Sunday, February 12, 2017

History's Greatest Monster

Hey everybody! Hope life is treating you well.

Never say that Ellanjay don't know what makes for an exciting story. Other lesser writers have conflicts where characters disagree over major issues, which leads to a lot of emotional fallout, like Steve and Tony in Captain America 3: Civil War*, or where there is a massive fight between the forces of good and evil, like in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, which has the potential to cause permanent physical and psychological maiming or even :gasp: death, which is permanent. But Ellanjay are far superior to those hacks and know what makes for a really interesting story, is page after page of gnawing endlessly over office politics, which we all know is way more interesting than the Battle at Helm's Deep.

CHLOE STRUCK out in her efforts to determine who had put the phony employee document in her box. She had begun to interview Ekaterina’s coworkers, but after a half dozen painful conversations, she realized her investigation was doing more harm than good. In nearly a century, she had not had to deal with any problem more serious than hurt feelings between employees. With Jesus on the world’s throne and King David, the Lord’s prince, ruling Israel from the temple, all matters of law and judgment seemed to go smoothly and quickly.

Chloe immediately decides to stop investigating or asking questions about an unpleasant issue, because it will make people uncomfortable. Chloe really is an true RTC.

Yes, I am fighting the urge to dig up so many links about clergy abuse. You may thank me in whatever manner you deem fit.

Though really, whenever a sex scandal comes up and the higher-ups say they didn't report it to the police, because they wanted to do their own investigation, before getting law enforcement involved...I'm like "Uh, investigation is their job! It's what they do! Your job is to counsel and protect your congregation or to coach the Penn State football team! You report things to law enforcement, let them do their job, while you do yours! That's how this works, you abuser-protecting jackass!"

Goddangit, will there ever be a week where I can't work in or find something about Creepy Sex Stuff**? I'm wondering if the problem is that I'm a pervert or they are.

I'll right. I'll get back to the story. I'll try to hold back on Creepy Sex Stuff, but I make no promises. I generally try not to make promises I can't keep and if I've learned anything from life, it's that God loves nothing more than upsetting Never statements. Say something like "I will never do X" and God points and laughs and makes it happen.

She called in Mattie Cleveland and suggested they just chalk up the crisis, such as it was, to an ill-conceived prank and let it die. “It hasn’t caused too much controversy within your staff, has it?”

Mattie shrugged. “Actually, it has. Everyone is talking about it, pointing fingers, the whole bit. I would have loved to have been able to say we found the culprit, dealt with him or her, got an apology, and moved on. But this is all right too.”

In an attempt to pry a gold ring out of a pig's snout, I will say that Ellanjay do resolve this much quicker than the exciting "Who sent Chloe flowers?" plotline of Tribulation Force. Because the Anti-Christ coming into power, outlawing any religions, save for the poorly defined EBOWF, and persecuting the Christians, is boring stuff that nobody could ever find interesting. Instead, let's wonder who sent Chloe flowers, while she sulks about Buck over something that could be resolved in FIVE MINUTES IF SHE WOULD JUST TALK TO HIM LIKE A NORMAL PERSON WOULD!

The beginning with Chloe and Mattie ends with a conversation where they discuss someone who is the Adolf Q. Stalin-Pot of the MK, someone whose ambitions and brutality are so great, they make Genghis Khan look like a mewling toddler in comparison. I am speaking, of course, of Qasim.

“Whatever you say, Chloe. I agree we need to get on with what we’re here for. I will say this: Qasim has been particularly solicitous ever since this started getting around.”

“The one who’s been so annoying to Ekaterina?”

“He’s really cleaned up his act. He leaves her alone, and he has been much more helpful to me lately. Qasim has even commiserated with me over this mess.”

“But I didn’t even interview him. What does he know about it?”

“Just what everyone else is saying, I guess. He made the effort to set an appointment with me, counseled me not to take it personally, and reminded me how much esteem he and the rest of the staff had for me. It was really sweet.”

Chloe nodded. “A little out of character?”

Mattie cocked her head. “But still sweet. I’d give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Let us never forget the depths of evil Qasim is capable of. Not only did he ask and go out with a girl another Millie was interested in, sulk and react in an immature manner when she dumped him for little, if any, discernible reason, he :gasp: was kind and supportive to the people around him.

Only one piece of music can truly depict Qasim's malice and complete disregard for human life: Qasim's theme.

