I mean, seriously, how over the top can you get...
* From Livejournal, of all bloody places, comes this brilliant little blast on how unbelievable and unconvincing the plot of World War II was:
Let's start with the bad guys. Battalions of stormtroopers dressed in all black, check. Secret police, check. Determination to brutally kill everyone who doesn't look like them, check. Leader with a tiny villain mustache and a tendency to go into apopleptic rage when he doesn't get his way, check. All this from a country that was ordinary, believable, and dare I say it sometimes even sympathetic in previous seasons.
I wouldn't even mind the lack of originality if they weren't so heavy-handed about it. Apparently we're supposed to believe that in the middle of the war the Germans attacked their allies the Russians, starting an unwinnable conflict on two fronts, just to show how sneaky and untrustworthy they could be? And that they diverted all their resources to use in making ever bigger and scarier death camps, even in the middle of a huge war? Real people just aren't that evil. And that's not even counting the part where as soon as the plot requires it, they instantly forget about all the racism nonsense and become best buddies with the definitely non-Aryan Japanese.
Not that the good guys are much better. Their leader, Churchill, appeared in a grand total of one episode before, where he was a bumbling general who suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Ottomans of all people in the Battle of Gallipoli. Now, all of a sudden, he's not only Prime Minister, he's not only a brilliant military commander, he's not only the greatest orator of the twentieth century who can convince the British to keep going against all odds, he's also a natural wit who is able to pull out hilarious one-liners practically on demand. I know he's supposed to be the hero, but it's not realistic unless you keep the guy at least vaguely human.
Yeah, the whole piece is that awesome. A reminder that when viewed through the right lens, history is a strange place.
* Problems of permission culture You know the copyright police are getting bad when even the Wall Street Journal is starting to balk. A discussion that notes how literary anthologies are rapidly becoming unprintable, and even clear fair use cases like quoting eight words from a song run into the risk of a lawsuit.
Interestingly, I don't mind the idea of copyright in theory. There does need to be some bulwark against outright plagiarism and I do like making money off my creative works. At the same time, as public domain has rapidly been pushed closer to nonexistence, this sort of crap really starts to create a cultural stranglehold. Ironically, I think we would be better off going back to the old setup, with a strictly set limit (e.g. 30 years or life of the author +10), estates and all, on how long an author has before their works hit the public domain.
* Grim Meathook Future How I missed this nice, barbed bit of insight from the lovely Josh Ellis is beyond me. But it's pretty close to my own take on the frustrating ignorance of much of the tech classes. I also appreciate the way Ellis speculates about multiple futures existing at once. A must-read.
* Detroit newspapers team up to start aggregator Faltering old school papers combine their resources to send a rocket away from Krypton start an aggregation service to cover the whole state. Keep your eye on this trend. One of the media survival tactics broached at the Foo Camp journalism discussions was combining resources to make formerly resource-heavy activities (like long-form journalism, for example) more practical.
Chief to this strategy is the realization that news is an ecosystem. Many blogs still need the glut of content from wire services and even investigative pieces to chew over, while the resources and structure provided by older news outlets can help gather otherwise dispersed content. There's potential here, and we'll see where it goes.
* In conclusion, MACHETE!