On Friendship and Assumptions

So a long time follower unfollowed me and left this message:


Which might sound like the natural reaction of a deeply hurt liberal, except . . . it’s got nothing to do with me. Literally. Way to make assumptions, JoJo. I said three things this morning and one RT. In order:

RT: Not just the #NSA–> WTF. #US federal judge just gave Chevron oil access to the private emails of Amazon activists | http://www.juancole.com/2013/07/chilling-activists-private.html …

Item one: What have we learned, folks? Is money important? #life

Item two: So, the FL woman left the house, got a gun, and came back, which was no longer “standing her ground”: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57434757-504083/fla-woman-marissa-alexander-gets-20-years-for-warning-shot-did-she-stand-her-ground/ … #politics

Item three: Not to say FL doesn’t have racists, just that there might actually be a substantial legal difference between the cases. #politics


That’s not coy, nor is it “pretending” to be anything. My point in item one was just that 90% of people that I meet seriously downplay or underestimate how important money is to life. It is a sober statement about the world we live in. It’s also a direct response to the CHEVRON case I RT’d right before it, instead of the Trayvon Martin case or anything else. Clearly Chevron’s great money bought them the legal counsel needed to win access to the email accounts of the activists against them.

Still, it doesn’t appear the inconvenient facts will stop JoJo from following her narrative of wanting everyone to believe as she believes, and feel as she feels, or else be labeled a “bad person.”

We are all alike, and we are all different. Narratives are the simplifications we put on reality to give us something cohesive to believe in. Yet for all their utility, narratives are not real – they require staggering, unjustified assumptions about people we have not met. It’s truly sad when narratives are allowed to overwrite real people.

If you have no room for your friends in your beliefs, isn’t it time you questioned your beliefs instead of ditching your friends?

Published in: on July 14, 2013 at 7:07 PM  Comments (1)  
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The Internet Judgement Machine

Remember this Reddit news item, wherein a bunch of people pushed their morality on someone?

At one point Mori asked “do you think the Internet should perch like an angel of conscience on your shoulder?” My response is — sure, why not? The internet is just other people…

Noah Berlatsky

To which I noted,

in no way want to get comfortable with the suggestion that listening to what other people claim to think is “the right thing” on an Internet forum necessarily bears the slightest resemblance to the best course of action.


Well, now we have a real crime for Reddit to react to, and the “mainstream press” like The Atlantic are gleefully skewering it for its reaction:

The amateur investigators from the site — having served as a kind of unofficial proving ground for theories that made their way to the mainstream media, jumping on the clear photo, despite the Post story that had also spread on Reddit — were tying the FBI photos to a 22-year-old Brown student and this ABC News report about his having gone missing last month. There was pushback, even on Reddit — “Leave the missing guy alone” — but it was too late; the trolls on Reddit had fed an army of all-nighter trolls in the media.

Indeed the Internet is just other people – and this is what other people do. They are undisciplined, they jump on a quick solution to a complex social problem, and they find it easy to blame those who stick out – those not like them – because it feels right.  By and large, people do not serve the truth because it is hard to serve the truth.  They would much rather believe that the truth exists to serve them.

If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing. – Anatole France

For those who were not misled by the hoopla, I applaud you.

And for those of you affected by the bombing, particularly those who lost friends and loved ones, you have my deepest sympathies.

Published in: on April 20, 2013 at 7:56 PM  Comments (1)  
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“Don’t tell me what I must do. The only things I must do are pay my taxes and die.” – Popular twist on Ben Franklin quote

It’s tax day in the USA, and when matters of money come up, the international gripe machine swivels its cyclopean head to focus on those richer than us.  For the delectation of the howling masses, CNN trots out this predictable analysis of Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune, complete with the line “he’ll never have to pay taxes again.”

What? Unfair! We the people, innately born with virtue and made equal by dint of the fact that This Is America, squat in our upside-down condos and lament our fortune.  You know what would really make us feel better? Improving our lives? No; that can wait – what we really want to get into is negativity about one of those who succeeded. Because nothing says ‘a better future’ like denying that it’s possible for people to make it here in the now.

haruhi_profound (more…)

Published in: on April 15, 2013 at 9:28 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Swift Justice

But crimes against anime are probably things that should be committed as its a horrible medium

@cinco_bajeena crimes against anime? this calls for…anime justice

@mefloraine @cinco_bajeena Hear, hear! The court of Anime Justice is now convened, the Rt. Hon. @2DTea presiding.

