Wednesday, May 22, 2019

You Know Nothing, George R.R. Martin

Image result for jon snow and ghost artworkI remain convinced that George R.R. Martin never originally intended for Jon Snow to be a Targaryan.
There's all the reasons I've gone into before, but here's another that's just occurred to me --
If Jon isn't Ned Stark's actual kid -- why did he get a wolf?
The discovery of the abandoned wolf pups at the start of the first book is one of the first and most subtle, yet convincing, indications that there are supernatural powers in the world of ASOIAF, and they are deeply interested in the Stark kids. The fact that the wolf pups' mother was found dead in the snow with a shard of an antler from a gigantic stag in its throat can't really be seen as anything but an ominous warning from the Powers That Be as to the shit that House Baratheon was about to dump all over the Starks. And the wolf pups themselves -- one each, for each of Ned's true born kids, and then, off to the side, an albino pup, for the bastard kid named Snow -- again, this kinda shit doesn't happen by coincidence. It was Jon Snow himself who convinced Ned to let the kids adopt the pups, by pointing out that there were four pups to four kids... Jon's first notable act of selflessness, as he could only make that math work by omitting himself from the tally.
And then, of course, they find Ghost, off to the side, and he's obviously meant for Jon.
And none of this works if Jon is a fucking Targaryen.
Jon, like the Stark kids, is obviously a warg. He can slip into Ghost's skin, and the wildlings immediately recognize him as one. Where did the Stark kids get their warg blood from? Not from their idiot trout mother, that's for goddam sure. They got it from Ned Stark.
Yeah, I know, Jon's half Stark... his mother is Ned's sister, Lyanna. Maybe she had the warg gene. But 'here's four dire wolf pups for Ned's four kids and oh yeah, let's throw one in for that half Targaryen nephew he's calling his bastard, too, just to keep the suspense going' -- that doesn't work for me.
Jon Snow is Ned Stark's kid. Or he wouldn't get a wolf. Period. The end.
So who is Jon's mother?
Lyanna Stark.
Yeah. Good ol' Ned was schtupping his beloved kid sister. Or at least, he did it once, and she got knocked up, and the shame would have killed both of them, and ruined Jon's life worse than being a bastard would, so after she died in childbirth, Ned, suffused on every level of his being with guilt, just lied about it. Or rather, he didn't lie about it, he just refused to tell anyone who the mother was, and nobody suspected.
Why do I think this? A couple of reasons. First, when Tyrion Lannister first meets Jon Snow, he says "You have more of the North in you than your brothers or sisters". This doesn't have to mean anything, but it's the kind of line that an author puts in as a portent, or a hint, that he never means anyone to actually figure out. But how can Jon have more of the North in him than his noble born siblings? Simple. They're half Tully. He's all Stark.
Then there's this whole thing where Ned figures out that Cersei's kids aren't Robert's, but Jaime's instead. Now, every single other person in Westeros we've ever met absolutely loses their shit at the merest suggestion of incest, but does Ned? Nope. He's totally cool with it. He takes Cersei aside and says "Take your kids and head for the hills, honey, because Robert's gonna kill 'em when I tell him about them". A very strange bit of mercy and compassion from a guy who has every reason to be outraged at Cersei's betrayal of his best friend, and who is already furious with Jamie Lannister, too. And yet, he does it. Why?
Well, if he's been banging his own sister and had a kid with her, I'm thinking, maybe that has something to do with it. I can't think of anything else that would.
Now, I don't doubt that if WINDS OF WINTER ever comes out, yeah, Martin will tell us that Jon is actually a Targaryen, just like on the show, blah blah blah. But I don't think that was Martin's original intention. I think one of the big reasons Martin takes so long writing these books is that he can't stand it when anyone figures out one of his plot twists in advance. And he relentlessly ego searches on the Internet. So when he reads where someone figured out one of his cherished secrets, then he has to throw out whatever he's written and go back and write it all over again with a different plot twist. I think someone figured out the Jon Snow/incest twist, and Martin went "goddamit" and had to start all over again, and came up with the stupid ass Targaryen thing as an act of desperation.
Disregard the "you have more of the north in you" tip off if you want. That's just dialogue by some character who has no idea of the truth, so whatever. And Ned Stark's completely weird and utterly aberrant kindness towards Cersei after he finds out she's been betraying Robert with her twin brother... okay, maybe he's just a real sweetheart. (I mean, seriously? No. Ned's cool, but he ain't that cool.) But, fine, ignore that if you like.
But if Jon isn't Ned's kid, why did he get a wolf? Especially one obviously meant for someone named Snow? Who wouldn't actually be named 'Snow', if he were really the trueborn son of the last Targaryen Prince?
Jon Snow was never supposed to be a Targaryen. He was intended to be Ned's kid. That's what I believe. And you can disagree with me if you want, but that just means that like Jon Snow himself, you know nothing.

