Loki Loses His “Glorious Purpose”

Copyright © Disney+

So I’m watching Disney+ series, Loki and the second episode is about to become available any minute, yet I haven’t posted a review.

The series, what it seems to be tackling, and what if delivered in the first episode gave me a lot of things to write about, and I’ve started, scrapped, and re-started this review several times.

It’s too much.

So, first, let me sum up: Fun! Funny!

Some more details would be nice, and I’ll try to do that in a reasonable word count below. I must warn you: *After this there be SPOILER!

So turn back now if you don’t want to be spoiled.

First, want to say that I’ve enjoyed the way that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has handled the elements of Norse Mythology they’ve used for the Thor and the Avengers movies. Often when American producers delve into mythology they go the cookie cutter route of portraying the leader of the gods as the Good Guy, kind and wise and so forth, one of the other gods as the Bad Guy (usually a take on the Devil), and the other gods are mostly sorted into the two camps of the good gods and the bad gods.

Therefore, Odin is the leader of the good gods, Loki is the equivalent of the devil, and Thor is the loyal son of the leader of the good gods.

If you’ve actually read Norse mythology, you know that this isn’t how things are. Odin in wily and is not above cheating another supernatural being out of an agreed upon payment for a large job, just to get one example.

Some of the most interesting of the Norse stories involve Loki very cleverly getting Thor or the other Asgardians out of trouble that their carelessness or arrogance get them into.

Particularly in the move Thor: Ragnarok we saw that Odin has definitely not always be a "good guy" and that when push came to shove, Loki will do the right thing.

It is true that Loki is often portrayed as a master of deception, and clearly he’s never going to be a Knight in Shining Armor, but the way he’s been portrayed in the movies by Tom Hiddleston over the last decade or so has always given us moments where you feel for the guy.

In Avengers: Infinity War Loki died trying to kill Thanos and save the remnant of Asgard’s population. In the next Avengers movie, End Game the surviving heroes pull of a series of Time Heists to get the Infinity Stones (which Thanos destroyed after using them to kill half the population of the universe). And during one part of that heist they jumped into a portion of the very first Avengers movie, but things don’t go according to play, and the Loki of that time period (who had been captured and was in restraints) grabs the Space Stone (aka the Tesseract) and escapes.

Thus messing up both the plans of the heroes (who later in the movie put all the stolen stones back into the place and time they had come from).

The series picks up moments after that Loki vanished. He finds himself in the Gobi desert. Some kind of portals open up and heavily armed people come out, incapacitate him, make some comments about the broken timeline, then set something called a "reset charge" and take the captures Loki through the portal.

Loki has been arrested by the Time Variance Authority (TVA). The TVA appeared in a lot of Marvel comic books over the years. They are, essentially, an extra-dimensional time police. And look for events that break what they call "the sacred timeline," they find the person who caused the change in history, (who they call "variants") they prone the branching timeline, and bring the Variant back to their extradimension city/giant burueacracy to be tried and then erased from reality.

Most of this is explained in a very cute orientation video that Loki is forced to watch early in the first episode.

Pruning the branches from the timeline isn’t always as easy as the opening scene of the episode makes it appear. And the viewers learn that there is someone who is ambushing the crews of heavily armed time agents, killing them, and stealing the reset charge.

But much of this episode involved Loki trying to figure out how to get out of this predicament. One of the best recurring bits is he keeps making his grand eloquent speeches about how he is the God of Mischief and to be feared, and absolutely none of the bored looking pencil pushers he keeps meeting even bats an eye.

One time agent, Agent Mobius, wants to spare Loki from immediate erasure because he thinks Loki might be able to help them with the new problem. Mobius is played by Owen Wilson, and he seems to be the perfect foil to Hiddleston’s Loki in this episode.

Mobius tries to explain how in the main timeline, Loki did not escape, and he is destined to go on to inadvertently cause his mothers death (Thor: The Dark World), and die by Thanos’ hand without ever achieving the glory he’s always believed was his. The title of the first episdoe, "Glorious Purpose" is a phrase Loki used in the first Avengers movie when he began his attempt to conquer the world.

