Three Stage Voting and the Hugos

Jul. 25th, 2017 07:43 am
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Posted by camestrosfelapton

The Back Story

(see also Nicholas Whyte’s post here http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2855654.html )

The procedural response to the Rabid Puppy and Sad Puppy campaigns has consisted of use of existing rules and the proposal of new rules. I’ll pick on three to start with.

  • To vote you need to be a supporting member of Worldcon and to have paid the associated cost.
  • No Award – the existing procedure that allows voters to pick ‘none of the above’ from a set of finalists. This was used by voters to deliver a very forthright rejection of the slates in 2015.
  • 5-6 a rule change as a consequence of the Puppy campaigns – people nominate five works but six works become finalists. This change was voted on in 2015, ratified and came into force for 2017. It limits the impact of slate voting on the list of finalists. If it had been in place in 2015 and everything else had been the same, then in more categories there would have been at least one more non-slate finalists.

The first process limits the extent to which the Hugos are vulnerable to click-farms or other coordinated attacks by large numbers of spurious voters.

Together, those second two processes amount to damage control. No Award stops unpopular finalists winning by being the only option because of a slate. 5-6 makes it likely that there is at least one non-slate finalist that could win, instead of the whole category going to No Award. Neither, in themselves, would stop a repeat of the Sad Puppies 3 / Rabid Puppies 1 combo but they strongly disincentivise the use of slates as a way of trying to control the award.

The next two are more complex:

  • EPH – a voting system for the nominations that limits the impact that one disciplined minority can have on the nomination process. By ‘disciplined minority’ I mean a large group of voters who vote in a similar way. That could be people voting on a slate or it could just be an natural grouping of people with very similar tastes. It doesn’t stop a slate from getting works onto the ballot but it helps other works make it as well.
  • EPH+ – a tweeking of EPH to improve the extent to which slate voting has limited impact.

My feelings about EPH have been that it is a good thing in itself, regardless of the slates. More generally it further disincentivises slates. Its down sides include some mathematical complexity which leads to some lack of transparency with the counting process.

The question in 2016 was whether together these would be enough. With the Rabid Puppies still impacting the 2016 ballot and analysis suggesting EPH would not be completely sufficient to prevent impact from a well disciplined slate, there was concern that other measures were needed. More pressing was the tactical change from the Rabids – their nominees came in three kinds:

  • Hostages – plausible, popular works nominated to prevent a blanket ‘No Award’ vote against slates hard.
  • Promotional – Castalia House works nominated as a publicity stunt by the publisher and chief Rabid Puppy.
  • Trolling/griefing works – works intended to mock the Hugos or defame individuals or otherwise nominated in the hope of causing consternations.

Those three categories were overlapping.

The voters rose to the occasion again. The hostage plan didn’t work and at least one of the trolling attempts backfired when the inimitable Chuck Tingle was adopted as popular hero. However, despite the failure of Rabid Puppies 2 to make a lasting impact, it still suceeded in being a pain in the arse for everybody. In other words the griefing element of the campaign was a reward for the Rabids.

What to do? There was much discussion but a consensus arose around a proposal called Three Stage Voting or 3SV. In short, adding an additional round of voting after the initial nomination period. This round would allow votes to remove works not regarded by voters as legitimate possible finalists.

The Current State of Affairs

I believe it is fair to say that on the whole Sad Puppies were motivated by a genuine desire to gain some award recognition. Vox Day and the Rabids were more motivated by general mischief. However, both were motivated by the promotional/publicity-stunt elements of getting nominated for the Hugos.

Larry Correia’s capacity to motivate a significant number of fans to buy supporting memberships and nominate led to their being a significan Puppy voting block. Correia’s withdrawl from the Hugos has led to a decline in that block. More overtly Sad Puppies such as Sarah Hoyt have overtly stated that spending money on such memberships is a waste and essentially giving money to people the pups dislike.

In short, the immediate cause of the Puppy Kerfuffle has gone. The Sads have ceased to be a factor. However, that doesn’t mean others may not try similar antics in the future.