Friday, March 15, 2019


CAPTAIN MARVEL spoilers --
Image result for cockrum ms. marvel

There's very little but disappointment in the latest MCU installment. Much though I hoped otherwise, CAPTAIN MARVEL turns out to be a steadily mediocre film with no peaks but quite a few deep, deep trenches. Of course, the things that bother me most will have gone unnoticed by nearly everyone else alive and awake in a movie theater this last weekend, but, still, I'll list out all the various plot elements that I found annoyingly stupid --

* The Kree are masters of focused energy technology, have artificial gravity, have conquered the galaxy using stargates, have wonderful skin tight battlesuits with built in environmental support, have astonishingly advanced AI and VR, and, most convenient of all, >gack< universal translators >cough< >hack< and yet, when they go into combat, they communicate through radio signals which can be conveniently distorted or cut off so their shapeshifting enemies can infiltrate their ranks.  

* All aliens have British accents. The Kree have snotty upper crust British accents and the Skrulls sound like they were all born within earshot of the bells of St. Mary Le Bow. Why? Because that's the way, uh huh, uh huh, Marvel like it, uh huh uh huh. Jesus fucking Christ.

* Universal translators. I say again, with enormous contempt, universal translators. When you are writing 'science fiction' and you find yourself reaching for the 'universal translator' crutch, if someone smarter and more ethical than you doesn't punch you in the throat until you come back to your senses, at least understand that you are a brainless hack and you're no longer writing anything remotely resembling science fiction.

Imagine how much deeper and more plausible this movie would have been if the Kree and the Skrulls, when talking among each other, were speaking an incomprehensible alien language with English sub titles.  Imagine the first time Fury says something to Carol after she falls to Earth, she stared at him incredulously and said "How do you speak Kree?"  And then, of course, she'd realize he's not speaking Kree, he's speaking some Earth language she has no way of understanding, so how does she understand it?  Imagine how much more depth and verisimilitude that would give the film. 

But no, we have to have 'universal translators' because Marvel thinks the audience is too stupid and has too short an attention span for anything intelligent.  And mostly, Marvel is right.

* When it turns out that the Skrulls are actually warm and cuddly and have cute adorable little green kiddies and all they want is a safe place to live somewhere the big bad Kree can't get them, I nearly went into a coma of disbelief.  But instead, I heard this dialogue in my mind:

FURY:  You sure didn't seem very nice when you were picking me up and beating me against the wall.  You seemed like you were trying to hurt me badly or kill me.
CAROL:  Yeah, and for a poor oppressed people you sure have big spaceships with lots of guns and weren't you mind-raping me to get information out of me?  Not cool.
FURY:  Also if you're just trying to find your long lost family and they're hiding in a hidden orbital lab around Earth why were you halfway across the Galaxy trying to ambush Kree at the start of the movie?

But alas, I only heard that dialogue in my mind. 

Why can't the Skrulls and the Kree both be races of militaristic assholes who have hated each other so long that their cultures have become cruel and violent and viciously xenophobic... you know, like in the comics?

Is that too difficult to understand?

* Something that continually bothers me in so called science fiction is when the aliens aren't alien. This troubles me hugely all through the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movies (where aliens who have never heard of Earth laugh when Peter Quill makes jokes about Jackson Pollack -- imagine how much more depth GOTG would have if every time Quill made a reference nobody on the ship should get, someone said something like "What's a Jackson Pollack"?) and it especially bothers me when alien cultures are pretty much exactly like modern 21st Century Americans, except they have funny skin colors and carry blasters.

This is never more exasperating to me than when aliens on distant worlds always seem to end up being heterosexual and monogamous. Because apparently this is the only cultural reproductive pattern anywhere in the universe, and every sentient race throughout space time has the same Family Values as the Cornfed Yokels of Weewaw, Nebraska.

It's bad enough when the John C Reilly Nova Corps guy in the first GUARDIANS goes home to his (alien!) wife and they apparently are all romantically in love with each other (romantic love in a social construct dating back to the early 14th Century, not a natural mating pattern at all) and have a cute little halfbreed kid (defying all known laws of genetics). It's worse when whatever the hell Drax's race is apparently also pairbonds off just like we do here in the good ol' U.S. Gamora, apparently, also just accepts the idea of being coupled up with Quill as the correct sort of relationship, whether she'll admit to it or not.

But now, with CAPTAIN MARVEL, we find out that a race of alien shapeshifters that can literally take on the physical forms of any living or unliving thing in the universe... still chooses heterosexual monogamy, and apparently buys into romantic love.

