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I think a good anti-Batman argument would be: we live in a society where the State has the monopoly of law enforcement and the use of force (the latter is less true in the US, but the former is... at least for now, knock on wood). Whatever the motives and outcome of his war on crime might be, it's a huge, prolonged crime, premeditated to a ludicrous degree.

The counterargument for this — although it is a counterargument in favor of other crimes — cannot be that in a more just society what he does wouldn't be a crime, because he knows that's not true, and is actually rather active preventing vigilantes in Gotham other than himself (or, of course, the people he trains and/or controls).

A possible counterargument, as much as I've grown to actively loathe Frank Miller, is that of course he's a criminal. He's a master criminal, an Arsene Lupin who has never had to steal anything, so he could indulge his ethics from day one. I'm fine with that Batman, but it's one that could/should embrace the fact that he's a criminal; do the same things he does, but with less of a chip on his shoulder (at least regarding, say, thieves; even career thieves have the right to feel righteous anger against a murderer, but Bruce breaking and entering into somebody's house to beat them up because they robbed somebody else's might be ethically arguable if you grant his skills as a detective and moral integrity, but he should at least be aware of the irony).

Not that Bruce will, ever. Because he's a generally mostly moral man, an assertion I'm more comfortable making about the animated series' Bruce Wayne than many versions in comics, by the way, but Batman is something he has to do, not something he chose to do. Batman is how he sort of copes with his trauma; morality and the law only factor into it because it was a criminal who killed his parents (for another scenario out of an infinite spectrum of possibilities, cf my Fuga fic). Bruce empathizes with victims, cares for people, wants to help even his enemies (again, more true for some versions than for others) but if that were his main drive he wouldn't be Batman, he'd be doing Wayne Foundation stuff all day long, and/or be a doctor, and/or enter politics. He's Batman because he was hurt, and the injustice of how that kid was hurt makes the concept of law a joke. He's not punishing criminals because they break the law. He's punishing them because they break people.

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The more I think about Batman vs Superman, the less sense it makes. Even disregarding the hailstorm of idiot balls hitting everybody, what sorts Batman fights do we see? Two relatively Batman-y ones, true, the one at the beginning and the one at the end when he rescues Martha Kent, but the main ones are the chase scene, where he spends more bullets per minute than Punisher crashing a mob meeting, and the one where he fights Superman in full weapons plus power suit plus kryptonite mode.

What we don't see, what we are taunted with, is him breaking into LexCorp to steal the kryptonite. We're shown enough to know it must've been epic, but between Bruce's "resolved face" (and, really, World's Best Detective (not that he *ever* has been that in any of the damn movies, which might be the worst of the oversights, given how the Holmes movies have shown us that it can do well commercially), in what world would a Superman gone bad kill everybody with a damn explosion? That's not even one of his powers! He'd burn everybody, collapse the building, tear them down to cells, whatever, but nothing non-explodable would explode!) and Lex riding into his front gate to see ambulances drive away, and inside a wrecked building and a damn batarang nailed to where the kryptonite was... Batman must've teared through everything, and, assuming he didn't use weapons, it must've been glorious.

That's the Batman movie I want to see: half a Holmes movie, half The Raid (or a quarter Holmes, a quarter The Raid, a quarter Matches Malone noir, and a quarter of humorous Brucie and Alfred shenanigans).

We're more likely to see the Budapest Black Widow-plus-Hawkeye spy movie than that one, but one can dream about a better world.

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Yay!

I got The Monican Way of Death, a beautifully smart look at the history, politics, and underlying *weirdness* of the world of Aeon Flux. It was everything I wanted, and more.

Many, many thanks to my author! (and apologies for the late comment, I was at my folks', and rather bereft of online time).

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I might have posted about this before, but last night I found myself wondering about the fact that nu!Trek!old!Spock has (had) the ability to make the Federation the primary power in the Alpha Quadrant by giving them a metric ton of new science, advanced technology, astrographic information, etc, etc. Between his polymathic scientific training, his personal experiences, and his undoubtedly ludicrous security clearance, if you had to choose one person to send to the past and bootstrap a civilization it'd have to be either him or Data.

