Category Archives: Guide to Life

Why I don’t like the American right


This is building up to a “Why I Don’t Like The Australian Right” in a day or two. Be warned.

A fair bit of this comes from one twitter, which, as part of my non-idiot-shaming philosophy, will not be linked.

 

#10: “Government is untrustworthy, except when it comes to military force”

Government is untrustworthy. But you know what? The most untrustworthy bit is the military, because that is what totalitarian states use to maintain control.

And yet somehow American right-wingers are hugely in favour of the military. Which is kind of hilarious given their opposition to food stamp welfare, which feeds no less than 5000 soldiers on active service.

 

#9: “Poor people are just lazy.”

In a country with full employment and sufficient minimum wage, yes, lacking a job would be a sign that you don’t want one.

Your country has neither of those things. You do not have full employment. Your minimum wage is one third what it needs to be to produce a living wage. The politicians you are voting for are fighting against fixing those things. Try some empathy.

 

#8: “America is a Christian nation.”

“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” – the Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11.

Usually the people who spout this somehow miss that “sell all you have, and give it to the poor” is in theory a Christian teaching. See #9 and #7. (I say “in theory” because large Christian organizations never seem interested in actually practicing it to that degree, and large right-wing Christian organizations are more along the lines of “sell all you have and give it to ME”.)

 

#7: “Government aid creates a dependent class, unlike private charities.”

How? Faezress radiation? Why does one create that effect and not the other? People who need food are getting fed either way. Does the government’s involvement have some magical effect that turns otherwise decent human beings into leeches?

If I was starving, my response to being given food by the government would not be “sweet, I can now develop into a dependent class”. It would be “hell yes, now I don’t need to starve.”

Usually the people who say this are operating on a resentment that their taxes are being used to pay for this, which is why I don’t view it as honest – you’ve expressed a desire to pay less, you tend to assume everyone else will also pay less, exactly which programs do you expect private charities to cut to pay for the starving people you’ve dropped on them? Since you want to keep your money, why would you give it to charity rather than government when the sole difference is a thing that you made up?

(This one, incidentally, is complete bullshit. The vast majority of American welfare recipients are on welfare for less than two years. Hooray for zombie lies and inadequate fact checking I guess.)

 

#6: “Guns don’t kill people, people do.”

With guns.

Which are tools that make killing easier.

Especially when it comes to killing multiple people, which is very easy with an assault rifle and very hard with a butter knife.

Hey, here’s an idea. How about legalising the possession and sale of nuclear weapons? After all, nukes don’t kill people – people do.

 

#5: “We need guns to protect ourselves from the government.”

The government that has more guns and bombs than you do.

And which you in fact vote against when they propose reducing the number of guns and bombs they possess.

Consistency isn’t your strong suit, is it?

 

#4: “Firing a soldier who commits racist harassment of his co-workers threatens free speech.”

No it doesn’t. He is perfectly free to continue being racist in the unemployment line.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. Nor does it entitle you to harass your co-workers, which is grounds for sacking in literally any other career in existence. Why should the military have to keep on douchenozzles when any other industry is entitled to give them the boot?

 

#3: “There are able-bodied people on food stamps!”

You do realise that 100% employment does not exist, right? So occasionally people who are not disabled will not be able to find employment? Would you seriously prefer them to turn to crime rather than seek out welfare? Because for reasons we’ve already discussed, it’s pretty clear that under your strategy they won’t be able to get help from the now overworked and under-financed private charities. You don’t like the tiny tax expenditure they cause you? How much will you like your increased insurance premiums when someone steals your TV to buy food?

Jokes aside, this is a symptom of a larger problem I see infecting right-wing politics today: “it is better for ten innocents to suffer than one guilty person go unpunished.” You see it in Abbott’s and Rudd’s boat people plans, in which dealing with people smugglers at the cost of their passengers is A-OK. (That their plans are worthless for this purpose is a thing I will get to later this week.) You see it in the idea that one welfare abuser automatically invalidates the whole system. I would rather have my tax occasionally go to help people who don’t deserve it than that it never go to people who do.

(Well, okay, I don’t pay tax at the moment because I can’t find a job that pays enough to get taxed, but you get the idea.)

This is not justice. It’s the exact opposite of justice. People complain when a few jerks ruin it for the rest of them because that should not happen; it’s so much worse when what’s at stake is starvation.

 

#2: Opposition to gay marriage.

