[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fifteenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, a lot happened, and a lot didn’t. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Enterprise.

Trigger Warning: For consent, torture.

I’m fascinated by a lot of this episode, even if I didn’t ultimately feel it was that entertaining. See, the main plot is left hanging while the two subplots escalate matters VERY, VERY FAR. It’s also a strange follow-up to “Stratagem,” since it does the one thing I asked for from that episode. On top of that, I finally feel like I don’t have to worry about continuity as much as I used to, since season three is the most serialized season thus far.

As you can see, lots to talk about. Let’s get into it!

Reed and Hayes

I feel like I saw a plot like this on something I watched in the last year or so. Right? or maybe this specific trope – where two headstrong men have a pissing contest that ends with them beating the shit out of each other – is so prevalent that it simply doesn’t feel new anymore. It provides closure, though, and I’m not sure it does much else. I never felt like Hayes was an antagonistic force, and while Reed’s position was kind of understandable, I generally saw Reed as the more difficult party. Hayes had never truly expressed any interest in taking over Reed’s job. Indeed, their end goals felt so different! Yet Reed’s paranoia and his own military past got in the way.

At least until Archer forces Reed to work with Hayes in training, and then the two men finally took out their frustrations on one another. Good lord, they both handed out a beating! Hopefully this is the end of this plot, though, since it doesn’t really interest me.

Love Triangles

So… this isn’t going to evolve into one of those, right? Because y’all. I know this show aired over a decade ago, but I feel like the entire universe exhausted their supply of antagonistic love triangles many, many years ago. Unless a love triangle ends with a triad or a poly relationship of some sort, WE DON’T WANT THESE ANYMORE. Now, I’m not sure if this counts because I have no idea if Amanda Cole will appear again. It’s entirely possible that she existed here to give Tucker a chance to pursue someone else while T’Pol experienced romantic jealousy for the first time. If so… that’s kind of a lousy reason to introduce a character like Amanda, right? She doesn’t exist to be a character in her own right; she’s there to push T’Pol and Tucker together. EW. TRIADS INSTEAD, PLEASE.

Like the Reed/Hayes plot, there are a lot of tropes attached to this story, too. However, there’s one spectacular scene here that felt exciting and refreshing. I am ENAMORED with the decision to have T’Pol tell Tucker what Sim said about him. First of all, it’s so perfectly in-character for T’Pol. Her blunt honesty works as a way to advance the plot, sure, but it didn’t feel like a bogus moment. That’s totally how she would react! But it’s also a disarming sequence because LITERALLY NO ONE EXPECTED IT. I certainly thought she’d keep it to herself because it was such a personal thing for Sim to reveal.

But the honesty is the first moment in this plot that felt real. That felt like the writers weren’t using miscommunication or passive-aggressiveness as a plot device. That felt like these characters ACTUALLY TRYING TO UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER. So I’m hoping that despite the uncomfortable scene in the mess hall, T’Pol and Tucker ditch the awkwardness and just be real with one another. It’s way more interesting.


The unnamed alien at the center of this episode never truly gives us anything. Oh, there’s enough here to make an educated guess, which Archer tries to do before this being disappears out of existence. I had mentioned before in earlier reviews of this show that I wasn’t sure if some of the ambiguous resolution to episodes was very fair or satisfying, given that I had no idea if there’d ever be a follow-up.

Yet by the time I got to the end of “Harbinger,” I did feel satisfied. Even if there’s no specific update, this alien was a harbinger of what is to come, a sign of how desperate the Xindi are to eliminate humans and any threats to the weapon they’re constructing. My take is that the pod the crew found in that anomaly was a trap right from the start, something interesting enough to pique the interest of the crew of Enterprise. They’d take it onboard, and the alien’s next step would be put into motion: they’d gain the ability to walk through solid matter, and they could destroy Enterprise. It’s all a guess, but it’s one I’m safe making based on what happened.

