Sports_NCAA

Penn State wins the Big 10, and the misguided Paterno worship begins anew

Joe Paterno failed at being a decent human being. We shouldn’t re-lionize him now that Penn State has won the Big 10 conference.

Joe Paterno knew for decades that his assistant coach was sexually abusing boys, said nothing, and even told at least one victim to drop his accusation.

Let that sink in for a moment, and then check out the following image:

Pro-Paterno photoshopped image taken from Facebook group "Penn State - Put the Joepa Statue Back Where it Belongs"

Pro-Paterno photoshopped image taken from Facebook group “Penn State – Put the Joepa Statue Back Where it Belongs”

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High School DxD review, by Anime Binge

Supernatural fights, some comedy, and a relatively weak but fun plot was just enough to keep me watching to the end, but damn, the ecchi is strong in this one. Spoilers ahead.

High School DxD

High School DxD

High School DxD has a supernatural theme, where the main character, high school student Issei Hyodo, is killed by a fallen angel and is brought back by a demon princess and buxom redhead, Rias Gremory, as her “pawn.” High class demon clans are organized in part as chess pieces, with pawns being the only type that can claim the abilities and powers of the other pieces, except for the king.

Over the course of the three seasons, Issei trains hard, gets stronger, and fights supernatural battles on behalf of Rias, his “king” and president of the school’s Occult Research Club. The student council president is another demon princess, with her clan being associated with the student council, and a friendly rival to Rias. We learn that there has been millennia of battles between the angels, fallen angels, and demons, and that the last battle killed not only most of the demon kings (including Lucifer, a title given to the most powerful demon king) but also God and most of the leaders of the fallen angels, weakening the Christian mythological system significantly and giving other systems (like the Norse gods) an opportunity to grow and influence the world again.

High School DxD has the usual shonen tropes – a perverted high school boy as the main character, a harem of girls around him who are all very attractive and want to kiss/sleep with/have sex with/et al him, that one girl who thinks the main character is a pervert (but who ends up falling for the main character eventually). But this anime has way more in the ecchi department than most shonen, to the point that the ecchi elements distract from the actual stories.

As a 43 year old man, I realize that I am not the target demographic for High School DxD. Were I a hormonal teenager again, I’d probably be way more interested in the many, many, many censored breasts, shower scenes, panty shots, and so on than I am at the moment. I mean, 20 or 30 years ago I’d have been whining that this anime was over-censored, rather than complaining that the story takes a back seat to the ecchi elements. I mean, really, Issei’s first custom attack is “Dress Break,” where he magically shreds the clothing of any girl he touches. But these days? If I want to watch an anime that’s one intercourse scene shy of hentai, I’d rather just dive right into actual hentai instead.

The first 12-episode season is the least ecchi of the bunch, and the third season is the most. High School DxD had just enough story and a sufficiently interesting setting to keep me interested through all three seasons. But I would have much preferred it to be more story, less horny teenager.

Donald Trump

Donald is why we have the Electoral College

The Electoral College should deny Donald the Presidency for rejecting the legitimacy of the election even after he’s supposedly won it.

The Electoral College is a dinosaur of an institution that replaces the popular vote with the votes of electors, selected by but not beholden to each individual state. In living memory, the Electoral College victory has now twice overturned the popular vote in favor of the Republican candidate. Prior to George W. Bush, the last time the popular vote and Electoral College vote was split was in 1888.

But there is a point to the Electoral College. The idea was that electors would be well educated (and, originally, white and male) on the issues and thus would be able to stand in the way of a population that had elected someone who was clearly unfit to serve as President.

Look at the tweets at the right and tell me, honestly, if those look like the words of someone who is fit to be President of the United States of America.

Donald also tweeted the following in a series – I’ve collected them below instead of just linking all the tweets:

Hillary’s debate answer on delay: “That is horrifying. That is not the way our democracy works. Been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a during a general election. I, for one, am appalled that somebody that is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind of position.” Then, separately she stated, “He said something truly horrifying … he refused to say that he would respect the results of this election. That is a direct threat to our democracy.” She then said, “We have to accept the results and look to the future, Donald Trump is going to be our President. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” So much time and money will be spent – same result! Sad

It would have been much easier for me to win the so-called popular vote than the Electoral College in that I would only campaign in 3 or 4 states instead of the 15 states that I visited. I would have won even more easily and convincingly (but smaller states are forgotten)!

