Monday, June 30, 2014

Some reactions to the #HobbyLobby decision ...

Disappointing but not unexpected.

Instead of composing an essay, I'm going let some pithy tweeters cover this for now ...

The silver lining?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Guardian humbly remembers their Archduke Ferdinand assassination coverage ...

How the Guardian played down the assassination that sparked world war | World news | The Guardian

Via The Guardian
"It is not to be supposed," wrote a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian analysing the significance of the assassination 100 years ago on Saturday, "that the death of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand will have any immediate or salient effect on the politics of Europe." 
Thirty-seven days later, Britain declared war on Germany and Europe was plunged into a worldwide conflict in which more than 16 million people died in four years.
"Hah," we laugh, "how incompetent they were back then." We roll our eyes and scoff. "Primitives."

Turn on the TV. A Very Serious Professional News Anchor asks Dick Cheney or Paul Wolfowitz what we should do about Iraq.

Who, again, is the blinkered fool?

Friday, June 27, 2014

What is that weird 'Gollum' monster photosho ... err, photographed in the Chinese hills?

What is that weird 'Gollum' monster photographed in the Chinese hills? - Telegraph

Image via The Telegraph
A Chinese tourist has taken what he says is a photo of a "monster" hiding in the valleys of Huairou, in the north of Beijing.
The unnamed holidaymaker was camping with some friends in the hilly region, not far from the Great Wall of China, when he saw the "creature".
"I walked far away to have a pee, and suddenly saw a monster. I took a few pictures of it, but I am now terrified."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

North Korean verbal saber-rattling over silly movie a precursor to ... ?

BBC News - North Korea threatens war on US over Kim Jong-un movie:

The Interview via Yahoo Movies
Franco & Rogen getting their orders.
 The North Korea spokesman was quoted by the state KCNA news agency as saying: "Making and releasing a movie on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated."

He added that the "reckless US provocative insanity" of mobilising a "gangster filmmaker" to challenge the North's leadership was triggering "a gust of hatred and rage" among North Korean people and soldiers.

"If the US administration allows and defends the showing of the film, a merciless counter-measure will be taken," the spokesman was quoted as saying.
Remember that movie that got some radical Islamists all riled up, or not, and then Benghazi happened and the Fox News team has been trying to make political hay for their army of zombies over it ever since?  Now that another movie is set to chage another group of dangerously unstable minds I can't help but wonder, how are conservatives preparing to make this into another campaign against Obama?

What sort of triangulations are being calculated under the tin foil hats of the white supremacist/libertarian coalition crowd? Do they think this is the POTUS's attempt to cause another Benghazi to distract from the last Benghazi so HRC can get elected and finally institute World Socialism and Racial Mixing Under Gay Sharia Law?

Or is this another false flag operation where North Korea is actually a super black cadre of IRS agents working for the POTUS to kill prominent American freedom loving conservatives to grease the wheels for UN takeover of health care so they can finally get those Death Panels up and running?

I'm tempted to look into the dark corners of the internet and see what the gobshites are saying ... but, I'm sure I won't have to wait long for the level-headed likes of the Chuck Todds of the world to start reporting fairly on the merit of the arguments for impeachment because ... James Franco.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Planet of Giants - "You don't know anything! All you care about is how much money you can make."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Planet of Giants - Details

Season 2, Story 1 (Overall Series Story #9) | Previous - Next | Index

Ian comes face-to-giant-face with a corpse.
Image via BBC Press Room
This is going to be a short write-up -- as befits a story that was chopped down to a 3-parter to solve some pacing issues. What we get on the screen is actually better than you might expect, but it's an odd story for Doctor Who, one which feels like a case of  "let's make one where they shrink because that's what sci-fi shows and movies do regularly" more than it does a story that fits into a vision for a show that's going to be going strong into into its 51st year.

