Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia by Louise Brown

The boyfriend's mum bought this book for me when she was travelling round part of Asia on a 3 week holiday. It's been sat on my bookshelf for a while and I suddenly had the urge to read it. There wasn't much going on this weekend and I wasn't looking froward to re-writing yet more CVs (job hunting sure is dull), so I figured I'd get through it now.

And guess what? Comics get brought into it, hurrah!

First we have the cover of the book:


Rather tabloidy, no? I was willing overlook the choice of image, reasoning that the publisher does want to sell books and what really matters is the content.

Brown is writing from a feminist (possibly Marxist) perspective. She is very very clear that she hates prostitution and thinks it should be eradicated. Whether this is a valid position is not what I want to discuss. Brown talks both about the life experiences of the sex workers and puts forwards explanations for why the sex trade exists. I have issues with the presentation of the information and also some of her conclusions and explanations for the existence of the sex trade.

There are 9 chapters in the book, as follows:
The Market (where the women/children come from)
The Commodity (the women/children themselves)
The Agents (those who find and traffic the women/children)
Seasoning (how the women/children are broken into accepting sex work)
The Customers (those who purchase sex)
The Management (those at the top of the sex industry)
The Law (national and international law and how it is(n't) enforced)
Life and Death (disease and daily life of a sex worker)
The Shame (how the sex workers feel about their jobs, also a conclusion for the book)

Initially this seems like a pretty good way to arrange the information. It appears to encompass all levels of the sex industry. However as you go through the book the details of each chapter become muddled and confusing.

Geography
I have few doubts that her report of life as a sex worker in Asia is fairly accurate. But you'll note I said 'Asia'. Asia is a pretty big area, each country is distinct and has it's own cultural norms, societal values, standard of living etc. Brown doesn't even examine every country in Asia - she focuses on Japan, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

She provides examples of sex work in each country and while noting that there are differences, and being explicit about these differences, she then uses these examples to make generalisations about Asia as a whole. This comes across as rather contradictory.

She jumps between country profiles rather erratically. For example, there is one sentence about Thailand, one about Burma, then one about Japan. In my eyes, it would have been more logical to treat each country as a sub section within each chapter, and then done a mini conclusion at the end drawing together all the information. This would also have made it easier to drop back into and reference the book at a later date. But maybe that's just my personal reference for accessing information.

The work itself
She also seems to jump wildly between writing about the experiences of trafficked women, those forced into sex work and those who chose (or were coerced) to enter sex work. It makes it rather difficult to follow and it then becomes unclear what she is trying to prove. The method of entry into sex work does seem to have a big influence on the lives of the women and children, but I don't think this was drawn out enough. Similarly, the hierarchy of sex workers is not examined enough. She does talk about the differences between poor street prostitutes and high end call girls, but when it's all thrown in with other topics that also affect their lives and work, the distinction becomes blurred.

References and arrangement of the material
Although there is an extensive list of references at the back of the book, I get the impression that a lot of the content is her own opinion. This damages the book's credibility as a serious academic resource. As I said above, I don't doubt that what she's saying about sex worker's lives is true, but I don't think she's argued her case as to why the sex trade exists well.

There's a lot of repetition throughout each chapter. Part of this is an effective method for building up a full picture of the industry, part of it comes across as though she needs a good editor.

Why men buy sex - biological imperative and manga
Having said I agree with most of the information presented there was one chapter which really raised my hackles. This was the one titled The Customers.

My main problem with this section is Brown believes that men have a biological imperative to shag as much as possible. She believes they are genetically programmed to. constantly. have. sex. Because of this, (and because of patriarchy), prostitution, concubinage and polygamy have developed.

Ugh. It should come as no surprise that I have no time for biological justifications of human behaviour. As a species, we are not a bunch of hormones and instincts. We have brains, we have thoughts and we have more complex ways of deciding on a course of action. If we didn't we'd still be shitting in our pants and I wouldn't be here on the Internet writing this to all of you.

To argue that men sleep around because of a biological imperative is insulting and demeaning to both men and women. It also conveniently absolves men of any responsibility for their actions.

It's bollocks and I have no time for anyone who believes in it. To top it all off, Brown doesn't even present evidence as to why she is picking this theory. This leads me to believe she chose it because it's convenient and fits in with her world view, which incidentally, comes across as all men are evil.

The other thing which had me spitting feathers was her reference to manga. I quote:
'An element of sadism runs as an unpleasant undercurrent through Japanese society. Manga are like giant comics principally produced for Japanese men and boys. Torture, mutilation and rape of young women and girls are a regular feature of the storylines*.'

*this line is footnoted, the referenced material is Allison, Permitted and Prohibited Desires.

Oh god, where do I start? Manga is not 'like' giant comics, they are comics. And not necessarily giant. There are many many different types of manga. A small proportion focuses on torture, mutilation and rape. You may as well dismiss all written books as being misogynist and encouraging sadism because Brett Easton Ellis' Psycho exists.

This reinforces my personal view that Brown didn't really research the topic as well as she could have. It makes me wonder if she was only looking for stuff to back up her preconceived ideas about why the sex trade is so big in Asia.

Other
She didn't look at the issue of women buying women's bodies, yet we know it is a possibility because at one point she states that while talking with a sex worker she had to establish that Brown herself wasn't interested in buying sex. She also displays a shocking amount of Islamophobia - her writings on Sharia law were backed up with no evidence whatsoever and no view from Muslim women. I would also have liked to know more about the women who became successful and were at the top end of the sex market.

Conclusion
This book would have been vastly better with more evidence and research. Useful for finding out basic info about the reality of sex work in some Asian countries, but the explanations as to why it exists are deeply flawed. If you read it keep an open and questioning mind.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blog maintenance

I've decided to tidy up the layout.

Instead of a long list of links I've created one section called 'Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out now (you funk soul brother)' (Fat boy slim has ingrained that bloody song in my mind) which gives links to other post of mine, which in turn list lots of sites I frequent.

I was running out of steam when creating these hence the basic descriptions or lack thereof. The categories relate to what I find most interesting about each site. if however you aren't happy with your description, or you haven't got one and you want one, please leave a comment and I'll happily change it.

I also decided to get a comment policy, to make me all official like.

Comment policy

It's simple.

Don't be rude. Don't swear at anyone. Don't swear about anyone. Don't be dismissive. Don't mock. Be polite.

Discussion is welcomed and encouraged, so long as the above rules are abided by.

If I think a commenter is being impolite they get one warning and then the comment gets deleted. Repeat offenders will be banned.

