Monday, December 31, 2012

Dragonfire: "Why is everyone 'round here so preoccupied with metaphysics?"

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Dragonfire - Index

Season 24, Story 4 (Overall Series Story #147) | Previous - Next | Index

Stories where a companion leaves or joins are the kind of milestones I feel like I should be up on, if I'm going to call myself a proper fan. Problem with this one is, it's Mel leaving and Ace joining -- so that means no feeling about the one leaving except good riddance, and the one joining is the most poorly conceived, (and with apologies to Sophie Aldred) the most excruciatingly acted companion in the history of the show.

Let's consider Ace, just for a moment. Her backstory is this:  she was a teen with an intense interest in explosives who blew up part of her school as an artistic statement and carries homemade canisters of explosives around with her; she seems to be confused about whether she was an orphan, or just had parents she didn't like because they named her Dorothy. Why did the writers giver her the birth name Dorothy? Because she arrived on a futuristic prison planet turned shopping mall in the distant future by setting off an explosion on 20th century Earth that got her caught up in a time storm. A tribute to The Wizard of Oz, get it?  ~groan~

There is so much wrong with the idea of the story ... "let's exile this super-criminal to a planet that's hospitable to him on the dark side, and inhospitable, even lethal to him on the other, but leave a power source he can use to escape where he can get at it on the hospitable side," and that's just the beginning of the trouble. There's an act of mass murder that is tossed in ... just because? And apart from one reaction shot of a shady character watching his spaceship explode, nobody notices or cares the rest of the show? Kane, our super-villain kills himself in an excessively grotesque fashion at the end because the planet he intends to destroy is already destroyed. Shouldn't someone so driven by the thought of revenge, living on a planet where visitors come and go be aware that the planet he wants revenge on has already been consumed by a supernova? But, "Wait," you say, "I thought this was a prison planet?" It is. Just go with it. Because.

"Already destroyed?! I guess I'll
melt my face off. Kane, out."
The Sylvester McCoy era is, to my mind, a series of slaps to the face of the show's audience, and largely an act of desecration of a well-loved series. I can only surmise that John Nathan-Turner had a deep resentment for either one of, or all of, the BBC, the show itself, and fandom. There's no other explanation that can account for the "cliff hanger" where the writers have the Doctor gaze down an icy chasm, then climb over a rail, hook his umbrella on it, and proceed to climb down the umbrella, start to lose his grip, and find himself about to perish for no discernible reason. They show us a shot of McCoy looking down, his hands slipping, about to plummet to his death ... and then to solve the entirely self-inflicted crisis, which made the Doctor look like a complete idiot, the writers and production team do this: they have a character that was standing up where the Doctor descended from appear below the Doctor, without showing how he got there, on a ledge that wasn't there before, to lower him down. What. The. Fuck.

Just let go and put us all out of our misery.
I don't think I ever felt so personally insulted watching a TV show before. To write and perform something like that strikes me as an expression of contempt for the character performing the action and, worse, for the viewer. If I were an executive at the BBC back when this story was made, I would have fired the entire production team, cast, and crew on the spot. It's a amazing to me the show continued to be broadcast beyond that point.

(And, yes, I've considered the possibility the stupidity of this cliffhanger is a commentary on the stupidity of cliffhangers in general as an element of serialized television. If meant to criticize the audience that wants cliffhangers, then it's mean-spirited. If meant to criticize a bureaucracy that required a cliffhanger, then it's the airing of dirty laundry at the expense of the fans and inexcusable. If the thought was, "Oh, fans will enjoy an irrational mess as a commentary on the cruel and arbitrary restrictions placed on artistes such as ourselves!" then it was terrible artistic judgment. But, out there, in internetlandia, I imagine there are some fans who consider this kind of stuff a masochistic delight. Well, if so, then you're welcome to it. But ask yourselves, is that really what Doctor Who is? A masochistic exercise in tedious irrationality for children and adults to learn about post-modern critical theory?  If your answer to that is yes, then we must agree to disagree. Probably about everything. Ever.)

You want to know what really gets me fired up though? This isn't even the worst show of the McCoy era. I can't even give it the lowest grade because I need to leave room for the depths to which it continued to descend. Injury upon insult, all the philosophical babble loaded into the script, I have a sneaking suspicion it was a bunch of pretentious, failed philosophy majors perpetrating this mess. In any event, they give the whole enterprise a bad name by their malevolent incompetence.

Burying this review at the end of 2012 instead of leading off 2013 on such a down note.




Attack of the Cybermen: "I don't think I've ever misjudged anybody quite as badly ..."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Attack of the Cybermen - Index

Season 22, Story 1 (Overall Series Story #138) | Previous - Next | Index

There's a lot not to like about the last several years of Doctor Who, so I approached this Colin Baker era story -- one that I could only vaguely recall seeing when it first aired in the U.S. -- with trepidation.  As it geared up though, I quickly found myself sucked in and thoroughly enjoying it ... harsh lighting, garish colors, and cheesy incidental music notwithstanding.

I grew up with Tom Baker; Peter Davison was my first "new" Doctor and, as a result, took a little getting used to at the start, but I did, and remain fond of him to this day. Colin Baker's first story, The Twin Dilemma, did not sit well with me when it first aired, and I'm not sure when I'll get around to seeing it again. I remember it being terrible. However, I liked him in this story more than I thought I would. He's arrogant and brash, but there's just enough humility in his admission to Peri early in the episode (after being reminded that he's been calling her the names of several past companions, and one villain) that his slips of the tongue may be an indication that his regeneration has resulted in some slips of the mind as well.

Six blasting away.
Baker also brings a little more physicality to the role, here taking some swipes from Cybermen and rolling around on the floor firing a blaster at them. He's more rough and tumble than that awful costume of his would have you believe. And he's got great support in this story: Lytton and his crew of would-be diamond robbers are worthy of a self-respecting heist movie in their own right; Peri is, well, if not the loveliest of the companions to that point, certainly in the running, and Nicola Bryant plays her with such endearing vulnerability it's impossible not to sympathize with her frustration at the behavior of her erratic new Doctor; and then there's a classic villain making a return -- the Cybermen.

Nicola Bryan as Peri
The Cybermen don't enjoy the iconic status of the Daleks, but I'm glad they've managed to hang on through the years and keep coming back. Like many of my generation, and younger I suspect, I wasn't familiar with the Troughton and Hartnell Cybermen stories, they were never broadcast on PBS, as far as I know, so I was ignorant of the history the Doctor had with the planet Telos in The Tomb of the Cybermen when Attack originally aired. Having seen Tomb in the meantime, it added to the experience of re-watching this story knowing that history of the hibernating Cybermen ripping through the sheeting of their tombs. (Some cybermats would've been a nice addition though.)