Jill Stein and Clinton have asked for, and will pay for, a recount. And here we have Donald doing the very thing that Clinton accused him of – questioning the legitimacy of the election, even after he’s apparently won it.

I realize that almost no-one who voted for Trump will ever read this. I don’t know how to get it to people outside my bubble (which is one of the major problems with bubbles in the first place). But if there was ever a reason for the Electoral College to reject the candidate that “won” it in favor of the candidate who won the actual popular vote, this is it. The chance of this happening, given how electors are chosen (by the winning party in the state in question), is minuscule, but it’s still the right thing. Here’s hoping for a lot of faithless electors.

Deny Donald the Presidency.

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Soul Eater review, by Anime Binge

Can a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad final episode totally ruin the enjoyment of 50 prior episodes? It did for me. If you want to find out for yourself, watch Soul Eater. Spoilers ahead.

Soul Eater - the meisters and weapons (plus the annoying transforming cat)

Soul Eater – the meisters and weapons (plus the annoying transforming cat)

A while back I asked for recommendations about what anime to watch, since I was getting back into watching anime again. A friend suggested Soul Eater, and so I gave it a shot. And for most of the 51 episodes, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. But the last episode pretty much ruined it the entire rest of the anime for me.

Let’s start with the good

Soul Eater is set on an alternate Earth where witches and monsters exist, where the moon is a creepy, leering face that literally laughs at your misery all night long, and where Lord Death is a main character. It takes place mostly at a school for teenaged “meisters,” people who fight to protect humans from demons that kill them and devour their souls, and from witches that have the power to control demons and generally enjoy causing chaos. The school also trains weapons, humans that transform into weapons like pistols, swords, and scythes that are wielded by the meisters. Continue reading

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We all live in bubbles that distort our perspectives of America – rich or poor, rural or urban

Every bubble distorts our understanding of America

2f45d-free_wallpaper_patriotic_eagle_american_flag_background-1-1024x768Updated 11/25/16: added Footnotes section break at the bottom for clarity

I always knew that being white, male, straight, and educated meant that I was living in a bubble that distorted my perspective on the world. But it wasn’t until Election Day, when 62 million (as of 11/22/2016, according to USA Today) of my fellow Americans voted for a fascist (or proto-fascist) that I realized just how distorted my view of America had actually become. Since then I’ve started second-guessing myself on a host of issues that I thought were universal American ideals that have, it seems, turned out to merely be universal among my friends and family.

One of the mental adjustments I’m still trying to make is to recognize that 62 million people didn’t care that Donald was spouting rhetoric that was anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, racist, sexist, and homophobic rhetoric. 62 million people were OK with bigotry and borderline incitement of violence, behaviors and values that I thought were fundamentally un-American, values defined by the United States Constitution itself1. But while I’m certainly living in a bubble, I’m not the only one. The fact that many of Donald’s supporters are also living in their own bubbles was brought home to me in an NPR story I listened to on my way into work a few days ago. Continue reading

Not merely with or beside you, but for you.

I wore a safety pin on my shirt today

Wearing a safety pin is a mark of “I will protect you with my own body if necessary.” Wearing one is a responsibility, not a symbol of solidarity.

Not merely with or beside you, but for you.

Not merely with or beside you, but for you.

I wore a safety pin on my shirt today.

I thought long and deep about whether that was a good idea or not.

Wearing a safety pin on my shirt means that I’m self-identifying as a safe person – someone whom anyone can approach, for any reason, and expect help, without question or judgement. It means that, if I see bullying or bigotry or abuse, I’m obligating myself to step in if asked, to get involved on behalf of the victim or victims.

But it also means that I have to give anyone I’m with fair notice that I might have to put our plans on hold to help a stranger. And it means that I might get threatened or even seriously injured in the process of assisting someone who needed help. Continue reading

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I wept for America this morning

twin_towers_gettyI wept for my country this morning.