I hope that the above will not happen, as for the most part, people are polite and respectful of others, however I am aware of at least one instance where individuals have felt unable to comment due to snarking from other bloggers. Which I think is unacceptable.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Manics artwork

I'd like to share some images of artwork from 2 Manic Street Preachers albums.

From the new one, Journal for Plague Lovers:
Despite what some UK supermarkets think, the red on the child's face is a birthmark, not blood.

From The Holy Bible:

Both paintings are by Jenny Saville. I think her artwork is beautiful - there's a lot of tenderness in the images. So I googled her and found more paintings.




She's very good at capturing the intimacy of her subjects, I feel. I find everything about these paintings beautiful - the brushwork, the colours, the moods, the expressions. She is a truly talented painter. I hope to buy a book of her work, it fascinates me.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Struggling for thoughts

(I feel there should be a general madness trigger warning here, both for the song and the post itself)

For sale? dumb cunts same dumb questions
Virgin? listen, all virgins are liars honey
And I dont know what Im scared of or what I even enjoy
Dulling, get money, but nothing turns out like you want it to

And in these plagued streets, of pity you can buy anything
For $200 anyone can conceive a God on video
Hes a boy, you want a girl so tear off his cock
Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him rita if you want

I eat and I dress and I wash and I still can say thank you
Puking - shaking - sinking I still stand for old ladies
Cant shout, cant scream, hurt myself to get pain out
I.T. them, 24:7, all year long
Purgatorys circle, drowning here, someone will always say yes

Funny place for the social, for the insects to start caring
Just an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff

In these plagued streets of pity you can buy anything
For $200 anyone can conceive a God on video
Hes a boy, you want a girl so tear off his cock
Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him rita if you want, if you want

I eat and I dress and I wash and I can still say thank you
Puking - shaking - sinking I still stand for old ladies
Cant shout, cant scream, hurt myself to get pain out

Power produces desire, the weak have none
Theres no lust in this coma even for a fifty
Solitude, solitude, the 11th commandment

The only certain thing that is left about me
Theres no part of my body that has not been used
Pity or pain, to show displeasures shame
Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

And in these plagued streets of pity you can buy anything
For $200 anyone can conceive a God on video
Hes a boy, you want a girl so tear off his cock
Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him rita if you want, if you want

Power produces desire, the weak have none
Theres no lust in this coma even for a fifty
Solitude, solitude, the 11th commandment

Dont hurt, just obey, lie down, do as they say
May as well be heaven this hell, smells the same
These sunless afternoons I cant find myself.

The above are lyrics from the Manic Street Preachers song Yes, taken from the 1994 album The Holy Bible.

The Holy Bible is a dark album. Well, after reading those lyrics it should be pretty obvious it's a dark album. It deals with a number of themes, such as prostitution, depression, self harm, racism, the sexuality of world leaders, anorexia, suicide, politics and the inherent fucked upness of the world. The songs have titles like Of Walking Abortion, She is Suffering, Archives of Pain, Die in the Summertime and The Intense Humming of Evil.

I was debating which lyrics to post.

Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart is one of my favourite songs on the album. But I fear it may be seen as rather an inflammatory introduction to the band, depending on how head-in-the-sand some Americans may feel (yeah I know, not diplomatic, so sue me). Maybe that one will come tomorrow. 4st 7lbs is a wonderful song, but should come with big flashing labels as an ED trigger. I was also considering Faster or This Is Yesterday, but again, they need to come with a big fat triger warning.

I adore the Manics.

It is pretty fair to say that this band is one of the things that got me through my teenage depression, through those days and months and years when I couldn't function and my head was spinning out of control. I shan't describe the what felt like physical nature of it, suffice to say, I don't welcome it and I don't want to be that way. ever. again.

I say this band got me through my teenage years because by the time I got to 19/20 years old I had moved to university and I began to explore and discover other ways of coping, other support networks. Music became less important, well, less central to my life.

Now, now I'm 29 and in a good relationship and have, gee I don't know, without sounding wanky, I guess I meanI found myself. I know myself, I know my identity, I'm reasonably assertive and confidence, fuck, I'm happy. There were times when I never thought I'd get to this stage. So you know, go me.

I met the singer and bassist a year or so ago. They played my city and I hung around afterwards to meet them (along with the rest of the audience). I asked them to sign my boobs and they both looked away, looked really uncomfortable and muttered something about their wives. How un rock'n'roll.

Why this somewhat intimate post today? Well, the band have a new album out. It's called Journal for Plague Lovers and the lyrics are by the same guy who wrote 70% of The Holy Bible's lyrics. So I've been listening to their old albums some more, and feeling partly joyful and partly downcast. The Holy Bible has always seemed rather triumphant to me, not neccessarily triggering or upsetting.

To be fair, if I got upset listening to it, it was just affirming what I couldn't articulate myself, and seeing as for several years I was in a fug incapable of feeling much there wasn't a lot in me to be triggered.

I shall be buying their new album tomorrow. I have very high hopes for it.

But today, well right now I just felt the need to share.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Extra special daily post

I was flicking through the new WFA posts earlier today and came across this one looking at Dark Reign: The Hood \1.
The poster would like to draw your attention to the dodgy racist Arab stereotype portrayed within, and the PHD educated guy who starts talking like he's from the streets.

I would like to draw your attention to one of the dumb ass commenters who thinks that if the author didn't mean to be racist, then the end product can't be racist.

Err, no. That's not how it works. People are unintentionally racist (and sexist, and homophobic) all the time. Just because they don't view it as racist doesn't mean it isn't. I mean, goodness, if we were going to go down that road we'd still have slavery, because it wouldn't be racist to keep folks as property, because that's just the way black people are meant to be.

OK that may seem like quite the extrapolation but it's really not. By saying that the author didn't mean to be racist so therefore it's all ok, you are drowning out (silencing) the offended (oppressed) party. Well isn't that a handy way of keeping the status quo.

Hey, if you don't want to be racist try creating 3 dimensional characters and not using crass stereotypes. If what you're writing looks similar to media depictions of other individuals, if you're using coding to show someone's evilness, (for example, in this case it would be the nubile young thing in the car, the dodgy broken English, the hook nose, bad teeth etc,) then you aint writing a 3 dimensional character. You're probably relying on crass tropes and if your trope is based around race, or gender, or sexuality or whatever, you're quite likely to be producing something bigoted.

Sort it out.

(This post has been inspired by Avalon's Willow, who a while ago was asking where all the white would be allies are and why we're staying silent. She has a good point and she got me thinking as to what motivates my posts and the subject matter contained therein.
I'm hoping those last two sentences don't sound as pompous or self aggrandising as I think they do.)