I absolutely despise the idea that my gay sibling should not be permitted to marry whoever they like because of some idiot with his head up his backside. Case closed.

 

#1: “Champions of small government”

Did you perhaps nap through the entire Bush administration? You know, the guy who overrode as many checks and balances as possible? Nice going dudes. I’ve never been so glad to not live in your country as I was between 2001 and 2008.

 

Yeah, the next few weeks are probably not going to be fun for you guys, because:

a) With the election coming up, I’m thinking about politics more;

b) Thinking about politics usually makes me angry, because of how atrocious it gets sometimes;

c) When I’m angry, I usually vent it, and my parents are deeply bored of me venting to them.

On a brighter note, I would like to remind you that echidnas are the most adorable creatures ever. That waddling gait of theirs is surprisingly cute.

– OSM out

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Politics Corner: Voyage to the Bottom of the Barrel


Australian politics has finally reached rock bottom. As far as I’m concerned, politics has now come down to Greens vs. Idiots.

What has produced this breakdown, you ask? Labor’s new asylum seeker policy. Yeah, here’s a thing, Labor: that you are shoving people to a different location does not mean your policy is substantially different from the Coalition. In fact, a lot of your policies are not substantially different from the Coalition’s, except that they tend to involve throwing money away rather than pouring it into a giant Scrooge McDuck money vault and refusing to let anyone look at it. (Except John Howard, who would revert to his true form, curl up on it and sleep, at least until a party of dwarves and one wizard recruited Bob Brown as their burglar and set off on a quest to liberate it.)

And this is what we call a problem.

Why do we even have multiple parties if the three biggest are all the Liberal Party in different hats? How is it good for democracy that the primary choices are three batches of clone troopers?

I know it’s not going to happen, but I can’t help but want the Greens to win the next election. If nothing else, it’ll indicate to Labor that they can’t get away with just photocopying the Liberal policy documents and sticking on different colour covers.

– OSM out

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The Rules, 1-25


1. When in doubt, do something crazy. No-one ever expects it.

2. A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.

3. It’s only late until it ships, but it sucks forever.

4. If it doesn’t involve you, stay the hell away from it.

5. There is no way to be nice about denying someone equal rights.

6. Never rule out extreme measures.

7. If all else fails, cheat like a bastard.

8. Just occasionally, new technology doesn’t run around giving people wedgies.

9. Perspective is a politeness most princes don’t possess.

10. If you’re making a plan, and you don’t consider the consequences, you’re an idiot.

11. Evidence and logic are usually the best basis for making a decision.

12. People who say “you can’t think scientifically all the time” are usually not good at thinking scientifically.

13. Don’t be afraid to dismiss bigoted nonsense.

14. Show respect for the views of people who are willing to show that same respect for others. If they are not willing to show that respect, ignore them.

15. An infomercial is fundamentally a means of getting your money.

16. Never vote for anyone so devoid of empathy that they can read an Ayn Rand book without detesting the main character.

17. All things being equal, you might as well be yourself.

18. Context matters, but so does content.

19. Some authors produce good stuff, some produce entertainingly bad stuff, and some produce frustratingly dull nonsense. Try not to buy anything by the third.

20. Competence, benevolence, mass appeal – in Australian politics, you can have at most two of them.

21. If you hear it on Fox News, you can rely on it – it’s wrong.

22. Reality TV has very little to do with reality.

23. The people who yell the loudest about “impending fascism” are usually the ones who have the least understanding of what fascism actually is or how it works.

24. Most corporations only behave ethically when someone forces them to.

25. Anyone who romanticises getting back to nature has never actually encountered it.

– OSM out

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How to Lose at Magic: the Gathering


Eight simple rules for getting the least out of the game.

8. Never Mulligan. Trading in a bad hand is a waste of everyone’s valuable time.

7. Never Use the Stack. Instants are just sorceries in denial.

6. Chump Block Everything. There is no circumstance in which it’s better to take a hit than to preserve a creature.

5. Run a Lifegain Deck with Nothing that Abuses a High Life Total. Since losing is the opposite of winning, something that takes you further away from losing obviously makes you closer to winning, right?

4. Card Advantage Is For Wimps. Using eight cards to kill a single creature, and none of them are reusable? A perfect strategy.

3. Synergy, Schmynergy. Cards don’t have to work together, and those who insist they do are losers.

2. Mana Balance Is A Waste Of Time. Making your deck vital on splashed colour, or having an equal mix of lands in two colours when three quarters of cards use one of them primarily, is a thing that can’t possibly backfire.