Hiddleston isn’t limited to generating laughs. There’s a point in the episode where he tries to escape, and winds up hiding out in the room Mobius had been briefing him in earlier. He watches those parts of his future Mobius told him about that he didn’t want to believe. The look on his face when he sees his mother’s death, and then later is own was just heart wrenching.

Loki realizes that he is powerless in that place, that the infinity stones are also powerless, and that the glorious purpose he always believed was is is just a pile of bitter ashes.

Before the episode ends, we see one of the groups of time agents get ambushed and killed, and we see a mysterious cloaked figure take the reset charge.

Presumably Mobius is about to try to pit Loki’s wiles and scheming against the mysterious cloaked figure. How will that work?

I’m really looking forward to finding out!

Some reviews you may find useful:

Loki Finds His “Glorious Purpose”

Review: Loki Episode 1, Glorious Purpose (Disney+)

What is the TVA, the Time Variance Authority in Marvel’s ‘Loki’?

Five years after the Pulse massacre, what can we do?

49 people were murdered that night. Don’t forget them! https://people.com/crime/orlando-pulse-shooting-tributes-to-49-victims/

Mayor Dyer: Honor Pulse victims by making Orlando more inclusive

Biden Marks Pulse Anniversary: We Must Acknowledge Gun Violence’s Particular Impact On LGBTQ Community

Joe.My.God – My Pulse Memory: Their Phones Kept Ringing

Pulse Shooting Survivor Brandon Wolf on the Meaning of June 12

It’s the fifth anniversary of the worst mass killing of queer people in U.S. history. Before the 49 victims of the Pulse massacre, the worst single event had been the UpStairs Lounge arson attack on June 24, 1973 in New Orleans.

I see that certain news sites and deplorables are once again trying to push the narrative that this event was a hate crime directed against queer people. I explained why they are wrong last year: Four years after the Pulse massacre and don’t feel the need to re-hash everything, other than to point out the the shooter’s own father was one of the people who thought the club had been picked because of how much his son hated queer people and that his son had ranted a lot the week before the shooting about how marriage equality was proof that American culture had embraced evil.

On this night five years ago, a lot of people were at Pulse celebrating Latinx Night as one of several Pride Month activities at the bar. They went out to have fun, to dance, to be with other queer people. To celebrate life. To celebrate Pride. To celebrate the concept that love is love.

Forty-nine of them never came home that night. I don’t personally know any of them, but when I am reminded of that night, I cry just as hard as a did when I was first reading news reports of the even the next morning. Because queer people are my tribe. Queer people are my community.

And the biggest fear I have had since realizing I was gay, is that some day a hater is going to kill me or someone I love because we’re queer.

Four years later, the Pulse massacre is still a gut punch.

Friday Five (over abundance edition)

It’s Pride Month, y’all! We’re at the second Friday in June. Happy Pride Month!

I reached full vaccination last week, and now my husband is fully vaccinated, as well. That means I’m starting to try to clean up the house that we’ve let get taken over by piles of things so that we could invite some fully vaccinated friends to visit in the near future. I am quite happy with that development!

Meanwhile, we have this week’s Friday Five. This week I bring you: one headline that is extremely sobering, one headline that should have made me laugh instead of cry, the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about Pride Month, five stories about seditious traitors, five stories about deplorables, and five videos (plus some notable obituaries).

The Story of the Year, Perhaps:

Service Workers Aren’t Lazy – Service workers didn’t decide one day to stop working — rather huge numbers of them cannot work anymore. Because they’ve died of coronavirus.

This Week’s Headline That Made Me Cry But Not In A Good Way:

Lunar New Deal: GOP Rep. Gohmert suggests altering moon’s orbit to combat climate change – The Texas congressman asked whether there was anything the U.S. Forest Service could do "to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun."

