Category Archives: COMMENTARY

HETEROSEXUALIZATION WATCH 1.0

Princess Ozma, LGBT heroine

Princess Ozma, LGBT heroine

At some point in 2015, NBC plans to launch a re-imagined version of Wizard of Oz. They need to be careful, because in my opinion, the 15 or so Wizard of Oz books that have been written by L.Frank Baum, the creator of that magical land, are THE most transgender positive, mainstream story books out there. Starting from the 2nd book, It’s all about a little boy who didn’t know he’s actually supposed to be a princess. Those books have a really positive message about women’s rights, and about the fluidity of gender. Having the Tin man say that it’s ok to be a girl, and that some of his best friends are girls, really had a positive effect on me as a gender-confused, genetic little boy. I just wanted to be accepted, like Princess Ozma who used to be  male, was accepted. But unfortunately, I have a feeling they’re going to heterosexualize the crap out of that story, like Disney recently did with their hetero-centric, re-imagining of the land of Oz.

Because according to an article I recently read in Advocate magazine, the producers of the new NBC series are planning to turn it into a “grim and gritty”  adult retelling of  the L. Frank Baum’s original story. So what’s the message here, NBC and Disney? That over the top violence is ok, but that positive stories about gender equality and transgenderism, are not?

I agree I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a TV series by its promotional slogans, at least not until I have seen it. But if it turns out to be a massive whitewashed debacle that erases all the setup about Princess Ozma’s origin, like the recent Disney movie did, I’m not sure I have the stomach to see it. I mean, come on Hollywood producers, why do you have to go slander what is to a lot of people, the only trans-friendly classic fairy tale story out there? You should be careful about messing with our LGBT heroes. Also, why does it always have to be re-imagined without the positive female role models? In the classic L.Frank Baum books, it’s the girls that totally kick ass. The supporting male characters like the Tin man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion, are at best C-3POesque in their bumbling abilities. Why can’t girls kick some ass, for once?

So what am I going to do about it? I’m going put NBC on notice, and follow-up on that story. And if they end up taking out all the Feminist and LGBT-friendly elements out of those wonderful stories, you can be sure I’ll be writing some more to complain about it.

NBC on notice

NATNOTE: For a look at a tv show that didn’t completely dishonor the original Oz source material, be sure to check out the Excellent “Wizard of Oz” tv series by CINAR animation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMbawTVJAoo

[n]

LGBT

BACK IN THE LOOP

skateboarders' mobius strip

Am I ever so glad to be back online ( Knock on wood ). I recently ended up spending a month and a half without an internet connection ( The laundromat’s flaky wi-fi doesn’t count ). The phone company, the internet company, and even my landlord, like the stars lining up,  all seemed to have their own unavoidable, irritating systematic malfunctions that prevented me from being able to hook up to the web on schedule.

It makes you realize how much and how quickly one becomes dependant on technology. I can easily go months without caffeine or alcohol, but no internet access for more than a few days, and I start to feel like I’m drowning.

So yeah, I thought this little unplanned update would be a nice follow-up to my “SCREEN-FREE WEEK” article I wrote earlier this year:

[ TV SWARM ]https://technology4democracy.com/2013/04/28/screen-free-week/

So the moral of the story is: Willingly going off the grid for a few days makes for an interesting social experiment. Going off the grid for a few weeks because of a series of idiotic mishaps, well that makes for a very dry, vanilla, type of existence. Call me a techno-snob for saying so, I don’t care.

[n]

NATNOTE: Sorry if this entry ended up sounding a little negative, I’m actually totally psyched and excited to be back online, WOO-HOO!!  :D

INFINITY LOOP

SCREEN-FREE WEEK

[ TV SWARM ]It used to be known as “TV-turnoff week”, and it was probably easier back then to only have to give up TV. Now, the challenge is to give up your addiction to all screen devices. The official dates for SCREEN-FREE WEEK in 2013, are from April 28th to May 5th. I got to say, it’s a tall order. I’m actively looking for a new job, so in my case I can’t afford to not check my emails. But I do plan on going at least “TV and video game free” starting tomorrow, and for the rest of the week. I’ll be posting my impressions once the challenge is over.

