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The Hell You Say

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/08/2017 - 7:42am in

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Drink Like a Grown-Up

By The League of Extraordinary Drinkers

Truer Title: Drink Like a Smug Hipster

The book starts out well enough— raising a hue and cry against sugary drinks designed to disguise the taste of liquor—then it’s straight downhill from there.

Twenty pages in and two ideas begin to emerge: First, The League of Extraordinary Drinkers’ idea of an adult is a pretentious hipster. Their snotty assertion that adults don’t drink crappy macrobeers is elitist bullshit. Go down to your local VFW on a Friday night and see what the real fucking adults are drinking: crap beer and well liquor.

Second, the authors decided at some point they were writing a Young Adult novel. The “humor,” the patois, the dumbed-down dialog all speak to the notion that they’re addressing a gang of half-formed imbeciles. For example, did you know rum is the Shia Labeouf of liquors? Why so? Because college kids drink rum on Spring Break, that’s why.

And that’s just the tip of this idiotic iceberg. In the opening chapter, the Daiquiri and Pina Colada, among many others, are called out as examples of those “truly absurd” college-kid drinks that should be disdained and avoided. Then, a few goddamn pages pages later, there’s the freaking Daiquiri and Pina Colada in the section of drinks that adults should drink. It’s plain The League needs to have a meeting and get their silly fucking rules straight.

Then, after all that halfwittery, they do what every other shitty drinking book does—a chapter on drinkware (where it’s recommended that you drink a bourbon rocks out of a shot glass), followed by the same goddamn collection of cocktail recipes you’ll find in every other goddamn drink book.

Also? If you’re going to tight-ass it around calling yourself a “sustainable global citizen” or whatever the fuck in every chapter, you don’t get to throw around stereotypes, not even the two that society still allows, namely poor Appalachian whites and the Jersey Shore/Hamptons “douchebags.” (There used to be three, but the feminists put the kibosh on the Dumb Blonde jokes.)

The only reason anyone should buy this book is as a gift for a drinking buddy who needs fucking with. Then, if you’re lucky, he’ll just glance at the title, say, “Ho-ho, ya got me, buddy, I’ll getcha back,” then throw it in the bin. Just hope he doesn’t take a look at what’s inside because then he just might take a swing at you. Or worse, he’ll read the book and take it to heart, and then you’ll have to beat the hell out of him, for his own good.

I’m not the least bit surprised no one wanted to put their actual name on this fucking travesty because in a truly righteous world the authors would be chased down Bourbon Street by a pack of wild dogs.

The last page of the book, which I should have read first, tells me all I need to know about The League: “Some of our members drank too much over the years and decided booze no longer fits in life’s plan.”

And yet these washed-up fucks still think they can tell the rest of us how to drink. In-fucking-credible.

 

Fifty Places to Drink Beer Before You Die

By Chris Santella

Truer Title: Arbitrary Bucket List for Dilettantes

The 50 Places weren’t doggedly sought out by the author, but are instead offered up by 50 other people, many of whom are bare-faced shills for special interests. For example, the Governor of Colorado offers up Denver, and Sam Koch, CEO of the Boston Beer Company? Why, he recommends a tour of the fucking Boston Beer Company. The guy who runs the Telluride Beer Festival? Telluride! Half the goddamn write-ups read like press releases from the geographically nearest tourist board.

Other recommendations seem entirely arbitrary. For example, Island Park, ID is put forth because some lady likes to fly fish there. So naturally it should be one of the Top 50 Fucking Places to Drink Beer Before You Die. I mean, why the fuck not? Some random broad fly fishes there!

Finishing the book, I come away with two strong feelings: 1) the author’s idea of “drinking” doesn’t extend beyond two craft beers, three if he’s feeling batshit crazy, and 2) he wanted to write 50 Places to Show Off Your New Patagonia Jacket Before You Die but his agent told him trading that jacket for beer would make it more saleable.[1]

All that said—if you have a subscription to The New Yorker and three beers is your limit, then this book might be right up your alley.

  1. It turns out Mr. Santella has cranked out a whole slew of books about places to go do things before you die, including Fifty Places to Fly Fish, Play Golf, Sail, Camp, Dive, Hike, Paddle, etc. I’m going to assume the paddling involves a canoe.

Book Review: Basic Income as a ‘realistic revolution of the welfare state’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/08/2017 - 12:37am in

Basic Income stabilizes the overall domestic consumption and provides a kind of regulation for the ratio between expenditures and savings.

The post Book Review: Basic Income as a ‘realistic revolution of the welfare state’ appeared first on BIEN.