It's worth giving Maurice Colbourne's performance as Lytton another mention. He really is quite good, turning in one of the finest non-companion supporting roles in the series history. The Doctor's description of him as (I'll have to paraphrase because I'm not finding the quote and didn't write it down) 'tall, dark, lean, and looking as if he'd be willing to shoot his own mother just to keep his trigger finger supple', is remarkably accurate, despite its flourish.

Maurice Colbourne as Lytton via Colin Baker Online
Lytton tortured by the Cyberment was bit more bloody
realism than we were used to seeing on Doctor Who
It's difficult to recommend the 80s shows to those who didn't grow up with them. Even to my forgiving ears and eyes, they often look and sound awful. The production values were cheap and dated even when they were new, and they haven't aged well. (WTF was that Halley's Comet graphic anyways?! Could they not find an actual picture of a comet to base it on? That lousy comet pissed me off back then and didn't make me any less angry today. If you're going to go to the trouble of showing the comet, at least have an idea what a comet looks like. Seriously, a 6-year-old could've done better.) There's a charm and quality to the 60s and 70s era productions that, while still dated and noticeably not expensive, gives them a low-fi charm. That said, this is definitely a story I'd recommend to a fan of the new series looking to learn about the classic series beyond Tom Baker and as a DVD keeper for fans of the classic series that might be struggling to recall it.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Android Invasion: "Is that finger loaded?"

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Android Invasion - Index

Season 13, Story 4 (Overall Series Story #83) | Previous - Next | Index

Here we find, sandwiched between two of my all-time favorite stories, a dud. There's just no sugar-coating it.

When this disc emerged into my anticipatory mitts from it's xmas wrapping paper, my eyes lit up. A story I don't remember very well at all ... with Sarah Jane! The return of Harry Sullivan and Sergeant Benton! I couldn't wait to pop it in and kick back with some old school goodness. Turns out there's a very good reason these files were overwritten in my memory banks. Dammit if I wasn't leaving the room to empty the dishwasher, and later to pop some popcorn, without bothering to pause. Wasn't overly concerned I might miss some more running around in the woods, or some more running around the abandoned town, or some more stone-faced actors being boring androids.

Pull my finger.

And those androids, it felt like we were being served insufficiently reheated Auton left-overs, right down to their fingertip pistols, the poor man's version of the Autons' hand weapons. Also not living up to the original: the replacement for unavailable Nicholas Courtney. Bummer to see the Brigadier's name on the door, but to find Col. Faraday sitting at his desk.

The only remotely interesting scene that didn't feature Tom Baker (it will go without saying in future posts, I trust, that Baker's charisma translating to the screen is to be assumed unless otherwise contraindicated) was when android Harry Sullivan had Sarah Jane strapped into the brain analyzing contraption to make her android copy. That at least felt a little disturbing/menacing. The other tiniest bit of entertainment value from this one was a during one of the aformentioned running-around-the-forest scenes when the Tom Baker lets go of a branch that swats poor Lis Sladen and makes her chuckle. It feels like something that should have been an out-take, and actually took me out of the story because it was clearly Lis Sladen laughing, not the character Sarah Jane, but I'm glad it was left in, even if it was due to rushed shooting and/or lazy editing, because ... well, we'll never see a new, genuine Lis Sladen smile again, so it's like a little Easter Egg in the episode.

The alien baddies in this one, the Kraal, had an invasion scheme so cockamamie and impractical it defies explanation. The less said about it the better. All I'll remember them for is looking vaguely like proto-Ferengi.

The way the Kraal brow-ridges transition into
ears ...
My recommendation to anyone who might be watching the Fourth Doctor stories for the first time is to watch the preceding story, Pyramids of Mars, and then the one that follows, The Brain of Morbius, and skip this one until you've got nothing left of the old series to watch but Sylvester McCoy era stuff, and only then squeeze this one in.



Nightmare of Eden: "Oh ... my arms ... my legs ... my everything!"

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Nightmare of Eden - Index

Season 17, Story 4 (Complete Series Story #107) | Previous - Next | Index

Visiting with a friend recently, watching some classic Who, I was struck by how much my memories had gotten mashed around, especially of shows I hadn't seen in a while (some, perhaps, since they first aired on PBS decades ago). As much to make these viewings fixed points in time, less subject to the vagaries of memory, as to make recommendations to watch, buy, or skip I'm going to make a more concerted effort to write up my reviews/reactions to the ones I watch going forward as soon as possible after viewing. I'm starting this effort too late for the last several viewings, not the least of which is The Snowmen ... I'll catch up on to that one soon enough ... but I'll circle back around until they've all got a write up. The page for each story's review will be kept in chronological order here.

Nightmare is emblematic of the Fourth Doctor's long run in total: brilliant in spots, tedious for stretches, but carried always by Tom Baker's charm, as abundant and ever-present as his distinctive curls and toothy smile. Watching this one, I was struck by how there's a reason we don't really wax nostalgic, as you would think we might, for the script stewardship of Douglas Adams. Adams will be fondly remembered for as one of our most witty, humanist, even philosophic authors, but I don't think we put his time working on Doctor Who at the top of his CV. Certainly his influence shows, and where it does it's for the better, but too many missteps one wishes an editor would have corrected plague this script, and many of the others of his era.

Tom Baker and David Daker via The Digital Fix
Daker (right) as Capt. Rigg.  Post-Irongron.
(And never was Geoffrey Palmer.)
My touchstone for remembering this story will be OMG DRUGS ARE BAD AND IF YOU EVEN DO ONE DRUG IT WILL DESTROY YOUR WORLD. Now, I don't mind thinly-veiled allegories and the outright use of contemporary issues in a futuristic sci-fi story when it's done right -- I'm thinking of the best episodes of BSG just a few years back -- but when it's just the relentless pounding of schoolmarmish values via straw men, I'm left cold. As the captain* of the cruise ship (see the synopsis in the linked episode guide for background) descends into drug-fueled, manic psychosis, the episode became almost intolerably tone deaf.

Lalla Ward's Romana is one of the under-rated companions, and she's quite good in this one, despite some horrendous wardrobe choices. K-9 is (disappointingly) voice-acted by someone other than John Leeson in this one and that takes all the fun out of it.

In this one, the "monsters" are not the villains, so we've got the somewhat comical disco-legged, clam shell-faced Mandrels shambling around with their arms up, unfrighteningly (and mostly off-screen, mercifully) killing some of the crew and the economy-class passengers simply because they escaped from an ill-conceived zoo of sorts, where they were being transported to be converted into big, bad drug the story is so concerned with. I may have gotten a little sleepy and dozed briefly because I don't remember how they were the drug -- if it was their blood or venom or urine or some such thing. Whatever. Anyways, it's (spoiler alert) ... Tryst, who is our main villain and he's entertaining enough if only for his funky sunglasses and his over-the-top accent.