[ TV SNOW ]

One might wonder why I might encourage my readers to drop off the grid for a week, because at the same time, I’m reducing the potential amount of visitors I get to this site. I figure this is probably the main reason the mainstream media doesn’t talk about this campaign much. But technology4democracy isn’t about popularity, it’s about principles. Media addiction is real, and it’s especially a problem for some people. I believe the electorate needs to be more media-savvy, and campaigns that promote awareness of the pitfalls of mass-media, should be encouraged.

I cannot think of anything sadder than people who voluntarily sign up to receive a modern-day equivalent of the Ludovico Technique. ( see image below )

[ ludovico ]

For those who missed “A Clockwork Orange”, the Ludovico Technique is a ghastly sci-fi medical procedure that uses drugs, media, and  as you can see,   eye-clamps,  in a vain attempt to reform criminals.

So  in conclusion, please go ahead, take off your metaphorical media-clamps for a week, and see how it feels, I dare [ YOU ] !

[n]

POST-EVENT-UPDATE: I gave it a shot, and in my case Screen-free week was a total failure. During that week, not only did I watch tv and movies, and play videogames, I also signed up for a new cel phone, as well as moved into a new pad that comes with cable tv. So yeah, a total bust!  :(

[ YOU ] two

VIDEOGAME SEGREGATION

[ SF SIGN ] 2

I think there’s nothing worse than hanging out at friend’s place who only has 1-Player adventure/shooter games. It doesn’t make for much  2-player interactivity. I buy multiplayer games, including Capcom fighting games, because, as silly as it sounds, I want to be a good host. Plus, obviously, I enjoy playing them tremendously. I love the Capcom fighting games so much, I’ll buy everything Capcom produces that’s got a versus option. From SF2 on SNES, to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure on PS1, To buying games on PS3 that I already have on Ps2. Capcom fighting games are like pokemons to me. I want them all!  See photographic evidence below:

[ capcom fighting games ]

Now back to the point I want to make about Videogame Segregation.

Traditionally segregation is defined as:

1. the act of segregating or state of being segregated
2. sociol : the practice or policy of creating separate facilities within the same society for the use of a minority group

*source: dictionary.com

I love all the capcom fighting games, but with all the updates and different editions, I’m hooked beyond my budget. And what really irks me is how they segregate their online gamer community between different versions of the same game. For example: last time I checked, Street Fighter 4 had sold around 4-5 million copies, and because there’s so many copies, and because it’s available dirt cheap used,  most of the people online are noobs. So I can win online matches at SF4 without too much work even though I usually take “random” at the character select screen. The newer edition, Super Street fighter 4 AE, which sold 1-2 million or so copies, is harder to find and is more expensive, so most of the people online for that game are hardcore. They’re hardcore enough to pay more for the same game, and hardcore enough to learn a newer more complicated move-set.  I can’t  afford to choose random when I play SSF 4AE online, no, I gotta stick to my strong characters and work hard for every win.

4426614716_af0f7378ef

It’s segregation because it separates people into groups, based solely on their purchasing power and skills set. everybody should be able to play the best, and latest version of the game. And in my case, since I own both copies,  I find it’s a downer that the community is split up like that, and that with my skill set, it’s not a fun option  for me to play the latest version of Streetfighter. That strikes me as a design flaw on Capcom’s part, that they would split us up like that, that they would make the latest, and most updated version of their game, so unapproachable.

And Capcom keeps repeating the same pattern. They’re doing it to us again with Marvel Vs Capcom 3, and the newer version called: Ultimate  Marvel vs Capcom 3. Yes, against my own personal logic, Capcom will ultimately get me to shell  another 60$ for a newer version of the same game that now has a few new characters. Woo-hoo! And I wouldn’t mind paying 120$ for one game, if only the online offering wasn’t split into two absolutely polar-opposite groups.

So you end up with two segregated gaming communities for the same game. One for noobs, one for hard-core gamers. Which sucks, because everybody should be able to play the same game, the best version of the game. No gamer should be told to go sit at the back of the digital bus.

