Thursday, September 14, 2017

They Ruin Societies ...

A mad world: capitalism and the rise of mental illness | Red Pepper:

Image via Red Pepper

Another key aspect of capitalism and its impact on mental illness we could talk about of course is inequality. Capitalism is as much an inequality-generating system as it is a mental illness producing system. As a Royal College of Psychiatrists report noted: ‘Inequality is a major determinant of mental illness: the greater the level of inequality, the worse the health outcomes. Children from the poorest households have a three-fold greater risk of mental ill health than children from the richest households. Mental illness is consistently associated with deprivation, low income, unemployment, poor education, poorer physical health and increased health-risk behaviour.’


Some commentators have even suggested that capitalism itself, as a way of being or way of thinking about the world, might be seen as a rather ‘psychopathic’ or pathological system. There are certainly some striking correspondences between modern financial and corporate systems and individuals diagnosed with clinical psychopathy, as a number of analysts have noticed.

Robert Hare for instance, one of the world’s leading authorities into psychopathy and the originator of the widely accepted ‘Hare Checklist’ used to test for psychopathy, remarked to Jon Ronson: ‘I shouldn’t have done my research just in prisons. I should have spent some time inside the Stock Exchange as well.’ ‘But surely stock-market psychopaths can’t be as bad as serial-killer psychopaths?’ the interviewer asks. ‘”Serial killers ruin families,” shrugged Bob. “Corporate and political … psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies.”‘

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

On the anniversary of 9/11

On the anniversary of 9/11

For me, 9/11 will always be a time of tremendous fear, stifling conformism, forced patriotism, and vicious nationalism. Which is why I’ve always found the claim that Trump represents a new authoritarianism, even fascism, to be so fanciful and false. There was a moment in the recent memory of this country when dissent really was stifled ... [W]hen intellectuals and journalists and academics dutifully—and shamefully—performed their parts in the Gleichschaltung of the moment, instructing the unreconstructed among us to understand that we were living in a new age when all the old truths no longer held. Thankfully, the intensity of that moment didn’t last too long—the fiasco in Iraq did it in—though we’re still living with its consequences today. But, yeah, when I hear about the unprecedented authoritarianism of Trump, I think to myself: either you weren’t around after 9/11 or you were part of the problem. -- Corey Robin

My kids -- 6th graders -- learned a little bit about the September 11, 2001 attacks again yesterday. Some of their teachers lost family and friends at the World Trade Center. They were moved to tears by the accounts they heard. They've learned a little bit about 9/11 each of the last couple years at school. Which, is OK ... here comes the "but," but they don't learn nearly enough and I'm afraid they're getting entirely the wrong lesson out of what they are taught.

I remember where I was. I, too, will #NeverForget. (Here it comes again ...) But, I know that 9/11 is also the anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile in 1973. Even though I don't remember where I was that day -- I was, after all, only 2 years old -- in terms of what it means to be American, to understanding our place in the world and how things got to be the way they are, knowing about Allende is, at the very least, as important as paying tribute to the victims of the 2001 attack on us. Yet, I doubt many 6th graders have ever heard about Allende at school, or have a good understanding how the memory of the victims of the 2001 attacks is used to justify 16 years and counting of war on Afghanistan, how it whitewashes what we've been doing in Iraq and around the Middle East since. Never mind what the self-proclaimed "leader of the free world" had been doing in the Middle East prior. Have they heard the phrase "they hate our freedoms" yet? I don't know, but the thought they probably have is chilling. Chilling, because I know they haven't been taught that our wealthy elites are the ones who demonstrably hate our freedoms and exercise the power to do something about it. And, just as importantly, American oligarchs, like their Russian confrères, hate the freedoms of anyone in the world that stands in the way of their ability to maximize profit.

Allende supporters. Image via Wikipedia.
N.B.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Still Missing Google Reader. Threaded Tweets Still Awful.



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And yet, here I am. *whistles into the wind*

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Day 2017



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Will post some eclipse pics after the event. We're about 115 miles from seeing totality, if I recall my morning reading, but should see something like 94% coverage here in Fuquay.

Crescents in the shadows.

The boy & I keep looking up ...

The Eclipse Gang



Friday, August 18, 2017

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mid-Life Political Identity Crisis

Reading the @ replies on Adam's tweet, and on Amanda Marcotte's, got me about triggered, as my son would say.


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I've identified as a liberal progressive since I registered to vote. Democrat, natch. (That's thirty-odd years, so no blink of the eye.) That self-ID started faltering during the Obama years, and pretty much collapsed during the 2016 campaign season.

The old saw goes something like: you're a heartless bastard if you're conservative when you're young, and a naive hippy if you're a liberal when you're old. My experience has been: you're a heartless bastard any time you're a conservative; you're naive and soaked in capitalist ideology as long as you're a liberal.