Today's thoughts brought to you by a dual soundtrack:
Manic Street Preachers' Imperial Bodybags from the Send Away the Tigers album
Zombina and the Skeletones who I saw in the city last night and who are just as good as last time I saw them, after the Reclaim the Night march. Zombina herself is lovely and smells of coconut.

Mmmm, pretty pretty

From Supergirl # 27, so graceful:


That image is truly what I want Kara to grow into (well, not the in story real person obviously, but into what that statue is displaying).

From Superman/Batman # 60, as ever, awe inspiring:


From the same, sparkly haired Wonder Woman!

Black Canary/Starfire is looking pretty darn cute too.

From Green Lantern zero hour, and for SallyP and Sea of Green:


Now THAT'S what I call gratutious :-) Still, nice ass.

And lastly, something a friend sen to me, Tim Drake as a girl:
(If someone can tell me how to make that last picture bigger I'd be very grateful. Magnifying the jpeg isn't working.)

Mmmm, pretty pretty.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blogs from Ireland

My mother's Irish. I like reading about Irish things.

I'll try and keep this as up to date as possible but it may be that my 'Blogs I Follow list' contains
more links.

If you're not happy with the description attached to your blog please leave me a comment and I'll change it.


If you want a description and you haven't got one, that's because I'm not sure how to sum up your blog. Give me a suggestion and I'll add it!

Kindly Pog Mo Thoin
Morrigan Reborn
Red Mum
Trinkets of a Trickster

Sexuality, a celebration of

I'll try and keep this as up to date as possible but it may be that my 'Blogs I Follow list' contains more links.

If you're not happy with the description attached to your blog please leave me a comment and I'll change it.


If you want a description and you haven't got one, that's because I'm not sure how to sum up your blog. Give me a suggestion and I'll add it!

Bitchy Jones's Diary- Dominatrix
Butch Girlcat
- Knee deep in gender trouble
The Femme Fairy Godmother
-

Race issues

I'll try and keep this as up to date as possible but it may be that my 'Blogs I Follow list' contains more links.

If you're not happy with the description attached to your blog please leave me a comment and I'll change it.


If you want a description and you haven't got one, that's because I'm not sure how to sum up your blog. Give me a suggestion and I'll add it!

Ami Angelwings Super cute rants of Doom
Asian Women carnival
Digital Femme - Just great. Looks at, music, politics. anything really.
Racialicous - The intersection of race and pop culture
Racebending.com - Protesting the racist casting practices of Avatar: the Last Airbender. Also, see Chaobunny's Guide to Casting Fail (Youtube video)
Religious Jezebel - Also covers feminism, LGBTQ and is pro sex workers rights
Seeking Avalon - Excellent for race issues and popular culture analysis
Writers of Colour 50 Book Challenge

Feminist sites I think you should take a gander at

I'll try and keep this as up to date as possible but it may be that my 'Blogs I Follow list' contains more links.  Also be aware that those listed below are only those that are explicitly feminist - I don't follow misogynist blogs - so please brose my other reccs for other interesting sites to visit!

If you're not happy with the description attached to your blog please leave me a comment and I'll change it.

If you want a description and you haven't got one, that's because I'm not sure how to sum up your blog. Give me a suggestion and I'll add it!

All poured out
Ami Angelwings Super cute rants of Doom
An Open Letter from a Feminist - Scottish academic
Bechdel Movie Test, The - More than 1 woman in a film, talking to each other about something other than a man. Rarer than you'd think.
Deeplyflawedbuttrying - UK, writes about politics, motherhood and everyday life, not always explicit about feminism, but it's obvious she is.  Her possta re not intended to be though provoking. They just are, as a consequence it is very unpretentious and very straightforward.

Female Impersonator
Feminazery - British site dedicated to feminism and ridiculing the Daily Mail.  The Daily Mail is a hideous British 'news'paper which is utterly, sexist, homphobic, racist, transphobic, hate filled, bile filled piece of pus that unfortunately is produced in my country.  Anything ridiculing it and pointing out it's failings is welcomed and encouraged
Feminist SF - The Blog
Feminist SF Carnival
Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog - Newbies, Start here.
FWD/Forward - Feminists with Disabilities, Forward
My Thoughts, Unveiled and UncensoredOh, You're a FEMINIST?!
Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture
Red is for Passion - Knitting and Buffy



Religious Jezebel - Also covers race issues. Pro LGBTQ and sex workers rights.
Shakesville
The Carnival of Feminists
The F Word - UK Feminist news, reviews, blog site.

This stuff. It is fun.

I'll try and keep this as up to date as possible but it may be that my 'Blogs I Follow list' contains more links.

If you're not happy with the description attached to your blog please leave me a comment and I'll change it.

If you want a description and you haven't got one, that's because I'm not sure how to sum up your blog. Give me a suggestion and I'll add it!

Misc

A Pretty Face
As, If and When - She likes metal
Admiral Drax - A gaming blog. He does Warhammer 40K and has a corgi. Which has been immortalised in the army legion.
Boganette -I don't know what a Boganette is, but she likes metal music, so I approve.
Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos 
Inknerd - Tattoos!
JamesSharpe - Filmmaker, photographer, meanderings
Let's Fold Scarves - Joss Whedon shows reviewed
Neopagan Ink - More tattoos!

Nicest of the Damned - Photo blog.
Not Always Right - Funny and stupid customer quotes
Rantings of the Biscuitnapper - General discussions on important stuff
The Glass Walking Stick - Covers popular culture stuff. Has a cat. UK based.
The Saga of Runolfr - Interesting topics of writing include bad science, renaissance stuff, fencing
Vertical Blue - Nothing specific to add, I'm just quite fond of this blog. Uk based.
When is Evil Cool? - Pretty fucking often actually

Red haired heroines from the 70s - names please

I'm trying to think of red haired comic heroines from the 70s. I've got as far as Jean Grey, Barbara Gordon and Cat Grant. And I could be wrong about Cat. I need names for a 70s themed party I'm going to on Saturday.

Help me out folks, leave suggestions in the comments. Thanks!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Remarkable comic sites situated on this here internets

I'll try and keep this as up to date as possible but it may be that my 'Blogs I Follow' list contains more links.

If you're not happy with the description attached to your blog please leave me a comment and I'll change it.

Firstly, New readers...start here!  My other blog, recommending comics for people who don't read comics.  Check it out.