Mandrel attacks! via Blogtor Who
Mandrel attack!
This isn't an episode you'd want to use to introduce someone to the classic series with; but, it has enough of Tom Baker's wit and charm, a few comedic touches that work, and some camp value, enough to make it worth revisiting if you're a long-time fan, or if you've already seen the best of Tom Baker and now are looking to expand into the more dubious stories just for something different.


* The whole episode I found myself reminded of Lionel from As Time Goes By, and meant to check whether the actor, David Daker, was a relative of Geoffrey Palmer. I learned later Mr. Daker had another Doctor Who credit (Irongron, a much better role, in The Time Warrior -- another recent watch I'll be writing up soon) and several appearances in shows with Mr. Palmer, but I see no indication they are related. I'll go out on a limb and guess by their accents that they are, if not from the same city or town, came about their accents (same to my ear) either by living in the same area for some time, or both "do" whatever that accent is ... West Midlands? They look so similar though, they've got to be distant cousins of some kind.  


Friday, December 28, 2012

The Cryptonaut-in-Exile 2012 Year in Review

cryptonaut-in-exile 2012 in review
Click for full-size image because I am bad at design.

Despite the late October pummeling of the Northeastern US by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy, 2012 ended not with series of world-ending disasters, but with a single, tragic event that rocked us to our core: the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

It wasn't the only massacre of the year perpetrated by a damaged young man; similar stories played out at a movie theater in Colorado, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, a mall in Oregon and on a smaller scale all across the country as American opened holes in other Americans with tools specifically designed for that purpose -- exactly as their manufacturers, and the powerful lobbying group that represents those manufacturers, intended.

2012 may be the year the tide turned and we collectively said, enough is e-fucking-nough loud enough for even our craven, dimwitted, and beholden elected officials to hear. Well, the dimwits (we'll use Louis Gohmert as the poster boy for this crowd, though he's got plenty of comrades-in-arms, as it were) clearly didn't hear; they're still out there arguing against evidence and reason that the answer to our ongoing crisis of gun violence is more guns, everywhere, and with minimal accountability because the Gohmerts of the world are profoundly ignorant, morally retarded, and unaccountable for their simple-minded bloodlust.

Trayvon Martin was also gunned down earlier this year courtesy of Florida's (insane) Stand Your Ground law as practiced by a chickenshit grown man who was so terrified of a kid in a hoodie with some Skittles in his pocket that he felt his only recourse was to open fire on the unarmed teen after harassing him.

How many other people died of gunshot wounds this year? Is it in the the thousands? How many died in accidental and negligent discharges where there was no malice or forethought? (And why is it so hard to get data?) It's certainly more than the number of people who successfully defended themselves or their property with a firearm, which will come as a big surprise to a few of my old high school buddies -- the ones suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome peppering my timeline with cherry-picked stories of heroic gunslingers.

I scanned my list of posts for the year and the one that was most viewed also happened to be a tragic story of a shooting death, one of the accidental/negligent variety -- one I bet you couldn't name the victim in. She was Hannah Kelly. Ring a bell? No? Well, she's the young lady who was shot and killed in church because her fiancée was trying to buy a gun there and it accidentally went off during the transaction. Her father, by the way, is the pastor of the church where the incident happened. And still, when tragedies like these occur, some of the loudest voices are those of relentless sociopaths with theocratic dreams blaming secularism for their imaginary (sociopathic) deity's judgment on the victims

We had a Presidential election this year, but the outcome was never really in doubt (to anyone paying attention and not enthralled by the blinkered ideology of the oligarchy) and the outcome probably only mattered because it means there is less chance incompetent ideologues will be appointed to life terms on the Supreme Court than would have been otherwise.

We may look back and remember there was a fever dream of a scandal about the attack on our embassy in Benghazi. The real story was the death of our people over there and how slipshod our defenses were, thanks in large part to those same Republicans who hypocritically railed against the administration after voting against the proper funding of embassy security.

The ongoing saga of the Republican party's inability to restrain and contain it's darkest, most misogynistic tendencies as expressed by the troglodytes they couldn't muzzle fast enough will need to be remembered, because that's by no means done playing out. 

Our LGBT friends and family won on some fronts, lost on others, but on the whole it looks like we past a tipping point and our better natures are starting to recognize the humanity and rights of what had been one of the last minority groups it was still socially acceptable to openly hate and discriminate against. Here in North Carolina, the reactionary, bigoted, and fearful element of society managed to enshrine their hatred in our state's constitution by winning the battle over Amendment One, but the rest of can take heart by looking around the country and seeing more progressive states moving forward. 

Divided, ridden with bullet holes, facing the sacrifice of the financial security of working people on the altar of continued tax cuts for the wealthy the American body politic staggers forward. I'm reminded of Taco, when I think of us as a collective, performing a suicide scrote before Rafi (the embodiment of the American Conservative movement) can cock-punch us himself.

2012, you made me feel like Ruxin ...

Ruxin defines "crarf" via Warming Glow

After writing this and creating my timeline, someone set a house on fire and then shot at and killed two firefighters who responded to the blaze. I don't want to sink any more time into that graphic, but I'll remember next year to wait before saving ... and to make it the right size in the first place.



For a Better Society, Teach #Philosophy in High Schools

Michael Shammas: For a Better Society, Teach Philosophy in High Schools:


Jean Jacques Lagrenée's "Student of Philosophy"
Jean-Jacques Lagrenée's Student of Philosophy
Despite the benefits of the philosophic mindset, we do not cultivate this mindset in our children. In fact, philosophy is almost entirely absent from American schools. For example, there is no AP (Advanced Placement) Philosophy course. While some high schoolers may have heard of Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle, most do not truly understand their philosophies -- much less the philosophies of men like Descartes, Schopenhauer, or Nietzsche. This is shameful, because a person who does not understand the history of thought does not understand the rationality behind our political system.
I couldn't have said it better myself ...

Leiter Reports

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The War on #Festivus


What does it say about our culture when our great traditions not only aren't celebrated, but are forgotten and neglected?! Or worse ...

It's one thing to be ostracized on Festivus, but the real indignity is when misguided thought-control goons try to twist it into something perverted ...

Edit: Sheikie has turned the corner on Festivus but apparently still not able to forgive Michael Richards ...


Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Year On This Is My Jam

Home | This Is My Jam

My 2012 Jams:

Romance Is Boring by Los Campesinos!
Waiting On Forever by Carry On
Crack In Your Eye by Thee Oh Sees
DOMINOS by The Big Pink
Beat Surrender by The Jam
This Fire of Autumn by Tindersticks
Keep On Knocking by The Cars
My Internal Din by I Was Totally Destroying It
Horse Outside by The Rubberbandits
Where Eagles Dare (Misfits) by Superchunk
Eleven by Thao & Mirah
Brandy of the Damned by Nickel Eye
I Don't Know Why I Love You by The House Of Love
Tightrope (feat. Big Boi) by Janelle Monáe
The Face on the Bar Room Floor by The Flaming Stars
I Will Refuse by Pailhead
A Tombstone Every Mile by Dick Curless
Dr. Who Meets Metal (Doctor Who theme/"I Am The Doctor") by 331Erock
Johnny Cash's Mama's House by Emily Wells
Drunk On The Blood Of Saints by Otep
This Is Where I Belong by Condo Fucks
The Green Fields of France by Dropkick Murphys
Save It For Later by The English Beat
Big Day Coming by Yo La Tengo
Love Ruins Everything by Lloyd Cole
Work All Day by Portugal. The Man
Nazi Punks Fuck Off by Dead Kennedys
Going Home - Theme from 'Local Hero' by Mark Knopfler
AM Dial by Midtown Dickens
Translation by The Beast
Drug Test by Yo La Tengo
The Battle of Hampton Roads by Titus Andronicus
Cast a Shadow by Beat Happening
Michael Caine by Madness
Repulsion by Quasi
Disparate Youth by Santigold
Night Falls On Hoboken by Yo La Tengo
Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste by Galaxie 500
Neat Neat Neat by The Damned
Waiting Room by Mustard Plug
Feliz Navi-Nada by El Vez
Just Like Christmas by Low
Take Five by Dave Brubeck
I Hear (Click, Click, Click) by The Rosebuds

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Google+, please don't eat Blogger whole!

blogger

So I read that Google+ mentions will work in Blogger posts now. Since I use Blogger, I wanted to try it out, but needed a subject for a post to give substance to what is basically a "I want to see what happens when I do that," post.

Here's the fake meat: I have a vague fear that Blogger will eventually disappear inside Google+ and I will be sad because of it. Also, Google Reader. Google, you have better things than +, please don't ruin them.

OK, so now that's out of the way, I'm going to mention a person (+Jeremy Simmons, congratulations, you were mentioned in a blogger post as part of an experiment and probably just received a notification you didn't particularly want!), a page (+Atheist Blogmap), and a community (+Yo La Tengo) and later I will go to + and see what I can see. ~Imagine me making the 'blows a kazoo' sound here, with a confetti toss.~

Edit: Hmm. Doesn't seem to have done the things I thought it would do. No links or integration to g+ that I can see. Back to tinkering ...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Newtown's debate over gun control ...

In Newtown, Conn., a Stiff Resistance to Gun Restrictions - NYTimes.com:
“Something needs to be done,” said Joel T. Faxon, a hunter and a member of the town’s police commission, who championed the shooting restrictions. “These are not normal guns, that people need. These are guns for an arsenal, and you get lunatics like this guy who goes into a school fully armed and protected to take return fire. We live in a town, not in a war.”
This is what it's going to take: hunters, target shooters, etc. speaking up to say support of common-sense restrictions on the military grade assault weapons isn't the END OF FREEDOM AND THE BEGINNING OF BIG BROTHER'S NEW WORLD ORDER OF LIBERAL GODLESS FASCIST COMMUNISM like the lunatic fringe would have you believe. I don't think any civilian should have a gun, period, so nobody's going to listen to me. But the guys who enjoy shooting, who only fire their weapons at licensed ranges or where they have a permit and hunting is allowed, and do so as sportsmen with firearms appropriate for sport, these are the guys who need to step up and tell the ignorant, fantasy-world dwelling gun fetishists they're out of line.

In the real world, a gun stopped being a defense against government infringement on freedom a long time ago. The extreme individualism of gun culture divides us in a way that actually makes it easier for autocratic government to control the citizenry. When we retreat into our own houses and rely only on ourselves, we are the ideal pawns of government control. It is together with speech, not violence,  with votes, not bullets, in unions, not as wage slaves, that we are able to stand up for our rights and freedoms.

With a gun, you are a powerless coward, serving the forces of tyranny by discouraging those would would speak up, challenge, and offend. When people say a well-armed society is a polite society, they mean a well-armed society is one that has successfully throttled the free exchange of ideas. A well-armed society is one that keeps its head down, scurries home, and barricades itself inside its little bubble, fearful of the Other. Sure, you can blast away at your fellow citizen when he scares you, but good look against the real threats to your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. A gun can't get you a job when management has decided it's more important to pursue tax loopholes overseas, can't ensure your right to vote when the dominant political party in your state has decided it doesn't like your affiliation, can't protect your children from theocrats who want to indoctrinate them into their religion in public schools. Our best defense against tyranny is, and always has been, an informed citizenry able to exchange ideas openly andgovern itself by electing representatives accountable to the will of their constituency while restrained by laws that secure inalienable liberties.

Willie Nelson & Trigger: American Treasures

Trigger: Texas Monthly December 2012:

Willie Nelson's Guitar
Willie Nelson, the country songwriter, pop crooner, outlaw hero, marijuana scofflaw, and farmer’s friend, is also a jazz musician. A really good jazz musician. He improvises, plays what he feels, makes mistakes, and plays some more, always coming back to the melody, buzzing around it like a bee. Some guitarists are careful about every note; they handle their instruments as carefully as a landscape artist handles a brush. Willie treats Trigger like a horse, and he rides him hard.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thoughts on Newtown and our varied reactions to the tragedy.

Horror. Profound sadness. Confusion. Despair. Grief. Anger. Compassion. Determination. We slide along a spectrum of responses when something like the massacre at Sandy Hook happens. I was at a store shopping for a present for my wife when the woman next to me saw the news on her phone. She dropped it and started crying. The clerk helping her, myself, and the other customers near her asked if she was OK, what was wrong? She told us a gunman had opened fire at a school in Connecticut and lots of kids were dead. It was the first any of us had heard of the event and we all looked at each other thinking, I suspect, nearly the same thing: "Again! How could this happen again?!" The woman who had dropped her phone explained, choking back sobs, that she was a teacher ... she tried to say more but couldn't get the words out. She just shook her head as tears poured down her face.

When I heard "Connecticut," my heart fell just a little deeper. What if it was at a school where children of my friends attended? My thoughts jumped to some of my oldest and dearest friends and their kids, and their friends and families who could potentially be dealing with the worst situation a parent could imagine; I clenched my teeth to try to will the welling tears to stop.

It wasn't until I got home that I learned where the school was and felt the smallest sense of relief. But even when it seemed likely nobody I knew personally would be impacted, that sense of relief came with the certain knowledge that even though it wasn't one of my friends, it was another parent, someone I don't personally know and care about only by accident of time and place. That suffering parent is a human being with the same love of their children as any of us, whose suffering is no less real just because we don't know it first hand.