Stories of the Week:

Joy Reid Delivers History Lesson About U.S. Exploitation in the Countries of Central and South America Everyone Needs To See

Forty years after first documented AIDS cases, survivors reckon with ‘dichotomy of feelings’

Treasure Trove Of Secret IRS Files Reveals How Rich Avoid Taxes – Pro Publica has obtained a vast trove of never-before-seen tax data on thousands of the richest Americans covering more than 15 years

What My Covid-19 Vaccine Saga Taught Me About the U.S. Health Care System – I had to change Covid-19 vaccines midstream. Two months, five doctors and multiple Benadryls later, it was very clear the system isn’t set up to help non-cookie-cutter patients like me

The rise and fall of Chrissy Teigen shows how drastically Twitter changed in 10 years

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

Candidate Biden said he’d overturn the Pentagon ban on Pride flags. Will President Biden do it?

Depicting LGBTQ+ People in the Media, Without Stereotypes

Biden Recognizes 40th Year of HIV, Calls for Billions to End It

11-year-old trans girl sues her state because they’re banning her from cross-country

10’s Across the Board: Why ‘Pose’ Deserves Every 2021 Emmy Nomination

This Week in Pride:

It matters that (almost) all of baseball is embracing Pride now. It changes the game – The activism happening in baseball, on the corporate and individual level, sends a clear message to everyone in sports: do something more than change your logos or send social media posts

Secretary of Defense celebrates LGBTQ+ military members at Pentagon Pride Month celebration

Texas Bakery’s Pride Cookies Sparked Backlash, Now Customers Are Lined Up Down the Block

Record-High 70% in U.S. Support Same-Sex Marriage

Tiresome debate around kink at Pride sends worrying message about sex and sex workers

This Week in Seditious Treason:

Feds obtain another conspiracy indictment against six militia members in Jan. 6 riot – Six men connected to a California-based “Three Percenter” group are hit with charges over unrest at the Capitol

Judge Finds Proud Boy’s Pleas to Get Out of Jail ‘Without Merit,’ Highlighting Vulgar Threats He Made Against People Who ‘Ratted’ Him Out

Capitol Rioter Pleads Guilty In Plot To Bomb Amazon Servers – He brought a sawed-off rifle to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Then he plotted to bomb Amazon data centers

Trump Appointee Riot Suspect Rejects Plea Deal Offer

Riot Suspect Collared After Mom Shares Boasting Posts

This Week in Deplorables, Haters, and Other Evil People:

Even Joe Scarborough Knows This Lafayette Park IG Report Is A Complete Joke – He called it "laughable on its face."

Trump’s PAC, Save America, repeats scam – PAC is opting supporters into extra ‘surprise’ donations for Trump’s birthday

The 45th president was in bed financially with foreign governments, a precedent for America’s enemies to wield influence over the Oval Office. Lawmakers and voters must prevent this from becoming common practice

‘Ex-Gay’ Organization Gathers Paltry Group for Sad D.C. Rally

State GOPs Can’t Explain Millions in ‘Trump Victory’ Cash

In Memoriam:

Honoring Chief Crow Dog, His Many Gifts, and Wishing Him A Peaceful Journey

Lakota Spiritual Leader Leonard Crow Dog Walked On at 78


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Friday Five (lies biting the dust edition edition)

It’s Pride Month, y’all! This is the first Friday in June, which means that we are well into Pride Month!

This Friday marks two weeks since my second COVID vaccine shot, so in theory around the time many of you are reading this I will technically be fully vaccined. My husband’s second shot was some days after mine, so he won’t be fully vaccinated until next week, and I feel like I shouldn’t consider myself out fo the woods until we’re at a point where is is least likely to suffer ill effects if one of us brings the virus home. And that’s a point a lot of people elide over: even when we are fully vaccinated we can still carry the virus. We won’t show any symptoms, and some of us won’t be contagious… but there isn’t an easy way to tell whether we are, so we can still be a danger to anyone we know who isn’t fully vaccinated for any reason. So think about any of your loved ones (such as children who aren’t old enough to get the vaccine) and keep being careful, okay?

Meanwhile, we have this week’s Friday Five. This week I bring you: one headline that made me laugh, the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about Pride Month, five stories about deplorables, and five videos (plus some things I posted and some notable obituaries).

