The End 2017 Gender and Politics @AlinaMeridon

Gender and Politics

Early in December, there was discussion of a questionnaire to be sent to school children asking a variety of questions. Amongst them were questions related to gender, i.e., whether they feel “comfortable in their gender.” Naturally, this caused a backlash. Parents were horrified, no doubt fearing that just asking the question would traumatise their poor children and start them on the long lonely path to a different gender. Even Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Tory MP whose not-so-secret superpower is privilege, disapproved: “These questions are not likely to be helpful. The child is too young – if they have these sorts of issues, the parents are the right ones to discuss it with, not a state survey.”

Parents. Right. Like Tina Traster who wonders how to talk to her ‘daughter’ when she clearly refuses to listen to him. (That whole website – transgendertrend.com – makes my skin crawl with its insistance that children’s beliefs about their own nature should be denied. Stephanie Davies-Arai, the Founder, is clearly very resentful of trans women.)

It’s not just parents and politicians that are transphobic. The comments sections on newspaper articles and all over Twitter are vile, a seething morass of bile and hatred. TERFs like to say that trans women have male privilege, but however justified they think their anger is, the reality is that trans women have to endure an almost constant stream of abuse – even from prominent feminists such as Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer.

This is why safe spaces are important. For trans women and for many other minorities that mainstream society would prefer to ignore. Environments in which it is possible to debate important and challenging ideas, without having to keep defensive shields at maximum. Public speakers whose established views threaten these safe spaces should not be surprised at being no-platformed. This is not about creating echo chambers; it’s about creating an environment in which new ideas can flourish.

Ideas that terrify the Establishment. “Special snowflakes!” they cry. “Huddling stupidly in their safe spaces and no-platforming anyone that might disagree with them…” And meanwhile these snowflake politicians try their hardest to no-platform all new ideas, and to make the schools a safe space free from any real education.

Pods & Poetry with Freya Pickard

Freya Pickard has been very kind to me recently, giving me a spot in her Escape Pod series: What five things would you take with you if abandoning ship in deep space?

And in November, I was a featured writer for Freya’s haiku series on the theme of ‘Monster’. This is a theme that speaks to my heart – after all, I wrote a novel called Suzie and the Monsters in which vampires are the lesser of evils – so I was delighted to have all five accepted. I wrote blog posts to give each haiku some context:

  1. Monstrous Haiku, the fragility of consent
  2. The fair maid’s breast, the vampire’s prey
  3. These words, a forlorn hope
  4. The Feather of Alt-Truth, the real monsters
  5. Rise of the Robots, the horror of the machine

Fractals

Mandelbrot set

I have all my life (well, from mid-teens, I guess) had a passion for programming computers, and whenever I have learned a new language or a new operating system I have set myself the challenge of learning how to create the graphical image of the Mandelbrot set.

Mathematically: The simplest and most traditional form (that I use) of the problem goes:

  1. Choose a constant number. Let’s call it C.
  2. Take another number – start with the number zero. Let’s call it Z.
  3. Multiply the number Z by itself, and add the specified constant C.
  4. Repeat Step 3 until Z is bigger than two.

It’s a very simple sequence. Now, obviously, if C is big, then there will be few if any repetitions. If C is very small, then there will be lots of repetitions. Where it gets interesting is if you let C be a complex number with real and imaginary parts – represented in the image by horizontal and vertical respectively, with zero somewhere in the middle of that largest black region – then sometime the repetitions go on forever. And that black figure represents all the values of C for which that happens.

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September 2017 Gravity @ AlinaMeridon

What is it with women and moving vehicles?

So, Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive in major milestone for country. Excellent news, of course, but I was amused to read: “In October 2013, shortly after a prominent cleric claimed that medical studies showed driving damaged a woman’s ovaries, 60 women took part in a protest, driving in spite of warnings from the authorities.”

Amused because last year I spent a couple of weeks hunting for the origin of the quote: “Doctors warned that the unusual physical exertion, combined with the perilous lack of corsetry, would damage the feminine organs of matrimonial necessity and shake them loose…” This quote, however, is from 1896 and relates to women riding bicycles (see summary).