I expect someone debating whether to check this one is going to wonder if it looks passable (it does), if it's aged well (well-ish), and if it's too silly to enjoy sober (borderline). It's worth a watch. Heck, it's a complete Hartnell era story and it's short enough, at three episodes, it's not going to be slog you need to gear up to endure now matter how intolerant you might be of miniaturization f/x on a small budget. Some of it looks quite lovely. They did a bang-up job on the sink the Doctor and Susan manage to access from an outside drainpipe, for example. The fly is impressive as well. The attempts to project an image behind the actors to suggest scenery work rather less well. And scale, as with virtually every show that's done smaller or bigger than normal things, proves problematic to keep consistent.

The tipping factor, for me in recommending this, is it's a bit deeper than you might expect thematically -- that's the influence of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring --  and has resonances with "Tomb of the Cybermen" that, to my mind, are a better reason to watch than the giant matchbox and the Adventure in the Sink. It's not exactly a deep examination, but it does reflect a concern about the combination of Capitalism and Science operating in tandem without proper ethical consideration. Capitalism has a greed problem, and Science -- even when pursued for noble aims (here to eliminate hunger) -- has a "we just made something that would be really dangerous in the wrong hands" problem. If the risk those two problems pose isn't mitigated by the exercise of morality, the human race risks bringing a lot of suffering down itself.

If this story dealt with that theme on a somewhat more advanced level, it'd be a marvel. As it is, the scientist seems remarkably blinkered for someone otherwise so intelligent, and the businessman even more sociopathic than ... well, actually not that much more so than a Dick Cheney, for example. But, I digress ...

The shortcomings of those cartoon villains could've been overcome if the Doctor and the companions were at the top of their game, but they're really not here. Ian is so oblivious to Barbara's poisoning he's pure buffoon. Barbara's stoic suffering seems unnecessary. Susan is irritating when she's not merely unremarkable. The Doctor is fine, but lumbered with some of the kludgier dialogue, like when he offers an explanation for the TARDIS doors opening unexpectedly: "The space pressure was far too great whilst we were materialising. The strange thing is that we all came out of it unscathed. It's most puzzling. It's a big mystery, my boy." They're not unscathed, they're an inch tall and they just don't know it yet, so this is supposed to be the Doctor recognizing something must be wrong and sowing the seeds for showing us how insightful he is, but he doesn't figure it out when they come across a giant earthworm. He does figure it out all and come with a plan to bring about a resolution. And what a marvelously anarchic plan it is. His excitement in the execution of it is another character trait that will resonate later; it's a bit of pyromania that foreshadows his apparent delight at Rome's burning.

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Supreme Court split 5-4 on controversial (‽) "People buying guns should be truthful." via @scotusblog #WTF #cie" @cdogzilla

from Twitter

June 16, 2014 at 08:07PM


RIP Tony Gwynn, Mr. Padre

Nightengale: Tony Gwynn was truly the greatest

Tony Gwynn, Hall of Famer

The Padres, to me, have always been that little team out on the West Coast you hardly ever saw on TV ... except for one singularly great hitter who wore a Padre uniform his entire career: Tony Gwynn. Since I was old enough to care about baseball, sometime back in the mid-1970s, there have been only a handful of hitters that I loved to watch no matter what. Tony Gwynn was one of them. He was the second-coming of Rod Carew. He was Wade Boggs without the off-the-field baggage.

Just saw this Tim Kurkjian tribute, which covers it pretty well. I especially like the line, "Tony Gwynn tipped his cap."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mawdryn Undead - "In the name of all that is evil, the Black Guardian orders you to destroy him now! "