It was striking to me, though, that this episode was so explicit about the ethical concerns that Phlox had for his patient, while “Stratagem” utterly ignored them. Was it because Phlox did not view this alien as an enemy? And what does that say about Phlox’s code of ethics if he can suspend them just because he doesn’t like someone? I don’t see this as a flaw of his character as much as I see it as a flaw in the writing. Maybe the writers just forgot to address this in the last episode? It felt like the right addition here, for what it’s worth, and it is yet another example of Archer’s desperation in the Expanse. He’s the only character consistently willing to do shit like this! So… will this be all justified in the end? Or will it come back to bite him in the ass? WHO KNOWS.

The video for “Harbinger” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

In which the Bittern is pissed

Sep. 19th, 2017 02:16 pm
twistedchick: (bittern OFQ)
[personal profile] twistedchick
This so-called article is a piece of crap. It purports to provide the results of a study and conflates the numbers in the study with society as a whole in ignorant ways.

For example, second paragraph:

Just ask college students. A fifth of undergrads now say it’s acceptable to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes “offensive and hurtful statements.”

A fifth of undergrads? No. A fifth of the 1500 undergrad students they surveyed. That's 300 or so.

Villasenor conducted a nationwide survey of 1,500 undergraduate students at four-year colleges.

Nationwide? There are far more than 1,500 four-year colleges (for those of you not American, the word includes universities). How were the colleges chosen? How were the students chosen? How many were chosen at each university? How many overall were from the same discipline? There's no way to know. We don't even know if he chose accredited schools, or those pay-for-a-degree places. Did they ask at Ivy League schools, the majority of whose students come from well-off families? Did they ask at places like City College of New York, where the tuition is much lower and people who are there are from a variety of backgrounds, not wealthy? Ag and tech colleges, out in the countryside, or only urban colleges?

Further down it says the margin of error is 2-6 percent, "depending on the group." Oh, really? Which group is 2% and which is 6%? We aren't told. It appears we are to be grateful that a margin of error was even mentioned.

The whole thing is supposed to be about undergrads' understanding of First Amendment-protected free speech. Since we are not told the exact wording of the questions asked, it's impossible to know if the responses were appropriate to them, or if the questions were leading the students to a specific response.

And then there's this:

Let’s say a public university hosts a “very controversial speaker,” one “known for making offensive and hurtful statements.” Would it be acceptable for a student group to disrupt the speech “by loudly and repeatedly shouting so that the audience cannot hear the speaker”?

Astonishingly, half said that snuffing out upsetting speech — rather than, presumably, rebutting or even ignoring it — would be appropriate. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to find this response acceptable (62 percent to 39 percent), and men were more likely than women (57 percent to 47 percent). Even so, sizable shares of all groups agreed.

It gets even worse.

Respondents were also asked if it would be acceptable for a student group to use violence to prevent that same controversial speaker from talking. Here, 19 percent said yes....

Let's look more closely, ignoring the editorializing sentence for the moment. Half of who? Half of 1500 people is 750 people, scattered across the US. And then again -- 19% of who? Everyone? Women? Men? Democrats? Republicans? We aren't told.

Meanwhile, the entire other side of this survey is ignored. By stressing the minority and ignoring the majority, the minority's views are inflated and made more important. Let me turn this around for you: more than 80% of undergrads say that violence is not acceptable in dealing with an unwanted speaker. Try turning around all the other numbers, and the story falls apart. Instead of "students" substitute "students surveyed", and it also falls to pieces. Who cares what 1500 people out of 200 million think? If we don't know why those 1500 were specifically chosen, why should we care?

I have worked with surveys, written surveys, conducted and analyzed surveys. It is possible to have a statistically perfect survey with 1500 people surveyed, but only if the respondents are very carefully selected to avoid bias. There is no way to tell if that was done with the evidence given in this story. For all we know, those respondents could have been selected from the same departments or majors at all the colleges. The colleges could have been technical schools or enormous state universities or religion-affiliated schools. There is no way to know. Why does this matter? Liberal arts, political science and pre-law students are more likely to have read about the First Amendment than optics majors or engineers, for instance. I'm not saying the optics majors or engineers would be more conservative or liberal -- but they are less likely to have discussed free speech in a class. Improper choice of respondents can provide very slanted results -- for example, the survey that said Dewey would win over Truman was conducted by telephone, and the calls went to houses on the corners of two streets; this meant that people who were wealthier (because corner houses pay higher taxes, based on road frontage) were questioned, while their less wealthy neighbors (who voted for Truman) were ignored.