@moritheil @mefloraine @cinco_bajeena Adjourn indefinitely for tea. 🙂

@2DTea @moritheil @mefloraine thank you your honor. If I may geotag the bench?

@cinco_bajeena @2DTea @moritheil @mefloraine This is why I stay up late

Published in: on March 15, 2013 at 1:01 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Fantasy Slut League, and Cherry Picking Results

Liz Crocker’s article at The Daily Beast decries Piedmont High’s Fantasy Slut League as “the newest callous form of misogyny.” The one sentence excerpted from the article and set aside in huge print reads, “The sexual braggadocio inherent in the league is more common than the media are reporting.”


All true, and all good and well. But the real news in the article comes in its last paragraph, hidden away from all but the most determined readers:

– Many students on the “fantasy slut league” list, while not necessarily approving of the name, did not mind being placed on a list of sexually desirable dates.  (See this articulate and nuanced letter by a female PHS senior on why the “moral panic” response is not constructive.) This doesn’t make things okay for those who were not okay with it, but it does mean the league was far from a unilateral imposition on a populace that uniformly resented it. In short, FSL was not tyranny; it was fashion.

– Gossip, while it can be used to destroy people via perceived social value, is hardly the exclusive purview of men. Considering the FSL a gossip aggregator (as the female student urges) rather than a command-and-control center greatly alters the paradigm in which all this sex is happening. (One might argue the real problem here is the obsession with what other people think about your own life, sexual or otherwise, but that is a topic for another post.)

– Karen Owen’s “thesis” equally treated men like disposable sex objects. It, too, got a tremendous amount of attention, both negative and positive. Some argued that if this was how she discovered and explored her own sexuality, who were we to judge her for it? By and large, the media have not given similarly balanced coverage of the boys who attempted to “gamify” human sexuality in order to better make sense of it.  If the spirit in which she made the document matters, then so too should the spirit in which the boys made their document, and recognition of that that is precisely why the PHS senior goes into such an explanation of the intended use of Fantasy Slut League. I would not be surprised if, from their perspective, it was a clumsy attempt to combine two things they love (gaming and sex.) While that does not make it a great thing, it also does not make it a twisted conspiracy to sexually enslave women.

– Modern women typically have a high degree of control over their own sexuality (at least, modern women with the status of PHS students or Duke students – the story is different for women in a place like rural India) and attempts to paint them all as the hapless victims of male lust are arguably as divorced from reality as the idea of a male-run Fantasy Sex League itself. Insisting that a woman is a victim despite her knowing otherwise is incredibly disenfranchising.

I take issue with the way the email attempts to speak for girls just like me. I know that my name has been mentioned on the FSL page. It makes me uncomfortable, but it does not make me a “victim,” as the email labels me. I am not a victim because I know what FSL truly is. It is not a rape group, as the email, perhaps inadvertently, implies; it is a gossip page where Varsity Footballers talk about what happened last weekend and “who got with who.” I do not appreciate being labeled a “victim” by an administration that is not in possession or understanding of the facts.

All this, and reporters everywhere still took it upon themselves to speak for girls just like her.

To me, the takeaway is that the situation for women continues to improve.  Fifty years ago, while gaming culture did not exist, men bragging about their sexual exploits was so common and accepted that it did not occasion comment.  Five hundred years ago, men taking sexual advantage of the women associated with defeated armies was similarly common and accepted (rape was, literally, part of the spoils of war.) Now, in 2012-2013, women are able to calmly make decisions about their sexual future and intelligently use their status to their advantage. It would be unmistakably a step backwards to say the only legitimate response they can have to boys making lists is moral outrage, and it is heartening to see that the women of PHS, if one is any indication, know better.

A Gentle Reminder


Here at The Moritheil Review, our policy is to only comment and inform on public drama. Occasionally it happens that buyer’s remorse sinks in, and people who at first wanted to go public later want their personal drama removed.  While we are under absolutely no obligation to do so for matters already public (and the tweets are typically linked, to demonstrate that TMR has faithfully represented their substance), the purpose of TMR is not to cause people anguish.