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Mawdryn Undead - Details

Season 20, Story 3 (Overall Series Story #126) | Previous - Next | Index

Image via Embroiled in the wars of illusion
There's a sizable contingent out there who make the case for "Kinda" and/or "Snakedance," but for my money "Mawdryn Undead" is the best Davison-era story yet in the original broadcast order -- and possibly the best until "Caves of Androzani". (Well, there's "The Five Doctors" along the way, too. But that's a special case.)  I've got several more to re-watch -- including old favorite "Terminus" -- so I reserve the right to change my mind. It's been thirty or so years since I watched a number of these; there's room to be surprised by something being better than I remember.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess I made use of the CGI replacement special effects while watching this one. I generally watch both the original and the new effects when the DVD release has them, but in this case I didn't feel like revisiting the old ones and remember well enough how 8-bit they looked. I'm glad they didn't redo any of the incidental music though, I'd forgotten how metal things got in spots. I'd also forgotten how cornball the tune playing when Turlough and Hippo were joyriding in the Brigadier's classic car is.

"Mawdryn" has quite a bit of the ol' wibbly-wobbly and handles it quite well. We meet 1976 and 1983 versions of the Brigadier, and they meet each other in a plot-significant flash of Blinovitch Limitation Effect. Lucky for the Doctor they did because he was about to the regenerations sucked out of him to save Nyssa and Tegan, and save/kill the Time Lord wannabes -- the ones with the brain-exposing skulls that pre-date the monkey entrees from Temple of Doom by a couple years. It's significant that Lethbridge-Stewart is retired in 1976 as that would seem to settle the debate about when the UNIT stories take place -- except it doesn't.

The hardest thing for fans to accept about the continuity is that mistakes were made. There is no master timeline that gets it all straight because the continuity is a hash. The best we can do is take whatever the latest story offers with regard to any question of when things happened as the new final word and treat whatever doesn't make sense as having happened in a branch timeline that either retroactively didn't happen, or didn't happen exactly when or in the same way we saw it happen before. There simply is no one pure reconciled timeline -- heroic efforts by encyclopedically knowledgeable fans notwithstanding.

Famously, this wasn't meant to be the return of the Brigadier. Had William Russell been available it would have Ian Chesterton (!) that would've been teaching math at the boys' school where we meet Turlough. Much as I am fond of the Brigadier, it would've made more sense, and been a much more effective bit of fan service, to see Ian again. That said, and despite Nicholas Courtney not being fond of the story, he does quite well here. The 1976 Brig and the 1983 are very different, and yet they are both recognizably our Brigadier. That's yeoman's work on Nicholas Courtney's part.

Turlough. Well, at least he's not Adric. Untrustworthy companions don't seem to work for me. Turlough, like Rose's pal Adam, is strictly in it for himself and therefore utterly unlikable. I get that's sort of the point. It's edgy and different and opens different dramatic possibilities. There may be a way to get the unlikable companion to work, it just hasn't been discovered yet. If I had to offer a suggestion beyond giving the character an arc that ends up redeeming him or her so they eventually become possible to like, I'd lean towards having that character end up becoming a something a darker version of Captain Jack or River Song, someone with a talent or power or knowledge that could make them an effective recurring foil for the Doctor, so they'd never be a proper companion at all, rather a baddie-in-waiting.

Part of the problem I have with Turlough is actually an extension of the problem I have with the Black Guardian, and the concept of the Guardians in general. I don't like them. It's not so much that they're never properly explained and the rules by which they interact with the universe are never clear, although that ambiguity doesn't seem clever to me -- it strikes me lazy -- the problem I have with them is they're supposedly so powerful and yet, when plotting to destroy the Doctor, the Black Guardian finds this whiny, overgrown schoolboy with insufferable narcissism to be the best available tool to accomplish his end. He also has a dumb bird thing in his hair that is probably supposed to be mythic and symbolic, but looks rubbish.

I was an atheist by age five or so because the character of God in the Biblical stories was self-evidently a monster and an idiot if he couldn't figure out better ways to do things than what the stories related. Likewise, I have no respect for the character of the Black Guardian. Credit frail, old Valentine Dyall for giving his all to lines like "In the name of all that is evil, the Black Guardian orders you to destroy him now!" I quoted for the title of this post because it is just so over-the-top dumb. He's clearly game. But, any villain that is simply pledged to all that is evil AND talks about himself in the third person is, by definition, dramatically uninteresting.