Given how thuddeningly obvious Ellanjay are about, well, everything, I'm sure it's going to be revealed that :gasp: Qasim wrote the fake report, but again, my sympathies are still with him. I don't know when they'll stop being with him. Because yeah, getting Kat in trouble with a phony complaint report is wrong, I see it more as a stroke of immaturity rather than him being History's Greatest Monster.

But then again, he did dare ask out a girl that Kenny was interested in, though Kenny never gave any indication in words, body language, or Morse Code, that he was interested in Kat. Kat, being the wanton slut that she is, :gasp: accepted his offer and they went on one date, where Kat's sin-o-meter kicked in and told her she was going against the will of Ellanjay God, by going out with Qasim. Since Kat isn't Hattie, the Great Whore of Babylon, she immediately realizes she's fallen astray, asks forgiveness for going out with a guy she was interested in, even though he wasn't Kenny, and dumps him.

And Qasim is really a horrible person for having hurt feelings over being dumped and lashing out in an immature matter, because he's young, stupid, and again, he was just dumped. The Millies really need to build a memorial around the reports box, maybe put up a plaque, so generations from now, people will never forget the true depravities Qasim was capable of and how they mildly inconvenienced someone. Let us never forget...Report Box Theme

Good God, so much brutal sarcasm back to back. I wonder if there's a set limit for this kind of thing and if I go too far, I will lose the ability to express any other emotion. Which wouldn't be too bad, if I could live out in the middle of nowhere, support myself, and be my natural hermit self, but right now, I can't afford to alienate everyone in my life yet.

There are a few lines with Abdullah, but nothing substantial, so we'll move onto the next section where Kenny and Creepy Raymie have a conversation. :reads ahead: DAMMIT! WHY DID I MAKE THAT PROMISE EARLY ON?! EVEN I ADMITTED THAT I WAS BASICALLY ASKING FOR IT!

Or in other words, there will be a whole lotta Creepy Sex Stuff. So everybody get ready and have your poison of choice well within arm's reach, because you're going to need it. :sighs: Since I've only read the For Kids! version and not any of the other adult books, I have to ask: was there this much Creepy Sex Stuff in the adults' books or is it really just this one in particular?

Like I said, I will never stop envisioning Creepy Raymie as David Koresh. I'll let my readers make the call as to whether he also has the early nineties' hairstyle and birth control glasses.

“Just a few items,” Kenny said. “I want to know where things stand with Qasim. I want to know what you think I should do about the persistence of the Jospins. And we need to talk about Ekaterina.”

I freely admit that I often fast-forward through parts of this book, especially because nothing ever pays off in a satisfying manner--you're lucky if you get a payoff at all--but I'm like, "What wait about the Jospins?" I thought they'd meekly accepted that their daughter was roasting on a spit and were all, "It's real good that you did that, God. Real good," about it. Of course, as I was typing this, I realized that they were probably talking about the whole thing with Luthair and Ignace. Sonuva!

So I'll not go too much further with that line of thought. Just chalk it up to a screw-up born out of boredom. Though am I the only thinking that the phrase, "the persistence of the Jospins," sounds like a title for a poem written by one of the great Romantic poets, like Wordsworth or Keats or something? Life would be so much better if we could just enjoy Jeremy Irons reading Wordsworth's poem about daffodils and not go any further, but I'm afraid we've got work to do.

Creepy Raymie addresses the issue involving Qasim first.

Raymie, whom Kenny had always found both wise and decisive, did not disappoint. “I don’t know what Qasim is telling anyone else, but I have totally distanced myself and the Millennium Force from him. I told him he has no standing with us, and that regardless what he chooses to do in relation to the Other Light, we don’t want so much as a report from him, not even a secondhand report through Zaki.”

Though you probably can't blame Creepy Raymie and co. for their emotional cruelty towards Qasim. When Kenny's like, "And he's okay with it?" Creepy Raymie tells us how Qasim reacted. I pray that none of my readers have delicate heart conditions for hearing the depravity Qasim is capable of, would make anyone's blood run cold.

“Of course not. He was angry, which showed me his true colors. And Zaki is not happy either. I had to tell him that he would be next if he couldn’t see the wisdom of our totally parting ways with Qasim. I feared offending Bahira if I did that, but she has never trusted Qasim, and I suppose you know we have a sort of mutual admiration society.”

Qasim got angry over being treated like shit and dumped? Truly even Josef Stalin's crimes pale in comparison!

