Film

Alex Jones: People Are Having Sex with their Cars

More madness from the ever fertile imagination of Alex Jones. In this clip from The Majority Report, host Sam Seder and friends comment on a clip from Jones’ InfoWars show, in which the conspiracy theorist rants about how there is a movement encouraging people to have sex with cars.

He starts off by talking about sex robots, before going on to claim that people are having sex and marrying their dogs and cats, and are having sex with cars. He then claims that if you identify as blind, and pour ‘Draino’ into your eyes to blind yourself, the governments of the US, Britain and Canada will pay you money to support yourself as you were mentally ill. He then goes on to say that he fancies buying one of these sex robots just to torch it. We need, he says, to form a human union and defy the elites, who are controlling us. They want to make normal sex biologically impossible, in order to absorb us into the Matrix. People have been brainwashed into this by Hollywood.

Seder and his crew make the point that they have no doubt that some men will insert their penises into whatever they can find. His female co-host states that when she was working on Death and Taxes there was indeed a man arrested for having sex with his car. She was part of a jailhouse protest to get him released. There’s a lot of joking about what the chants were ‘Ha-ha, ho-ho, let the carf***er go!’ But there’s hardly a movement for people to have sex with their vehicles.

They also speculate that Jones himself has personally bought one of these sex robots, and this whole segment is him trying to explain it away in case anybody else has seen it and come to the conclusion that Jones is a pervert.

Okay, there are people out there building sex robots. One of these appeared a little while ago on Philip Schofield’s show on ITV. There was even a Spanish brothel stocked exclusively with robots, which closed down after three works. One of the sentient robots on the Channel 4 SF series, Humans, which was based on the Swedish TV series, ‘Real Humans’, was one of the machines in an all robot brothel. Which incidentally escapes and goes on the run after killing one of the customers. I think Ray Kurzweil has also predicted that in a very few years people will be having sex with robots. One of the underground comics in America is Wet Satin, whose female creator writes stories based on women’s sexual fantasies. One of illustrations from the comic, at least as it appears in Dez Skinn’s survey of comics across the world, has a woman in the tender embrace of C-3PO. This surprised me, as I’d assumed that R2D2’s best mate was a little too camp to be an object of sexual desire for women. But obviously not. And Tanith Lee wrote an SF story about a woman, who has a romance with a robot, The Silver Metal Lover, way back in the 1970s.

But sex robots are just a progression from blow-up dolls, and while they are being developed, there’s no movement for people to marry them or outlaw normal human reproduction in favour of everyone having sex with machines. At the moment, the sex robots are pretty crude. They’re not really sentient machines, like all the other robots being developed at the moment. The type of mechanical people, with whom you could have a proper relationship, like C-3PO are a very long way off. Most people, I guess, won’t find them attractive, and will regard anyone with the money to buy them with the same contempt they regard those men, who buy inflatable women.

And yes, there are people, who have sex with their cars. Jones waxes somewhat graphic about this, talking about ‘fully lubed-up tailpipes’ and claiming that normal peeps, who won’t have sex with robots or cars, will be attacked as prejudiced or homophobic. Way back in the 1990s Channel 4 screened a documentary late one evening about people, who were sexually attracted to cars. I stayed up to watch part of it, as I’ve got a strong tolerance for weirdness. But this was too weird and creepy even for me, and I turned it off and went to bed, feeling somewhat soiled. I have a feeling it comes from a peculiar mental disorder, in which people attribute human features and characteristics onto inanimate objects. This goes much further than simply giving your car a name, or referring to it as ‘he’ or ‘she’. This is more like the mad German woman, who married the Berlin Wall a few years ago. This story got a few laughs on Have I Got News For You. And then there was J.G. Ballard’s infamous novel, Crash, filmed by David Cronenberg, which is all about a secret society of perverts, who get off on car crashes. The film was highly praised by the British small press SF magazine, The Edge, but sent the Daily Mail into a frothing rage, and they organised a campaign against it. It flopped massively over here, taking only a few tens of thousands of pounds before it was banned.

So while there are mentally ill perverts and transgressive writers, like Ballard, who explore cars and sexuality, like the sex robots there is absolutely no movement to normalise this. I can’t imagine a time when anyone, who has sex with an automobile or similar inanimate object won’t be regarded as a pervert, or simply a person with severe mental health problems. No-one’s going to accuse anyone of being unfairly prejudiced or ‘homophobic’ towards people with this kind of prejudice. And incidentally, that comment from Jones shows his prejudice against gay rights by equating homophobia and homosexuality with what are actually forms of mental illness.

As for people pouring drain cleaner into their eyes deliberately to blind themselves, this shows Jones’ anti-welfare outlook. He clearly thinks that such people should not receive state aid after damaging themselves. But these people do need help, most pressingly before they actually decide to harm themselves. I’ve known people, who suffered from very severe depression and were prone to self-harm. It’s not something they’d voluntarily do, if they could avoid, but brought about by a mental condition that they’d far rather not have. Jones is therefore severely misrepresenting them if he thinks that those, who do suffer self-harm, willingly and cheerfully go about it. Again, it also shows Jones’ own prejudices. He thinks someone, who blinds themselves with drain cleaner, would do it for the same reasons some people identify with the opposite biological gender. Er, no, Alex. There’s a difference between self-harm, and transgenderism, regardless what some of the Republicans say about male to female transpeople being ‘castration fetishists’.