So, here I am, approaching fifty-years-old admitting I still have so much to learn ... but I can't abide Democratic hypocrisy any longer. I'll remain a registered Democrat, for now, but I won't throw my vote away on a centrist Dem again. They'll get my vote when they run candidates willing to fight for Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage ($15 is the bare minimum), criminal justice reform, abortion rights, and an end to perpetual war. I have absolutely zero confidence this will happen in my lifetime.

The label "progressive" doesn't carry the weight it used to, but I'm not ready to stop using it. Until we finally achieve socialism, we need to make progress in curbing the excesses of capitalism. I doubt we can get to socialism incrementally, it's going to take revolution, but my sense is revolution can only happen after the workers and the poor have come together and won several smaller battles, and the fight for those ameliorating measures like the Fight for 15 and for single-payer or what I'm calling "progressivism" in the meantime. There's no revolutionary party, the (ahem) proletariat are divided and unorganized. The unions are on the ropes and enthralled to the Democratic party and organizations like the DSA and the Green party remain marginal players. And "marginal" feels pretty generous, more like marginalia on the footnotes.

Man, though, if I hear "brocialist" one more time ... these performative accusations of racism and sexism by folks who blithely dismiss progressive women and POC because they don't meet donor-class approval criteria reek of projection. I'm a sexist/racist for not falling in line behind Kamala Harris because of her actual positions, but liberals who bash Ellison and Lee using right-wing smear tactics are somehow not? Fuck that. And fuck them.

Liberal, give me a straight answer on how you can support Bain Capital employee Deval Patrick before you get on my back about blaming Harris for her failure to prosecute banksters. You want to go to the mat for Cory Booker? Suit yourself, but you know where he stands and you're going to wind up in bed with unsavory, big money goons and you know it.

How is it I support Elizabeth Warren more than you when push comes to shove, despite your Nevertheless She Persisted chatter? It's because despite her foreign policy failings, a problem she shares with Bernie, I actually support her when it comes to reigning in Wall Street. I'll vote for Warren if the Dems run her in 2020, will you? What if it was Ellison? What, oh my, what if it's Bernie? What if the most popular politician in America wins your party's nomination? Will you practice what you preach and hold your nose to vote for him over Trump? Or will you sabotage him every step of the way and stay home on election day? Or worse, like nearly 1 in 5 Hillary supporters did in '08, vote for the GOP?




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

2017 Garner Rex Healthcare Sprint Triathlon

That was fun. No super-heroics to report. I hoped I would finish middle of the pack, and I did. 159th position from a start position of 190 out of a field of 302 racers. I think I might try another of these. Maybe sign up for the whole series in 2018.



Next time, I'll make sure to give an accurate swim time, more like 4:40 instead of the 5:20 I supplied. It might not have made much difference, but I stayed in line, didn't try to pass, and it felt very slow. I caught up to the swimmer in front of me in the first length of the pool. Watching the earlier swimmers go out, the guys who passed people looked like jerks, kept hitting other swimmers coming down the lane the other way head on, so I had decided I would just trail the swimmer in front of me, regardless. The key here, it seems to me, is give an accurate time and get seeded behind someone same speed as you or just slightly faster and then don't don't let them get too far ahead of you. Lesson learned.

Also, riding a single-speed bike was a bit of macho I wouldn't repeat. I'll get a geared bike before doing this again. The bike portion is probably where I could improve the most. Hard to build up any momentum going downhill without a high gear to work with, can never go very fast, and that's momentum you don't have to spend on the flats or coming to the start of a hill. Bet I could get under 30 minutes for next time.

As far as the running goes, I'm not sure how much more speed I can cultivate. My time there might represent about the best I can expect when it's 90 degrees out. Cooler conditions though, I bet that'd come down a bit as well.





Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Attack the Blockheads: The Doctor Is a Woman, Deal With It

Jodie Whittaker debuts as 13 in the announcement video.

It's as simple as this: the "the character must be a man" argument is invalid. The Corsair, the General, the Master/Missy all prove canon allows it. Time Lords can change gender and skin pigmentation during regeneration, exactly as you'd expect given their hair color, eye color, apparent age, etc., can all change. (We'll come back to skin pigmentation in a bit ...)  There is absolutely no canonical, in-universe reason the character we know as the Doctor can't be female. The argument that the Doctor must be a man, when made despite these clear examples, reveals itself to be no more than: "I can only accept the character as male." You don't have to like it. But, I'm afraid you do have to accept that you can't argue against it except to argue that your feelings on the matter should trump the decisions of the shows producers. Which, of course, is patently ridiculous.

If you can't accept a female Doctor, then see you, wouldn't want to be you. I'm sure the feeling is mutual and we can agree to disagree without speaking to each other about the matter again. But what that means is if you go on twitter or the fan group on facebook to continue making the bad argument, the rest of us don't have to humor you.