Also, by not including any context relative to current events, there is no way to know if the small percentage who thought violence was acceptable was the same as during the Vietnam War, for instance, or Desert Storm. I guarantee you, it was not the same percentage as during the Revolutionary War, when those who spoke against any prevailing view to an audience who disagreed would have been lucky to have been ridden out of town on a rail, if not tarred and feathered. (Feel free to do the research if you wish; be sure you have a strong stomach for the details of what happens when boiling tar is applied to skin.)

What it all comes down to is this: this story is written poorly by someone who does not understand how statistics should be used, and was not properly edited. It was published in order to scare people, although the publisher may not have realized its propaganda value. By not including the whole story, and by allowing editorializing in the middle of it, it slants the results.

This would not have been published during the time when Kay Graham was publisher. Editor Ben Bradlee would not have let this story pass. He would have told the reporter to rewrite it, clean it up, and get more depth into it.

And the reason I am writing this is that this is not the only paper that misleads with statistics, and you need to be aware of this, and of what to look for when someone is quoting a study, badly, misleadingly, in a way that bids fair to be used for propaganda. Be cautious and critical when you see numbers and statistics, and look for whether the writing is made personal/editorialized. It matters.
[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fifth episode of the second season of Person of Interest, an investigative reporter risks her life to get closer to the identity of HR’s boss. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Person of Interest.


Perpetrator or Victim

Still. STILL. This show is STILL finding new ways to twist our perception of who is a perpetrator or a victim within each of these cases. “Bury the Lede” provides us with something we’ve not seen: a perpetrator who is unknowingly leading someone to their death. At the center of this episode is Maxine Angelis, an investigative reporter who is rather ruthless in pursuing the truth. Well, even that is questioned by this script. What counts as the truth? Who is peddling it? Who benefits from the truth that’s being told?

And those are big questions for this show to ask, but it still plunges into the at-times bleak and harrowing world of HR and journalism. Given what we’d seen of HR in the past, it made sense that Maxine’s reporting had put her in the crosshairs of… well, someone. I never bought the theory that someone other than a member of HR was targeting her, but I also made the assumption that this was obvious. Her reporting style was over-the-top and cunning, so she’d made a ton of enemies over the years. Seriously, look how she treated one of the mayoral candidates! So we get the sense early on that Maxine is truly fearless, at least in the sense that she’s willing to expose the seedy underbelly of modern politics, well aware that she’s taking a risk in doing so.

But the tragic power of “Bury the Lede” is in the way it examines complicity. Maxine gets an anonymous tip about the real identity of the boss of HR, and unfortunately, her confirmation bias leads her to believe that the tip was real. After all, a guard at his property saw Christopher Zambrano arguing with Agent Donnelly of the FBI; another FBI confirmed that Zambrano was a suspect; Zambrano’s father was in the mob; and Zambrano himself was furious at the very suggestion that he was the head of HR. Thus, Maxine connected the dots – the ones that the real boss of HR wanted her to connect – and wrote a story naming him as the lead suspect. In doing so, however, she became complicit. She took the crosshairs off herself and placed them on Zambrano, and less than a day later, he was dead, killed by members of a cartel who despised HR.