This Week’s Headline That Made Me Laugh:

Albuquerque Mayoral Event Interrupted By Dildo Drone, Candidate Punched – Sheriff Manuel Gonzales was on stage when a drone with a large sex toy flew overhead

Stories of the Week:

Meet The TikTok Heartthrob Who Flipped The Script On Gender And Age – If you do not have a TIkTok account, you may want to open one purely to follow the lipsyncing phenom who tapped into an underappreciated group – middle aged women

Almost all new COVID cases in King Co. are from unvaccinated people, experts say

What the JBS cyberattack means for your meat supply

NIH Director Hits Fox News Host For Her Disregard For Human Life – The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, clashed with Fox News’ Martha McCallum Wednesday over her insistence on focusing on Fox News’ Wuhan lab conspiracy

What is ‘race-norming’? NFL blasted after admitting racist concussion policy

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

New Connecticut parenting bill gives LGBTQ families a sigh of relief – “We already know we are a family, and now with this bill passing, no one can tell us differently," one lesbian mom said of the Connecticut Parentage Act

Wisconsin Governor Stands Against Conversion Therapy, for Trans Youth

Portland church helps build LGBTQ+ senior housing – A church in the Cedar Mills neighborhood is designating land to help build affordable housing for LGBTQ+ seniors, which would be the first in Oregon

Meet the queer mechanics working to repair a ‘toxic industry’

Safe/Haven: Gay Life in 1950s Cherry Grove

It is nearly Pride month, y’all:

Gone West. Iconic Captures of the Golden Gate’s Gay Golden Age. 3 Queer Eras. 1 City. 50 Years of ‘Bay Area Reporter’

The ‘Kink at Pride’ Discourse Needs to Retire

The U.S. embassy at the Vatican is flying the Pride flag & the right is flipping out – Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is particularly incensed. His sister is a lesbian

Joe Biden issues Pride month proclamation to honor LGBTQ people “fighting to live freely” – Trump refused to issue a Pride proclamation. He sold Pride campaign t-shirts instead. Joe Biden honors the LGBTQ community instead of himself

Pride 30: The Firsts

This Week in Deplorables, Haters, and Other Evil People:

Christian Billionaires Are Funding a Push to Kill the Equality Act

Man Rescued in Colorado Mountain Pass Is Accused in 1982 Murders – Alan Lee Phillips was rescued from a snowdrift in 1982 after he signaled SOS with his headlights. The police now say he became trapped on the road after killing two women

Montana Man Faces Life On Hate Crime Charge After Shooting Into Home To “Get Rid Of Lesbians And Gays”

New York AG Petitions Kodak CEO To Testify On His Stock Buys After Secret $655M Loan Deal With Trump

Riot Suspect Charged With Attacking Female DC Cop Has Long Criminal History Of Brutalizing Women

In Memoriam:

Gavin MacLeod, ‘Love Boat’ Captain and ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Star, Dies at 90

B.J. Thomas, ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’ Singer, Dead at 78 – Grammy-winning singer had hits in pop, country, and gospel with songs like “Hooked on a Feeling” and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song”

Things I Wrote:

It’s Pride Month!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Jill!


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Happy Birthday, Dr. Jill!

In their timezone it’s already past midnight, but I am really happy that we have a First Lady who I’m not ashamed of, so: Happy 7-0 To Dr. Jill Biden, The Best First Lady Since Michelle Obama!

As often happens, the Wonkette captured my thoughts perfectly!

Friday Five (coddling doesn’t work edition)

Hey! It’s the fourth and final Friday in May, leading into the fifth weekend of May. Pride Month is just days away!

A week ago I got my second Covid vaccine. The side effects for me were a lot milder for the second shot. Then the middle of this week my husband got his second shot. His side effects seem to be much worse for the second than the first one. So we’re having a very mixed week.

Meanwhile, we have this week’s Friday Five. This week I bring you: one story that made me smile, the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about Pride Month, five stories about seditious traitors, five stories about other deplorables, and five videos (plus some notable obituaries).