Of the rules above, I think the top two effectively stopped the Sad Pups – it’s just the effect was not immediate nor was it obvious to the organisers of Sad Puppies 1,2 & 3 what would occur. The effort of a slate, combined with membership costs, combined with the liklihood of a humiliating loss to No Award was enough to make the whole Sad Puppies campaign as a slate an unattractive option. 5-6 and EPH sealed the deal.

Longer term 5-6 and EPH(+) also mean that if another naive slate campaign arises from some other quarter, the damage done while that campaign follows the same cycle will be much less.

That’s all great as far as it goes. The 2017 finalists were rich and varied and good in all categories but…

The griefers are still there and their motives are not the same. The Rabid Puppies managed to get some griefing-style and promotional style nominees on the ballot. That impact was diluted by quality works but it was still present. The griefers don’t need to win to feel that their behaviour has been rewarded. Their goal is not a Hugo nomination but to create ill-will and to make people deal with their crap.

So 3SV is the Answer?

As things stand the only option on offer to deal with the griefing element is 3SV. There is no viable alternative that I’m aware of. A strong admin role during the nomination phase could theoretically remove griefing nominees but that idea is a non-starter: Worldcon/Hugo admins do not want that power and the consensus I’ve seen from Hugo voters is that such a proposal would never pass.

3SV is more acceptable because it passes that strong-admin style decision to the voters. In doing so, it potentially deals with other issues such as eligibility questions.

But, does it actually do the job?

It certainly would be another check against slate voting but I really think that is a solved problem. The issue is does it deal with griefing?

Nominally it does, in so far as it can prevent offensive works becoming finalists. However, does that solve the problem? Put another way which of these is the actual problem with the griefers:

  1. Works nominated by griefers becoming finalists?
  2. Hugo voters having to deal with works nominated by griefers?

3SV is a barrier to 1. but by its nature it makes 2. more feasible.

3SV will give voters an opportunity to reject specific works/nominees from the top 15. They won’t know how many nominations those nominees will have got or their ordering.

Now to get in top 15 for Best Novel in 2017 took about 200+ votes. A not insubstantial barrier but obviously significantly less than it takes to get an actual nomination. In less popular categories the number needed to get in the top 15 is substantially less – in many it is less than 100 and in some around 30 to 40.

So what, you might think, these nominees won’t be finalists and get no bragging rights or special status. I think that is missing the point. Works with abusive or insulting titles (for example) could be more easily gamed into the top 15 and by doing so griefers will get their psychological reward of Hugo voters acting to vote those works down. This may seem like an extraordinarily petty motive but the existing motives for the Rabid to spend more effort getting finalists on to the ballot are no less petty.

Appearing on the initial list will get more attention than appearing on the post-ceremony top 15 list. Although the two lists will contain the same works, the initial list is a list of potential winners in a way that the post-ceremony list isn’t. For the purpose of Castalia House’s publicity stunt motives, it may be more than sufficient to encourage nominations. For the same cost as getting one nominee as a finalist, the griefers can get multiple nominees on the initial list.

But ‘can’ is not the same as ‘will’ and its heart this is a psychological game rather than a procedural exercise. Are people like Vox Day or other people who might act in bad faith more motivated by the thought of gaining a single finalist and less motivated by a system that would deny them that? In which case 3SV could be a success. However, I think that they are primarily motivated by a desire to cause upset and dissension – in which case I fear that 3SV would simply a way of lowering the bar for their antics at precisely the time when they may have fewer resources to engage in them (where ‘resources’ are voting members of Worldcon).

Yet maybe that whole line of reasoning is a mistake. Acting in any diretion solely on the basis of the likes and dislikes and strange motivations of trollish-ideologues is, arguably, an error itself. A better approach is to place your own interests first and make those paramount. I think EPH is an example of that because I think it is a good thing in itself – yes, the Puppy antics gave the impetous to introduce it but it is defensible as a thing in its own right. For those who DON’T think EPH is defensible in its own right, the argument still holds – you’d be right to oppose it regardless of whether it was an effective vaccine against hydrophobia.