General comic action

A Less Than Reputable Source - UK based, write about comics and other stuff.  The other contributor to New readers.
Action Figure Blues - devoted to the collection and review of Action Figures
Adventures of Comic Book Girl - nevermore999 loves Stephanie Brown (The Spoiler) and also runs When Fangirls Attack.
Ami Angelwings Heavenly Comic Reviews - A feminist viewpoint of comics.
Comics All Too Real - satires and piss takes and mixed media stuff.
Comics Fairplay - Especially notable for the is this gratuitous feature. Encourages discussion.
Fantastic Fangirls - does what it says!
Get Off my Spaceship - Run by one of the contributors to When Fangirls attack!!!
Heroine in Training
Heroic Hips 
Hoosier Journal of Inanity - Fun site, check out the My Pal Itty strip.
Like Scratches in the Sand - did the brilliant If Men Were Objectifed Too post. Does absolutely perfect fan fiction.
Maverick - Comics and other stuff
Nerdosity - Friday Night Fights
Okazu - Yuri manga blog
Pretty Fizzy Paradise Written by one of the founders of When Fangirls Attack.
Retconning My Brain - female, queer blogger, writes intelligently. Likes Bart and Kara.
Seeking Avalon Excellent for race issues
Shelly's Comic Book Shelf Mostly reviews.
Sindeloke Comics, politics, her name should have little accent things above the o and last e, but I don't know how to do them.
So says the Nerd Queen Lady comic fan, blogging about it.
Stars and Garters Features One Panel of Pain posts
What WERE they thinking? Posts odd scans from old comics. Rather entertaining.
The Inevitable Mediocre Spin Off Lady comic blogger, Supergirl fan, does really cool wallpapers
This is why I hate you - Is rather fond of monkeys
Title Undetermined Manned by Diamondrock, Doctorr Polaris and Azrael.
When Fangirls Attack!!! Feminist link blog site for posts discussing about women in comics (American, Manga, comic strips, alternative, anything). Excellent resource.

Character specific action
Supergirl
Adventures of the Girl of Steel
Kara Lives

Maid of Might
Supergirl Comic Box Commentary

The Flash
Crimson Lightning
Heartbart
Speedforce
Bart MasterList (listing all Bart Allen appearances outside of his regular series)

Green Arrow
Dispatches from the Arrowcave
WingedLion's Quiver Also covers Smallville
Hawkman
Being Carter Hall
Green Lantern
Green Lantern Butt's Forever

Wonder Woman
Amazon Princess

Batman
Building Batman
Batman Tattoos

Aquaman
The Aquaman Shrine

Fan creations
Burn the Fat off Your Soul
- Beautiful Ice and Bat family art
Comics All Too Real _ Sort of a cross media project with comics as the focus
DC Elseworlds webseries - video creations of DC characters
Gotham Public Works - The best cosplay for Gotham characters I've seen. these guys make amazing costumes.
Larsworld - Customised action figures
Random Happenstance - Does action figure based comics strips.
Welcome to Wayne Manor Home of the Black Cat, creator of the best Bat family comic strip ever.

Webcomics
Menage a Three - Some may call me a bad feminist for reading this, but I think it's great.
DAR - A super girly top secret comic diary. About life, sadness, relationships, sexuality. If you like Alison Bechdels' Fun Home you'll like this.
Ninjerktsu
- Ninjas being jerks. the first one is the best.
The K Chronicles Not so much a webcomic as his stuff is published in newspapers, but very good nonetheless.

Employed comic professional type folks
Cliff Chiang
DC Universe: the Source
Landry Walker
Neil Gaiman
Jamal Igle
Todd Klein
Amber Benson (yes, that would be her who played Tara in Buffy)
Ink Destroyed My Brush - Charles Yoakum, who created my blog banner, and has supplied art work for a variety of books, including Batman.
Lee Garbett
Matt Camp
Joshua Middleton
Landry Walker
Manu Mane

Ddeaf and BSL sites and resources

I'll try and keep this as up to date as possible.  It's mostly filled with sites and resources that I find interesting.

If you're not happy with the description attached to your blog please leave me a comment and I'll change it.

If you want a description and you haven't got one, that's because I'm not sure how to sum up your blog. Give me a suggestion and I'll add it!

BSL websites
Deafstation - Brilliant resource for those at level 2 and above.  Provides daily news in BSL (in term time) so is great for improving your receptive and voiceover skills.
Signstation - Great for level 1 and level 2 learners.  It's got a dictionary, and a -z of sign, a free online BSL teaching course and loads more.
BSLBT - The British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust.  They make tv programmes in BSL, usually with subtitles included.
See Hear - The TV magazine for Ddeaf people, focusing on Ddeaf issues.  Broadcasts at odd times so catch up with it on the i-player!
Deaf Bananaman - These are videos on facebook.  Very very funny stories about a Deaf bananaman!
Signature - The accrediting body for sign language learners.  Visit Signature to find BSL courses near you.
Deafchurch - Info on the Deaf church including the first BSL Bible translation.
Spread the Sign - providing vocabulary from mnay different sign languages from all over the world, including BSL.
BSL Corpus project - Collecting stories from deaf people and culture/time/place specific signs. 
Science signs
Engineering Signs
Christian Signs
Jeff's vlog - BSL blog
Art signs
Deaf Church 

Blogs
The Regency - A blog focusing on the RNID (now Action on Hearing Loss) and how they fail to help Deaf people. British. 
At the Rim - Linked to The Regency
Deaf Japan news - Does what it says
Deafread: Best of Deaf blogs - a round up of the best Ddeaf blogs, worldwide
Grumpy Old Deafies - Deaf musings, usually written from the UK
I Look So I Can Hear - Written by a deaf person in London, this blog looks at issues surrounding hearing loss and provides links to deaf accessible events and resources.
SPEAK UP LIBRARIAN  - a hard of hearing librarian attempting to find her way in the world as a late deafened adult.
The Rebuttal - An independent website and ezine concerning Deaf and hearing impaired issues. Australian. 
DeafRead - Link blog of lots of Deaf sites, worldwide. 

BSL interpreted songs on YouTube
Specific YouTube users doing this as follows:
Lees BSL Songs He's bloody fabulous!
zombiecoterie Does a brilliant Eleanor Rigby, Dancing in the Street and Country House.
AlisharahUK Islamic prayers and greetings on Youtube

My silly little things
My posts done as part of Learn to Sign week.
My posts on superhero sign names.
My twitter list of people and organisations with some link to Ddeafness and BSL.
My youtube channel - all posts in an apporximation of BSL, b/c really, when I review them they look awful.  But some folk might find them of use.

A note about books - Forest books is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to read about anything linked to Ddeafness and sign languages.  It has academic stuff, fiction books, things for children, DVDs to help you with all levels of sign class, stuff for health professionals and social workers and much much more.