[n]

razorbladecandyAQUA

NATNOTE: For anyone who wants to call me out, and challenge me at SF4 on PS3, my PSN username is: Razorblade_Candy. And I’ll take on anybody online. Well, at least for a couple of matches…   ^_^

[ - getting screwed - ]

“DON’T BITE THE HAND THAT FEEDS”

[ hungry-kitty ]It’s a common counter-argument. Not biting hands that feed, is about not going against the people or institutions that have allowed us to get to where we are right now. In our case it’s about not completely trashing the existing system that allowed to get to the point where we’re able to create a newer, better system.

I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t see why it would be going against the idea of digital democracy to also be honoring our roots at the same time. I don’t see why doing a system-update on our international gov-systems, could not be done without somehow acknowledging our previous existing models. And, in that sense, we would not be going against “the hand that feeds”.

[n]

[ - statement - ]

In defence of the politicians

Everybody hates them. Some people even take pleasure in despising them.  We trash their reputations and attack their character like it’s a national sport. We turn them into caricatures, pinatas and even Halloween masks.

But, ultimately, I would argue, we’re ending up with the politicians we deserve. Because, in the spirit of being realistic,we have to admit that  they’re doing a job that we’re too lazy to do ourselves.  We’re too lazy to vote, we’re too lazy to get involved on the political scene, and we’re too lazy to even care. For the first time in human history we have access to technology that would allow us a real option for self-governance, but we’re too lazy to rise to that challenge.

I believe we’ve reached a crossroad. Either we’re willing to make the effort to figure things out for ourselves and  get involved in a real democracy, but that would be a lot of work. Or, we accept that we’re letting politicians decide on our collective behalf, because the  fact is,  we’re too self-centered and work-shy to get involved. But in that case,  we probably need to go a little easier on the politicians, because the reality is, they’re doing a job we couldn’t be bothered with.

I would say that the average voter is like a 40-years old teenager that’s still living in their parent’s basement, one that has the audacity to complain that their mom doesn’t fold their laundry properly. Maybe, it’s time someone started doing their own laundry. Or even better, maybe it’s time for someone to move to an apartment of their own.

In the end, if we’re too lazy to go and figured things for ourselves, then we shouldn’t complain when politicians are mothering us to death.

[n]

RED versus BLUE

Coke versus Pepsi, Republicans vs Democrats, The Canadiens versus the Maple leafs. Color-based rivalries for a color-coded reality. We’re simple people, and we like our confrontations to have as much complexity as a kindergarten color chart.

And the people selling us the conflict understand that, they understand the power of color on the subconscious. The opposing political party are so profoundly wrong, they makes us red with anger. That other commercial brand is so lame, it makes us blue in the face. The psychology of color takes on a completely different angle when you apply it to politics and aggressive marketing. The Green party has a green logo. That makes sense. But considering that red is the official color of communists and liberals, then why are the Republicans associated with red?

Turns out it’s just a coincidence. Apparently RED and BLUE  were assigned alternatively between Democrats and Republicans each election by the media. But after the controversy of the 2000 George W. Bush election, where each district was fought tooth and nail between a red force and a blue force, well, each color stuck. And that’s how the Republican party ended up with the official color of liberals and communists.

I remember my high school history teacher telling us that back in the day, when  Quebec was still ruled like a theological monarchy, that before every election,  the clergy would advise their parishioners on how to vote with the following statement: ” Heaven is blue, and Hell is red, makes sure you vote wisely”! That was referring to the socially progressive Liberal party  and their red logo, as well as to the church-supporting Union National and their blue logo. There’s nothing like having the catholic church spell it out for us kindergarten educated electoral simpletons, using simple color-coded analogies. And then people wonder why Quebecers curse at the Catholic church so much.

And ultimately, if you look at it, why is it always Red vs Blue? Why not Brown vs Purple? Turquoise vs Canary Yellow?  And apart from the fact that those might clash, I would venture to say that the main reason for RED and BLUE to always be picked for rivalries, is because, on average BLUE is always everybody’s favorite color. The sky is blue, the ocean is blue, what’s not to like? And RED is the color that will always “pop out” the most. Unless you put it next to some pink, but then again, pink is just some “light red” if you get down to it.

