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Showing posts from September, 2017

This Week In Vexillology #231

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Well, it's almost October and that means a month of German state flags to celebrate the Oktoberfest season, but kicking it all off, in a special preview of the next four weeks, I noticed that one of my 'missing' entries from the lost archives was Germany, so I figured why not kick off the fun with the flag of Germany itself:
Re-adopted on May 23rd 1949, this tricolor was used first adopted as the flag of Germany during the Weimar period from 1919-1933, but the color combination emerged from the process of German unification during the middle of the 19th Century- but- the tricolor itself dates back to the Principality of Reuss-Greiz which is currently in the Free State of Thuringia in Germany today. So the tricolor flag itself goes back to 1778.

However, it came to prominence during the Revolutionary year of 1848*, where the Frankfurt Parliament proposed it as a flag of a unified Germany. But the democratic dreams of a unified Germany went nowhere- at least in that year- an…

The Upload Project #9

CD #11, Untitled with 9 repeats
Monty Python- Spanish Inquisition
Bobby McFerrin- Don't Worry, Be Happy
Green Day- Welcome To Paradise
Aerosmith- Walk This Way
U2- Vertigo
Mott The Hoople- All The Young Dudes
Big and Rich- Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy
REM- What's The Frequency, Kenneth
Ozzy Osbourne- Crazy Train
Linkin Park- Breaking The Habit
Duran Duran- (Reach Up For The) Sunrise
Gavin DeGraw- I Don't Want To Be
Billy Squier- Everybody Wants You
Gary Jules- Mad World
Speech From Animal House

CD #12 was blank...  not sure why, but okay.

CD #13 (weirdly, an Unofficial Alias Soundtrack) with 3 repeats
Kate Bush- This Woman's Work
Smashmouth- Diggin' Your Scene
Depeche Mode- Dream On
The Hives- Hate To Say I Told You So
Paul Oakenfold- Ready Steady Go
Sinead O'Connor- No Man's Woman
Boomkat- The Wreckoning
Peter Gabriel- I Grieve
Kinky- Mas Y Mas
The Cars- Moving In Stereo
Jet- Last Chance Honey
The Donnas- Take It Off
Peggy Lee- Fever
Blur- Song 2
Donna Summer- I Feel Lo…

Bookshot #100: Before The Fall

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I was a huge fan of the television adaptation of Fargo, which Noah Hawley helped to write and produce (the Missus and I caught the first season on Hulu, but have yet to track down and watch the subsequent seasons) so when I heard that he was writing a book, I figured I would run it down and check it out. If he could produce things like Fargo and Legion (what little I've seen of it has been really, really good) then he had to be able to write an entertaining novel, right?

Before The Fall is a thriller in the best sense of the word- it keeps you turning the pages and trying to figure out what happened right up until the very end- and that's a pretty momentous feat, considering the fact that ten of the characters die in the opening chapters when their plane, flying from Martha's Vineyard to New York City plunges into the ocean sixteen minutes into the flight.

The only survivors of the doomed flight are Scott Burroughs, a down on his luck painter, and a young boy by the name of…

Boozehound Unfiltered: You Say Tomatin, I Say Tom-AH-tin...

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Part 1 of my birthday goodies this year, Tomatin 12 Year Old is the non-Islay Single Malt I've been looking to get stashed in my liquor cabinet and I was eager to give it a taste. Turns out it's hook, 'the softer side of the Highlands' is well earned, because this single malt wasn't the ride I was expecting and was an entirely pleasant experience to boot.
Doing some digging on the old interwebs, it looks like the distillery opened for business in 1897- though apparently cattle drivers would buy from a local still as far back as the 16th Century. It's had a few ups and downs over the years- it went bankrupt in 1906, reopened in 1909 and lasted all the way until 1986, when it was brought by a Japanese conglomerate that's been running the place ever since. The distillery is about 25 minutes from Inverness which places it firmly in the Highlands region of Scotch Whisky.

(Speaking of regions: I've knocked off the Highlands, Islay, Isle of Skye and Speyside. P…

This Week In Vexillology #230

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(Before we plunge into This Week in Vexillology (yes, I'm taking requests now) I thought I'd take a brief tangent to highlight this vexillological branding miscue on the part of the NFL. In an attempt to try and support Earthquake-hit Mexico, NFL teams tried to rally on social media imposing various team logos over what I guess was supposed to be a flag of Mexico, but without the sort of kind of important Coat of Arms, ended up being the flag of Italy instead. Oops.)