The Economics of Imperialism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/08/2017 - 12:41pm in

by Philip Roddis, via Steel City Scribblings The most important book I’ve read in years is John Smith’s Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation and Capitalism’s Final Crisis. Here’s an abridged extract from its opening words: The collapse of Rana Plaza, an eight-story building housing textile factories, a bank and shops in an industrial district north of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, on 24 April 2013, killing 1,133 garment workers and wounding 2,500, was one of the worst workplace disasters in history. This disaster, and workers’ grief, rage, and demands for justice, stirred sympathy and solidarity from working people around the world— and a frantic damage-limitation exercise by the giant corporations that rely on Bangladeshi factories for their products yet deny any responsibility for the atrocious wages, living, and working conditions of those who produce all their stuff. Adding to the sense of outrage is the fact that, the day before, cracks had opened in the building’s structure. An initial inspection resulted in its evacuation and a recommendation that it remain closed. Next morning a bank and …

Heads Without Bodies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/08/2017 - 4:13am in

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reviews, Film, TV


Trump went out of his way last year to let voters know he still believed they were guilty. This is how he thrives. Now he has grafted his head onto our collective body, with his horror-movie hairdo always in our face. Trump’s head is struggling to control our actions and responses the same way Milland’s head struggled to control Grier’s body in this cheap movie. The devil finds work where he can.

SPAIN: New book published: “Renta Básica contra la incertidumbre”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 28/07/2017 - 8:59pm in

The new Spanish book "Basic Income against Uncertainty" updates the most important developments in basic income and discusses recent writings.

The post SPAIN: New book published: “Renta Básica contra la incertidumbre” appeared first on BIEN.

Review: Parijs presents ‘Basic Income’ book at Stanford

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 24/06/2017 - 10:09pm in

Philippe Van Parijs, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network, presented his latest book on Basic Income at Stanford University.

The post Review: Parijs presents ‘Basic Income’ book at Stanford appeared first on BIEN.

Sad and Boujee

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/06/2017 - 6:52am in

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Neglect is a fate all experimental writers risk, but if they happen to be black it can seem almost impossible to avoid. Everett always intended to chart his own course. He picked the novel up where Ishmael Reed had taken it, but pivoted away from Reed’s zaniness toward a prismatic allegorical realism, a constant reinvention of form designed to grapple with the vertiginous ends of America’s violent and often contradictory racial, economic, geographic, and sexual epistemologies—a project consonant in many ways with Wallace’s—but evidently not one that could generate the same kind of popular appeal.

Empress of Mars

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 11/06/2017 - 4:02am in

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 BBC/BBC Worldwide (Simon Ridgway))
Written by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Wayne Yip

Starring Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas
with Michelle Gomez, Anthony Calf, Ferdinand Kingsley,
Richard Ashton, Adele Lynch, Glenn Speers,
Ian Beattie, Bayo Gbadamosi, Ian Hughes,
Lesley Ewen,
and the voice of Ysanne Churchman

Produced by Nikki Wilson
Executive Producers: Steven Moffat, Brian Minchin

A BBC Studios Cymru Wales production for BBC ONE
First broadcast 7.15pm, 10 June 2017​This review contains spoilers.

This review contains spoilers.

 

Earlier in the week, a friend circulated one of the pictures released by the BBC to promote Empress of Mars. It depicted an Ice Warrior serving tea to the Doctor, Bill and the British officers around a cloth-covered table, with hints of reddish cave walls. He declared that we had reached ‘peak Gatiss’. Empress of Mars repeats many of the techniques used in The Crimson Horror<\/a>, Mark Gatiss<\/a>’s previous excursion into Victoriana for Doctor Who, but perhaps with more restraint and to more broadly entertaining effect.

There’s a great amount of detail in Empress of Mars which enhances its worldbuilding. Careful attention is paid to the Martian atmosphere. The introduction of Friday the Ice Warrior is a canny reinforcement of the idea that a menacing Ice Warrior bearing down on you is not necessarily hostile, a concentrated homage to The Curse of Peladon<\/a>. From the Doctor’s poetic description of the Ice Warriors, blending or suggesting details established in Brian Hayles<\/a> stories with Doctor Who Monster Book lore, the accretions of fandom and the innovations Gatiss introduced in Cold War<\/a>, we move to learn about Ice Warrior hives and tombs that are not really tombs. The imagery owes something to The Tomb of the Cybermen<\/a> via Dragonfire<\/a>, but more widely to every film or television production featuring people or creatures preserved in ice. This is a fortress of solitude for superbeings more than it is a memorial to the dead.