To say I feel sucker punched by Trump’s win is an understatement. “Sucker punched” falls so far short of how I actually feel today that it’s absurd.

Let me try to describe how I feel.

Remember at around noon on September 11, 2001, after all the planes had crashed, both towers had fallen, and the Pentagon was in flames. Remember how you felt a sense of dread, of horror, of unfathomable grief that seemed like it might never fade. That’s how I feel today.

But worse. Continue reading

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Polyphonica Crimson S review: Scholars and Rogues’ new Anime Binge feature (updated)

Music played from the heart can tame a wild spirit, which you can then use to protect or kill people for you. Spoilers ahead.

I’ve been watching anime since before I knew what anime was, starting with Star Blazers and Robotech on US television when I was a kid. Ever since college, though, when I was “officially” introduced to anime via subtitled versions of Ranma 1/2, Tenchi Muyo, Bubblegum Crisis, et al, I’ve watched and generally enjoyed anime. Now that I’m in my 40s, my kids have joined me in watching anime, and thus far they’ve enjoyed what they’ve seen.

Given how much time I spend watching anime these days (sometimes you just need a few hours of pure escapism), I decided a while back that I wanted to start writing reviews on anime I’ve been watching. Anime that was fun or not, anime that was binge worthy or not, anime I couldn’t watch past the first episode or two because it was so lame, and so on. I’ve also invited my fellow anime watching Scrogues to contribute their own Anime Binge reviews as well if they are so inclined. If you have feedback for making Anime Binge better or you want to go deeper into the anime I reviewed, please comment and I’ll see what I can in the next review. Continue reading

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Here’s hoping for a huge Clinton win

2701a6d0-clinton-4x3The bigger Clinton’s margin of victory, the harder it becomes for the GOP to obstruct the proper course of government.

OK, I’m all in favor of an opposition party. But “opposition” is different from “obstruction,” and the United States of America needs to have a functioning government again. After eight years of having Republicans obstructing everything Obama tried to do and even failing meet their most basic responsibilities (passing a federal budget), the country cannot afford another four or eight more years of the same.

Here’s an important point to consider – this may be the highest level of obstruction the US has seen since the lead up to the Civil War. Now I’m not saying that we’ll get there, but the bigger the margin Clinton is elected by, the less likely THAT becomes, too. Continue reading

Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

You have to be OK with a lot of awful stuff to vote for Donald Trump

You don’t have to believe everything Donald Trump does to vote for him, but you do have to be OK with everything he believes and everything he’s done.

Image Credit: DiversityInc.com

Image Credit: DiversityInc.com

You don’t have to be a liar to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with lying.

You don’t have to be a hypocrite to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with hypocrisy.

You don’t have to enjoy mocking the disabled to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with other people mocking the disabled.

You don’t have to be a narcissist to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with narcissism.

You don’t have to be an adulterer to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with adultery.

You don’t have to be a misogynist to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with misogyny.

You don’t have to be a sexual assaulter to vote for Donald Trump, you just have to be ok with sexual assault. Continue reading

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Ignore the pundits – Clinton owned the first part of last night’s debate too

Pundits are getting it wrong about last night’s debate – Clinton wasn’t on her heels for the first 20-30 minutes, she was making a pitch to Sanders supporters, progressives, her base, and her lukewarm supporters.

hillary-clinton-weak-men-fear-strong-womenI’ve been reading lots of so-called pundits talking about how Trump did really well in the first 20-30 minutes of the debate last night, and then Clinton took control and never let go. OK, from some perspective I get that – Trump stuck to his message, and Clinton’s responses weren’t as good as they would get later in the evening. I looked at Trump’s performance early on as more ignoring the question and repeating your usual stump speech a la Rubio’s “one trick pony” flub rather than “sticking to the message,” but I’m most vehemently NOT a Trump supporter, so that may just be my personal biases clouding my judgement.