The question for him must've been — should he? Or rather, what bits should he give, and to whom? Minimizing his interference is probably not an option; with Vulcan gone, the Federation has been badly weakened compared to his own timeline. He has to compensate that somehow, but how much? This iteration of the Federation has proven to be somewhat untrustworthy, all things considered, so giving them a huge leg up militarily might make them an hegemon rather than a pacifist arbiter (humans (other than Jim) and temptation...). On the other hand, it was a close thing for the Federation at some points against the Klingon, and you do not want the Klingon to take over the Quadrant, not the way they are now. The Federation must be warned about the Borg. Spock must've read the files about Q. What do you say about that, and how does Starfleet react to the knowledge that there's a bunch of omnipotent beings, one of which has or will have a whimsical, murderous relationship with humanity? (And will Q make sure there's a Picard in this timeline, because damned if he's going to let some Romulan take away his favorite toy?). Will Spock go to Romulus, and what will he tell them? Will he seek out his brother? (I assume he's alive.)

Spock had some serious ethical and strategic choices to make, and playing it by ear decade by decade wasn't an option: he knew he wasn't going to be around long enough. Not to mention he must've been the Quadrant's most tempting abduction target (did Section 31 try to turn or interrogate him, and when they failed they decided they didn't want to take the risk of somebody else doing it?). And I'm about half-sure Vulcans broke every religious taboo they might've had about it and made damn sure he transferred his mind to a younger body before he died.

Spock certainly sat down at some point and did some heavy thinking. I have no idea of what he decided, and I think one of the many influences Kirk has had on him is that he respects chaos too much to think he can pull a Hari Sheldon unless he sets up a Second Foundation, but who would he trust with that?

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Even five minutes scrolling down Facebook is enough to give me a vague multi-layered mixture of ennui, annoyance, and anger.

Using Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin as (mostly) write-only media is one of the best psychic hygiene decisions I've ever made.
It's... different. There's a minimal amount of plot, really simplified characters, everybody's so chirpy, and about 85% of the time there's a fight going on (the episode sequence is also of order, which aside from a couple of details doesn't really matter, which tells you how absolutely episodic it is). It's basically about ten minutes of SKWP (Superhero Kapow Without Plot).

It did have a few moments I laughed at (Tumblr gifsets of the ones I remember here, here, and here, spoilers to be expected), but I think I'm not going to keep watching.

YMMV, of course! If you're looking for pure angst-free Saturday morning kapow fun (and who amongst us doesn't, at one point or another?) this is probably it.
This morning I remembered, randomly and for no apparent reason, that in Sanctuary vampire Tesla nicknamed the male POV character "The Concubine" of his older-as-an-actress-and-waaaaaay-older-as-a-character female protagonist boss.

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Books! (A Quite Secretive Edition)

Kingship: The Politics of Enchantment (Francis Oakley, 2016/#83): An interesting thesis (the innovation of Abrahamic monotheistic religions was ultimately responsible for the desacralization of politics politicians), but the evidence it presents feels inconclusive.

The Silent Speaker (Rex Stout, 2016/#84): The best way I can think of describing the beginning of this novel is cheekily snappy. Whether it works depends on the reader's relationship with Wolfe, Archie, and Stout. I was fine with it, but I'm not very discriminating when it comes to my favorite book series.

Genoa, 'La Superba': The Rise and Fall of a Merchant Pirate Superpower (Nicholas Walton, 2016/#85): The kind of book that is most often written about Venice. I don't think the author is very good, and of course Genoa isn't Venice, but it's an spirited attempt nonetheless, and not uninformative.

The Communal Age in Western Europe, c.1100-1800 (Beat Kümin, 2016/#86): A look at Europe from the (social) bottom-up.