Influences are mixed and matched. The rhetoric surrounding the discovery of Iraxxa draws from late-nineteenth century imperialist fiction; I can spot H. Rider Haggard’s She but Gatiss doubtless knows his way around many more. However, the presentation of her tomb owes more to the European Middle Ages than Haggard’s sub-ancient Egyptian fantasies. Bill’s fourth-wall breaking recognition that the Ice Warriors are modelled on Vikings is in some way honoured, though Iraxxa on her bier looks more like a mediaeval knight, gilded like the armour of the Black Prince. Her awakening helps justify the awkward idea that reptilian Ice Warriors have hives like bees, the gold leaf fragmenting and disappearing like the pupal skins of some social insects. Dialogue throughout presents the Ice Warriors as guardians of military honour, but their military honour proves a concept over which there can be debate without integrity being compromised, in contrast with the non-negotiable values of devotion to Queen and Country and of bravery and cowardice proclaimed by the British soldiers.

As this last point indicates, worldbuilding isn’t just a matter of sketching in Ice Warrior culture. One of this story’s observations is that the imperial culture of the Victorians is alien to their modern British descendants. By locating the soldiers as veterans of the Anglo-Zulu War – the battle of Isandlwana, 22 January 1879, is mentioned as the site of Colonel Godsacre’s desertion – the soldiers are associated both with both imperial conquest and with one of the British Empire’s most substantial defeats in southern Africa, where a European army equipped with technologically-superior weaponry was no match for a force armed with assegais which they held in contempt. There’s more than an echo of this in Captain Catchlove’s dismissal of the Ice Warriors as ‘upright crocodiles’; and the demonstration of the ‘thin red line’ formation in the episode only shows, as it did at Isandlwana, how soldiers could easily be picked off. Just as there are parallels between Iraxxa and Ayesha of She, then Catchlove has something of H. Rider Haggard’s imperialism about him. He’s far more the ideologue of empire than Godsacre is, and that he is also a practitioner of blackmail and unapologetically avaricious is not just a good character sketch for a forty-five minute drama, but a sharply unsubtle commentary on the reality of the supposedly civilizing mission inspiring British rule as presented by Haggard and others in the late nineteenth century.

The most sympathetic of the soldiers is Vincey, the one who has a girl back home, and with deliberate irony this black character he’s given a name which is, in She, the family name of the British descendants of the forgotten white rulers of Kôr in central Africa. Gatiss enjoys the irony of depicting the reality that Victorian Britain was not monolithically white ‘Anglo-Saxon’ with a character name borrowed from a figure intended to represent white superiority. Likewise, his inclusion of Catchpole’s evident attraction at their first encounter towards Bill, whom Haggardian imperialism would regard as inferior to a white person. Bill’s stunned, appalled face at the casual way in which the British officers have named their Ice Warrior ally Friday, and by extension why they think he should to wait on them, helps pay off her earlier string of cultural references. It’s juxtaposed with the way the script is already establishing Friday as a courteous warrior, a mind rather than a shell. Arguably it also points towards Godsacre’s journey from servant of colonialism, whose demeanour is that of a dead man walking (as his grave name suggests) to a more self-aware person serving the colonized, much as Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, rescuer-captor of the original Friday, passes through several states of consciousness of his own actions during Robinson Crusoe the novel.  

The regulars have quirks here which might not be found welcoming. Neither Bill’s tendency to spout film anecdotes nor the Doctor’s apparent ignorance of so much pop culture (which surely his tenth self knew about) rang as true as the production hoped or expected. Nevertheless, Peter Capaldi<\/a>’s fiercely deliberate portrayal of the Doctor’s observation of Martian ritual helps bring home how crucial for all those on Mars negotiation is, and though I found Bill’s characterization early in the episode to be at odds with how she has been portrayed earlier in the series, Pearl Mackie<\/a> restores her to alert and intelligent Everywoman by the second half of the story.

Empress of Mars feels much more cohesively whole somehow than several other episodes have this series. It also feels more welcoming. Perhaps the assembling of recognizable old-fashioned ‘types’ among the characters helps; but so do the warmth of the red Martian soil, the fire, the gold and the green-hued Ice Warriors themselves. In recent years Doctor Who has often seemed grainy and blue, and so much of The Lie of the Land<\/a> seemed to take place in a dystopian grey haze which reminded me of the post-nuclear Yorkshire of the BBC’s 1984 film Threads. Faced with a warm colourscheme it’s up to Murray Gold<\/a>’s music to suggest cold and the thin atmosphere ‘topside’, and his thin, reedy notes manage just that.