Nobody's saying you have to like the casting, or even that you aren't entitled to your opinion based on your feelings about the whole thing. Only that you need to recognize an opinion isn't an argument, and doesn't warrant being treated like one. When you've got a reactionary opinion, you should expect to mocked and/or blocked for it.

There's an argument that the decision is bad because the show's ratings are down, and the controversy will drive away more fans than it will draw back or retain, and this could kill the show. That's a lousy argument as well. For one, we won't know until next season starts how the ratings will be impacted. Even when we get the overnights for the first episode, we'll need to see how the new writers do, and what impact the new production team has on the show overall, as well as how well Whittaker does in the role; it's only the combination of all those factors, plus other factors (what the show is up against on other networks, for example) that will drive the ratings. It's far more likely, IMO, the first episode will get higher ratings because of all the attention the casting has received ... how much of that initial bump can be retained once the novelty wears off will be interesting to see. Without the data, arguing that "change is too risky" with regard to this show in particular looks disingenuous. Leaning on this argument signals that you're concern trolling to mask the fact you're actually making a case for your He-Man Woman Hating Club position. All the indications I've seen are that there's skepticism about Chibnall, and had he cast another white dude, it would've only endeared him to reactionaries, while giving fans looking for the show to stop emulating the post-Jackie Robinson Red Sox (famously and shamefully the last MLB team to field an African-American player) even more reason to de-prioritize watching.

I hope to see more public support from past Doctors and companions ... Sylvester, Billie, Freema, Karen, Arthur, Janet Fielding, and others have shown their support. Hoping to see a new video message from Tom Baker, something from McGann, Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith.

I've been watching with interest how Six has outclassed Five by a wide margin since the announcement. What's with Davison saying give the frightened a coddle first thing, anyways? That's your first reaction, before congratulating the new Doctor? Harumph. I've always liked Davison, never saw or heard anything that made me think he might be a jerk, but this hasn't sat well with me ...




I didn't make it to Raleigh's Con this past weekend, but there's video of the Alex "River Song" Kingston getting the news ... and it's priceless:



A little more intersectionality might've been in order, the Doctor is *still* white. Let's hope that's also addressed in the next regeneration. We don't know yet how they'll handle her sexuality, it's been a little fluid the last several years, but it remains to be seen if she'll have any, for starters, and how much of whatever type it turns out to be.


Some more tweets that caught my eye getting appended below:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dee the GOAT!



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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Munro First To Write For New & Classic Who



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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Today in a nutshell ...

Sometimes the twitter feed lines up in just the right order for maximum despair.

Today:

Mr. Johnson's comment cuts two ways. The scandal is what the GOP is doing with their control of Congress, as well as how the press is (not) covering what the GOP is doing.

There's a helpful Senator pointing out the GOP is looking to murder the poor, but it's hard to focus your attention on something being under-reported. Also, no amount of protesting, calling my Congressmen's offices, or griping about it here or on twitter dot com will make a lick of difference.

Our 45th President continues to demonstrate he's a corrupt, authoritarian man-baby who probably, in trying to obfuscate his grift, is unaware of, indifferent to, or (more likely) completely in support of the murderous agenda of the GOP.

American Exceptionalism, y'all.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Run The Quay 5K 2017

Not going to let the fact I didn't set a new PB time in this race get me down. Not going to. Not.

Ugh. It's eating me up.

Look, here's the deal: I started way back in the crowd and was jammed up in traffic the first quarter mile, barely walking until there was enough room to start running past people. My "gun time" reflects the 40 seconds or so it took me just to reach the starting line. If I'd actually been able to run from the start, I think I would've been under 25 minutes. But, the time is what it is and I'll just have to carry a chip on my shoulder until the next race when I can try again.

Next up is the sprint triathlon in July. (Unless I can find another 5K to sneak in in the meantime.) Swimming is underway. I'm slow and need to log lots of laps in the next few weeks. And then I still expect I'll be slow. But I've been doing some biking, and of course running, so just going to keep up with those and hope for the best. My goal: don't come in dead last.





Race 1 - "Decem-burrrrr Dash" - 12/3/16 - 29:10
Race 2 - "SPCA Hot Chocolate Run" - 1/15/17 - 28:25
Race 3 - "I Heart 5K" - 2/11/17 - 26:58
Race 4 - "Running Over Cancer 5K" [official results] - 3/12/2017 - 25:32
Race 5 - "Racing for Rescues" - 5/7/2017 - 25:03 [official results]
Race 6 - "Run the Quay" - 6/3/2017 - 25:11 [official results]

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Our 45th President Is As Cowardly As He Is Ignorant



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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Second Chance Pet Adoptions | 2017 Racing for Rescues

Second Chance Pet Adoptions | 2017 Racing for Rescues




This was a fun event for another great cause. I'd do this one again.

We got lucky on the weather. The conditions were ideal for running. I'm a little bummed I didn't get under 25 minutes. If I'd started my final push sooner, I think I could have done it with several seconds to spare, but the finish line kind of snuck up on me. I'll know better next time.

