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In a unpublished interview with Mother Jones senior editor Michael Mechanic, MacKaye recalled a mid-1980s visit to Dischord HQ by Dead Kennedys' frontman Jello Biafra, who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.



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?





Saturday, November 3, 2012

#MI-11 is a joke

Hullabaloo:

conservative goon
Bentivolio
They'd rather have a crazy Republican than even try to elect a progressive
If I leave the Democratic Party and register as Green or Independent, this will be one of the reasons. The alleged party of the working man has all but completely abandoned progressivism in principle and progressives in practice. The Republicans are running what appear to be a string of undiagnosed schizophrenics in the Michigan 11th  yet, even when one flames out in a blaze of ignominy, the Democrats won't support a progressive against the next lunatic in line.

By the way, is anyone checking the water in that district for lead? Are the people there just out-and-out eating paint chips and smoking meth?

And, yes, I had PE mind when I titled this post.


Public Enemy - 911 Is A Joke by SeenMyBrain


Small-R Republic: The Case for a Civic Progressive Resurgence

Small-R Republic: The Case for a Civic Progressive Resurgence


In short, I believe today's Left has much to learn from the progressives of a century ago, and that civic progressivism affords tremendous opportunities not only for those of us on the American left but for the nation as a whole.
A great place to poke around. Ghost in the Machine is a blogroll mainstay, I can't believe I haven't directly linked Small-R in all these years!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The closest thing I have to a pilgrimage? The way I keep going back to the Twain House in Hartford ...

The curious case of the Sherlock pilgrims


Forget Mecca or the Wailing Wall,
Reichenbach Falls is where it's at.
What is going on in Meiringen, I now realise, is that by dressing up and performing strange rituals on mountainsides, some human beings are expressing their need for an everyman redeemer, who is nonetheless convincingly particular, while other human beings are enjoying an absurdly pointless race in “support” of a “brand” whose “values” cannot in any real sense be said to exist except in the minds of its marketing managers. What is going on in Meiringen is what is always going on: in variously mad ways, we’re busy being human.
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