It’s one hell of a twist, and I didn’t expect it because shows like this are all about saving the innocent. But this isn’t even the first time that Reese and Finch were too late! THIS SHOW DOESN’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT US AND MAKING US FEEL GOOD AT EVERY TURN. While that may be deeply uncomfortable, it’s also good storytelling. The show doesn’t ignore the fallout from Maxine’s actions, and it doesn’t exonerate her from her poor reporting. One of the things I love about this is that the solution to Maxine’s guilt isn’t wallowing or absolving her of responsibility because she simply didn’t know. It’s action. With Reese tailing her, she does what she can to prove that Zambrano was innocent and implicate the real members of HR in the process. SHE ACTIVELY WORKS TO REPAIR SOME OF THE DAMAGE SHE HAS DONE. That is better than feeling guilty or trying to dodge accountability, and I respect it a lot.

First Date

I’m also coming to admire that Person of Interest seems willing to toy with itself and its very serious nature. Look, this is an unnerving show by default because it addresses things like state surveillance and state violence openly and critically. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but it’s certainly doing a lot more than most other fictional narratives are. That means that there are moments where this show is dark. Where I’m consumed by the existential dread of our own universe. Where this show isn’t escapist, but a bitter, horrifying mirror image of our world. So I love that there are moments where the writers take a step back and comment on the sheer absurdity of this arrangement. There’s a lot of humor and entertainment taken from the delicate nature of this case, namely in that this is the first time where John cannot intervene directly. Maxine has been trying to track down the truth of The Man in the Suit, so he can’t arouse her suspicion.

So Finch’s solution is to alter the algorithm on a dating website so that it serves up Reese’s profile, and IT IS 100% COMEDY GOLD. ALSO: FINCH TAKES IT SO SERIOUSLY, AND I LOVE THIS ABOUT HIM. He prepared study notes! The profile was very detailed and specific!!! BEAR FEATURED PROMINENTLY!!! Oh my god, please tell me there was intensely detailed fanfic written of Finch constructing Reese’s profile. Wait, there’s got to be fanfiction of Finch’s scene where he is LITERALLY in Reese’s closet. Like??? Closet full of weapons??? THE FIC IS WRITING ITSELF.

The Boss

Can I just state once more that I hate Simmons? Just unequivocally hate him? Cool. It helps distract me from the fact that the real head of HR was totally on screen right before I said, on video, that I didn’t think we’d met them. And that he quite literally threatened Maxine and said he was throwing her under the bus, yet I didn’t understand the full meaning of that. I’m glad Clarke Peters is on this show because he’s such an incredible talent, and HIS CHARACTER IS THE ACTUAL BOSS. So Donnelly was right in assuming that the head of HR was not in the NYPD. Except that not one person has suspected the real culprit!

Will Fusco find out the truth? I’m worried, y’all. Simmons and HR are pulling him away from Reese, Finch, and Carter, and with his son’s life on the line, it’s possible he may continue to sabotage these cases. I’M SCARED.

The video for “Bury the Lede” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

[syndicated profile] markreadsstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the first part of “Not On My Patch,” it’s time to FIGHT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

Oh, I bet y’all didn’t expect this story to unlock The Ultimate Discourse about both Halloween and candy, but guess what? This addresses multiple Hills I Will Die On and YOU WILL ALL SUFFER.


Oh my god, are these all holiday-themed stories??? Meaning the next one is CHRISTMAS-THEMED??? And Lifeboats is about… I don’t know??? Okay, maybe not, but it’s not that important because I GET TO YELL ABOUT HALLOWEEN, THE ABSOLUTE BEST HOLIDAY EVER!!! It’s relevant to the Discworld review I posted yesterday because I only got to trick-or-treat maybe two or three times total when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure we guilt-tripped our parents into putting aside their religious feelings on the holiday so we could participate, but I always resented that I never got to fully experience it. Like, I never found a house that gave out full-size candy bars. Oh god, there was that one year – and this was in 1990 or 1991, I believe – where the big rumor was that people were putting razorblades into apples or candy. So that was the year I ate a few pieces the night of Halloween and woke the next morning to discover my mom had thrown it all out because she was convinced we’d been given tainted candy.

I’m bitter don’t judge me.