What I got out of the first 20-30 minutes of the debate was something quite different than what the pundits did. It was in that part of the debate when Clinton mentioned climate change and raising taxes on the wealthy. Instead of a Clinton thrown on the defensive and responding to attacks with dodges and weaves, I saw a Clinton who was doing exactly what she wanted to be doing – laying out the reasons why Sanders supporters, progressives, and even lukewarm supporters like me should back her. Continue reading

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Hillary Clinton’s health is fine – focus on the real issues

hillary-clinton-weak-men-fear-strong-womenI’m not a doctor, so this is not a medical diagnosis. But it is a reminder that we need to keep things in perspective. And when it comes to Hillary Clinton, part of that perspective is the fact that, when she was First Lady, her husband asked her to take on some policy duties and because she was a strong, intelligent, outspoken woman, conservatives went apeshit and have spent the last 30 years attacking her for having the audacity of not knowing “her place.”

But seriously, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was essentially a paraplegic before his first term in office. John F. Kennedy was hospitalized and give the Last Rites three times. Richard Nixon was hospitalized for two weeks during his first campaign.George HW Bush vomited in the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister and then fainted. Then there’s the Presidents who were suspected alchoholics (Grant, Arthur) or grossly overweight (Taft, Cleveland).  Continue reading

By AgnosticPreachersKid - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10191704

Trump reminds former Bosnian refugees of Slobodan Milošević ethnic nationalism

Slobodan Milošević made Yugoslavia into fascist state based on Serbian nationalism. 30 years later, Donald Trump’s rhetoric reminds some Bosnian refugees of those years.

In 1994 I I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC as part of a history class on fascism and Nazism. While there, I visited the lower level (down the steps at the center bottom of the image at right) where there was a gallery space set aside for special exhibits. The exhibition being shown was a bunch of small black and white images of concentration camps from the former Yugoslavia, where civil war and genocide had been taking place since 1991. What I remember the most was that, if the photos hadn’t been clearly labeled with dates and locations, the photos could have been mistaken for photos of the German death camps instituted by the Nazis during World War II.

Today, I read in the Guardian about how the large Bosnian Muslim population of St. Louis, Missouri seemed to be uniting against Donald Trump because they are the children of refugees or former refugees themselves. Continue reading

Image Credit:Nigel Parry for CNN

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Eight

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part eight of a series.

Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

Click here for all the other parts of this series

In conclusion – why Donald Trump is a fascist

This analysis has examined seven different definitions of fascism and how Trump’s statements match the various characteristics of each. And the conclusions have varied significantly depending on the specifics of the definition. If we look at each definition, here’s how the conclusions ranged:

  1. Derived from “The History of Fascism and Nazism” class, spring 1994. Conclusion: Trump is almost certainly a full fascist
  2. Fascism according to Stanley G. Payne’s 13 characteristics. Conclusion: Trump is probably not a proto-fascist
  3. Fascism according to Roger Griffin’s “fascist minimum” definition. Conclusion: Trump is almost certainly a proto-fascist and probably a full fascist
  4. Fascism according to Kevin Passmore’s definition. Conclusion: Trump is probably a proto-fascist
  5. Fascism according to Emilio Gentile’s ten characteristics. Conclusion: Trump is probably not a proto-fascist
  6. Fascism according to Robert Paxton’s definition. Conclusion: Trump is almost certainly a proto-fascist and is on a path to become a full fascist if he can take power and retain it
  7. Fascism according to Umberto Eco’s 14 characteristics of Ur-Fascism. Conclusion: Trump is very likely a fascist

Of the seven definitions, two result in a strong conclusion that Trump is a full fascist, two more conclude that Trump is most likely a proto-fascist and may be a full fascist, one concludes that Trump is probably a proto-fascist, and two that Trump is probably not even a proto-fascist, never mind a full fascist.

So why have I concluded so strongly that Trump is a fascist when the experts’ own definitions vary so much? Continue reading

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Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Seven

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part seven of a series.

Trump-BrownshirtsClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco was an Italian novelist and public intellectual who, in the June 22, 1995 issue of the New York Review of Books, wrote an essay titled “Ur-fascism” (eternal fascism) in which he discussed fascism in general and identified fascism’s characteristics.