We are dipping back into the archives (by request! h/t to Mr. Brock Allore of Mankato for the request- always happy to oblige, dear readers.) to look at the only sovereign state in Africa where Spanish is the official language. That's right, This Week In Vexillology, it's Equatorial Guinea:
Before we get into the flag, let's take a quick peek at the 4-1-1 on Equatorial Guinea itself. It's got two parts- the insular/island parts (the islands of what used to be Fernando Po but is now Bioko and Annobo…

The Future Hasn't Been Invented Yet

This disgruntled article from Slate's Future Tense sort of struck a cord with me last week because it made a pretty good point while simultaneously undermining the point it was trying to make to begin with. Not to mention that it's premise it's kind of shaky to begin with. The topic of creating the future is one near and dear to my heart primarily because, thus far, the books I've written have been either some vague, unspecified 'not too distant future' or in the case of the one I'm working on now, the very distant future. I've read and have read plenty of science fiction that deals with the future, so topics and articles like this matter to me.

So, let's take it from the top, shall we?

From what I can tell, the original bone the article is attempting to pick is with the overall 'futurism' industry out there. Bankrolled by corporations, think-tanks and business-types, the article points the finger at the fact that rarely, if ever, do the fut…

Learning Contentment

The Missus brought me a beautiful leather bound journal/planner type of thing a few years ago and I sort of used and then just stopped, because I have a weird thing about writing long hand on wide ruled paper. (I'm a college ruled notebook kind of guy.) But at the beginning of the month, I decided to start using it as a journal on a daily basis. I've been listening to the Tim Ferris Show for awhile now and I seem to have landed on a Benjamin Hardy email list as well and the one thing that keeps popping up again and again is that successful people always seem to do some writing in the morning to start their day.

So, I figured, why not me? (I should note, just at the outset, that this isn't a 'Dear Diary' situation- though the Missus was quick to give some shit about that.) Every day, I write down some writing goals for the day, three things that I'm thankful for, and other, non-writing things I need to do that day. And...  you know what, I'll have to check w…

This Week In Vexillology #229

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We're dipping back into the 'Lost Archives' to take a trip over to West Africa this week. In general, I'm sort of 'meh' about a lot of African flags- I get the whole symbolism and importance the Pan-African colors to the region, I do- but it makes for a sort of repetitive vexillological experience, you know what I mean? ('Oh boy, green, red and yellow, again? Would never have guessed that.') However, of all the flags of Africa that use the familiar trifecta, I have to admit that Togo stands out above the crowd a bit- check out this flag:
Adopted on April 28th, 1960 the flag of Togo is the national flag and ensign. And I know I've done this one before at some time in the distant past (my lost blog, The Daily Quixotry) but apparently I've missed a few things because there's fun for everyone to be had with this flag. MATH NERDS: the sides of the flag of Togo are in the golden ratio and in fact, it's pretty close to a golden rectangle. The o…

Albums2010 #93: american dream

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What exactly does a 'mature sound' mean? Everything I've seen floating around about this album pronounces it to be a 'mature sound' and I'm not quite sure what that means... maybe it's... an evolution of LCD Soundsystem's sound? I feel like that fits this album better than 'mature.' I did some math, just for kicks and it turns out that LCD's frontman James Murphy is 47 this year, which means he was about 32 when LCD Soundsystem started and 42 when it finished and 45 when they got back together for this album. (And hopefully more.) I feel like given the average age of musicians these days, by your mid-30s, your sound should be pretty damn mature.*

So, it's an 'evolution' damn it, and a delightfully refreshing one. I think what I like most about this album is that it's got gear changes here and there, where as a lot of their previous albums have been more straight dance records. The gear changes are obvious from the first track…

Psephology Rocks: Kenya Do It Again?

Kenya had a Presidential election last month and it went rather better than it did ten years ago, when the results were met with a convulsion of violence that shook the country and left 1,500 dead in its wake. There was a sense of nervous anticipation in the run up to these elections and people were hoping there would a peaceful process this time around and by and large. It appeared that incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won re-election, except plot twist! Kenya's high court annulled the election results and called for a do-over.

Kenyatta, to his credit has stated that he disagreed with the ruling, but said he would respect the decision and called upon everyone else to do the same and remain calm. Of course, he's also making noises about 'fixing' the court, so assuming there's not a twist or two left in this story, Kenya's high court might be in for a bumpy ride, assuming Kenyatta wins his do over.

But step back a second! How does it all work in Kenya?

Kenya ac…

Netflix & Chill #25: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Watched On: Redbox
Released: 2017
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillian, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Pick: Mine

Sequels are hard. There is always the inevitable sense of not living up to what came before, so rare is the sequel that manages to be a true equal of it's predecessor. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 manages to be just as fun, just as thrilling as the first movie, while being more emotional and dare I say it, sweet? in ways that you don't expect.