This is so fucking stupid I can't stand it. Aliens should be ALIEN. Skulls shouldn't even need to have sex to reproduce! Aaaaugggghhhhh.

And, hey, Disney, you're working so hard to have chicks and POC with agency in all your movies, but where are all the LGBTQ characters? You couldn't show one of Yondu's crew getting it on with a male pleasurebot in flashing pan scene in GOTG 2? Seriously, what the fuck?

Also, why are all the main characters white and all the sidekicks except for Bucky non-white?  (And Bucky doesn't count, because Cap's got the Falcon for a sidekick, too.)

* I will admit, it pisses me off that Mar Vell was turned into a chick, and I hope it's not because I'm a misogynist, but simply that Marvel's Captain Marvel is a childhood favorite of mine, and I dislike it when they fuck with my childhood favorites.

Mostly, though, I'm just pissed off at the way the MCU continues to take all the amazing, awesome, and brilliantly complex concepts created by Kirby and Lee in Marvel's Silver Age and relentlessly dumb them down for a larger and more mainstream audience. What was done to the Nova Corps and Ronan the Accuser in GUARDIANS has been done worse to the Kree, the Skrull, and especially the Supreme Intelligence in this movie, and I for one do not appreciate it.

* Every bit of characterization in this film is external, and as much as I want to like Brie Larsen's Carol Danvers, the only sense of personality or individuality we get regarding Carol in this whole film comes from conveniently dropped in props and other people's dialogue about her. When we get to the incredibly predictable climax where she lets go of the Kree 'master your emotions' horseshit to let her emotions rage, the contrast between her shouting over and over again "I'm human! I'm HUMAN!" with the fact that the only reason she can beat any of these guys is that she has superhuman powers she gained from standing next to an exploding Kree artifact... well, I'm sure the writers, directors, and producers of the movie thought they were creating brilliant irony, but actually, it was just fucking stupid.

Which is pretty much my summation of the movie.

I really hope ENDGAME is better than this but see no reason to actually believe that it will be. This seems to be the impact Disney has on everything it buys - to make it dumber, more simpleminded, more emotionally appealing (at the expense of intelligence and originality) and less offensive. Eventually, every creative sci fi or fantasy franchise in the world will belong to Disney, and will have been relentlessly transformed into Star Trek: The Next Generation with customized costumes, sets, and proper nouns.

There is a way they could salvage this movie.  They could have a sequence in GOTG3 where the Guardians smash and blast their way into a Kree military lab for some reason and they find this naked bald pink skinned chick floating in a VR tank with tubes running into her every orifice and electrodes taped to every square inch of her skin and they go "Who's this?" and it turns out that it's Carol Danvers and she's been in this tank being studied ever since Yon Rogg kidnapped her from Earth and the whole CAPTAIN MARVEL movie is a VR simulation they're feeding her to keep her from blowing them all up.

That would make everything make sense.  But Marvel will never do that.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Locked In The Stocks

Image result for computershare logoThis week has been truly a terrible one at work - back to back calls, many of them just crazy stupid stuff. Like the 92 year old man who called me Tuesday and screamed at me for twenty minutes because his last dividend's stock purchase wasn't showing up on his account yet -- as if I can do something about that. Then the same guy called me the next day. The dividend purchase went through and he's online looking at all the numbers on his account (although of course he doesn't tell me that at first) but he has to keep me on the phone for half an hour asking me how much stock he has, how much stock did his last dividend purchase, how much stock did he have in his account before the latest purchase -- pain in the ass questions that require calculations I'm not supposed to make (it's policy where I work; we don't calculate because we might make a mistake and then bad things could happen). But the first time I try to just give him individual stock amounts (this much in electronic common shares, this much in certificated shares, this much in DRP purchased shares) he screams "THE TOTAL!!! THE TOTAL!!! I SAID THE TOTAL!!!" at me, and when I tried to tell him we're not allowed to make calculations, he starts screaming for a supervisor. At my current job, supervisors really push back hard on supervisor calls, when you can find one at all, so I just did the calculations for him. And of course I get done and he howls "THAT DOESN'T ADD UP" because of course I've made a mistake punching the numbers in (which is why we're not allowed to calculate for shareholders) and I have to do it over and this is when he tells me he's in his electronic account looking at these numbers so WHY THE FUCK IS HE CALLiNG ME? I mean, what is the purpose of him getting someone on the phone to screech at them about numbers he's looking at in his electronic account if whenever you give him a different answer he loses his fucking mind?

Plus, I keep saying to myself "I can't believe I got this guy back again". I mean, 300 people in the call center are trained for these calls and I get this raving lunatic two days in a row.

Various veteran agents at my current call center warned me that on the days of the full moon, things got incredibly crazy in our call center, and man, they were right. These calls are just insane. And the shareholders calling in with this nonsense are all horrible horrible people.

