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Showing posts from February, 2018

Let's Talk Taxes

Look, I get it. The GOP is going to cut taxes. That's how they do. But here is what I think the GOP doesn't get sometimes: while people might not want a massive government, they don't want minimal government either. Finding the balance between the two, it seems to be me, would be the responsible and political beneficial move for a party really interested in constraining the size of government, But that's the problem with a lot of our politics today: nobody's interested in being responsible anymore.

That's why I can't believe that I'm about to type this: I agree with Governor Reynolds. Now, to be fair- the numbers cited in her plan seem pretty damn similar to what the Senate is tossing around (and I haven't seen an analysis on how it will impact state revenues either), but on paper at least the Governor's plan at least makes a head nod to protecting the state budget priorities. I'm assuming that some form of tax reform will be passed this ses…

Netflix & Chill #39: The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2004
Starring: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Bud Cort
Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Pick: Mine

The Elder Spawn loved reading Fantastic Mr. Fox so much that I surprised him and sprung for the movie, which he also loves. But watching it again made me get an itch to watch some more Wes Anderson movies, so I decided to revisit The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and it was far more delightful and charming than I remember it being.

Following his success with The Royal Tennenbaums (another movie I need to rewatch), Anderson sets the stage for The Life Aquatic by opening the movie at a film festival in Italy. The latest documentary from Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and instead of the wonders of the ocean, it deals with a tragedy as Steve's best friend and chief diver, Esteban (Seymour Cassel) is eaten by a creature that Zissou describes as a 'jaguar shark.' His crew thinks he has 'the craz…

This Week In Vexillology #249

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I have no idea why I picked the flag of Andalusia for this week. I've been scratching my head about it for a little bit now and I just can't remember if there was a reason or not. But, Andalusia seems like a happening place, so this week in vexillology, we've got the flag of Andalusia:
This is the civil and state flag of the region and it was adopted in 1918. The assembly that adopted the flag also adopted a charter based on the Antequera Constitution that wanted Andalusia to be an autonomous republic inside a federal Spain. (Not unlike what the Catalans had going for them right up until their declaration of independence- however that's going.) What's the 4-1-1 on what the flag is all about? Well:
La bandera blanca y verde vuelve tras siglos de guerra a sembrar paz y esperanza bajo el sol de nuestra terra. (Or, 'The white and green flag comes back after centuries of war to sow peace and hope under our land's sun.) On the flag, you've got the Coat of Arms…

The Weird New Flavors of Diet Coke, Ranked

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Food marketing is the worst. I say that because whenever some company somewhere comes out with NEW FLAVORS and TASTE THE DIFFERENCE, there's a little part of my brain that always goes, "Ooooh, I'll have to remember to try that." Doritos (damn them!) are a prime example of this. Mountain Dew and it's ever increasing colorful kaleidoscope of flavors is another. And while technically I'm supposed to be on the soda wagon right now, I had to jump off to try the weird new flavors of Diet Coke.

Diet Coke, until I discovered the hipster joys of LaCroix was my jam a few years back. Even though for the vast majority of my life, I never really drank soda and when I did, it was the regular stuff and I thought Diet stuff tasted weird, at some point I went all in on the Diet soda, probably in a misguided belief that it was somehow healthier for me, but really because I was in college and a healthy dollop of rum took away the weird Diet taste. At a certain point, I realize…

Shouting Is Not A Policy Position

It's depressing to think about, but it's nearly been 20 years since Columbine and we still can't seem to come together as a nation to tackle this problem. I don't think I have any answers. My position on guns has evolved over the years, as most of the people I know who own guns genuinely do use them for hunting and it's not trophy hunting, it's 'filling your freezer with deer meat' kind of hunting.

You know what I would like though? I'd like to stop posting the same articles and the same Facebook memes after every single one of these tragedies. It doesn't do anything. It doesn't advance a sensible conversation. It doesn't craft policy that can lower the number of gun deaths in this country. So, from the top, let's talk about what's unhelpful and what's not:

First: put down the cudgels. Guns are one of the many issues that the left and the right use to beat on each other in our ongoing culture wars and it needs to stop. (There…

Albums2010 #98: Divide

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The Missus is all about Ed Sheeran and therefore, I've learned to get used to listening to the old ginger crooner, so when I was scrambling around, trying to find an album to review for this month, it hit me: why not take Ed Sheeran's latest album Divide out for awhirl and really see what it was really like- and no real surprise it was a pretty good listen- if you're super into dreamy dudes with a guitar this will be 100% in your wheelhouse.