So once I was on my own and ever since then, I have loved Halloween with a passion… and probably a little bit of spite. I don’t always dress up, but I love Halloween parties. Parades. Food. Candy. I love how it all gets mixed up with autumn flavors and spices. I love the spooky decorations. JACK-O-LANTERNS ARE NECESSARY. Haunted houses? SIGN ME UP FOR ALL OF THEM, ESPECIALLY THE ONES THAT ARE WAY TOO TERRIFYING. There used to be one at Great America in San Jose that had a room where the walls were made of arms sticking out of it except SOME WHERE ACTUAL PEOPLE WHO WOULD GRAB YOU yeah I nearly died. It was perfect. PERFECT.

I hope you can tell how excited I am.


Let me start off with a caveat: if we are going to have a discussion/shouting argument about candy (it’s happening, deal with it), you cannot bring in the winning card of Candy Outside The United States Is Better because I know. Trust me. There are a ton of you out there who saw me during my European tour in 2015 who can testify to just how much candy I ate during my time abroad. That is ESPECIALLY the case for when I was in Brussels, Geneva, Köln, Amsterdam, and I just realized I would have to list every fucking city. Look, it’s just true. 100%. Our candy is inferior, and I do not doubt that at all.

THAT BEING SAID, I am willing to throw down on sight over the following candy types being complete and utter trash:

  1. Circus peanuts. PLEASE. PLEASE. THE WORST.
  2. Peeps of all forms. They make me believe in God solely because they prove the existence of a being we’d call Satan since they are that evil.
  3. Candy corn. Sugar is godly but those compressed sugar triangles taste like death and I am not here for them.
  4. Almost all gummy treats. MY CANDY SHALL NOT JIGGLE. ABOMINATIONS.
  5. Warheads. I’m biased because I’m allergic to them and they made the roof of my mouth peel but CANDY SHOULD NOT BE AN EXERCISE IN PAIN TOLERANCE.
  6. Salty licorice, which is never given out as candy here in the States but I’m putting it on this list because Fuck It, I’m still traumatized from being tricked into eating it.
  7. Black licorice, though. Yeah, also evil.
  9. Laffy Taffy, what the fuck, the name alone makes me want to perish from this earth.
  10. Dots. DOTS. My boyfriend loves these so much that he will eat an entire box in one sitting, and if I was not a good, pure person, I would break up with him on the spot the next time he ate them. They feel like superglue for your teeth.
  11. Boston Baked Beans. If you are not familiar with these and you are asking yourself, “Why would someone name a candy after a savory side dish?”, then you are asking the right questions about the world and we should be friends.

Fight me, cousins. FIGHT ME.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

They All Went Through

Sep. 19th, 2017 06:35 am
calliopes_pen: (lost_spook Mina covets the ring)
[personal profile] calliopes_pen
The rest of the nominations have been approved for Yuletide.

✔ Count Dracula (1977)
✔ Renfield (Count Dracula 1977)
✔ Jonathan Harker (Count Dracula 1977)
✔ Dracula (Count Dracula 1977)
✔ Mina Westenra Harker (Count Dracula 1977)

✔ Dracula (TV 1968)
✔ Jonathan Harker (Dracula TV 1968)
✔ Mina Harker (Dracula TV 1968)
✔ John Seward (Dracula TV 1968)
✔ Lucy Weston (Dracula TV 1968)


Sep. 18th, 2017 07:58 pm
settiai: (Space -- roxicons)
[personal profile] settiai
Out of curiosity, is anyone interested in a Kindle Paperwhite. It's the previous edition, so it's not the latest one, but it still works perfectly fine. Pretty much the only time that I use it nowadays is when I'm traveling via plane, which I don't see happening any time soon since I don't plan on going back to Tennessee for the holidays this year. So since my checking account is still somewhat lighter than I'd like, I thought that I'd at least see if anyone might want one.

I also still have quite a few things available in the virtual garage sale post that I put up several weeks ago. And I'm very much willing to haggle when it comes to listed prices, if you're interested in anything.