Jones is clearly wrong in just about everything he says here about there being a secret conspiracy to normalise and promote these sexual practices. He doesn’t have anything really profound to say about the prospect of robot prostitution or sex robots. But it is clear that he has a very vivid, lurid imagination.

The Feminist Arguments against the Metoo Activism at the Golden Globes

Last Sunday, 7th January 2018, was the Golden Globes. This got on the news around the world, not just because of the coverage of which actors and films were given awards, but because the female actors wore black in solidarity with all the women, who had suffered sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation. This culminated in one of the leading actors at the ceremony announcing that Hollywood’s ladies would stand in solidarity with every woman, who had suffered such sexual abuse and assault, and that they would be dedicating a special fund to help poor women sue their abusers.

Coming after the scandals about Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes and others at Fox News, including its long running host, Bill O’Reilly, such an announcement is clearly well meant, and for many women facing the cost of having to drag their abuser, who is probably their boss, through the courts, the prospect of being able to get some money from a charity dedicated to helping them would surely be welcome. But not all women, and not all feminists, saw it quite like that.

Roza Halibi in Counterpunch and the Sane Progressive on YouTube both put up pieces about it, criticising the move. Many women, including the French actress Catherine Deneuve, are critical of the #Metoo movement as they feel it demonises men. All men are now being viewed as sexual predators, real or potential. They also object to the way distasteful and unpleasant forms of sexual contact – like the boss with wandering hands – has been lumped in and conflated with far more serious forms of sexual abuse, like rape and women being told that if they don’t sleep with their boss, they’ll lose their jobs. Groping is unpleasant and humiliating, and it’s quite right that there should be a campaign to stop it. But it’s not at the same level as the other two.

They also found the stance of the individual actresses involved in the speech and this display of solidarity hypocritical. Weinstein’s behaviour was known for years by people within Hollywood, including Meryl Streep. And at the time they kept their mouths firmly shut. Some of this might have been because Weinstein was a powerful man, and no matter how respected and successful they were as ‘A’ list actors, he could have the power to destroy their careers, as he threatened numerous aspiring actresses if they wouldn’t sleep with him. But some of it no doubt was also the attitude of the time, to put up with it regardless.

But there’s also an attitude that the speeches against sexual harassment and exploitation were also a form of faux feminism, by rich, entitled women, who were trying to appropriate the protests by ordinary, middle and lower class women. Critics like the Sane Progressive and Halibi have argued that the successful protests always come from below. They are won by ordinary working people standing up for themselves and demanding further rights and change. They are not achieved by members of the upper classes deciding that they will charitably act as the saviours of the lower orders. The #Metoo activism at the Golden Globes represents very rich, entitled women trying to take control of a protest by their sisters lower down the social scale, and wrest it away from any meaningful challenge to a corrupt system as a whole.

The same critics have also made the point that the #Metoo activism has also acted as a diversion. Sexual abuse is only part of a whole series of problems corporate capitalism is inflicting on American society. This includes mass poverty and starvation, the further denial of rights to low paid workers, Trump’s attempts to repeal Obamacare and destroy Medicare, the destruction of the environment, and the political paralysis caused by a corrupt party system taking money and its orders from wealthy donors in big business, rather than acting in the interests of ordinary citizens. All of these issues need tackling, but the leadership of the Democrat party has become, under the Clintons and Obama, as thoroughly corporatist as the Republicans, and has no interest in tackling these issues. That would harm the interests of their donors in big business. So they make symbolic liberal gestures. Like Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency last year. Her policies were more neoliberalism, corporate greed, and aggressive militarism. For ordinary Americans she offered nothing but more poverty and exploitation. But she claimed that, because she was female, she was somehow an outsider, and that a victory for her would thus be a victory for women. Even though, as the lowest paid group, women would have suffered the most from a Clinton presidency. If you didn’t vote for Clinton, you were automatically a misogynist. And if you were a woman, and didn’t vote for her, she and her followers denied it was because you had opinions of your own. Rather, you were just doing what your husband or boyfriend told you. So much for Clinton believing in women’s independence and their agency as human beings.

But this experience of a very rich, entitled woman trying to make herself appear liberal when she was anything but, has clearly coloured some left-wing and feminist attitudes in America towards other attempts by the rich to embrace or promote left-wing causes. Clinton’s liberalism was a fraud, and so some people are suspicious that the actresses stressing their commitment to rooting out sexual abuse are less than wholehearted in their determination to ending the general poverty, exploitation and other issues plaguing American society. And just as the corporate Democrats are desperate to take power away from the real radical left, like Bernie Sanders, so these ladies are trying to take power away from ordinary women, determined to solve the problem their own way. Because this challenges their position in society and their political influence as arbiters and spokespeople of the nation’s conscience.

Now I think the #metoo speeches were well meant, regardless of the possible hypocrisy of some of the actresses involved, and hopefully some women will benefit from the money available to sue their abusers. But the Guardian’s Marina Hyde a few years ago wrote a book, Celebrity: How Entertainers Took Over the World And Why We Need an Exit Strategy, pointing out numerous instances where Hollywood celebs decided to take over a cause, only to make the situation worse. There’s a very good case to be made against such Hollywood activism. And this problem may well become more acute, as more celebs decide to promote symbolic issues, while leaving the other problems affecting ordinary people untouched.