1. Squirrels Are Of No Significance. They’re just tiny critters with no special rules, right? Right?

– OSM out

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Guide to Life and Footnotes: How Not to Make a Movie


I would bet good money that most of my seven readers will never break into moving pictures. But just in case, here’s five tips I’ve picked up from my lifelong interest in terrible, terrible movies (1).

 

5. Assume Your Audience Comes From This Reality

Notable failures: Hulk (2003), everything Uwe Boll has ever done

One of the odd quirks of audiences is that when watching an adaptation of something they like, they want it to have at least a few traits in common with the thing it is an adaptation of (2). If you went to see Hulk, you probably wanted to see a lot of “HULK SMASH!” and what you got was 20 minutes of HULK SMASH and about three days of talking, angst, poorly thought out scene transitions and plot points that didn’t make sense (3). As for Uwe Boll, making fun of him is so easy I’m not going to bother (4).

 

4. When Writing A Parody, Make Sure Something In It Is Legitimately Funny

Notable failures: Space Mutiny (1988), Monster A Go-Go (1965), Wild World of Batwoman (1966)

These movies have two things in common. They’re all at least in theory parodies, and they’re terrible. Mutiny contains one legitimately likeable and funny character, and that character is neither the hero nor the villain, both of whom frankly kind of suck (5). Monster contains no likeable characters of all, plus the plot makes no sense, plus it was abandoned by one bad movie director and “finished” by another one who managed to go through the entire filming process without having a good idea (6). And Batwoman started out as a crude attempt to make money off the famous Adam West series, and then consisted of the following breakdown:

20 years: people dancing for no reason

5 years: hideously racist pseudo-Chinese gibberish

20 years: climactic battle that is neither climactic nor battle-like, and which resembles a cross between a square dance and Gonzo’s cannonball catching act from the Muppet Show

30 years: the audience staring in bewilderment at Batwoman’s…erm…“costume”, which was chosen by the actress herself, apparently after being hit on the head (7)

15 years: The annoying comic relief being annoying but neither comic nor relieving

7 years: Stockholm Syndrome

3 years: nuclear explosions that don’t even harm the guy holding the explosive (8)

 

3. Nothing is Better than a Bad Special Effect, So Use Nothing Instead

Notable failures: Attack of the Eye Creatures (1965), Reptilicus (1961)

Fog. Darkness. Obstructions. A hairy, inhuman hand/claw extending from behind the camera. All of these are good ways of concealing that your monster costume sucks. None of these are things Eye Creatures managed. Instead, what came out were men in rubber suits hanging around in athletic shoes, the zippers on their costumes fully visible (9). As for Reptilicus, well, feast your eyes on this.

 

2. Write a Tract, or Let Your Star Do the Same

Notable failures: GATTACA (1997), Battlefield Earth (2000)

Assuming your audience needs to have an Important Message slammed onto their heads without anything vaguely resembling subtlety rarely ends well. GATTACA was merely two-dimensional, with its most offensive message being that as long as you’re fulfilling your dreams it’s perfectly all right to put the lives of others at risk (10). Battlefield Earth, on the other hand, is pretty much a straightforward love letter to L. Ron Hubbard, written by John Travolta (11).

 

1. Don’t Do Anything Hal Warren Did

Notable failures: Manos: the Hands of Fate (1966)

For the uninitiated, Hal Warren was a fertiliser salesman who decided, on a bet, to make a movie. The net result has become legendary among bad movie aficionados, coming second only to Plan 9 from Outer Space in lists of the most famous awful movies in the world. If you go and watch its MST3K episode on Youtube right now, or read its Agony Booth recap, you will probably be enlightened and appalled. Mainly appalled. It takes a special kind of incompetence to take a camera that can’t record sound, get a clapperboard caught in shot anyway, and then botch the dub so badly that one guy is clearly talking to himself without bothering to change his voice at all.