Modernism and the Occult (John Bramble, 2016/#87): Entertainingly scathing at times. A good observation is how occultism during the British High Empire served as part of an "alliance" between waning aristocrats and (similarly waning) former elites in the colonies. And there's any number of interesting influences crisscrossing the world, as always.

A New Philosophy of the Moon (Mircea Eliade, 2016/#88): I like some of Eliade's works, and this is a collection of early articles, so some leniency is warranted, but I think this one is full of crap.

The Secret Archives of the Vatican (Maria Louisa Ambrosini and Mary Willis, 2916/#89): Not a Dan Brown-ish thriller, but a factual history of the archives, and of events in the history of the Catholic Church as seen through their lens. Awfully charming; the author is both a believing Catholic and very much in and of the 1960s, which adds a certain peculiar texture to the work (e.g., mentions of nuclear war).

The Empire that Would Not Die (John Haldon, 2016/#90): An interesting look at some of the mechanics of how the Byzantine empire adapted to the first shock of the Arab invasions.

Philosophy and the Puzzles of Hamlet (Leon Harold Craig, 2016/#91): This kind of speculation can never be truly (dis)proven, but it's an interesting close reading with some fun possibilities. Were the pirates working for Hamlet, the whole thing prearranged? Was The Mousetrap designed not to make the King betray himself from guilt, but from fear, as Hamlet tells him — and only him — that he knows what he couldn't possibly know? I hadn't realized the full scope and strength of the applicable mourning rules, nor how *literally* incestous did Elizabethan England find that sort of marriage. That makes Hamlet's mood much less puzzling. I'm not so sure about the applicability of the author's references to contemporary discussions in cosmology (although it's always fun how everything and everybody is always so closely related to each other, back then when the were fewer people and Dee's 4,000 books library was the second largest in Western Europe). Worth reading, though, if you're into this kind of thing.

The Age of Secrecy: Jews, Christians, and the Economy of Secrets, 1400-1800 (Daniel Jütte, 2016/#92): A look at the concept of secret during those centuries (a different epistemology and society implied a different evaluation of secrecy; e.g. talking publicly about a secret, without disclosing it, was an accepted and useful form of communication). Taking advantage of Christian prejudices both positive and negative, many European Jews participated in what the author calls an "economy of secrets", an overlapping set of activities merging seamlessly from alchemy to engineering to cryptography to diplomacy to card tricks to gunpowder production to... You get the idea.

The Projection and Limitations of Imperial Powers, 1618-1850 (Ed. Frederick C. Schneid, 2016/#93): A collection of essays on military history, most (but not all) of them in the European context. I found the quality of writing and argument uneven, but overall it was interesting.

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By popular request (n=2)

Here's the text of Batman's letter to Selina, as narrated during an issue-long Batman-fights-everybody scene in Batman #12. I took a wild guess at the paragraph structure, but who the hell knows.

ETA: Just to be safe, and without spoiling anything, consider this a generic trigger warning above and beyond it being about Bruce's psyche and life history (nothing sexual, though).

Not just spoilery; pretty much the whole damn text of the issue.Collapse )

Holy crap. Remember, this isn't somebody else talking about Bruce. This is him talking about himself.

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Fate wasn't kind to me today

Trapped downtown by a traffic collapse, and after whiling away time in three different coffee shops, I went into a theater and watched Underworld: Blood Wars. What a ridiculous movie.

What a ridiculous series. The opening consists of the protagonist narrating I was *premise of the first move*. And then *events of the first movie*. And then *absurd development in the second movie*. And then *absurd development in the third movie* (or maybe that was the fourth; one of those was an even more absurd prequel). I'm not lying about the repeated And then.... It sounded like a kid making up a story on the spot, but how else can you connect such a barrage of plot developments?

This last movie pretty much throws the plot arc kitchen sink against the wall and shoots the pieces (in both the cinematographic and ballistic senses of the word). I think I can spot the exact moment where they just gave up on the whole thing: Spoilers, obviously.Collapse )

What a ridiculous movie. Could've been funny-ridiculous, but you can tell they are still sort of pretending anybody cares about coven politics and whatnot.

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