Proud Haitians Defend Country as Free Black Republic after Trump’s ‘Sh*thole Countries’ Comments

Yesterday there were mass demonstrations in America, and expressions of outrage around the rest of the world at Trump’s grotesque comments about immigrants to America from ‘sh*thole countries’. As Mike put up on his blog, one of the countries that was most definitely not impressed was Botswana in Africa. This tiny African state, with a population of 2 million, has, as Mike pointed out, the highest growth rate in Africa, and a tradition of stable democratic government. It’s a developing nation, but definitely not a ‘sh*thole’. And the country’s authorities seemed determined to make that point when they called the American ambassador in to explain if their nation was one of the countries Trump was sneering at.

I was particularly impressed by a young Haitian woman, who appeared on the BBC news yesterday when the Corporation covered a demonstration against Trump and his racist comments in Florida. She stated that Haitians were a proud people, and that their country became the first Black republic, where the slaves overthrew their masters. She’s absolutely right. Modern Haiti was created by the ‘Black Jacobins’ under Toussaint Louverture, who organised a slave revolt inspired by the Revolution in France. Haiti had been a French colony, but they toppled colonial rule, and threw the French out. Louverture then renamed the country ‘Haiti’, rather than continue using the old French/ European colonial name, justifying the change by claiming that this was the indigenous name for it.

Lourverture’s revolution sent a shock wave throughout the Caribbean and America. It was an inspiration to Blacks struggling for their freedom, and alarmed the colonial authorities. The late 18th and early 19th centuries saw a series of slave revolts break out in the Caribbean, by enslaved people impatient for their freedom. These were ruthlessly and brutally suppressed, as the colonial authorities feared the influence of Haiti upon their enslaved subjects, and that the slaves would be in contact with the Haitian revolutionaries. And some free Black Americans moved to Haiti after they obtained their freedom. Major Moody, a British army officer, who was sent to the Caribbean in the 1820s to produce a report on whether the enslaved people of the British colonies were ready for emancipation, includes in his report correspondence between a Black American, who had done this, and his former mistress in America, who had freed him.

Haiti is a desperately poor country, as has been shown by the suffering and destruction it has sustained in recent years through a series of disasters. But much of this poverty and deprivation comes from American imperial intervention. The Americans invaded in the 1920s as part of their campaign to assert their dominance over the Caribbean, and defend their economic interests. And they’ve done the same thing at various intervals throughout the 20th and now the 21st century. A little while ago I found a piece on YouTube – I think it might have been by Abby Martin of TeleSur English’s The Empire Files, or it could have been the Real News people, which made the point that when the Americans invaded again a few years ago to overthrow the latest dictator, it wasn’t because of his human rights record. Rather, it was because he was redistributing wealth, which threatened American corporate interests once again. And the dictator’s left-wing opponent was kept from standing and taking over office through armed soldiers posted outside his house. It was the same pattern of invasion and coup that has been repeated over and over again, around the world, whenever a smaller, weaker country elects anyone remotely left-wing, or otherwise threatens the dominance of the big American corporations in their country’s economy. Just like Hillary Clinton five years ago in 2012 gave her backing to the Fascist coup which overthrew the liberal regime in Honduras.

One peculiar consequence of the American invasion of Haiti has been the rise of the zombie movie. The first of these appeared shortly after the 1920s American invasion, and left-wing, anti-colonial critics have argued that the movies represent an attempt by the country’s new colonial masters to present a picture of it as a terrifying land, steeped in superstition and black magic. Since then the zombie movie has moved away from Haiti to America itself, and under George A. Romero also developed satirical overtones criticising contemporary American society and capitalism. Like in one of his movies, the survivors seeks refuge in a mall.

Trump’s comments were offensive, and they clearly stung the pride of migrants to America, who nevertheless still felt strong bonds with their countries of origin, as well as the other peoples in the Developing World. But the young Haitian woman speaking up for her mother country made a very good point about how important it was for Black history. And if many of these countries are poor, ruled over by brutal, corrupt governments responsible for human rights abuses, one of the reasons is because the Americans have assisted these thugs into power to stop any redistribution of wealth or growth of democracy. All under the guise of protecting the world from the threat of Communism, and upholding American corporate interests. People around the world have been demanding that Trump apologise for his comments. They’re right, but it’s not just his comments that need to be critically analysed and opposed. It’s American imperialism itself, and the underlying cynical contempt for the nations of the Developing World and their people, who are there to be abused and sneered at in the interests of American corporate capitalism.

All the Glorious Science Fiction TV You Can (and Should) Watch This Year

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/01/2018 - 12:15pm in

When we keep saying it’s going to be a strong year for science fiction television, there are some obvious reasons why. Sure, I’m going to include some not ‘hard’ sci-fi shows (like the superhero ones), it’s a seriously impressive lineup of watchable offerings in 2018.

I’m going to start with the series that just hit yesterday, Amazon’s Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.  Hailing from Ronald D. Moore and co, this 10 episode show is a collection of anthology-inspired self contained tales. Right now it’s not getting the best reviews in the world, and that’s a shame because it’s a really strong series.  Maybe it’s too dark for the average reviewer – don’t expect happy endings – but the scope and production values are through the roof.  The scripts are strong, the performances are stronger, and it was worth waiting for.

Let’s look at what else you can watch this year, shall we?

On Amazon:

Man In the High Castle will return for season 3 sometime during 2018, we’ll let you know when that date gets announced.

