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I’ve started a new blog at Hopefully I’ll be blogging there for a while. I haven’t decided whether I’ll be coming back to Peiratikos at some point, but for now I’m not planning to.

Continued unblogging

So I’m definitely not back to regular blogging—OK, I’ve never managed to blog very regularly, but anyway, I’m definitely not prepared even for monthly blogging at this point. We’ll have to see how it goes when my semester ends in a couple weeks. In the meantime, I’ve decided to join the world of Web 2.0 and start participating in Flickr (see also the rose and steven group) and So far I’ve only uploaded the photos from our trip to New Orleans and many photos of our pet cat.

As long as I’m writing, I might as well write a little more. I think the only movie other than Brokeback Mountain that Rose and I have seen in a theater this year is V for Vendetta. Oh, no, we also saw Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. I need to read Laurence Sterne’s novel so I can understand how it works as an adaptation, but it works well standing alone too. As far as this kind of movie goes, I think it’s more frivolous than and probably less frivolous than Adaptation.

But V for Vendetta. We weren’t initially planning to see it, because it looked pretty stupid. But William Gibson recommended it and John Pistelli at Maxims and Reflections had a whole series of entertaining posts (“Ideas are Bulletproof,” “Re-review,” “Brands are Ideaproof,” “A Shamanic Soldier Priest” [tangentially related]) that really made me want to see the movie. So I did. Twice, in fact: once on my own because Rose was otherwise occupied and then again with Rose. I think Alan Moore’s book doesn’t translate well to cinema—it might have worked better as a much longer movie or a miniseries. It needs an ensemble cast and time to develop several protagonists. The movie jettisons pretty much everything from the book except V’s story and follows a more conventional heroic adventure format that misses much of the book’s political sophistication. I guess Evey’s story is largely intact, especially her imprisonment, but it suffers in comparison with Evey’s story in the book. Movie Evey is older than Book Evey, and this allows her to be less dependent on V. But the filmmakers replace Book V and Book Evey’s coercive power-imbalanced relationship with a more conventional romantic subplot that appears unexpectedly and arbitrarily near the end of the movie. (I certainly wasn’t expecting that kiss, anyway.) I prefer the movie’s less Stockholm Syndrome-esque version of Evey’s escape from prison, but I prefer the book’s less sentimental version of Evey’s final crisis and climax after V’s death.

Other V for Vendetta thoughts, maybe for writing about in the future:

  • The prologue and epilogue with Evey admonishing the viewer that the man is more important than the man’s ideas: why do the filmmakers undermine V’s claim that ideas are bulletproof?
  • The surprising prosperity and invisibility of class and poverty in this fascist dystopia which lost at least several tens of thousands people from its population to plague and genocide, in a world where the U.S.A. has disintegrated into civil war and the Middle East has presumably done the same or been destroyed entirely. I’m sure it’s U.S. culture’s typical blindness to economic inequality—everybody’s middle class in TV land—but it seems especially egregious in such a political polemical movie.

I am Curious (…)!

Anonymous commenter says (in reference to Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #106, “I am Curious (Black)!”):

Live this next 24 hrs. as a black woman… Man, just live the next 24 hrs. White, black, red, yellow… It don’t matter what color.. Just live!!!!

Thanks to you, O commenter: we will take these words of wisdom to heart.

Except…. This comment arrives, fortuitously, soon after I complained about excessive attention to universal themes in Brokeback Mountain. The exhortation to just live suggests that we ought to pay more attention to our universal, shared experience of life and not worry so much about differences—don’t live in some other person’s skin for a day, but consider what you share with that other person. Good advice. Exclusive attention to differences leads at best to alienation and lack of empathy and at worst to hatred and oppression: racism, sexism, homophobia. But exclusive attention to universal or shared experience and ignorance of difference leads to the subtler oppression of whitewashing. By living in some other person’s skin for a day, figuratively or literally, we may find and celebrate the diversities and the universalities of our lives. “I am Curious (Black)!” for all its clumsy preaching, makes this worthwhile point.


Ah, not blogging is fun. Maybe blogging can be fun too?

Um, but what to blog about? Rose and I saw Brokeback Mountain a few days ago. Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger are so brave! Fah.

I was going to mention how it’s not exactly a universal love story, since people whose love doesn’t deviate from normative restrictions aren’t encouraged to fear and despise themselves, aren’t murdered for the crime of existing or driven into a traumatized unlife in the closet. Then I read the New York Review of Books review, so I’ll just link to that instead. Because I’m lazy.

I will say this: universality is overrated. Universal themes: who cares? They’re generic, we’ve seen them a million times before. The specificity is what makes stories worth reading! And the specificity is especially important in Brokeback Mountain, where the specific story is real and happening right now. There are people—maybe not as many as there used to be, but still far too many—who would watch Brokeback Mountain and rejoice in Jack and Ennis’s misery. (They’d probably be sad about the broken marriages, though.) There are many men who won’t see the movie because they fear the image of gay sex. That’s what the story’s about: denial, hatred and fear of sexuality, a man who can’t overcome his fear and kills his own soul as thoroughly as other fearful men kill his would-be lover.