So, Divide.

The thing that stands out about this album is that there is a mix of sounds throughout this album. It's not all soft love songs and acoustic guitar, which I think makes it a strong album, because there is a little bit of everything for everyone. The tracks that stood out for me- in no particular order: 'Nancy Mulligan' an Irish tinged up tempo ballad telling the romantic story about how his grandparents met and got married. 'Bibia Be Ye Ye' is an a bouncy, African-tinged (specifically: Ghana) track that …

This Week In Vexillology #248

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We're heading across the border, This Week In Vexillology to celebrate Yukon Heritage Day by taking a peek at the flag of the Yukon Territory:
Adopted on March 1st, 1968, the flag of the Yukon was chosen following a territory-wide competition to celebrate Canada's centennial of 1967. Out of 137 designs, Yukon College graduate Lynn Lambert was the lucky winner. A prototype was sent to Ottawa to get all heralded up and stuff and they sent back an amended version, but they stuck to their guns and kept the original winning design.
The flag itself is a tricolor defaced with the Coat of Arms of the Yukon. ('Defaced' is a technical design term and not meant to be derisive.) The three colors of the tricolor part of the flag are pretty easy to break down: the green represents Yukon's forests, white stands for snow and blue stands for the lakes and rivers of the territory. The coat of arms is placed in the center above a wreath of fireweed, the flower of the Yukon. Let's…

My Biennial Rant About The Olympics

Bitching about NBC's coverage of the Olympics is almost an Olympic event in and of itself, at least here in the United States anyway. Everything's on tape delay- even the events that are nominally 'live', the streaming has gotten better, but still is nowhere near as good as it should be and there are far far too many human interest puff pieces that take time away from you know, the actual sports themselves. With all that in mind, as is tradition, it's time for My Biennial Rant About The Olympics*, so sit down, pull up a chair and enjoy!

Maybe it's my increasing age, but I actually find myself with less to complain about than usual this time around. I think it's the presence of NBCSN that's helping the cause for these Olympics. They're showing a good mix of events during the day- many of them live and even the prime time events aren't nearly as sloppily packaged as they have been in years past. If I was in charge of broadcasting the Olympics thou…

Who Decides The Canon?

When I read the article that Duluth was planning to removeHuckleberry Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird from their school's literature curriculum, I sort of sighed. This isn't a new trend, in the grand scheme of things. Some school district somewhere is always getting into trouble for banning a book or removing a book from their curriculum- but removing books from a classroom because of language contained in them, however insensitive should give everyone pause.

I think if you're in the business of education, you have to find a way to balance the sensitivities of your students of color with the need not to whitewash (and yes I'm aware of the irony of using the word 'white' in that word) some very ugly parts of our history. I've got a collection of short stories by Flannery O'Connor kicking around on a bookcase somewhere and I started reading them, but then I had to stop, because she used the n-word more than Jay-Z does on his latest album- hell, probably in…

Netflix & Chill #38: The Cloverfield Paradox

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Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2018
Starring: Daniel Bruhl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O'Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi
Rotten Tomatoes: 17%
Pick: Mine

I watched Cloverfield and thought it was pretty good- a nicely contemporary take on a Godzilla like monster that rampaged through New York City. (This predated the new Godzilla by a bit so at the time, all we had to go on was the Matthew Broderick/Jean Reno one with that awful P. Diddy/Led Zeppelin mash-up of Kashmir in the soundtrack.) I didn't bother with 10 Cloverfield Lane. I'm not sure why. I just never really felt an urge to go and see it and it's never caught my eye at a Redbox enough to say, 'hey, let's watch that.' So I'm still not sure why I even bothered with The Cloverfield Paradox- other than it's arrival in the world was sort of a Super Bowl surprise courtesy of Netflix so I was curious to see if it was a surprise worth watching.

Spoiler alert: it…

This Week In Vexillology #247

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We're dipping back into the 'Lost Archives' this weekend and heading back to Central Europe to take a look at the flag of Hungary:
True story: we had goulash last night for dinner (American-style goulash and not the more traditional Hungarian version) AND I'm still listening to Mike Duncan's excellent Revolutions Podcast which is currently tackling the revolutionary year of 1848 that convulsed so many countries in Central Europe. Plus, I think paprika is probably one of my favorite spices. So I'm all about Hungary.