Leftover thoughts:

According to one of the DVD extras "mawdryn" is Welsh for "undead". Would the title of this translated into Welsh then be "Undead Mawdryn"? That's a puzzle for the TARDIS translation circuits to work out.

I should have been tagging episodes that use "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" and reference "the Blinovitch Limitation Effect" all along. Add that to the list of things to do when I do rewrites to buff up all these posts.

References / Additional Recommended Reading:

Sandifer, P. Philip Sandifer: Writer: And He's Just Wiped Them Out (Mawdryn Undead) Sandifer, P. (2012). Philip Sandifer: Writer: And He's Just Wiped Them Out (Mawdryn Undead). Retrieved 8 June 2014, from The Doctor Who Transcripts - Mawdryn Undead,. (1983). The Doctor Who Transcripts - Mawdryn Undead. Retrieved 8 June 2014, from Doctor Who (Classic): “Mawdryn Undead”,. (2012). Doctor Who (Classic): “Mawdryn Undead”. Retrieved 8 June 2014, from A Brief History Of Time (Travel): Mawdryn Undead,. (1981). A Brief History Of Time (Travel): Mawdryn Undead. Retrieved 8 June 2014, from

Perryman, N. Mawdryn Undead Perryman, N. (2012). Mawdryn Undead. Retrieved 8 June 2014, from

Tardis Mawdryn Undead (TV story) Tardis,. (2014). Mawdryn Undead (TV story). Retrieved 8 June 2014, from

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Curse of Peladon - "I wanted to save our world... to preserve the old ways. Perhaps I was wrong, Peladon. I hope so."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Curse of Peladon - Details

Season 9, Story 2 (Overall Series Story #61) | Previous - Next | Index

Image via Flight Through Eternity

For a show to run as long as Doctor Who, stories like this need to work. This isn't a tent-pole story. Neither a season premiere nor a finale. No major new villain is introduced. No companion joins or departs. There is no galactic-scale peril here. The very nature of time itself is not about to come undone. This is, by and large, meat and potatoes Doctor Who. It's not going to make anyone's Top 10 list, nor should it make anyone's Worst Of  Who list either.

If' it's unremarkable by most standards, that's not to say it does nothing either. For one, it's another break from Earth-bound, UNIT stories and brings the TARDIS (and even the Time Lords) back into play. As in "Terror of the Autons" and "Colony in Space", the Doctor is acting as an agent of the Time Lords to tackle some problem they aren't able to meddle in. "Terror" was set on Earth but, like "Colony", "Curse" takes us out into time and space again.

It's also timely. Not only considering the political situation of early-1970s UK and the questions then being debated about whether to join the European Economic Community (EEC). In 2014, the politics are still relevant as the EU wrestles with problems like Greece and the UK itself has Scotland considering independence. The Peladonians are concerned about being bullied by the larger, more advanced civilizations of the Federation (sounds more than a little Star Trek, doesn't it?) should they join. On the other hand, recognizing they could use a leg-up, is the opportunity to benefit from associations with more developed worlds to good to pass up?

In "Curse," Doctor Who seems to be saying joining the Federation (and by extension the EEC in the real world) is progress. Resisting progress based on superstition, xenophobia, fear of other cultures, is characterized as being backwards. I suspect that overtly political tone could alienate some. I'm all for progress, for example, but mineral-rich Peladon would seem to have every reason to be wary. Not all Federations are created equal.

The dynamic between King (well, pending coronation) Peladon and his High Priest Hepesh is well-played. The secular humanist in me can't help but note that the High Priest, whatever his good qualities, is fearful and duplicitous, and he is the one who is on the wrong side of history, as it were. Peladon is more forward-thinking and has the best interests of his people at heart, even as he recognizes Hepesh's concerns.