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, a little bit Outer Limits and a little bit Twilight Zone, this one season (so far) series has everything Dick fans could want in a anthology series. It hit Amazon on January 11th.

Credit: Netflix

On Netflix:

Travelers season 2, kind of like Sliders for adults but more along the lines of 12 Monkeys meets The Matrix, just with less killer robots (so far). Season 2 hit the streaming service on January 2nd, so watch both.

Altered Carbon, based on a book series by Richard Morgan.  Although I CANNOT BREAK embargo- do not miss this.  Seriously.  This hits on February 2nd.

Lost In Space.  Admittedly, I completely and utterly forgot this was happening, but it is. Parker Posey is playing Dr. Smith, and Toby Stephens (Black Sails) is playing John Robinson. Expect this one sometime in May of 2018.

Black Mirror technically came back in December of 2017, but after the holidays is sometimes the better for watching stuff like this.

Sense8 gets to finish it’s story with a ‘season 3’ 2 hour film, and is due to hit sometime in 2018.

The OA got picked up for a second season, which starts filming this month, and is expected sometime later in 2018 (even though we wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t til 2019).

Credit: Hulu

On Hulu:

Hard Sun, a British series kind of like if The X-Files was done on a premium cable network with hyper violence and stuff.  Apparently the world only has 5 years before it ends, and the show asks the moral quandary of if people should be told or not.  BBC hasn’t said if there was going to be another season or not. Hard Sun arrived on January 6th.

While maybe it wasn’t the best time for Future Man to air what with it’s brand of dude humor, it got picked up for a second season that’s due out sometime (theoretically) in 2018.

The Handmaid’s Tale comes back to Hulu in April of 2018 for it’s second season.

On FOX: 

The X-Files returned to FOX for it’s eleventh season on January 7th 2018 and has 6 episodes scheduled.  We’ve talked a lot about this series, and it’s a seriously mixed bag.

The Orville is set to come back (eventually) in possibly 2019, as Seth MacFarlane is looking at an ambitious 22 episode order for their second season.

The Gifted was renewed for a second season, but we won’t be getting that until 2019 at the least since the season 1 finale airs on January 15th 2017.

On TNT:

The Last Ship comes back sometime in summer of 2018 for a 10 episode fifth season which started filming immediately following the end of season four.

On NBC:

Timeless is one of those special stories where it was reported canceled, only to have the network reverse their position in three days and announce a 10 episode second season was being ordered for a 2018 air date that still hasn’t been announced yet.

On Disney XD:

Star Wars Rebels is supposedly due back for it’s final season this year, but we’ve not heard a peep from Dave Filoni about when that may be yet.

On FX:

Legion should be coming back for it’s second season of 10 episodes sometime in April of 2018.

American Horror Story is due back for it’s eighth season, theoretically sometime in 2018.

On SyFy:

The Expanse returns on for it’s third season sometime later in 2018.

Killjoys got picked up for a two final seasons, 4 & 5, with s4 airing later this year in 2018.

Channel Zero was picked up for a third season, which is due to hit on February 7th 2018.

12 Monkeys was picked up for a fourth and final season, which is set to air on May 19th 2018.

Wynonna Earp was picked up for a third season by both SyFy AND Space, it’s expected to hit sometime in 2018.

The Magicians came back on January 10th to SyFy for the premiere of their third season.

Krypton (which yes is totally superhero genre but will be hardbase sci-fi) is premiering for it’s first season on March 21st 2018.

Z Nation comes back for it’s hilarious zombie-killing fifth season sometime in 2018.

Van Helsing was renewed for a third season, but won’t be airing (reportedly) until October of 2019.

On AMC:

Humans (which is a Channel 4 UK show) got picked up for a third season, set to air in 2018.

On HBO:

Westworld is coming back to HBO sometime in the spring of this year, theories are it’ll take over the previous release date in mid-to-late April that Game of Thrones used to have.

Fahrenheit 451, a new film adaptation of the classic and seminal Ray Bradbury work.  There was just a teaser trailer released, and we’re expecting the film to hit HBO sometime later this year in 2018.

On BBC:

Doctor Who is tentatively set to air on BBC sometime in 2018, featuring the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker who was introduced in 2017’s Christmas Special which also signaled the end of Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi‘s time on the series.

On USA Network:

The Colony was renewed last year for a third season, moving the production from LA to Vancouver.  It’s due sometime in the fall in 2018.

The CW:

iZombie got picked up for it’s third season which is due on February 26th 2018.

Other Streaming Services: 

Stargate Origins premieres on February 18th 2018 on the all new Stargate Command website.

Star Trek Discovery came back for the back-half of their first season on CBS All Access on January 7th 2018, and draws pretty good ratings despite creating bigger-than-JJ riffs in the fandom.

***

Keep an eye out for what superhero shows are returning (or premiering) in 2018 when we publish that guide soon.

What shows are on your must-see in 2018 list?

The post All the Glorious Science Fiction TV You Can (and Should) Watch This Year appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: No Way Would Today’s Newspapers Publish the Pentagon Papers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 09/01/2018 - 8:27am in

Image result for katherine graham

Steven Spielberg’s new movie “The Post” depicts a newspaper’s decision to defy the government, risk its financial health and imprisonment of its editors in order to report a hard truth and defend the press’ First Amendment rights by publishing the Pentagon Papers.