So is 3SV a good thing, in a circumstance in which there are no griefers? It does possibly pass questions of eligibility of borderline SFF works to the membership but, I’m not sure it will be an effective tool in that regard. Otherwise – does it do anything useful? I’m genuinely open to suggestions there – I’m not sure it does but that maybe just that I haven’t thought it through entirely.


Munich Meetup, July 27

Jul. 25th, 2017 04:54 am
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Posted by JenniferP

From Fia, your host:

Hi Captain Awkward!

Just wanted to notify you about a meetup in Munich that we planned for Thursday the 27th of July at 6:30 pm.
We are going to meet at the same place like last time. The PotAsia Ost. It is in Berg an Laim, Baumkirchnerstr. 21. More details and map here: https://www.potasia.de.
To quote forum member Mercy for directions: “From Tram 19, Haltestelle Baumkirchnerstr. From the corner of Kreillerstr. and Baumkirchnerstr., walk past the Aumüller bakery and it’s about halfway down the block, across the street from the Maibaum.
From U2 Josephsburg, take the exit for Kreillerstr, turn left, and walk a long block to Baumkirchnerstr. From there the directions are the same.”
I will bring my Pusheenicorn so people will be able to identify the table.
If somebody needs to get in touch, there’s the “Munich?” thread on
the forums or you can contact me by email on fianakiara@web.de.
Thanks so much and have a nice day! 🙂
Have a nice day yourselves, Munich!

Agent Coco Butter

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:40 pm
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Posted by Tom "The Kittenmaster" Cooper

Please give a huge TDK warm welcome to our latest Star Kit, Agent Coco Butter. He is 4 weeks old from Arlington, Texas.

Agent Coco Butter

We found him in the yard all alone, so we took him in and have been bottle feeding him. He is now 4 weeks old.

Agent Coco Butter

Agent Coco Butter

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Posted by Kaila Hale-Stern

How many times will movies with strong female characters and diverse casts need to absolutely destroy on opening weekend before Hollywood gets the message? This should be the norm for filmmaking going forward, not the exception.

The raunchy R-rated comedy Girls Trip, starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, and Queen Latifah, achieved an incredible A+ audience rating score and racked up a jaw-dropping $30.4 million at the box office. THR points out that Girls Trip‘s haul is “the best start for an R-rated comedy in two years and the best showing for any live-action comedy so far this year. The movie achieved those distinctions because it appealed to an array of audiences: African Americans made up 51 percent of ticket buyers, followed by Caucasians at 38 percent.” Hey, did you know that audiences universally appreciate excellent casting and scripts and women being goddamned hilarious? It’s so funny how that works out!

By contrast, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk also had a strong opening with $50.5 million, but that movie had $100 million budget and wall-to-wall ad campaigns, whereas Girls Trip was a steal with a $20 million budget. This is the summer of leading ladies absolutely owning critical praise and mining box office gold. Hollywood, MORE OF THIS. I want to stop writing about successful badass women-at-the-forefront properties having to prove anything to anyone anymore. (via THR)

  • Wait, what?

     And then the plot, it thickens, after the TSA straight-up denies it had any part in the comics travel ban.

  • Swimmer Michael Phelps raced a shark, or something? I was in the woods all weekend. Someone has to parse this one for me. (via Pajiba)
  • All of the other Funkos can go home forever.

  • This is really, really not a good look for Ready Player One author Ernest Cline, a.k.a. “Nerd Porn Auteur.”

  • A better way to act is to be like Circa Survive guitarist Brendan Ekstrom, who stopped his performance mid-song to alert security after catching sight of a woman being sexually harassed in the crowd. (via The Daily Dot)
  • Every time I think I can’t be more excited for Thor: Ragnarok I am actually incorrect in this assumption.

  • The Pokemon Go Fest was an unmitigated disaster where players could not even play Pokemon Go. I imagine it was a little bit like spending the day as a magikarp, basically just helplessly thrashing around in a field.  (via Polygon)

So what’s on your mind today, my little fishies?