[n]

NATNOTE : Any similarities to existing brands and their trademarked logos, is a coincidence, unless used specifically for satirical purposes.

A step-by-step guide to implementing a Digital Democracy

Some people might say that considering the potential challenges, it’s somewhat impossible to switch to a digital democracy.  On top of the established powers that might oppose such changes, there’s  also other  important considerations one needs to take into account, such as economic stability and national security.Because of reasons like this , I would say one would need to start small. Implementing a digital democracy on a municipal level, rather than on a federal level, might be a lot easier to realise at first.  Plus it seems like a good  idea to try it on smaller scale  in order to work out any potential bugs in the system.

PART 1  Upgrading your gov-system on a municipal level

To start, one would have to create an organization, recruit some members and raise some funds. Afterwards, since most municipal governmental systems are regulated on a provincial/state level, one would have to verify with those authorities to see if their existing rules prevent the switch to a digital democracy on a municipal level. If any such hurdle exist, provincial/state representatives would have to be solicited until the rules are changed. Once you’re in the clear with them, the real work starts. You find an ideal municipality, you get your organization recognized as a municipal political party and then you run for mayor.  You run with the platform “Elect the last mayor that’ll take decisions for you” or something similar. Now, if enough councillors from your party got elected, as mayor you’ll be able  to push the reform thru that switches the existing system over to a digital democracy pretty easily. Ideally you also have enough budget to create a municipal government portal that local citizens can access with their smartphones and personal computers in order to truly participate in the process. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be that citizens have to vote on every single law project  and initiative. For the non-controversial stuff, like renewing the budget for garbage pick-up and such, well in cases like that you might have councillors/moderators that can take care of it. But when there’s a controversial issue that arises, like, let’s say, building a highway on a haunted indian graveyard, then the electorate can log on and decide the issue for themselves, with the councillors/moderators playing a role that’s more about moderating the debate than imposing their view.

One might say that this is unlikely to ever happen. But you never know. There’s small towns and villages out there, that are losing their population and are unable to find a mayor. A partnership  between a political organization and an ISP, could come in, hook everyone in town to hi-speed internet, and at the same time give them access to an online voting system.  And with what’s happening in a lot of small towns, I don’t think  it would be too hard to find one that’s willing to have all that influx of funds, technology and resources come  in into their borough. Once most of the bugs within the system have been worked out, one can then move ahead to try to apply what’s been learned to a higher level of government.

Part 2 Upgrading your gov-system on a provincial/state/federal level

This, I think, would be a lot trickier. The analogy that comes to mind for that one, is to view your government like it’s a sound system. There’s a dial for democracy on it, and it goes from zero to ten. Right now, I would say that most free countries have their “democracy-volume” set between 2.5 to 3.5, and obviously raising it at 10 all of a sudden could create quite a bit of a commotion. But if we raised it to 5 , which would be a government system peppered with a little more transparency and real-democracy, I don’t think there would necessarily be riots in the streets and economic collapse and such.

But yeah, since the stakes are higher on a provincial/state/federal level, one would be wise to proceed with baby steps. To start, you recruit members, register your organization as a political  party.For argument’s sake let’s call it the Technodemocrat party. And then you run for a seat. In the off-chance your party wins more seats and gains control of your government, then you won’t have a hard time pushing for a full digital-democracy reform. But in the most likely scenario, the one in wich you’re the only member of your party elected, you can still promote the digital democracy agenda by leading by example. It’s simply a question of holding a poll, survey or referendum in your district every time you’re asked to vote as an independant.Then you vote as your district wants you to vote. And in that sense, you would actually be living up to the term “representative”.

And ultimately, maybe we don’t need a full on  digital democracy, maybe if we’re lucky, maybe the threat of such a movement gaining a foothold, will be enough to scare the powers that be into increasing  the democracy-volume of our governments by 0.5 . Just enough for us to have a just little more transparency and representation for our money…

[n]

REALITY CHECK

~Well, here we go, here’s a second comic strip.  And as per usual, comments are quite welcomed!   [n]