–       OSM out

 

  1. Don’t be silly, this won’t be a blatant Cracked.com ripoff. Cracked doesn’t do footnotes.
  2. Don’t try this sentence at home.
  3. So why did Bruce’s dad release those monster poodles anyway?
  4. Plus, y’know, he used to be a boxer and could probably kill me with one hand.
  5. The hero tends to let his battle cry stray into the soprano reaches, the love interest looks waaay older than she’s portrayed as being (12), the villain’s evil plot makes no sense, the chase scenes are done on floor waxers, and one character – a named character, even – is killed and then turns up back at her station in the next scene. Also, what the hell? There’s a tag for Space Mutiny but not one for Manos?
  6. At the end, having run out of ideas, the monster suddenly never existed. I don’t get it either.
  7. It somehow manages to resemble neither a bat, nor a woman.
  8. “Hey, let’s just slap some black powder on the actor’s face and call it good.”
  9. Because it’s in my contract, “Folks, they just did not care!”
  10. For those who haven’t seen it, the main character is born with a weak heart and wants to be an astronaut. You will note that NASA isn’t overly keen on training astronauts who are likely to die either on the mission or when they return to Earth, not because they’re eeeeeeevil but because sending people out to die is heinously unethical and endangers the lives of everyone else on the mission.
  11. The author of this post claims no responsibility for anything it contains, and furthermore is not worth the time and effort of suing.
  12. The actress in question, Cisse Cameron, has spent a lot of energy keeping her true age a secret. I’d bet good money that her tombstone will read “Cisse Cameron, Departed This Vale Of Tears on [date]” just to make sure we never learn her date of birth.

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Guide to Life (1): Australian Politics Part 2


THE POLITICAL PARTIES (2)

The Liberal Party: Noted for its very inaccurate name (3), the Liberal Party is one of the most powerful forces in Australian politics. Indeed, some might argue that it is the most powerful force – most of the other parties either directly serve its decrees (Nationals) or periodically photocopy its manifesto and hope for the best (Labour). The Liberals are noted for a very harshly conservative outlook on every single thing that has ever happened. The current Liberal leader is Tony Abbott, a man noted for his strong religious views and total lack of trustworthiness (4).
 
The National Party: The former Country Party (5), the National Party is to the Liberal Party what Spiro Agnew was to Richard Nixon. You can draw whatever conclusion you like from that sentence.
 
Labour: The ALP is currently the dominant political party (6). Possessed of a great enthusiasm, a keen vision of the future (7), and not even the slightest trace of policy, skill, forethought, cunning, charisma, determination, originality or dignity. Generally, ALP policies resemble Liberal policies, in much the same way that a clone trooper resembles Jango Fett (8). Originally the party of the little man aimed at kicking in the teeth of greedy, ruthless and rich businessmen, it was realised sometime during the Hawke administration that greedy, ruthless and rich businessmen can pay for your advertising if you’re nice to them (9). Currently engaged in a drunken stumble from PR disaster to PR disaster, accompanied by the distinct sound of knives being sharpened.

The Greens: This party’s policies are targeted mainly at disenchanted ex-Communists who desperately want to feel again, aggravated environmentalists who are fed up with watching Peter Garrett do nothing, and frustrated young people who view the three parties above as Tweedledee, Tweedledum, and Tweedledumberer (10). Despite the name, they’ve evolved beyond mere tree-hugging hippie stuff and have adopted a broader concept of their role, picking up social justice from Labour’s porch five minutes before the garbage truck got there (11).

The Australian Sex Party: Honestly, they’re just involved because of the name. They’re targeted mainly at people with warped senses of humour and, well, that’s about it really. It talks a lot about sexual liberation and sex ed and prudish politicians and whatnot, but really they exist to draw university students to the promise of their favourite preoccupation.

– OSM out

  1. And footnotes.
  2. It’s amazing to note how much political journalism is like your seventh birthday party. In one, you pin the tail on the donkey; in the other, you pin the tale on the ass. (12)
  3. People who assume the Liberal Party is liberal in any way at all tend to run into maaaajor concept dissonance.
  4. Mind you, this is politics – everyone is a dime-a-dozen backstabbing scumbag until proven human on more than a technicality.
  5. Don’t even try. Every joke, every pun, done to death. Seriously. And that’s overlooking the decidedly off-colour nature of most of those puns.
  6. “Currently”, here, is defined as “until the next election, given that their polls have been in the toilet pretty much consistently since the last election.”
  7. Libel laws prohibit saying exactly what kind of vision they have.
  8. If you haven’t seen Attack of the Clones…um…don’t worry, it’s really not that much of a plot point.
  9. As ever, to get into politics you have to be totally impervious to shame.
  10. Assign these names to parties pretty much however you wish.
  11. Do not get this metaphor wet, and never feed it after midnight.
  12. I’m so sorry.

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Volume 1: Guide to Life (1)


Australian Politics, Part 1: Basic Structure, and the Prime Minister

Australian politics is defined by three main factors: beer, frustration, and Murphy’s Law (2).