This Week’s Story That Made Me Smile:

A group of bikers pull up to a lemonade stand and made the day for some little kids

Stories of the Week:

DC Statehood Gets Huge Push From Constitutional Scholars – No, you do NOT need a constitutional amendment to pass DC statehood, say a wide variety of constitutional scholars

US attorney general expands resources to combat hate crimes – Justice Department move follows passage of anti-hate crimes legislation in US Congress

UN rights council to investigate crimes during Gaza conflict – UN Human Rights Council will also investigate ‘systematic’ abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel


The surge in U.S. coronavirus cases shows a shift in who’s getting sick – Younger, unvaccinated people aren’t just getting mild infections; they’re landing in the ER too

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

Oregon’s out governor signs bill banning gay & trans “panic” murder defense – The maneuver is usually attempted when an LGBTQ person is killed by someone they recently had sex with

Nashville prosecutor says he won’t enforce anti-trans law requiring bathroom signs – Tennessee passed a law requiring businesses to warn their customers if they serve trans people equally. This DA isn’t having it

Hunter Schafer’s pastor dad says Jesus inspires his fight for trans rights – The father of Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer has written a powerful essay explaining why people of faith should be rushing to support trans rights

Classmates rally behind trans student as school plans to deadname him at graduation – Soren Tucker’s school says they’re going to use the name he was given at birth at his graduation. His classmates aren’t having it

Federal agencies take aim at Trump’s LGBTQ policies

It is nearly Pride month, y’all:

‘Pride Month Song’ sketch by SNL is wicked and hilarious, but never insulting to LGBTQ people

Pride 2021: Big cities ‘playing the safe card’ with small gatherings, virtual events – “We believe that we certainly can’t have millions of spectators in one massive crowd just yet. It’s just too soon for that,” Dan Dimant of NYC Pride said

Companies need to swap tokenism for authenticity if they want to celebrate Pride with us – Companies hoping to make a buck from slapping a rainbow on their products and calling it a day should think carefully about engaging in pink capitalism this year

No Kink at Pride? What’s Next, a Drag Ban?

Nazis, Puriteens and Accessibility: The pointless ‘kink at pride’ discourse "Coddling normies doesn’t move the struggle for liberation. Rights aren’t granted – they’re taken."

This Week in Seditious Treason:

Scared McConnell Begs GOP Senators To Kill Jan 6 Panel As ‘Personal Favor’ – McConnell is so afraid of Brian Sicknick’s mother that he’s strongarming colleagues not to meet with her and to dump the commission as "a personal favor."

Self-Described ‘MAGA Caravan’ Leader ‘Pi Annon’ Charged with Assaulting Police During Capitol Siege

The Capitol Siege: The Arrested And Their Stories

Capitol Rioters Hoping for a Plea Bargain are in for Some Bad News — They Better Prepare for Prison

Giuliani Defends His Call For ‘Trial By Combat’ on Jan 6 as ‘Clearly Hyperbolic’ in Response to Capitol Riot Lawsuit

This Week in Deplorables, Haters, and Obstructors:

Rick Santorum axed by CNN over racist remarks on Native Americans If any headline in the history of the universe was more desperately crying out to have the word "FINALLY" added to it, I don’t know what it could be…

Court documents allege KS lawmaker left student with bruise – Kansas GOP State Rep Told Police He Was Acting Under God’s Instruction When He Kicked Student In The Balls

Son, ghostwriter of late senator say Trump intervened to stop probe of Patriots’ Spygate scandal

Once Again, Rage-Filled Woman-Abusing Good Guy With Gun Does Mass Shooting

Neo-Nazi arrested after terrorizing gay couple & vandalizing trans support center for months – Officers say Seth Bertrand is behind a campaign of terror targeting the LGBTQ community in Ontario

In Memoriam:

Eric Carle, Author of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ Dies at 91 – A self-described “picture writer,” he wrote and illustrated more than 70 books for young children, selling more than 170 million copies

John Davis, one of the real voices behind Milli Vanilli, dies at 66

Samuel E. Wright Dies: ‘The Little Mermaid’s Sebastian The Crab, Broadway’s Mufasa Was 74

Legendary gay rights pioneer Kay Lahusen passes at 91 – The world’s first out gay photojournalist, she documented the birth of the LGBTQ movement


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Friday Five (audit the ultra rich edition)

Hey! It’s the third Friday in May! And this year that means that today I’m getting my second Covid vaccine shot!