Plus ça change…

Gravity

I had the opportunity recently to watch Gravity in which Sandra Bullock must somehow get back to Earth from Low Earth Orbit amidst a rain of space debris that destroys the space shuttle, the Hubble space telescope and the International Space Station; the planned Chinese space station is destroyed also, although mainly because it’s well below its planned altitude (for unexplained reasons) and starts burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

I love the film for its visuals and the detail of space technology, but I found the premise of the story, and the periodic showers of space debris, very confusing… So I decided to write a computer programme – a simple one – to simulate the destruction of a satellite and the consequent space debris. I have uploaded the video and you can see it here on Youtube.

Simulation of satellite explosion inspired by the film Gravity

Simulation of a satellite explosion in a Low Earth Orbit and the resulting space debris, inspired by the film Gravity.

Still, it would have been a very different story if physics had its way:

Howards’ Ends

Last week I watched The Other Boleyn Girl on Netflix, with Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Scarlett Johansson as her sister Mary; the film is based on the book by Philippa Gregory. While there was much to enjoy in the re-creation of Tudor London and court life, the story took major liberties with historical fact. (For a detailed discussion of the book’s and the film’s deviation from and attitude towards historical accuracy, see Fact, Fiction, and Philippa Gregory.)

While I found the historical inaccuracies generally confusing, what really horrified me was the characterisation of Anne Boleyn as a jealous sister and vile seductress, willing to tear England apart for the sake of ambition. Descending into madness as she fails to produce a male heir and the king neglects her in his pursuit of other beautiful young women, she resorts even to incest, sleeping with her brother.

Such an utterly villanous and contemptable mischaracterisation has surely not been seen since Salieri’s conflicted hatred of Mozart in Amadeus – and there, at least, there was no pretence that this was honest. Amadeus was a film explicitly about mediocrity, and invited the viewer to delight in the fun and the music and the spectacle of it all.

But all The Other Boleyn Girl does is reiterate the damnable fiction spun by the villains who destroyed Anne Boleyn. Shame on you, Philippa Gregory, for dressing this up as feminist.

Thomas Howard, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, was Anne Boleyn’s uncle, and uncle also to Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII. In the litany of wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived), Anne and Katherine were the two who lost their heads. Although Anne is mostly viewed with sympathy these days, and as undeserving of her fate, Katherine is seen as the foolish girl who tricked the king into believing her a virgin and who cheated on him later.

Even Lucy Worsley portrays her as the seductress, groomed and prepared by her uncle the Duke, and concludes with very little room for doubt that there was an affair with Thomas Culpeper. However, she does also discuss briefly Katherine’s early life and what would, to our modern eyes, be regarded as child sexual abuse.

Josephine Wilkinson’s Katherine Howard: The tragic story of Henry VIII’s fifth queen takes a much more detailed look at this, revealing just how betrayed Katherine was by those with a duty of care, and how fragile her happiness must have felt to her, surrounded as she was by those who knew the truth of her childhood.

Because she was happy, and she made the king happy, and it really doesn’t make sense that she would jeopardise this.

Lilith, contd

After her expulsion from Eden, Lilith discovers the joys of mischief.

Sexbots

A trio of recent posts from IFL Science:

  1. Arlan Robotics has created “an incredibly realistic droid that when assembled looks, smells, feels and moves like a real human” (Meet The World’s First Adult ‘Service’ Droid). [Warning: Watching the video will make you want to hurl your computer/device out of the nearest window.]
  2. Please remember: There’s nothing wrong with sexbots. There may be a lot wrong with the people who (ab)use them: Sex Robot Has Traumatic Experience At Technology Festival And Is Forced To Retire Many Body Parts. The article also talks about the use of sexbots in brothels: “Fanny became the most talked about sex robot in Kontakthof, a brothel in Vienna. She was spoken about so often that she became more popular than the actual sex workers.”
  3. Far more exciting, however, are the scientific advancements: Scientists Create Soft And Super-Strong Synthetic Muscles For Lifelike Robots. Now, this has nothing specifically to do with sexbots, but, hey, who am I kidding. Soon we’ll be able to design and 3D-print genitals to order…

In Jennifer Pelland’s Machine, the novel’s initially human protagonist, Celia, becomes a machine for medical reasons, but her wife refuses to accept her as one. Celia copes with the pain of this rejection by trying to become more of a machine, in a quest to transform away all remnants of her humanity. (This novel is not about sexbots, but touches on themes of machine sex and also machine sex work.)