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(image: Universal Studios)

Roger Waters…Wednesday!

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:01 pm
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Posted by PZ Myers

The day after tomorrow I’ll be sitting in the nosebleed seats for Roger Waters Us + Them tour. I love the guy’s music, and he’s got the right sensibility for the era, as reported for his Chicago event.

It’s also very political, and that’s something that should surprise absolutely nobody. Waters has never been a stranger to controversy, and his recent political views (especially those involving the Israel-Palestine conflict), have certainly been turning all the right and wrong heads across the world. But he sounds revitalized again, and if you couldn’t tell from all the rage and angst that radiates from his latest record, Is This the Life We Really Want?, then he makes that pretty clear with the Us + Them Tour. Unlike his recent reprisal of The Wall, which toured the world for the better part of the early 2010s, Waters sounds less like he’s dusting off older material and more like he’s rewriting them for a new era. And in a world that’s as savage and dour as ours right now, we’re also singing louder than ever.

Anyone else going?

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Posted by Germain Lussier

Every year, I make it a point to stop by the Mondo booth at San Diego Comic-Con as often as possible. No one at the entire convention releases as much exciting, vibrant, and exclusive pop culture art over the course of four days—and 2017 was no exception.

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Posted by Rae Paoletta on Gizmodo, shared by Cheryl Eddy to io9

It’s easy to feel small and insignificant in the grandiose scope of the universe, because we are. At the same time, as Carl Sagan once reminded us, we’re made of the same “star stuff” as the cosmos. All too often, we forget how random, ridiculous, and resplendent it is to part of the stellar sorority of the universe.…

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Posted by Charles Pulliam-Moore

Today, Eon Productions and MGM sent out a four-sentence press release announcing that the next James Bond movie will hit UK theaters on November 8th, 2019. That’s it. There was literally nothing else. That’s weird... but it’s also telling.

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Posted by Charles Pulliam-Moore

When Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige announced that the Captain Marvel origin film is going to be set in the ‘90s and involve Carol Danvers fighting Skulls, we were surprised and left with a number of burning questions. Where was Carol during the Battle of New York or Ultron’s attack? Also, waiiaminute—did you say

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Posted by Jessica Mason

This year at San Diego Comic-Con, among the angsty spider-persons and tortured men of steel, a different kind of hero broke on the scene. He was big, boisterous and very, very blue. We’re talking about The Tick, of course. The cult hero has been around since 1986 when he was created by a young Ben Edlund at the age of 18. Since then, the character has starred in two television series: the popular animated show from the 90s, as well as a short-lived live action version from 2001. Constantly helpful, positive, cheerful, impervious to pain or failure and neigh-invincible, The Tick is a larger than life character in every way and his antics and earnest joy in (trying) to save the day have endeared audiences for years. With a home on Amazon prime’s streaming service, The Tick is set to burst back into action on August 25 in an entirely new way.

Helmed by Edlund—who returns to the character he created over 30 years ago after writing stints on Angel, Supernatural, Firefly and Revolution, to name just a few—The Tick focuses on Arthur Everest (Griffin Newman), a powerless man haunted by his father’s death at the hands of super-villain The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley). As he struggles to understand his father’s death he stumbles on both a deep conspiracy as well as the titular blue superhero, played by Peter Serafinowicz.

Much to his chagrin, Arthur ends up as The Tick’s sidekick and thus their adventures begin. The show is a send up of the superhero genre and with so many heroes already out there, the creators have more than enough material to spoof. Valorie Curry, who portrays Arthur’s sister, Dot, thinks this in the perfect moment for this kind of satire. “This is a wonderful time to have The Tick enter the scene,” Curry said. “The character is someone who’s gonna point out the absurdity of that and laugh at it.” Yara Martinez, who portrays the villainous Miss Lint (so named because her electrical powers tend to malfunction and cover in in lint), also noted that because the Tick isn’t part of or beholden to any greater cannon or cinematic universe that they have much more room to play.