The exact form of the flag has been official since May 23rd, 1957, but the tricolor has been around since the Republican movements int he 18th and 19th centuries and the colors have been associated with Hungary for even longer than that- dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. (More specifically, the colors were taken from the Hungarian Coat of Arms that's been in the same form since the 15th Century, but they also were showing us as early as…

Squawk Box: The Good Place & Manhunt: Unabomber

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Squawk Box this month tackles two shows that couldn't be more different: the off-beat (yet surprisingly deep and intelligent) sitcom antics of The Good Place and the true crime docudrama Manhunt: Unabomber. I'm not sure what to think of the former and I still can't quite believe that the latter aired on the Discovery Channel and assembled the amazing cast it did.

I don't know what to think of The Good Place. The Missus and I gave the pilot episode awhirl and didn't really know what to think of it (she had just finished Love Sick, an excellent Netflix show if you're in the market for something to watch and then she moved onto Atypical) but I was curious enough to burn through the rest of the twelve episodes to see if I could make up my mind about it and...  I still can't.

I tend to picky about sitcoms. If they're funny enough to make me laugh out loud on a regular basis (like Arrested Development) then I'll pay attention, get invested and actually w…

Here I Was Thinking A Chip Is A Chip

Apparently, men and women eat chips differently. Very differently, if a recent interview of PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi is to be believed. I'm still trying to digest (ha!) the flavor of what she was trying to say with this, but apparently dudes really get into eating their Doritos. They lick their fingers with 'great glee' and 'when they reach the bottom of the bag, they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth.' Women would love to do the same thing, but don't, I guess. The ladies hate the loud crunching (especially in public) and 'they don't like their fingers generously.' Oh and the whole, pouring the little broken pieces into your mouth? The ladies don't do that either.

And here I was thinking a chip is a chip.
The internet, predictably found out about this revelation and heads exploded and much mockery was had of the idea of 'Lady Doritos', but I think to be fair to PepsiCo, they don't seem to have plans to put bags on shelves…

So, I Read The Damn Memo

So, I read the damn memo. (Apparently, there's another one- this time written by Democrats lurking out there as well, so I guess I'll have to read two memos.)  If you haven't read the full text of the memo, well, The Atlantic went ahead and helpfully published it. So have at it and happy reading!

I honestly don't know what I was expecting from this much bally-hooed memo...  reading the reaction over the weekend, it seemed that it was, as all things are these days, entirely dependent on where you fall on the political spectrum. The Mandela Effect has popped up now and again in the cultural/internet zeitgeist (most recently in an excellent episode of The X-Files) but while collective false memory is assuredly a thing, when it comes to our political discourse these days it's a little different. You can read the same memo and come to such wildly divergent conclusions, it's like both ends of the political spectrum live in parallel universes.

So, depending on who you…

This Week In Vexillology #246

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We're starting February with a dip back into the 'Lost Archives'- heading back to Africa for a double feature, this week in vexillology we've got Ethiopia and Eritrea:
Adopted on October 31st, 1996, Ethiopia's flag is the original flag that set the design standards for so many other countries on the continent of Africa. The three traditional colors of green,  yellow and red date back to the beginning of the 20th Century. The green in the flag stands for 'the richness and fertility of the land', the yellow stands for 'religious freedom and peace' and the red stands for 'the sacrifice of our fathers, who spilled their blood in defense of Ethiopia.' The central emblem on the flag stands for both the diversity and the unity of the country. The blue in the emblem stands for peace, the star stands for diversity and unity and the rays coming out of the star stand for prosperity.

Right next door to Ethiopia, we've got Eritrea. Their flag looks l…

Bookshot #105: Osman's Dream

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My parents used to have (and I hope they still have) a Times Atlas of European History which I would read and look at almost religiously when I was kid and one of the forgotten states/empires that always fascinated me was the Ottoman Empire. It was crazy to think that Rome in one form or another persisted until 1453, when it was snuffed out by a rising Ottoman Empire- and the rise of the Ottomans was equally fascinating to watch unfold on the pages of the atlas. What would have happened had they taken Vienna in 1683? (I'm not sure, but it's one of great 'what if' questions of history.) Learning more about the Ottomans was one of my personal historical itches* that I had been wanting to scratch for quite some time and happily, Caroline Finkel stepped in to help out with an excellent one volume tome of Ottoman history, Osman's Dream.

'Tome' is probably the most accurate description of this book. The narrative runs to 554 pages with at least a couple of hundr…