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Showing posts from April, 2016

This Week In Vexillology #164

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This Week In Vexillology, we're sticking around the South Pacific and taking a look at the flag of the Solomon Islands. Adopted on November 18th, 1977, the five main island groups are represented by the stars. The blue stands for the surrounding ocean, and the green in the flag represents the land. You might think (like I did, initially) that the yellow stripe stands for sand along the beaches- but it doesn't- it represents sunshine.

As for the Soloman Islands themselves- well, military history buffs might remember the Battle of Guadacanal back in World War II- the capitol, Honiara is located there. The Spanish discovered them in 1568, the British came around 1893 and sort of took over the place. They achieved self-government in 1975, became independent in 1977 and are currently a Constitutional Monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II serving as the Queen of Soloman Islands (one of the many hats she wears as part of the whole Commonwealth thing.)

There was a bout of ethnic tension b…

Is The Two Party System About To Crack Wide Open?

Editor's Note: I'm applying for the occasional freelance gig and if I'm going to have to submit writing samples with my resume, I figured I might as well put them on here for your reading pleasure and, naturally, posterity. So if it seems a little different, that's why.
While the two party system is probably under the greatest amount of strain in decades, despite the pressures placed upon it from both the left and the right in this electoral cycle it is still unlikely to experience major shifts or outright changes. The tones and ideological placement of both parties might shift after this current election, but the system will most likely remain the same.
That might seem slightly incongruous, given the amount of support for political outsiders such as Bernie Sanders (on the left) or Donald Trump (on the right.) If the mood of the electorate can be characterized as anything, it would perhaps be: ‘ready to hand someone a can of gasoline and some matches to burn the whole …

Where Is The Fanfare For 50 Years of Star Trek?

2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek and while there's a new movie set to drop this year (Star Trek Beyond) and a new television show on the horizon for 2017, other than that, there's been a dearth of fanfare around the half-century mark for one of science fiction's most storied franchises. While Doctor Who had worldwide celebrations and an epic, multi-Doctor special to mark their celebration, Paramount seems to be dropping the ball when it comes to Star Trek.

A recent article at io9.com sums it up perfectly: Why the hell aren't we hearing more about Star Trek Beyond? Cinema-Con was last week and new footage and new trailers dropped in its wake- but nothing for Star Trek Beyond. Paramount's official explanation is that new footage would be premiering at a massive fan event set for May 20th- but still, there seems to be a dearth of official commemorations to mark the anniversary. While a documentary celebrating the life of Leonard Nimoy (directed by his son)…

This Week In Vexillology #163

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This Week In Vexillology, we're sticking around the South Pacific and taking a look at the striking and kind of awesome looking flag of Vanuatu!
First discovered by Europeans in 1606, it nearly another two centuries and another two visits before the archipelago was finally given a name that stuck, courtesy of Captain James Cook, who named them the New Hebrides. Over the subsequent centuries both Britain and France claimed parts of the island chain, which lead to the establishment of a unique power sharing structure between the two powers which only came together in a joint court. Melanesians on the islands could not get citizenship of either power. (This is actually really unusually and unique- I can't say I've ever come across a joint-agreement between two powers like this before. Interesting.)
After World War II, nationalism grew with the arrival of- who else? The Americans! (And gave rise to a cargo cult named John Frum which is now a political party in the government.…

Prince, 1958-2016

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I'm just going to go ahead and say it: Worst. Year. Ever.  (Well, not exactly the worst- I mean, we did just move into a beautiful new house and I've got a six month old (how crazy is that?) and a four year old who just started soccer (and is very excited about it) and a beautiful wife that I love and adore.) But seriously: first Bowie and now Prince?

I didn't come of age in the 80s, so I wasn't deep in the MTV generation, but I was old enough in the early to mid-90s to dig me some VH1 and Prince videos tended to pop up (pun intended) a lot on Pop Up Video. I remember the video for Raspberry Beret and Kiss- and then of course, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet was my first introduction to When Doves Cry, but it wasn't until I moved to Minnesota for grad school that I really began to understand just how big of a deal this dude was.

Every bar I ever went to in Minnesota (and believe me, I went to many) you heard Prince. At some point in the night, you always head th…

35. Make Our House Perfect (or move to a bigger and better house)

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Well, it's official. We've moved! There's still plenty of stuff to unpack and the house is still a mess- but we're here and we couldn't be happier.

Will Suicide Squad Break The Grimdark?

As superheros of all kinds fill up the screen both large and small, stark differences are emerging between the two main comic competitors Marvel and DC and their competing visions for bring their characters to either small or the large screen. While both companies can claim a cinematic history that goes back to the 40s and 50s (Republic Pictures released a Captain America movie in 1944 for what was then called Timely Comics, Superman and the Mole Men dropped in 1951 and served as the pilot for the 1950s Adventures of Superman Television Series) the modern era for both companies did not really take off until the year 2008 when the cinematic visions for both companies went in starkly different directions.

For Marvel, 2008 saw the release of Iron Man, which launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe which seems to an unstoppable juggernaut at this point. It is undeniable that Marvel has hit more than it has missed and if advance reviews for Captain America: Civil War are as promising as we a…

This Week In Vexillology #162

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This Week In Vexillology, we're heading across the world, way down to the southern hemisphere for a refreshing change of pace with the flag of Papua New Guinea:


Adopted on July 1st, 1971 for national and civil usage, the flag was designed by a 15 year old school girl who won a nationwide competition held for a new flag design. In the fly you see the Southern Cross, which appears in the flags of Australia and New Zealand (Australia and Britain ran the place- first Papua from 1906-1949 and then New Guinea from 1914-1949 and finally the two together as Papua New Guinea from 1949-1965. It became an Australian Trust Territory from 1965 until independence in 1971.) The constellation in this flag represents the country's location in the Southern Hemisphere and that it can be seen in Papua New Guinea.

