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Reading: Traveling in Japan, Lovecraftian Racism, Shrinking Netflix, Farewell to Sports, Online Trolls Keep Winning & more

Also: Managing childbirth expectations, online assumptions, reviving Star Trek, Left Behind flaws, and David Bazan.
notes-from-japan-3-2
Fushimi Inari

One of my favorite life experiences was our family’s month-long stay in Japan several years ago. Almost since the moment we set foot back in the States, my wife and I have been making plans to return. Suffice to say, we need to work some of these ten unusual and offbeat places to visit in Japan into our future travel plans. (I think my daughter’s brain will explode if we go to Sanrio Puroland.)

My friend Maralee has written a powerful piece on c-sections and managing birth expectations: ​“If my son’s birth taught me anything, it is that it is foolish to think we can control birth. We can be educated and work with professionals we trust, but that is not the same thing as ​“control”. I think control is a privileged belief for those who have seen things go the way they planned. Those of us who did it all ​“right” and still ended up with the ​“wrong” outcome know better. Now I understand that my son’s actual birth wasn’t what was so traumatic, it was my wrong expectations of control.” As a man, I’ve obviously never personally experienced this, but our kids were all born via c-section and I saw my wife experience some of what Maralee describes, so it still hits close to home.

H.P. Lovecraft
H.P. Lovecraft

Laura Miller argues that H.P. Lovecraft’s art was deeply influenced by his racism: ​“The unsavory manifestations of Lovecraft’s dread can’t be surgically removed from his fiction by an act of willful blindness, as some fans seem to think. (And of course, it’s a lot easier to ignore the hateful elements of someone’s work when it’s not directed at people like you.) To the contrary, they help us to understand it, but to do that we need to be able to accept the truth that even great artists — greater ones than Lovecraft, certainly — have their ugly sides, and that ugliness can be inextricable from their greatness.”

Netflix’s DVD selection is shrinking: ​“I began to note that some DVDs that used to sit patiently awaiting their turn in my queue had dropped down to the ​‘saved’ section, where the time of their availability is listed as ​‘unknown.’ I think it is safe to say, you can translate that as ​‘never.’ Earlier this year, I mentioned this incredibly shrinking DVD phenomenon to John Taylor, the buyer at San Francisco’s Le Video, and he told me Netflix’s DVD collection was now absent a growing number of significant titles, including a passel of Woody Allen films.” As a streaming-only customer of Netflix, this doesn’t affect me directly, but I certainly see how it’s troubling for hardcore cinephiles. Via

Football
 (Via, CC0 1.0)

Tony Woodlief is done with sports. Like really, really done with sports: ​“I gave up sports for the same reason I gave up politics and pornography… because viewing it not only corrodes one’s soul, it sustains the market for predation and debasement. The same, I’ve reluctantly concluded, can be said about viewing big-money sports.” Related: Last year, I concluded that I can’t, in good conscience, encourage my kids to play football. Via

Peter Chin learned a valuable lesson when he attempted to defend having a large family to an interviewer: ​“This is one of our greatest failings in the modern internet age, that we rightly believe that our own lives are complex things that defy easy comprehension, but fail to extend that same grace to others. When it comes to their lives, especially those with whom we disagree, we suddenly possess the ability to derive a doctorate thesis’ worth of conclusions about their story and motivations, from only the smallest fragments of data.”

U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-D
The mighty NCC-1701-D

Mark A. Altman has some ideas for turning Star Trek into the next big media franchise: ​“The fact is, it’s time for Paramount and CBS to start treating Star Trek like a business, and not just an annuity they can cash in every few years. They have their own Marvel, their own Star Wars, their own Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s time to start treating Star Trek like Marvel and DC and devise, dare I say it, a transmedia strategy that delivers on the promise of this franchise which will not only satisfy the millions of fans craving more Star Trek but also fill the studio coffers many times over.” I’m still waiting for a Section 31 series.

E. Stephen Burnett on the fundamental flaws of the Left Behind film: “[T]he Left Behind movie has no care for humanity or its own story, or even evangelical themes — vital elements that are never explained. I can only theorize that pragmatism forced these omissions. A mandatory-support philosophy often drives evangelical product-selling, and that philosophy seems to be at work here: We’ve made it, and that alone means you must dutifully come and see it.”

David Bazan
David Bazan (Adrian Bischoff, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Even though he’s walked away from it, Christianity still has a hold on David Bazan: ​“I don’t believe any of the doctrines, and yet I’m still curious about it. I don’t feel that I couldn’t ever believe again. It does seem a little impossible, but this seemed impossible to me before. I am fascinated with Christianity still. If it isn’t what I thought it was, then what is it? What are the dynamics that seem to be at work in certain cases? How does it work to imagine a God your whole life, and what’s left over when you stop believing that?”

Kathy Sierra has written a long, heartbreaking piece about her experience being the target of online trolls: ​“In 2007, I was the target of a several-week long escalating harassment campaign that culminated in my being doxxed (a word I didn’t even know then) with a long, detailed, explicit document, posted pretty much everyone on the internet (including multiple times to my own wikipedia entry). It was a sort of open letter with a sordid (but mostly fictional) account that included my past, my career, my family, and wrapped up with my (unfortunately NOT fictional) social security number, former home address and, worst of all — a call to action for people to send things to me.” Related: Alan Jacobs has posted some excellent follow-up and analysis. His comparison of online trolls to the Ku Klux Klan is spot on. Also, why am I not surprised that the troll who made Sierra’s life miserable has turned out to be a neo-Nazi asshat?


Read more about Alan Jacobs, Christ and Pop Culture, David Bazan, Hp Lovecraft, Japan, Kathy Sierra, Left Behind, Netflix, Peter Chin, Pregnancy, Sports, Star Trek, and Trolls.

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