Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A moment of beauty: Emily Ratajkowski


Breaking News: WWI British soldiers were litterbugs

(Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA)
And alcoholics, judging by the number of bottles.

Archaeologists have unearthed hundreds of whisky and gin bottles at the remains of a first world war British army barracks in the centre of Israel.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement that the camp, near the town of Ramle, was used by an expeditionary force under Gen Edmund Allenby for about nine months from November 1917 during a pause in the campaign against the Turkish army in Palestine.

The statement quoted excavation director Ron Toueg as saying the bottles were found among crockery shards and broken cutlery in a rubbish tip.

“About 70% of the waste that was discarded in the refuse pit was liquor bottles,” Toueg said. “It seems that the soldiers took advantage of the respite given them to release the tension by frequently drinking alcohol. The discovery of this site and the finds in it provide us with an opportunity for a glimpse of the unwritten part of history, and to reconstruct for the first time the everyday life and leisure of the soldiers.”
Apparently the difference between an archaeological dig and dumpster diving is about a century. Good to know.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Off Topic Tuesday: Delete your nudes, delete your nudes, delete your nuuuuuuudes!

So unless you've been living under a rock on one of the new found planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system, you've no doubt have heard about the recent hacking and leaking of several celebrities private pictures. The body count so far is Emma Watson, Amanda Seyfried, Katie Cassidy, WWE (probably soon to be former) wrestler Paige, and probably more. You would think that after the earlier notorious leaks that the celebrity sector would at least try to exercise the bare minimum of security and delete those pictures off their phones and cloud storage after doing whatever they intend to do with them. Or attempt to conceal their identities so that if the content does get leaked, they'll have some deniability.

Regardless, it's an egregious violation of their privacy that has become all too common these days. The fact that these women or any women for that matter have taken such personal pictures isn't the issue because their bodies belong to them and no one else. That they chose to share those pictures with other people is their own business. None of this entitles those same pictures and other content to be shared with the public without their consent and that's when their privacy is violated.

I don't really understand the appeal, myself. If you're really set on seeing a celebrity such as Amanda Seyfried au naturel, then just google for any number of pictures she's done nudity in. Chloe? Lovelace? Undoubtedly tons more. The same applies with many others who have bared it on camera, so leaking or even just looking at their private pictures is more than just wanting to see a pair of breasts. I think on some level, there's a mentality that if you leak them or disperse them or look at them that you're "taking them down a peg" or "teaching them a lesson" for taking the pictures or recording the videos in the first place. I don't doubt for a second that that was the reason why Emma Watson - a prominent and very vocal feminist - was hacked and leaked. It goes to the idea that women shouldn't be sexually expressive creatures, that to do so is immoral and the leaks are a form of public slut-shaming. We're not as progressive as we like to think and things like this just go to show how far we still have to go.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Seven down, eight to go

So remember back at the beginning of the year when I posted about my reading goals for the year? If not, then you know, scroll down like three or four spots. Anyways, one of them was to read at least fifteen books. It was my goal last year and I more than surpassed it, and this year looks no different. Three months into the year and I'm already halfway there with seven books down and eight left to go.

Here's the list so far:
  • Tooth and Nail - Ian Rankin
  • Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb
  • His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
  • Old Man's War - John Scalzi
  • The Ghost Brigades - John Scalzi
  • Night Train to Rigel - Timothy Zahn
  • The Last Colony - John Scalzi
 I'm actually blown away by the fact that I read four sci-fi novels in a row. One of my big gripes last year is that I didn't think I read enough of the stuff, especially compared to all the fantasy novels. I'm not going to read too much into my slow start on the latter because that's what it is, a slow start. By year's end, the number of fantasy books I've read will probably have tripled. The mystery/crime fiction needs some work because I want to read a lot more of it this year than I did last.

I highly recommend the Old Man's War series, btw. It's excellent.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Unpopular opinion: I hope Ghost in the Shell flops

Why? I think we all know why. If you don't, well, go and take a look at who's playing Motoko Kusanagi - Scarlett Johansson. Casting a white actress - even one that I like - to play an Asian character immediately sank the movie in my eyes. Otherwise, it would have been no problem at all if they had cast someone who is, you know, Japanese. I'm not alone in my feelings and the choice of casting Johansson has been the singular point of criticism ever since the casting was announced.

I've seen the movie defended with arguments that Kusanagi being played by a white actress is irrelevant because of the nature of the character's ability to change bodies and well, that argument is pretty irrelevant itself because at the end of the day the character is Japanese. Changing that is just plain as day white-washing and racist. It's also nothing new. A few years back, Warner Bros was going to do a live-action adaption of Akira and if I remember correctly, the project was sunk when word got out that they wanted to cast white actors and move the location from Neo-Tokyo to New York City.

It also brings to mind The Last Airbender, the live-action adaption of Avatar: The Last Airbender that was resoundingly lambasted for its casting choices and flopped at the box office. Just like Ghost in the Shell and any movie that white-washes or otherwise miscasts characters of color should because some studio exec things that it's the way to go. It's the 21st century folks, come on.