The world of The Tick is much like our own, expect for the fact superheroes have existed for a century or so, none more famous that Superian, an immortal played by Brendan Hines who The Tick reveres as an idol …and who may not know his big blue fanboy exists. But the heart of the story still comes from the human elements, such as the hapless Arthur and Dot. The slightly more grown-up tone of this version allowed for the human characters surrounding The Tick to be much more nuanced and developed. Perhaps the biggest evolution for any character from her previous iterations is Dot Everest.

When Curry first discussed the character with Edlund, they talked about how Dot has always existed as more of a device and the “snarky voice of reason” without much to do but drop dry one-liner. In this iteration however, Dot has evolved as a character with “a huge amount of empathy, a huge amount of compassion,” according to Curry. The fact that female characters can become little more than accessories is something the writers don’t shy away from and try to subvert with Dot. “She’s person that operates from the heart,” Curry said. Dot takes on a role familiar to many women, doing the emotion labor to take care of everyone around her at her own expense, especially her brother. She lost a parent as well and never got to grieve and carries “a lot of anger, resentment and grief. She’s also a person that has always needed to put her needs and her grief and her wounds and her ambitions on the back burner to take care of her brother.” Among the many costumed heroes, Dot is never their damsel or one to be saved and that helps create and emotional core for the show as well as offsetting the humor.

The humor of The Tick doesn’t just come from the silliness of The Tick himself, but from the contrast of his antics to the relative seriousness of the world around him. The show boasts an extensive rogue’s gallery, including Miss Lint and Ramses IV, a ruthless crime boss played by Michael Cerveris. He regards The Tick as first “just a nuisance, then an annoyance and then a big blue obstacle” according to Cerveris. Similarly, the villain Overkill, played by Scott Speiser creates humor simply by existing in the same world as big, boisterous, buffoon like The Tick, while Overkill, as Speiser notes, “doesn’t mind stabbing you in the head if you’re in the way.”

Speiser noted that finding the tone of the show, which is darker than other iterations, was great fun. “The more serious he takes it, the funnier it is,” Speiser added. Jackie Earle Haley felt the same. After playing such iconic dark roles as Rorschach in Watchmen and Freddie Kruger in the latest Nightmare on Elm Street, The Terror was another dark role, even though the show is a comedy. Haley noted: “We felt it was important for certain characters to be grounded” compared to the Tick who is so over-the-top. “We all help earn the ability for The Tick to be funny the whole way through.” Despite the dark elements, Speiser says it’s a family show that kids will love.

Producer David Fury praised Edlund for finding that tone as well as finding the humanity in the cartoonish situation. “[Edlund] recognizes that for The Tick to work in this day and age we need to be invested more emotionally in the characters….they have to be real,” said Fury. Arthur Everest Is dealing with heavy issues including mental health and the death of his parents, which is what “makes The Tick’s presence on the show that much more funny.” Into these mostly normal lives comes this blue hero who never gives up and never stops being a hero. That’s literal as we never see The Tick out of costume. Fury hinted that the mystery of what The Tick himself is will be addressed in the show. Whether he’s in a costume or a robot or something more will be an “ongoing mystery. The Tick is wondering himself, he doesn’t remember,” Fury teased. The freedom of the streaming format has allowed the writer to tell a more serialized and sincere story than other iterations of The Tick. With the first six episodes dropping in August and the second half of the season debuting in early 2018, the audience will get the benefits of binging and the anticipation of a hiatus as well.

Comic-Con audiences got the first taste of the show in a panel attended by the cast as well as “The Tick takeover” installation across from the convention center. Fans were able to watch the premiere episode in the comfort of an exclusive lounge and join The Tick and Arthur on a scavenger hunt to battle the nefarious pyramid gang. The centerpiece of the activation was the animatronic Tick antennae visible from blocks away and which fans could control depending on the mood they chose for The Tick. The installation fit the mood of the Tick, a joyful, helpful force in a messy, grim world both on screen and off.