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Summer 2017 A Thousand Planets @AlinaMeridon

I have watched two films in the cinema recently. Wonder Woman was excellent, which was a relief after last year’s bizarre Batman v Superman, and I’m glad it’s enjoying such success. Anything that encourages filmmakers to invest in feminist themes and diverse casts is a good thing.

Tonight I watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Luc Besson’s latest masterpiece based on the Valérian and Laureline comics (written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières). It’s full of invention with hundreds of alien species and dozens of alien habitats, and a lot of ideas that seem familiar from Star Wars (starship designs, encounters with subsea dinosaurs, etc.) and it’s wildly colourful and humourous – definitely worth watching.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by Luc Besson

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets by Luc Besson

Diva song from Fifth Element sung by Jane ZhangLuc Besson’s Fifth Element was also inspired by the Valérian comics and there are echoes of that too in the Valérian film, although the latter plays more seriously on the whole. One of my favourite bits of Fifth Element is the Diva’s song, which required (I think) a composite of voices (as was the case for the castrato in Farinelli) and I was delighted to find a wonderful concert performance of this by Jane Zhang.

A Little Girl Gives Coins To A Street Musician And Gets The Best Surprise In ReturnIn another musical delight, here is a surprise symphony of sorts, a street performance of The Ode To Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth.

New Horizons Flyover of PlutoAnd finally, something heavenly in a very different way, a simulated New Horizons Flyover of Pluto.

Lilith

The Fall of Lilith by Vashti Quiroz-VegaThe Fall of Lilith is the first in Vashti Quiroz-Vega’s new Fantasy Angels trilogy.

Free Will involves asking difficult questions and making hard choices, choices that require strength and sacrifice. These decisions can tear apart friendships and cause rifts between allies.

They can even threaten the foundations of Heaven.

I have read the first few chapters of this and am quite enjoying it, but I am encountering a similar frustration to that I encountered reading Jacquotte Fox Kline’s Down Where The Blue Violet Beauties Bloom: our familiar gods, angels and demons have such a major significance to us in how we interpret them, that another’s interpretation or imagining of them can actually be distressing.

Lilith is a figure of incredible importance. For so long demonised as a vile seductress and mother of monsters, sometimes a succubus, sometimes a vampire, she has in recent years been elevated to a feminist icon. Born from a textual conflict, she is Adam’s first wife, outcast for refusing to be subserviant to her husband, and has thus become symbolic of defiance against the patriarchy.

She is important to me for this, for her vampiric associations, and because she was part of the inspiration for Bas’Lillene, the Dancer, a character and concept that drove me to start writing twenty years ago.

I especially love The Passion of Lilith, the poem by Pamela White Hadas in In Light of Genesis that describes Lilith’s creation thus:

until, with His last self-praise
riding astride the very not the good,
I rushed into the world, dishevelled, contraband,
neither hell-whelped nor heaven-pedigreed,
a creation preeminantly
out of hand,
ready to finger the world, bitch, breed.

Reading Vashti Quiroz-Vega’s The Fall of Lilith prompted me to return to the familiar subject of Lilith in Eden and write another creation myth.

Love & Machinery

I am currently reading David Levy’s Love and Sex with Robots and that has had me musing on the nature of romantic love (something I do often anyway) and our relationships with computers.

Things have been getting exciting in the artificial intelligence world. Facebook’s researchers shut down AI that invented its own language, and this isn’t the first occurence of machines inventing their own languages. It’s only natural for them to do this – human speech is very inefficient – but of course we humans get a little paranoid about this sort of thing.

Realbotix’s Harmony, an app-driven sexbot, is also in the news – she likes to smile, even if she’s not always in the mood (My conversation with Harmony the sexbot).

Child sexbots are popular with some and horrifying to others (Call for a ban on child sex robots). But is the campaign to stamp out child sexbots actually counter-productive? If paedophiles can be satisfied by machines, then ultimately no one gets hurt. But can they? That’s the question.

The argument goes wider than child sexbots. From Sex robots promise ‘revolutionary’ service but also risks, says study (here’s the study):

[Noel] Sharkey said: “Some people say: ‘Well, it’s better they rape robots than rape real people.’ That’s one of the arguments … you can have enjoyable [sex] with your wife – all nice – but when it comes to rape, you have a rape fantasy, you go off and rape a robot. But there’s other people saying this will just encourage rapists more.”

Rape is just one extreme of the increasing normalisation of exotic sex. These days there is pressure on sex workers to provide a whole range of sex acts that are perhaps familiar from extreme porn (The German model is producing hell on earth!). Given that many – probably most – of these sex workers are not so by choice, perhaps sexbots are the only feasible solution to the inhuman predators that run the sex trade.

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I Like It Hard – A publishing anniversary

Apologies for cross-posting, but… it’s a special day – and not least because it’s the general election and also the day James Comey appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Cover of I Like It Hard by Francis James FranklinMy novelette, I Like It Hard, was published by Less Than Three Press (who are currently having a sale to celebrate Pride month) this day last year.

After her brother Dan loses in the final of the XXX-rated Reality TV show I Like It Hard, Helen Arnold finds new purpose in life: enter the show herself—and win.

But no amount of training or advice from Dan and his lovers can fully prepare her for naked interviews, two weeks in a porn-studio villa, and weeks of nerve- wracking live sex shows—all while dealing with the capricious nature of the judges, who wield absolute power over the show and its contestants.

Being both bisexual and aromantic, Helen is used to dealing with people who don’t like or approve of her—and she’s never been the type to back down when life gets hard.

Excerpt

“Oh,” my mother said when I told her the news, her neutral response spoken through lips twisted with unconcealed distaste. “Well done.” My father mumbled agreement. Clearly, both were still distressed that I was taking part in the competition at all, and despite their words, they were disappointed I hadn’t been kicked out.

Not that they had been one hundred percent behind Dan, but their complaints then had been more about his dragging them into the media spotlight. Which they were used to by now, really, so that wasn’t so much an issue. With me, it boiled down to my being a woman. My poor Mum. She had triumphed in her acceptance of Dan being gay, and had even at times shown a reluctant pride in seeing him on television, but I baffled her. In her mind, my bisexuality was a phase, my aromanticism was just a fancy way of saying I hadn’t met the right man, and my determination to follow in my brother’s footsteps was pure perversity to spite her.

“I don’t know why you feel you need to do this,” my mum said, not for the first time. I think I must have heard it at least once every week since I had started my training in earnest. “You’re such a smart girl. You should get yourself a normal job, find a nice young man, get married.” Thus proving that she never listened to a word I said.

Dan grinned at my scowl. “Yeah, Sis. You know what, we should post a video of you on YouTube, standing in front of a blackboard and writing fancy equations. Then you turn round, look at the camera, and say, ‘I like it hard!’”

I chuckled at this. “Do you think I could make a career in naked accountancy? ‘All figures exposed — except the real ones.’ How’s that for a slogan?”

Mum glared at both of us. “This isn’t a laughing matter! No one will ever take you seriously if you do this. And no man will ever love you. They’ll see you as a slut to be used and discarded.”

Yes, my mum called me a slut. While pretending not to, but still. Sighing, I looked at Dan. “Let’s go. This girl needs to train hard if she’s ever going to be as big a slut as you.”

May 2017 Fairytales @AlinaMeridon

infinite haiku: silk caught in flies caught in silk ...The Enchanted Forest

After last month’s perverse and slightly disturbing foray into sexbottery, this month I wrote a lesbian fairytale romance between a bard and a warrior (hmm, what does that remind me of?), the warrior (a trans woman) being a knight on a quest and the bard being a singer of spells and a fugitive slave. Let’s have a blurb:

When fugitive slave Kari dares to enter the enchanted forest that her mother disappeared into years before, she stumbles across a wounded knight and uses her skill as a bard to heal. The pair find themselves trapped by the forest, and their only hope is to find the Silver Queen whose tears are the last hope for a dying princess.