It’s been a weird week, with some bad news about a relative, the usual stress at work, and trying to deal with some unexpected wildlife issues.

Meanwhile, we have this week’s Friday Five. This week I bring you: one story that made me squee, the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about science fiction and fact, and five videos (plus one thing I wrote and some notable obituaries).

This Week’s Story That Made Me Squee:

Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy Officially Returning for ‘Hocus Pocus’ Sequel

Stories of the Week:

Israel, Hamas Cease-Fire Begins After 11 Days of Conflict – Recent clashes have claimed the lives of more than 200 Palestians

Feds Seize 68 Big Cats From Infamous “Tiger King Park”

Biden proposes doubling IRS workforce as part of plan to snag tax cheats – The department’s total budget would increase by about 10 percent annually

New York and Maryland follow Ohio in creating Covid vaccine lottery – Ohio Vax Rate Surged 28% After $1M Lottery Offer

Novelist Cory Doctorow on the Problem with Intellectual Property

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

Creating Gender-Affirming Spaces Literally Saves LGBTQ Kids’ Lives- A Trevor Project survey found that LGBTQ youth who had at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report suicide attempts in the past year

U.S. Expands Birthright Citizenship Of Babies Born Abroad To Same-Sex Couples – The State Department now recognizes the citizenship of babies born abroad to same-sex married couples, even if an American parent is not genetically related

Alabama bill to force teachers to out trans youth & ban health care access fails – Trans youth and their supporters protested in front of the state’s capitol to stop the attack on their rights. And the bill failed

Trans/Nonbinary Candidate Has Historic Primary Win in Pennsylvania

TikTok’s recommendation algorithm is promoting homophobia and anti-trans violence

This Week in Science Fiction and Fact:

In the latest wave of science fiction, authors of color take space to imagine multiple new societies

UFO studies and the possibility of alien origin

The Curious Case of the Many Black Supermen

A newfound quasicrystal formed in the first atomic bomb test

China on Mars: Zhurong rover returns first pictures

In Memoriam:

Charles Grodin, Midnight Run and Beethoven star, dies at 86

Charles Grodin, activist, author and actor who made grouchiness cool, dead at 86

Mistress Velvet, the queer intersex dominatrix who made clients read Black feminist theory, has died. She was 3

Riley Hadley – 12-year-old boy died by suicide after relentless homophobic bullying at school

Felicia ‘Flames’ Elizondo, Trans and HIV Activist, Dies at 74

Don Sakers, SF writer and editor, Dies at 62

Writer and editor Marvin Kaye Dies at 83

Things I Wrote:



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Write what you know is not good advice, but ignorance is not a good tool, either

So, there’s a blog post about writing and plotting that I keep not finishing in no small part because I keep going on digressions that quickly turn into fractal rabbit holes and the next thing I know I’m writing about something so unrelated to the original subject that even when I stop and re-read the string of digressions I have a hard time understanding how I got there.

I decided that this particular digression was worth it’s own post. And maybe if I get the rant out of my system I’ll have one less digression to avoid in the other post.

I have mentioned many times how my mom, who is a both a science fiction and murder mystery fan, would read aloud to me from whatever book she had checked out of the library for herself and picked up at the used bookstore when I was a small child. From a very early age, therefore, I heard a lot of Agatha Christie murder mysteries, and a lot of Andre Norton sci fi and fantasy, and so forth.

Because of the Christies, I have always had a great fondness for murder mysteries, police procedurals, and the like. Which means that I usually watch at least the first episode of any new series in that vein, to see if it might become my new obsession.

But I also have a few pet peeves, and one of them is the serial killer. Some series seem to decide to throw in a serial killer when other plotlines in the series are fizzling out. Some series can’t seem to go a month without throwing in a serial killer plot.

Why do I almost always dislike serial killers in these shows? First of all, fictional serial killers are almost always portrayed as super geniuses who have been getting away with it because no one can keep up with the blazing brilliance. That doesn’t match reality, at all. Most serial killers range from borderline intellectual functioning /(well below average intelligence/) to just a bit above average intelligence.