If nothing else, this slight improvement over the last race suggests I can be training harder. Even if the Run for the Quay turns out to be on a hot, humid morning, I'm shooting for a time comfortably under 25 minutes in that one. That it's been almost two months since my last race and I managed better race-over-race improvement with only a month between each of the last ones is a bit discouraging.


Race 1 - "Decem-burrrrr Dash" - 12/3/16 - 29:10
Race 2 - "SPCA Hot Chocolate Run" - 1/15/17 - 28:25
Race 3 - "I Heart 5K" - 2/11/17 - 26:58
Race 4 - "Running Over Cancer 5K"- 3/12/2017 - 25:32
Race 5 - "Racing for Rescues" - 5/7/2017 - 25:03 [official results]

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Thin Ice - "Human progress isn't measured by industry, it's measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege."

Thin Ice (Doctor Who) - Wikipedia

Series 10, Story 03 (Overall Series Story #268) | Previous - Next | Index

Image via lauraforthewinoswald

The question comes up all the time, "What's a good episode of Doctor Who for a newbie to start with?" "Thin Ice" may be my new answer.

If you've read this blog or my twitter, you know where I stand on the "Should Nazis Be Punched?" question. (My position, in case you don't me, is yes. Yes, Nazis should be punched, no-platformed, heckled, jeered and otherwise made to feel Nazism is unacceptable behavior.) When the Doctor decks a white supremacist, this became my instant favorite of the new season. The speech -- people are calling it a speech, but it isn't exactly the "The Zygon Invasion/Inversion," Black Archive speech -- is that comes a moment after the punch made we want to leap off the couch and punch the sky.
SUTCLIFFE: Girl, you show the ignorance of all your kind. Without that beast, my mills would rely on coal mines, and men die in coal mines all the time.
DOCTOR: I preferred it when you were alien.
SUTCLIFFE: When I was?
DOCTOR: Well, that explained the lack of humanity. What makes you so sure that your life is worth more than those people out there on the ice? Is it the money? The accident of birth that puts you inside the big, fancy house?
SUTCLIFFE: I help move this country forward. I move this Empire forward.
DOCTOR: Human progress isn't measured by industry, it's measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege. The boy who died on the river, that boy's value is your value. That's what defines an age. That's what defines a species.
SUTCLIFFE: What a beautiful speech. The rhythm and, and vocabulary, quite outstanding. It's enough to move anyone with an ounce of compassion. So, it's really not your day, is it?
Such fisticuffs and moralizing, it's feeling very Pertwee Era up in here. (As Sandifer notes, the first death, a drunk who wanders away from the crowd, is also reminiscent of the Pertwee era where local color fatalities were often used to establish the menace in the early going.) There's one other way this episode put me in the mind of tail end of Pertwee's run ... it has to do with the companion.

Bill's anguish upon witness her first death is heart-breaking. She's great here. (Bill, the character, and Pearl playing the role of Bill.) It's early, but as much as I've loved Rose, Martha, Donna, and Clara, Bill is the first companion I've found myself feeling the same way I felt (gulp) about Sarah Jane Smith. There, I said it. Just a few days after the anniversary of Lis Sladen passing away it feels like there is another character on the show capable of inspiring the same affection.. Still, it's early, and thanks to all the information/rumor we fans have available to us about the production, I'm already accepting that she's meant to be a one season companion who'll be replaced, along with this Doctor, in the change to a new showrunner for Series 11. I don't expect she'll have enough time to fully inherit that mantle, much as I find myself wishing now she'd be allowed the time to do so.

This season's start is significantly strengthened by the third episode, surpassing the introduction and rebounding nicely from the slight misstep of the second episode. Next week's has a bit of the look of the Series 7 haunted house story, "Hide." Or maybe it puts you in the mind of the house where Sally Sparrow finds the Angels?


Odds-n-ends:

  • There were maybe two wrong notes struck in the episode. First, Bill's appreciative glance at the Doctor after his mini-speech was how we all felt, but shooting that to really draw our attention to Bill's reaction, right in that moment, felt a bit over-the-top. Weirdly, because as I said, I think every viewer with an ounce compassion reacted exactly as she did. Second, the Pete joke would've totally worked for me in any episode prior to Rory being disappeared and Amy forgetting he ever existed. Sure, the Doctor moves on, as this episode makes clear but given how he's seen that actually play out ... and moreover knowing that his memory of Clara had been expunged, it just didn't seem like joke he could make at this point in his timeline. Then again, Capaldi is always reminding us the Doctor is alien, a Time Lord, and to expect human reactions or inhibitions from him is a mistake. 
  • Sorry, a third off-note, the Jesus name drop. Don't get me wrong, I love that he references the whitewashing of history. It's just I don't ever want to see a show that does this many Christmas specials go anywhere near a Jesus story, or even imply such a story could happen. When the Doctor mentioned Jesus, it immediately made me think of mawkishness in "The Romans," and that awful Third Doctor Puffin e-book, "The Spear of Destiny."
  • This episode was written by Sarah Dollard. If Chris Chibnall doesn't bring her back when he takes over the show, shame on him.