She featured a mysterious African queen who beguiled white men to do her will. Iraxxa, here, does not perform that part of Ayesha's role. Instead, it’s another queen behind a veil who is acting as seductress. It’s never explained why the TARDIS returned itself to the Doctor’s study at St Luke’s with only Nardole on board, but we are invited to guess who is its secret remote operator. The final scene of Missy as contrite woman-child facing the Doctor, backlit, as Murray Gold<\/a>’s score slithers across the speakers, sets up how compromised the Doctor might just be by Missy, and also how the end of this Doctor’s era, now so close, might be brought about by his belief in an old friend's better nature.

On a lighter note, perhaps… Who else of a certain vintage grinned or even punched the air when that high-pitched voice turned out to belong to a certain hermaphrodite hexapod? Who else exclaimed ‘It was Ysanne Churchman<\/a>’? As the Ice Warriors are welcomed to the universe and give up isolation, those who regretted that this episode wouldn’t be set on Peladon learned that one doesn’t have to go there to use the Ice Warriors to make comments about Britain and its relationship with its neighbours in Europe. By invoking one of Doctor Who's own imperial phases, that of velvet jackets, Venusian aikido and broad political allegory, to warn about British imperial nostalgia (the brief visit to NASA is a concession to contemporary expectations, but feels like a stand-in for a Pertwee-era British Space Control), Empress of Mars recalls strong storytelling values whose appeal rightly stretches beyond the fan audience these references court, and help Doctor Who feel more anchored on Saturday nights than it has sometimes felt this year.

Catching up on the Discource

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/05/2017 - 12:20am in

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A brief bit on how I reclaim a portion of my labour time.

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Book Recommendo - We Are Legion / Bobiverse Book 1

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/05/2017 - 10:17pm in

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Science fiction often lives or dies on the strength of the ideas laid out in the story. It would be easy to assume that any narrative that takes place in the future with spaceships and robots is therefore science fiction. I insist that this isn't true. Star Wars is an action movie. Alien is a horror movie. What determines a story's genre is the nature of the story, not the time period in which it takes place.

Anyway, interesting ideas are the bread and butter of sci-fi, and quite often, interesting characters are few and far between. Science fiction fans generally accept this as standard. Hey, if there's enough compelling stuff taking place, you can overlook the fact that the people they're happening to are a bit flat. Maybe?

There are, of course notable exceptions to this. In recent years, Andy Weir's The Martian presented the reader with an interesting situation (guy stranded on Mars), and a protagonist with, oddly enough, a little personality (supersmart and resourceful astronaut with a cheeky sense of humor and lots of grit) that you actually root for. Let's hope there's more where this came from.


We Are Legion is book one of the newly-launched Bobiverse trilogy, and one could be forgiven for thinking is was also written by Andy Weir, for all the right reasons.

The reader is introduced to Bob Johansson just as he sells his tech startup for a gigantic profit, effectively cashing out after a career of innovation and self-won achievement. He's a scientist and entrepreneur who's earned every penny, and now he wants to relax for a few decades. He also has a tank of liquid nitrogen with his name on it, having bought himself a spot with a cryonics company, because with a strong belief in science and all the money he could ever want, why wouldn't he? That same afternoon, he's hit by a truck while crossing the street, and wakes up a century or so in the future.

A lot changes in a century. The United States is run by a totalitarian theocracy that has declared "corpsicles" to be immoral and an abomination. Also, all rejuvenated human minds have no rights and are the property of the State. Bob wakes up as a disembodied mind installed in a computer, and finds out he's been selected to be the operating system on a space probe designed to find new habitable worlds, because apparently war and destruction continue, even if the U.S. is run by Superchristians (Crazy. I know.). If Bob chooses to decline this opportunity, he'll just be deleted and they'll find someone else. That right there is the interesting "what if?" premise for the story.

It's also interesting and compelling in the same way that The Martian is: A really smart and resourceful protagonist presented with a shit sandwich of a situation. Fortunately, like The Martian's Mark Watney, Bob Johansson determines to think himself out of any problem. He spends nearly zero time freaking out, throwing a tantrum. He's pragmatic, with a good bit of humor to keep himself sane.

It's also helpful that, as the AI on a spacehsip in the year twenty one something-or-other, he can 3D print anything he needs, and can make copies of himself to cooperate with. (Talk about your team building exercises. Woooo!) Also, he can speed up or slow down his perception of time by adjusting the clock speed of his CPU, which is handy in those long, boring stretches of space exploration. There's still the bickering nations of Earth to deal with, as they continue having wars, ruin what's left of the habitable regions of the planet, and generally behave like schoolchildren. So it's not all a simple milk run for Bob.

One might wonder why Bob would feel any loyalty at all to the dillholes of Earth who put him in this situation and who bitch constantly that he's not finding habitable planets fast enough, or giving special treatment to one nation or another. But, maybe that's just me. It may also be why I'm not an immortal artificial intelligence expected to save humanity.

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