I know, I'm probably harping too much on the whole thing with Qasim. First of all, this is my soapbox and I plan on using it. Second of all, well, I was bullied pretty much relentlessly from age eleven to age eighteen, when I finally graduated high school and could escape those shitstains I went to school with. So bullying is an issue I'm very damn sensitive about and I am well aware of the toxic beliefs our culture has about them and how they're BS. I'm going to see if I can get all this out in one go. For those of you who may have issues, I'll put bold headlines at the beginning and end of this rant, so you may feel free to scroll past it, if you don't feel ready to handle it. That said, let's do this thing. I'll let you decide whether my theme song should be "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks or "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett.

Beginning of Bullying Rant

First of all, fuck anyone who says, "If you would stop doing X, they would leave you alone." Not only are you basically saying "Reshape and completely change who you are, so Shitstain abusers will leave you alone," it won't work. Not only will the victim have the scars that come from compromising who they are, just so people won't be emotionally cruel towards them, it never works. Once a bully settles on a victim, they will find some reason to go after them. And for the record, yeah, a fat kid could probably stand to get some more exercise and eat fewer donuts, just as another kid could stand to have a little more confidant, they should want to do this for their own benefit, not just so they can survive a day of school with some dignity intact. Bullying is always wrong, even if you're fairly certain this kid is the reincarnation of Hitler or they're a 95 lb. asthmatic who could be taken down by a stiff breeze.

And yes, I did post that clip just to indulge in my rampant Captain America fangirlism! I thought you guys were used to that kind of thing by now.***

Also all you idiots who are like, "Durr...just stand up to them like in Back to the Future!" Let me give you some shocking information: it's not the 50s anymore and many schools have Zero Tolerance Policies**** against fighting. When I was in school, the zero tolerance fighting policy meant that even if you were defending yourself, you still got punished, along with the asshole who assaulted you in the first place. Granted my bullies were girls who mostly favor the psychological approach, rather than the physical one, but even as a kid, I thought that was fucked up, the idea that if someone starts kicking the crap out of me, I'm supposed to just stand there and get beaten up. Say what you will about police abuses, but even they recognize the basic right of self-defense that if Bill comes at you, you have the right to defend yourself.

And there's the obvious flaw in that bullies tend to be in way better physical shape, bigger than their victims, which generally gives them the upper-hand in a fight. I know being big doesn't always guarantee a victory, if the other guy has skills and knows how to utilize them, but very few bullied kids have much by way of martial arts training, so let's ignore that.

But the biggest flaw is that even if the bullied kid won and the bully never bothers him/her again, you are still promoting the Bully's mindset of "Might Makes Right." Since you won, that clearly indicates you were mightier and therefore, the bully was in the wrong for picking on you and the only reason the Bully is in the wrong, is because you could take them in a fight, not because bullying is inherently wrong. So it would be perfectly okay for the Bully to pick on the skinny, mousy kid who dresses weird, if said kid gets overpowered and loses the fight.

And Ignoring Them Doesn't Fucking Work! The words will still land and hurt, even if you don't respond to them or if you say a witty one-liner afterwards. As xkcd wisely put it, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can make someone else feel happy or sad, which is literally the only thing that matters in this stupid world."

In fact, Ignoring them only further normalizes bullying. To use the words from a link in the previous paragraph:

Ah, yes, the well-worn refrain to bullied kids everywhere. Ignore the bully and he’ll use your silence to believe he’s untouchable and torment you for months while you internalize your own worthlessness and believe you can’t even speak out about the abuse because it’ll just be “encouraging” the bully to beat you more.

No wait, I’m sorry, I got reality mixed up with platitude again. I meant to say, ignore the bully and he’ll go away and leave you alone, because you showed you were the bigger person and there’s nothing a bully loves more than someone they look down on for their identities or existence also acting smug that they are morally superior to them.

Ah damn, just keep accidentally kicking the switch for the reality/platitude inverter.

But yeah, any bullied kid learned the hard way that this advice is garbage. Once a bully is on you, they tend to stick around and turning your back and trying to ignore just makes them more likely to escalate and feel invincible because they know that everyone likes a bully victim to suffer nobly and so the systems of power are behind them and will protect their actions.