After the Washington Post’s decision to inform the American people that top government officials had known that the Vietnam War was unwinnable yet had repeatedly lied about it for years, editor Ben Bradlee (played by Tom Hanks) dumps a pile of out-of-town newspapers on a desk for publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) to see. We’ve started a “rebellion,” Bradlee informs Graham. We’re no longer alone speaking truth to power.

No way would that happen today.

I was pleased to see that “The Post” highlights the pressures and biases that weighed against publication: a publisher undermined by sexism and low expectations, a paper trying to raise capital under the eye of nervous bankers, the Nixon Administration’s take-no-prisoners prosecutorial abuse by a vicious attorney general, and — not least — the Post’s cozy establishmentarianism, centered around Graham’s famous hard-drinking salons where reporters hobnobbed with the officials they were supposed to cover objectively.

After a lot of wavering and gnashing of lawyerly teeth, Graham finally makes the call: go to press.

The key point of this story, which isn’t made in the movie and few younger moviegoers are likely to be aware, is that it was her decision to make. The Graham family held controlling interest in the Washington Post Company. Great newspaper families like the Grahams, the Chandlers and the Sulzbergers were quirky and often had bad politics. But they also had something today’s corporate, publicly-traded media outlets do not: editorial freedom.

They didn’t always do the right thing. But they could. So sometimes they did.

Sadly, those days are gone.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, reportedly a right-leaning libertarian, bought the Post in late 2013. What reception would a Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers) or an Edward Snowden get if they contacted a Post reporter today, under Bezos?

Snowden’s case is indicative. The Post and three other papers published Snowden’s NSA leaks in 2013, months before Bezos took over. In 2016, the Bezos-owned Post called upon President Obama to refuse Snowden’s pardon application. In so doing, wrote Glenn Greenwald, the Post “achieved an ignominious feat in U.S. media history: the first-ever paper to explicitly editorialize for the criminal prosecution of its own source — one on whose back the paper won and eagerly accepted a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.” (The other three papers were pro-pardon.)

Even more obnoxiously, the Post’s Snowden editorial didn’t mention its major conflict of interest related to intelligence agencies like the NSA. Amazon — the Post’s sister company under Bezos — had the CIA (where Snowden also worked) as a $600 million client. That’s more than twice what Bezos paid for the Post.

Coincidence? Je pense que non.

The Los Angeles Times sells “Speaking Truth to Power” hoodies. But when the power is the LAPD — and the LAPD owns the paper — the Times publishes lies.
My regular readers are familiar with the sordid details of my 2015 firing by The Los Angeles Times as a favor to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. You’re not much of a political cartoonist in L.A. if you don’t go after the militarized, racist, violent LAPD — and the Times published many of my anti-LAPD/anti-Beck toons over the years. So did the Pasadena Weekly, which drove the boys in blue so nuts that they asked its publisher to fire me. PW refused.

Then the Times’ corporate parent, the Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, hired an LAPD-connected billionaire and wannabe politician, Austin Beutner, as publisher for the Times. Beutner appears to have midwifed a deal in which the LAPD patrolmen’s $16.4 billion union retirement fund moved to a firm that invested eight figures into a fund containing Tribune stock. (Given that newspaper stocks in general and Tribune specifically had been losing value, it’s a fair assumption that the buy was more about influence than taking care of retired LAPD officers.) Within weeks — and explicitly against Times rules — the same union issued an award to Beutner for his “support [of] the LAPD in all that they do.”

Beck asked his friend Beutner to use ginned-up “evidence” to fire and smear me; Beutner, the cop-award winner, complied, and even stayed the course after the truth came out and I was vindicated. My defamation case against Beutner and the Times is in court.

The Times never disclosed to its readers about Tribune’s business relationship with the LAPD union.

It’s a level of corruption that would make Al Capone blush. Yet it’s perfectly legal in the United States for a police union to buy a newspaper. Indeed, the same union bought part of the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2009 — and leveraged its ownership to ask that the U-T fire critics of the police.

Come to think of it, isn’t it weird that a company with more than half a billion dollars in business with the CIA is allowed to own a major news organization like the Post?

Given the Trump Administration’s attacks against “fake news” and the news media, it may seem paradoxical to suggest government action as a solution to the corruption of the news media as we’re seeing at outlets like the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. But the evidence is clear. Outrageous deals such as those between the Post’s owner and the CIA and between the Times’ owner and the LAPD amount to government censorship of the news media — a violation of the First Amendment’s fundamental principle.

Congress should prohibit such arrangements.

(Ted Rall’s (Twitter: @tedrall) brand-new book is “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” co-written with Harmon Leon. His next book will be “Francis: The People’s Pope,” the latest in his series of graphic novel-format biographies. Publication date is March 13, 2018. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

India Unveils Their Robocop

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/01/2018 - 10:22pm in

And it’s less than impressive. In Paul Verhoeven’s violent and satirical film, the Robocop of the title was a cop, Murphy, who had been set up by the company now owning the Detroit police force, Omni-Consumer Products, to be gunned down by hoodlums so that he could be re-engineered into a ruthless crime-fighting cyborgs. Of course, Murphy then rediscovered his true, human identity through a dream his human handlers were too slow to suppress. Furious, he then went off to wage his war to bring the men, who attacked him to justice and overthrow the corrupt and ambitious corporate intriguer, who had authorised the whole illegal programme and was now trying to overthrow the wise and kindly paternalistic company head.