Anyway. Two days of back to back calls like this (and worse) and this morning I drive in to work and there's a train across my usual route so I go around but where I usually cut back to my usual route there's a wreck so I have to go further down and I'm hitting every single red light and I'm just really getting a bad feeling about today and I get into work and my first call is somebody who gives me one account number but then says "I'm trying to transfer some stock from another company over to this account". And I say 'what company' and he gives me a name I've never heard of before and I say 'do you have the account number of the account you're trying to transfer the stock from' and he says "I don't think there is an account I'm just doing a transfer" and this is impossible, you cannot transfer stock from the very ether it has to be in an account to start with and I say "well, sir, the stock has to be in an account to be transferred" and he says to me in this really shitty tone "well can you transfer me over to someone who knows how to do your job" and I look up this company I've never heard of and sure enough they have their own dedicated team that works out of Texas so I say "sure" and transfer him.

MY FIRST CALL.

So I take some more calls and while not all of them are shitty people who want crazy things most of them are and I get to like 10:30 and I can feel it, I can feel the day wanting to go evil on me, I know I'm going to say something to a shareholder or a supervisor that's going to get me in bad trouble, so I just told my Assistant Team Lead that I wasn't feeling good and I was going home.

And here I am at home where, amazingly, nobody is calling me on the phone screaming at me or being shitty with me because I can't do something that is impossible.

It's astonishing how much better my life is in the absence of this.

There are two reasons why people treat others with respect in this world. One is they genuinely respect the other person. That's rare. The more common one is, they understand that if they act disrespectful to a certain person, there will be negative consequences. That one is much much more common. I daresay nearly every boss, manager, supervisor, team lead, and/or other authority figure in the world gets treated with insincere respect by many people in their day to day life, because those people don't want to risk the possible consequences of not doing so.

In customer service jobs, customers have no accountability. There are no negative consequences when customers treat the poor asshole at the other end of the 800 number, or on the other side of the counter, with complete and utter scorn and contempt. And it's rough, and stressful, being treated like shit at your job all day long. Everybody who has a boss gets treated like shit sometimes, at least a little, because nearly all bosses are scumbags -- it's what authority does to most humans -- but in a customer service job, it's not just your boss shitting on you, it's nearly every customer that calls up.

And I'm sick of it. I'm sick up to here of it. Nobody should have to be treated the way I and everyone else I know in customer service jobs get treated every single day at work, all day long. We should be able to tell our bosses "hey, I'm here working, doing a job, I'm being professional, now back the fuck off" when they get shitty with us, and if they don't, we should be able to report their asses for unprofessionalism and get them disciplined for being douchebags to us. (And, yes, I know in a lot of work places now they say you can do that, but go ahead and try it once and see what happens. Within six months, for completely unrelated reasons, you will not be employed at that place any more, because management has no use for anyone with a bad attitude, and 'bad attitude' means, 'was served the usual plate of shit and did not eat it with a smile and did not ask for more afterward').

Similarly, every CSR in existence should be able to say to irate, abusive customers "I'm being professional with you, sir/ma'am, and if you can't be professional with me, I will disconnect this call". And as long as we were completely professional on the call, and the jerkwad we were talking to was indeed being a jerkwad, we should be able to hang up on them. I mean, honestly, that doesn't seem that unreasonable, does it? But try it. Do it once. They will fire you so fast that the sound of security's shoes on the floor escorting you out of the building will doppler behind you as you are dragged across the lobby.

I know companies are terrified of losing customers, but the way customers treat CSRs is a disgrace to the human race and it won't stop until there is some accountability for it, until there's a penalty for the behavior. If every company out there said "You know what, we've got our employees' backs; you can't treat them that way, it's just wrong", then people calling 800 numbers for service would start to behave like grown ups. Nobody wants to get hung up on and have to come back through the IVR again. People would stop being so shitty.

Or they'd get hung up on, which works for me, too.

But we can't do that. Instead, the burden is always on the CSR. Be cheerful. Be helpful. Give the customer the best experience possible. Always have a smile in your voice. Eat their shit. Kiss their asses. Do it. Do it. If you don't do it, if you stop doing it, if you have 'tone' in your voice for even half a syllable, no matter what the customer was doing, it's your fault. We need to have a meeting. Please sign this disciplinary slip. No raise for you. Do it one more time and you're out. This Behavior Is Never Acceptable.

Except from customers and supervisors, of course. They can be as shitty as they want.

I really hope tomorrow is a better day.

You Know Nothing, George R.R. Martin

I remain convinced that George R.R. Martin never originally intended for Jon Snow to be a Targaryan. There's all the reasons I've...