Thursday, July 27, 2017

TBT: The Actual World We Live In

My oh my has it really been just one year since I hollered out this friendly reminder:

Earlier this week, Republicans approved a motion to begin debating the various ways they want to dismantle Obamacare. Every single Democrat in the Senate opposed this motion. This outcome should underscore two facts about the world in which we live:

(1) Democrats and Republicans are not, in fact, "just the same" or "just as bad as one another." (And, as I wrote last year, Jill Stein herself was a 91% "on the issues" match with Hillary Clinton, but *incoherent mumbling about neoliberals*);


(2) It is the height of absurdity to think that Jill Stein, or let's be real Bernie Sanders, could have waltzed in as President, having inherited this Republican-controlled Congress, and implemented single-payer healthcare. Although, I have to admit, it would be entertaining to watch Stein interact with Mitch McConnell and the Republicans, if only because she'd have to actually acknowledge their existence and obstructionism in the real world.

The larger point here is that presidents are not dictators in the US, at least not yet, although Donald seems to be trying his damndest.

So, every four years when the Green Party or whoever-the-fuck candidate with zero allies in Congress comes around promising some non-violent politial revolution, particularly to the politically uninformed, it's worth pointing out that their platforms likely could never be implemented during their term in office without a major influx of allies in both Congress and the Judiciary.

Could they lay the groundwork for future progress? Sure. But that's something else entirely than the revolution these charlatans so often promise.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.17 "Distant Sun"

So, apparently Kara and Mon-El are back together. I guess that happened in the crossover episode with the Flash or something? I don't know, but at least he cooks now and makes her breakfast in the morning. His parents are still in the picture, too, hovering in orbit in their spaceship.

In queer news, Maggie and Alex are also now "that couple" who do yoga together. AND, Maggie's ex is also in town and I have to say, she bears a resemblance to Alex. This is her, being "that person" who is wielding a ginormous umbrella even though it has stopped raining:

They make plans to have dinner, the three of them. Whyyyyyyy.  But alas, the ex stands them up. Alex later finds the ex, confronts her, and 100% non-creepily demands to know why she was a no-show. It turns out, Maggie had cheated on the ex back in the day, and seeing Maggie brought up too many bad memories. Oh. Well then. This revelation was news to Alex.

Meanwhile, the bad aliens of the week are some bounty hunters who have arrived to kill Supergirl. One of the aliens gives Mon-El the Vex mind-control treatment, forcing him to attack Supergirl. So, now Mon-El and Supergirl are fighting, confirming that no couple on this show can ever be happy for longer than brief 2-minute breakfast interludes.

The gang stops the alien, however, and he tells them that some Daxamites have paid him to kill Supergirl. Presumably, these Daxamites are Mon-El's parents. Mon-El then suggests that he and Kara run away to another planet. And sorry, but um, no. We need her here on Earth, thanks.

Instead, Mon-El and Supergirl decide to talk to Mama Mon-El (Mom-El?) at the Fortress of Solitude.

They plead with her to call off the bounty out of the kindness of her heart. LOL, oh Supergirl you sweet summer child.

It turns out, however, that Mom-El had brought some kryptonite with her and she begins attacking Supergirl with it. Mon-El then says he'll go back to Daxam with his parents if they'll just leave Supergirl alone. And poof, just like that, he's gone.

Defying the President's orders to not go after the Daxamites, Winn helps Supergirl get on board the Daxam ship by building her a portal thingy. I love how Winn's position at CatCo was "IT Guy," but he's now apparently the DEO's top computer, hacking, astrophysics, and weapons expert. It's like if the writers give him a witty retort each and every time he introduces whatever techno-ma-bob will save the day, viewers maybe won't notice the absurdity. I mean, there was at least a time when the Alex's Ex Agent fulfilled some of these duties.

ANYWAY, the larger point is that Supergirl uses the portal to get to the Daxamite ship and begins fighting Mom-El and her sais of kryptonite:

But wait, we learn that it was actually J'onn (who had shape-shifted into Supergirl) who boarded the ship! That's always a fun trick. Mon-El's dad stops the fight and seems to finally accept that Mon-El belongs on Earth with his new family.

Back at Alex's place, Alex pours herself a stiff drink and confronts Maggie about her pattern of keeping secrets. However, it takes a nice unexpected turn when, instead of being judgmental, Alex is mostly understanding. She gets that when Maggie's parents rejected her, she began having trouble trusting that people would accept her even though she's not perfect.

In conclusion, it turns out the President (played by Lynda Carter, whooop!) is actually a White Martian, and Mom-El kills Dad-El for letting Mon-El stay on Earth. That was a mouthful. BYEEEE!

Deep Thought of the Week: Lost Girl fans might have picked up the reference to Vex one of the anti-heroes of the show, and whose fae trait was mind-control. I miss that show, is it time for a reboot yet? Too soon?  Also, preferred manslash ship and video: Vex/Mark). Do people ship m/m pairings from Supergirl? Who would that be? I mean, Winn, obviously. But who else?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Important Lesbian Sports News

Via ESPN, pro basketball player Sue Bird has revealed that she's been dating pro soccer player Megan Rapinoe.

I think the lede is buried, however:
"Bird might be in the fourth quarter of her basketball career -- at 36, she is the oldest player in the WNBA and is in her 15th season with the Seattle Storm -- but she is expertly managing the clock. She has never been in better shape and isn't talking about retirement anytime soon."
That is kind of amazing.