I could quote more of this article, but I'll hold back. Just remember that Abuse-enabling assholes feel that Staying Quiet is the only option. A bullying victim must be so saintly as to make Jesus jealous and suffer in silence, because if they don't, if they stubbornly insist on being who they are and demanding that others do something to stop the abuse, they would upset the status quo and :gasp: they might force them to do stuff, which is the worst thing you can possibly do. No one has to care about the bullied's feelings, but heaven forbid, you inconvenience or upset a Bully in any way.

tl;dr, Bullying is always wrong. It doesn't matter who you do it to or why, it's still wrong. And if these actions were being done out in the real world between adults, instead of in a school between children, they would call it harassment or assault and I'm fairly certain the police tend to take a dim view of that sort of thing.

End of Long Bullying Rant

Okay, I'm done now. I'm only sorry about all the profanity, not the length of the rant.

As you can tell by that last line about "mutual admiration society," we're about to get into Creepy Sex stuff.

Kenny smiled. “Kat and I have speculated on what might have become of you two— as a couple, I mean— if you were naturals.”

Raymie shook his head and looked away. “I have wondered the same. As has she. We can talk about it openly because it is so far from the realm of possibility. It’s strange that we admire and respect and truly love each other so deeply, and yet the idea of romance never enters the picture. We’re simply not wired that way anymore. That allows us to spend a lot of time together, really as brother and sister, worshiping, praying, studying, planning. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is.”

"And by brother and sister, I, of course, mean like something out of a V.C. Andrews novel."

I'll assume when Creepy Raymie is talking about Romance, he is referring to S-E-X, which again, makes me shake my head and go "Poor Beverly LaHaye and poor Dianna Jenkins." Because in addition to removing sexual desire, Zod also took away the little things that couples enjoy doing together, like hanging out and talking, going to a nice restaurant because you both enjoy the cuisine, or just cuddling together on the couch while watching a favorite movie or TV show.

Ellanjay probably consider me a creepy pervert, because I reference sex as an enjoyable activity, a way for both parties to express the love they feel for each other, but they're even more creepy than I am, because they steadfastly refuse to admit either of those things, view sex as a grim necessity needed to produce more believers, and can't imagine people being romantic or doing something nice for another person just to be nice, without wanting anything, sex or otherwise, out of it. Ellanjay really are such Nice Guys™. I don't know how many times I'm going to keep saying variations on that phrase.

In another attempt to point out something good in a sea of turds, when Kenny says, “And I can’t tell you how much fun it is to have someone like that in my life,” Kenny said, “plus adding the romance to it," Creepy Raymie actually says, "I'm happy for you," rather than castigating his nephew for :gasp: wanting to be around and enjoy a girl's company and do nice things for her. It is a piddling, insignificant good thing, but hey, I try to occasionally stop being relentlessly negative and give them some credit.

Kenny talks about how he really cares about Kat and though they aren't married or even engaged yet, they probably will be at some point. Kenny also says that he seeks wisdom and counsel from her and talks to her about the Millies.

Again, to his credit, Creepy Raymie doesn't lay into Kenny for :gasp: seeking the counsel of a weak womanly woman. Though if Kenny actually were to do something more than just correspond with the TOL, it would be kind of hard for him to keep this secret from Kat anyway. You don't think she'd wouldn't be like, "Huh, I wonder where Kenny goes off too," and get curious? What am I saying? Of course, Kat wouldn't because she's a good RTC woman and a good RTC woman knows to never question anything their owner man says or does.

Creepy Raymie is like, "Be careful. Relationships don't always go the way you hope. What if you're just friends or acquaintances a year from now?" And I'm like, "Uh, unless Kat and Kenny's breakup winds up being a 'Jane, you ignorant slut!' kind of breakup, there probably won't be a problem." Because people can date each other, decide they work better as friends than as a couple, break up, and :gasp: still remain friends afterwards.

That was one of the things I enjoyed about the 90s show on Nick, "Clarissa Explains It All." The titular character and her friend Sam, who is male, actually just remain friends throughout the series without it turning into romance. They did try being a couple in one episode, but the experience felt weird and unnerving, so they mutually decided to go back to being friends and :gasp: stayed friends for the rest of the series. I'm not opposed to a male and female friend deciding to date each other, but I still find stuff like the bit with Clarissa and Sam to be refreshing. It's nice for something to acknowledge that a dude and a lady can just like each other, without wanting sex out of it.

:sighs: I adored Clarissa Explains It All as a kid. Used to dream about having Clarissa's wardrobe and bedroom. Heck, I still kind of dream of having her wardrobe/bedroom, though minus the nineties' beige box computer, of course. Those pink pajamas with the ants all over them, look hella cute and hella comfy.