The movie opens with the Guardians working a job for the Sovereign race protecting a bunch of interstellar batteries that a monster is attempting to eat. After the usual chaos and shenanigans, the Guardians get the job done, their reason for taking the job is revealed: they're doing so to get their hands on Nebula, Gamora's assassin sister, who was in the custody of the Sovereign for attempting to s…

This Week In Vexillology #228

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So I really had to brainstorm to come up with an idea this week- how do you top the Most Serene Republic of Venice? Well, you go to the one continent you haven't been to yet, the continent they'd least expect you to do- that's right. Antarctica.
There are more interesting flags ahead of us, but we've got to start with the flag of the Antarctic Treaty, which was officially adopted in 2002. In terms of an environmental achievement, the Antarctic Treaty is tough to beat- since 1961, the nations of the world have agreed that Antarctic will belong to no one nation and that the continent will be free of weapons testing, drilling and in general, the notion of it was: "People, it's really freakin' cold down here, so let's just all get along and do some science and exploration, all right?" Various countries have various slices of the Antarctic pie down there and they have their own flags- first up, The British Antarctic Territory:
Pretty basic thing we'…

40 For 40: Year 4

So, it's Year 4. One more year and I can take this list into the garage and revise it a little bit. I haven't made a lot of progress, to be totally honest about it, but there are a few things that I'm getting closer on. #3, for instance is gonna happen. Probably before Christmas. (I'm on Volume 11!)

I could run a 5k sometime this year, I suppose- but that would involve...  effort? And running, which I hate, but who knows- I might get a wild hair up my ass and do it. My state count remains at 36 and probably will for awhile longer. The rest of the list? It's achievable. I just can't wait for next year so I can revise this sucker a bit.

1. Publish my novel.
2. Get another tattoo
3. Finish all 4,532 pages and 12 volumes of Winston Churchill's 'The Second World War.'
4. Run a 5k
5. Visit All 50 States
6. Get ripped and get myself in shape.
7. Pay off every single dime of my student loans.
8. Write more novels, publish them.
9. I would like to ride a mech…

Squawk Box: The Defenders

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Though I'm closing in on the end of my grand, epic and sprawling Star Trek Cycle, I still had to take a mild detour last month to check out The Defenders, Marvel's culmination to the first rounds of their Netflix universe and after some deliberation, I'm going to officially say that The Defenders was more than worth the wait.

First off, I think eight episodes was the perfect length for this- show? Miniseries? Whatever you want to call it. I think longer than eight episodes and it would have dragged on and shorter than eight episodes it would have felt rushed, so kudos right off the bat for finding the perfect balance between the two. It didn't drag on and on and on (like the middle of the First Season of Iron Fist) and nor did it feel especially rushed or have strange pivots midstream (like the second season of Daredevil).

So what goes down, plot-wise? Well, Danny Rand and Colleen Wing are chasing down agents of The Hand in Cambodia and get told that the war they are …

Nothing Worth Predicting- Yet

Between now and oh, 2019 or so, there are going to be think pieces aplenty on just who can be the savior of the Democratic Party in 2020. Who will be the savior of the party? Who will take down Donald Trump? Can anyone take down Donald Trump? At this point, you can pretty much pick a Democratic Politician at any level of government and someone can probably come up with a decent case for how/why they'd be a good candidate for the Presidency.

A couple of such think pieces jumped out at me this weekend: an extraordinarily detailed case for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and another proposing a joint ticket between Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand. Both of these pieces are making things way more complicated than they need to be and missing the point just a little bit.

First, let's look at what happened last year. The Democrats won the popular vote and lost their vaunted 'Blue Wall' that they had been counting on to deliver them The White House again. So, what's it…

Netflix & Chill #24: For The Love of Spock

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2016
Directed By: Adam Nimoy
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Pick: Mine

I've been meaning to watch this documentary for awhile now and throw it in with the last round of my grand Star Trek Cycle (tentatively set to conclude in October, for those keeping score at home) but instead, Amazon Prime released pretty much all the movies, so I made my way through those instead and decided to do this one on its own and I'm glad I did, because it deserves it's very own post.

Directed by Adam Nimoy, son of the late great Leonard Nimoy, the documentary was originally conceived as a documentary about Spock, the character with an eye on release in time for the the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek in 2016. After the passing of his father in 2015, however, Nimoy widened the scope of the film to include not just Spock, but the life and career of his father beyond that character.

If you're a fan of Trek, then you slide this one right next to the excellent Chaos On The Bridge…

This Week In Vexillology #227

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I'm deep into an extensive one volume history of the Ottoman Empire, because- well, at this point I'm not sure why. The first decades of the 1600s were rough- lots of revolts and palace intrigues- I'm hoping the next chapter will be a little more interesting. But one foe of the Ottomans keeps popping up a lot and that's the Republic of Venice. So, I did some digging and this week I decided we're going to take a look at it's modern day descendant, the Regional flag of Veneto:
Adopted on May 20th, 1975 as the civil and state flag, the flag of the Veneto Region takes a lot of inspiration from the old flag of the Republic of Venice, which looks like this:
So, right away you can see where the inspiration is coming from- there's a little more to work with in the regional flag though. The coat of arms of the region is set in the central square- there, you find the winged lion of Saint Mark with the opened gospel. (The Latin motto means, "Peace to you Mark, my…