as an ethnic Jew of an apparently Russian origin…

…Eric Balfour likely feels he has a mystical connection to my country that enables him to know for sure that a) Russian hax0rz elected Trump cuz Putin didn’t want Killary; b) every little tweet about Russia is true.

This little ignorant re-re-retweeted tweet makes me want to reanimate my twitter account just to tell the original posters – and Mr Balfour – just how much of an idiot each of them is.

Russia! Universal healthcare!

What a joke.

Yes, every once in a while you may run into a “free” doctor who is not a “fake healer” – but the odds are slim. See, state-funded medicine means all those doctors and nurses rarely get paid more than $500 (five hundred US dollars) per month, and the number of patients they are obliged to check every day is beyond any reasonable cap – they rarely are able to diagnose anything right in these constraints. You may have heard about that girl who was on the hotline with Putin this year telling the President that she’d been misdiagnosed for her back pain for years, and eventually it turned out she has cancer, and all the time has been wasted. It’s, like, “just Tuesday” (c).
Yes I had a “free” GP refer me to an endocrinologist when I was twenty and almost went into a thyroid storm. But a life-threatening condition like that is not solved by trying to book a god-knows-how-much-later appointment with a “free” specialist who’d just shrug you off if you’re any different from a textbook case – you take whichever money you have and rush yourself into a paid clinic where you will actually get help.

But of course you have to watch out so that you don’t get scammed into paying for unwanted tests and the like.

I barely know who that Katy Perry is…

…and looking at the pictures in the article linked below makes me cringe because this is all plain tasteless (just those garish colours are sin enough),  and yet I kinda wonder if it’s a bit of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”:

This is the article about Ms Perry and her “cultural appropriation”.
Now look. First of all, I personally don’t see the difference between dressing up the silly way Ms Perry does and generally “appropriating” a musical subculture like rap/hip-hop, reggae, contemporary “r’n’b” (the whole “urban” thing coming out of the USA) – all those mainstream fashion trends plus the very act of performing this sort of music. I mean, maybe it’s just Russia, but every young dude (my age and younger) claiming to be a “musician” turns out to be a “rapper”. And a scary number of girls listen to what those “musicians” produce and dress up in skimpy glitz and bling, wearing those false fingernails and hair/lash extensions. 

And we’re predominantly white and secondarily Asian in Russia (just think of the Yakuts, the Buryats, Kazakh immigrants…). There are ethnically black people here, but not many. Not every one of those is a “rapper” even.
// funny how watermelons are a national summer snack here in Russia, regardless of ethnicity //

I don’t know what the mainstream youth culture is like elsewhere but in Russia – but given the fact that all those minajes and rihannas sell millions of records worldwide, I don’t think our modest music market could account for those.

So this US-exported “urban” thing is eating at the local national cultures.

Next. I can understand why – theoretically – this black dude who wrote the article is getting all so offended. I get miiiiiighty offended whenever there is a freaking “Russian” character in a foreign movie. I don’t even know where to begin pointing out stereotypes and glaring mistakes (“nazdorovye”, anyone? Snow in July in freaking Moscow, anyone? Okay, technically it did snow a little this year in June, but it’s been the coldest late spring in decades + that snow didn’t pile around to be fit for skiing on, y’know). I even honestly feel like physically fighting those non-ex-USSR 3D content providers who release generic characters marketed as “Russian beauties” – with nothing Russian about them.

But why aren’t there any ethnic Russian Americans blogging about it all? Hey there is even a word that could work instead of “racism” – “Russophobia”!

And finally.

Are these the same bloggers who complain that SF/fantasy written (for books, movies or games) by white people has too few people of colour? 

But how can we whites write ethnic characters who are ethnic enough not to be a “cosmetically altered white” – yet manage to refrain from as much as unknowingly hinting at any possible stereotypes?