It was violent and like Verhoeven’s later Starship Troopers, sharply satirical, with fake adverts for slickly insincere medical companies and sadistic home and car security devices running alongside a depiction of a city rapidly running out of control, overrun by gangs and terrorists. An exaggerated image of Reagan’s America.

This robot, by contrast, is much more staid and limited. The first part of this video starts more or less like a rock promo, with the machine trundling forward to a pop soundtrack. It has now legs, and consists of a human-like torso with arms and a head, supported on a pillar-like extension, widening at the base. There are clearly wheels inside, allowing it to move. It’s Indian inventors are clearly proud of it, as well they should, but its applications are strictly limited. It’s to help in only certain types of crime, and, er, traffic direction. But it does have a touchscreen and keypad to get you in touch with real cops for more serious offences. The company spokesman states that it’s not intended to put real people out of work. Which is a relief, given the grinding poverty in India itself, and over here.

However, this whole invention does remind of yet another story from the hallowed pages of 2000 AD. Remember Abelard Snazz, the Man With the High-Rise Head? The Double-Decker Dome genius problem solver, with two sets of eyes, one above the other on his enormous forehead? Snazz was an interstellar problem-solver, called upon by planets to find solutions for pressing issues. And whatever he did, always made the situation worse. Much worse. In his first outing, he was called upon by the authorities of a world suffering a massive crimewave. He solved that by building an arm of police robots. Who were too successful. Not only did they eradicate crime by arresting all the criminals, they start arresting ordinary people for completely imaginary offences. Like wearing brown shoes as a crime against fashion.

How do you deal with out of control robot cops? Easy. Snazz then builds an army of robotic crooks, to keep the robot cops occupied solving real crimes. These have the stereotyped striped jumpers, masks and hats, worn by all thieves in comics of a certain vintage.

However, there’s a problem with this. Human bystanders are being injured in the conflict between the robo-crims and the robocops. So how does Snazz solve this conundrum? He has another drink of his favourite tipple, the Syrian sentient milkshake, before designing an army of robotic innocent bystanders, who cry out electronically for the cops’ help as the robo-crims commit their skullduggery.

At which point, the whole situation is well out of anyone’s control, the maniac machines have well and truly taken over. Thanks to them the planet is absolutely uninhabitable for sane, humanoid life, and the planet and its inhabitants are forced to leave in an exodus of spacecraft. All the while blaming Snazz, who they manage to get rid of.

Every one of Snazz’s adventures ended this way, with his irate former clients shoving him out of an airlock, or forcing him down a giant Jacuzzi, or stranding him on top of a giant rubic’s cube, which it then takes him six million years to solve. Or falling into a Black Hole. The tales were hilarious, and written by Alan Moore when he could still write ha-ha, rather than turn to the serious issues, which have made him one of the foremost figures in British and American popular literature.

It’ll be a very long time before we have police robots anywhere near as efficient, or even as autonomous, as those of Robocop and Snazz. But there are serious issues. There’s a video by The Young Turks about how the authorities in one American city are using robots to harass rough sleepers. And a few years ago scientists around the world were alarmed by plans to develop automatic robot soldiers, which would kill a programmed, without conscience or mercy. Kevin Warwick, the head of robotics at Reading University, warns about such machines in his book, March of the Machines. On the top floor of his building, they’ve got a robot firefighter. It’s armed with a fire-extinguisher, and a neural net to help it recognise fires. But he points out, that all you need to do is replace the extinguisher with a gun, and programme it to recognise and kill people with blue eyes, and it will go off and execute its murderous work remorselessly. The threat is there, and genuine.

As was shown in the original Robocop movie. In that film, OCP turns to using cyborgs because the wholly robotic law enforcement machine suffers from a series of severe computer flaws. Most obviously when it fails to recognise that the board member, who has been waving a gun at it as part of a demonstration has actually complied with its wishes and put the gun down. It then shoots him multiple times before leaving him for dead.

We haven’t got there just yet, and the Indian robotic policeman ain’t heading in that direction. But the threat is there, nonetheless.

‘Get Out’ Remake To Revolve Around Culchie Man At Dublin Party

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 04/01/2018 - 10:05pm in

GET Out, the surprise hit of 2017, is to receive a remake from a young Irish director who will use his take on the race-related thriller to bring the plight of Irish people from the country to mainstream audiences around the globe. Waterford director John O’Neill knew he wanted to remake the low budget smash... Read more »

Cry in the New Year While Watching Doctor Who Crew Tear Down Peter Capaldi’s TARDIS

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/01/2018 - 8:50am in

Tags 

Film, TV, Doctor Who

Jodie Whittaker‘s 13th Doctor will return in 2018 after making her debut during the Christmas Special, Twice Upon a Time, and it looks like we can expect some major changes to the TARDIS to herald her arrival. How do we know? Because Peter Capaldi‘s TARDIS has been completely disassembled.

The official Doctor Who account posted a time lapse video of the crew taking apart the old TARDIS interior, the one that belonged to the departing 12th Doctor, and removing it from the soundstage, presumably getting ready for Whittaker’s new TARDIS to be built from scratch.

Changing the TARDIS control room is nothing new, though Peter Capaldi’s Doctor made just a few changes to the one last used by Matt Smith‘s 11th Doctor. This time around, however, the changes appear to be on the extensive side. We’ve already seen the exterior of the 13th Doctor’s TARDIS in an image released in November. How many differences can you count?