Jessica Mason is a writer and lawyer living in Portland, Oregon passionate about corgis, fandom, and awesome girls. Follow her on Twitter at @FangirlingJess.

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Posted by Vivian Kane

Note: This article includes major SPOILERS for the movie Split.

Every time I think I’m done caring about M. Night Shyamalan, he drops some gigantic breadcrumb, making sure I’ll follow his career at least a little longer. The latest being that corporeal goddess Sarah Paulson has joined the cast of his upcoming movie, Glass.

I had mixed feelings about Shyamalan’s last movie, Split, which we learned in the last few moments–again, SPOILERS–was a secret Unbreakable sequel all along. It was the closest thing Shyamalan has had to a real return to form in years. James McAvoy’s portrayal of 24 different personalities is incredible. But it’s impossible to overlook the catastrophic clumsiness he displayed in dealing with issues of sexual assault. The sexual and emotional torture of teenage girls felt exploitative and designed to tantalize. When her history of sexual abuse ends up being what saves Anya Taylor-Joy’s Casey, it’s handled so hamfistedly as to read as a “wow, good things can come from rape, too!” morality tale. If you are not excited for a follow-up, no one here will blame you in the slightest.

So why am I? To start, Unbreakable is one of my absolute favorite movies, though much of that may be nostalgia over the role it played in the development of my young self’s film aesthetic. It was the first DVD I ever bought. I’m finding it difficult to let go of that attachment, even though I found the tie-in at the end of Split to be wholly unnecessary.

Also, again, did I mention Sarah Paulson?

I will watch her in anything, and she elevates the quality of anything she’s in.

Next, lacking any details about the new movie (other than that McAvoy and Taylor-Joy are both returning), a look through Shyamalan’s Twitter feed is intriguing. To start:

That’s one hell of an encouraging list of influences.

This tweet also caught my attention:

I don’t want to project too much growth onto a vague tweet, but there are a number of characters from Unbreakable and Split that this could apply to, and if Shyamalan is open to recognizing the ways he should have done better by his (mostly female) characters, I’m interested to see what he does with that.

(H/T Variety, featured image: Shutterstock)

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Posted by Charline Jao

Bob’s Burgers is always a delightful and hilarious watch, but their holiday episodes are definitely something special. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Halloween, or Christmas, the show mixes the weird, totally-gross, and heart-warming in a way only Bob’s Burgers can to tell a story about the Belcher family and some wild shenanigans.

At the show’s Comic-Con panel, creator Loren Bouchard revealed that this year’s Christmas special will be an hour long, saying, “It should feel almost like a little Christmas movie … It’s kind of epic. It’s got an hourlong feel to it.” Even more exciting? Adam Driver, Kylo Ren of Star Wars, is set to guest star.

While Driver’s voice acting credit mainly include video games and The Simpsons, I’m excited to see him do more voice work. He has a really distinctive voice, and prior roles have shown he can be really hilarious and goofy when using it right. Maybe he’ll even get a chance to sing! Remember his “outer … space!” lines in Inside Llewyn Davis? Or this ridiculous Aladdin sketch on SNL? There’s just something about Driver’s voice that lends itself so well to funny songs. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of role they write for him, in what’s sure to be another hilarious and creative Bob’s Burgers episode.

Other announcements EW shared included an upcoming couch gag for The Simpsons, a “completely fan-drawn episode,” and a guest appearance from Thomas Middleditch as “a kid named Alex who hosts Gene for his first sleepover.”

Can it be December already?

(via Nerdist, image: 20th Television)

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Posted by Jessica Lachenal

The stars of Justice League have apparently been called back for some very extensive reshoots, something to the tune of about four weeks for some of the movie’s biggest roles. According to Variety, this has caused some foul-ups with scheduling, as many of the headlining stars are already hard at work on other films. Henry Cavill, for example, is working on the next Mission: Impossible film, and his character calls for him to have a mustache—a decidedly un-Superman physical attribute, no? (I fully expect someone in the comments to drop hella examples of Supes with a mustache, not a beard, so who knows.)