Additional Resources:
Tardis Wikia Entry
chakoteya.net transcript
Sandifer post
There is of course a thin line between this and just saying I like the episode because of its politics. And to be fair, I do like the episode because of its politics. I mean, the Doctor literally sucker punches a racist. Of course I like it. Shit, I suspect even Jack is going to turn out to like it. Yes, most of its overtly political statements are very right-on and generic ones that are easily traced to common social justice rhetoric on Twitter. But Smile’s politics were just as generic. The difference, and the reason this works as opposed to just being a confused mess, isn’t just that the politics are good, it’s that they’re coherent. This is a story where all the ideas are actually pointing the same way. The story is about exploitation, and so Bill talks about slavery, points out the erasure of black people from history, and confronts a racist shitlord. Where Smile spent most of its time having no idea what it wanted to be, taking up and discarding ideas willy nilly, Thin Ice knows exactly what it wants to do.
AV Club review (A grade)
After a pair of introductory episodes that established a promising new TARDIS team amid only so-so adventures, the Doctor and Bill finally get a story and a script worthy of them with Sarah Dollard’s brilliant “Thin Ice.” There’s much to celebrate about this episode, but more than anything else is just how much watching it made me smile. Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie are a brilliant comedic double act, with the Doctor especially getting a ton of great lines. Their early exchange about the temporally deleted companion Pete has fun with what could otherwise be standard companion questions about the perils of time travel. 
TV Tropes recap
The Guardian recap

Monday, April 24, 2017

Smile - "Well, it would be a worry, so best not to dwell on it."

Smile (Doctor Who) - Wikipedia 

Series 10, Story 02 (Overall Series Story #267) | Previous - Next | Index

Image via the official Doctor Who tumblr

My first thought was the lazy, "Make the reaction post all emojis," one. In my defense, this episode was unremarkable enough that I didn't feel like putting much thought into trying tease any meaning out of it, put it down, or boost it up. Or anything really. I wasn't bothered by it. I watched it twice without being irritated. I was just never engaged.

πŸ‘€X2
"πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜“πŸ’€πŸ˜΅πŸ˜Ά"
πŸ˜‘


Odds-n-ends:

  • When the Doctor mentions he's encountered some of these Earth evacuation ships before, I took him to mean the events described in "The Ark," and "The Beast Below." "The Ark in Space" also felt relevant here. (Now there's a story I'm ready to watch again.) But, that trying to figure out what this one might have to do with anyof the others I'll leave as an exercise for a future date. (These posts are stubs I mean to come back to and flesh out later, rememember.)
  • The colony ship is named for a Samuel Butler novel that I haven't read. And (you may be sensing a theme here) I wasn't intrigued enough by the selection, or what I found out about it by scanning the wikipedia entry, to read it and search for deeper connections.
  • Nitpicky, but I was underwhelmed by the robots' emoji face designs. The death skull one looked amateur. For walking UIs of a new AI life form, they weren't very expressive.
  • Read some comparisons to Black Mirror when checking the reviews for this story. The setting did feel Black Mirror, but even by BM's kind of low bar, this didn't feel as Twilight Zone-y as a BM usually does.
  • Bill continues to work well as a companion, and I didn't mind Nardole getting the brush off. Her (ignored) curiosity about why the Earth had to be evacuated after seeing the history e-book felt like it might be significant, like we might find out more. (Or, maybe we already have and I'm forgetting it ...)
  • Only in reading the AV Club review linked below did it become clear that this episode revisits the theme of the "baddie" who's just different. Hunger looks like evil when you're on the wrong end of the cutlery, the Doctor observed last week. This week he points out the Vardie (sp?) were an emergent new life form without the proper context to interpret their coding.