In his essay, he writes that it would be difficult for “the totalitarian governments that ruled Europe” prior to World War II to “reappear in the same form in different historical circumstances.” In this way Eco agrees with the many historians who have claimed that fascism was essentially unique to the period between World Wars I and II. But Eco thinks that “behind a regime and its ideology there is always a way of thinking and feeling, a group of cultural habits, of obscure instincts and unfathomable drives.” He calls fascism a “fuzzy totalitarianism, a collage of different philosophical and political ideas, a beehive of contradictions” that was the result of “political and ideological discombobulation.” To Eco, “fascism was philosophically out of joint, but emotionally it was firmly fastened to some archetypal foundations.” Continue reading

Donald Trump, Public Idiot

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Six

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part six of a series.

trump-fists-upClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Robert Paxton

In his 2004 book, “The Anatomy of Fascism,” historian Robert Paxton defines fascism as follows:

A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. (from Wikipedia)

Trump has tapped into a “preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood” in the American middle class, especially white, blue-collar workers. Trump and his vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence, are building a movement of purity that rolls back gay marriage and claims to promote “traditional” American and Christian values, but it’s as yet unclear whether this “compensatory cult” will be one of unity and energy as described by Paxton. Continue reading

Image Credit: Getty

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Five

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part five of a series.

trump-praise-the-lordClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Emilio Gentile

Gentile is an Italian historian who considers fascism to be a form of political religion. The ten characteristics of fascism that he has identified apply to movements rather than individuals, so it’s difficult to apply them to any single individual like Donald Trump. In addition, most of Gentile’s characteristics have multiple sub-elements, making a determination of whether or not an individual qualifies as a fascist even more complicated. And several of his characteristics only apply after a fascist movement has taken power.

Given these complications, it’s reasonable to expect that comparing Trump to Gentile’s list of characteristics will result in fewer strong matches to Trump’s policy statements and a lower confidence in any conclusions we draw from Gentile’s characteristics. Continue reading

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Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Four

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part four of a series.

FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 26:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center on February 26, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump is campaigning in Texas, days ahead of the Super Tuesday primary.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH, TX – FEBRUARY 26: (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Click here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Kevin Passmore

Cardiff University’s Kevin Passmore developed another definition of fascism for his book “Fascism: A Very Short Introduction.” The entire definition is available in Passmore’s book and at Wikipedia, but the most important parts are addressed below.

Fascism is a set of ideologies and practices that seeks to place the nation, defined in exclusive biological, cultural, and/or historical terms, above all other sources of loyalty, and to create a mobilized national community.

Trump’s rhetoric is intended to appeal to a definition of national identity that is white and racist. In his speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump said that “We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice,” which is coded racist rhetoric as well. Note that Trump didn’t contrast “failing” with succeeding, but rather “safe.” The implication is that failing schools are dangerous and that safe schools are succeeding. And where are most “failing” and dangerous schools located? In minority neighborhoods and in urban areas. His anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim positions are similarly coded to appeal to whites who are afraid of brown people moving into their neighborhoods. Continue reading

Image Credit:Nigel Parry for CNN

Donald Trump is a fascist, Part Three

Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or “merely” a proto-fascist depends on which historian’s definition of fascism you prefer. Part three of a series.

trump-sloganClick here for all the other parts of this series

Fascism according to Roger Griffin

Roger Griffin, historian and author of “The Nature of Fascism” and numerous other fascism-related books in the 1990s and 2000s, has defined fascism as follows:

Fascism is a political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra nationalism.(from “The Palingenetic Core of Fascist Ideology,” a chapter in A. Campi (Ed.), Che cos’è il fascismo? Interpretazioni e prospecttive di richerche (pp. 97-122). Rome: Ideazione editrice, 2003., via libraryofsocialscience.com)

This statement is Griffin’s attempt to create an objective definition of a “fascist minimum,” the minimum criteria that all fascisms share. Unfortunately, this single sentence is so nuanced and uses enough academic language that it takes Griffin several pages to explain what it means. Continue reading