My answer to that is the same as to the accusation that metal is a “whitist” genre: 

Why don’t you, dear non-white critic, contribute to the genre with your insider experience and create some awesome SF/F/metal/whatever that could cement and expand the influence of your ethnicity?

It’s not like it’s never been done.

TL;DR:

I don’t believe that a writer or a musician can be fully authentic if they are consciously trying (striving!) to be “politically correct”. 

Of course, a mainstream “star” who barely (if ever) writes their own lyrics cannot ever be authentic – by definition. “Manufactured” and “authentic” are antonyms, after all. I wish this sort of shameless corporate showbiz thing would just stop. Regardless of ethnicity or whatever.

…yes. You want “female power fantasy” instead of “male sexual fantasy” for your female characters – roll your own and promote your work. Become a female power fantasy yourself. Just yapping at others and effectively doing nothing else won’t change the world.

a question to native speakers of English…

…who also happen to be metal fans.

Why do many American reviewers seem to be obsessed with accents the singers have? And not in the way I would expect – not necessarily bashing those who have never bothered to actually pronounce English words, but more like, y’know, being fascinated by someone’s “subtle accent”.

Okay it’s subtle. Good thing it is subtle. Bad thing it actually is noticeable, but hey. We have forever had to bear with classical singers butchering various European languages to various degrees. Kinda… yeah.

But why the need to point this out at all? And in words that suggest some of those reviewers actually may _enjoy_ a singer displaying an accent?! Not “hey it’s subtle, which is awesome because I have had enough of Mr Kakko’s one!” – but “oooh a subtle accent, neeeeaaaaat”.

Is it a fetish or something?!

I personally hate it that we Europeans can’t speak perfectly unaccented English. Not without extensive training, at least; and most singers can barely afford to pay attention… yeah right, I mean, afford to actually get vocal training. Though there is that (rather large) number of people who clearly never paid attention at school, like, at all. I happen to love some of them regardless, and yet. I don’t understand why they are not being constantly bashed in every review and by every English-speaking producer and reporter they run into. I am normally against bullying, but sometimes I’m not sure anything but brute force could work. You have to be incredibly full of yourself to go on singing on an international level when your English doesn’t sound like English at all. Not like you’re forbidden to write songs in your first language, huh? And often, the worse your pronunciation is, the worse your lyrics are – bad grammar, horrible vocabulary, this sort of bad. It’s hard to see anything artistic in a mess like that.

Is it just me?

Some things are just wrong. Period.

Like cashing in on someone else’s ideas. Not because you made a deal with them, no, but behind their backs.

You’d think celebrity likenesses for sale were bad enough – there are many reasons why these are a problem (for one, supposing you have no idea this is a celebrity and wind up inadvertently cosplaying a fan by using the character in your renders…).

But copying game assets, now that is beyond cheeky.

Poor CDPR – their Wiedźmin designs have long been ripped off by Poser/DS content providers. 

The latest DAZ newsletter shows the main render off this promo of a recent V7 character – and I didn’t even need to load the full store page to say, “Damn, this gotta be Ciri”. 
That telltale say-hello-to-Eskel scar. 

And yeah, here she goes, TW3!blonde hair, bastardized “Celtic” an’all.
// The book!Ciri’s specific hair colour has actually long been a subject of debate – we Russians, for instance, think that “ash” has the colour of actual ash, y’know; and even Poles can’t seem to agree what pan Sapkowski truly had in mind //

The vendor is French, IIRC; they have no qualms about releasing a clone of TW3!Geralt, same as leaving their promo text proofreading to DAZ, who have never been historically good about it. 

But there is something I find even more offensive than design ripoffs.

It’s promoting ignorance re:linguistic heritage of Europe.

There is no “Celtic translation” or anything! Celtic is not a single language, it’s a group of languages!

And I hate it when people with ordinary linguistic skills try messing with spelling. It just turns out ugly. Yes pan Sapkowski himself did mess with Gaelic and the like to create his “Elder speech”, but pan Sapek is a consummate pro with languages.