The reasons that most serial killers manage to rack up sometimes mind-boggling numbers of murders before they get caught are much more mundane. According to FBI statistics, on average only 58% of murder investigations result in an identification of a perpetrator. In a number of cities, that percentage is lower, less that 50%. So the odds are already pretty good that a serial killer will get away with it for a while.

Another big reason is that a lot of serial killers target strangers. There is no social connection between the killer and their victims. Police investigations always focus at the beginning on people who knew the victim. One reason they do this is because it’s easy, once you know who the victim is, to compile a list of neighbors, relatives, and co-workers. Then you got investigate all of them.

The second reason that police investigations always focus on people who knew the victim well first is a kind of confirmation bias. To explain in, I’m going to go on a planned digression.

Several years ago the place I was employed at at the time experienced a number of workplace thefts. Thousands of dollars in hard drives alone was walking out the door somehow. They brought in a consultant to give us all pointers in how to secure our work areas and so forth. This consultant turned out to be one of these guys who is really good at sounding like an expert but not really that bright. And he had apparently never given his presentation to a room full of computer engineers and other kinds of math nerds before. Early in the presentation he had a slide that included a statistic that at most 5% of the perpetrators of workplace theft are ever caught. Sometime later in the presentation he said, "Nine times out of ten the workplace thief turns out to be an employee."

A zillion hands shot up. "But you just said that only 5% are caught, that means the 95 times out of 100 we don’t know who the thief is. At best, you can only so that 4 times out of 100 the perpetrator turns out to be an employee."

It became really painful to watch, because the guy didn’t understand the flaw in the statistics. At all.

That example applies to the cliches that a number of police believe about murders. "It’s also the boyfriend!" or "It’s almost always someone who knew the victim well." Those beliefs are the a result at looking at that 58% or less of the murders that are "solved." I put solved in quotes because the FBI statistics don’t require an actual conviction to designate a murder case as having been cleared, and they don’t take into account the growing number of wrongful convictions that are being discovered through testing of DNA evidence that wasn’t tested at the time.

The important thing is that if we accept the 58% number as a rough estimate of how many murders get solved, that means we have absolutely no idea how many of the unsolved murders were committed by someone the victim knew. At best, it seems that a little over half time someone is charged, it’s usually someone the victim knew. That that’s 51% of the 58% solved, which is less than 30% of all the murders.

Meanwhile the serial killer has gone back to their normal life and never gets looked at by the cops.

A third reason that a lot of serial killers get away with it a lot is not just that thereis no prior known social connection between the killer and the victim, is that a significant number of serial killers target people in various marginalized communities. It’s not just that a number of police don’t think the victims are worth the time and effort (though that is a factor), but that other prejudices and facts of systemic bigotry makes a lot of potential evidence essentially invisible.

The most famous example of this is one of Jeffery Dahmer’s victim. The young man was clearly injured, had escaped the clutches of the cannibal Dahmer, and was begging for help. Except he spoke almost no english. The police who found him handed him back over to the cannibal, because Dahmer was a white guy who spoke well, and he convinced the cops that the young asian man was simply his boyfriend and they had had a lovers spat.

Another example are some of the known victims of Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur. They were closeted gay men, several of them either immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants. They led double-lives which meant that for those that were reported missing, the families simply didn’t know a lot about their lives. At least one victim was never reported missing because his family feared deportation.

There are a lot of other myths about serial killers that almost always are used in these shows, but this evil genius myth is particularly irritating to me. Now, I get it. If the writers’ wrote a serial killer case truthfully, the cops wouldn’t arrest anyone and not get to be shown as heroes. That’s not as fun a story to write.

One easy solution to that problem, in my opinion, is not to write about serial killers at all. Find other ways to put your characters into difficult situations. There are millions of other possibilities. Give them a try.

Friday Five (big liars edition)

We have reached the second Friday in May. Which, paradoxically, will be followed by the third Saturday. Which I keep forgetting; which is an issue because the third Saturday is when I host the monthly (virtual) Writers’ Meeting.

I have reached the point where I am not only counting down the days until I get my second vaccine shot (and when my husband gets his), I am starting to enter into my calendar the dates when various friends will be fully vaccinated, and when we can start maybe actually visiting some of them in person.