Additional Resources:
Tardis Wikia Entry
chakoteya.net transcript
Sandifer post
The “damn with faint praise” aspect, however, comes from the fact that you can’t actually put the bar much higher than “oh, hey, Cottrell-Boyce avoided fucking up this time.” The script still never soars. Worse, as with In the Forest of the Night, the moments where it tries to soar are generally its weak points. The script has an awkward habit of leering in and insisting that you find it clever, and these bits don’t often correspond to when it’s being clever. The repetition of the “skeleton crew” joke twice in rapid succession and the thickly laid on “can’t you call the police” line are the two most obvious examples. But equally frustrating are the things it doesn’t unpack - the declaration that the Vardies are a form of sentient life isn’t set up nearly well enough, and more broadly the resolution is full of ideas that are actually worth exploring, but that the script has left no time to explore because it wanted to be an ostentatious two-hander for a while.
AV Club review - Grades it B+ (seems high)
As a story in its own right, well… this is the early-season, far-future episode for a new TARDIS team. In that regard, it follows “The End Of The World,” “New Earth,” “Gridlock,” “Planet Of The Ood,” “The Beast Below,” and “Into The Dalek.” There are some good episodes in that bunch—“Planet Of The Ood” is legitimately great—and a few underrated efforts, but there’s a general pattern there of undercooked narratives that favor characterization over airtight plotting. That’s not such a bad thing for a story whose function is to establish the new iteration of the show’s central characters, but it can only excuse so much the flimsiness of this episode’s premise. The trouble is that, like the magic haddock the Doctor keeps mentioning, the Vardi aren’t meant to be good or evil, just different in their thinking from the humans.
TV Tropes page
Simon's Incoherent Blog
... Smile was a fairly average, even derivative episode salvaged somewhat by some excellent direction, some nice dialogue and the usual excellent performances. I’m heartened that, unlike last time, Frank Cottrell Boyce has given us a script that feels like it belongs in Doctor Who; next time though, he might want to try relying rather less on its past.
 Locations Guide
I read somewhere this was shot in Valencia, expect the location guide will be updated to reflect that when the entry for this story is created.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Pilot - "Look, I know you know lots of stuff about, well, basically everything, but do you know any sci-fi?"

The Pilot - Wikipedia

Series 10, Story 01 (Overall Series Story #266) | Previous - Next | Index

Trippy Bill, image via GIPHY
In "Hell Bent," the Doctor explains the Matrix to Clara as "a big computer made of ghosts, in a crypt, guarded by more ghosts." He might as well have been a critic analyzing the show itself. This episode hammers the point home: Doctor Who is a show made of ghosts. Ghosts, echoes, reflections ... positively every scene is haunted by an element of its past.

And, that's OK. Everything old becomes new again, after all.

But, I don't want to start there. Rather, let's consider how Doctor Who exists in a TV universe alongside a show like The Expanse -- a series which I also enjoy very much, despite it's stark differences from DW. This is a tangent that probably has no place in a reaction post to this episode, but hear me out. The Expanse is classic, almost Heinlein-ian hard sci-fi. No time travel, no FTL travel, not even transporters or replicators; it's a show that, at first, we could be excused for thinking could never have anything to do with the magic-y, ghost-laden sci-fi/fantasy of the DW universe. Yet the Roci and her crew are exactly the sort of ship the TARDIS has materialized aboard any number of times. This Doctor and Bill could totally drop in to any of The Expanse's settings and the show would instantly be Doctor Who in a way Doctor Who could never be The Expanse.

Consider "The Waters of Mars," for instance. It's one of the haunts in "The Pilot," you couldn't help but recall it when Heather got all watery. That crew and that base are an example of exactly the kind of milieu the Doctor drops into all the time; but, imagine if the TARDIS never materialized near that particular base. The story of the Mars colony in "Waters" could have been a show of it's own. A show that might have been very, very like The Expanse. (The protomolecule not so unlike the life found on Mars ... ) This isn't to say DW is better than The Expanse, or that they *should* crossover, only how easy it is to imagine they could once you concede that DW, while not hard sci-fi, encompasses that genre, without being of it. DW is large, it contains multitudes. It is, after a fashion, bigger on the inside.

(This isn't to argue that Doctor Who is better than The Expanse, as a series or episode vs. episode. I dig The Expanse and don't intend to slog it, only to use it as a means to consider one facet of what's magical about DW.)

Reviewers that get to watch the episodes and write about them well before I do have already done an ace job ticking off all the boxes I might've here -- things like noticing the piece of the Mary Celeste down in the basement of the university where the Doctor's got a vault he's protecting -- so I'll link them, per usual, below and recommend giving 'em a read through.

Odds-n-ends:

  • Pearl Mackie deserves every nice thing that's been said about her as Bill. If some asshole has disparaged her performance in print, on the web, or out and about ... well, fuck that asshole because he's an idiot.
  • Look, it's very meta. But it stays this side of being entertaining because and in spite of how meta it is. It's not a new pilot, but it toys with the idea it could be.
  • I'm OK with Nardole, for now. I wasn't sure about him coming back for the last special, am less sure I want him sticking around as companion for a full season ... but maybe there's a point to him, and he's got good chemistry with the Doctor anyways. Worried though that I'll be sick of him soon.
  • Susan is going to be back, in some way, shape, or form, yeah? I mean, OK, I was sure she was going to be back a while ago, too, but this time it looks like a mortal lock.
  • Starting to read rumors today, not sure how credible, that David Bradley is going to return to play the First Doctor like we nearly have been asking for him to do since An Adventure in Space and Time. That would certainly make the return of Susan more likely. 
  • It should probably go without saying, but how great is it that Bill is gay and it's not A Very Special Episode of Doctor Who forced big deal? Extra great.
  • The way this episode shows moments in time as fixed images during the Doctor's lecture on the subject was quite well-executed, I thought. More of this kind of visual storytelling, please. Will the show take little risks like that under Chibnall? I worry that it won't. As much as we all have Moffat-fatigue to some degree or other, we may miss him more than even his biggest fans might think possible when he's no longer involved.
  • I cringed at the "I fatted her" joke even though it wasn't body shaming, the opposite, in fact. So I shouldn't have cringed, but I still wished Moffat hadn't even gone there. Is that some vestigial liberal guilt thing holding me back from appreciating a moment where a TV show, perhaps bravely, says "yeah, that girl is big, but she's sexy, deal with it"? 
  • The badge on Bill's jacket, that's the ghost of Ace. (Whose badges, it must be said, were much cooler.)