Well, if any fanbase knows how to be accepting of change, it’s got to be Doctor Who‘s, right? Still, we can’t help but feel a tinge of sadness at seeing Capaldi’s TARDIS hauled off. Perhaps he can write us a letter to cheer us up.

The post Cry in the New Year While Watching Doctor Who Crew Tear Down Peter Capaldi’s TARDIS appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

On the Political Philosophy of The Last Jedi (IV): Leadership and Sacrifice

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/12/2017 - 10:08pm in

Tags 

aesthetics, Film, War

The first time we see Vice-Admiral Holdo in The Last Jedi, we see her through the eyes of Poe Dameron: hotshot flyboy, recently slapped down twice in the Resistance’s scramble to evacuate their compromised base. The first blow to Poe’s ego and stability is his demotion from Commander to Captain by General Leia Organa herself, a suitable reprimand for spearheading the devastatingly costly bombing run which provides the film with its opening set-piece. No sooner has Poe processed this—if indeed he has processed it—than he’s knocked further off balance by the loss of all of the Resistance high command save Leia, who is comatose and out of commission. In this state—stripped of his expected personal authority, with the usual structures of command which he relies on decimated—he looks at the new leader of the remaining Resistance fleet and says incredulously to another pilot: “That’s Admiral Holdo? Battle of Chyron Belt Admiral Holdo? …not what I was expecting.”...

the best visual and sound cue in the entire film: having stayed behind to pilot the heavy cruiser Raddus while the rest of the diminished Resistance escapes to the planet Crait, Holdo eventually chooses to drive her ship while it jumps to lightspeed directly through the First Order’s flagship, destroying a great part of it and preventing the destruction of those last few escapees. She is alone when she does this. She is alone, a captain on a bridge, in her dress and her lovely hair, her mouth set in a firm and determined line, and she doesn’t hesitate.

The film’s director, Rian Johnson, gives her—and us—a silent cut as a reward. My whole theater gasped out loud into the quiet. It is the most striking visual and auditory moment in a film full of striking visual and auditory moments....

What The Last Jedi does—amongst many other things—is present its audience with more than one mode of female power. We have Rey, strong in the Force, dangerous and necessary and emerging from nowhere to be the center of this story; we have Rose, a mechanic and a patriot, willing to make sacrifices and willing to know when sacrifice is not necessary; we have Leia Organa, the pivot on which the Resistance turns. And we have Vice-Admiral Amilyn Holdo, who looks like none of what we expect. Who is nevertheless what the Resistance needs, and worth Poe’s respect, and worth ours....---Arkady Martine@Tor.com [HT Karl Aho & Bryce Huebner].

Martine, who turns out to be a world class scholar, rightly notes that The Last Jedi is, in part, a movie about leadership, including the way(s) power, including gendered power, is wielded. In fact, the whole film is simultaneously, an education in the limitations of the daring, sharp-shooting ace-boy-hero (in this film exemplified by Poe and Luke Skywalker's past. A few days ago, I noted the significance of the fact that Luke Skywalker learns to fight without violence [Gandhi (recall also here and here)]). Martine rightly notes that we (and the ace-boy-hero) have been conditioned to have gendered expectations about how heroes look and how they act. Holdo makes an unimposing first impression, and, through our reactions to her, we are taught our biased expectations.

For, it turns out, Holdo plays a bad hand well. How bad? Well, it is notable that Poe had never met Holdo (a legendary commander) before. The Resistance is literally shrinking in front of our eyes and all the key, surviving members converge upon each other in a confined space (in a vast galaxy). How does she play it? By conserving her forces, having an escape plan, and using (to adopt Darwinian terminology) a costly signal that hides her true intent. She also keeps her eye out on the long-term: rather than forgiving Poe (her ace) because imminent survival is at stake, she punishes his insubordination--he, thereby, has to watch the action rather being the action.   

Martine gives an excellent description of Holdo's last moments of certain death. I want to quote another description (this time by Joe Tonelli) because there is evidence of a kind of collective, convergence of the impact of the scene:

I can still see it in my mind—like a lightning bolt that leaves an imprint on your vision after it crosses the sky. The streak through dark space. The utter silence of selfless self-sacrifice. We were alone with Holdo in the ship, in the void of space, and then—that silence. The theater may have gasped out loud, but I only processed the soundlessness and the light. Raw power and terrible beauty, blindingly combined in a single shot.

It is fair to say that the Holdo's last moments are the most iconic of the movie (which lacks a truly great battle scene). I think this is not just because of the aesthetic flirtation with the sublime. Perhaps, I show my age, but I could not help but think of that silent video image of the second plane hitting the WTC on 9/11. To be sure there are lots of differences, not the least being that Holdo's target is a warship. But crucially, Holdo is not made into a likeable character, as Martine points out, we "are absolutely primed to believe that she’s either a traitor or an incompetent." This is so, even though we can assume that she is pursuing the ends of the resistance. Rather, our view of her changes in virtue of the fact that (a) she did have a workable (not full-proof, but workable) plan and (b) she leads by courageous example, and (c) she stays on the bridge of the ship she is captaining and so does her ordinary duty. She is a hero without dazzlement. And, for these three features of her strength of mind, we (and Poe) come to admire her, post facto.