(Oh, and for those of you who donated to my Ko-fi page and requested fic, it's coming! The last few weeks have been absolutely hell, which deserves its own post, but things are calming down and I actually have time to breathe again.)
[syndicated profile] markwatchesstuff_feed

Posted by Mark Oshiro

In the fourteenth episode of the third season of Enterprise, Archer and his crew come up with an elaborate means of getting information. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For consent, nonconsensual drugging, and talk of gaslighting/unreality.

I get the sense that Enterprise wants to be an edgy show. I don’t mean that to imply the show is trying to be shocking or upsetting for the sake of it, but that this season in particular is making an attempt to do something different than the other Trek outings. I don’t know that it’s all that different; both Deep Space Nine and Voyager attempted grittier stories with varying success, of course. In “Stratagem,” however, Archer and his crew go for straight-up manipulation as a solution, and I think we’re supposed to ask whether this is ethical or not?

Here’s the deal, though: placing that onus on the audience without any clue otherwise seems like a way for the writers to actually avoid any real commitment to exploring the unorthodox techniques we keep getting from Archer. That’s an undeniable part of season three, too! Ever since Enterprise got to The Expanse, Archer has bent the rules with a higher frequency. I think that’s a fascinating thing to examine through Archer’s eyes, but the script has to ask difficult question in order to count as an examination.

Look, we spend a good third of “Stratagem” wondering if the events onscreen are real. It’s not the first time that a significant amount of time passed in between episodes, and I even figured that something about this story was fake. There was just no way Enterprise would jump ahead three years, kill off the entire cast aside from Archer, and turn into a survival story for Degra and Archer. (Plus, that wouldn’t be that interesting.) Then, when it’s all revealed to be an elaborate creation of the crew meant to trick Degra into giving up information, I was impressed! It’s a lot of work to get one location out of a person.

So, did the writers want me to ask if it was ethical for this team to do this to Degra? I can’t be certain. When Phlox explains how he’ll literally wipe out weeks worth of memories from Degra’s mind, no one hesitates. No one talks about how messed up it is to constantly give someone sedatives without their consent. So is it ethically sound? Should you manipulate someone’s reality in such a way that technically qualifies the act as gaslighting? Because this man and his people were responsible for a massive terrorist attack on Earth, does that negate the moral implications of Archer and his crew’s actions?

Maybe, but it’s never mentioned. Not even once! Normally, Phlox is hesitant to do anything without a patient’s consent, but he gleefully speaks of that violation in regards to Degra. So why avoid this? If the intent was to make this series darker in this respect, then you can’t just say nothing about these sort of things. The script has to make it clear that there is some sort of conflict, some sense that what’s being done is wrong or complicated or even confusing. Instead, that onus is placed entirely on us, as I mentioned earlier. We’re the ones left to decide what the ramifications of this will be. And in a script devoid of any commentary on the behavior of its main characters, it’s incredibly easy to view this all as something positive. In the absence of an internal criticism, we default to acceptance. Our heroes did something good to attain a good thing. Who cares what that actually means?

The video for “Stratagem” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases. 

janedavitt: (starbyme)
[personal profile] janedavitt
I'd already part-edited Wild Raspberries so it didn't take too long to get it ready to post. The sequel Wintergreen will take a week or so to get ready.

When runaway Daniel Seaton inadvertently trespasses on Tyler Edward's land, Tyler nearly shoots him on sight.

Tyler's got a lot of years under his belt, and his past doesn't let him accept strangers easily. Dan's situation is dire enough that Tyler takes him home, at least for a little while, and that turns out to be a good decision when Tyler's injured and needs Dan's help.

Tyler's learning to trust, and Dan's settling in to a new life, but things aren't always what they seem. Between interfering friends, injuries, and their attraction to each other, Tyler and Dan have plenty of to deal with even before Tyler's previous career returns to haunt them. Can they overcome what lies in the past to have a future with each other?

Wild Raspberries at AO3


rhia_starsong: (Default)

Custom Text

April 2017

910 1112131415

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 05:42 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios