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Showing posts from January, 2017

The Upload Project #3

CD #21, Untitled
Not a CD. More random pictures.

CD #22, Untitled (I'm sort of at a loss to explain this one. It's most of Back To Black with a random track by Elbow thrown in for good measure. Weird.)
Elbow- Forget Myself
Amy Winehouse-Rehab
Amy Winehouse-Tears Dry On Their Own
Amy Winehouse- Back To Black
Amy Winehouse- Addicted
Amy Winehouse- Just Friends
Amy Winehouse- Love Is A Losing Game
Amy Winehouse- Me and Mr. Jones
Amy Winehouse- You Know I'm No Good

CD #23, 'All Marley'
Get Up, Stand Up
How Many Times
Kinky Reggae
Could You Be Loved?
Kaya Now
Lively Up Yourself
Sun Is Shining
Is This Love
No Woman, No Cry
Three Little Birds
Buffalo Soldier
Stir It Up
One Love
I Shot The Sheriff
Wait in Vain
Redemption Song
Don't Rock My Boat
Jamming

CD #24, Untitled, but with five repeats!
Kings of Leon- Use Somebody
Alien Ant Farm- Smooth Criminal
Rush- The Spirit of Radio
Paramore- That's What You Get
Jonas Brothers- Paranoid
Dire Straits- Lady Writer
Real McCoy-…

Can We Talk About Immigration?

Editor's Note: This story is moving fast... the administration has backed down on the issue of Green Card holders- even backing off on the whole 'case by case' language that was so noxious over the weekend. It's also gratifying to stumble across articles like this. I'm going to leave the original post as it is though, the overall sentiments still seem real enough to me.

On the one hand, it shouldn't be surprising. Nativism, xenophobia, racism- whatever the hell you want to call it- the whole general mish-mash of anti-immigration and anti-immigrant sentiment is, sadly, a tradition as American as apple pie. A century ago, the Irish and the Italians and the Germans were spoke of in such terms. Now, in this century, it's the turn of the Muslims and the Mexicans. "We won't apologize for keeping America safe." Safe from what, though? Safe from whom? We still do business with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. We still send them money. Don't you dare tal…

Netflix & Chill #4: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

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Watched On: Amazon Prime
Released: 2016
Starring: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman
Prime Rating: 3.7 out of 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Pick: Mine

I remembered seeing a preview for this a few months back and it looked like a decent 'fish out of water' adventure/comedy that seemed like it was worth a peek. Tina Fey hits more than she misses, so I made the suggestion to the Missus, she agreed and we spooled it up on Amazon Prime, hopped into our warm, comfy bed and got to watching this bad boy.

Fey stars as Kim Baker, a behind the scenes journalist who is bored with her career, has a boyfriend who travels too much and is ready to make a change- so when the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan on a three month assignment to cover Operation Enduring Freedom comes up, Baker jumps at the chance.

She arrives in Afghanistan and gets swept into the low budget compound where the international journalists live- making friends with the BBC reporter, Tanya (Margot Robbie) and meets a lecherou…

This Week In Vexillology #198

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I have a problem. I've being doing this for pretty much 198 weeks now- which, holy shit, almost adds up to four years straight and finally...  finally, at long last, I think I'm starting to run out of flags. I'm working on something big for #200 a couple of weeks from now, but in the meantime, what are we going to do until then?

Well, on tap today, a nice trio of micronations!
First up, the Dominion of British West Florida! Yes, it's a thing... it's got it's own website, but basically this micronation was founded in 2005 to try and reassert British rights over the region and get Dominion status within the British Commonwealth within the United States (the website is sort of aiming for a similar status to that of Native American Reservations and other Tribal Nations?) I guess it's issued stamps, metal coins- issued in pre-decimalization pounds!

So what's the deal with this? The founders assert that the US annexation of the region was illegal because when…

Psephology Rocks: Les Regles du Jeu

psephology
noun1. the study of elections In the wake of the elections last November, I was sort of casting about, looking for some outlet for my general sense of self-abnegation of despair at the state of our political system and that's when it came to me: I love elections. Even last November, Election Day was fun, right up until the end, that is. There's something wonderful and joyous about witnessing democracy in action- and that's when it struck me: there's got to be a better way to do this.

While I'm not pursuing a serious academic career in political science, whether through default, by dumb luck or just out of sheer random chance, I fell into the field of Comparative Politics because it honestly interested me, so I'm going to combine the fun of participatory democracy with my background in Comparative Politics, to take a look at some of the elections on tap for this year. First up: France.

Before we can get into the fun and games currently going in France …

Burns Night

I always forget about Burns Night, which seems to be odd, given how much I love whiskey- and I almost forgot about it this year, but kept seeing Laphroig ads popping up in my Facebook feed so checked my calendar and here we are. I worked tonight, so I didn't have time to get a Burns Supper set up, but #SquadGoals, you know. One of these years I'll have one. Though granted, I haven't the faintest idea where one gets a haggis. Or bagpipes...  these things seem very involved.

True confession: I haven't read too much of the poems of Robert Burns- 'To A Mouse' in it's original Scottish brogue is probably my favorite. But since this night is all about poetry, I think I should go with the poem that's sort of been my obsession for the past year or so.

Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson was something I stumbled into when I finally finished by epic binge of Frasier. It was used to excellent effect in the series finale and I've read it multiple times since then. …

Netflix & Chill #3: Notting Hill

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Watched On: Amazon Prime
Released: 1999
Starring: Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Rhys Ifans
Prime Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Pick: Both of Us!

Ah, a heady trip back to the golden age of romantic comedies with an all time classic of the genre. Yes, Notting Hill, back in those glorious days of early Tony Blair-era Labour Party Britain, where you could actually conceive of both owning a house in London and operating a travel bookstore in one of it's most Bohemian neighborhoods.

Will Thacker is divorced, runs a travel bookstore in Notting Hill and lives with his Welsh roommate, Spike. His fairly ordinary life is turned upside down when Hollywood Superstar Anna Scott enters his shop looking for a book on Turkey. She leaves, but Will encounters her a few minutes later and manages to spill his drink all over her. Offering his nearby house for her to change in, Anna impulsively kisses him before leaving again.

She sends him a message a few days later to come see him and he does so …

This Week In Vexillology #197: The End of The Brown Flag Challenge

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So last week, we reached the end of The Brown Flag Challenge, which means I've got to go through and declare a winner! We looked at a variety of flags from a variety of places and it was honestly kind of a tough decision- but, eventually, one flag stood tall above all the rest. So, without further ado, let's start the proceedings!

Honorable Mention: Michigan
Most state flags are pretty vanilla affairs- and too many fall into the dreaded 'Seal On A Bedsheet' trap, but Michigan was a pleasant surprise. In terms of the criteria of our challenge, it certainly delivered- the elk, the moose, the eagle all deliver on the brown. Plus, as all good Michiganders are probably aware, this state flag comes with it's own Pledge of Allegiance, namely: I pledge allegiance to the flag of Michigan, and to the state for which it stands, two beautiful peninsulas, united by a bridge of steel, where equal opportunity and justice to all is our ideal. Seriously, Michiganders- help me out. Is…

And So It Begins...

At this point, I'm just numb to it all. The broken, poisonous nature of our political discourse is rapidly becoming such that if a Democrat is in office, the Republicans lose their minds, splutter in rage and apoplexy and foam ferociously at their collective mouths, if the reverse is true, the parties switch positions and the endless turning of our political wheel of chaos continues. I see no way forward to break the logjam. I assume and expect that the news will be unbearable. There will be rending of garments, sack cloth, ashes and the like. Lamentations of the left will ring from coast and to every corner of the land.

None of it will matter. Democrats will foam and rage. Republicans will smugly remind them of their behavior was on the other foot and at noon today, Donald John Trump will become the 45th President of the United States of America.

I am but a spoke in a very large wheel, but as a citizen of this republic, I grade my Presidents harshly, because I assume, as Presiden…

Albums2010 #85: Out of Time

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Whatever happened to R.E.M. anyway? That was the first question that came to mind after listening to this album the first time. A deep dive on Wikipedia revealed the somewhat dispiriting news that they had broken up in 2011- having been around and kicking it since they emerged from Athens, Georgia in 1980.

I do remember them breaking up- vaguely, in passing a few years ago, but then I sort of forgot about it- going back into Spotify and digging up Out of Time made me remember just how much they had been on the radio and just been part of the music of my childhood in many ways. I had a similar moment when I rediscovered the Stone Temple Pilots in college- the memories, the music- bands that float into your life and then back out of your life make you forget just how much you listened to them in the first place. R.E.M was one of those bands. (They're also one of those bands you wish would make a comeback too... in the dawn of the Age of Trump, they would surely have something to say…

Squawk Box: Das Trekgold

So, last September marked the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek's debut on television. While another movie did come out last summer (Star Trek Beyond) and another television show is slowly making it's way toward reality (Star Trek: Discovery) the fact of the matter is that Paramount- in stark contrast to the celebrations put on by the BBC for Doctor Who- hasn't done a heck of a lot to mark the milestone. So I decided that if Paramount wasn't going to roll out the red carpet, I was going to roll up my sleeves and start a Star Trek Party of my own.

Yes, I'm attempting to tackle the complete Star Trek Televisual Cycle-  the science fiction equivalent of The Ring Cycle (hence the title of my post- a rather weak paraphrasing of Part 1 of the Ring Cycle, Das Rheingold). Between six television shows, there are 725 episodes to tackle. This is where I stand:

Series Completed: 1, the Animated Series
Episodes Watched: 286
Progress: 39.44%

I've made my way through the entirety of…

Netflix & Chill #2: Save The Date

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2012
Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber
Netflix Rating: 2/5
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 45%
Pick: The Missus'

Next up was Save The Date. In an effort to make up for my darker than expected pick with Filth, I (wisely) deferred to the Missus for Round 2 and after some browsing on Netflix she came up with Save The Date. It looked good, so we watched it.

Sarah and Beth are sisters who are in relationships with Andrew and Kevin who are both in the same bend. Beth is engaged to Andrew and making plans for their wedding, while Sarah, an artist who manages a bookstore, reluctantly moves in with Kevin despite her ambivalence about taking their relationship to the next level.

Kevin, for his part, is planning to propose and initially plans to do it onstage at their next show before Andrew thinks he talks him out of it. Well, guess what? When the performance in question rolls around- Sarah is approached by Jonathan, who has a cr…

This Week In Vexillology #196: The Queen's Personal Barbidian Flag

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So, we've finally come to the end of the Brown Flag Challenge- last, but not at least, we're heading down to the Caribbean for a peek at a very exclusive flag indeed, the Personal Barbidian Flag of Queen Elizabeth II. Get a load of this:
Approved for use in the 1970s, this flag is only used by the Queen in very limited circumstances- when she's in Barbados or attending an event abroad in her role as the head of state of Barbados. Her representative, the Governor-General of Barbados as his own flag.

I really dig this flag, actually. It's simple, striking and it's kind of got a Cthulu/Octopi thing going on with the bearded fig tree in the center of the flag. The other royal standards (Canada, New Zealand, Australia,the UK) are more armorial- if that's the right word- heraldric? They're more old school- but Barbados breaks the mold quite nicely. As I mentioned already, the center of the flag features a bearded fig tree- a symbol of the island of Barbados. The …

January On Medium

This month's new short fiction has been rolling around in my head since the summer. It was part of a writing prompt we did at the Weekend Workshop I attended at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, which went a little something like this:

Saturn, planet of melancholy
A great place for
Trends of contemporary living
Titan spins in its orbit
Magnificent
Like a blooming hosta
Wilting
Moving out
To feel dampness
Carrying with ease
Images of loved ones
In empy vessels
On Titan, we
find
dwindling bison
rainbow trout
wedged in the narrow pass
So frightened
At first, to be so far from the sun
Reaching through the firs
Reveals
Itself, like carved stone
While Saturn, planet of melancholy
spins like a 
silken dress
Above

(There's a few notes in the margins:

WRITERS GO TO SATURN

northern feel

great thick trees
climbing thru the
nitrogen)

And there's a reference to Billy Collins- Poet- forgetfullness-aimless love. No idea what that means. But this page of scribbled chicken scratch and a piss poor attempt at poetry-…

Sportsyball!

Adopt-A-Team
Well, NEC Nijmegen appears to be solid mid-table contenders this deep into the season. They're at 12th currently which seems to be about where they've been for most of the season. Since last we checked in, however (December 5th) they've done okay for themselves- beating Den Haag 3-0 and scraping out to a 2-2 draw with Excelsior. Then Christmas happened...  things don't pick back up for NEC until January 15th- but they've got Willem II and Roda coming up before Feyenoord and Go Ahead Eagles to start off February.

Willem II should be a decent match. They're sitting at 11th in the table right now- and if NEC wants to move up in the table, a win here would probably help. Roda and Go Ahead Eagles are at the bottom of the table, so good results there should help the cause- but they can't afford to drop points either. Feyenoord...   woof. Well, they're at the top of the table with 42 points. NEC is in 12th with 19 points. Fingers crossed for an up…

The Year The Light Turned On

I was technically alive when the Cold War ended, but I was young enough that I didn't real grasp the full ramifications of what the hell was happening until much later. The Fall of the Berlin Wall is something I've seen so much on television that I'm not sure if I can remember seeing it live or just remember the replays.

What I do remember, however, is how different the map became. I recently stumbled across National Geographic's excellent cartography blog, All Over The Map and immediately fell in love. (Ditto for Atlas Obscura! Awesome website1) I've always loved maps.  I could sit and pour over an atlas for days. The Times Atlas of European History that's somewhere in the Parentals' basement is dogeared and page worn because I'd spend hours with that too- watch the rise and fall of nations evolve over the page.

In short, I dig maps. Hand me a globe and I'll spin it around and around and around until I can tell you  how old it is.

So while commenta…

Netflix & Chill #1: Filth

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2014
Starring: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Imogen Poots and Jim Broadbent
Netflix Rating: 2/5
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 64%
Pick: Mine

A New Year brought with it a new work schedule which means that I have every Thursday and Friday off now- which gives the Missus and I an entire night to you know, actually see each other and maybe talk to each other and drink a glass of wine- and yeah, sit on our couch and spin up the old Netflix and have a couch-movie date together. So, a new feature for the blog was born: Netflix & Chill, the chronicles of the (hopefully) enjoyable movie dates we have on our couch every week.

First up, was Filth. I had seen previews for Filth and it looked like a delightfully raunchy film from the creator of Trainspotting. It looked twisted, fun- maybe a dark comedy you could get behind? Plus, it had James McAvoy and that's usually a pretty safe bet for a halfway decent movie.

Yeah, oops. The key words in that last paragraph were 'fr…

This Week In Vexillology #195: Prince Edward Island

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We're back! It's 2017! It's a brand new year! And we're heading into the home stretch of The Brown Flag Challenge- and, believe it or not, we're back in North America, heading just across the border to Canada for the Flag of Prince Edward Island!
Adopted on March 24, 1964, the upper third of the flag features the English heraldic lion that's on the coat of arms of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (who the province is named after) and it appears on the arms of King Edward VII as well. The lower two thirds feature a small plot of grass which represents both Prince Edward Island and Great Britain- both of which are islands. The three small trees represent the three counties of the province (Prince, Queens and Kings) and the big oak tree stands for Great Britain. (The trunks of all the trees are where we get the brown for the purposes of our Brown Flag Challenge.) The whole tree set up is a nod to the motto of the province- Parva sub ingenti, 'the small under the pr…

The Great Social Media Experiment

At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, I went ahead and began a little experiment for the New Year- I took Facebook and Twitter off of my phone. It's been four days and I think I'm adjusting well. The number of times I've idly flipped through my phone looking for Facebook or Twitter and then realizing, 'oh wait, I took those off of there' has diminished. That's not to say that I'm getting out of the social media game altogether- I still use Facebook. I still Snapchat and Instagram on occasion. I'm rocking the shit out of Pinterest. I tweet. But I decided that to start the New Year, I needed to put some distance between myself and the social media echo chamber.

The past two months have been getting increasingly unbearable- especially on Twitter, but somewhat on Facebook as well. I don't know if it's the results of the election that did it- though I suspect that played a significant part, but everything took a negative, snarky tone that …

Give Peace A Chance?

So, just before Christmas the United Nations passed a resolution rebuking Israel for it's continued settlement activity in The West Bank. The United States abstained. And everyone lost their damn minds shortly after the fact.
Look, it's no secret that the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process is going nowhere fast. The Israelis have made serious, concrete offers before and the Palestinians have walked away every time. They're out of Gaza, the Palestinians are divided between Hamas and Fatah, in short- why should Israel cut a deal? What possible reason do they have to come to the table?
They don't have a reason. Plus- surprise, surprise- it doesn't appear that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is the biggest fan of President Obama, so he was all too eager to take a steaming hot dump all over the move by the US to abstain from the resolution. He knows what administration he's got coming in next January and he has no reason to play nice anymore.
Our allies weren't …