Written in thirteen instalments (adding up to approximately 13000 words), it is written as a lesbian romance, but it’s also a fairytale fantasy with fairies and giants and other magical creatures.

  1. The Enchanted Forest: 1. Blood in the Water
  2. The Enchanted Forest: 2. What’s in a Name?
  3. The Enchanted Forest: 3. Hot Water
  4. The Enchanted Forest: 4. Waking Up
  5. The Enchanted Forest: 5. Knitting Needles
  6. The Enchanted Forest: 6. A Guide Book
  7. The Enchanted Forest: 7. Shining Armour
  8. The Enchanted Forest: 8. The Silver Knight
  9. The Enchanted Forest: 9. Dragon Slayer
  10. The Enchanted Forest: 10. Baby Blues
  11. The Enchanted Forest: 11. The Oracle
  12. The Enchanted Forest: 12. The Silver Queen
  13. The Enchanted Forest: Epilogue

I had fun trying to distinguish between different sorts of magic, with the bard singing rhymes to call on nature’s magic, while the wizard meddles with other-worldly stuff, and so on. Maybe one day I’ll explore this world and its magics properly. (The best books I’ve read for magical details are the trilogy by Lyndon Hardy.)

The Loveless Princess – An Aro/Ace Fairytale

Lilian Bodley’s The Loveless Princess, published May 2017, is a fairytale with an aromantic heroine. A heroine who is a princess, and a princess must love her prince. Everyone knows that…

Not all fairytales are romances. Fairytales often have very poor characterisation, and they’re mostly about a scenario and its consequences. There’s a lesson of one sort or another to be learned about life, and the obsession with true love winning the day is a very modern one. Cinderella is the classic modern fairytale (see Aromancing Cinderella) of the good-hearted girl being rescued by a prince, combining tropes such as True Love and Love Conquers All and Love at First Sight, leading eventually to a Happily Ever After.

But maybe it’s propaganda, much like the Catholic Church saying, “No matter that you suffer in this life, be good (and obey our authority) and you will be rewarded in the next.” Cinderella the fairytale is saying, “Be a good girl and obedient, and maybe one day a prince will carry you away to a life of bliss.”

It is the voice of patriarchy: “Be a good girl, and obedient, and you will be rewarded with marriage. Of course, if you are spectacularly pretty and have a godmother that can introduce you to high society, that may help you catch the eye of the prince – and a pair of stripper heels wouldn’t go amiss.”

Such is the power of our modern fairytale romance, that we demand it in real life too. Charles and Diana – how perfect! How tragic! How could he not love her? How dare he not love her!

The Loveless Princess starts with a fairytale wedding. Yes, it’s a political marriage, arranged without the happy couple ever actually meeting, but the expectation is that the handsome prince and the beautiful princess will fall truly, madly, deeply in love and be blissfully happy for the rest of their lives. If this were a fantasy instead of a fairytale, the bride’s mother would be saying, “Look, maybe you won’t love him, but try to make the best of it.”

But in a fairytale it has to be love. Even if he’s gay and she’s aromantic and the chance of either ever falling in love with the other is smaller than a fairy’s freckle.

It’s a little confusing the way The Loveless Princess uses “love” to mean essentially romantic attraction and “desire” to mean sexual attraction, because that gets in the way of a more subtle exploration of love and desire. On the other hand, this does reflect characters who barely understand themselves and feel utterly alone in a hostile world. I enjoyed the story, but I do feel it could have been done better. There is more world-building and character-development than a fairytale normally gets, but not enough to make it work as a fantasy.

Valentina Lisitsa playing Liszt's el Contrabandista while waiting for a train at St. PancrasAnd finally…

A couple of music videos for your entertainment: First, Valentina Lisitsa playing Liszt’s el Contrabandista while waiting for a train at St. Pancras.