If you are undergoing some drama and would like to avoid being featured in TMR or indeed any twitter/drama aggregator or gossip site, we highly recommend you switch your preferences to Protected Posting.  In general, tweeting or blogging something publicly will be taken as indicating that you want as many people in the world as possible to see your words, as that is the explicit purpose of non-private tweets/blog posts.

Thank you for reading, and please continue to enjoy The Moritheil Review – bringing you the dorama™.

Published in: on March 11, 2013 at 11:47 PM  Comments (1)  
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Return to form: luneru vs dogrunes

It’s been a while since TMR reported any twitter dorama, so a post on it might well be called a return to form.  Commentary after the text dump.


Hat tip to @moronsister, and trigger warning: language.

 I watched someone spiral into madness on twitter last night. Pretty entertaining and yet horrifying and embarrassing. More con than pro


Oppai Taisen: The War Continues

After a break in the fighting, the Breast Wars have seen another fight recently: Myst1ord and Omonomono clashed over their differing opinions on form-fitting clothing for women in anime.


Omonomono’s points:

– Art is unrealistic; this does not make it unenjoyable

– This is a trend that continues across multiple genres, from ancient Egyptian art to modern superflat

Myst1ord’s points:

– Verisimilitude is important to creating enjoyable art

– Purple hair, nekomimi etc. do not break suspension of disbelief and therefore there is no inconsistency in railing against excessively unrealistic or caricaturized art, but not railing against these things.

Drmchsr0’s point:

– Anime girls are often dressed to evoke the virgin/whore dichotomy – and not in a constructive, edifying manner.

Published in: on December 17, 2012 at 12:07 AM  Comments (3)  
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How to spot a cultural imperialist

Consider, if you will, the following scenario: a group of clerics and theology experts in Pakistan, having pooled their expertise and their money, launch a political campaign to change local laws to something more aligned with Sharia law – in Washington, DC.

What kind of objections does that conjure up? Did the words “sovereignty,” “interference,” or “imposing your beliefs on other people” appear in your head?

Consider another scenario: a group of gender experts in London, England, having pooled their expertise and their money, launch a political campaign to change local laws to something more aligned with their feminist vision – in Tokyo, Japan.

What kind of objections does that conjure up?

Did you find the former example objectionable because it was a horrible throwback to the brutish ways of the past, and the latter eminently reasonable because it was done in the name of progress and helping people?  Or did you maybe find the first example unthinkable, because in each transaction the West should dominate, and not the other way around? Congratulations; you are a cultural imperialist.

The concept of cultural imperialism most clearly dates back to Rudyard Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden, a poem in which he called upon Westerners to expand their influence, asserting that “superior” Western morals and culture had to be imposed upon “savages” around the world for their own good.  While noting the ethical ambiguity involved in imposing on other cultures by force of arms, Kipling’s argument was that this was ultimately in their favor.  The men and women of Kipling’s time were largely convinced that what they did really was a good thing for the peoples that were subjugated – for their civilization, and for their souls.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Fast forward 100 years.  We aren’t sure that we believe in saving peoples’ souls anymore, and certainly not by force majeure – but the certainty, the absolute confidence we have that the West’s moral and ethical system should be imparted to all non-Western countries, still burns.  Last time it was Christianity – ah, but this time is different, right? This time it’s liberal ideas on minimum wages, on workers’ rights, on gender equality.  Surely that’s universal, because we firmly believe it should be. Who could possibly object to that?

We don’t question it; we don’t stop to think about it.  If we should happen to examine our own motives, we suggest that our motives appear, to us, blameless and pure, and soldier on.  We judge other cultures by our own standards, assuming we have the right to meddle with them if they displease us or fail by our own abstractions.  It’s obvious to us that we’re doing a good thing, just as it was obvious to the men and women of Kipling’s time that they were helping even as they stamped out centuries-old languages and traditions.

Any objection to this, or suggestion that perhaps the West is in no place to be doing this, given its history of exploitation, is met with an indignant, “Think of the women! The children! The workers with no unions! The starving people!”  Anything dubious must be forgiven, in the name of helping unfortunates.  Any pretext at all, to maintain the privilege the West has of meddling with the “lesser” cultures.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Over a hundred years, and we still haven’t really learned from The White Man’s Burden.