Non fiction books!
Excellent for anyone who wants to learn more about BSL. Refreshingly jargon free and you don't need to know anything about linguistics to understand it. I read this while doing my level 2 and it was a great help in sorting out the grammar.

Easy Way Guide to Signing - From the website: "This pocket book includes 1,700 if the most popular used signs in a convenient sized format. It has an easy to understand structure, together with signs mostly used in their logical place rather than in strict alphabetical order.

The individual pages are border indexed making it easier and quicker to locate a specific subject sign. There is a more comprehensive index to the rear of the book. This sign language book has been created, graphically drawn, planned and produced on its entirety, by three born profoundly deaf young men"

I have found this book very useful for looking up vocabulary.  It is easy to use and the illustrations are simple to understand.

Revision on Multi-channel signs - Although not all the signs in here are strictly multi-channel signs, this book was incredibly useful to me when doing my level 2.  There's 53 signs in here and when you have to memorise 3 to put into your conversation or story this is a great book to pick the signs from.

Communication Link - This is a ring bound dictionary of signs, arranged in alphabetical order by English word, and was also incredibly useful when I was doing my level 1 and level 2.
Dictionary of British Sign Language - ye gods this is a big book.  It's like a doorstop.  It gives a complex breakdown of signs and is something for use at home or in the classroom.  It is not portable.  From the description:
"This comprehensive BSL/English dictionary contains over 1,800 photographed Sign entries ordered by handshape and linguistic principles. Each entry is accompanied by a clear description of how to produce the sign. A cross-referenced guide to the meaning or meanings of each sign is provided in English in the second section. This dictionary is therefore unique as an equally valuable reference for hearing people learning BSL at an intermediate to advanced level, and for Deaf people studying English as a second language."
Given it's size you'd think there would be more signs included, alas no.  I have probably used this less than the other mini dictionaries, but it definitely has it's use.

Deaf people in Hitler's Europe - This is just incredibly interesting and a great history book.  It taught me loads about Deaf people's lives in the second world war and and about Nazism, the Holocaust and the mass sterilisation carried out by the Nazis on those they deemed sub human.
Deaf in Japan: Signing and the Politics of Identity - Interesting book examining Japanese culture, Japanese Japanese Deaf culture and Japanese sign language.  It's very different to BSL and the UK Deaf community.

Double Whammy: Deaf Women and World History - From the website:
"A talented archivist, the author here outlines a long story of pride and resilience in the face of what many see as the double discrimination of being Deaf and female. By putting local history in the context of world events he firmly brings it out of the ghetto and, incidentally, provides a literary tonic to help to prevent Deaf women feeling sorry for themselves."
Interesting book, not the most readable of tomes, but worth persevering with.  My main complaint was the small font used.

Fiction Books!
The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan From the Forest Books (deaf bookshop) synopsis:
"Forced into marriage to an older man to save her family from eviction, Marnie is soon widowed by a freak accident. She is befriended by Raven who she discovers is not mad but deaf. They form a friendship through sign language. But this brings accusation of witchcraft by the villagers.."
This is an utterly readable and utterly gripping book. This would be good for young adults.

An Equal Music - Vikram Seth
A young woman is deafened and continues to play the cello. This book covers how she manages (hides) her deafness and other's attitudes to it. Not the most readable thing, I quite dislike Seth's writing style, but the book is interesting for it's insights into deafness.

Deafening - Frances Itani
Brilliant. Set in Canada around the time of the first world war. This is a love story between a Deaf woman and a hearing man. Shortly after they marry he is sent to the trenches.

Let me know if you think anything else should be added!

Authors I have particularly and think you should give a go

Doris Egan - the Gates of Ivory trilogy.
It's sooo much fun. Female protagonist, no cliches, no stereotypes, just a real 3D honest to goodness person. No chainmail, no swords, some sorcery, no wenches, no rape threats, no women knowing thier palce, just a person like you or me, ona rela world.

Michael Morpurgo
Just delicious. Thoughtful, textured provocative writings for young adults without patronising them. Older adults will get just as much from them, because they are not dumbed down.

John Wyndham
A glorious sci fi writer from the 50s. Particular favourites are Day of the Triffids, Trouble with Lichen, Web and The Chrysalids along with any of his short stories. I'm not so keen on The Midwich Cuckoos but I hear lots of people do like it. He was quite a progressive writer and had many women scientists in his books, in actual high level positions.

Ursula Le Guin
Fluid, graceful, diverse and intelligent. Try reading the Earthsea books, The Lathe of Heaven or The Birthday of the World and Other Stories. She is rather brilliant, and I mean that in the old fashioned sense of the word.

Terry Pratchett
Fantastic satire. The Discworld books are the best and what he has devoted his life to writing, but Nation is also pretty good. I don't care for the Truckers books. if you decide to start reading the Discworld you will get more out of it reading them in order, but then again the first book, The Colour of Magic is rather dire. Start with The Light Fantastic instead. Or try Thief of Time.
He satirises detectvie novels, fairy tales, wizadry, jingoism, death, religion, Shakespeare, the cinema and Christmas amongst many many other things.

George R R Martin
Favourite. author. ever. A Song of Ice and Fire is the current series in progress and I cannot stress how good this is. Many many different characters, all are 3 dimensional including the children, political intrigue, assasination, marching armies, direwolves dragons. You will find something you like. In another aurthor's hands this story could be run of the mill and base. In Martin's it's not. If you don't fancy the fat books that comprise this series try picking up Dreamsongs Volume 1, it's a collection of his short stories. Then read With Morning Comes Mistfall, The Ice Dragon and The Monkey Treatment and come back and tell me you haven't fallen in love with his work.

Glenda Larke
I've read her Shiver Barrens tirlogy and blow me down with a feather, but she's written a fantasy series with people of colour as the focus. The stories are fun and easily readable, not great literature but a pretty good way to pass the time.

My joy surrounding this week’s haul!

And full of joy it was. Spoilers ahead for Green Arrow Yr 1, Green Arrow/Black Canary #20, Supergirl #27 and #41, Superman/Batman #60 and Battle for the Cowl #3. I have reviewed them in that order so if you don’t want the identity of the new Batman spoiled, just don’t read the last review.

Included as this week’s back up promo stories was a teaser for Batwoman, appearing in Detective comics from June (?). It’s looking interesting. I like Greg Rucka a lot and I trust that he’ll do well with the character. The art is…vampiric, but I’m sure it will grow on me.
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Green Arrow Year 1
The reason for this review is that I finally got around to ordering GA yr 1 #4, which I couldn’t get when it came out – that week my comic shop had a box missing in it’s delivery, or something. Anyway, I got this issue and read it, then read the arc in it’s entirety. One of the first things I noticed was it was originally billed as a 4 issue story, then changed to a 6 issue story on # 3. I don’t know the reasons behind this, but it’s a good thing it was extended by 2 issues as the story could well have suffered for being shortened.