The TARDIS arrives on storm-ravaged, medieval Peladon just as a committee of delegates is convening to determine Peladon's fitness to join the Galactic Federation and the game is afoot. Who is behind the death of Peladon's Chancellor, is there really a mythical monster returning to punish the wicked, how long can the Doctor and Jo pass themselves off as Earth's delegate and a royal observer?

Oh, and how about those other delegates? Ice Warriors, but not ones bent on conquest; Arcturus, an awful little head in a tank (like a miniature Face of Boe); and the unforgettable spectacle of Alpha Centauri, the hermaphroditic, multi-armed, phallus in a cape. Jo's confustion about how to address her/him/it is quite understandable. Luckily, the Doctor matter-of-factly sets Jo straight and is utterly cool about the encounter. Shades of Nine at the End of the World, Three is quite cosmopolitan here. This may be the most progressive attitude on display and is remarkable for 1972. Of course, it's not exactly like having non-villainous humanoid who is genderqueer, but it's better than presenting as it something to be disgusted by or something to be mistrusted. Small steps.

The dynamic between King Peladon (David Troughton, Patrick's son), Jo, and the Doctor is fun to watch in this story. Despite Peladon's ridiculous high boots and short skirt royal garb, Jo is a bit smitten with him, and he with her. The Doctor also has to act as if Jo, Princess Josephine of TARDIS for purposes of maintaining their deception, is his superior and Pertwee plays his patrician Doctor straining at times to keep it up quite charmingly.

Pertwee also sells the Venusian lullaby and hypnotic aid he uses to tame Aggredor with absolute conviction. He's really very good in this one. All-in-all, I'm a bit shocked this story isn't more widely well thought of. For a less-impressed take, see Wife in Space's take on it. Sue correctly chastises the Doctor for being a bit prejudiced against the Ice Warriors and it's a reminder of how blasé Troughton's Doctor was about routing a ship full of Ice Warriors into the sun that one time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Web of Fear - "[I]s it safe?" "Oh, I shouldn't think so for a moment."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Web of Fear - Details

Season 5, Story 5 (Overall Series Story #41) | Previous - Next | Index

This shot alone worth the price of admission.
No sooner is Salamander sucked out the door into the vortex than we're caught up in a new adventure ... we're shown the TARDIS suspended in space, captured in a web, and then we're dropped straight into a 1950s B horror movie. Over the top acting,stock music cues, and all.

I'm going about this all out of order, so the robot yeti we encounter, and Professor Travers, would've been known by sight to anyone who'd watched "The Abominable Snowmen" first. This story was clearly made as an excuse to see the Yeti again. (Or to reuse them for budget purposes hoping they'd be a success first time around.) That's not particularly ambitious, but "Web" delivers on its modest goal. Those big, shaggy, Great Intelligence-controlled robots may not make hella sense, but they're so damned adorable can you blame fans for loving 'em? (That's a rhetorical question. Because no. You can't.)

After "Enemy" made a Bond-inspired, globe-trotting break from the Base Under Siege structure that characterized several earlier Troughton-era stories, "Web" has us squarely back in that mode. A mode in which it stays stuck for a while. In that sense, this is a bit of let down. Where "Enemy" was doing something a bit daring and different, "Web" takes no chances at all. And, after introducing a strong woman of color in the previous story, is back to being lily-white with only a stereotypical German Jew giving this story anything like diversity. The Yeti, great as they are, are recycled; so, this feels so very much like generic Doctor Who. It's hard to shake the been there, done that ennui.

That feeling of nothing being new here is reinforced by the modern-day viewer's benefit of hindsight. We know that Nicholas Courtney's Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart will get promoted and go on to become a fixture of the series for years to come -- even contributing a daughter to carry on the Stewart name into the new series. Back at the time this was shown, I don't think that was predictable. More likely alert viewers would've thought instead: "Isn't that the bloke who played Bret Vyon a few years back?"