Inevitably, in the course of checking facebook, I saw the reactions of friends and neighbors. It's one thing to read the comments of strangers on news articles, to have their twitter updates flash by, it's quite another when it's people you know ... most of those updates were simply reaction to the horror and the expected expressions of grief. "Thoughts and prayers."

There were two reactions that I was more than a little surprised by, one of which I couldn't restrain myself from responding to, the other I did hold back because I hadn't seen that particular framing and, while I recoiled from it, I wanted to step back and think about before addressing. There was a third reaction, from my more progressive-minded and openly atheist friends, and one I myself have expressed that I want to say a little more about as well. I'm going to paraphrase the three of them here and not attribute them to any one person:

First: "It's not a gun control issue. It's a mental health issue. The only thing we should be doing is sending our thoughts and prayers to the families. Anything else is inappropriate."  
Second: "How it happened isn't the question. Why it happened is the real issue." 
Third: "Thoughts and prayers don't do shit. Do something constructive, anything else is worse than useless, it's insulting." 
With regard to the first, it is almost certainly both a gun control and a mental health issue. To deny that it is a gun control issue at all is willful ignorance/cognitive dissonance. I got a little heated in my reply to the "don't blame the guns" comment. It is, I trust, transparent to everyone who hasn't been brainwashed in NRA culture that the proliferation of automatic weapons is a legitimate public safety issue. My surprise here was that I knew people who would advance this argument. I know I have one old friend that lost his mind and is a gun-loving religious extremest now, but I didn't know there were people who seem otherwise to be a socially well-adjusted, good parents, and just fun to be around yet who still were so profoundly wrong about something that could so easily impact them. The mind boggles. My point in mentioning this is simply that I think we need to be honest with one another and not shy away from the disagreement, I think we need to be calling out our misinformed friends, in a productive way, by focusing on the issue, the disagreement over the ideas, not the disagreement with the person, but we need to get it all out in the open and hope that if only on emotional level, we can shame the people holding disgraceful positions into seeing that the rest of us aren't going to tolerate ignorance and hatred. Tribal affiliations may be the only thing that change some peoples minds, and having the argument in view of the tribe will exert more pressure than logic and evidence alone.

With regard to the second, how it happened is most certainly a relevant question. Asking about the why may feel profound, but that question does more to provide cover to the gun nuts and their apologists than it does to promote positive action. Why are people either mentally ill or, something entirely different, simply evil? Well, I bet we could identify lots of reasons, some of which we might be able to do something about, some of which we can't. What fucking difference does it make though? We ask the 'why' question so we can move on to the 'how do we fix it' question and start working on solutions. Doesn't it make sense to start by discussing how we can prevent massacres before we start on ... what? ... a universal eugenics program in combination with a perfect understanding of every human mind and the ability to predict the future?  If we could answer the question of why, we'll have solved a whole lot more than the mass shooting problem, so fine, let's ask why and see how we can make everyone happy and eliminate every desire to kill and be killed before it ever coalesces from the darkest corners of the mind. But let's take on something that we can have a hope of achieving in a few months, not centuries, if ever.

Finally, I'm as prone as the next atheist to pointing out that thoughts and prayers do as much for the victims' families as moonbeams and gorilla dust. If I were one of those parents and someone offered me thoughts and prayers with a side of "Oh well, we can't ban assault weapons, so it was inevitable," or, "but at least we know it will happen again because we told all those anti-civilian massacre nutters to just shut up and pray amirite?!" I would go ballistic. However, when I take a deep breath, I remember that it's possible if someone does truly stop to think, and wish for a world where maniacs can't kill lots of people really fast, they may, just may, come to decide that there's something we can do to make that happen. So, yes, by all means think of those families, what they're enduring, and how you would feel if you were in there shoes. Think of the trade off between a child's life and the thrill of squeezing off a few rounds at a shooting range, or into a defenseless animal, and ask yourself: is it worth it? Thoughts are never worthless. Prayers, well, if we are generous and treat them as a form of meditation, they may not be as worthless as they appear, though they are certainly worthless on their own terms. But it's only when they are acted up on that their worth in the world is demonstrated.

Dawn Hochsprung
Dawn Hochsprung died trying to save her students. This is the face of selfless courage.
This is the face of heroism. This is the face of an elementary school principal
who should never have had to face such horror. 




Thursday, December 13, 2012

"More of the TARDIS than you've ever seen before."

Steven Moffat Teases Next Year’s Doctor Who | SFX

River diving into the TARDIS

You’re going to see “Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS”, with more of the TARDIS than you’ve ever seen before.
And a million fanboys just wished for Jenna Louise Coleman poolside ...


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What is a Swamp Yankee anyways?

Swamp Yankee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Swamp Yankee via the Word Detective

The origins of the term "Swamp Yankee" are unclear. The term "Yankee" originated in the mid-18th century, and the variation "Swamp Yankee" seems to have developed shortly after this period. Several theories speculate that Swamp Yankees were the undesirable, troublemaking New Englanders who moved to the "swamps" of southeastern New England upon arriving in the New World in the 17th century.
Don't know what made me remember this phrase today, but it's how my maternal grandfather, with a big grin and no small amount of pride, used to describe his ancestry. I'd never looked it up though to see if it had any particular meaning. From what I can gather in this article, it seems like it's primarily a way for New Englanders with deep roots in the region to distinguish themselves as being of Protestant, Anglo-Saxon descent as opposed to those shifty Jean-come-lately French Canadian Catholics that filled up New England mill towns in the 1840s.


Sure, I'll answer your questionnaire ...

Louis C.K.: The Proust Questionnaire | Vanity Fair

Sweet Louis CK gif via Vanity Fair

Which talent would you most like to have?   
I wish I could draw. I can’t make a thing in my mind go on paper. I draw like a child. Like a heavily beaten and molested child. Who can’t draw.
Yes. My talent wish as well. I can draw a little. Well enough to impress my six-year-olds, but still like an adult who was heavily beaten and perhaps only lightly molested as a child. If I could draw ... oh boy ... watch out. There'd be drawings all over this blog. The old Glasgow Kiss series would probably still be going because I'd be having so much fun drawing exquisitely detailed, artfully composed scenes of yours truly delivering nose-bloodying, tooth-loosening Glasgow kisses to the likes of Sen. Richard Burr, et al.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Yo La Tengo Hanukkah 2012 Night 1 at Maxwell's is up!

Yo La Tengo: December 8, 2012 Maxwell’s (Hanukkah Night 1) – Flac/MP3/Streaming | nyctaper

I'll just link this one, but know there's more coming ...

And pre-order Fade!

Fade releases Jan. 15, 2013




Choose #Secularism: NC anti-choice custom license plates ruled unconstitutional.

RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal judge has ruled that North Carolina's decision to issue special anti-abortion license plates is unconstitutional because the state doesn't offer similar plates supporting abortion rights. 
U.S. District Court Judge James Fox ruled on Friday that the state's attempt to offer only the “Choose Life” plates represents "viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment."
So what would be better: offering both pro-choice and anti-choice plates, or offering neither?

I'm leaning towards neither.

Update: Can we get rid of the "In Superstitious Bullshit We Trust" plate as well. That's embarrassing.

Update 2: Good grief, it gets worse. (Links seem to have stopped working, but I was able to browse around and find the NRA plate still available ...)





Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rachel Maddow encourages students not to neglect #philosophy and history. [Video]

Rachel Maddow on the Value of Interdisciplinary Education


There are skills that you learn by ... doing historical work and reading and writing philosophy that will help you make arguments about everything ...
The linked video is just a minute or so from a discussion with David Letterman at Ball State University from 2011.

Leiter Reports


Friday, December 7, 2012

Dubious Cocktails & Genre Movie Night™ | Cabin in the Woods and Monster-n-Cherry Vodka

I came to Goddard & Whedon's Cabin in the Woods with some trepidation. Horror movies just don't do it for me.  The exception that proves the rule has always been Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, a film I still think is one of his most entertaining. Oh, wait ...  that was true for years and years but there's also been Shaun of the Dead, Scream, and Attack the Block. Crap, I like the first couple Alien movies, too.  Are these considered horror? Do I actually like horror movies and just dislike the torture-porn & slasher sub-genres? It's my natural, susceptibility-enhanced aversion to nightmares (thanks, brain) that fuels my dislike; that aversion response has been on a hair-trigger since I saw the original Salem's Lot when I almost certainly to young to watch even tame, cheesy horror.

Anyways, my generalized distrust of the horror label did leave some wiggle room for the potential to enjoy a film that tweaks the tropes and gets all meta about the enterprise. It helped that it promised some humor and featured a strong cast with long-time faves Amy Acker and Bradley Whitford. Still, this wasn't going to be lowbrow easy laughs, like a Top Secret! sending up spy flicks and teen rock musicals because of course those are two genres we always link and it's natural they should be spoofed at one time. The trailers and everything I'd read about the movie indicated it would be using the tropes as much to practice them as for critique.

Cabin in the Woods bw
Cabin in the Woods
So, with the dubious cocktail of the evening, Cherry Smirnoff and Monster, poured and some popcorn handy, I settled in to see if Joss & Co. would capture my interest in the deconstruction of a genre I'd just as soon leave unconstructed.

At the film's conclusion, when [highlight to see the invisible text in case I'm not the last person for whom it could have been spoiled] the giant hand of ancient evil ripped up through the cabin to begin the end of the world, as far as humanity is concerned at least, and the return of the reign of ancient evil I was satisfied. I didn't feel like I'd wasted my time, I didn't feel insulted or like I'd been condescended to. That's what most horror I've seen has done to me. It's either too stupid, ill-constructed, cynical, and/or transparently misogynist to be entertained by at all. Or, it's just too brutal. (Just remembered another horror movie, I suppose, that didn't disappoint: Let the Right One In.) Cabin was certainly brutal, but it took a cue, I think, from Dead Alive and cranked the dial to 11 -- so over-the-top without being mean-spirited towards any character that had been humanized -- that we could chuckle at the wall-to-wall gore, the images of horror with multiple smaller horror vignettes playing in the background, and release the tension that had been accrued while the characters we did get invested were being ruthlessly hunted.

What helped me look past some of the elements that didn't work as well for me, was the dilemma Connolly's Dana and Kanz's Marty character, the Fool archetype (a Fool, but not foolish), found themselves in at the end. It called to mind a sentiment I expressed, and stand by, back during the Wikileaks saga. The tl;dr version of that link is we don't sacrifice the innocent to appease evil because, if we do, then we are the evil that has taken dominion of the world and we deserved to be destroyed in the first place. That Cabin basically brings us to that dilemma made it more than just a superior horror movie, it made it an important movie. I suspect many will argue that Dana, once the Director (Sigourney Weaver!), explained the situation, should have pulled the trigger and the fun of it is that while I feel like I've got the better argument, the argument for integrity, there is definitely an argument reasonable people can have about what the most virtuous action for each character would have been as all hell started breaking loose downstairs.


Monday, December 3, 2012

(Cruel and ...?) Unusual judge sentences drunk driver to church.

The sentence was four years to life in prison, with parole. 
But Alred won’t be serving any time in jail, provided, that is, he goes to church every Sunday for the next 10 years.
Well, I'd certainly take that deal. I understand why secularists are fighting sentence, as they should, but ... if I were that kid, I'd be glad my case got assigned to that particular theocratic judge.

On principle, I'm opposed to sentences of church attendance (as I am to AA sentences), and yet I have a hard time mustering the outrage for this instance. Certainly, such a sentence violates separation of church and state and should never be imposed, and if unchecked, what is harmless enough in this case -- if we concede the kid caught a break, weekly church attendance being less onerous than prison, one assumes -- could easily lead to church sentences for lesser offences.

If anything, the sentence may be too lenient. If we want our punishments to deter future offences, this doesn't seem likely to serve that purpose. What if the offender were already a parishioner? Would s/he be sentenced to attend a more fundamentalist church?

My advice to that kid would be keep his head down, mouth shut, and let the chips the fall where they may in terms of possible challenges. It'd be asking a lot for him to speak out against the sentence on principle, or to choose the prison term. He should applauded if he does for standing up and taking his punishment like a man.

Should the sentencing stand, and he does the ten years of Sundays,  I hope for his sake he reads widely and deeply from a list of authors including Dawkins, Harris, Paine, Twain, Rawls, & Dworkin the other six days and emerges from this ordeal humbled and chastened, but also wiser and more compassionate: an unlikely outcome should he bury himself dutifully in the Bible in the false belief the judge in his case understood anything about justice.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Papercraft is not this dad's strong suit. #StormtrooperFAIL



Well, I tried. But once one storm trooper's head is irreversibly damaged, there's no point continuing.

"All you need is paper and an x-acto knife," they said, "piece of cake," they said.

Go ahead and have at it if if you think it's so easy ...


No, YouTube, I'm not a demented conspiratorialist, but thanks for suggesting it ...

Good grief. Does NBC's Chuck Todd make the suggestions for YouTube?

I mean, look at this:

satanism illumanit NWO -- WTF?!

No. I didn't click the link. I'm sure it's a fascinating 36 (!) minutes though ...


Friday, November 30, 2012

Is Doctor Who a Religion? No. But ...

Ummmmmm ... not exactly.
But, sure, the show uses mythic elements and has an "effervescent" fan base ...