Now, what I am resisting in the previous paragraph is the further claim that we come to admire her in virtue of the ends that she pursues. While the military run First Order is undeniably neo-fascist, it is by no means obvious the Resistance (which is the off-spring of a slave-holding society) is so virtuous. [That is to say, the moral universe of The Last Jedi is populated with virtuous individuals and groups; but it is an open question if it is capable of supporting a semi-virtuous political order.] For, I am committed to the idea that a hero can serve non-rightful ends. To oversimplify, the criteria for heroicism are spectator-relative. (This is why the exemplary deeds recounted in Greek poetry remain heroic despite changing views on the laws of war and morality more generally unless the narration stops speaking to us.) Of course, I am not denying its easier to recognize, say, the courage of an enemy than her heroicism. And I am also not denying that expressing the sentiment in the previous sentence can be rather dangerous and so may itself take some courage in some contexts.

Let me close. Holdo was able to become a hero in virtue of the fact that despite Poe's insubordination, the lines of commmand and control, and the authority that follows from it, within the Resistance remained firm. It resisted the lure of charismatic leadership (Poe).* One can question if that's really likely in such dire circumstances. even so, here, again, The Last Jedi reveals a larger understanding: for the fact follows naturally and truthfully from the style of Leia's earlier, organizational leadership.

 

*Presumably the whole narration is also an education of Poe, who, as Martine rightfully emphasizes, is made to be a spectator (like us) for the key scenes and so can learn (I sound like Yoda now) from failure.

 

Art Robot O’Neill’s Twisted Take on Christmas

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/12/2017 - 9:23pm in

Kevin O’Neill is one of the great British comic artists, who came out of 2000 AD in the 1970s. His grotesque and nightmarish depictions of aliens, mutants and robots have been delighting and traumatising readers for decades. With writer Pat Mills, he created the Nemesis the Warlock strip, and has drawn the art for a number of classic comics, including Marshal Law and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The last has been turned into a film with Sean Connery as Alan Quatermaine. This weird vision of the Christmas season is the wrap-around cover for 2000 AD 398, for the 29th December 1984. As you can see, it shows a monstrous Santa Claus, a chimney with jaw pursuing a flying Christmas turkey, snowmen fighting, and two houses trying to burn each other down with their chimneys. Oh yes, and the mechanical reindeer that’s part of Santa’s sleigh looks anything but jolly. Though he is red-nosed.

O’Neill’s artwork was considered so grotesque and revolting that it was banned by the Comics Code. The Comics Code were an unelected body of censors set up following the scare about Horror comics that devastated the industry in the 1950s. They were charged with making sure that American comics were good, wholesome fun, and were suitable for children. I can remember Mike telling me that American comics at the time worked to be suitable for a child of seven to read. It was supposed to be a voluntary code, meaning that its decision were not legally binding, and there were comics published far outside, and often deliberately against their control: the underground comics, like Robert Crumb, and the independents, like Cerebus the Aardvark. In practice, however, the Code had a near total grip dictating what comics could or could not publish. If a comic did not have their seal of approval, then the vast majority of newsagents and mainstream retailers simply wouldn’t sell it.

This whole system collapsed in the 1980s, as a new generation of fans objected to censorship and being told what they could or could not read in their favourite literature. The result was the emergence of adult comics ‘for mature readers’, like Marshal Law. But this was not before there were a few casualties. O’Neill was one of them.

He was the artist for a story in DC’s Green Lantern Corps, written by Alan Moore, who had also been one of the script robots working on 2000 AD. In the story, the Corps visit a planet which has been overrun by demons. The Code rejected it.

Moore rang them up, and asked if they would pass it if he made a few suggested changes. No, they told him. He tried again, suggesting taking out another incident in the strip. No, they still wouldn’t pass it. So Moore asked him what was wrong with the strip, that they didn’t want to pass it.

‘O’Neill’s artwork’, the faceless censors replied. ‘It is totally unsuitable for children’.

In the end, I think DC did go ahead and publish the story, but it appeared without the Comics Code approval badge on its cover.

I really like O’Neill’s art, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it is grotesque and disturbing. I can remember reading an interview with another British comics great, Dave Gibbons, who drew the Rogue Trooper strip in 2000 AD, where he said that a fan had told him at a comics convention that O’Neill’s artwork gave him nightmares. He could only dispel these by looking at Gibbons’ smooth art.

2000 AD later paid homage to the incident in one of their anniversary issues, where Tharg walked around various characters and art and script droids in his head. O’Neill is depicted as a crazed, stunted brat drinking at of a can marked ‘Bile’. During their brief conversation, Tharg describes O’Neill’s ban by the Comics Code as his great accolade.

It says something about American culture at the time that O’Neill’s art was considered too grim and upsetting for children across the Pond, but he had been published in 2000 AD for years and was one of the comic’s cult artists.

As for the nightmarish vision of Christmas, this strangely harks back to the type of humour the Victorians themselves like to put on their Christmas cards. There was a brief piece about Christmas cards on the One Show about a week ago, where they mentioned that the first Christmas cards showed scenes of anthropomorphised Christmas food or other items hunting each other over a wintry background. Art robot O’Neill’s weird, crazed interpretation of the festive season harks back to that, although its direct inspiration was probably the iconoclastic punk ethos that ran through 2000 AD.

Here’s the two pictures. Enjoy, and don’t have nightmares!

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