While we're noticing things that will get reused, the foam that fills the tunnels of the London Underground will be used again in "The Seeds of Death" as the spores the Ice Warriors try to smother the Earth with. Again, hindsight makes it obvious, but it wouldn't have seemed so same-y to those watching in 1967.

I lamented the return to League of White Men casting above, but I nearly forgot one of the better moments in terms of the portrayal of women that this story featured:
KNIGHT: What's a girl like you doing in a job like this?
ANNE: Well, when I was a little girl I thought I'd like to be a scientist, so I became a scientist. 
You tell him, Anne.

Yeti, Lethbridge-Stewart, the bit of dialogue above, some decent atmosphere. That's what this has going for it. Uncomfortable Jewish stereotyping, some hammy acting, and a general lack of originality or a sense that it has anything in particular to say work against it. Glad it was found, but "Power of the Daleks" still looks like the missing story we needed the most.

You know, I'm glad the restoration team, upon finding finally getting hold of this film, didn't feel obliged to insert a CGI Jenna Coleman into the story to link it to the Series 7 GI arc. (A DVD extra with tongue firmly in cheek on the other hand would've been a nice Easter Egg.)

Small trivia note: John ("Sgt. Benton") Levene, who'd later join Nicholas Courtney as part of the regular UNIT crew appears here, but you wouldn't know it until the credits rolled as he played one of the yeti.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Enemy of the World - "I'm going out for a walk. It'll probably rain."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Enemy of the World - Details

Season 5, Story 4 (Overall Series Story #40) | Previous - Next | Index

Are "Enemy" and "Web of Fear" the last of the lost episodes we'll ever see recovered? I don't know if bookmakers have odds on another story turning up, or if there are rumors out there I just haven't heard yet ... but my sense is it's not very likely. Based on what we got with 2013's surprise discoveries though, here's hoping more are stashed away somewhere just waiting to be recognized for what they are.

Salamander is one of the most intriguing villains the show has ever had. It helps that he's played by Patrick Troughton, who is excellent here in his dual roles. But it's not just the novelty and Troughton's charm, it's how sinister Salamander is and how, despite being a mere human, he manages to penetrate the TARDIS and seems to be within a hair's breadth of carrying off his impersonation of the Doctor long enough to be the one who survives at the end. To the extent this story is Doctor Who does James Bond, he's every bit the Bond villain for most of the story, but he's something a bit more complicated. He's not just got a secret lair where his tech comes from, he's running a con on the world at large and on his own his own scientists and lackeys.

And it's the fact all his power comes from a con, which is basically just a story, that makes his super-power, if you will, storytelling. It's not that he can cause earthquakes and volcanoes, it's how he got to wield that power that turns out to be so fascinating. It's why confidence tricksters make such brilliant villains -- think Verbal in The Usual Suspects -- because they're schemes are so high-risk/high-reward; they're always on the verge of being revealed as frauds, even while they're amassing tremendous klout.

"Enemy" takes a bit of a beating in the critical judgments found on the official BBC site, but is adored by Sandifer and hailed as one of the best stories produced. Sandifer, here I am being a critic fanboy again, is much closer to the truth, I think, than The Discontinuity Guide. For one thing, in a season of Base-Under-Siege stories that, frankly, get so tedious it makes them almost impossible to watch on my late-night viewing schedule. Sandifer's analysis keys in on how the narrative subverts the action-adventure tropes, but may over-emphasize the degree to which it does, at least intentionally. This story feels very much like a deliberate attempt to do James Bond & The Avengers where the subversive elements are introduced by necessity of the six-part story structure and the limits of budget. That the end effect is what Sandifer describes I won't dispute, but I suspect it's a happy accident ... the kind which probably only happen to secret geniuses like he argues David Whitaker (this story's writer) is ... that resulted in the brilliant outcome.

