For What Is A Man Profited, If He Shall Gain A Ph.D And Lose His Sense Of Humor?

Deborah Finding, the most pompous academic in Britain, knows hatred when she sees it.

Hit British TV comedy Little Britain has been accused of promoting prejudice and hatred.

A study by a London School of Economics academic says many of the show's characters – from teenage mum Vicky Pollard to proud gay Daffyd – are stereotypes based on people's dislike of others of a different class, sexuality, race or gender.

For those who have not seen it, the BBC comedy Little Britain is based on recurring character sketches. Among these are Daffyd Thomas, the only gay in the village of Llandewi Breffi. For those who have seen the show (which has to be watched a few times before one learns the characters sufficiently to appreciate it), but lack a sense of humor, Daffyd is funny because he identifies himself through victimhood to such an extent that he cannot see that there are plenty of well-adjusted and accepted gay people in his village, and he resents it when his neighbors fail to discriminate against him.

In short, he is exactly the sort of gay person, a humorless victim unable to laugh at himself, that a nitwit academic like Deborah Finding would wish to see more of. Perhaps that's why she hates him so, even as she acknowledges that Matt Lucas, the show's developer who plays Daffyd, is himself gay.

No doubt Finding also finds self-hatred in the work of Chris Rock.

A short clip (with a bit of NSFW language):

For fans of, as a prude like Professor Finding would classify it, bawdy comedy that at its best approaches Monty Python, I highly recommend the show, which can be seen on BBC America, or the American version currently running on HBO, which while still quite funny does suffer a bit because the makers are somewhat less familiar with what makes America funny than they are with what makes Britain funny.

As a bonus, both shows feature scandalous narration from Tom Baker, better known as the Doctor Who with the long scarf and the curly hair.

Via Andrew Bolt, and run about a month or two ago at another site.  Professor Finding, however, still asserts that Little Britain is hate speech, so it's as relevant as ever.

Geometry Wars

The Eyeballing Game is a test of skill, precision, and spatial geometry. With an average error of 7.7 in my best game, it demonstrates that I have no business with engineering, woodworking, draftsmanship, or shooting pool.

It is nonetheless an endlessly compelling timewaster.

Via Zack Hiwiller, and originally posted at another site.

The Dead Walk

Next week is zombie week. Valve software, the maker of Half Life and Team Fortress 2, finally releases the game I've most anticipated this year, Left 4 Dead, a multiplayer cooperative shooter featuring hordes of the hungry, risen dead. Even with the Prince spelling, I'm charged.

But I was most disappointed to hear, courtesy of my friend and sometimes commenter Andrew, that Left 4 Dead will feature perhaps the most annoying fad of the past decade: running zombies.

Zombies, quite simply, cannot run, and in my perfect zombie apocalypse certainly do not. As a Pennsylvania sheriff put it, "They're dead. They're all messed up."

When well made, zombie films are the gold standard in horror, and the gold standard in zombie films is the work of George Romero, whose first three films in the field, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead (which has undergone a critical reassessment after a poor initial assessment, an assesment that was always unfair) are among the best horror movies ever made. Romero's work is set in our own world, but one where the dead have begun to walk for reasons never quite explained (a viral infection of the living which kills and reanimates, and radiation brought back by a space probe, a la H. P. Lovecraft but with man going to meet the things which should not be known rather than them coming to us, are suggested but never confirmed). Being dead, their brains are damaged. They have no rational thought, but they do have full use of the lower portions of the brain, which are all about aggression and hunger. So they want to eat us.

The terror these films inflict is not just because they feature graphic and disturbing images of cannibalism. Death carries its own terror, as does isolation. A world in which one is isolated among the dead carries the two worst fears, death and being utterly alone, to an extreme, as Richard Matheson's short story I Am Legend, a 1950s vampire novella which is at the root of all of these films and which still packs a punch today despite the best efforts of Will Smith, attests. Romero, to the extent he improved on I Am Legend, did so by making its ideas explicit and by adding a jolt of social satire, which is quite evident if one can look beyond the gore.

But included within the fear of death is the fear of decay, the fear of aging run amock. Slow zombies, the dead that walk, don't remember, don't learn, embody the fear of aging as well as death. Recent remakes of Romero's work, however, feature zombies who can run and can learn. They miss the point. A zombie that can run, rip doors off their hinges, and learn how doors work is not a reflection of our own fears about ourselves, and the future that awaits us all in which we consume ourselves if we're lucky enough to live into ripe old age.

Simon Pegg, the star and creator of Shaun of the Dead, a hilarious comedy which pays tribute to Romero's films, yet is also quite scary in its own right and ultimately faithful to Romero's horrifying work, has much more to say about why zombies must not run.

(Note: If you think you've seen this post before today, you have. It was written last November at another site, where some of the content will eventually wind up here as reruns. I quite enjoyed Left 4 Dead, but haven't been able to play it as much as I'd like.)

Big News In The War On Ibuprofen

The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in an appeal by the Safford Arizona Unified School District, on the question of whether school officials were justified, under the Fourth Amendment, in strip-searching thirteen year old Savana Redding.  The goal of the search was to determine whether Ms. Redding had smuggled contraband ibuprofen into the school, in violation of a "zero tolerance" drug policy.  An en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier held that a civil suit filed by Ms. Redding could proceed.

Many moons ago, in reviewing this case, I stated the following:

This being the Ninth Circuit, and this being America, it would not surprise me at all if the Supreme Court were to grant certiorari and reverse this holding. While the Circuits might divide on a case as revoltingly silly as this one, if there is a general rule in American jurisprudence on the rights of children suspected of drug possession in school, it is that they have none.

The question boils down to, may adults strip and humiliate a thirteen year old girl for possessing a legal product, so long as the adults are protected by their status as school employees?  Is membership in the American Federation of Teachers the equivalent of a badge?

I stand by what I wrote earlier: If this had happened anywhere but school, they'd all be in jail.

[rerun] Which Fork Do I Use To Kill Myself? (Updated 12/08)

[Originally written 2005; originally posted here as a rerun last year.]

This Saturday night I sat stupefied by that question.

You see, I couldn't drink myself to death, because I had to drive home. And clearly I couldn't live any longer. Because the wedding singer had just belted out the Titanic song like Ethyl Merman with a cattle prod up her ass, and just when I dared hope, just when it seemed that it was over, she started belting it out again. In fucking Farsi. Because it was a Persian wedding. So every she she sang, say, "Say You'll Love Me" from Phantom of the Opera, she had to repeat the whole thing in another fucking language. [Read more…]

[Rerun] My Breakfast With Andre, Chapter II

This true story, the second of two parts, was posted at Octopus Overlords over a period of months in 2005. I’m modestly pleased with it. Since recent events have called to mind how impermanent the websites we surf can be, I’m taking the opportunity to preserve it here. All names, including my own, have been changed to protect the guilty. As the most guilty party, my last name is rendered here as “Smith.”

The earlier portion of this story can be found here.

[Read more…]

[Rerun] Non-Gamers Just Don't Get Gamers

This one, written in 2004, was lost with a prior iteration of Popehat; I was inspired to dig it up from another site when I noticed someone following a now-dead link from Kotaku to find it. It concerns "Saga of Ryzom," a MMORPG (that is, for non-gamers, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing game, like World of Warcraft) that went off-line for good early this year. Here it is, after the jump:

[Read more…]