well, people who want to be in government). Israel does phenomenally well, given the depth of its schisms, and India has made astounding leaps. I expect the best for both of them.

On the other hand, I can't say that it's at all true of places where governments enforce their will capriciously with the use of arms. The people of Afghanistan did not deserve the Taliban, and when the price for challenging it is beheading and/or torture, I can't blame normal, everyday people for not getting involved. I mean, yes, it would have been better if a bunch of very brave people had taken them on, but I doubt I'd have the guts to do it, so I'm not going to judge too harshly. Cowardice isn't a good thing, but it's not bad enough to deserve what happened there. There are times it's prudent to tread lightly if you don't have serious firepower behind you, and the world's serious firepower had been less than enthusiastic about stepping in. The Sudan does not deserve the government it has (most of Africa doesn't deserve its governments, actually), and people who were just arbitrarily trapped behind a border when a totalitarian regime takes over don't deserve to be in that position at all.
parallactic From: parallactic Date: May 5th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your opinion on the existence of the fannish need to ship everything that moves. (Or maybe I'm just feeling ornery today.)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, shipping. The great WTF of fandom life.

I mean, I give off an impression of hating romance. I don't. If romance is part of a plot, it often makes it better, and I'm a real romantic in my personal beliefs about the world. But shipping as it's done in fandom is so all-encompassing that it's bizarre--to a point where whether Harry or Ron gets Hermione has somehow become a more important issue than whether or not he defeats Voldemort, or what the meaning of the prophecy is. People claim huge betrayals when imagined favorite ships are canon-balled, despite the fact that there was never any evidence of them in the first place, and the new ship is probably put into canon to serve some plot-related purpose.

Why do people forget that romance is one thing that serves the story? The story is not there in order to serve the romance. So any question about "shipping" always has to begin with, "How would it serve the story being told?" If the answer is that it wouldn't, then have fun with your fantasies, but don't try to prove that it's got to be canon and be disappointed when it's not.

And why, oh why, is there so much weight on it in the first place? I mean, to some extent, I can see why it's good debate fodder. You have a situation where it's possible to make a guess, but isn't so wide that it will never be addressed, or so philosophical that there's no answer. Before HBP, you could come up with lots of competing theories, and since the answer was all based on a concrete thing (who so-and-so would end up with) but not something so highly specific that it would be impossible (the exact mechanism by which Harry will defeat Voldemort), it makes a good solid space for argument. In fact, that's what I assumed it was all about--it was the handiest place to hang a debate.

And then the question was settled.

And instead of the debate going away, it just kept going, which led me to the kind of disorienting idea that people were loyal to the ships on their own. It wasn't just an intellectual argument. And that? I don't get.
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: May 5th, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
You get to pick:

In my public speaking class, a couple of my classmates chose to debate on whether Bush should be impeached for causing, or knowingly allowing, 9/11 to happen. It was a whole bunch of whacko conspiracy theory, of course, but the idea was that Bush caused it because an attack by some nasty outside force would further his conservative agenda. I'm conservative too, so I found it just offensive enough to be not quite laughable.

Sirius/Remus shippers. Heh.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oo, I'll do both, because my response to the first is quite short:

What the fuck? Please adjust your tin hats; you're getting faulty signals. Either that, or start taking your thorazine again. I'm sick of treating paranoid delusions like they even deserve to be taken seriously. That no more deserves debate than Holocaust deniers or Flat Earthers, both of whom also know how to make slick videos. If your professor allowed this nonsense to waste class time, she ought to be slapped with a rotting fish. She certainly doesn't deserve any effort to refute this silliness. If she insists on it, tell her it was really Opus Dei, operating from the grassy knoll under the instruction of aliens, and if she doesn't realize that, she's clearly been exposed to Their mind control ray. (Okay, don't; you'll just suffer for it. But really. It annoys me greatly.)

On R/S, I'll always give it one point over some other slash I've seen: At least we have canon evidence that they, you know, get along. It's a strangely important trait in a relationship.

There's no arguing with all the arguments in favor of their liking each other. They spend all sorts of time together and grew up together. They're glad to see each other again, and Remus is quite relieved to find out that Sirius didn't betray James. That's all quite canonical. Remus moves into Sirius's house and seems to be keeping an eye on him while he's falling apart during OotP. (A pretty wary eye, too, though I imagine he learned to be wary of Sirius's mood swings a long time before.)

How you make the leap from there to lovers is where I get lost. What would be accomplished by having them be lovers that's not accomplished with the relationship as it's presented? A friend close enough to be like a brother, as they are described, would feel all the things they are described as feeling. A friend would look after his friend when there's trouble, or offer his house to a friend who'd fallen on hard times financially. I know I opened my apartment (well, my mother's apartment) to a high school friend when she was in trouble, and would do so again, and neither of us was particularly interested in the other that way.