All right, I'll stop with the nostalgia and get back to work.

After that, Kenny starts talking about Lothair and Ignace's Insidious Emails and how he should respond to them.

“Kat thinks I should pursue it, do it right, and— unlike Qasim— act under the authority of the Force. In other words, make sure everybody knows what I’m doing so they can pray for me, keep track of me, and give advice.”

Raymie sat back and folded his arms. “I like this girl more all the time. Maybe she will make a good Force member someday.”

Okay, I'm sorry to keep harping on this issue, but how was what Qasim was doing, bad? I know what the Millies experience does, in no way, compare to a battlefield, but I'll use the military analogy, because it's a handy one and because Ellanjay love to express that air of hypermasculinity; hence their worship of the military*V.

Basic knowledge of military strategy is that the soldiers are briefed on what they are supposed to do and where they are supposed to be, before they are sent into battle. And as a general rule, soldiers are cautioned against deviating from the plan. A snarker I follow, Kippurbird, talked about this, in her delightfully scathing takedown of the Eragon series. She said her grandfather served as a captain and trained soldiers during WWII (aka the war Ellanjay love the most, due to aforementioned hypermasculinity). She said that much of Grandad's time was spent training the soldiers to listen to him, before being sent to the front. To use her words, after a while, Grandad said,

He said that after a while he could tell who would live and who wouldn't come back after seeing how well they listened to him. The rules were there to save lives and the soldiers weren't supposed to think, they were just supposed to follow. Creativity and invention in combat is a dangerous thing. If you deviate from the plan then who knows what can happen and who can get hurt because they're expecting you in one place and you aren't there.

So from that standpoint, Qasim disobeying orders would be a bad thing. [slight tangent] Though Ellanjay's disapproval does feel particularly rich, given that they, like so many on the Right, have fanboyish love for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, who stubbornly refuse to let anything so gauche as laws or basic human decency, stop them from steam-rolling over the rights and lives of anyone they want. Like I keep saying, it's not that the Right is opposed to tyranny. So long as it is done by the right people for the right reasons, they have no problems with it. Soviet dictators brutally oppressed their citizens, but that was wrong because they did it in the name of communism. Whereas Vladimir Putin does the same, but he does it in the name of unfettered free market capitalism and cronyism, so the Right can't stop swooning over him. [/slight tangent]

But also at the same time, war tends to be unpredictable. A soldier may get out into the field and it turns out that something's happened which makes it so that the plan cannot work as intended. So under those circumstances, the soldiers would try to stick to the plan, but if that proves impossible, they will jettison isn't working. Basic common sense.

And they will decide this on their own, because during the heat of battle, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to get word back from the higher-ups in time, forcing them to have to wing it. Another basic rule of the military: if the commander gets killed during a battle, the next highest-ranked takes over and does what he/she has to in order to complete the mission and save their squad. During a battle, there's not time to idle around and wait, while the generals send in another commander to help you out. Idling tends to get you killed in war.

Though yeah, I know the Millies are basically brownshirts and what they're doing in no way compares to war, but again, felt the analogy might serve its purpose. I also know that their real objection to Qasim is similar to Our Buck's objections to Verna Zee. It's perfectly okay for Buck to be just absolutely condescending and awful to Verna, because he outranks her by being a White Dude, but Verna is the Worst Person Ever! for :gasp: asking Buck to do something so gauche as DO THE FREAKING JOB HE'S GETTING PAID TO DO!

Unfortunately, things have become so warped that modern journalism is pretty much in line with the LB-verse version. I'd rant, but I've done so many frothing rants in one post, so maybe another time, guys.

So Kenny-boy and Creepy Raymie start talking about the Millies' goals. Oh nice to finally know what the heck is going on. Again, if you are going to do a classic "Forces of Good vs. Forces of Evil" plot, we should know which side is which, what both sides want, and what will happen if the Forces of Evil succeed. It's basic plotting 101.

“Do we need a meeting?”

“Of the Force? Sure, if you plan to respond to these guys. What’re you thinking, that you would visit them in France?”

“That or start feeding them bogus information. Just enough to keep them on the string.”

“I don’t know,” Raymie said, sighing. “If our goal is not to win them over, what is it?”

“To keep undecideds from being swayed by them.”