 

I never understood racial bias…

…but cultural bias is something I can well relate to, since it’s the only thing that really matters – it’s in the mind, which is the only meaningful part of a sentient creature.

I don’t care whether the rap /hip hop /r’n’b / whatever (that sort of global mainstream pop music with extremely limited melodic content and virtually no virtuosity on display, promoting remarkably shallow, sexist and aggressive values in their lyrics and overall performer/fan attitude) – I don’t care whether this phenomenon is endorsed by black, white or whatever colour people. It may be black in origin, but it’s so horrible that I don’t understand why black people do not make a point of denouncing it, since it definitely paints them in a very unfavourable light. 

Same goes for (neo)glam / sleaze / melodic rock / whatever (that sort of formerly global mainstream pop music with superficially emphasised melodic content, extremely limited in terms of harmony and rhythm, with the performance heavily focused on perceived virtuosity, promoting remarkably shallow, sexist and aggressive values in their lyrics and overall performer/fan attitude) – that very white thing that would definitely paint whites in an extremely unfavourable light, were it still mainstream.Thankfully, non-white performers and fans of this are beyond rare.

// both these abysses, though, most certainly have spawned a number of authentic artists, but these are far and few (and often are tragic heroes) //

There exist “progressively minded” people – those various activists. I only know the web-based part of them, since my offline life isn’t exactly conducive to forming social contacts outside work.

One of the most important things, to me, is to help support certain European music traditions, from songs of the troubadours to “female fronted metal”. These are all extremely non-mainstream things; they are very much threatened. 

But these traditions are white in origin. So it’s sort of customary among “progressively minded” folks to disregard them. And if you are dedicated to these cases, you may well get labeled ‘racist’. As if niche white cultures cannot die out, as if “white” is a magic preservative. But someone working in a mainstream genre, or in a popular medium (like comics even!), but “not white”, is considered “more worthy”.

It’s not like I am asking others to help me on my quest. It’s just that I’m being dissuaded, since my (limited) time and money could be “better used” for the benefit of stuff I don’t care for, but which better allies with the activists’ political agenda.

And at the same time, no activist apparently objects to that completely atrociously anti-scientific designation of “brown people” that often refers to people from India, who are as white as it gets!

While I think that disregarding hard scientific facts is exactly the reason why people(s) of the planet Earth keep on fighting.

To agree, we need something non-subjective, some sort of an external framework. The only thing that can provide an approximation of this “universal truth” is science.

Of course, science can be abused and impersonated. But still. It’s at least worth trying.

All in all, I’m extremely disillusioned.

you can dig around Hansi’s lyrics…

…to try and figure out what he’s like as a person, and while this would work (especially if you take the “published demos” into consideration, too), sometimes an interview is easier.

This one was taken last November, about a week after that terrorist thing in Paris. So obviously, it’s the topic they plunge into right away. And it’s not exactly what the Bards get asked about often.

But it paints the whole picture of who Hans Jürgen Kürsch is. In broad yet powerful strokes.

If only any politicians were like that.

my condolences, America

And the rest of the world, too.

There is never a “lesser evil”. Mrs Clinton would have definitely continued the current (very dubious, to put it mildly) US foreign policy, but at least this was a given. Kinda the devil you know. Whatever Mr Trump is going to do in that regard… well, let’s just hope he knows it himself.

It’s funny how a number of analysts here (yes, there do exist Russian analysts specializing in US politics) suggest that those who voted for Trump voted for “a new America” because he apparently represents “something different” – while in reality his crowd seems to be quite reactionary.

The scariest thing about this election result isn’t the result per se. It’s the fact that so many people voted for a political black box – which means they based their vote on his personality. And apparently being disrespectful towards women, non-white Americans and non-Americans is okay in the minds of those people. That this reactionary crowd turned out to be that huge.

I wonder how many people did the “write your own candidate” thing.