Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, April 2014

I took advantage of the beautiful spring weather and a lunch break this week and walked up to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza for the first time. I looked for the fountain with the turtle statue, well-known to fans of Steven King’s Dark Tower series, but no luck. Maybe next time.

On the Job

Nation of Defense Cartoon by Christopher KeeltyYes, in fact, the Ku Klux Klan, a domestic terrorist organization, has announced they will now be the neighborhood watch in Fairview Township, in central Pennsylvania. One has to assume they saw what George Zimmerman experienced and got jealous.

The Klan has also stepped up recruitment efforts nationwide, just another reminder that we now live in post-racial America and, as 5 out of 9 Supreme Court Justices have informed us, racism is over.



A Note on Partisanship

You may note that, from time time, I take some pot-shots at Republicans. Aside from saying that I think they’re generally well earned, I don’t consider them reflective of partisanship on my part.

These days too many Americans approach politics the way they approach sports teams; they are loyal to their team first and foremost. If their team isn’t fielding the best candidates at present, or even workable policies, it doesn’t change their loyalty because, well, root for that other team? Ewww. [Read more...]

Game of Thrones: Further Thoughts on “That Scene”


* MAJOR spoilers here. If you aren’t caught up reading the Song of Ice and Fire novels, you probably want to skip this one. Seriously.

Since I wrote up my brief thoughts on the most recent episode, Breaker of Chains, there have been many more words written about “that scene,” in which the show runners changed a disturbing-but-depicted-as-consensual sex scene between Jaime and Cersei Lannister into Jaime raping his sister beside her son’s corpse. It’s pretty resoundingly an unpopular choice, not least because Westeros is already a place with troublesome gender politics, and this isn’t the first time Benioff and Weiss have adapted consensual sex into rape on the way from book to screen.

A few have argued that Jaime might have raped Cersei in the novels as well, since the encounter is told from his point of view on the page and he may not be a reliable viewpoint. I don’t think this is true—there’s nothing following the encounter in the books to say so, and none of the fallout between Jaime and Cersei one would expect to follow a rape—but even if it is true, what’s the point of the change?

As Alyssa Rosenberg points outat the Washington Post, it’s not that Jaime raping his sister is the most shocking act of violence, sexual or otherwise, that we’ve seen on Game of Thrones, and anyone who is really disgusted by that scene will probably find dozens of others to be equally appalled at. Part of the point of Martin’s world is to showcase the reality of a medieval society, including the way people are sexually traded, exploited, and abused. The show, with its over the top sexuality, reflects that pattern back at the modern society that watches it, suggesting that maybe we haven’t moved as far as we’d like to believe toward a liberated, just world. [Read more...]

Cat Photo: Visiting an Old Friend


Liz and I went to visit our parents in the Philly suburbs for Easter, which also gave us a chance to check in with Buffy, who move in with my folks since January.

What was initially intended as a cat-sitting visit turned into long-term residence because she seemed so much happier there. I think at her age (we think around 14) and temperament, the quieter surroundings suit her. She also never got along with Max, who is nine years younger and can be kind of a bully.

As you can see, Buffy’s favorite activities include lounging on sofas, lounging on the rocking chair, and lounging in sunbeams. It’s nice to see she’s doing well.

Also great, of course, to see my family and a couple of friends. My aunt was in town as well, and she and Liz and I had the ride back to NYC on New Jersey Transit to catch up. Pretty good way to salvage a weekend that began with an epic stomach virus on Thursday night. Happy Easter, everybody.

HBO’s Game of Thrones: Breaker of Chains

GOT_Meereen** Warning: Game of Thrones Spoilers through Season 4 Episode 3; also a few very minor spoilers from the book series to this point.

After George R. R. Martin took his time last week laying out the Purple Wedding, the show runners had to work to catch us up on what’s happening with everyone else, and this week we saw a lot of plot points moving. It strikes me that if there were a similar arrangement on the novels, we might see a book more often than every five years.

Without Martin in control, however, it’s too easy for the show to stray off that knife’s edge it walks on gender and the role of women. The first two episodes of this latest season had me wondering about changes made to the dynamic between Jaime and Cersei from the novels, and I’m outright baffled as to why they thought Jaime needed to rape his sister. Others have pointed out how problematic this scene is, even in the Westerosi context, and I don’t have much to add except to add my objection. [Read more...]