Still, it's missing a crucial element: to be a religion, the fanbase would have to do everything they're doing, plus make the assertion that there is a Time Lord out there with a TARDIS doing all the stuff the show describes. Without that assertion that the fantasy describes something real, I don't see how how you can make the case. Religions all pretend they describe reality in some way. As far as I know, neither the show's creators, nor the fans, have such any such foolish delusions.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mission: Triange-Area Food Truck Sampling continues with @KoKyuBBQ

KoKyu (flickr) was at work today, so I got to try a new a truck ... and I'm glad I did.



It was tough to pick between the many menu options -- Reuben's Cubans looked intriguing, and I would've liked to have tried some of the vegetarian selections, but I finally settled on the Korean BBQ Tako ($3) and the Carolina Carnitas Slider ($4). If I had to pick just one, I'd probably choose the Carolina Slider because it was such a great combination of ingredients, but I'd certainly order both again. While not a huge lunch,  the two together felt like a pretty good value for all the flavor delivered.


This is a truck that's definitely worth seeking out, which shouldn't be hard because, like all self-respecting trucks, you can follow them on twitter to keep tabs on their movement.


Catching Up With DC Punk Legend Ian MacKaye

Catching Up With DC Punk Legend Ian MacKaye | Mother Jones


Ian MacKaye at Dischord HQ via MoJo
Ian MacKaye at work.
Image via Mother Jones
In a unpublished interview with Mother Jones senior editor Michael Mechanic, MacKaye recalled a mid-1980s visit to Dischord HQ by Dead Kennedys' frontman Jello Biafra, who noticed MacKaye's massive collection of hundreds of tapes of DC bands. "He saw that shelf, and he said, 'What sets Washington apart from the rest of the country is that you guys documented everything.'"
MacKaye is a bit like a blogger in this regard. Does his own thing, says what he wants to say, does it on his own schedule, his own terms, and everything gets kept. Dischord may just be scraping by, but it's intact. Its integrity is intact.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dear Elected Officials (A Citizen's Ask)

President Obama, let's pick up where FDR left off ...

As a citizen of the United States of America, I'd like to ask the following of my elected representatives ...

Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a second Bill of Rights in his 1944 State of the Union Address. In time for the 70th anniversary of his proposal, I humbly ask that my Representatives and Senators work towards preparing and passing a Joint Resolution enumerating those six rights: 
  • employment with a living wage, 
  • public education -- including, but not necessarily limited too, an undergraduate degree for those who would seek it, 
  • Social Security, 
  • universal health care, 
  • housing, and 
  • the right of every business to trade fairly without monopolies or unfair competition at home or abroad,
 to be ratified per Article V of the Constitution.

If, as a society, we can afford a decade plus of wars, a nuclear weapons stockpile, and hundreds (!!) of millions of dollars in spending on political campaigns*, then we can certainly afford the costs of the programs proposed. There is no question we are a wealthy enough society to pay for these things. It is simply a matter of priorities. It will take tremendous will, political courage, and a superhuman effort to make this happen. I will do everything in my power as a private citizen to assist, anything my country would ask of me, but only Congress can make it happen -- and they'll need strong direction from the Chief Executive to get this, or anything, done. 

In addition to the economic Bill of Rights proposed by FDR, the following rights should also be enshrined in the Constitution so no state can strip them unjustly from an American citizen:
  • the right of any adult person to marry another adult person provided neither are already married
  • the right of every person to obtain contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy
  • the right of every woman to terminate an unwanted pregnancy based on her own judgment
  • the right of every person to be free from prohibitions against the use of recreational drugs provided they do no harm to others and do not support criminal organizations by their use
Finally, while amending the Constitution (as long as the hood is already up, so to speak) we should modernize, clarify, fix, or outright repeal, the Second Amendment. It is a dangerous, misunderstood antiquity. We must recognize that our Founding Fathers simply did not foresee the developments in technology that would lead to weapons that allow people to kill dozens, hundreds even, of their fellow citizens in a matter minutes, nor did they know we would maintain such a large military force to protect the nation. The idea of armed citizens forming militias to protect the nation from an invasion is laughable, Red Dawn notwithstanding. We can, and should, debate the rights and responsibilities of sportsmen and those who make an informed decision to maintain a firearm for defense of home, but there is no reason for anyone other than an active duty soldier or law enforcement officer to carry, never mind own, an automatic weapon.


* Can any of the things in this post be done before meaningful campaign finance reform is accomplished? Publicly financed elections, candidates able to get exposure based on the merit of their positions instead of their fundraising skills/connections, inclusive debates, an opening of the political system to those outside the plutocratic class: these are necessities for a properly functioning democracy, not mere nice-to-haves. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

It's the 49th anniversary of the first Doctor Who broadcast!

Happy 49th birthday Doctor Who! See the original Radio Times feature and TV billing | Radio Times


The First Doctor
via radiotimes.com
It was 49 years ago today that the first ever episode of Doctor Who was broadcast. An Unearthly Child, starring William Hartnell as the Time Lord, went out on BBC1 at 5:15pm on Saturday 23 November 1963.
We slip somewhat quietly through the 49th, marking it more as a moment to start gearing up in anticipation of the 50th ...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Innumerate Rich People Who Don't Know How Tax Rates Work Puzzle Us All

You see these idiots every time a tax hike becomes possible again. They have no apparent idea how marginal rates work. Right now, if her and her husband make $250,000, they pay at most a 33% tax on some of that income. If they made $251,000, they would have to pay the same rates for everything except that last $1000 -- that, they'd be taxed at 35%. If the rates increase across the board that top rate becomes 39.6%. 
How do people still not understand that, and how does it color the debate over taxes?
I found the above cartoon with a quick google image search; on the same results page, I found another that complained about marginal taxes and gave the ignoramus reason that earning into the next income bracket resulted in all income being taxed at the higher rate.

My last post praised editorial cartoonists for highlighting idiocy in an accessible way ... I guess I should have pointed out that only the cartoonists willing to talk about reality, and with a commitment to the truth, have merit.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pound for pound, political cartoonists more insightful, useful than pundit class. It's not even close.

The Strip | By Brian McFadden - Slide Show - NYTimes.com

political cartoon


Pundit class: "Well, we need to consider the Republican point of view and treat it as if it has equal merit, even when it's transparently mendacious and oligarchical. If we have to act like truth, logic, and reality matter, then how we can pretend there's a substantive debate, of which we are the sage arbiters, going on?"