The second thing to highlight is the glorious cover art done by Jock, colours by David Baron )I can't find a picture of the cover for number 3, sorry). These covers make it well worth getting the individual issues rather than the trade. Cover #s 2, 4 and 6 are my favourites. Number 2 in particular is breathtaking. I know I rave on and on about anything I like, maybe my gushings seem like platitudes, maybe because I like so much stuff it reduces the import of what I have to say. But, these covers are really really good!
The inside art is done by the same team, and while not as detailed as the covers, it is also well worth referring to it. There is a sense of depth to the art, of layers, yet there is nothing extraneous included. It’s very well put together.

As for the story, well there’s character growth, there’s referrals to future events in Ollie’s life (“I’d rather die than lose an arm” why hello Zero hour!), there’s the creation of the costume and there’s the development of his defining qualities – determination, recklessness, stubbornness, showiness. He starts off as a useless, empty playboy and ends up a hero. In terms of a year 1 story, this does the trick.

With a different art team this may have been an average story. As it is I think it’s a must for any Green Arrow fan. Now, where’s the Black Canary year 1 story huh?

Green Arrow/Black Canary #20
Betcha bottom dollar this issue is gonna be criticised online. Betcha.

Obviously not by me though, I liked it. A lot. In fact I think this is a bloody massive turnaround, considering the rubbish that’s been produced for earlier issues. The cover art is still foul, but does make a bit of sense considering the arguments inside.

The issue starts with Dinah and Ollie in relationship therapy. The idea of them two being in therapy together is a giggle. Ollie has been dragged there by Dinah and is not really cooperating. Well, with an ego like his he was never gonna think it’s a great idea, right? Y’know, this issue actually has them in character. Which is nigh on a miracle. I can see there being an uproar over Dinah having mother issues, but I don’t get the beef. Ok, I’m not very knowledgeable about her history, but I seem to remember reading something, somewhere, about her going into costume just to piss her mother off, and having Ted (Wildcat) train her in secret because her mother wouldn’t approve. I recall another story from when she was a teenager and she found out who her Dad really was. So, there’s a precedent for mother issues. In addition, Ollie has dead parents, so it’s not like he’s getting away with a trauma free backstory. Lastly, in my ammunition for why this is a good sub-plot, is we are seeing Dinah as Dinah, individual person, not Dinah-wife of Green Arrow.

Regarding the secret identity thing, Ollie lost the mask during the Kevin Smith (?) run but somewhere regained it, so I’m assuming he is no operating under a secret identity again. As for Dinah, I was going to come up with an explanation for why she doesn’t need a mask or secret identity. It was going to go along the lines of only ninja assassins know who she is and she doesn’t move in civilian circles. A bit like Lady Shado doesn’t need a secret identity but she still manages to do ordinary everyday things. Then I remembered Dinah is the chair of the JLA and probably most bad guys and civilians do know her name is Dinah Lance.
Anyone else got an idea as to how her hero/civilian identity works?

Onto the action part, everyone has gone deaf. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I learn British Sign Language and so am interested in dDeaf issues. Hence, this plotline holds a lot of interest to me. The last thing to mention is Cupid meeting Ollie. He is correct, Dinah is gonna have a fit.

Supergirl #27
Great cover, shame it’s got fuck all to do with the story. This is another one I missed when it came out, I don’t know why. Like the GA issue, I decided it was about time I ordered meself a copy from Ebay. Only beef with this cover, and a couple of panels inside is that Kara’s skirt is wrong – she’s wearing what looks like a tight lycra esque skirt – think like Linda DanversSupergirl costume . Kara’s skirt is free flowing and hangs loosely.

That snit over, this is a good story. It takes place in the middle of the saving Thomas arc. Within the book Kara is nearly assassinated and then transported to the future. Apparently in this future timeline she has saved Thomas but then goes about changing humanity to improve us, resulting in humans not being human anymore. She is later transported back to our time with a request that she not save Thomas, in order that future humanity be saved from her good intentions.

There is a wonderful statue of adult Kara in the future, it’s very Grecian in style, I think. I will try and scan a picture and post some images later this week.

Supergirl #41
Well fuck me sideways I didn’t see that coming. Superwoman is dead. Kara killed her, seemingly by ripping the suit to shreds. Obviously Kara didn’t mean to kill her, she was trying to reduce her powers by ripping the discs off, then she ripped the S off declaring that Lucy doesn’t deserve to wear the emblem. Lucy then melts, into a bubbly pile of goo. Next panel is a distraught Kara on her knees wondering if she’s just killed Lois’s sister. We’ve gone from some very colourful scenes, all purple and bright primary colours to a darkened scene which suits the mood exceedingly well. There are talented colourists on this title.

I figure this can go a few ways. The dead Lucy is not the real Lucy and we find this out over the next few months. The dead Lucy is the real Lucy and this has ramifications for Kara and her reception within the Kent/Lane family. I mean, Lois is rather alone at the moment. Clark is off planet and can’t visit with her, she doesn’t really speak to her Dad, and her niece (great niece?) has just murdered her sister. This isn’t going to go well. Regardless of whether Lois likes Lucy or not, whether she approves of her actions as Superwoman or not, she is going to be pretty devastated. She’s got Chris Kent back but he’s got to hide from the authorities – headed by Lois’s father. This is going to be a complicated 6 months.

The last thing I want to note is the way in which Superwoman is legitimately part of the House of El – as Lois married Clark, she became the sister-in-law of Kal-El, and therefore related to Kara and Alura. This is not something I had registered before, and now I’m thinking what would General Lane do if he knew he was firing on his family?

Superman/Batman #60
Fabulous cover. Real moody and detailed, and relates to the story inside. Amazing. The inside art is done by the same team – Francis Manapul and Brian Bucellato.

Kal and Bruce have found themselves in a parallel earth. Metropolis and Gotham have been combined, as have the superheroes. We now have the Justice Titans, (battle cry: Justice Together) and the heroes have been amalgamated too. Starfire/Black Canary (this works surprisingly well), Aquaman/Cyborg, Hawkman/Beastboy, Nightwing/Green Lantern (Hal), the Flash (Wally Allen, blonde hair), Donna Wonder (she has sparkles in her hair!). the bad guys are Deathstroke/Doomsday, Brainac/Catwoman, Penguello (Penguin and who?), Jimmy Two-Face (they can’t mean Jimmy Olsen surely?), and Lex Joker.