Anyway, Variety states that the production is going to some seriously strange lengths to cover up the fact that they’re basically reshooting a mustachioed Superman: they’re actually removing the mustache digitally in post-production. Think about how much money is being spent to prevent this …

… when in fact they should just be totally doubling down on a mustache Superman. I mean, come on. Look at him. What kind of magical secrets lie trapped between this push broom and the milky white all-American skin underneath? If hairs could talk, I’m sure this hairy caterpillar of a ‘stache would have so many stories to share of alien worlds and secret hideaways in the Arctic. Why, with this mustache, Superman looks like he’d be right at home serving as a guard at Litchfield Penitentiary.

Do you think that Superman’s the kind of guy who notices the foamy mustache when he drinks hot cocoa on those cold, lonely nights in his frozen base? When he cracks open a cold one with the Justice Pals, do you think they’re the kind of friends (co-workers?) who tell him that he’s got a bit of foam on his mustache, or do they just sit there and giggle about it while Batman, the great detective, looks around very confused as to why everyone’s laughing? Do you think that maybe Superman would grow a mustache after Batman tells him he “looks so young” because he wanted to try a new form of psychological warfare against him as part of his ongoing research on How To Kill Literally Everybody On The Justice League? Do you think Barry Allen and Aquaman maybe have a competition going as to who can secretly steal more of Supes’ mustache hairs without him knowing (with the Flash winning by a clear margin because Aquaman keeps just straight up asking)?

Or do you think Wonder Woman is currently hard at work researching the phenomena of how growing facial hair as “rally beards” and such on sports teams can lead to higher morale and team unity and is thus trying to find out how to get everyone on board with growing a beard?

Like.

Yes. I would watch the everloving shit out of that movie. How much do you think they’d end up spending on mustache wax and little tiny combs?

Clearly Cameron Stewart is going the Lord’s work here, important research into a better, brighter, much more … virile Justice League. And frankly? This is the Justice League I want to see.

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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

You may have heard that Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is also a White House senior adviser because this administration is run like the mafia, is under some scrutiny due to his failure to disclose meetings with Russian officials—including the one he attended with Donald Trump Jr. and then-Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort. He testified to the Senate behind closed doors today and then held a press conference in which he proclaimed his innocence, because why wouldn’t we take him at his word?

I mean, it’s not like the story around what happened between the Trump campaign and Russian officials has rapidly morphed from “there’s nothing there” to “alright, there’s stuff there that we were trying to keep secret, but it’s all OK and above board, we promise.” It’s not like people deeply tied to the financial and real estate industries have ever done anything to hide any shady financial dealings. It’s not like Kushner’s father-in-law, who employs him in the White House, is a well-known huckster who slaps his recognizable name on cheap products to make a buck, had an outright fraudulent “university,” lies way more than any politician, or is only distinguished from your average con man by being born rich enough to convince people he’s actually a successful business man.

It’s nothing like that, so we should just go ahead and believe him, I guess. I mean, he literally said at his press conference, “I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” because of course he did. He wasn’t exactly going to come out and confess, so it’s pretty difficult to take him at his word, making the whole exercise effectively useless—except for in providing some excellent meme material. Even if he really did mean what he was saying—and maybe especially—he looked positively furious at his own innocence:

Sincerely, it looks like he spent his ’80s childhood watching all the same movies we did, but he identified with the wrong side every time, and it’s coming back to bite us all:

He also claimed that he took the meeting with Trump Jr., that emails indicated was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” without reading far enough back in that email chain to know that’s what the meeting was about.

Hey, at least his short attention span for reading campaign-related emails could help explain why he’s not aware of anyone who colluded with Russia.

He also mentioned that he’s been completely transparent, and that one we can kind of get behind:

But this defense? Save it. Don Jr.’s a “good buy,” according to Trump, and now this about Kushner. How. Many. Times.

(image: Ovidiu Hrubaru / Shutterstock.com)

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