I just thought of something. Did anybody praise Liam Neeson and Peter Sarsgaard for playing bisexual in Kinsey?

Isn’t it sad that the little girls can’t read Wonder Woman? (Um, what about the little boys?) I was gonna say the little girls are being denied their veiled bondage quasi-porn, but it occurred to me they they must be getting plenty of that in their manga.

Abraham Lincoln (from Posivite Atheism):

My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.

When the Know-Nothings get control, it [the Declaration of Independence] will read: “All men are created equal except negroes, foreigners and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure….

If today he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, “I see no probability of the British invading us,” but he will say to you, “Be silent; I see it, if you don’t.”

Thomas Jefferson:

To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise … without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.

Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.

Dr. Rush told me (he had it from Asa Green) that when the clergy addressed General Washington, on his departure from the government, it was observed in their consultation that he had never, on any occasion, said a word to the public which showed a belief in the Christian religion, and they thought they should so pen their address as to force him at length to disclose publicly whether he was a Christian or not. However, he observed, the old fox was too cunning for them. He answered every article of their address particularly, except that, which he passed over without notice.

Updates List, No More!

No, I’m not really back to blogging yet. When will I be? We’ll see, we’ll see. Not blogging is too much fun! Anyway, FYI, don’t look for us on the comics-blog update list in the future, because soon we’ll no longer be updating on it.


So I’ve been following the news almost nonstop for a week—not good for one’s health. I can almost feel my blood pressure building every time I see Barbara Bush’s Marie Antoinette act, which I think is a good sign it’s time for a break. After all, there’s not much I can do that I haven’t already done; sadly, I don’t have a guillotine handy. Momentary distractions are good, and I might as well distract myself with a return to my old hobby of blogging about unimportant stuff.

Banana Sunday #2, Root Nibot and Colleen Coover: Oh dear, oh dear. Now, monkey can get ambiguous, because there are a few monkey species with “ape” in their common name, although such monkeys are not considered true apes. However, gorillas and orangutans are simply not monkeys. You know, now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever before seen gorillas or orangutans mistakenly called monkeys. Chimpanzees and gibbons, sure, they look sort of like monkeys. But gorillas? But the primates are so terribly cute and fun, especially Go-Go, that I can’t resist.

Also, Martin is a creep. I keep hoping Kirby will wise up and punch him right on the nose. But oh, those primates! I guess I’ll put up with anything for a little gorilla who loves butterflies.

Shining Knight #4, Grant Morrison, Simone Bianchi et al.: Jog is still worried about Seven Soldiers—actually, he’s more worried. Alas for him! Well, Shining Knight sure isn’t self-contained. After reading Jog’s post, I wondered, “What was Morrison thinking with his ‘modular storytelling’ hype, anyway?” And, actually, I bet I know what he was thinking: it was probably a joke at the expense of company-wide crossover “events.” Seven Soldiers, at least so far, has the virtue of being mostly self-contained—you don’t need to catch the allusions to other stories to follow the current story, although an understanding of the allusions can add entertaining nuances to your reading. Because he likes to take the piss, Morrison describes the self-containment hyperbolically: not only does a single issue in the Seven Soldiers series (I won’t call it an “event”) not cross over with other series, it doesn’t even cross over with Seven Soldiers! I doubt Morrison ever planned to make Seven Soldiers “modular.” (Or maybe he did—I haven’t spoken with him on the matter! But it doesn’t really matter if the story is satisfying, and I’ve been satisfied thus far.) I haven’t reread all four issues yet, but I think Shining Knight does work as a self-contained chapter in a larger story.

One promise Morrison has kept is that the chapters never quite intersect. Zatanna occasionally moves through Shining Knight’s wake, but no more than that (so far, so far). Which leads me to another of Jog’s complaints: Zatanna and Shining Knight don’t really match up; there are glaring continuity glitches. I admit that didn’t bother me—maybe I cut Morrison and his collaborators too much slack, but I expect Morrison’s narratives to be malleable, more metaphorical abstraction than concrete world-building. But even if the continuity glitches are simply mistakes, I find them more entertaining than bothersome. But I’m obsessed with cut-up aesthetic in all art forms, and there’s almost nothing I like more in a story than when it starts to fall apart, whether or not the author wanted it to. But this is Morrison, so I hesitate to say the inconsistencies are a result of carelessness. I guess we’ll see, though.

And, well, I think we’re meandering toward Jog’s final question: is Morrison getting in over his head? Actually, I hope so! I don’t trust an artist who doesn’t make an occasional graceful bellyflop into the deep end of the pool, and Morrison is one of my favorite writers because his entire artistic career has been one bellyflop after another—some more graceful than others, but all entertaining.