Meanwhile, we have this week’s Friday Five. This week I bring you: one story that made me tear up, one story that made me chuckle, the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our allies, five stories about deplorable people, five stories about science, five stories about science fiction, and five videos (plus one thing I wrote and some notable obituaries).

This Week’s Story That Made Me Cry:

A father kicked his son out when he came out. Two dads adopted the teen & now he’s speaking out – Families didn’t want to adopt a gay teen because they thought he would "turn the other children gay." Now he wants to stop discrimination against LGBTQ parents

This Week’s Story That Made Me Laugh:

Tyson blames underperforming roosters for US chicken shortage

Stories of the Week:

The Art in the Oval Office Tells a Story. Here’s How to See It

10 of the World’s Oldest Languages Still Used Today

Dry cleaners suffer as pandemic changes what we wear

Facepalm Pilot: Where Technology Meets Stupidity: An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar

Biden orders federal cyber upgrade after barrage of hacks – The far-reaching directive is an attempt to close longstanding gaps in the government’s ability to block and investigate hacks

Stories of Interest to Queers and Our Allies:

Judge blocks requirement for ‘gay sex’ offender registration

U.S. Will Protect Gay And Transgender People Against Discrimination In Health Care

‘The love of homosexuals is something good’: German Catholics to bless gay unions, defying Vatican ban

Author fights to keep her queer memoir on a Texas high school reading list — dildo and all – In The Dream House, about an abusive same-sex relationship, is one of 15 titles up for review in Leander

A Gay Man Says He Was Tormented at Liberty University. Now He’s Suing

This Week in Deplorables, Haters, and Obstructors

Lawsuit from Stephen Miller group alleges racial discrimination in distribution of COVID-19 relief

Joel Greenberg set for federal court hearing Monday, expected to plead guilty

Federal Judge Rules NRA Bankruptcy Effort A Sham – Score one for New York Attorney General Letitia James! Judge Harlin Hale ruled that the bankruptcy filing was an effort to escape regulation rather than a financial decision

First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot

Mum’s internet research on vaccines doesn’t make her an expert, court decides

This Week in Science:

A study of Earth’s crust hints that supernovas aren’t gold mines – The stellar explosions can’t be the main source for heavy elements, new data suggest

Is Mars Ours? – Should we treat other planets like natural resources or national parks?

Voyager spacecraft detects ‘persistent hum’ beyond our solar system

There’s no such thing as a tree (phylogenetically)

Saturn has a fuzzy core, spread over more than half the planet’s diameter – A wave in one of the rings reveals the size and composition of the planet’s core

This Week in Science Fiction:

Cora is the Winner of the 2021 Space Cowboy Award!

15 recent sci-fi books that forever shaped the genre – About the future, shaping the future

Mark Millar is ushering in Netflix’s new superhero universe with ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’

#DisneyMustPay Task Force Updates

Doctor Who fans feel ‘demonised’ by BBC crackdown on fan fiction

In Memoriam:

Norman Lloyd Dies: ‘St. Elsewhere’ Actor Who Worked With Welles, Hitchcock & Chaplin Was 106

Things I Wrote:

Don’t Roll the Dice if You Can’t Pay the Price — or, some writing lessons from a 1960 heist film

Thinking about professional conclusion jumpers


Click on the image to be taken to the video!

Stephen Colbert: McCarthy Admits Election Wasn’t Stolen, But GOP’s Tent Isn’t Big Enough For Liz Cheney McCarthy Admits Election Wasn't Stolen, But GOP's Tent Isn't Big Enough For Liz Cheney

Republicans Refuse to Move On from Donald Trump: A Closer Look Republicans Refuse to Move On from Donald Trump: A Closer Look

Let’s Talk About the Israel-Palestine Conflict | The Daily Show Let’s Talk About the Israel-Palestine Conflict | The Daily Show

Venom: Let There Be Carnage – Official Trailer 2021 Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson Venom: Let There Be Carnage - Official Trailer 2021 Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson

LOKI Trailer 3- NEW, 2021 LOKI Trailer 3- NEW, 2021

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