Feeding them bogus information...what exactly would you be feeding them bogus information about?! Even with the Tribbles, it made some sense in that a character could :gasp: lie about the locations of bases or give false information about who their members are. They never did it, but it made sense, because in that scenario, they were the minority being persecuted by a mighty foe. But in this scenario, the RTCs are the ones in charge, laying down the law and all that. So what would you feed them false information about? Say that "Oh yeah, the church's bake sale has been canceled," when it totally hasn't? :gasp: :choke:

Plus, I thought they had demonstrated time and time again that Ellanjay, as believers in absolute morality, believe that lying is always wrong, even if it's a "Lie to the Nazis to protect the Jews you're smuggling to safety." So why is an RTC character now saying, "Maybe we should lie to them?"

And of course, the best way to keep Undecideds from being swayed by them, is to censor the crap out of the TOL and make a huge fuss about how eeeevil and degenerate they are, because that will never blow up in their faces? The Streisand Effect? What the heck is that?

Though of course, the TOL is based in France, the most effete and European of all effete European countries. Though this does give me an opportunity to point out that despite his name, Captain America actually hates America.

Creepy Raymie is like "How does misleading the TOL accomplish that?" And I'm just going to post Kenny's response.

They rose to start heading back to work. Kenny said, “All I know is that if I don’t start playing their game soon, they’re going to know I’m not on their side. Maybe that’s not all bad. I can stick to what I know and what I believe I’m supposed to be doing— reaching the children right here.”

I'm not going to say the obvious jokes, because I've already made so many Creepy Sex Jokes in this post. I just thought I should post it for my readers' perusal. :whistles innocently:

We cut back to Abdullah, who is getting ready to embark on his poorly-defined mission to the TOL.

Abdullah knew he needn’t be, but he was nervous. He had allowed his beard to grow out, then trimmed it neatly before luxuriating in a long shower. Now he slowly dressed, eschewing the white robe he had worn for years in Israel and opting for more traditional Jordanian civilian wear. He pulled a blousy white top over billowing beige pants, slipped into open sandals, and carefully wrapped a pure white turban around his head.

That sound you hear is the people behind the sixties Jonny Quest or the writers for "Amos and Andy" going, "Now that's just a wee bit culturally insensitive. You mind toning it down a little."

For the record, while I did search, I couldn't really pull up any satisfying pictures of male Jordanian attire, so y'all will have to settle for this description instead:

The men never wear scruffy-looking and messy attire, and are very strict in their grooming. Their trousers are usually plain in color, never flashy or provocative. T-shirts or upper clothing that don't cover the shoulders or the upper arms are considered underwear. Jordanian men opt to wear long-sleeved and high-necked shirts and never walk around shirtless.

So it is different from what 'Muricans wear, but it's not that different.

Fun Fact: Not all Muslim men wear turbans. The turban thing is probably due more to the Middle East being predominantly desert. Its citizens need protection from the elements and the turbans and hijabs, as well as the loose, flowing clothing, work better than jeans and tee shirt.

Another Fun Fact: Another religious faith where the adherents wear turbans, is Sikhism. Sikhism originated in India, not the Middle East, and doesn't have much in common with the Abrahamic faiths of which Islam is one of them.

Even More Fun Fact: Even if it turns out that group of dudes in turbans are, in fact, Muslims, it's still wrong for you to barge in and shoot up the place and kill people for being Muslim.

Even More Funner Fact: Muslim is a religious label, indicating that someone is a practitioner of the Islamic faith, whereas Arab is a racial term, indicating that someone displays the physical features of someone who originates from a particular part of the world. Or in other words, you can be Muslim, without being an Arab, and you can be an Arab, but not be a Muslim.

Abdullah's segment is interrupted with a Cam-Cam one. Yerik shows up, while Cam-Cam putts around his property on a golf cart, and is like, "Joshua and Caleb send their greetings and will be end tomorrow." The only noteworthy response is at the end where Cam-Cam thinks, "Never a dull moment," and I have to fight the urge to point and laugh derisively until I injure myself.

Those of you who felt that I was reading too much into the bit with Abdullah earlier, I'm going to post his next selection in its entirety, while I point and laugh at your naïveté.

Abdullah felt strangely conspicuous, striding about Amman under the blazing sun in gleaming clothes. Almost everyone he saw was wearing the customary white robe, and his getup elicited double takes and stares but, probably because he was carrying his Bible, always followed by smiles— which he returned. The closer he got to the address in question, the more excited he grew.