But what about the story? Well. So, Sir Justin is a girl. Unexpected but unsurprising. Like most of his stories, the building blocks of Shining Knight are slightly off-kilter clichés. Let’s see—in Seven Soldiers #0, Shelly Gaynor dresses up in a stupid fetish costume and stupidly goes to bed with an asshole. Zatanna causes no end of trouble by wishing for the man of her dreams. The Manhattan Guardian presents a variation on that immortal action-movie cliché, the obsessed man who neglects his wife and family because, damn it, he’s got a job to do. Gender, especially the feminine, is something to watch out for in Seven Soldiers; I’ll have to keep this in mind as I reread.

MySQL woes, no more

Well, if you visited us at Peiratikos in the small hours of 19 August, you probably saw either some nasty MySQL errors or a note about our MySQL problems. They’re solved now, thanks to the helpful tech support at our web host (A Small Orange). Hurrah!

Ah, maybe soon we’ll have something entertaining on our blog….

New email address

Just so you know in case you want to send me email for some reason, I have an exciting new email address: I will not receive any email sent to after 4:00 pm or so on 17 August 2005.

Tim Berners-Lee on the Web

The BBC last week had an interview with Tim Berners-Lee about the World Wide Web, most interestingly about how blogs are closest to his original idea of a readable/writable web. I’m sure many of you have seen this already, but there were a few excerpts I especially like that I want to quote here….

The idea was that anybody who used the web would have a space where they could write and so the first browser was an editor, it was a writer as well as a reader. Every person who used the web had the ability to write something. It was very easy to make a new web page and comment on what somebody else had written, which is very much what blogging is about.

For years I had been trying to address the fact that the web for most people wasn’t a creative space; there were other editors, but editing web pages became difficult and complicated for people. What happened with blogs and with wikis, these editable web spaces, was that they became much more simple.

When you write a blog, you don’t write complicated hypertext, you just write text, so I’m very, very happy to see that now it’s gone in the direction of becoming more of a creative medium.

when you use the web, you follow links and you should keep bookmarks of the places where following links turns out to be a good idea. When you go to a site and it gives you pointers to places that you find are horrible or unreliable, then don’t go there again.

You see out there right now, for example, when you look at bloggers some of them are very careful. A good blogger when he says that something’s happened will have a point to back, and there’s a certain ethos within the blogging community, you always point to your source, you point all the way back to the original article. If you’re looking at something and you don’t know where it comes from, if there’s no pointer to the source, you can ignore it.

When [the web is] 30, I expect it to be much more stable, something that people don’t talk about. Really when you talk about an article, you don’t say, “Oh, I’m going to write an article on paper!” The fact that we use pen and paper is sort of rather understood.

Similarly the web will be, hopefully, will be something which is sunk into the background as an assumption. Now, if as technologists develop, we’ve done our job well, the web will be this universal medium, which will be very, very flexible. It won’t, itself, have any preconceived notions about what’s built on top.

One of the reasons that I want to keep it open like that, is partly because I want humanity to have it as a clean slate. My goal for the web in 30 years is to be the platform which has led to the building of something very new and special, which we can’t imagine now.


You’ve presumably noticed by now that we have a new design. We also have an about page where you can learn many fascinating things about us, primarily via internet quiz results. We’ve also switched to a new host, so apologies if you ran into one of our bumps as we moved the site from our old host; hopefully most of them have been taken care of by now.

I was supposed to write about the movie Minority Report quite a while ago, but I never got around to it. I got the DVD from Netflix, but every time I had an opportunity to watch it I just didn’t want to spend the time. What really put me off the movie was the advertising. I mean, obviously Spielberg and co. play both sides, presenting horribly intrusive advertising as satire while collecting product-placement cash, so I found Minority Report’s satirical strength a little shaky to begin with. But this article—blecch. I’m disturbed by a lot of advertising right now and the future advertising on display in Minority Report is outright evil, so reading the creative director of the ads in the movie assuring me that advertisers will figure out how to make their ads so intrusive that I won’t be able to avoid them puts me right off wanting to watch the movie.

But I’m definitely not burned out on Mulholland Dr., especially the good discussion on Peiratikos and Motime Like the Present to respond to. Um, but not quite yet….

Actually, one thing. David Fiore, in the Motime post I linked to, makes a good point about the conspiracy in the second part of the movie. Diane’s world is a full of conspirators against her as Rita’s is; the difference is that Diane sees her conspirators everywhere and nobody ever sees Rita’s conspirators. And moreover, as David says, there is no “backstage” in Diane’s world—there’s nothing outside of Diane’s sphere of experience and influence.

Does that connect in interesting ways to my consideration of “obvious fakes” and “seamless forgeries”? Maybe, maybe not? Both conspiracies seem fantastic and implausible. Rita’s conspiracy seems more real, since it exists independently of observation (except for its own observation), but it is nevertheless the subjective invention of a dreaming mind.