Until HBP, there was nothing standing against it, particularly--it was as probable a ship as McGonagall/Dumbledore or Hagrid/Grubbly-Plank, I guess. There was no information about what sort of person either one was romantically attracted to. So, plausible, until HBP revealed that Lupin had something going on with Tonks long enough that she was left utterly bereft after a breakup only a couple of weeks after the end of OotP, which means that it was going on while Sirius was alive. But even excluding that... it was never the plausibility or non-plausibility that drove me nuts about this, it was the belief that this was a canon ship, based on clues that never had the slightest thing to do with romance, to a point where they were convinced that anyone who believed otherwise was just being naive. None of the things mentioned couldn't be explained in terms of friendship, and nothing JKR had said indicated that she thought of it as anything other than friendship. So why this belief in total canonicity of a fanship?
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: May 5th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Free speech
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
The absolute cornerstone freedom required for democracy. People can say horrible, inane, idiotic things... that's their right. As long as no one is free to disagree, there is never any real morality, because no one is freely choosing anything. That's why I think it was important to publish the Danish cartoons once death threats had been issued--I'm glad to say that my college newspaper printed several of them. Whether they should have been printed in the first place or not became a moot point once freedom of the press had been threatened.

And I did say, "Whether or not they should have been." Because for every right and every freedom, there's a corresponding responsibility. We have free speech, that means we are responsible for what we say. In the case of the cartoons, I think they were right to publish as political commentary on the nature of the current political situation, but in general, I do think people should think about whether or not to open their mouths before they've done some thinking, not because I don't value free speech, but because I do. It's the no-smoking scenario. When people were smoking in back rooms and staying out of the parlors, and everyone admitted it was a filthy habit, there was no need for rules, but when they started blowing smoke in everyone's faces, then all of the sudden, people started agitating for laws to make them behave themselves. Common decency should keep people from insulting everyone in sight. But common decency shouldn't be legislated. And of course, if someone threatens you with death over a mild insult, then it becomes a matter of principle not to back down.

However, there are some things things that people don't understand about the right to free speech. The right to free speech does not include the right to a forum for said speech, or to be paid for it. I have no objections to not paying a person to come and give a speech on a campus that insults all and sundry. It also doesn't include the right to be taken seriously, because, well, it can't. If you say something stupid, all the free speech laws in the world aren't going to stop people from pointing and laughing, nor should they, as that would inhibit their free speech.

The cure for free speech, in general, is more free speech.

The exception to the rule is when people are "on the clock" in responsible positions. As a librarian, I do not have the right to try to convince my patrons that the war is just. If they ask me to show them where the protest books are, my job is to show them. The only time when I have any business interjecting is when I know a source is biased or false, in which case my job is to get them something more reliable. Teachers are in the same position--they don't have any right to indoctrinate kids with their own political beliefs while on the clock. (If, on the other hand, they do other things together, like go to the same church, or if their families hang out socially, then they'd follow whatever the social rules of the milieu are about politics. I don't believe in rules like that following people home from work.)
From: siriuslypotter Date: May 5th, 2006 10:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fanon!Draco Malfoy

Is it me or is Draco idolized to the point that is disturbing? I realy don't see the attraction to him at all, I like some of the snarky comments he makes, but he's not very nice and is far past redemption.

I just wanted to know your views on this.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2006 11:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Prior to HBP, I'd also have classed him as beyond redemption, but he did a lot of growing up after his father went to jail, and the fact that he lowered his wand and realized that he couldn't cross the line into murder speaks well for him... unfortunately, that rarely seems to be where St. Draco the Martyr seems to come from, especially since he appeared long before that book. Why someone who spent all his time insulting people because of their background was adopted as the patron saint of people he would rag to death for being unfashionable is a mystery to me.

Another issue is that what's called "Redeemed!Draco" is, as often as not Absolved!Draco--he hasn't turned his mind to being good, but the author whitewashes his actions so that they were never bad, and everyone else is in the wrong for not realizing it. That's a much less interesting plot than an actual redemption plot would be--where Draco comes to understand that he's wrong, and starts to change.

But no... that would require admitting that he's, you know, wrong.
From: siriuslypotter Date: May 6th, 2006 12:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Yep, I loved JK even more when she said that. But people still idolize him, He may be not be entirely evil. But he's got a pureblood fixation and insults anyone who isdn't pureblood. No matter what he may look like as JK said he's not a very nice man.
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