I’m really really loving this title. It’s not following any other continuity, it could be set at any time in DC history and it’s just downright fun. As it doesn’t have to relate to the other Bat/Super titles they can send the characters to any time, space, dimension they want. It’s great.

Battle for the Cowl #3
I haven’t read the previous two issues in this mini and I picked this up purely to find out who the new Batman is. As such, I was rather excited by it all and enjoyed most of the story,, but it was self induced excitement, not necessarily story induced excitement. Still, I liked it. You want my reactions you say?

Well, what on earth was Tim doing in the Bat suit? After the incident with the evil future Titans I’d have thought he’d never have gone near the Bat suit. He’s had a lot of shit thrown at him over the years, but he remains optimistic. He’s a gentle soul and being Batman would destroy him.

Dick on the other hand, he’s got the hardness in him, a bitter angry edge that could be put to good use as Batman. But it will probably fuck him up. When Bruce comes back there’ll be one hell of a power struggle between them – I’m thinking back to the time when him and Bruce weren’t speaking and Dick created the Nightwing identity.

Damian is the new Robin. I have no feelings either way except that Damian seems rather ridiculous and petulant. I’d be very surprised if Dick likes him.

Now that Damian is Robin, the cover of Red Robin #2 makes more sense. That would be Damian fighting Steph, and hopefully Tim as Red Robin. Red Robin’s costume looks like a golden age creation, I do not like it. But, as this looks to be Tim’s own title and as Steph appears in it I expect I’ll be adding it to my pull list.

So, this Ida thing, right

It says:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Child abuse in Ireland

Some of y'all may have heard about the report into child abuse in the Irish Catholic Church. In case you haven't, I would urge you to have a look into it. However, these links come with a big trigger warning.

The BBC website - article from Wednesday dealing with the findings of the inquiry, descriptions of the abuse and the victims feelings and reactions.

From the Morrigan Reborn blog:
Witness reports (definite trigger warning)
A letter to the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) recommending what his next line of action should be.
Cross post from The Irish Times.

And in case any of yous are wondering what the Morrigan is, this is the description from her profile:
The MorrĂ­gan is the goddess of war, sovereignty, prophecy, fertility and death on the battlefield. Scholars debate whether her name means great queen, terror bringer or monstrous woman. She is associated with the raven, wolf and cow. She is often interpreted as a triple goddess, one part of a whole. Multiple meanings and interpretations throughout history.
A really interesting goddess.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Discoveries

I just finished reading Doris Egan's Gates of Ivory trilogy. It was very very good with a couple of laugh out loud bits. The heroine is Theodora and she's written as a real three dimensional person. From a gender perspective, I can't really explain what's right about this book, only explain what isn't wrong - there's no stereotypes, there's no lazy cliches, there's no rape threats, there's no traditional gender plotlines or scenarios, it's just real.

From a non gender perspective it's just a rollicking good story. Her (very bad) website is here, where I also found out she wrote 2 Smallville episodes - Hourglass and Hug, from season 1. No wonder I liked the book!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My beef with the Oracle mini

Well, I still want to get this off my chest, if only to get the thoughts out of my head (and possibly also the words out of my arse..) so I'm damn well gonna put something down and post it.
Then I'm gonna stop pressuring msyelf about writing.

OK, so I inferred in an earlier post that I thought the Oracle mini was pointless, and I feel I should explain. I'm not so much going to look at the quality of the writing, that's fairly subjective I reckon. Well I doubt anyone's going to say it's a masterpiece but I hear some folks did find it rather enjoyable.

I think my main issue with it is that the mini was set up as an important spin off, or at the least as an important episode in Babs' life. Birds of Prey ended, setting this up to (potentially) be an important examination of Barbara, her life and character. The mini came out under the header 'Battle for the Cowl'. The first issue introduces the anti life equation, so there's also a Final Crisis connection.

And yet, the conclusion of this arc did fuck all for Babs, for the question of who would be Batman or Batgirl or anything for the anti life equation.

What did this series reveal?
  • The Calculator is the father of Wendy of wonder twins fame. Then did nothing with this information. It gave the calculator a reason to delve into the internetz and gather the anti life formula, but in the end it wasn't used.
  • Babs agonized (again) over the Joker's shooting of her, then didn't get to walk again (which for political reasons I am thankful for).
  • Oracle doesn't understand online RPGs - if you would grant me a moment of fan entitlement let me say that I consider that characterisation to be incorrect.
  • Fat girls want to play naked blonde bosomy warriors in the aforementioned RPGs. Yes. This rankles with me.
  • Oh look, rape threats again. Glad to see they are still common in the DCU. Apparently these drive Barbara into a near homocidal rage ---> on second thoughts if the joker did rape her after he shot her I can see why this incident, coupled with the murder of the cheese fiend and the recent ponderings over the shooting accident, might drive her to a battering frenzy.
  • Wendy woke up from her coma, yells for her dad (did she not know he was evil?) and discovers she can't feel her legs.
Nothing very important is it?

There is no big Batgirl reveal, there's no big reconciling of Barbara's feelings over the Joker's attack and Wendy hasn't decided to become an Oracle copycat.

I think my point is that for such a hyped series I would have expected something big to come out of it, like a new Batgirl or Barbara being able to walk again. Instead this is just a run of the mill story that could have featured pretty much anywhere and been written anywhen. (OK you might need to remove the references to the anti life equation, but it wouldn't be difficult to come up with something else implausible to replace it.) Barbara is particularly angry and violent in this mini, but there's nothing to indicate this is a permanent personality change for her.

How does this segue into Batgirl? There are no links. You may as well have put 'Next: Batgirl /1' at the end of Booster Gold, or Green Lantern.

So yeah, pointless.

On the theme of Batgirl, I'd just like to add that I really don't think Steph (Spoiler) should be Batgirl.. Before her 'death' she really badly wanted to be part of the Bat family, but in her return I felt that she came back with her own distinct identity - she doesn't need their approval anymore. So I feel that she should be an ally of the Bat- clan not a fully paid up member. I also cannot see Barbara putting herself in the junior role of Batgirl either.

As for who's under the Batman cowl - I will try and buy the comic on Friday, please if anyone writes about who has taken up the mantle please hide the new identity under a spoiler banner!
Me - I'm itching for it to be Alfred.
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;)

Just so long as it's not Tim. That would be very very wrong. But I guess with the advent of the Batman and Robin book it's pretty definitely not gonna be Tim as Batman right?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The people's heroes

The Guardian have a photo gallery up of reader's pictures on the theme of heroes. I would like to draw your attention to the following ones:

Spiderman advocates condoms:

Pretty in character when you think of the anti drug and child abuse comics Spidey has been involved in.