Abdullah peeked at the tiny slip of paper to be sure he was in the right neighborhood, and soon he arrived at a square, three-story building topped by towering antennas and satellite dishes. Inside he found a list of offices that included agricultural consultants, hydrologists, computer specialists, and communications experts. Ah, there it was. A downstairs suite was labeled Theological Training Institute. He took the steps.

I'd ask how Ellanjay would explain that them freaking out about Abdullah wearing a turban, until they see his bible, isn't racist, but I really shouldn't. It's depressing enough dealing with Trumpettes going on and on about how Trump's views that certain ethnic and religious groups are subhuman mongrels, undeserving of the basic rights given to them as American citizens or as human beings in general, is in no way racist or any kind of -ist whatsoever.

And there really isn't anything more after that. Daycare prepares for Caleb and Joshua. Kenny and Qasim talk and I suppose Ellanjay would consider Kenny to be Good, because he magnanimously holds off on talking shit about Qasim while in his presence, preferring instead to talk behind his back.

And that's it. Sorry for all the frothing rants and the Bullying MegaRant, but buttons were pushed. Just be grateful that I didn't find a thinly-veiled excuse to rant about that one movie I hate so much, so much so that if something were to happen to Zack Snyder, law enforcement would knock on my door and ask me some questions, given all the frothing, "DAMN YOU, ZACK SNYDER! I WILL HAVE YOUR HEAD ON A PLATTER OF GOLD!" rants I've done.

Anyway, now for all the asterisked stuff.

*Whether you were on Team Cap or Team Iron Man in this movie, at least with the film version, which was better than the comic book version by a mile, you understood where Steve and Tony were coming from and why they would make the choices they did, even if you disagreed with them. Plus, Tony didn't turn into Nazi-Tron, even if I am looking side-eyed at all his friends and being like, "No one suggested he go into therapy after Age of Ultron? You guys are kind of terrible friends. Dude's been turning into a quivering mess of PTSD for a while and no one has talked to him about or suggested that something be done to address the issue."

**And by Creepy Sex Stuff, I'm assuming you guys understand that I'm referring to the loathing for the desires of the flesh and how they can't view anything without thinking in terms of power and domination, rather than fetishes like Furries or BDSM. My view regarding those fetishes, along with just about every other fetish, is that I think it's weird as hell and I'm not into it, but so long as it's all between consenting adults in the privacy of their own home, I don't really care. Though on the BDSM front, it was satisfying hearing from various practitioners talking about how E.L. James is full of it and Christian Grey would be persona non grata among their subculture, if not imprisoned, if they knew about what he was doing.

***Props to the movie and the Agent Carter TV show for demonstrating that she was already into Steve, even before he came out of Mr. Stark's machine as a slice of roast beefcake. Because of course, anyone would be attracted to him after that, so it's nice that they went the extra mile, so she wouldn't look completely shallow. I won't rant about that one scene in that movie, because Peggy redeemed herself so much in her sadly short-lived TV series. Though I do find it interesting that in said series, when she's seen looking at pictures of Steve, it's usually the before pictures rather than the after. Again, liked him even when he was a 95 lb. asthmatic.

****As someone who came of age when Zero Tolerance Policies were becoming widespread, I can tell you how much they don't work and how little sense they make. Given that there are numerous studies backing me up and no one likes these policies, not the students, teachers, parents, or administrators, yet said policies remain, you find yourself wondering what purpose they really are meant to serve. Because they certainly aren't protecting students and personnel.

*V Said worship does not lead to them taking care of the soldiers when they come home physically disabled or riddled with PTSD. In fact, they tend to make massive cuts to services designed to help wounded veterans/soldiers and when said conditions deteriorate to a truly appalling state, they point to it as "proof that government-run health care doesn't work." To the extent they care about the soldiers, it's as human meat shields or something they can use to score political points, and probably can't be bothered to make sure they can find work and support when they get home, so the vet doesn't wind up eating his/her pistol or something.


Melvina said...

"I generally try not to make promises I can't keep and if I've learned anything from life, it's that God loves nothing more than upsetting Never statements. Say something like "I will never do X" and God points and laughs and makes it happen."

I will never make a million dollars. I will also never marry a man I truly love. (Just... Just wanted to see if it would work...)

Firedrake said...

The true tragedy, of course, is not the struggle of good against evil but the struggle of mediocre against mediocre. (Or something like that?)

Yeah, investigation is law enforcement's job, but they have all those pesky rules about not dropping the case when it points to someone you like, and actually trying to get criminals convicted even when they're friends with the mayor, and so on – and sometimes they even keep them!