Beer: it is common knowledge that the sense Australian culture makes is directly proportional to your blood alcohol content (3). As a result, good old C2H5OH has had an impact on virtually every level of Australian democracy (4).

Frustration: For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, across most of Australia, there is a widespread discontent with politics (5). This general atmosphere of indifference, spite, and cynicism has caused a sort of infinite loop in which bright, good-hearted and sincere young things, the hope of their nation, take one look at politics and become undertakers instead, leaving the business of governance to the burgeoning ranks of the treacherous, selfish, vindictive and paranoid (6). As a result, people take a look at the megalomaniacs they just voted for, throw up their hands in despair and adopt a policy of bitter indifference and contempt.

Murphy’s Law: It’s well known that political parties can propose and execute virtually any utterly pointless (7), elaborately unhelpful (8), or straightforwardly insane (9) cockeyed scheme so long as it’s not too close to an election for the spin doctors to move in for the kill. As a result, the victor of an election can usually be determined by seeing who drops the ball in spectacular fashion closest to the election (10).

 

The Prime Minister

The Prime Ministerial candidates are, in theory, the cream of a 22-million-strong crop. They have run a bloody gauntlet of betrayal, deception, greed, corruption, power, ambition, paranoia, greed and injustice (11). They have sunk years into it. They have neglected their families. They have been forced to choose between virtue and convenience (12). They have been faced with inducements. They have set foot at least once in every major city and most of the towns in Australia. On the final leg, they have to engage in a bare-knuckle brawl with the nightmarish ghoul, soulforged from the ghosts of Lachlan Macquarie and Sir Henry Parkes, which lurks in the corridors under Parliament House (13) (14).

And at the end of this ordeal, the two who remain standing are Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.

At this point, no matter who you are, it is considered socially acceptable to weep for the nation (15).

Tune in at some undecided future date for part 2: Parliament.

– OSM out

 

  1. And footnotes.
  2. This is distinct from American politics, which is defined by vice, condescension, money and round count.
  3. Kind of makes life a heck of a lot harder for those of us who can’t stand the taste of the stuff.
  4. Effects range from people showing up to vote tanked to the entire career of Bob Hawke.
  5. And it’s a rotten shame. I mean, what is it about a century packed with underachievement, treachery, venality, cowardice and vice that turns people off politics?
  6. The few true believers who do make it in tend to end up marooned on back benches or join the Greens, and thus are effectively marginalised. Several of them were given faulty maps of Parliament House and have been trapped in the labyrinth of secret corridors ever since. They live off vending machines and sleep in disused offices (16).
  7. Ka-GST!
  8. The highway upgrade going on near my place, which has been in progress for more than a decade and has still only provided about eight feet of actual road.
  9. “Hey, you know what would be awesome? If we spent a ton of money on an ugly painting.” – Attributed to Gough Whitlam.
  10. And that’s how WorkChoices saved Australia.
  11. “You said greed twice.” “I like greed.”
  12. We’d probably be in a slightly less boned, skinned and filleted state if virtue won occasionally.
  13. Shady powerbrokers used to bet on these matches, until Kevin Rudd turned out to be surprisingly adept at Muay Thai kickboxing and absolutely cleaned them out. True story (17).
  14. A similar arrangement exists in most modern nations.  Contemporary Turkish history would be significantly different had Kemal Ataturk not become a cyborg in 1938 and faked his own death, the US forces each would-be President to participate in a cage match against the tag-team wrestling ghosts of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, and Britain makes them spend a night in the Tower of London on the anniversary of King Henry VII’s death. Only Russia is truly an exception, and that’s because Vladimir Putin scared the ancient vampire Ivan the Terrible so much he stayed up to greet the dawn, and they haven’t found a replacement yet.
  15. Even the candidates themselves do, because they’ve just realised they fought a two-headed ghost-monster for the right to spend four years kissing up to the US and Chinese leaders.
  16. I do not wish to imply that Australian politicians are, for the most part, corrupt rodents. I wish to state definitively that morally, most are actually located several notches below rodents, in the space shared by Nephandi, bull ants, about half of 4chan, the 2e Ebon Dragon, the Fox executives who shafted Firefly, Dan Backslide and people who don’t clap to save Tinkerbell.
  17. One of them sold the rights to Hollywood, and after the execs were finished with it, out came Avatar. Gotta love those focus groups, huh?

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