Published in: on September 20, 2012 at 3:55 PM  Leave a Comment  

On Women, Wonder and Being Super

“If you want to date a queen, you have to be a king.” – Conventional wisdom

Superman’s long-standing relationship with Lois Lane was recently dissolved in the annals of DC Comics.  Instead, his new designated partner is someone who is more like him: also a superhero, also able to defy conventional physical limitations.  They chose to explore Wonder Woman as a partner for the Man of Steel.

On the surface, that doesn’t seem so bad.  While yes, they are messing with a classic pairing, perhaps it’s time to examine the flawed assumptions that the classic supports: that women are weaker than men, that the man always saving the woman is a normal or even rejoiceable item, that Wonder Woman must be single as a feminist icon, even that a female reporter could date Superman and fail to suspect his real identity.  A number of those things limit feminism, and women.

However, that’s not how the masses have it.  Over at Ineffable Aether, the comments are piling up:

The “new” they chose disrespected and degraded two powerful women. It legitimized the idea that Diana exists not to have her own story but to be part of a man and pushed aside the most powerful civilian woman in the genre.
It confuses mr that you, of all people, don’t think that is condemnable. – Elle

Greg Rucka is quick to distance himself from the specific details of DC’s implementation of a new continuity – and I myself have to raise my eyebrows hearing about some of them – but the idea that Superman is with someone who is more like him, a partner in fighting the good fight, is not automatically objectionable to me.  I don’t see it as degrading or disrespectful to tell a different story here.  I understand that new Lois Lane is shown as a sexual creature, whereas the original 1930s characters were created in an earlier era, and not really sexual at all.  But the fact that this is automatically lamentable wins no points for consistency; whence cometh SlutWalk? Are we not pushing the idea that women are free to have as few or as many sexual partners as they choose?  How can we push that idea and simultaneously be squeamish about showing a sexually active woman in a work where men are shown to be equally sexually active?

Only if you define those two characters solely by their relationships. Wonder Woman is not disrespected or degraded by putting her into a relationship with Superman, just as she wouldn’t be is she was linked romantically with anyone.
However, if you’re worried that, by linking her romantically with Superman she will, by dint of Superman’s overwhelming status as “the” super-hero, come to be seen as an attachment to him rather than an important figure in her own right (“Superman’s Girl-Friend Wonder Woman,” as it were) you may have point, but only time will tell. – Gray

1.) Supporting the idea that Wonder Woman is a sex object and “sidekick” “girlfriend’ figure as opposed to a protagonist in her own story is a huge mistake that is going to be detrimental long term to the character in the WAY men perceive her going forward. There is a subset of male fans who have always viewed Wonder Woman as a sex object and attempted to re-purpose her for their own vision and use as opposed to honoring who she truly is and what she stands for. DC used to refuse to cater to those people because it was essential that DC upheld the line that Diana did not exist to belong to men because she wasn’t here for men or their gross sex fantasies about how hard she could “take it” during sex (gross btw)—she was here for women. DC has now given them permission to view her this way. – M.

So a subset of people with an irrational viewpoint (which sounds borderline fetishistic) is more important to you than all the people who have more reasonable takes on the story.  I mean, that appears to be what you’re saying – you’re not arguing about how most people take it, you’re saying “because these extremists believe X, and we’d only be encouraging them by doing Y, Y is verboten even if it wouldn’t send that message to most people.”

You can find anything on the Internet, so I would hardly take the fact that some extremist thinks something as proof that that thing is the new normal.  Now, if a year from now, the work has increased the number of people who think of Wonder Woman in a way that you find objectionable and harmful, then this argument may really be right. Until then – do you propose we let the extremists decide everything? That would be handing them power.

2.) A Superman story where Superman is not struggling in some form with his passion/lust/sexuality/love for the very flawed and mortal Lois Lane—whether she be his wife, his girlfriend, or simply the friend who sits next to him at his desk that he loves from afar— is not a story about Superman.
– M.

Really? I seem to recall similar situations in Twilight being condemned as “abstinence porn.”

Is a Superman story all about how a totally awesome guy has to content himself with a flawed woman?  Maybe in the past, that has occurred with some regularity.  But maybe, just maybe, switching Superman’s partner means that new stories can be written, stories in which the man doesn’t always happen to be the competent one and the woman doesn’t happen to be in need of rescuing all the time.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 3:36 PM  Comments (1)  
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