To be clear, I'm not saying there are easy solutions. It's not as simple as, "Oh, we just make flip a switch and suddenly everything works better."  What we need are productive discussions about how to fix campaign financing. When shills come on TV and lie and distort, their feet need to be held to the fire. People who are interested in serving the public good, who don't take governing seriously should not be given air time and print space to waste our time. How do we make campaigns and pundits accountable? There's no easy path to fixing an infotainment system so broken, but we can't go on pretending there's not a problem.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

#philosophy on TV FAIL

Education channel is weak at the moment, BookTV far too often shows right wing numbskulls speaking to the Cato Institute or Heritage Foundation, so I get excited when I see Philosophy. "Maybe it will be a distinguished professor lecturing on Hume or Heidegger," I think naively ...

Nope, just drifted out of the books and learning channel grouping into the shopping channels. Sigh.


Mark Giffords calls out our craven, beholden political class for failing to address gun control.

Gabrielle Giffords’ husband to shooter: Political class “afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws.” | The Political Carnival

Mark and Gabby Giffords

The key thing here is that we need to have an open, honest debate and it's just not happening. Meanwhile ...

Gun nuts are terrified Obama is going to take away their guns. But gun nuts are ignorant cowards who have failed to notice that Obama hasn't done anything except make it easier to bring guns into national parks. I don't understand the masterful politicking our president is doing here. Who exactly is he afraid of turning against him that isn't already against him? I assume he's gained some political capital by coddling the nutters, but it's not apparent he's spent that capital? If he hasn't used his wishy-washy positioning on gun control for some political gain, WTF is he doing?



Friday, November 9, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Night 2012: The long march to an Obama victory just ended!

How about that Todd Akin concession speech? God, faith, you built that, blah, blah, blah. He couldn't shovel the theocratic nonsense fast enough. Did he ever concede in the midst of that blizzard of Tea Party bullet points and buzzwords? Good riddance.

Gack ... NC just went red per MSNBC.


  • NC for Romney (This was my riskiest call for Obama and now I don't get to brag about what skilled prognosticator I am. Dangit. Since it looks like Florida will for Obama, my best brag might be I'm leaning sub-par. Which is still better than Karl Rove, who makes a lot of money being even more wrong than me.)
Here's one where I'm right though just coming in:
  • IA for Obama

And here it is just now:

  • OH for Obama! And we're done. 
What a relief.



Election Night 2012: The presidential election is firming up ...


  • NH for Obama (I'm disappointed this was close, but it's another correct battleground pick for me.)
NH and WI going blue really narrows Romney's path. He's basically got no chance now. If the characterization of the remaining counting in Florida as being in Democratic strongholds is correct, it's basically over. 

This last batch of closings at the 10 o'clock ET hour doesn't have a lot of interest for me. Watching the Baldwin/Thompson race, the Tester/Rehberg race and waiting to see calls for NC, VI, OH, and FL. One of those will come soon. They won't make us wait all night ... will they?

Here's a call:
  • MO Senate - McCaskill (D) defeates Akin(R) -- LOLOLOL Tea Party idiots, suck it.
That means I'm 7 for 8 in predictions. Not too bad.

Election Night 2012: Too early to assess all the picks ...

... but so far I'm 5 for 6. Admittedly, these were some of the less difficult picks that I had relatively high confidence in:
  • MI for Obama
  • WI for Obama
  • PA for Obama (Romney and  was deluded to think he could steal this one.)
  • CT Senate - Murphy (D) defeated McMahon (R) 
  • MA Senate - Warren (D) defeated Brown (R) -- Woot!
  • IN Senate - Donnelly (D) defeated Mourdock (R) -- Excellent! I got it wrong but what a relief!
That Warren call just came in and bolstered my spirits. That is a key win for progressives.

And even more recently, I'm wrong on Mourdock, who I thought Hoosiers might straight-party vote in along with Romney. 

Based on early returns, it looks like I'm going be wrong on NC (which was my boldest pick for Obama) and FL (where I thought Rick Scott would manage to scumbag a narrow victory for Romney). As much as this would damage my predictor credibility, it's a better outcome than I'd dare to hope for.

I'm thinking some of these 'too close to calls' will start getting called soon so going to break from typing and let a few play out ... 

What Would Mitt Romney Do?

Let's speculate ...

[Ripple dissolve to Mitt Romney sitting in the Oval Office, he writes ... ]
From the Desk of Mitt Romney 
Dear Sophia,  
Your family is an abomination. Everything they say about you at school is correct.
Rest assured, I am doing everything in my power to ensure no homosexuals can ever marry or raise children.  
Enclosed please find a helpful pamphlet produced by the Church of Latter Day Saints that I'm sure will answer all your questions!

Contemptuously yours,
Mitt Romney
This election matters.

It may not be much comfort to all the future Pakistani drone victims out there but, come to think of it, imagine what Romney would use them for given the chance ...

Bo Xilai: He turned out to be someone to watch out for after all ...

BBC News - Bo Xilai scandal: Timeline:

scandal
Bo Xilai, not looking so happy these days.
Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party chief in Chongqing, was once seen as a high-flyer tipped for top office. But he has been expelled from the Communist Party, parliament and is to face prosecution. His wife given a suspended death sentence for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Well, he made a splash but not the way we thought.

Back to the American transfer or, more likely, lack of transfer of power shortly ... waiting to see how my predictions pan out. Curious how I'll do vs. the professional pundits. I'm sure I'll prove to be a better prognosticator than Rove, at least.



WPs "I voted because... " is an #Obama landslide FWIW

I voted because... - The Washington Post The Washington Post

Mine says "corporate centrist > plutocrat"
On a bigger button, I'd have written: "Stein can't win and Romney would be intolerable. As a battleground state voter, I took a pragmatic instead of an idealist approach to voting. Not going to lose sleep over it; but, will feel better about myself and the country when an actual progressive appears on the presidential ballot."



Monday, November 5, 2012

Experimental audio post. Plus: why I'm off facebook for a couple days ...

fool
Yeah, the problem is Communists ... errr ...
Democrats are trying to vote, right Mr. West? 
First, I want to try this thing where I record myself exasperated by NPR coverage of Florida early voting. I recorded myself basically scolding the radio to preserve the immediacy. So yeah, it's rough. But, neither loud nor profane. For a change.

video


Why a crab? NPR made me a crabby -- I know, I know -- and, more to the point, blogger doesn't allow mp3 files in posts, but they do allow videos. So, hastily select a photo from the hard drive and slap the audio on it in Movie Maker and presto ... there you have it.

About facebook ... yeah, I'm muting so many Romney supporters, and so tempted to unfriend/block/report people for being complete morons -- what do you mean that's not a reportable offense? -- that I'm afraid I won't be able to control my temper. It's easier to talk to you folks here on my soapbox where I'm easier for you to ignore ... and I don't have to worry burning bridges.

Win or lose tomorrow, I just want to keep above the fray over there.

Are you as depressed by your association with Romney supporters -- assuming you have at least one close family member or friend so afflicted -- as I am with mine?





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