Additional Resources:
Tardis Wikia Entry
chakoteya.net transcript
Sandifer post 
This results in an episode that’s not so much uneven as threadbare. He [Moffat] clears so much room for selling the mundaneness of Bill that the episode plot is an afterthought. The puddle - that’s clearly what this monster needs to be called - is, charitably, a minimalist creation. Its explanation does not make anything vaguely resembling sense, and more to the point doesn’t actually try to. The best bits end up being what they often are with Moffat, which is the ritual performance of set pieces. His last big “bigger on the inside” is his most baroque yet, a glorious shaggy dog working its way towards the straightforward classic resolution. Objecting to the TARDIS being named in English is a solid choice of “let’s have Bill say something different.” The Australia gag’s actually great. As are a plethora of details: the Doctor’s “how can I help,” Bill’s “I don’t think they’re mine,” and of course Susan, River, and the TARDIS yelling at the Doctor to take her as a companion. But the whole is less than the sum of its parts. It still adds up to a lot, but that’s still an entirely true statement about “The Pilot.”
AV Club review - gives it a B grade.
A Steven Moffat episode is always good for at least one brilliant, off-kilter observation on the nature of the world. The Doctor’s explanation of how hungry looks a lot like evil from the wrong end of the cutlery is this episode’s entry in that particular canon.
TV Tropes page
When Bill and Heather first meet, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is playing in the background.
Forgot to mention how much I loved that.

Radio Times

Locations guide

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Last Survivor of the 19th Century Has Passed



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With all the TV networks we have, and for the number of reality TV shows in production, it continues to amaze me that we don't have one that focuses on the oldest living humans.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Disgusting AF



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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

All 26 seasons of classic Doctor Who finally have a U.S. streaming home

All 26 seasons of classic Doctor Who finally have a U.S. streaming home | SyfyWire


This is legit exciting for me, at least, because I haven't been able to get a hold of Pertwee's final story, "Planet of the Spiders," and haven't seen it in probably 35 years.

~whispers~ BritBox won't want to hear this, but I'm planning to take advantage of the free trial to binge the heck out of stories I haven't seen in ages and don't own on DVD.



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Late Capitalism Retirement Planning



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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Running Over Cancer 5K 2017

It was just a "participation medal." But I still like it!

The ROC5K was my second 5K at the Cary Soccer complex, the SPCA run was also held there, and I was ready with potential excuses for not doing better than my last time running it, or my last race: got sick and missed days of running; it was cold after a morning snow; I biked on the Weds before the race and wrecked my legs, couldn't recover fast enough ...

But I don't need them, managed to set a new personal best, better even than my best practice run to date.

Now I've got a 5K lull until the Fuquay race this summer and need to keep biking for the longer term goal of completing a Sprint Triathlon in the Fall. So not knowing where I'll be with the training regimen changing, and how the coming warm weather will effect me, won't set a goal for the Run the Quay race yet, but I'd really like to keep getting faster these next few months and show marked improvement. 22:00 feels out of reach -- a time would've been competitive for my age group in this race  -- but maybe a time under 24 minutes isn't out of the question?

Race 1 - "Decem-burrrrr Dash" - 12/3/16 - 29:10
Race 2 - "SPCA Hot Chocolate Run" - 1/15/17 - 28:25
Race 3 - "I Heart 5K" - 2/11/17 - 26:58
Race 4 - "Running Over Cancer 5K" [official results] - 3/12/2017 - 25:32

Friday, March 10, 2017

We Need to Own Our Government



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Sunday, March 5, 2017

As We Await New York 2140, Worth Remembering How Great "The Gold Coast" Is



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Sunday Morning Noir Conversation Fragment



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Friday, February 17, 2017

Serenity Now!



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I got pretty nervous as soon as the producer said she was turning on her microphone, so I failed pretty hard at trying to make my point. What I wanted to say was I still love Serenity because it's energizing, hopeful escapism -- the kind we (I, at least) need more than ever these days. (By, "these days," I mean we got Trump making Nazis like Reavers set loose upon the 'verse and it's going to take all the little bands of principled folk working together to fix the broken pieces of society.)

