Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Slumlords and Bigots

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The Voice has been doing two articles on the city’s worst landlords (something it writes on fairly regularly, and for the most part the culprits tend to fall into one of three narratives:

  • Real estate sharks who over-leveraged during the housing boom.
  • Real estate sharks whose business model involves converting rent-stabilized apartments into market apartments.
  • Orthodox Jews who discriminate against non-Orthodox Jews.

Perhaps Lieberman is more right than he thinks: Perhaps East Jerusalem isn’t so much like Queens as Washington Heights (and Williamsburg) are like East Jerusalem. Two of the three listed are basically aggressive efforts at mass eviction*. All you need’s a bulletproof bulldozer and the similarities become apparent.

On a more positive news front, Obama and Pelosi** have won the first battle for health care in this country in over 50 years, despite the McCarthyite Red Scare and the John Birch Society-esque race baiting (and misogyny and gaybashing and…), making yet another historical step forward under Obama’s belt – making the grand total three now: Being elected and not shot, saving us from a second Great Depression, and now doing more for Health Care than Clinton and indeed anybody since LBJ.

I’m not so optimistic that this battle won will finally nail the coffin of the Republican Party, and I’d like very much to believe that their extremism and fear-mongering and incitement to violence (up to and including a call to arms against the government as illegitimate, itself a treasonous accusation) is mere desperation that they have finally lost touch with the people – and I yet do indeed believe that the Tea Party Movement, filled with bigots as it is, is mere Astroturf under the hands of moguls with power to lose – but what I see shocks me, and I just wish it over and done with.

*And the last – the over-leveraging – is proof positive that rich people have no concept over how much they’re truly and directly screwing the poor, because I’d much more easily accept that they’re ignorant rather than they don’t care. If it is indeed the latter, then I don’t need to advocate violence – violence will come anyway.

**And might I say how much it sickens and angers me how much casual vitriol and cavalier hatred has been directed towards Nancy Pelosi’s gender – as had been previously laid on Hillary Clinton – not unlike how Barack Obama, since entering office, has dealt with every single piece of cynical badgering that Clinton had to put up with, plus an unending torrent of race-baiting that has flowed down to just about every Black member of Congress, to say nothing of liberals in general. Are we really so backwards as a people?

To Boldly Go

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I saw Star Trek on Friday but I’ve just now the time to write down my thoughts, divided into three categories: The Hollywood formula for franchise remakes, the fridge logic of sci fi epics, and the glorious current for which the franchise is allowed to breath new life. Spoilers ahoy.

HOLLYWOOD

The Hollywood formula of producing origin theories (or franchise resets) of late is backed up by the fact that the fans like ’em more than endless sequels, but I’m beginning to wonder when enough is enough. We’ve had so many start-overs in the past few years I’m wondering if there’s an original premise left in Hollywood. I mean, Spiderman and Batman were relatively okay, but I knew something was up when they did Transformers, and The Watchmen was certainly a big klaxon-blaring clue, but damn, people; did you fire all the writers or something? Hell, the last X-Men movie stank so much even this paradigm needs shifting.

FRIDGE LOGIC

Yeah, about that supernova that takes out the Romulan homeworld: Spock failed and the planet got burned instantly. Suppose Spock succeeded, however, and detonated (?) a black hole in the star going supernova. The Romulans would, instead, freeze to death inside of ten minutes (the time it takes for light to get from the Sun to Earth, or thereabouts). Suffice it to say they’re doomed either way.

Another Fridge Logic moment was the fact that Earth had no National Guard. Crazed out-for-revenge rogue Romulan Nero hadn’t hardly even had time to set up his space mining vessel’s drill on San Francisco Bay before the Enterprise showed up, yet certainly the Federation would see the point of keeping at least a token level of forces at home, just in case some rogue vessel would warp in and start seiging the place in the time it takes to run a commercial break? Throughout the whole film the premise that the Enterprise is alone because the rest of the fleet are way, way far away is important for the cohesiveness of the plot (not to mention the universe).

That said, I’m not bothered by the Applied Phlebotinum of Red Matter. After all, what, then, are Dilithium Crystals? Or the fact that space vessels with advanced 23rd century targeting computers fight within eyesight of one another? Star Trek’s a softcore sci fi universe: It picks apart politics, not scientific theories.

I’m not bothered, also, by the fact that the Enterprise, the Federation’s newest vessel, is staffed almost entirely by fresh recruits: With the demand for ships (and the rate at which the Federation seems to lose them), maintaining personnel levels would be a massive bottleneck. They’d let anybody on a ship.

Hell, Kirk was promoted twice in one mission, and pretty much so was every other main character – largely due to loss of life. But oh dear god did they treat the loss of life cavalierly. Six Starfleet ships destroyed? Not a word about possibly looking for survivors and beaming them aboard. Not a mention of them in the rest of the movie.

A fleet of 47 Klingon ships get blasted by a mysterious antagonist and the political ripples this causes aren’t even worth mentioning to a Starfleet captain sent to respond to a mysterious antagonist two days later?

Six billion Vulcans die through the destruction of their homeworld at the hands of this crazed loner and I’m wondering about their fleets and National Guards, because I don’t remember any mention of them.

POLITICS

On the whole, I loved it tho. I think it got the heart of Star Trek down pat – the Star Trek that was born of the starry 60s liberal idealism put to the screen: A truly multicultural staff* highlighting the Earth at last united and bringing an egalitarian message to the rest of the known universe (complete with the moral wringing that such entails; a galactic UN) that isn’t tinged in any way by imperial desires, though perhaps inextricably colored by goofy sci fi kitsch. This is a Star Trek born of Obamaism as much as the first was born of the Great Society.

*Still didn’t see any Latinos, natch.

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