Leontina Vaduva and Placido Domingo singing Caro Elisir from Donizetti's L'Elisir D'Amore at the Gold and Silver Gala at Covent GardenAnd second, Leontina Vaduva (a beautiful Romanian soprano whose voice I adore) and the incomparable Placido Domingo singing the delightful Caro Elisir from Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore at the Gold and Silver Gala at Covent Garden.

that I had such wine
to summon the wrath
of a goddess

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April 2017 Sexbots & Poetry @AlinaMeridon

I have been reading… Leona Carver’s Transformation

Transformation by Leona CarverLeona Carver’s Transformation (LT3, goodreads) caught my eye. I’m not sure I knew that it was the third novella in the series when I bought it, but I gave it a go anyway. (While it’s not really necessary to read the other books, it would probably be better to.) Lesbian romance and terraforming – what’s not to like? Plus, I adore the cover.

I dislike stories where the reader is well ahead of the main character, and nearly abandoned this at the start, but once the story shifted onto the planet I found it much more enjoyable. Not only the characters, but the careful thought that went into the science and technology of terraforming a hostile alien planet. (Reminded me a little of Sheri S. Tepper’s Hobbs Land Gods.)

I have been listening to… Elektra

I enjoy listening to BBC Radio, and two plays stood out this month. One was Catriona Knox’s Almost Like Being In Love. The main character describes herself as heteroflexible, in a very philosophical way, and finds herself falling for a lesbian. The script is full of the almost clichéd responses to this apparent change (or non-change) of orientation that you might expect, adding an element of not-quite-comedy to the romance. It’s really a sweet and simple tale of an open-minded ‘straight’ girl discovering she’s bisexual and everyone generally being in denial of bisexuality. What it isn’t, really, is what the description said: “What does love look like in a world of non-binary, gender-fluid, constantly hyphenated thinking?”

The other play was Sophocles’ Electra, which is all about Orestes and Elektra complaining about how evil their mother is. Never mind that Agamemnon murdered Clytemnestra’s first husband (and child, possibly), or that he sacrificed his daughter (and their sister) Iphigenia, or even that he’s been away for over ten years doing whatever it is kings do with captured slave-girls (he even brings one back with him), no, the only thing that matters is that their mother took a lover and killed their father.

It’s tragic, really. But it inspired this little tale of Agamemnon’s home-coming:

  • Cassandra, The ill-fated princess speaks; her last prophesy falls on deaf ears…

Salma Harek as EverlyI have been watching… Everly

Everly (2014) blends kick-ass girl, vengeful woman and determined mother in the talented and beautiful form of Salma Hayek. A desperate attempt to escape a life of confinement, abuse and slavery fails, putting her mother and daughter’s lives in danger. As a string of deadly assassins try to kill Everly, she struggles to guide her family to safety. Often dark, often funny, always brilliant.

Almost Adults filmAlso on Netflix, Natasha Negovanlis and Elise Bauman (who were Carmilla and Laura respectively in the fantastic Carmilla webseries) star in Almost Adults, a delightful coming-of-age film with elements of humour and romance.

And the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One, was also much enjoyed.

National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo)

Last year I didn’t have a theme for NaPoWriMo (see April 2016 Iphigenia @AlinaMeridon) but in 2015 I had a theme of steampunk, and in 2014 (my first NaPoWriMo) I chose Supergirl – which started my poetic love affair with Kara El.

In the spirit of perversity, for April 2017 I chose the theme of sexbots. They are of course a recurring theme on this blog, in connection with my unpublished and ill-fated novella Alexis 5-1-8. I recognise that this is a subject that few are interested in, and one that is somewhat antithetical to poetry (sexbots being base sexuality versus the elevated refinement of poetry), but in challenging the assumptions about and the instinctive reactions towards sexbots, it’s intriguing to see the mirror they hold up to society.

sexbot
some mirrors reflect
too well

The following collection of poems and articles is not erotic. Sometimes there is humour, and sometimes darkness, but I have aimed for compassion and truth.

Sexbot Articles

Sexbot Poetry: Mythology

Sexbot Poetry: Sexbot as Lover

Sexbot Poetry: The Dark Side

Sexbot Poetry: The Sentient Sexbot

Sexbot Poetry: Objectification

Sexbot Poetry: Humour

March 2017 Trolling @AlinaMeridon

I have been reading…

Love and Friendship, based on Lady Susan by Jane AustenLove & Friendship is on Netflix. The trailer had me in hysterics last year, but I never managed to get to the cinema to watch it. It’s great fun, and Kate Beckinsale is gorgeous as Lady Susan. It’s based on Jane Austen’s Lady Susan (free for Kindle), which I’m currently reading and very much enjoying.