The bird silhouetted in yellow is a raggiana bird-of-paradise, which can be found on the islands and the red and black have long been traditional colors of many tribes in the country, bu…

This Week In Vexillology #161

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This Week In Vexillology, we're wrapping up Europe with the flag of Austria- which, fun (and probably apocryphal) fact might be one of the world's oldest flags with an origin story that dates all the way back to the year 1191. Adopted on May 1st, 1945 for national and civil usage, the flag of Austria was held over following the fall of the Hapsburg Empire at the end of World War I- and the two red stripes with a white stripe in the center have been associated with Austria for centuries. Story is that a Duke of Austria once fought so much in battle his white surcoat ended up soaked in blood except for the part that was covered by his belt. Why anyone would think that wearing a white surcoat to a battle- especially all the way back in 1191 where leaders you know, actually still had some skin in the game as a posed to watching proceedings from a tent well back from the fighting- is beyond me, but that's what the dude did and that's how we ended up with the flag of Austri…

Squawk Box: Daredevil Season 2

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I was planning to drop this review in May- I dipped my toes into Occupied and Deutschland 83 and was liking was I was seeing, but once I saw the season premiere of Daredevil, I was immediately sucked back into the show- and, as with most things on Netflix, once you start, you just can't stop. Did the second season live up to the excellence of the first? In many ways, yes- in some ways no- but, I have to admit after a somewhat uneven middle stretch of the season, they pulled things back together for an excellent finale.

As the season opens, Nelson and Murdock are enjoying new found fame following their victory over Wilson Fisk and seem to be heading back to the daily grind of trying to pay their bills and help their clients, many of whom pay via things like pie instead of actual, you know, money. But a new arrival when a new arrival in Hell's Kitchen disrupts the peace, Nelson, Murdock and Karen Page- the sort of core triumverate of the show find themselves split apart by event…

Rain

It's 4:10 AM and I feel like I wrote all of this in a fever dream of some kind. No idea what it's going to look like in the morning, but it felt deep, man. So I'm going to let it ride. Take it or leave it, this is what comes out of my brain at this time of night.
It's finally getting to be my favorite time of year: thunderstorm season. I'm not talking about the big suckers that roll through and actually damage things. I like the long ones- that rumble and flash all night long and just rain and rain and rain. It's the kind of night where you wonder why you picked up overtime at all, because between the rain and the thunder you could sleep forever and so, so easily.

I had an hour to kill between the end of my shift and the start of my overtime, so I retrieved the car from the lot at the bottom of the hill and drove it up to the parking ramp. With time on my hands, I didn't want to park in the lower levels for my quick escape in the morning. I drove up the len…

The USWNT Deserves Equal Pay

This blew up last week and it's worth talking about- not just because I'm a soccer fan, but because in the tiresome debate about equal pay (the left says, reasonably that women should be paid the same as men for equal work. The right says with that slightly irrational but not entirely unreasonable complaint- that hey, why do women in your White House earn less than men in your White House does? And so on and so forth) no matter what side you come down on, this specific complaint shouldn't even be up for discussion.

To whit, five members of the USWNT filed a federal discrimination complaint alleging that U.S. Soccer has illegally and unfairly paid them less than their male counterparts. Now, before you get on your shitty sexist high horse about 'women's sports' let's consider the fact that the USWNT is more successful and brings in more revenue than their male counterparts- the article from Bloomberg View breaks down the numbers nicely- but gets paid four ti…

There's A New Plan for the Art Museum

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So, they've got a new plan for the Art Museum and it wasn't quite what I was expecting. But the more I think about it, the more I like it. Let's consider:

First, I was a little confused- because part of the deal post-flood was that UIMA couldn't return to their old building because it's proximity to the river and two floods within twenty years pretty much meant that their insurance was done dealing with that. But, then I actually did some active reading of the article I linked to above and noticed that they were planning on building parking underneath the building to elevate it above and out of the flood zone.

Second, if you wanted an art museum that is more directly connected to campus this does it and then some. I don't know what the building plan is going to look like- so I don't know if they're going to directly connect it to the Main Library (black rectangle) or have a skywalk/bridge to a facility (red rectangle)- but either way, you're putting…

This Week In Vexillology #160

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This Week In Vexillology, we're still in Europe. (Almost done, I swear) but we're also looking at another one of those countries that sort of surprise me- namely the Principality of Liechtenstein. Sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria, the country was created in 1719 as part of the Holy Roman Empire. (Weirdly, the newly minted Princes of Liechtenstein didn't actually get around to visiting the place for 100 years. When they finally got around to it in 1818, they left again and didn't come back until 1842. All of which makes me wonder a little bit about Liechtenstein...  or it's Princes for that matter.)

World War One forced the country into a customs and monetary union with Switzerland- but it seems to be the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that really secured their independence as it was felt that since Liechtenstein was a fief of the Holy Roman Empire, it was no longer bound to the emerging, newly independent state of Austria. (I think I'm getting th…