All entertainment is political, whether we like it or not, even the escapist kind. The best westerns are about figuring out how to live together in a way that celebrates and protects people's freedoms. They show us people riding horses in the great wide open, sleeping under the stars, etc. but they also show how those cowboys and outlaws get bound together with the teachers, bartenders, sheriffs, and shopkeepers in a community that stands together against the cruel injustices of nature and greedy men. Serenity isn't merely sci-fi with Western trappings; it explores the themes that go along with the dusty long coats and holstered weapons as effectively as any John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, or Kevin Costner sun-drenched epic. Better than most, I'd argue. Certainly with less white supremacist baggage than the typical Western.

What actually came out of my mouth though was more, "OMG if only it were really possible to get the hell out from under our current government and bring it down with the righteous truth and blasters instead of having to carry around protest signs in marches and constantly getting my elected officials' voicemail to leave pleading messages for sanity -- messages that are ignored."


Sunday, February 12, 2017

I Heart 5K 2017

There's definitely something satisfying about setting a goal, then being able to tick it off. For my 3rd 5K, I wanted to be under 27 minutes and I managed it by logging a 26:58 time at the I Heart 5K run this weekend.



The course was fun, not much in the way of flat stretches, but the ups and downs weren't too steep overall. There were a couple long-ish, steep-ish hills, the last uphill climb coming to the finish was deadly, but I managed to only pass, and not be passed on that last one, so I felt pretty good about how I did.

Next race will be back in Cary at the soccer complex, same course I ran in January, so my goal will be to beat that time. Not sure I can say how the courses compare overall in terms of difficulty, but I hope I can go a little faster than I did in this last race. Have a feeling it will be tough though as I felt like I never let up in this last one, didn't leave anything in the tank. In the first couple, I feel like I didn't push myself the whole way, so my gains might be more about focus than improving fitness. Still, I'll keep up the every other day runs and try to keep a more consistent pace. The fact my fastest kilometer was the 4th, and was 20 seconds faster than the first, tells me I can be less conservative and come out a little faster. If I could do each kilometer around 5:10, that'd get me under 26 minutes ... probably too aggressive to shoot for in the next one. However, after the March race, the next one I've registered for is the Run the Quay in June, and I think I should set my goal for that race to at that point by then, maybe shoot for 25:30 or better.

If all goes to plan, I'll also have started swimming and biking before June, with an eye towards my first sprint triathlon in the fall, so I may be doing less running as I work in training for the other disciplines.

Race 1 - "Decem-burrrrr Dash" - 12/3/16 - 29:10
Race 2 - "SPCA Hot Chocolate Run" - 1/15/17 - 28:25
Race 3 - "I Heart 5K" - 2/11/17 - 26:58

Starting line

Approaching the finish line

Done.

Apparently cooking up an evil scheme, by the looks of things.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Women's March Write Up at Town Times by @RealMarkDionne



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Blumenthal Remains Problematic

OK, so apparently there was misquote and Blumenthal meant only that Dems shouldn't block the hearing. A slightly more reasonable stance than we first thought, but the remarks still apply. Dems need to resist, block, oppose at every step. The theft of this seat is still in progress, and there's no reason to reward them for it.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

94 #AndCounting - UConn v. ECU

The UConn Women set a new record every time they play, so we took the drive out to ECU to see them win their 94th consecutive game. Gabby notched a triple double, a nice bonus for us to see only the 5th in UConn WBB history. A historic night on a couple fronts.

This will likely be the only game I see live this season, though I have some hope of catching a game towards the end of the year -- depending on their 2017-2018 pre-conference schedule -- whether this streak is still alive, or they've started another.

My daughter cheered on Katie Lou

We were all geared up


Always great to see 1st round WNBA draft pick and Husky great Morgan Tuck

There I am in the crowd during SNY's pre-game

Friday, January 20, 2017

Happy 83rd, Tom Baker!



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Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Study in White Privilege



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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hot Chocolate Run 2017

One of my goals for this year was to finish in the top three for my age group in a 5K. Happy to report I managed it in my first race of the year (second ever) over the weekend.


Finished 48th out of 250 overall with a time of 28:25. That was well short of my goal of getting under 27:00 but I don't feel too bad as it was my first time on that particular course, which featured a pretty daunting hill that we had to run up twice. Despite the hill, my biggest race day source of irritation was that Pokemon Go crashed less than a minute into the race, so I didn't get to hatch an egg at the end. Grrrr.

I've signed up for races in February and March with the hope bettering my time with each race and finally cracking 27 minutes.

Race 1 - "Decem-burrrrr Dash" - 12/3/16 - 29:10
Race 2 - "SPCA Hot Chocolate Run" - 1/15/17 - 28:25
 

Monday, January 16, 2017

When You Put It That Way ...



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Friday, January 13, 2017

Emboldened Hypocrites to Enjoy 4 Years of Bold Hypocrisy



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Thursday, January 12, 2017

So That's What a Literal Death Panel Looks Like



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