Never mind EBOWF, we want the Space Pope (Crocodylus Pontifex).

Any kid learns quite early on that the kid who attracts the teacher's attention is the one who's going to be blamed.

I tend to feel that bullying is yet another example of power-abuse, which racism and sexism and sexual-orientation-ism and all the rest tend to be too: we have more power than you, therefore we can make life worse for you because you are Different. I suspect that's probably intersectionality.

I recently watched a reality show of sorts about basic training for the Royal Navy. It rapidly became clear that the point of finicky rules about laundry etc. was not because your laundry matters, but because in a warship you'll get told to do a job and everyone on board will be relying on you doing it promptly and in the way you were told to do it.

As far as I can remember from the passages here, all that ToL does is say "hey, we're over here, and we're not like those guys". Clearly this cannot be borne!

I believe Shia (but not Sunni) Islam regards turban-wearing as a religious duty.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of military discipline: I've often wondered how the libertarian types who revere the armed forces reconcile the need for strict discipline with their philosophy of "expletive you, I won't do what you tell me". Any ideas?

As for bullying: with you all the way, Mouse. Every piece of advice anyone gave me on the subject was useless, including "you shouldn't need to get others to fight your battles for you".

Back on topic: does reading this book make you feel like you're being sucked into a parallel dimension or something? Because that's what it feels like when I try to work out (from your descriptions only; I've no desire to actually read the book) what's happening in the plot and why. Thankfully your snarking keeps me level-headed and makes the experience bearable.

Jethro said...

Re: Anonymous' first question, the reconciliation comes from those two things being applied to different people. It's self-centered: the individual does what the individual wants, and everyone else does what the individual wants them to. The admiration for the armed forces is less "this system requires strict discipline" and more "this system requires people to unquestioningly obey me or get punished for it". That help?

Mouse said...

That and experience has taught me that Libertarians are pretty much Republicans who like to smoke pot. They part ways with the GOP on that issue, but generally agree with them on every other issue, including the love of money and power, and general need to express how mighty and strong they are by bombing a third-world nation back to the Stone Age.

Though all this talk about military and discipline and how it works, makes me think of Grand Admiral Thrawn. He was easily the most popular character from the Star Wars Expanded Universe and when Force Awakens effectively jossed said universe, there were many wails of outrage. Fear not, he is a reoccurring villain Star Wars Rebels, so he is still part of the canon.

Grand Admiral Thrawn, as you've probably guessed, is a villain fighting on behalf of the Empire, but the thing is, he's more an Erwin Rommel or a Napoleon villain, which makes him notable, because even in the good Star Wars movies, the villains tend to be one note "Hey let's kill this planet just because!" types. Thrawn is cunning and ruthless, but there is planning behind it, not just outright cruelty.

The part everyone cites as when they knew they were going to like Thrawn, despite him being a villain, is a scene where two subordinates are called to the carpet to explain why a mission went south.

The first one failed to follow procedure and tries to pin it on the higher-ups. Whereas the second one, tried to follow procedure, though when things went too far south, in desperation, he tried this new technique. It failed, but he was able to escape and when called to the carpet, he admits his own fault and is willing to accept the blame.

Thrawn orders the first dude killed, but when it comes the second one, he commends him for doing the best he could to salvage a bad situation and is like, "That technique you came up with might be useful. Work on it." Thus, making it clear that Grand Admiral Thrawn will not tolerate general incompetence, but has the basic decency to understand that sometimes things go wrong because of circumstances beyond your control and in times like that, you may have to wing it a little.

Which is a good attitude for a high-ranked military officer to have. If someone screws up and does something stupid, they do need to be called to the carpet and disciplined, but again, sometimes shit happens, and really, it's not good for morale if you just flat-out kill everyone who fails a mission, regardless whether said failure was due to incompetence or circumstances beyond their control.

tl;dr, Grand Admiral Thrawn was a villain with some intelligence and nuance, which makes him a refreshing breath of fresh air in the Star Wars universe. Because as cool as Darth Vader was, you know he would have just punished the shit out of both the soldiers.

spiritplumber said...

Kingdom Come fanfic ping!

Looks like my concept of Cendrillon being a space nut has found favor with another author, so Kerbal Cendrillon is now fanon I guess :)

In the meantime, Left Beyond Quest is almost finished - it's the year 997 and The Other Light is marching against Greater Jerusalem. Omega has managed to send away a few people to space, and is preparing to cancel the Apocalypse.