Griffin the cook is rightly lauded (universally -- as far as I can tell) as a sublime addition to the story. It's this sort of anarchic playfulness of storytelling style that so few shows even attempt to pull off that adds depth to the whole affair. It looks so quintessentially British to my American eye to have a character so comedically cynical just sort of tossed into the mix. Why don't we see more Griffins on TV?

Let's talk for a moment about the women in this story. There's Victoria, who I don't much care for as a companion, but she and Jamie get to go on a dangerous mission without the Doctor to investigate Salamander. Actually, what the hell were they thinking sending those two on a dangerous mission?! For crying out loud. They don't even know what a helicopter is and they're in a 1960s era spy story of the near future positively littered with helicopters! Still, they acquit themselves admirably, for the most part, and it's not too distracting that they're totally unequipped to do what's asked of them.

Then there's Astrid, who is the Bond women of this story. Sort of. Mercifully she's the action aspect of that role, not the dubiously oversexed aspect. No mere eye candy, sixties era Bond girl here. Not only is she more Bond that Troughton's Doctor, the Doctor is more Bond girl than she is! Watch him frolicking around the shore in his skivvies and marvel at the role reversal. That inversion may be my third favorite thing about this story.

Unless Carmen Munro as Fariah is the next best thing. Forty stories in and I gather from Sandifer's post this is the first black woman to appear on the show. We're still miles away from this being a coup for civil rights, Patrick Troughton ruddied up to play a Mexican villain is hardly a step forward here, but at least he's no Toberman.

The near-future of this 1967-filmed story is practically today. Not exactly recognizable when compared to the real world, or really any other 21st century DW stories either, but that's OK. Continuity is a sucker's game in this universe. The travel between locations is not depicted very effectively, nor does the editing help. I wondered several times where the heck people were, and how they changed continents so suddenly, or if they did.

Small trivia note: Patrick's son, David, has a small role as guard in "Enemy," but he's got a much larger role as King Peladon in "The Curse of Peladon" which, quite coincidentally, I just watched as well, so he'll get mentioned again shortly.

Monday, June 2, 2014

How the NRA Hijacked the Second Amendment

How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment - Michael Waldman - POLITICO Magazine

"A fraud on the American public." That’s how former Chief Justice Warren Burger described the idea that the Second Amendment gives an unfettered individual right to a gun. When he spoke these words to PBS in 1990, the rock-ribbed conservative appointed by Richard Nixon was expressing the longtime consensus of historians and judges across the political spectrum. 
Twenty-five years later, Burger’s view seems as quaint as a powdered wig. Not only is an individual right to a firearm widely accepted, but increasingly states are also passing laws to legalize carrying weapons on streets, in parks, in bars—even in churches.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Atheists in the Bible Belt: A survival guide

Atheists in the Bible Belt: A survival guide – CNN Belief Blog - Blogs

Glad to see CNN covering the recent TFS-hosted FFRF convention here in Raleigh. It's amazing to me there are still large segments of the population that fear and distrust freethinkers, so anything that shows we're just folks helps.

KSR talks Hunger Games

Shaping the Future with Science Fiction and Climate Fiction -

“Science fiction represents how people in the present feel about the future,” Robinson says. “That’s why ‘big ideas’ were prevalent in the 1930s, ’40s and partly in the ’50s. People felt the future would be better, one way or another. Now it doesn’t feel that way. Rich people take nine-tenths of everything and force the rest of us to fight over the remaining tenth, and if we object to that, we are told we are espousing class warfare and are crushed. They toy with us for their entertainment, and they live in ridiculous luxury while we starve and fight each other. This is what The Hunger Games embodies in a narrative, and so the response to it has been tremendous, as it should be.”
As it should be.

If schools can help young adults process the reason why the narrative strikes a chord and translate that recognition into civic engagement, they'll be fulfilling one of their purposes. So, instead we see concerted efforts to grind down the teachers, steal from public education to persuade parents send their kids to charter schools, and breed a generation ready accept to their roles as playthings of the idle rich ...

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