But seriously, congratulations, ladies.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Twitter Response to Abuse Slow and Inconsistent

Earlier this week, Buzzfeed ran an article on Twitter's response to abuse that occurs on its platform.

For those unfamiliar with the process for reporting abuse on Twitter, the platform does allow users to report other users and tweets for abusive content. Once a report is filed and before Twitter makes a determination about the abuse report, Twitter suggests tips for making "your Twitter experience safer," including not further engaging with the abusive user, using the block function, using the mute function, and contacting law enforcement.

These are all tips that most users, particularly those who receive heavy amounts of abuse, are already aware of. Indeed, I would think that most people who file abuse reports do so because these tips are actually not helpful in resolving the types of abuse they might be experiencing on Twitter, particularly because people continually devise ways to game the few tools Twitter does give people to help deal with abuse.

For instance, many abusers create alternate accounts on Twitter specifically so they can view, screenshot, and re-tweet content posted by other users who have blocked them. In that way, the block function is rendered less effective, as a blocked user can still direct harassment and abuse to other users.

The Buzzfeed article, linked above, highlights an example in which a woman, named Maggie, blocked someone on Twitter and yet that person had, ostensibly by logging in with a different account, taken a screenshot of her Twitter profile picture and photoshopped her face into the crosshairs of a gunsight. This image was then retweeted by another user who found her on Facebook and tweeted her location. Twitter did not deem this behavior to be a violation of its rules.

However, Twitter then later suspended the offending account, after having been contacted by Buzzfeed:
"Though the suspension ultimately granted Maggie some peace of mind, her process of getting justice is one of many examples that show a frustrating pattern for victims — one in which Twitter is slow or unresponsive to harassment reports until they’re picked up by the media."
So, I have two bigger-picture points to make.

One, Twitter was extremely quick to monetize and grow its platform. It's been much slower to put adequate resources into helping its users deal with abuse perpetuated on the platform. Anecdotally, in speaking with other Twitter users, the response to reports is pretty inconsistent - with the same type of behavior sometimes being found abusive, and other times not, seemingly dependent upon who reviews the report.

Two, as Twitter does roll out new tools to help users deal with abuse, it's clear that abusers will likewise adapt to these tools. Twitter, and the people hired to handle abuse reports, need to have a nuanced and evolving understanding of the ways people use its platform to inflict abuse on others.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.16 "Star-Crossed"

There's trouble in rom-com paradise for the Scooby gang.

First, some aliens have come to Earth under the belief that Mon-El is being held captive, and they're demanding his release. It's odd, because Mon-El isn't being held captive and, supposedly, he's the last survivor from his home planet Daxam.

Supergirl is confused. But, when they beam her and Mon-El up to their ship, she finds out that, whoops, Mon-El was not actually a palace guard on his home planet, as he had claimed. He was the prince. And, the aliens who have arrived are his parents.

They all have dinner together and it's tense. For one, Mon-El had lied about his past. Two, Mon-El's parents are pro-slavery. And three, the only reason he survived his home planet's explosion was because of his privileged status as prince. As people were dying around him, he was ushered to an escape pod. Supergirl leaves the dinner, disgusted with all of them.

Then, Lyra convinces Winn to break into a museum so they can supposedly have "hot museum sex." Okay.

The next day, Winn is in a good mood because he got laid or whatever and is proceeding to be the most annoying co-worker imaginable. The DEO, it seems, has an open floor plan and he's loudly singing "Celebrate good times, come on." His co-workers do a bemused eye-roll instead of telling him to STFU. Then, when his cell phone rings, he takes a personal call and has a loud cellphone convo.

Well, on the call, Winn finds out that someone stole Van Gogh's "Starry Night" from the museum the previous night, and the security footage shows him there, but not Lyra. Maggie interviews him at the police station and is convinced that Lyra framed him. She gives the Scoobies some time to track down Lyra.

Also, Lyra is the type of alien who apparently doesn't appear in photographs or videos, which is why only Winn showed up in the security video. Hmm, now that you mention it, Lyra does bear a resemblance to Buffy-verse vampires:

Winn, Alex, and The Guardian then track down Lyra and she confesses to Winn that she duped him. It's sort of sad because Winn seemed really happy in a relationship for once.

The DEO ends up capturing her, but Winn helps her escape so she can sell the painting to the art dealer. There's a story she concocts about having a brother who is being held hostage or something, which is why she had to steal the painting. Winn, The Guardian, and the DEO help get the brother back, and it turns out she was at least honest about that. Winn forgives her.

Later, Mon-El's mom has a talk with Kara. She implies that Kryptonians are sort of snobby and judgemental toward Daxamites. I guess because Kryptonians disapprove of slavery? It also seems odd that a literal member of a royal family would call someone snobby, but hey, we live in weird times my friends.

Mon-El and Kara then talk. Mon-El gives a monologue about how he used to be a rich, spoiled brat but that changed when Kara made him a better man or whatever. Kara says she can't trust Mon-El anymore, however, and breaks up with him. He then tells his parents that Kara broke up with him, but that he's going to stay on Earth anyway.

To end, there is then some weird crossover shit with the Flash series, which I haven't seen. There are so many DC-verse shows on right now that it's impossible to keep up BYE.

Deep Thought of the Week: I worry about James. I like that he questions Mon-El's heroism, because that's on point, but what are they doing with him this season, really? Like, what is the larger story arc for The Guardian? At some point is he just going to get hurt really bad, confirming Kara's belief that he shouldn't try to be a hero? Does he have a love life? What happened to Lucy Lane?