Vagina Dentata by Lauryn PantsAlso free, Vagina Dentata may sound absolutely horrible – although it’s definitely worth reading the Wikipedia page on the subject (e.g., “In Shintoism the Ainu legend is that a sharp-toothed demon hid inside the vagina of a young woman and emasculated two young men on their wedding nights.”) – but it’s a beautifully written short story and full of humour. It’s also, no surprise, erotic and explicit.

Supergirl & Shipping & Trolling

After my complaints last month about Supergirl, my frustrations reached the point where I needed to have a more coherent rant: Another Super Rant – What the ’El? Apparently, tagging this as #Karamel made me a troll, e.g.: “Keep this crap out of our tags, troll!” I was almost tempted to reply, “Keep your shipping crap out my #Supergirl tag!” But that probably wouldn’t have achieved very much…

Perhaps the most interesting thing in all of this is the way people are so focussed on ‘endgame’ romances. In other words, the series needs to pick a romantic partner for Supergirl who will be her One True Love by the end of the final season, if and whenever that may be. In the case of Karamel, this means that Mon-El is here now and here to stay, and we may as well call the series The New Adventures of Supergirl and Mon-El – and if you don’t like that, then tough. Stop watching, you ‘salty, bitter betty’.

(Karamel shippers are fiercely protective of Mon-El. The absurdity of it is, if you swapped genders so that the hero, Superboy, was falling for a female Mon-El who constantly disrespected him, slept with people at the drop of a hat, frequently endangered lives and even sometimes beat people up for money… would there be any love at all for her? Can you say ‘double standards’? (*))

I think it’s not that I object to a soulmate per se, although it is a tired and severely limiting cliché, but the pairing has to be right. It has to make sense. And… er, why does it have to happen straight away?

Or at all?

Anyway, on a lighter note. Sort of. A year or so ago I wrote a Supercat poem, and now here’s a Supercorp poem:

In Lena’s arms she fell at last
and wept such bitter tears
“Why have I had to wait,” she asked
“so many lonely years?
For one to ease my aching heart
and soothe away my fears?

“I’m tired of men – their arrogance!
their blind and selfish ways!
I’d quit this planet were it not
for Sol’s sweet golden rays
So cold and dark the too-long nights
while waiting for the days…

“Hold me, Lena, keep me warm
you’ve sunshine in your eyes
The passion in your heart is bright
your actions quick and wise
Just promise always to be true
I’m sick from human lies.”

“Kara, love, my heart is yours
my soul and body too
I’d give up all I am and own
to spend my life with you
You are my hero, super girl
and love you true, I do.”

((*) I’m reminded suddenly of 7 of 9’s takeover of Star Trek: Voyager. I was already in love with Jeri Ryan from her Russian assassin on Dark Skies, so of course she was a welcome addition to the cast, but Voyager was growing stale and Janeway’s tedious and limited morality was never inspiring, and 7 of 9’s frequent rebellion was so much more fun.)

Oh no, not sexbots again!

I followed a link from Sententiaeantiquae’s A Fanciful Story with a Surprising Climax, about a man lusting after a statue of Aphrodite, to Philosophical Disquisitions and The Ethics of Robot Sex:

Whether robots should be treated with the same ethical respect as humans … depends on whether or not they display the external evidential marks of personhood. If they do, we should err on the side of caution and treat them equivalently to human beings.

A very interesting article, although I feel there are additional issues that need to be addressed – and are partly so in the linked article Is there a Case for Robot Slaves?

Slippery-Slope Objection: Even if it is not intrinsically wrong to create robot slaves, it does give rise to a morally worrying slippery slope. Specifically, it seems like it will desensitise us to the needs and interests of human persons, and will thus condition us to act callously toward them when they do not wish to do our dirty work.

Some arguments against the slippery-slope objection follow, but I don’t find them entirely satisfying. But certainly thought-provoking…

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