That's one freaky picture of Kurt Cobain:

For some reason the blurb next to the photo on the site focuses on lemmy, but to me, Kurt is the centerpiece of that picture.

(A) Superman:


Everything about that image works. Everything.

Lastly, the Angel of the North:



I would love to see that in real life, it's beautiful. The colours on this image are really striking and clear.

It's well worth viewing the whole gallery, about 10 pictures, and reading the blurbs.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In with the new

Here follows reviews and spoilers for The Flash: Rebirth #2, Action Comics # 877, Robin annual #2, Booster Gold #20, and the Star Trek movie (which will be the last item so hopefully anyone who hasn’t seen it yet can easily avoid that part).

The Oracle mini is going to get it’s own post, once I’ve re-read it and digested everything. I doubt a second reading is going to bring it into a positive light.
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The Flash: Rebirth #2
The wall painting on the first page is lovely! I think that's my favourite bit of art in the book. I am really liking the role of this painting and am very intrigued as to how the gorillas are doing it.
I think the Russian lady speedster is from Wally's run as the Flash. We haven't seen her in aaaages, she's good though. Unfortunately she's now dead. Damn.
The flashback (haw!) to Barry's pre speed life was interesting, especially the origin of the bow tie and Iris's pursuit of him. Does he really say Flash fact? Isn't that incredibly pompous?
Bart was in just one panel (unless you count the wall painting), but the characterisation and art was spot on, for Bart himself and for Bart and Tim's relationship. 'Lil Iris and Jai were pretty cute too.
We finish the issue with Barry becoming the new Black Flash. In-ter-est-ing.

This was also the issue I noticed the speedsters have different eye colours. Sometimes, I'm slow.

All these adverts for blackest night promising a zombie Aquaman has resulted in me caving and I've placed the mini on standing order.

Action Comics # 877
Lovely cover, but I'm at a loss as to what it's got to do with the plot in the book. I'm really not keen on the art in the book. My tastes have changed and I find the pencils, done by Sidney Teles, to be a bit standard. The colouring is nice, done by Rod Reis, but again, a bit standard. Nothing special. It's all very 00s (as opposed to say 80s or 90s). Good issue, plotwise, though. We see some new Kryptonians robbing banks, I guess they are living on earth, because whyn else would they need earth money? Then again, if they are living on earth they are being a bit stupid because they'll get caught pretty soon. They may have murdered all witnesses but I'm fairly sure the DCU has CCTV.

Onto the DC Nation page, and we see a lush picture of Superboy, Connor Kent, flyignt owards us. It seems he'll be starring in Adventure Comics along with the Legion. So that'll be another title to add to my pull list then.

Now, right at the back of this issue was an advert for a kids book titled My Unwilling Witch goes to Ballet School. This strikes me as an odd advert for this comic, as I didn't think the comic was that (little) kids friendly. Am I wrong? It's published by Little, Brown who do 'books for young readers', and they also have a word search at the front of the book. Surely there are better books to advertise in than this one? Maybe, oh I don't know, any of the Johnny DC lines. Do they get any sales from these ads? Why would they advertise if they didn't get any sales?

Robin annual #2
I found this in a second hand shop the other day. It's a good read, a little dated in places - it features a group of hackers called the psyba-rats who are apparently also elite athletes, although they don't look remotely athletic. The group are of course led by a girl, and there's a spotty red headed geeky guy, and a fat black kid with glasses and it all reeks of tokenism. But, if you get past that, it's a good read. Especially if you're a fan of Tim Drake, because, y'know, the book is about him. Ahem.

Booster Gold #20
Written by Keith Giffen, him of the excellent Justice League run. Giffen would account for the Bwa ha ha ha from Booster and the enjoyable sniping between Booster and Rip. Good stuff.
In the story, the chronosphere has stalled and Rip is fixing it, Booster is bored and so shoots off to the 1950s to meet the Fonz. Instead he lands near an army base and gets involved with the Suicide Squad. He assists in the infiltration of the lab of a Russian scientist who also happens to be a Soviet spy, and prevents a space flight that would have screwed up the space-time continuum had it been successful. And it is as that point that I love this issue because it turns out the four pilots in the space rocket are the Fantastic 4, before they became fantastic!

Ok so it doesn't call them by name but that's definitely the Fantastic 4. Johnny Storm even makes a fire pun.

Lastly the other great thing about this is once Rip's got the time sphere fixed he brings Booster to the 1950s that Booster wanted and he gets to walk into a diner, hit the jukebox and go Eyyyy! With the thumbs and everything. And the girls in the diner think he's a jerk. Ha. good stuff.

And for my final piece..the Star Trek movie.
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It was fun! Fun fun fun! I'm not a big Trekkie, although I have seen all the movies and lots of The Next Generation and Voyager, I don't remember all the continuity details and I can't discuss it in depth. I mostly find Star Trek do to be fun easy entertainment. It's not groundbreaking but it's a pretty enjoyable way to pass the time.

This movie is really about Kirk and Spock, which was to be expected I guess, that's who everyone is interested in. Having said that all the other (main) cast members got their chance to shine and excel in their respective fields - doctoring, engineering, languages etc. They all had something to do that was important to the plot, no one was extraneous.

Now, onto Uhura. She is of course wearing the minidress. I have not got such a problem with that but it appears that Starfleet uniform for women is all miniskirts. Fuck. Off. How about giving them the options of a longer skirt or trousers instead of forcing them to look teh sex-ay.
Mini skirts are physically restricting - in order not to flash your nether regions to the world you have to be careful how you sit. You don't get that with trousers. *gnashes teeth*

They also put Uhura and Spock into a romantic relationship, and I didn't mind, in fact I thought it gave more depth to the story. Usually in movies women are just the love interests and not a lot else (hello there Watchmen), but in Star Trek the love storyline didn't restrict Uhura and actually added more to Spock. So yeah, it was great.

I remember a documentary on Star Trek on the telly, probably about 15 years ago. A black actress was talking about how when she was a kid in the 60s Star Trek was the only tv show that her folks would let her watch, because it was the only one that featured a black person not as a maid. I imagine they may also have been impressed that the universe of Star Trek they had black folks in the future.
Anyway, after the lady had spoke about this the show cut to a white bloke talking about Uura. He disparaged her as a glorified telephone operator and therefore not really important and said he didn't understand why people make such a fuss or thought it was such a great achievement that there was a black woman on the show. Yeah, I know, idiot.
Finally and moving on to my point, I thought it was really good that the film was explicit about Uhura's exceptional language skills. Glorified telephone operator my ass.